Hypothesis Disproved

A linear polarizer which I had ordered on-line recently arrived, and I did a promised experiment today, to test a hypothesis.

Hypothesis:

In This earlier posting and This earlier posting, I had proposed what amounts to two hypotheses combined:

  1. That photons may be circularly-polarized as one of their fundamental states, specifically left-handedly or right-handedly, so that other states of light can emerge from those states, eventually also due to a superposition of these two, intrinsic states.
  2. That quantum superposition can generally be collapsed, after which it will not resume as such, but after which witnessing of the resulting state may still take place.

The second hypothesis was meant as a synonym, for stating that:

  • Quantum-Mechanics is to take a form, in which certain states of particles are primary, while others are secondary, so that the secondary states can only form from the superposition of the primary states, while the reverse does not follow. This paraphrasing of the second hypothesis was further meant as a motivation to test, whether the particle-nature of matter and energy are in fact primary – hence, the circularly-polarized photons – and not the wave-nature.

Equipment used in the experiment:

A circular polarizer: A complex component, which has the logical operations of filtering light first, so that only light whose wave-function is plane-polarized along one axis is transmitted, and then secondly, to circularly-polarize the resulting light, so that its wave-functions along any two axes will be phase-shifted 90⁰ with respect to time. This was meant as a source for a primary state of light, polarized in an unknown direction out of two possible directions, since the retail store that sold me this circular polarizer, also did not label, whether it would produce left-handed or right-handed light. It’s to serve as a sufficiently-reliable source of circularly-polarized light.

A linear polarizer: A technically simpler component, which simply transmits light whose wave-function is plane-polarized along one axis, while absorbing light, whose wave-function is perpendicular to the plane transmitted. This was meant as an alternative, secondary state of light, formed as the superposition of left-handed and right-handed, circularly-polarized light.

A light-source: To consist of a mundane room-lighting fixture, which is assumed to generate randomly-polarized light.

Comments:

  1. The matter will be regarded as trivial, that when stating ‘the wave function’, I am referring to ‘the electrostatic wave-function’, which is assumed to be perpendicular to the magnetic wave-function, while also being in-phase with it at all times.
  2. The question will be ignored, whether the circular polarizer itself physically consists of two distinct layers, that perform its logical operations one-by-one, or whether it is of some other design, that accomplishes the same logical operations in some other way.

Procedure:

Control:

Light from the light-source will first be passed through the linear polarizer, and then through the circular polarizer, to confirm that two axes of plane-polarized light, when perpendicular, will lead to near-zero overall transmission, while when they are parallel, will lead to maximum transmission, which will also be used as the notional reference, corresponding to ‘50% transmission’.

Test-Case:

Light from the light-source will first be passed through the circular polarizer, the output of which is somehow to correspond to photons polarized in one circular direction, after which it will be passed to the linear polarizer.

Expected Result:

Because according to the hypotheses, the circularly-polarized light corresponds to an intrinsic state, which will no longer become superposed with the opposite state, the second component, the linear polarizer in the test-case, should not be able to output linearly- or plane-polarized light, because to do so should require the availability of both left- and right-handed photons. But, the linear polarizer will only receive a full amplitude of one or the other.

Real results:

Control:

The control case performed as expected.

Test-Case:

In the test-case, regardless of what orientation was chosen between the two polarizers, light emerged from the last, with constant brightness corresponding to ‘50% transmission’.

Conclusion:

While the principal is to be upheld, that circularly-polarized light may be one system for stating polarization, out of which plane-polarized light can emerge, eventually through quantum superposition, the reverse also seems to be possible.

However, this does not seem to favor an intrinsic state, as belonging to classical concepts of a particle, because the wave-function can be manipulated, regardless of the eventual existence of particles. And so this result further seems to suggest that wave-particle duality is plausible.

(Further Observations as of 02/24/2018 : )

Continue reading Hypothesis Disproved

The Myth of Wave / Particle Duality

This posting describes some of the History, which many people may be bypassing, in their appreciation of Quantum Mechanics.

