Still if-ish…

1. Progress has slowed down:

Yep. … Rather, progress has been coming in the sputters.

I had never anticipated that translating my FDM code (for my new approach to QM) into a coherent set of theoretical statements is going to be so demanding or the progress so uneven. But that’s what has actually occurred.

To be able to focus better on the task at hand, I took this blog and my Twitter account off the ‘net from 26th February through 09th March.[* See the footnote below]

Yes, going off the ‘net did help.

Still, gone is that more of less smooth (or “linear”) flow of progress which I experienced in, say, mid-December 2020 through mid-January 2021 times or so, especially in January. Indeed, looking back at the past couple of weeks or so, I can say that a new pattern seems to have emerged. This pattern goes like this:

  • On day 1, I get some good idea about how to capture / encapsulate / present something, or put it in a precise mathematical form. So, I get excited. (I even feel like coming back on the ‘net and saying something.)
  • But right on day 2, I begin realizing that it doesn’t capture the truth in sufficient generality, i.e., that the insight is only partial. Or, may be, the idea even has loopholes in it, which come to the light only when I do a quick and dirty simulation about it.
  • By the time it’s day 2-end, day 3 or at most day 4, I have become discouraged, and even begin thinking of postponing everything to a June-July 2021-based schedule.
  • However, soon enough, I get some idea, hurriedly write it down…
  • …But only for the whole cycle to repeat once again!

This kind of a cycle has repeated some 3–4 times within the past 15–20 days alone.

“Tiring” isn’t the right word. “Fatigue” is.

But there is no way out. I don’t have any one to even discuss anything (though I am ready, as always, from my side.)

And, it still isn’t mid-March yet. So, I keep going back to the “drawing board.” Somehow.

[* Footnote: Curiously though, both WordPress and RevolverMaps have reported hits to this blog right in this period—even when it was not available for public viewing! … What’s going on?]


2. Current status:

In a way, persistence does seem to have yielded something on the positive side, though it has not been good enough (and, any progress that did come, has been coming haltingly).

In particular, with persistence, I kept on finding certain loop-holes in my thinking (though not in the special cases which I have implemented in code). These are not major conceptual errors. But errors, they still are. Some of these can be traced back to the June-July times last year. Funny enough, as I flip through my thoughts (and at times through my journal pages), some bits of some ideas regarding how I could possibly get out of these loop-holes, seem to have occurred, in some seed form (or half-baked form), right back to those times. …

Anyway, the current status is that I think that I am nearing completing a correct description, for the new approach, for the linear momentum operator.

This is the most important operator, because in QM, you use this operator, together with the position operators, in order to derive the operators for so many other dynamical quantities, e.g. the total energy, the angular momentum, etc. (See Shankar’s treatment, which was reproduced in the postulates document here [^].)

The biggest source of trouble for the linear momentum operator has been in establishing a mathematically precise pathway (and not just a conceptual one) between my approach and the mainstream QM. What I mean to say is this:

I could have simply postulated an equation (which I used in my code), and presented it as simply coming out of the blue, and be done with it. It would work; many people in QM have followed precisely this path. But I didn’t want to do that.

I also wanted to see if I can make the connections between my new approach and the MSQM as easy to grasp as possible (i.e., for an expert of MSQM). Making people understand wasn’t the only motive, however. I also wanted to anticipate as many objections as I could—apart from spotting errors, that is. Another thing: Given my convictions, I also have to make sure that whatever I propose, there has to be a consistent ontological “picture” which goes with it. I don’t theorize with ontology as an after-thought.

But troubles kept coming up right in the first consideration—in clearly spelling out the precise differences of the basic ideas between my approach and the MSQM.

And yes, MSQM does have a way of suddenly throwing up issues that are quite tricky to handle.

