Sheepish. Still not a mystic. A bit nostalgic…

1. Sheepish:

I’ve spotted yet another error in my new approach!

The error was conceptual in nature, not just mathematical, and it occurred at a fundamental level. … Or so, I think! As of today!

I mean, I am not even rock-sure whether, eventually, it indeed would turn out to be an error or not! … But yes, as of now, I do think that it is an error!

How did the error get into my system—I mean in my new approach?

Well, it first got subtly introduced (and thereafter got reinforced) into my very thinking mode, quite some time ago. May be around May–June times last year. How come?

Because, by a certain motivation that was vague, subtle, and definitely unidentified, I was trying to leave the mainstream QM’s postulates as unaltered as possible. Rather, the MSQM had been subtly shaping up my own “rebellious” thinking too, you know! (For the MS QM postulates, see the document attached to my last post here.)

So, yes, it certainly is time for me to be a bit sheepish. … I’ve begun wondering whether I should have hurried into blogging about my January 2021 computational result or not. I mean the result concerning the helium atom’s bonding energy. … I now think that the numerical result could be—actually, should be—erroneous too.

However, in this particular case of QM application (concerning the helium atom), and for this particular calculation (viz. the bonding energy), the impact should not be numerically so significant. But that’s only because the finite differences method itself is so crude that the error, even if present, can only be expected to get almost fully lost within the numerical approximations. (That too was another reason why I didn’t spot the error right then and there!)

So, may be, I should not have blogged about that trial with such an immediacy.

To be fair, though, I work completely alone, and have never had university courses on QM. The latter leads to two things: (1) I sure have been less susceptible to the errors of the MSQM mode of thinking (even if it can’t solve the measurement problem). (2) However, at the same time, the lack of university education in QM also means that I have also haven’t had the opportunity to discuss issues with class-mates and all. Informal discussions could have worked wonders, who knows. … But the fact is, I work completely alone (even if there are, and have been, blog-some interactions with others).

Further, realize the nature of my goals. I am not just understanding the existing QM machinery (which is complicated). I am also developing an entirely new approach to the quantum phenomena underlying it. Everything (i.e., literally, every thing) needs to be thought through. … Loftiness of the goal ought to make, I think, some sheepishness acceptable. Particularly when it’s QM.

Another thing. There is an offsetting consideration. I don’t just think up my ideas, and then hurry up to write them down in papers, and even send them for publication, expecting that someone else would verify my ideas—conceptually, numerically, or experimentally. I myself implement my ideas through computer simulation, and carefully look at the actual experimental setups that were used in validating QM. This last part is work too!

In comparison, it’s well and good that my error got caught well in time. At least, it remained confined only to my blog posts / comments. I didn’t even send it to arXiv let alone to some well received journals. … With as many as fourteen “influential” interpretations of QM listed at the Wiki [^], and with none of them being fully satisfactory, and yet, with papers still being produced on them for years on (actually, in some cases, for decades), chances are pretty good that my error too could have gone un-noticed and well published! (The nature of the error is like that!)

So, even as I pinch myself for my “recklessness” in blogging so fast, there definitely are some offsetting considerations that are worth noting. … QM, if you are going to think completely afresh about it, certainly is hard. … Take it from me!

This “development” implies having to draw up a new schedule. Indeed, I will have to work through everything completely afresh, find some suitable solutions to the issue that came to the notice, and satisfy myself that the solutions I now think of indeed are satisfactory. Then (or simultaneously), I will also have to write code and undertake calculations via completely fresh sets of trials. Only then will I be able to get back to writing the planned document on my new approach.

And, oh yes, I still have to take good notes on the QM spin and integrate my new approach to include it. (I’ve completed taking notes on the orbital angular momentum, and it’s while understanding this topic that the possibility of an error struck me. I’m using Eisberg and Resnick for these topics. This book is excellent for these topics (IMO!))

And all this happened even as I was planning, just some 3–4 days ago, to write a small little post saying that I’ve got tired by now. I actually am. But the discovery of the error has given a bit of a new enthusiasm to me. As physicists like to say, if everything is working out fine, then that’s OK, perhaps even boring. But when something doesn’t work out, then it’s exciting. Now you can think about it… (I forgot who said something like that first.)


2. Still not a mystic:

There was some minor painting work scheduled at home (actually, filling of the cracks in the plaster of the wall).

Consequence: I had to shift around, within home, all the mover’s and packer’s boxes which were lying unopened since our last move about a year ago. These boxes contained my books.

