Saturday, September 01, 2018

An Anil adds another anti-quantum book to the cesspool

Anil Ananthaswamy (I copied and pasted the surname, I don't expect anybody to memorize the whole meaningless sequence of letters, and I will shorten the name to Senil Debil Anil) has released another "popular" book about (or against) quantum mechanics,
Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality
Feynman has wisely said that the double slit experiment is really the only experiment you need to properly understand to see how the quantum world works – it contains all the qualitative novelties of quantum mechanics relatively to classical physics and all the proofs that the switch to a new way of description of Nature is unavoidable.

Well, Senil Debil Anil stupidly claims that it's not true. And, to make sure that his readers won't overlook the claim, he repeats this stupid falsehood thousands of times – he fills 304 pages with this repeated lie.

We may avoid payments and paywalls and discuss the book through the review by Mélanie Frappier, another non-physicist who works at some history program at a Canadian college:
Glimpses of quantum truth appear in diverse interpretations of the double-slit experiment (a Science Magazine blog)
In the first paragraph, she mentions Feynman's view that the double slit experiment was sufficient – and that quantum mechanics may be described but there's no classical picture.

The second paragraph describes the proliferation of anti-quantum crackpots since the 1960s if not 1950s:
Despite Feynman’s warning, the past 60 years have seen an explosion of interpretations appealing to devices as diverse as pilot waves and parallel universes in the hope of elucidating quantum behavior. So far, no interpretation has proven fully convincing, leading many physicists to conclude that the theory’s mathematical formalism should be left uninterpreted and to demand a return to the “shut up and calculate” attitude that was prevalent among the physicists of Feynman’s generation.
Right. Feynman's lectures (1963) have obviously had no real impact on these laymen's understanding of quantum mechanics – his explanations and wise lessons were ignored and a whole new industry of stupidity – the "interpretations of quantum mechanics" – has literally exploded, despite the fact that nothing encouraging has ever come from this kind of bullšiting. The first sentence of the next paragraph says:
Veteran science journalist [Senil Debil Anil] rejects this fatalistic perspective.
Note that these idiots, like Debil Anil and Frappier, simply can't help themselves. They have to describe the validity of the key theory underlying modern science by negative words, in this case it is a "fatalistic perspective". Call it fatalistic or anything else (she previously wrote that proper quantum mechanics leaves physics "uninterpreted" – a strange claim given the fact that the correct Copenhagen rules were the first ones that were called "an interpretation", by Heisenberg himself) but it is as established a fact about science as the approximate roundness of the Earth.
On the contrary, he argues, a deeper understanding of the quantum world can only be achieved by embracing the diversity of interpretations available to us, a claim he persuasively defends in Through Two Doors at Once.
On the contrary, a mixture of delusions by stupid laymen that has led nowhere and cannot led anywhere has to be described by positive words, in this case "deeper understanding". There is nothing "deeper" about the classical models attempting to replace quantum mechanics with an old classical picture. On the contrary, they are clearly shallower. Quantum mechanics is deeper then classical physics! She also uses the word "diversity" as a positive demagogic label, I think – I would bet she is another far left activist who just wants "diversity" to be everywhere.
In the book, he takes Feynman to task by offering a spirited introduction to the various quantum interpretations, examining their respective explanations of the supposedly inscrutable experiment.
Right, that's what's going on. Senil Debil Anil wants to "take Feynman to task". But don't you think, Senil Debil Anil, that it would be wiser not to scream about a topic that you clearly completely misunderstand and believe that your disagreement is due to your, and not Feynman's, stupidity? What you fail to get was taught as standard material for the undergraduate students, at least when Feynman was actually teaching those Caltech lectures. Do you really think it's right to flood the book market with books by morons who are bragging that they must be smarter than Richard Feynman just because they "disagree" with Feynman – e.g. just because they misunderstand a big part of his lectures for the undergraduates?

The crazily wrong statements continue:
[Senil Debil Anil] starts his investigation with a description of the double-slit experiment that is so natural and elegant that one may forget that it took physicists close to 30 years to develop the mathematical framework needed to describe it adequately. He rapidly recaps this struggle, from Planck’s original suggestion that energy might sometimes be quantized to the Bohr-Einstein debates of the 1930s.
Did it take 30 years to adequately describe the double slit experiment? 30 years from which moment? What kind of bullšit timing is that? As a classical electromagnetic wave experiment, Thomas Young presented the experiment in 1801 and it was already known at the very moment how the wave equation describes this behavior. The precise package of the wave equations that is relevant for the electromagnetic field – Maxwell's equations – were found in the second half of the 19th century but they changed nothing about the picture.

More importantly, as an experiment with demonstrably isolated particles, namely electrons, the equivalent experiment was made by Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer in the [Nokia] Bell Labs in 1927 – some two years after the equations of quantum mechanics were written down and three years after de Broglie hypothesized the de Broglie wave for electrons.

The only way to get close to 30 years is to place the beginning in 1900, when Planck has used the light quanta for the first time. But the light quanta – the quantization of energy – didn't "directly" lead to the wave phenomena. Both of them – quantization of energy and the waves associated with particles – were found to be consequences of the same theory, quantum mechanics, but this "double role" of the quantum theory wasn't obvious from the beginning. For this reason, it's right to say that nothing important has happened to the double slit experiment in 1900, and that's why the counting that produces the result "close to 30 years" is just historically indefensible.