Just for this topic of linear momentum, check out, for instance, this thread at the Physics StackExchange [^] (especially, Dr. Luboš Motl’s answer), and this thread [^] (especially, Dr. Arnold Neumaier’s answer). The more advanced parts of both these threads are, frankly, beyond my capacity. Currently, I only aim for that level of rigour which is at, say, exactly and precisely the first three sentences from Motl’s answer!…

…We the engineers can happily ignore any unpleasant effects that might occur at the singular and boundary points. We simply try and see if we can get away ejecting such isolated domain points from any theoretical consideration! If something workable can still be obtained even after removing such points out of consideration, we go for it. So, that’s the first thing we check. Usually, it turns out we can isolate them out, and so we proceed to do precisely that! And that is precisely the level at which I am operating…

Even then, issues are tricky. And, at least IMO, a good part of the blame must lie with the confusions wrought by the Instrumentalist’s dogma.

… What the hell, if \Psi(x,t) isn’t an observable itself, then why does it find a place in their theory (even if only indirectly, as in Heisenberg’s formulation)? … Why can’t I just talk of a property that exists at each infinitesimal CV (control volume) \text{d}x? why must I instead take something of interest, then throw in the middle an operator (say a suitable Dirac’s delta), and then bury it all behind an integral sign? why can’t those guys (I mean the mathematical terms) break the cage of the integral sign, and come out in the open, just to feel some neat fresh air?

… Little wonder these MSQM folks live with an in-principle oscillatory universe. It’s a weird universe they have.

In their universe, Schrodinger’s cat is initially in a superposition of being alive and dead. But that’s not actually the most surprising part. Schrodinger’s cat then momentarily (or for a long but finite time) becomes full dead; but then, immediately, it “returns” from that state (of being actually dead) to once again be in a superposition of dead + alive; it spends some time in that superposition; it then momentarily (or for a long but finite time) becomes fully alive too; but only to return back into that surreal superposition…

And it is this whole cycle which goes on repeating ad infinitum.

… No one tells you. But that’s precisely what the framework of MS QM actually predicts.

MSQM doesn’t predict that once a cat does somehow become dead, it remains dead forever. And that’s because, in the MSQM, the only available mathematical machinery (which has any explanation for the quantum phenomena), in principle, predicts only infinite cycles of superposition–life–superposition–death–superposition–….

The postulates of the MS QM necessarily lead to a forever oscillatory universe! Little wonder they can’t solve the measurement problem!

One consequence of such a state of the MS QM theory is that thinking through any aspect becomes that much harder. It isn’t impossible. But hard, yes, it certainly is, where hard means: “tricky”.

Anyway, since the day before yesterday, it has begun looking like this topic (of linear momentum operator), and to the depth I mentioned above, might get over in a few days’ time. At least, that day 1–day 2–etc. pattern seems to have broken—at least for now!

If things go right at least this time round, then I might be able to finish the linear momentum operator by, say, 15th of March. Or 18th. Or 20th.

Addendum especially for Indians reading this post: No, the oscillatory universe of the MSQM people is not your usual birth-life-death-rebirth cycle as mentioned in the ancient Indian literature. The MSQM kind of “oscillations” aren’t about reincarnations of the same soul but in different bodies. In MSQM, the cat “return”s from being dead with exactly the same physical body. So, it’s not a soul temporarily acquiring one body for a brief while, and then discarding it upon its degeneration, only to get another body eventually (due to “karma” or whatever).

So, the main point is: In MSQM, Schrodinger’s cat not just manages to keep the same body, the physical laws mandate that it be exactly the same body (the same material) too! … And, the MS QM doesn’t talk of a soul anyway; it concerns itself purely with the physical aspects—which is a good thing if you ask me. (Just check the postulates document, and pick up a text book to see their typical implications.)