There are in all some 1415 of these boxes, out of which about 10 boxes should be carrying my books alone, all packed to the full capacity and a bit more. (That is, after discarding almost half the books during the last move alone (not counting the books I had to discard/sell earlier too), and after losing almost 45 boxes worth of books during the 29 September 2019 flash-floods in Pune.) The size of each box is about 2 \times 1.5 \times 1.25 feet = 3.75 cubic feet.

Consequence: Now that the boxes were not stacked on top of each other in my room, but instead were lined up in a single layer on the floor in all other rooms and balcony, I could open them and check their contents. Also, a few other boxes got teared a bit during this shifting (they all are made of the cardboard). So, I had a peek into their contents too.

Consequence: I got an old book out. Somehow, I didn’t keep it back into the box.


The above-mentioned book is: My first ever bought copy of Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics.”

Here is the proof.


I had bought it for Rs. 30/- back then. Here is the proof. (Check the stamped price at the top-right corner.)

I remember later on buying a copy each in Alabama and California, but I discarded them both, while returning to India.


I had bought it on 9th January, 1984. Here is the proof. Check the top-right corner in the pic. (The squiggly looking thing above the date is my signature in Marathi.) BTW, notice, in India, we write dates in one of the two correct ways, viz., DD/MM/YY[YY]. The other correct sequence is: YYYY/MM/DD. The sequence MM/DD/YYYY is always wrong.

Notice my hand-written comment in the above pic (written in the black ink). Even today I remember the moment when I wrote it down, which was within a few days of starting reading the book. I had consciously avoided writing the comment using the cursive handwriting, because I wanted to see how the book might look if it officially carried the contents of my comment. My comment says:

“A fruitless attempt to
`Discover’ the so-called, non existing,
parallels between
Modern Physics & Eastern Mysticism.”

The handwriting is uneven, because the paper didn’t respond to the pen right—or so I think. Or may be, I was lazily lying down on bed when I wrote it, I don’t remember that part. (I also don’t recollect why I capitalized the word ‘Discover’ though!)


I had also made a few more margin notes/comments in the book, especially in the earlier parts of it. (I think that I never fully finished this book. Anyway, here is one of the comments I had made (back in 1984). Capra’s book had quoted this passage from Lao Tzu’s book “Tao Te Ching”:

``He who pursues learning will increase every day;
He who pursues Tao will decrease every day.”

To which I had made an inline comment:

“Literally true, philosophically.”

Here is the proof:

It was neat to notice that, in certain ways, I’ve not changed even the slightest bit over all these years. 37 years! That’s a long time. … Actually, I began thinking about QM not so much in XI–XII times but in my UG final year at COEP, in first half of 1983 (i.e. 2nd semester of the final year), when we had a course on Structural Metallurgy. Reed-Hill’s book (Physical Metallurgy) had mentioned the Uncertainty Principle, and while talking to a friend (on the stairs at the main entrance to the Department of Metallurgy at COEP), I had confidently said that one day, I am going to prove Heisenberg wrong.

Well, cutting to the present, I am experiencing a bit of sheepishness, but not on that count. And, I’ve never turned a mystic.


3. A bit nostalgic:

I continued buying books, esp. pop-sci, philosophy and other books, even after graduation (1983). I kept discussing these with friends. That’s how I bought Capra’s book (1984). I in fact remember showing the above comments to my friends and discussing a bit on the related philosophical issues with them.

At least one such an occasion was probably on a weekend evening, and it definitely was over a beer or two (but not more—those days, we would drink far less). It was at a restaurant in Pune. I’ve forgotten the exact restaurant (and even who exactly the friends were though I do have a list of the usual suspects). Likely, the place was either Hotel Poonam at Deccan Gymkhana, or Hotel Pearl near Balagandharva. In any case, I am sure it was a place from the JM Road/Deccan area, not from the Camp, when I discussed this book.

In those days, Poonam used to be an avant-garde place with nice open spaces, and upper middle-class clientele. We had in fact spotted many Marathi cine-/theater personalities there, right at the next table or so. (Jabbar Patel once, Amol Palekar at some other time, I remember. Friends remember Jairam Hardikar, but I was not there at that time.) Poonam used to serve an out-of-the world prawns curry. Absolutely fresh prawns, and a curry in the Konkani style (with coconuts, but not in the Malwani style). As to the Hotel Pearl, it used to have a small cubby-hole of a bar (with hardly 4–5 tables)…. Both these places had been mostly out of our reach as students, though I remember going there for some big occasion like semester-end or so. However, later on, as we graduated and started earning, we could afford such hotels too, once a month or so.