About until the 1920s, ‘light’ was largely thought to consist of waves. But a problem with that was, how to explain, why light can travel through apparently empty space. After all, the light that reaches us from distant stars is not fundamentally different, from light that originates on Planet Earth. And until the 1920s, it was believed that there exists a mysterious “Aether“, which transmitted light through space.

A basic premise of wave-propagation, such as in the case of sound-waves, is that there must first be some sort of medium, to conduct the waves, which in the case of sound may be air. But the need for the existence of a medium, also explains why there is no sound in space.

But during the 1920s, the existence of an aether was disproved. Decisively. And so another explanation was needed, of what constitutes light. And the thought seemed more logical, that particles can easily travel through empty space – hence, photons. Even though this was not actually the first form in which photons were theorized.

But then obviously, this raises questions, about how these particles are supposed to relate to waves, where waves were at first easier to observe.

I think that the way many people today are presented, what Quantum-Mechanics consists of, is just, “Wave / Particle Duality”. But then what many students believe – and what I once believed myself – is, that Quantum Mechanics holds some sort of secret key, as to how Matter and Energy might simultaneously consist of particles and waves. And in reality, QM holds no such decisive, secret answers. The only real secret which QM may hold, is a detail that could be embarrassing to the present way in which QM works.

Continue reading The Myth of Wave / Particle Duality

Why the inter-atomic world only approximates the macroscopic properties of matter.

In a previous posting, I wrote that the microscopic world, in this case implying inter-atomic distances, generates an approximation of the macroscopic, mechanical properties of matter.

What any alert reader should notice, is that in order for this theory to be true, it actually needs to lead to an exact result at some point, and not just to approximate results. And so the question which should follow is, ‘Why only an approximation, the way it was described?’

There is a family of answers to that question, which starts with the fact that not all solids are covalent solids. I was taught that there exist essentially three types of solids:

  1. Molecular Solids,
  2. Covalent Solids,
  3. Ionic Solids.

I feel that the WiKiPedia article I linked to in this list, gives a good explanation for what Molecular Solids are, and also gives links to the other types of solids. If the reader has serious questions, I recommend he read that WiKi next; they explain certain details better than I can.

At the same time, solids which I was taught were covalent solids, are really just a combination of molecular and covalent solids, due to the way molecules could be linked in certain directions, but not linked in other directions, in 3D. This is why the WiKi describes those types of solids as ‘mesh-solids’.

Organic polymers are extreme examples of meshes, while certain structural materials such as beryllium are completely different, being highly covalent, and being much stronger therefore, than organic polymers.

Another reason for which my first description is only an approximation, is the existence of thermal agitation. This means that individual nuclei are always in motion, even if the macroscopic body is not noticeably in motion. Furthermore, due to the involvement of Quantum Mechanics, heat can take the form of transitions between discrete states, instead of all the heat being stored, just as the continuous agitation of the nuclei. Hence, molecules which have a greater number of QM states to occupy, at any given temperature, will also store more heat, as their temperature changes, and will therefore also have greater specific heat. If heat was just the kinetic energy of the nuclei, we should find that all matter have very predictable properties of specific heat, just a function of atomic density, when in fact this is not so.

And, the velocities associated with thermal agitation at room temperature, are often underestimated. They can be enough to break the bonds between molecules by themselves, which is also a reason ‘why ice melts at room temperature’.

Continue reading Why the inter-atomic world only approximates the macroscopic properties of matter.

Quantum Mechanics is Falsifiable.

One concept which exists in Science, is that certain theories are Falsifiable. This means that a given hypothesis will predict some sort of experimental outcome, which other theories would not predict, and then an experiment can be performed to test whether this outcome is according to the theory. If it is not, then this test will break the theory, and will thus falsify it.

Quantum Mechanics is often Falsifiable. If the reader thinks it is not, then maybe the reader is confusing Quantum Mechanics with String Theory, which is supposedly not falsifiable? And thinking that String Theory is just the same thing as Quantum-Mechanics, is a bit like thinking that Cosmology is just the same thing as Astronomy.

