A Bit of Tracing Back Regarding My New Approach

Here, let me trace a bit of the development concerning my work with photons.

There are two reasons why I used only the scalar wave equation during my PhD research.

The first reason is that, initially, i.e. when the PhD began, I simply didn’t know any better!

Indeed, it was a bit of discovery for me as I figured out, while right in the middle of feverishly simulating and writing for my two QM papers in 2005, that there ought to be gyroscopic aspects to the photon. I mean, I simply saw this thing come out of the new approach that I was playing with (i.e. developing its details). Since no elementary text on QM (also optics and modern physics) mentioned anything like this (at least not the books I consulted), I decided to defer writing about it. And, then, there also was this space limitation (8 pages) for the ISTAM papers anyway—indeed, I was concerned more with having to cut down on the matter than growing it. But yes, this thing only confirms that I really didn’t know any better!

At that time, I tried  to give a mechanical model for it (in my mind, i.e. in unpublished research). Then I realized that if I began using the mechanical terms right at this early stage, people might think that I was still in the Newtonian mechanical realm and that I had not grasped the quintessential quantum nature. So, I kept it aside.

The second reason is that I was in a pressure of sorts to keep my research limited to engineering sciences, particularly, to the specialty that is mechanical engineering.

There was no pressure from my PhD guide. However, whenever I spoke about my research with engineering researchers, I could sense them saying (mostly indirectly) that this matter could eventually prove troublesome to me at the time of writing of thesis and its defense. In India, people are especially concerned with maintaining divisions (religion, caste, language, urban-vs-rural, political parties, … branches of science, engineering…). So, there was a real danger of (once again) losing the PhD degree.

So, I deferred much development related to QM to a time until after the defense.

The trouble was that the defense took 2 years, and when it finally did occur, I already was new in my day-job that had nothing to do with QM, and had some commitments there. … It’s only now that I am able to revisit QM, including my own ideas of QM.

BTW, let me also confirm that advice to start writing papers as early as possible in your research. It does help.

You see, the first time I had this idea of geometrically sampling the Huygens’ wavelets was in 1992 (perhaps even in late 1991). I was working in Prof B.R. Patterson’s group in UAB, and he was all a stereology man. The Americans all share one thing. Every American thinks that whatever it is that he is doing, that is the greatest thing in the world. (Strictly personal: I remember thinking what the hell is all this building building thing, while reading The Fountainhead.) So, it was natural for Pat (I never called him by that name in person, though) to encourage thinking in terms of geometric probability. While Pat was all about applying it to the diffusion-related phenomena and in materials, I thought of extending it to the wave phenomena and to light. However, I was in trouble back then, and soon, was failed in the qualifiers. So, I decided not to tell the idea itself to anyone.I told my room-mate Parag Bhargava (now Full Professor at IIT Bombay) that I had a great idea. But not what precisely it was.

The first time I divulged this idea to anyone was in late 1995/early 1996, to my two (really) disinterested engineer friends. At that time, while explaining the matter to them (without giving them any hint that it can resolve the QM wave-particle duality—and I knew they were of the types who couldn’t have got this implication, and so I was safe), I had mistakenly told them that the Feynman himself had clubbed the potential, diffusion and wave equations together, with a Laplacian on the one hand and the differentials of time on the other.  I continued to carry this mistaken belief for many years, right from early 1990s, for a total period of about a decade!

The first time that I developed full confidence that the randomly sampled Huygens process does actually resolve the quantum wave-particle duality was in late 1999, possibly in November 1999. Before this time (i.e. from UAB times onwards) I was not so sure. I mean, I knew that I had a clue, but I used to think that it would take much more of a further abstract development on top of it. I couldn’t have been sure about the “completeness” aspect of it—the point that this is all there is to the solution (as far as photons go). That is the confidence I got first time only in late 1999.

I had come across, for the first time in my life, Feynman’s tiny QED book for the layman in Barnes and Noble’s in Redwood City, CA, in July 1999. After flipping through a few pages, I bought it. (It’s really strange that I had entirely missed the existence of this book during my UAB days.) But I didn’t immediately begin reading it.

I picked it up for reading once I was in Santa Rosa, CA, in the winter of 1999. The moment that I read through the first one or two chapters, I knew that my suspicion, carried right from my UAB days, and divulged to my friends in Pune in 1995/6, was true. I don’t recall the date any more, but do remember that the “aha” moment had come within the three-four days before the day when I wrote a very special—rather, weird—comment to the Ayn Rand Institute, consisting entirely of this: “tee dee dee dee dee dee …” (Yes, the implicit reference was to Beatles’ “With love from me to you.”) I wanted to communicate my joy to someone—without telling what it was about…  At that time, I was being very heavily “followed up,” with on an average two psychic attacks per day, even as the Brahmin girls at the matrimonial sites (and my “Objectivist” enemies) enjoyed their days. Of course, some days did go without any. … Those were really the worst days of my life… I would think twice before wishing them on my enemies (including the Americans).

If there were no psychic attacks then, I could have begun writing a paper immediately. If so, I would have caught both my advances as well as the problems with my ideas early on.