As I read my comments in the book, all such memories suddenly sprang up and became lively. Automatically. …Just stumbling across this old copy of Capra’s book had that effect on me. It also threw up the song I am running for this time…


4. Alright, so, to wind up:

Yes, I might get sheepish once in a while, and I do turn a bit nostalgic at times too, but I haven’t turned mystic, ever. Certainly not for 37 years. (Which is not a big deal, really speaking!)

As to the immediate future… Well, I can’t both be sheepish and shipping-ish at the same time, can I? (See, see, how tough it is to get out of the Copenhagen interpretation?)

So… There is going to be some further delay in writing the upcoming document and code. I am certain the task won’t be done until mid-March. It may perhaps even be March-end or some time in April before I am near completion. (But also realize: Whenever it comes, it will have some definite indication regarding the QM spin too, and I will sure try to include a brief indication of this error too.)

Obviously, blogging in the meanwhile is going to be very sparse. Expect to see this same post here for quite some time, may be for another 3 weeks or more. (Frankly, I don’t even know when I am going to return to blogging/tweeting.)

Bye for now, and take care in the meanwhile (and remember, Covid-19 has begun a definite up swing!)…


A song I like:

(Western, Pop): “Homeward bound”
Band: Simon and Garfunkel

[…I had completely forgotten this song, had not played it for a long time, certainly not for at least two decades by now. … It automatically came to me as I was flipping through Capra’s book. It used to be my favourite in the IIT Madras hostels, and even later on for some time. I still seem to like the same things about this song: the general theme / backdrop (rather than the lyrics as such), the soft and informal/folksy sort of music, and yes, also the singing.

The cassette I had bought was for the album “Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits”; it carried this version [^]. I had realized that it must have been for a live event, but didn’t know which one; I discovered the event only today (at the Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1970). Another version, the original record label, is here [^]; I “discovered” this one only today. I guess I like the Carnegie Hall version better!

]

 

A general update. Links.

I. A general update regarding my on-going research work (on my new approach to QM):

1.1 How the development is actually proceeding:

I am working through my new approach to QM. These days, I write down something and/or implement some small and simple Python code snippets (< 100 LOC Python code) every day. So, it’s almost on a daily basis that I am grasping something new.

The items of understanding are sometimes related to my own new approach to QM, and at other times, just about the mainstream QM itself. Yes, in the process of establishing a correspondence of my ideas with those of the mainstream QM, I am getting to learn the ideas and procedures from the mainstream QM too, to a better depth. … At other times, I learn something about the correspondence of both the mainstream QM and my approach, with the classical mechanics.

Yes, at times, I also spot some inconsistencies within my own framework! It too happens! I’ve spotted several “misconceptions” that I myself have had—regarding my own approach!

You see, when you are ab initio developing a new theory, it’s impossible to pursue the development of the theory very systematically. It’s impossible to be right about every thing, right from the beginning. That’s because the very theory itself is not fully known to you while you are still developing it! The neatly worked out structure, its best possible presentations, the proper hierarchical relations… all of these emerge only some time later.

Yes, you do have some overall, “vaguish” idea(s) about the major themes that are expected to hold the new theory together. You do know many elements that must be definitely there.

In my case, such essential themes or theoretical elements go, for example, like: the energy conservation principle, the reality of some complex-valued field, the specific (natural) form of the non-linearity which I have proposed, my description of the measurement process and of Born’s postulate, the role that the Eulerian (fixed control volume-based) formulations play in my theorization, etc.

But all these are just elements. Even when tied together, they still amount to only an initial framework. Many of these elements may eventually turn out to play an over-arching role in the finished theory. But during the initial stages (including the stage I am in), you can’t even tell which element is going to play a greater role. All the elements are just loosely (or flexibly) held together in your mind. Such a loosely held set does not qualify to be called a theory. There are lots and lots (and lots) of details that you still don’t even know exist. You come to grasp these only on the fly, only as you are pursuing the “fleshing out” of the “details”.

1.2. Multiple threads of seemingly haphazard threads of thoughts

Once the initial stage gets over, and you are going through the fleshing out stage, the development has a way of progressing on multiple threads of thought, simultaneously.

There are insights or minor developments, or simply new validations of some earlier threads, which occur almost on a daily basis. Each is a separate piece of a small little development; it makes sense to you; and all such small little pieces keep adding up—in your mind and in your notebooks.

Still, there is not much to share with others, simply because in the absence of a knowledge of all that’s going through your mind, any pieces you share are simply going to look as if they were very haphazard, even “random”.

1.3. At this stage, others can easily misunderstand what you mean:

Another thing. There is also a danger that someone may misread you.

For example, because he himself is not clear on many other points which you have not noted explicitly.

