Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bell doubted quantum mechanics and relativity

Physicist John Stewart Bell was famous for Bell's theorem, and considered by many a great genius who should have gotten a Nobel prize.

A physics article says:
But despite the ascendancy of the Copenhagen interpretation, the intuition that physical objects, no matter how small, can be in only one location at a time has been difficult for physicists to shake. Albert Einstein, who famously doubted that God plays dice with the universe, worked for a time on what he called a "ghost wave" theory of quantum mechanics, thought to be an elaboration of de Broglie's theory. In his 1976 Nobel Prize lecture, Murray Gell-Mann declared that Niels Bohr, the chief exponent of the Copenhagen interpretation, "brainwashed an entire generation of physicists into believing that the problem had been solved." John Bell, the Irish physicist whose famous theorem is often mistakenly taken to repudiate all "hidden-variable" accounts of quantum mechanics, was, in fact, himself a proponent of pilot-wave theory. "It is a great mystery to me that it was so soundly ignored," he said.
It got this comment:
The author of pilot-wave theory Louis deBroglie was an aetherist and he wrote, for example:
"any particle, even isolated, has to be imagined as in continuous "energetic contact" with a hidden medium ... It certainly is of quite complex character. It could not serve as a universal reference medium, as this would be contrary to relativity theory."
It's not surprising, the guy promoting the aether and even doubting of relativity theory gets ignored with no mercy for century with mainstream physics.
People assume that Bell was a champion of quantum mechanics, but actually he and his early followers were trying to prove quantum mechanics wrong. His theorem gave a way to distinguish quantum mechanics from hidden variable theories. Subsequent experiments verified quantum mechanics, and ruled out hidden variable theories.

The de Broglie Bohm pilot wave theory is considered an interpretation of quantum mechanics, but it is really only an interpretation of some non-relativistic special cases. It is supposedly more intuitive because it tells you where the electron really is, but it also requires you to believe in action-at-a-distance ghosts that accompany the electrons. So it is a lot more bizarre than quantum mechanics.

Bell did not believe in relativity as a spacetime theory either, as he is quoted in this 2009 paper:
If it is just long enough to span the required distance initially, then as the rockets speed up, it will become too short, because of its need to Fitzgerald contract, and must finally break. It must break when, at a sufficiently high velocity, the artificial prevention of the natural contraction impose s intolerable stress.
In the Minkowski spacetime relativity, the FitzGerald contraction is a geometric illusion, and does not cause any stresses. Bell's explanation is wrong, as explained in that paper.

Relativity and quantum mechanics are the pillars of XX-century physics. It is good to have skeptics who keep the mainstream physicists honest, I guess, but nobody gets a Nobel prize for that. If experiments had overthrown the conventional wisdom, then Bell would be hailed as a great genius, but that did not happen. In the end, all Bell had was an argument against hidden variables that was more persuasive than the existing arguments that had already convinced everyone.

I use the The Son of Man painting because it is the symbol of the John Stewart Bell Prize. Something about reality being obscured, I guess.

Here is a recent paper for a book honoring Bell.


  1. "Relativity and quantum mechanics are the pillars of XX-century physics"

    So what. Industrial catalyst productivity has been in steady decline. So where is the beef, Paul Dirac and Frank Wilczek, who claim that chemistry has been revolutionized by the quantum theory.

    In the latest edition of Angewandte Chemie, an article entitled to "The Revolution Continues: Energiewende 2.0" has this to say:

    " catalysis the relevant processes for change in the energy regime, with current known losses of about 50% of the available energy, still present significant challenges for the development of a comprehensive, rational design rooted causally in know-how and not phenomenologically through correlation of material and function. Only this kind of knowledge, at least in the long term, can ensure the optimal efficiency in these very large technical-chemical processes."

    "The main message of this contribution remains that an energy revolution cannot succeed without chemistry and catalysis,...."

    Its telling that none of your posts has anything to do with industrial scale chemistry...just what I view as the disease of the Kalifornia Economy, a design studio leftist nuttiness, that is leading to deindustrialisation. Apparently, everyone with the quantum mechanics based (people sitting behind digital computers) 'design studio' ideology (including you it would seem) are happy to outsource the entire real economy. Another example:

    President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a 30-year agreement to cooperate with China on nuclear power, a deal that would allow the transfer of material, reactors, components and technology between the two nations, if approved by the U.S. Congress.

    Now i expect this post to be deleted because you can't seem to handle reality any better than the Peter Woit.

  2. Look, Roger deleted another post. Since there are only 3 posters in all, that will reduce the comment section considerably. The Kurzweillian mystics at Google must be amused. Surely, Roger will become just another parroting Googlite soon anyways.

    Will Roger ever talk about the real world or just the fabricated food fights of academic uselessness?

  3. What is Roger doing talking about Physics anyways? Is he actually a Physicist? No. He's just another mathematician pretending to be doing something useful like Peter Woit. Hey you two, I guess you aren't part of the Investment Bank science club like Motl.

  4. This is quantum mechanics in action. Roger gets banned everywhere else, and he bans everyone here. Quantum Mechanics: Get your digital computer now, so you can be banned and do some banning. Oh yeah, now thats productivity.

    I better go do some qm exact solutions of 3 particles. Surely thats useful in the real world. Oh wait Roger doesn't care about the real world.

    I better contact Frank Wilczek and talk about the quantum mind, and quantum consciousness. Now that guy is a serious physicist.

  5. I did not delete comments. My spam filter blocked some comments. I think that they are all showing now.

  6. Hi Roger, its great that you raise these foundational issues. And where would physics be if others hadn't been interested in foundational problems - not just Woit, Wilczek, and famously Bell, but what about those other philosophising physicists - Lorentz, Einstein and Poincare, and de Broglie, Schrödinger and Heisenberg. (But of course the great Poincare was foremost a mathematician thoughb still one of the greatest physicists of his time). Sure some of them got it wildly wrong sometimes, but so did your Columbus. He was looking for India, wasn't he? Keep it coming!