The KISS Theory of Everything - Keep It Simple Stupid

Physics has gone crazy, and I refuse to join with it! Here is my view of the world, a view defined by an informed outsider!!

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Management Consultant Specialized in CEO training in small and medium sized companies.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Part 2 - What a Photon would be like if Physics wasn't so complicated.

I started this series of essays on what the world of science, and in particular, physics, would be like if it were not so complicated, with a look at the most elementary of physical entities, the electron and the positron. We described the entities as being like spinning point charges, either positive or negative, and with this very simple model we were able to visualize how all of the known properties of the particles could come about, and how just these two particles could form the basis of all matter.

In this discussion I want to extend that kind of thinking to the world of electro magnetic radiation (EMR) of which light is a small slice. The principal properties of electro-magnetic radiation are wave characteristics, quantum transportation of energy, polarization and the fact that it travels in a straight line, so any picture one may form of a photon must be able to demonstrate these properties.

Existing models of electro-magnetic radiation are either wave based or particle based, but all envisage the wave or particle traveling through space from the generator to the receiver. The wave model which has oscillating electro-magnetic fields is mathematically most successful, but it fails totally to explain the quantum nature of light. This is not all that surprising because it was developed before the quantum characteristics were known. The particle models cannot explain the interference patterns, particularly those which form with very low intensity beams. So let us begin at the beginning and try to do better.

We know that all radiant energy originates from vibrating atoms or parts of atoms, and we know that those parts of atoms are electrically charged. So the simplest case is an electron in a high energy state dropping to a lower energy state. This is a distinct event, and it releases a unique quantum of energy. If we think of that event as a charge falling rapidly from one spot to another, it can be seen as a very short lived micro electric current which will briefly cause a magnetic field to grow, and just as quickly to die away. If there were a conductor near that event, the magnetic field would cause an equally brief current to occur in that conductor first traveling one way as the magnetic field grew, and then reversing as the field died away. But empty space is not a conductor in the normal understanding of the word, so something else or some other event must happen to cause space to act like a conductor. As the originating event was discrete and contained a unique and definitive amount of energy, and we know that the quantum nature of the process allows the energy from the source event to be passed only to a receptor which absorbs all and only all of that energy, we should assume that the transmitting events must also be discrete.

So what kind of event may we be thinking about? In the strange world of quantum mechanics it has become an accepted fact that even in empty space, pairs of particles, one positive and one negative, can and often do randomly appear out of empty space, skipping apart briefly, only to be attracted back together to annihilate each other and disappear. These many random events have been variously described, but the term I like is “quantum foam“ used first by John Wheeler. If one were to visualize one of these events as a - charged entity moving upward and a + charge moving downward, what one would see is the two charges starting out at some high velocity, slowing down as the attractive force decelerated them, turning around towards each other and meeting again at the point they originated from, probably at very close to the velocity they started with, but obviously in the opposite direction. Effectively, the event is the appearance of a small dipole stretching apart, and then collapsing, and if one were an observer a few micro meters away, it would have appeared to be a very short lived micro current starting out in one direction reversing itself and then disappearing. Now that is exactly what we said would occur if a conductor were near our falling electron! So let us take a leap of faith and assume that this is actually what happens, and imagine our event as a small dipole, emerging, stretching apart, and collapsing back together again.

For the process to work, what we would see is the dipole appearing a short distance away from the falling electron. As the driving magnetic field stopped growing, the poles or charges would stop at which time they hold the total energy released by the electron. Because they are attracted to each other, the charges start to fall back towards each other till they again met and neutralize themselves. Now of course, these charges collapsing towards each other is in effect exactly the same as the electron event which began the whole thing, only it is occurring a short distance away, and a short time later. And also, of course it will cause another similar event to occur a further short distance away, and a further short time later, and will in the process transmit the energy to that new event. And so on, and so on.

What we have visualized is a process by which an effect of the event of a collapsing electron is propagated through space by successive dipole events. As the charges in the first event move apart they absorb the energy given up by the electron, and as they collapse back together, they pass that energy on to the succeeding event. In so doing the little burst of energy that the original electron gave up is transported along the chain of events and it will continue to be so until it meets a receptor, or observer, where it can be absorbed. The interesting thing about the model is that, other than the brief vibration of the dipole, nothing has actually moved except the energy has been transported along a chain of events. In truth what we have visualized is the passage of a photon, or a quantum of light, and we can better understand the wave particle dichotomy of electro-magnetic radiation. The concept is really not that far away from the Maxwell model, except that each and every quantum of energy is traveling as its own distinct series of wave like events made up of vibrating dipoles

In the above visualization we have used the single dipole as the event but it would be equally valid to suggest that the falling electron merely caused an alignment of a number of the random events of the quantum foam that were occurring in the vicinity such that the total energy of the aligned events was equal to the quantum energy. This extension to the model quite likely would be more accurate, but it adds complexity without benefit, and just as in the Bohr model of the atom the electrons have melted into electron clouds, it is still useful to revert to the original model to provide a visual and not too inaccurate understanding of what is happening.


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