3. Other major tasks to be done (after the linear momentum operator):

  • Write down a brief but sufficiently accurate description of the measurement process following my new approach. This is the easiest task among all the remaining ones, because much of such a description can only be qualitative.
  • Translate my ideas for the orbital angular momentum into precise mathematical terms—something to be done, but here I guess that with almost all possible troubles having already shown up right in the linear momentum stage, the angular momentum should proceed relatively smoothly (though it too is going take quite some time).
  • And then, the biggest remaining task. Actually, many sub-tasks:
    • Study and take notes on the QM spin.
    • Think through and integrate my new approach to it.
    • Write down as much using quantitative terms as possible.

At this stage, I don’t know how long it’s going to take. However, for now, I’ve decided on the following plan for now…


4. Plan for now:

If there remain some issues with the linear momentum operator (actually, in respect of its multi-faceted usages in the MSQM, and in explaining these from the PoV of my approach including ontology), and if these still remain not satisfactorily resolved even by 15th or 18th of March (roughly, one week from now), then I will take a temporary (but long) break from QM, and instead turn my attention to Data Science.

However, if my description for \hat{p}() (i.e. the linear momentum operator) does go through smoothly during the next week, then I will immediately proceed with the remaining QM-related tasks too (i.e., only those which are listed above).


5. Bottom-line:

Expect a blog post in a week’s time or so, concerning an update with respect to the linear momentum operator and all. (I will try to keep this blog open for the upcoming week, but I guess my Twitter account is best kept closed for now—I just don’t have the time to keep posting updates there.)

In the meanwhile, take care and bye for now.


A song I like:

(Marathi) ती येते आणिक जाते (“tee yete aaNik jaate…”)
Lyrics: Aaratee Prabhu
Music: Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar
Singer: Mahendra Kapoor

[ Mahendra Kapoor has sung this song very well (even if he wasn’t a native Marathi speaker). Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s music, as usual, pays real good attention to words, even as also managing to impart an ingenious melodic quality to the tune—something that’s very rare for pop music in any language.

But still, frankly, this song is almost as nothing if you don’t get the lyrics of it.

And, to get the lyrics here, it’s not enough to know Marathi (the language) alone. You also have to “get” what precisely the poet must have meant when he used some word; for instance, the word “ती” (“she”). [Hint: Well, the hint has already been given. …Notice, I said “what”, and not “who”, in the preceding sentence!]

But yes, once you begin to get the subtle shades of the poetry here, then you can also begin to appreciate Hridaynath’s composition even better—you begin to see the more subtle musical phrases, the twists and turns and twirls in the tune which you had missed earlier. So, there’s a kind of a virtuous feedback circle going on here, between poetry and music… And yes, you also appreciate Mahendra Kapoor’s singing better as you go through the circle.

This song originally appeared as a part of a compilation of Aaratee Prabhu’s poems. If I mistake not (speaking purely from memory, and from a distance of several decades), the book in question was जोगवा (“jogawaa”). I had bought a copy of it during my UG days at COEP, out of my pocket-money.

We in fact had used another poem from this book as a part of our dramatics for the Firodiya Karandak. It was included on my insistence; I was a co-author of the script. As to the competition, we did win the first prize, but not so much because of the script. We won mainly because our singing and music team had such a fantastic, outstanding, class to them. Several of them later on went on to make full-time career in music…. The main judge was the late music composer Anand Modak, who later on went to win National awards too, but back then, he was at a fledgling stage of his career. But yes, talking of the script itself, in the informal chat after the prize announcement ceremony, he did mention, unprompted and on his own, that our script was good too! (Yaaaay!!) …Back then, there was no separate prize for the best script, but if there were to be one, then we would’ve probably won it. During that informal chat, the judges hadn’t bothered to even passingly mention any script by any other team!)

…Coming back to the book of poetry (Aaratee Prabhu’s), I think I still have my copy lying somewhere deep in one of the boxes, though by now, due to too many moves and all (I had also taken it to USA the first time I went there), its cover already had got dislodged from the book itself. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw only the title page peeping out of some bunch of unrelated and loose papers, and so, looks like, the book by now has reached a more advanced stage of disrepair! … Doesn’t matter; no one else is going to read it anyway!