(Edit 02/03/2018 :

There is an aspect to a theory being Falsifiable, which I did not spell out above, assuming that the reader could infer it. But certain conversations I’ve had with people I personally know, suggest that those people do not understand this concept.

The result of a physical experiment can easily be, that the outcome is according to the theory. Just as much as the inverse situation would falsify the theory, such an outcome can eventually confirm the theory, and without confirming the theory, there is no real way in which Scientists can know, whether a new theory is in fact valid.

There is no specific imperative to prove a theory wrong, in the theory being Falsifiable. )

(Edit 02/15/2018 :

One aspect to how this posting should be read, which some readers might infer, but which other readers might not infer, is that it begins by stating a hypothesis. At first, I declared this hypothesis as distinct from several other theoretical explanations of light.

But it would break the flow of a blog-posting, if every paragraph which I wrote after that, began with a redeclaration, stating that the truth of the paragraph depends on the initial hypothesis.

This dependency should be assumed, and belongs to my intended meaning. )

According to Quantum Mechanics, light can be polarized, just as it can according to the classical, wave-based theory of light. Only, because according to Quantum-Mechanics light is driven by particles – by photons – its explanation of polarization is quite different from polarized light, according to the classical, electrodynamic explanation.

According to wave-based light, plane-polarized light is the primary phenomenon, and circular-polarized light is secondary. Circular-polarized light would follow, when waves of light are polarized in two planes at right-angles to each other, but when these waves also have a 90⁰ phase-shift.

(Edit 02/20/2018: A Hypothesis which I’ve just disproved, but which this whole posting’s validity depends on.) According to Quantum-Mechanics, the photon is in itself a circular-polarized quantum of light, of which there can trivially be left- and right-handed examples. According to Quantum-Mechanics, plane-polarized light forms, when left- and right-handed photons pair up, so that their electrostatic components form constructive interference in one plane, while canceling at right-angles to that plane.

From a thermodynamic point of view, there is little reason to doubt that photons could do this, since the particles which make up matter are always agitated, and since the photons in an original light-source also have some random basis. So a conventional plane-polarizing filter, of the kind that we used to attach to our film-cameras, would not be so hard to explain. It would just need to phase-shift the present left-handed photons in one way, while phase-shifting the present right-handed ones oppositely, until they line up.

But there exists one area in which the predictions of Quantum-Mechanics do not match those of classical wave-mechanics. If we are given a digital camera that accepts lens-attachments, we will want to attach circular polarizing filters, instead of plane-polarizing filters. And the classical explanation of what a circular polarizer does, is first to act as a plane-polarizer, which thereby selects a plane of polarization which we want our camera to be sensitive to, but the output of which is next circularly-polarized, so that light reaches the autofocus mechanism of the camera, which is still not plane-polarized. Apparently, fully plane-polarized light will cause the autofocus to fail.

This behavior of a polarizer is easily explained according to Quantum-Mechanics. The plane-polarized light which is at first admitted by our filter, already possesses left- and right-handed photons. After that, we could visualize sorting out the photons that are circular-polarized in the wrong direction.

But the opposite behavior of a filter would not be predicted by Quantum-Mechanics. According to that, if we first pass randomly-polarized light through a circular polarizer, and if we then pass the resulting beam into a plane-polarizer, we should not be able to obtain plane-polarized output from the last polarizer.

According to the classical explanation of light, this should still be an easy thing to do. Our circularly-polarized light is supposed to have two components at right-angles, and our plane-polarizer should only allow vibration in one plane. But according to Quantum-Mechanics, if the incident beam is already circularly-polarized, it should only consist of either left-handed or right-handed photons, and then a simple filter should not be able to conjure photons that are not present in the original beam. And so our circularly-polarized light should not be convertible into plane-polarized light.

Continue reading Quantum Mechanics is Falsifiable.