Or, may be, you have noted your points somewhere, but he hasn’t yet gone through them. In my case, it is the entirety of my Ontologies series [^]. … Going by the patterns of hits at this blog, I doubt whether any single soul has ever read through them all—apart from me, that is. But this entire series is very much alive in my mind when I note something here or there, including on the Twitter too.

Or, sometimes, there is a worse possibility too: The other person may read what you write quite alright, but what you wrote down itself was somewhat misleading, perhaps even wrong!

Indeed, recently, something of this sort happened when I had a tiny correspondence with someone. I had given a link to my Outline document [^]. He went through it, and then quoted from it in his reply to me. I had said, in the Outline document, that the electrons and protons are classical point-particles. His own position was that they can’t possibly be. … How possibly could I reply him? I actually could not. So, I did not!

I distinctly remember that right when I was writing this point in the Outline document, I had very much hesitated precisely at it. I knew that the word “classical” was going to create a lot of confusions. People use it almost indiscriminately: (i) for the ontology of Newtonian particles, (ii) for the ontology of Newtonian gravity, (iii) for ontology of the Fourier theory (though very few people think of this theory in the context of ontologies), (iv) for ontology of EM as implied by Maxwell, (v) for ontology of EM as Lorentz was striving to get at and succeeded brilliantly in so many essential respects (but not all, IMO), etc.

However, if I were to spend time on getting this portion fully clarified (first to myself, and then for the Outline document), then I also ran the risk of missing out on noting many other important points which also were fairly nascent to me (in the sense, I had not noted them down in a LaTeX document). These points had to be noted on priority, right in the Outline document.

Some of these points were really crucial—the V(x,t) field as being completely specified in reference to the elementary charges alone (i.e. no arbitrary PE fields), the non-linearity in \Psi(x,t), the idea that it is the Instrument’s (or Detector’s) wavefunction which undergoes a catastrophic change—and not the wavefunction of the particle being measured, etc. A lot of such points. These had to be noted, without wasting my time on what precisely I meant when I used the word “classical” for the point-particle of the electron etc.

Yes, I did identify that I the elementary particles were to be taken as conditions in the aether. I did choose the word “background object” merely in order to avoid any confusion with Maxwell’s idea of a mechanical aether. But I myself wasn’t fully clear on all aspects of all the ideas. For instance, I still was not familiar with the differences of Lorentz’ aether from Maxwell’s.

All in all, a document like the Outline document had to be an incomplete document; it had to come out in the nature of a hurried job. In fact, it was so. And I identified it as such.

I myself gained a fuller clarity on many of these issues only while writing the Ontologies series, which happened some 7 months later, after putting out the Outline document online. And, it was even as recently as in the last month (i.e., about 1.5 years after the Outline document) that I was still further revising my ideas regarding the correspondence between QM and CM. … Indeed, this still remains a work in progress… I am maintaining handwritten notes and LaTeX files too (sort of like “journal”s or “diaries”).

All in all, sharing a random snapshot of a work-in-progress always carries such a danger. If you share your ideas too early, while they still are being worked out, you might even end up spreading some wrong notions! And when it comes to theoretical work, there is no product-recall mechanism here—at all! Detrimental to your goals, after all!

1.3 How my blogging is going to go, in the next few weeks:

So, though I am passing through a very exciting phase of development these days, and though I do feel like sharing something or the other on an almost daily basis, when I sit down and think of writing a blog post, unfortunately, I find that there is very little that I can actually share.

For this very reason, my blogging is going to be sparse over the coming weeks.

However, in the meanwhile, I might post some brief entries, especially regarding papers/notes/etc. by others. As in this post.

OTOH, if you want something bigger to think about, see the Q&A answers from my last post here. That material is enough to keep you occupied for a couple of decades or more… I am not joking. That’s what’s happened to others; it has happened to me; and I can guarantee you that it would happen to you too, so long as you keep forgetting whatever you’ve read about my new approach. You could then very easily spend decades and decades (and decades)…

Anyway, coming back to some recent interesting pieces by others…


II. Links:


2.1. Luboš Motl on TerraPower, Inc.:

Dr. Luboš Motl wrote a blog-post of the title “Green scientific illiteracy enters small nuclear reactors, too” [^]. This piece is a comment on TerraPower’s proposal. In case you didn’t know, TerraPower is a pet project of Bill Gates’.

My little note (on the local HDD), upon reading this post, had said something like, “The critics of this idea are right, from an engineering/technological viewpoint.”

In particular, I have too many apprehensions about using liquid sodium. Further, given the risk involved in distributing the sensitive nuclear material over all those geographically dispersed plants, this idea does become, err…, stupid.