A good quality audio is here [^].

]


History:
2021.03.10 20:57 IST: Originally published.
2021.03.10 22.45 IST: Added links to the Physics StackExchange threads and the subsequent comments up to the mention of the measurement problem. Other minor editing. Done with this post now!
2021.03.12 18.43 IST: Some further additions, especially in section 2, including the Addendum written for Indian readers. Also, some further additions in the songs section. Some more editing. Now, am really done with this post!

Work Is Punishment

Work is not worship—they said.

It’s a punishment, full stop!—they said.

One that is to be smilingly borne.

Else you lose your job.

And so lose everything else too. …


Hmmm… I said. … I was confused.

Work is enjoyment, actually. … I then discovered.

I told them.


They didn’t believe.

Not when I said it.

Not because they ceased believing in me.

It’s just that. They. Simply. Didn’t. Believe. In. It.

And they professed to believe in

a lot of things that never did make

any sense to themselves.

They said so.

And it was so.


A long many years have passed by, since then.


Now, whether they believe in it or not,

I have come to believe in this gem:

Work is punishment—full stop.


That’s the principle on the basis of which I am henceforth going to operate.

And yes! This still is a poem alright?

[What do you think most poems written these days are like?]

It remains a poem.


And I am going to make money. A handsome amount of money.

For once in my life-time.

After all, one can make money and still also write poems.

That’s what they say.

Or do science. Real science. Physics. Even physics for that matter.

Or, work. Real work, too.


It’s better than having no money and…

.


 

 

 

Miscellaneous: books to read, a new QM journal, the imposter syndrome, the US presidential elections

While my mood of not wanting to do anything in particular still continues (and also, there is no word yet on the job-related matters, including on whether I might qualify as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering in SPPU or not), there are a few quick things that I may as well note.

Updates on 17th, 18th and 22nd Nov. 2016: See my English translation[s] of the song, at the end of the post.


Books to Read:

First, the books to read. Here are a few books on my to-read list:

  1. Sean Carroll, “The Big Picture” [^]. I have been browsing through Sean’s blog-posts since before the time the book was published, and so have grown curious. I don’t have the money to buy it, right now, but once I get the next job, I sure plan to buy it. Here is the review in NY Times [^]. And, here is a latest review, written by a software engineer (whose link appeared in Sean’s twitter feed (I don’t myself use my Twitter account, but sometimes do check out the feeds of others via browser))[^]. Judging from his posts, I do know that Sean writes really well, and I would certainly want to check out this book, eventually.
  2. Roger Penrose, “Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe,” [^]. This is the latest offering by Penrose. Sometimes I simply type “quantum physics” in Google, and then, in the search results, I switch the tab over to “news.” I came to know of this book via this route, last week, when I ran into this review [^].
  3. Roger Schlafly, “How Einstein Ruined Physics: Motion, Symmetry and Revolution in Science,” [^]. Here is a review [^], though my curiosity about the book rests not on the review but on two things: (i) what I had thought of Einstein myself, as far back as in early 1990s, while at UAB (hint: Schlafly’s thesis wouldn’t be out of bounds for me), and (ii) my reading the available portions of the book at Google Books. …This book has been on my “to-read” list for quite some time, but somehow it keeps slipping off. … Anyway, to be read, soon after I land a job…

A New QM Journal:

A new journal has arrived on the QM scene: [^]. Once again, I got to know of it through the “news” tab in a Google search on “quantum physics”, when I took this link [^].

It’s an arXiv-overlay journal. What it means is that first you submit your paper to arXiv. … As you know, getting something published at arXiv carries a pretty low bar (though it is not zero, and there have been some inconsistencies rarely reported about improper rejections even at arXiv). It’s good to bring your work to the notice of your peers, but it carries no value in your academic/research publications record, because arXiv is not a proper journal as such. … Now, if your work is good, you want to keep it open-access, but you don’t want to pay for keeping it open-access, and, at the same time, you also want to have the credentials of a proper journal publication to your credit, you have a solution, in the form of this arXiv-overlay journal. You send the link to your arXiv-published paper to them. If their editorial board finds it fitting the standards and purpose of their journal, they will include it.