To make the presentation even stupider, Senil Debil Anil focuses on the 1960s as the time of the experimental realization of the double slit experiment:
It is surprising to learn that the double-slit experiment played a minor role in the early development of quantum theory—that is, until [Senil Debil Anil] explains that it was not performed in the laboratory until the 1960s. Until then, it was only a thought experiment.
But this is just a very naive interpretation of the timing that hasn't played any role in the actual evolution of physics. In reality, the equivalent experiment with the electrons was made in 1927. It was the The [Nokia] Bell Labs electron diffraction experiment that was almost simultaneously made by George Paget Thomson in Aberdeen. These men have sent the electrons to crystals or metals and they saw interference patterns.

Those experiments convey the exact same lesson: electrons interfere, they have a wave associated with them. The metals or crystals may be considered "multiple slits", instead of "double slits" (each atom in a crystal lattice behaves as a "slit"), but the principles governing the interference caused by "multiple slits" are obviously the same as those that govern "double slits". A competent enough theoretical physicist obviously knows how to gain the same insights from "multiple slit" and from "double slit" experiments. Who can't do that is incompetent as a theoretical physicist but his incompetence doesn't mean that physics or physicists didn't have the experimental proof of wave properties of the electron already in the 1920s. Physicists did have this empirical proof in 1927.

The 1927 experiment was sufficient to prove the wave properties of the electron, and the required probabilistic interpretation of the wave. Other things, such as the proper description of the electrons in atoms, were actually equally sufficient. The strict double slit experiment is also enough – all these experiments and their theoretical descriptions are fundamentally equivalent as the sources of the key principles of physics. You can fail to understand this equivalence but it's just your intellectual limitation, not a limitation of physics or physicists.

Another Frappier's paragraph starting with "Feynman might have obtained ideal data by imagining..." tries to claim that it was very important for physics to prepare the "strict" double slit experiment. But it just wasn't important for physics. The strict experiment with electrons and two slits wasn't made until the 1960s but it didn't matter because there's nothing important about making the experiment that looks exactly in this way.

The original Thomas Young experiment with the electromagnetic waves was made in 1801. In the 20th century, we could have interpreted it in one more way: the electromagnetic waves were streams of particles, light quanta or photons, so these photons had to have a wave function that interferes with itself, too, to be sure that the photons create the right pattern out of the individual points. This realization was made by G.I. Taylor and it happened to be around 1927, too. Since that time, people understood that the electromagnetic field had to be quantized as well and there were lots of analogies between photons and electrons.
Technological advances, we learn, prompted physicists to conduct ever-more-sophisticated versions of the experiment, which in turn fueled a greater variety of interpretations. This increased the need for ever-more-sophisticated experiments.
A "wonderful" vicious loop. The only problem is that none of these things that have "encouraged each other" has ever been useful for progress in physics. The development of the increasingly contrived experiments and the technology for them has always been a completely meaningless game – game played mostly by those who are mentally incapable of learning the universal lessons from the double slit experiment or any equivalent, comparably simple, setup. This has grown into a giant movement or industry of morons who love to make things contrived because the useless complexity makes it easier to fool themselves and others.

But not everyone is a moron and the people who aren't morons know that the meaning of the wave functions, observables etc. has to be exactly what the folks in Copenhagen have said – and a careful thinking about a single simple experiment, such as the double slit experiment, is enough to make this conclusion. Intelligent people just don't get fooled by obfuscating comments by the likes of Senil Debil Anil.

I think it's clear that this obfuscation by the complexity that isn't good for anything is really deliberate. That's rather clear from Frappier's praising of Senil Debil Anil's discussion of some contrived modifications of the double slit experiment. The goal really seems to be to "break" even some semi-intelligent readers, overwhelm them with irrelevant stuff so that they feel lost and accept absolutely wrong and stupid conclusions such as the need to grow a "mixture of diverse interpretations".

This massive brainwashing of the readers is somewhat analogous to the strategy of some missionaries who want to psychologically break people for these people to be more willing to embrace Jesus Christ or another Messiah as their savior. That's the opposite of the education towards science. A person who is trained to think as a scientist needs to think increasingly clearly, localize the simple enough (usually the simplest) setups that are appropriate to obtain some information about Nature (in the most important examples, a universal qualitative lesson), and make his knowledge so robust and organized that it simply cannot be forgotten, negated, or obfuscated by some foggy sentence or a contrived experiment.

Frappier's last sentence reads:
But readers will also receive a more important lesson, one that Feynman would have approved: In science, a deep understanding is not achieved by limiting ourselves to a single perspective but by simultaneously exploring competing conceptions of reality.
Feynman loved to look at things from many perspectives but he always wanted all the ideas, arguments, and conclusions to be correct in every single one of these perspectives. On the contrary, the movement of "diverse interpretations" is all about flooding popular physics with bullšit – so that the only correct reasoning, the reasoning associated with the "Copenhagen interpretation", is really defeated by the sheer number of competing falsehoods. Feynman would have never approved the explosion of "diverse" incorrect perspectives. He would have always placed the validity above the "diversity".

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