In the above post, Motl makes reference to another post of his, one from 2019, regarding the renewable energies like the solar and the wind. The title of this earlier post read: “Bill Gates: advocates of dominant wind & solar energy are imbeciles” [^]. Make sure to go through this one too. The calculation given in it is of a back-of-the-envelop kind, but it also is very impeccable. You can’t find flaw with the calculation itself.

Of course, this does not mean that research on renewable energies should not be pursued. IMO, it should be!

It’s just that I want to point out a few things: (i) Motl chooses the city of Tokyo for his calculation, which IMO would be an extreme case. Tokyo is a very highly dense city—both population-wise and on the count of geographical density of industries (and hence, of industrial power consumption). There can easily be other places where the density of power consumption, and the availability of the natural renewable resources, are better placed together. (ii) Even then, calculations such as that performed by Motl must be included in all analyses—and, the cost of renewable energy must be calculated without factoring in the benefit of government subsidies. … Yes, research on renewable energy would still remain justified. (iii) Personally, I find the idea of converting the wind/solar electricity into hydrogen more attractive. See my 2018 post [^] which had mentioned the idea of using the hydrogen gas as a “flywheel” of sorts, in a distributed system of generation (i.e. without transporting the wind-generated hydrogen itself, over long distances).


2.2. Demonstrations on coupled oscillations and resonance at Harvard:

See this page [^]; the demonstrations are neat.

As to the relevance of this topic to my new approach to QM: The usual description of resonance proceeds by first stating a homogeneous differential equation, and then replacing the zero on the right hand-side with a term that stands for an oscillating driving force [^]. Thus, we specify a force-term for the driver, but the System under study is still being described with the separation vector (i.e. a displacement) as the primary unknown.

Now, just take the driver part of the equation, and think of it as a multi-scaled effect of a very big assemblage of particles whose motions themselves are fundamentally described using exactly the same kind of terms as those for the particles in the System, i.e., using displacements as the primary unknown. It is the multi-scaling procedure which transforms a fundamentally displacement-based description to a basically force-primary description. Got it? Hint below.

[Hint: In the resonance equation, it is assumed that form of the driving force remains exactly the same at all times: with exactly the same F_0, m, and \omega. If you replace the driving part with particles and springs, none of the three parameters characterizing the driving force will remain constant, especially \omega. They all will become functions of time. But we want all the three parameters to stay constant in time. …Now, the real hint: Think of the exact sinusoidal driving force as an abstraction, and multi-scaling as a means of reaching that abstraction.]


2.3 Visualization of physics at the University of St. Andrews:

Again, very neat [^]. The simulations here have very simple GUI, but the design of the applets has been done thoughtfully. The scenarios are at a level more advanced than the QM simulations at PhET, University of Colorado [^].


2.4. The three-body problem:

The nonlinearity in \Psi(x,t) which I have proposed is, in many essential ways, similar to the classical N-body problem.

The simplest classical N-body problem is the 3-body problem. Rhett Allain says that the only way to solve the 3-body problem is numerically [^]. But make sure to at least cursorily note the special solutions mentioned in the Wiki [^]. This Resonance article (.PDF) [^] seems quite comprehensive, though I haven’t gone through it completely. Related, with pictures: A recent report with simulations, for search on “choreographies” (which is a technical term; it refers to trajectories that repeat) [^].

Sure there could be trajectories that repeat for some miniscule number of initial conditions. But the general rule is that the 3-body problem already shows sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Search the ‘net for 4-body, 5-body problems. … In QM, we have 10^{23} particles. Cool, no?


2.5. Academic culture in India:

2.5.1: Max Born in IISc Bangalore:

Check out a blog post/article by Karthik Ramaswamy, of the title “When Raman brought Born to Bangalore” [^]. (H/t Luboš Motl [^].)

2.5.2: Academic culture in India in recent times—a personal experience involving the University of Pune, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, and IISc Bangalore:

After going through the above story, may I suggest that you also go through my posts on the Mechanical vs. Metallurgy “Branch Jumping” issue. This issue decidedly came up in 2002 and 2003, when I went to IIT Bombay for trying admission to PhD program in Mechanical department. I tried multiple times. They remained adamant throughout the 2002–2003 times. An associate professor from the Mechanical department was willing to become my guide. (We didn’t know each other beforehand.) He fought for me in the department meeting, but unsucessfully. (Drop me a line to know who.) One professor from their CS department, too, sympathetically listened to me. He didn’t understand the Mechanical department’s logic. (Drop me a line to know who.)

Eventually, in 2003, three departments at IISc Bangalore showed definite willingness to admit me.