The concept originated, I guess, with Timothy Gowers [^] and others’ efforts, when they started a maths journal called “Discrete Analysis.” At least I do remember reading about it last year [^]. Here is Gowers’ recent blog post reflecting on the success of this arXiv-overlay journal [^]. Here is what Nature had to report about the movement a few months ago [^].

How I wish there were an arXiv for engineering sciences too.

Especially in India, there has been a proliferation of bad journals: very poor quality, but they carry an ISSN, and they are accepted as journals in the Indian academia. I don’t have to take names; just check out the record of most any engineering professor from outside the IISc/IIT system, and you will immediately come to know what I mean.

At the same time, for graduate students, especially for the good PhD students who happen to lie outside the IIT system (there are quite a few such people), and for that matter even for MTech students in IITs, finding a good publication venue sometimes is difficult. Journal publications take time—1 or 2 years is common. Despite its size, population, or GDP, India hardly has any good journals being published from here. At the same time, India has a very large, sophisticated, IT industry.

Could this idea—arXiv-overlay journal—be carried into engineering space and in India? Could the Indian IT industry help in some ways—not just technical assistance in creating and maintaining the infrastructure, but also by way of financial assistance to do that?

We know the answer already in advance. But what the hell! What is the harm in at least mentioning it on a blog?


Just an Aside (re. QM): I spent some time noting down, on my mental scratch-pad, how QM should be presented, and in doing so, ended up with some rough outlines of  a new way to do so. I will write about it once I regain enough levels of enthusiasm.


The Imposter Syndrome:

It seems to have become fashionable to talk of the imposter syndrome [^]. The first time I read the term was while going through Prof. Abinandanan’s “nanopolitan” blog [^]. Turns out that it’s a pretty widely discussed topic [^], with one write-up even offering the great insight that “true imposters don’t suffer imposter syndrome” [^]. … I had smelled, albeit mildly, something like a leftist variety of a dead rat here… Anyway, at least writing about the phenomenon does seem to be prevalent among science-writers; here is a latest (H/T Sean Carroll’s feed) [^]…

Anyway, for the record: No, I have not ever suffered from the imposter syndrome, not even once in my life, nor do I expect to do so in future.

I don’t think the matter is big enough for me to spend any significant time analyzing it, but if you must (or if you somehow do end up analyzing it, for whatever reasons), here is a hint: In your work, include the concept of “standards,” and ask yourself just one question: does the author rest his standards in reason and reality, or does he do so in some people—which, in case of the imposter syndrome, would be: the other people.

Exercise: What (all) would stand opposite in meaning to the imposter syndrome? Do you agree with the suggestion here [^]?


The US Presidential Elections: Why are they so “big”? should they be?

Recently, I made a comment at Prof. Scott Aaronson’s blog, and at that time, I had thought that I would move it here as a separate post in its own right. However, I don’t think I have the energy right now, and once it returns, I am not sure if it will not get lost in the big stack of things to do. Anyway, here is the link [^]. … As I said, I am not interested much—if at all—in the US politics, but the question I dealt with was definitely a general one.


Overall, though, my mood of boredom continues… Yaawwwnnnn….


A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “seene mein jalan…”
Lyrics: Shahryar
Music: Jaidev
Singer: Suresh Wadkar

[Pune today is comparable to the Bombay of 1979 1978—but manages to stay less magnificent.]


Update on 2016.11.17: English translation of the song:

For my English blog-readers: A pretty good translation of the lyrics is available at Atul’s site; it is done by one Sudhir; see here [^]. This translation is much better than the English sub-titles appearing in this YouTube video [^] which comes as the first result when you google for this song. …

I am not completely happy with Sudhir’s translation (on Atul’s site) either, though it is pretty good. At a couple of places or so, it gives a slightly different shade of meaning than what the original Urdu words convey.