One reason I didn’t write down anything was because I was not sure if someone wouldn’t break-in in my apartment in my absence, and steal data/ideas—I was alone in my apartment in Santa Rosa, and everyone knows how easy it is to hack computers. (For example, there is a hack right now concerning my Web site. If you type “JadhavResearch.info” into a Web browser, today, it takes you to a different page than to my Web site. No, I am not going to fight this issue. As far as I am concerned, it is between Tata Indicom, their contractors, and the hackers.)

But coming back to the main point here, even in 2002 and 3, while talking to IIT Bombay and other professors (when I was on the lookout for a PhD admission), I was still attributing the clubbing together of the three equations to Feynman. It was only in 2003 September that I realized that the idea of clubbing together the three equations was nowhere to be found in Feynman’s Lectures. It was something that I had done on my own.

And more. It was not until in September 2005, when I began writing the ISTAM “Resolution” papers that I had grasped some of the issues related to the change of phase of a photon and the gyroscopic aspects. It was in part for the reason mentioned above (namely, that I was trying to give a mechanical model for these aspects of the photon) that I decided to postpone discussing phases in those two papers. [Within six months, then, I was diagnosed with the cardiac trouble; the surgery and the recovery followed; and I somehow jotted down something towards phase calculations in my paperson unrelated topics—I think the phases of photons are discussed perhaps in the snowman paper.]

Had I begun writing my QM paper earlier (as against merely thinking about ideas only in the mind), it would have exposed not only my weak points but also the strong ones.

… That reminds me. Even today, even with just photons (and not electrons), I still have one more thread left to pursue and exhaust (at least critique). [Reminder to self: WRITE it down as soon as getting home!]

Also, one final point. Don’t let yourself think that I have finalized everything regarding my new approach. It’s very much a work in progress. Don’t confuse this post with the sort of reminiscences that retired physicists/Nobel laureates write. At the same time, don’t let yourself think that I have stated nothing permanent in my papers thus far. I have. For instance, the idea that IAD doesn’t exist, that the photon (or more generally, quantum) propagation is a local process, that a quantum description for monochromatic radiation (i.e. one without using group waves) can and should be the starting point, that there is a difference of transients in the dynamics of my approach and others, etc. … Think about it. It’s already quite a handful.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

A Song I Like
[Guess this is the first time I mention an English song here.]
(English) “If there’s anything that you want…”
Singers, Lyrics, Music: Beatles

[E&OE]

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2 thoughts on “A Bit of Tracing Back Regarding My New Approach

  1. Hi Ajit,

    Interesting story. I understand that you didn’t find any elementary text on QM mentioning anything like gyroscopic aspects of the photon. But most of QM texts introduce polarization of light as spin of photons. Isn’t this something like a gyroscope?

    As for myself, I understand QM as a fairly mechanical theory (differed interaction through through force carrier particles), compared to Newtonian instant interaction at distance. I know this is not the usual point of view, but I think this is due to a historical bias that is hard to die, because everyone starts physics with Newtonian forces. It should be the other way round: learning first about interactions between elementary particles, and later expanding to compound matter interactions.

    Concerning another mechanical model of the photon, you might be interested in my FQXi essay which is a fair resume of my comprehension of light or any quantum particle ensemble (Google: Dijksman + FQXi and download pdf-file).

    Best,

    Arjen

    • Hi Arjen,

      1. You said: “I understand that you didn’t find any elementary text on QM mentioning anything like gyroscopic aspects of the photon. But most of QM texts introduce polarization of light as spin of photons. Isn’t this something like a gyroscope?”

      Yes, it is. But if the question is: is this connection to be found explicitly mentioned, the answer will have to be a “no.” … Following their program of mathematization of physics and having ever higher-level and symbolic (even floating kind of) abstractions for “theories” of physics, they wouldn’t want to give any hint towards use or parallels to any of classical physics. See, for example, how Feynman discourages imagining anything mechanical in his Lectures, part II, indeed, how he encourages wiping out Maxwell’s physical insights. They follow such advices very gladly.

      Another matter. As mentioned in the post, I was following Feynman, and, following him (in his layman’s QED book), didn’t really pursue polarization i.e. the spin. … It was when that the spin-related thingie just dropped out of my approach that I suddenly took a notice of it.

      2. Re. your thoughts on beginning with interactions. Ummm… No. I would instead follow the historical sequence—because, it directly yields the proper hierarchical sequence. But, having said that, I also think that long before Newton, at least in Greece if not even earlier, they did have in very explicit terms this idea that the physical universe consists of interconnected entities—that every thing is interconnected. So, you don’t have to introduce quantum interactions in order to introduce the simple idea of interacting entities (just the way you don’t have to buy the Machian view to see that everything affects everything else). Hierarchically, the quantum interactions would come way way later, certainly after Newtonian mechanics (i.e. the mechanics of uncharged bodies) and Maxwellian electrodynamics (i.e. the mechanics of charged bodies).

      In that sense, I do disagree with you. And, also with Prof. Taylor (of MIT, I guess now retired).

      Best,

      –Ajit

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