One was a verbal offer that the Chairman of the SERC made to me, but in the formal interview (after I had on-the-spot cleared their written tests—I didn’t know they were going to hold these). He even offered me a higher-than-normal stipend (in view of my past experience), but he said that the topic of research would have to be one from some 4–5 ongoing research projects. I declined on the spot. (He did show a willingness to wait for a little while, but I respectfully declined it too, because I knew I wanted to develop my own ideas.)

At IISc, there also was a definite willingness to admit me by both their Mechanical and Metallurgy departments. That is, during my official interviews with them (which once again happened after I competitively cleared their separate written tests, being short-listed to within 15 or 20 out of some 180 fresh young MTech’s in Mechanical branch from IISc and IITs—being in software, I had forgotten much of my core engineering). Again, it emerged during my personal interviews with the departmental committees, that I could be in (yes, even in their Mechanical department), provided that I was willing to work on a topic of their choice. I protested a bit, and indicated the loss of my interest right then and there, during both these interviews.

Finally, at around the same time (2003), at IIT Madras, the Metallurgical Engg. department also made an offer to me (after yet another written test—which I knew was going to be held—and an interview with a big committee). They gave me the nod. That is, they would let me pursue my own ideas for my PhD. … I was known to many of them because I had done my MTech right from the same department, some 15–17 years earlier. They recalled, on their own, the hard work which I had put in during my MTech project work. They were quite confident that I could deliver on my topic even if they at that time they (and I!) had only a minimal idea about it.

However, soon enough, Prof. Kajale at COEP agreed to become my official guide at University of Pune. Since it would be convenient for me to remain in Pune (my mother was not keeping well, among other things), I decided to do my PhD from Pune, rather than broach the topic once again at SERC, or straight-away join the IIT Madras program.

Just thought of jotting down the more recent culture at these institutes (at IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, and IISc Bangalore), in COEP, and of course, in the University of Pune. I am sure it’s just a small slice in the culture, just one sample, but it still should be relevant…

Also relevant is this part: Right until I completely left academia for good a couple of years ago, COEP professors and the University of Pune (not to mention UGC and AICTE) continued barring me from becoming an approved professor of mechanical engineering. (It’s the same small set of professors who keep chairing interview processes in all the colleges, even universities. So, yes, the responsibility ultimately lies with a very small group of people from IIT Bombay’s Mechanical department—the Undisputed and Undisputable Leader, and with COEP and University of Pune—the  Faithful Followers of the former).

2.5.3. Dirac in India:

BTW, in India, there used to a monthly magazine called “Science Today.” I vaguely recall that my father used to have a subscription for it right since early 1970s or so. We would eagerly wait for each new monthly issue, especially once I knew enough English (and physics) to be able to more comfortably go through the contents. (My schooling was in Marathi medium, in rural areas.) Of course, my general browsing of this magazine had begun much earlier. [“Science Today” would be published by the Times of India group. Permanently gone are those days!]

I now vaguely remember that one of the issues of “Science Today” had Paul Dirac prominently featured in it. … I can’t any longer remember much anything about it. But by any chance, was it the case that Prof. Dirac was visiting India, may be TIFR Bombay, around that time—say in mid or late 1970s, or early 1980’s? … I tried searching for it on the ‘net, but could not find anything, not within the first couple of pages after a Google search. So, may be, likely, I have confused things. But would sure appreciate pointers to it…

PS: Yes, I found this much:

“During 1973 and 1975 Dirac lectured on the problems of cosmology in the Physical Engineering Institute in Leningrad. Dirac also visited India.’‘ [^].

… Hmm… Somehow, for some odd reason, I get this feeling that the writer of this piece, someone at Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi, must have for long been associated with IIT Bombay (or equivalent thereof). Whaddaya think?


2.6. Jim Baggott’s new book: “Quantum Reality”:

I don’t have the money to buy any books, but if I were to, I would certainly buy three books by Jim Baggott: The present book of the title “Quantum Reality,” as well as a couple of his earlier books: the “40 moments” book and the “Quantum Cookbook.” I have read a lot of pages available at the Google books for all of these three books (may be almost all of the available pages), and from what I read, I am fully confident that buying these books would be money very well spent indeed.

Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder has reviewed this latest book by Baggott, “Quantum Reality,” at the Nautil.us; see “Your guide to the many meanings of quantum mechanics,” here [^]. … I am impressed by it—I mean this review. To paraphrase Hossenfelder herself: “There is nothing funny going on here, in this review. It just, well, feels funny.”