For instance, in the first stanza, instead of

“Just for that there is a heart inside,
one searches a pretext to be alive,”

it should be something like:

“just because there is a heart,
someone searches (i.e., people search) for an excuse which can justify its beating”

Similarly, in the second stanza,  instead of:

“what is this new intensity of loneliness, my friend?”,

a more accurate translation would be:

“what kind of a station in the journey of loneliness is this, my friends?”.

The Urdu word “manzil” means: parts of the Koran, and then, it has also come to mean: a stage in a journey, a station, a destination, or even a floor in a multi-storied building. But in no case does it mean intensity, as such. The underlying thought here is something like this: “loneliness is OK, but look, what kind of a lonely place it is that I have ended up in, my friends!” And the word for “friend” appears in the plural, not the singular. The song is one of a silent/quiet reflection; it is addressed to everyone in general and none in particular.

… Just a few things like that, but yes, speaking overall, Sudhir’s translation certainly is pretty good. Much better than what I could have done purely on my own, and in any case, it is strongly recommended. … The lyrics are an indispensable part of the soul of this song—in fact, the song is so damn well-integrated, all its elements are! So, do make sure to see Sudhir’s translation, too.


Update on 2016.11.18: My own English translation:

I have managed to complete my English translation of the above song. Let me share it with you. I benefitted a great deal from Sudhir’s translation and notes about the meanings of the words, mentioned in the note above, as well as further from “ek fankaar” [^]. My translation tries to closely follow not only the original words but also their sequence. To maintain continuity, the translation is given for the entire song as a piece.

First, the original Hindi/Urdu words:

seene mein jalan aankhon mein toofaan sa kyun hai
is shehar mein har shakhs pareshaan saa kyun hai

dil hai to dhadakne ka bahaanaa koi dhoondhe
patthar ki tarah behis-o-bejaan sa kyun hai

tanahaai ki ye kaun si manzil hai rafeeqon
ta-hadd-e-nazar ek bayaabaan saa kyon hai

kyaa koi nai baat nazar aati hai ham mein
aainaa hamen dekh ke hairaan sa kyon hai

Now, my English translation, with some punctuation added by me [and with further additions in the square brackets indicating either alternative words or my own interpolations]:

Why is there jealousy in the bosom; a tempest, as it were, in the eyes?
In this city, every person—why does it seem as if he were deeply troubled [or harassed]?

[It’s as if] Someone has a heart, so he might go on looking for an alibi [or a pretext] to justify [keeping it] beating
[But] A stone, as if it were that, why is it so numb and lifeless [in the first place]?

What kind of a station in the journey of the solitude is this, [my noble] friends?
Right to the end of the sight, why is there [nothing but] a sort of a total desolation?

Is there something new that has become visible about me?
The mirror, looking at me, why does it seem so bewildered [or perplexed]?

Update on 22nd Nov. 2016: OK, just one two more iterations I must have; just a slight change in the second [and the first [, and the third]] couplet[s]. (Even if further improvements would may be possible, I am now going to stop my iterations right here.):

Why is there jealousy in the bosom; a tempest, as it were, in the eyes?
In this city, every silhouette [of a person]—why does it seem as if he were deeply troubled [or harassed]?

[It’s as if] A heart, one does have, and so, someone might go on looking for an alibi [or a pretext] to justify [keeping it] beating
[But] A stone, as if it were that, why is it so numb and lifeless [in the first place]?

What kind of a station in the journey of the solitude is this, [my noble] friends?
[That] Right to the end of the sight, why is there [nothing but] a sort of a total desolation?

Is there something new that has become visible about me?
The mirror, looking at me, why does it seem so bewildered [or perplexed]?

 


[E&OE]