is going to be alright!
(A very simple, very short Tragicomedy
Nightmares and a Sad Ending.)
A sunny evening. After a stressful day at the Physics Department you
are in your motor-boat, driving towards the open sea.
stop the engine, sit down on a deck chair and start reading your book
“How Universes Emerge”. After a while you feel disturbed by the seesaw.
You decide to glide with the waves. You will simply gather pace until
the boat speed equals the wave speed, and then you will leave the
steering to the autopilot. Then there won’t be any seesaw bothering you.
sooner thought than done! You accelerate slowly. In no time the boat
will be fast enough. Just a moment, just a little moment ... But – how
strange, nothing changes. Though you can feel the acceleration, the
waves don’t slow down! What is going on here? Still wave after
along the boat with seemingly undiminished speed. You pull down the
accelerator – nothing changes. Full speed! – no change. Now you become
scared. You look around; where are you actually? Can that be waves? Can
that be water? Is it possible that there is not any ocean at
you are just a moment away from falling into the fathomless abyss at
the edge of the world, as the ancestors believed?
in sweat you wake up.
You are walking along the seashore. Gentle wave fronts beat against the
quay wall. Around some buoys you can see beautiful interference
patterns on the water surface, sparkling in the sun. Pensively you
meditate on the fact that in the course of the millenniums the waves
are going to wear away the wall, slowly and steadily. All of a sudden,
however, you are startled out of your reverie by a loud noise: You lift
up your eyes and see that a hefty lump of concrete is being knocked out
of the wall and flies away. And after a short time there is the same
noise once more, and again a large chunk of the wall takes wing. And
again. And whenever this happens, an entire wave front disappears as
far as your eyes are able to follow it. Exactly the same happens with
the next wave front: it knocks out a lump of concrete from the wall and
disappears at the same time.
You are confused and at
Like in the dream before, you ask yourself what’s going on here anyhow.
What disrupts the wall under your feet into pieces? Is the earth going
to devour you in a moment?
You wake up – however
this time not
completely. Still half dreaming, you think of your last
dream, you remember that there was not any real ocean, not any real
water or wave, but merely a strange kind of something
that behaved like a wave. Now, however, you see that this cannot be
true either: something which behaves like a wave could never be able to
break such lumps out of a wall! Indeed, this would only be possible if
that which you have taken for a wave would turn into a massive lump of
hard matter at the moment of its impact on the wall.
how can it initially have existed as a wave – you have, after all, seen
an interference pattern around the buoys – and thereafter turn into a
hard lump of matter, at the same moment disappearing everywhere else?
is tantalizing. You are not dreaming anymore, however you still cannot
wake up completely. You cannot wake up... cannot wake up...
simply not wake up... never again wake up....
You are in a psychiatric hospital. You have not yet recovered from the
shock of the second nightmare, and the doctors say you never
will. It was just too much for you, too confusing. You sit
non-stop murmuring. If one concentrates, one can
recognize some preposterous words: Complementarity,
wave-particle dualism, interfering probability amplitudes, reduction of
the wave function, non-local connections
Some of the other inmates nod insightfully, but nobody else has the slightest idea
what all that should mean...
Doctors and nurses call you fondly “our brainiac“ – with some respect,
because of your strange pathology.
for non-physicistsNightmare 1
is the story of Special
(Ocean = ether, water waves = light, boat trip =
is about the fact that light waves can behave like particles, when
they interact with matter – at least according to the Einstein
interpretation of the Photoelectric Effect, and about the generally
accepted opinion that
waves can simply disappear – in fact all waves except the one that
the observed (measured) event. (Since Max Born interpreted the
square in the Schrödinger Equation as probability density, this
disappearence is seen as indispensable interpretation standard,
though the existence of the waves is proven
The Sad Ending tells about the deplorable condition of the interpretation of
physical reality since the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory. Still
there is no hope in sight that the Dadaistic phase of the physical worldview
could come to an end. (Of course
this does not apply to the formalisms of RT and QT – they are certainly beyond
any doubt; The interpretation, however, is utterly wrong – or, to put it
correctly, it does not even exist.)