Dr. Peter Woit, too, has reviewed “Quantum Reality” at his blog [^] though in a comparatively brief manner. Make sure to go through the comments after his post, especially the very first comment, the one which concerns classical mechanics, by Matt Grayson [^]. PS: Looks like Baggott himself is answering some of the comments too.

Sometime ago, I read a few blog posts by Baggott. It seemed to me that he is not very well trained in philosophy. It seems that he has read philosophy deeply, but not comprehensively. [I don’t know whether he has read the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology or not; whether he has gone through the writings/lectures by Ayn Rand, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, Dr. Harry Binswanger and David Harriman or not. I think not. If so, I think that he would surely benefit by this material. As always, you don’t have to agree with the ideas. But yes, the material that I am pointing out is by all means neat enough that I can surely recommend it.]

Coming back to Baggott: I mean to say, he delivers handsomely when (i) he writes books, and (ii) sticks to the physics side of the topics. Or, when he is merely reporting on others’ philosophic positions. (He can condense down their positions in a very neat way.) But in his more leisurely blog posts/articles, and sometimes even in his comments, he does show a tendency to take some philosophic point in a something of a wrong direction, and to belabour on it unnecessarily. That is to say, he does show a certain tendency towards pedantry, as it were.  But let me hasten to add: He seems to show this tendency only in some of his blog-pieces. Somehow, when it comes to writing books, he does not at all show this tendency—well, at least not in the three books I’ve mentioned above.

So, the bottomline is this:

If you have an interest in QM, and if you want a comprehensive coverage of all its interpretations, then this book (“Quantum Reality”) is for you. It is meant for the layman, and also for philosophers.

However, if what you want is a very essentialized account of most all of the crucial moments in the development of QM (with a stress on physics, but with some philosophy also touched on, and with almost no maths), then go buy his “40 Moments” book.

Finally, if you have taken a university course in QM (or are currently taking it), then do make sure to buy his “Cookbook” (published in January this year). From what I have read, I can easily tell: You would be doing yourself a big favour by buying this book. I wish the Cookbook was available to me at least in 2015 if not earlier. But the point is, even after developing my new approach, I am still going to buy it. It achieves a seemingly impossible combination: Something that makes for an easy reading (if you already know the QM) but it will also serve as a permanent reference, something which you can look up any time later on. So, I am going to buy it, once I have the money. Also, “Quantum Reality”, the present book for the layman. Indeed all the three books I mentioned.

(But I am not interested in relativity theory, or QFT, standard model, etc. etc. etc., and so, I will not even look into any books on these topics, written by any one.)


OK then, let me turn back to my work… May be I will come back with some further links in the next post too, may be after 10–15 days. Until then, take care, and bye for now…


A song I like:

(Marathi) घन घन माला नभी दाटल्या (“ghan ghan maalaa nabhee daaTalyaa”)
Singer: Manna Dey
Lyrics: G. D. Madgulkar
Music: Vasant Pawar

[A classic Marathi song. Based on the (Sanskrit, Marathi) राग मल्हार (“raaga” called “Malhaara”). The best quality audio is here [^]. Sung by Manna Dey, a Bengali guy who was famous for his Hindi film songs. … BTW, it’s been a marvellous day today. Clear skies in the morning when I thought of doing a blog post today and was wondering if I should add this song or not. And, by the time I finish it, here are strong showers in all their glory! While my song selection still remains more or less fully random (on the spur of the moment), since I have run so many songs already, there has started coming in a bit of deliberation too—many songs that strike me have already been run!

Since I am going to be away from blogging for a while, and since many of the readers of this blog don’t have the background to appreciate Marathi songs, I may come back and add an additional song, a non-Marathi song, right in this post. If so, the addition would be done within the next two days or so. …Else, just wait until the next post, please! Done, see the song below]


(Hindi) बोल रे पपीहरा (“bol re papiharaa”)
Singer: Vani Jairam
Music: Vasant Desai
Lyrics: Gulzar

[I looked up on the ‘net to see if I can get some Hindi song that is based on the same “raaga”, i.e., “Malhaar” (in general). I found this one, among others. Comparing these two songs should give you some idea about what it means when two songs are said to share the same “raaga”. … As to this song, I should also add that the reason for selecting it had more to do with nostalgia, really speaking. … You can find a good quality audio here [^].

Another thing (that just struck me, on the fly): Somehow, I also thought of all those ladies and gentlemen from the AICTE New Delhi, UGC New Delhi, IIT Bombay’s Mechanical Engg. department, all the professors (like those on R&R committees) from the University of Pune (now called SPPU), and of course, the Mechanical engg. professors from COEP… Also, the Mechanical engineering professors from many other “universities” from the Pune/Mumbai region. … पपीहरा… (“papiharaa”) Aha!… How apt are words!… Excellence! Quality! Research! Innovation! …बोल रे, पपीहरा ऽऽऽ (“bol re papiharaa…”). … No jokes, I had gone jobless for 8+ years the last time I counted…

Anyway, see if you like the song… I do like this song, though, probably, it doesn’t make it to my topmost list. … It has more of a nostalgia value for me…

Anyway, let’s wrap up. Take care and bye for now… ]


History:
— First published: 2020.09.05 18:28 IST.
— Several significant additions revisions till 2020.09.06 01:27 IST.
— Much editing. Added the second song. 2020.09.06 21:40 IST. (Now will leave this post in whatever shape it is in.)

Why is the research on the foundations of QM necessary?

Why is the research on the foundations of QM necessary? … This post is meant to hold together some useful links touching on various aspects of this question.


Bob Doyle

He has interests in philosophy but has a PhD in astrophysics from Harvard. He maintains not just an isolated page on the measurement problem, but a whole compendium of them, which together touch on all issues related QM—and these form just a part of his Web site which also deals with many issues from philosophy proper like free-will, mind, knowledge, values, etc. Added attraction: He also keeps papers of historical relevance (like Schrodinger’s paper on quantum jumps, for instance).

His page on the measurement problem is very fascinating. He mentions all the relevant issues (including giving links to the topics), summarizes all the important positions in a very accurate manner (quoting passages from historically important papers). You are bound to get just the right kind of a perspective on this problem if you refer to this page and (what is easy to state): “all the references therein”!. Here is the page: [^] (which I had noted in my Twitter feed on 25 August 2019).

[This section added on 2019.09.18 07:43 IST]


Sabine Hossenfelder:

See her blog post: “Good Problems in the Foundations of Physics” [^]. Go through the entirety of the first half of the post, and then make sure to check out the paragraph of the title “The Measurement Problem” from her list.

Not to be missed: Do check out the comment by Peter Shor, here [^], and Hossenfelder’s reply to it, here [^]. … If you are familiar with the outline of my new approach [^], then it would be very easy to see why I must have instantaneously found her answer to be so absolutely wonderful! … Being a reply to a comment, she must have written it much on the fly. Even then, she not only correctly points out the fact that the measurement process must be nonlinear in nature, she also mentions that you have to give a “bottom-up” model for the Instrument. …Wow! Simply, wow!!

Update (2019.09.18 07:43 IST): Also see a post she wrote a few months later: “The Problem with Quantum Measurements”, [^]. It generated 450 comments, but not many were too inspiring!


Lee Smolin:

Here is one of the most lucid and essence-capturing accounts concerning this topic that I have ever run into [^]. Smolin wrote it in response to the Edge Question, 2013 edition. It wonderfully captures the very essence of the confusions which were created and / or faced by all the leading mainstream physicists of the past—the confusions which none of them could get rid of—with the list including even such Nobel-laureates as Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, Pauli, de Broglie, Schrodinger, Dirac, and others. [Yes, in case you read the names too rapidly: this list does include Einstein too!]


Sean Carroll:

He explains at his blog how a lack of good answers on the foundational issues in QM leads to “the most embarrassing graph in modern physics” [^]. This post was further discussed in several other posts in the blogosphere. The survey paper which prompted Carroll’s post can be found at arXiv, here [^]. Check out the concept maps given in the paper, too. Phillip Ball’s coverage in the Nature News of this same paper can be found here [^].


Adrian Kent:

See his pop-sci level paper “Quantum theory’s reality problem,” at arXiv [^]. He originally wrote it for Aeon in 2014, and then revised it in 2018 while posting at arXiv. Also notable is his c. 2000 paper: “Night thoughts of a quantum physicist,” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A, vol. 358, 75–87. As to the fifth section (“Postscript”) of this second paper, I am fully confident that no one would have to wait either until the year 2999, or for any one of those imagined extraterrestrial colleagues to arrive on the scene. Further, I am also fully confident that no mechanical “colleagues” are ever going to be around.

[Added on 2019.05.05 15:41 IST]


…What Else?:

What else but the Wiki!… See here [^], and then, also here [^].


OK. This all should make for an adequate response, at least for the time being, to those physicists (or physics professors) who tend to think that the foundational issues do not make for “real” physics, that it is a non-issue. … However, for obvious reasons, this post will also remain permanently under updates…

Revision History:

2019.04.15: First published
2019.04.16: Some editing/streamlining
2019.05.05: Added the paper by Prof. Kent.
2019.09.18: Added the section on Bob Doyle. Added a recent post by Sabine Hossenfelder.