An INALFO in my backyard

This being a Diwali day, I got up a bit earlier than usual this morning, and as I lazily shuffled out of my bed, as a routine first thing I do, I stumbled my way out to the smallish balcony/porch of our ground-floor flat [i.e. apartment].

While still being in that state of being half-hazy and half awake, in the dim light of the early morning, I spotted an Unidentified Object lying on the ground just 3–4 feet away from me, in the (very smallish) backyard of our house.

It was some 2–3 feet in size; the color was a pink.

Initially, I thought that it could be some piece of a baby clothing that got dropped from one of the flats above ours. Then I thought that it could be a smallish mosquito-net they use for infants. But then, soon enough, I realized that no one lives in the flat directly above ours, and with all the flower-trees and shrubs they have planted around in this backyard, the probability of a piece of clothing—a fairly heavy object—merely getting drifted away in the wind and landing precisely into that very smallish patch of the ground which lies in front of our flat, was very low. After all, there are a couple of 5–7 feet tall trees here, in our patch of the backyard. And, so, the question of how that piece of clothing got landed here was not a very easy one to figure out. … I yawned, decided to think about it later, and turned around to go inside, pick up my tooth-brush.

Some one or one-and-a-half hour later or so, I was in the balcony once again, and checked it out once again. … Whatever it was, I had to go out, pick it up, and may be alert my neighbours later in the day, I thought. The Sun had already been up, and the sky had got brightened up quite well by now.

More important, I had by now become fully awake.

In fact, a few minutes earlier, while sipping up my cup of coffee, while sitting in that same balcony, even “looking at” the same object, I had already thought of some small thing about QM, and so, I had by now picked up this book on QM by Eisberg and Resnick. I was trying to locate the thing I wanted to check out, its presentation in this book.

Yet, at the same time, the Unidentified Object lying out there wouldn’t let me go through the book right. That’s how, I had now decided to check that thing out there, first.

I had to get up from my chair and check it out. So, I leaned out of the balcony a bit, and had a good look at it. Under the brightened sky, and with me not just looking at it but also with my mental focus on it, I could now immediately recognize it for it was.

It was a very specific kind of a Flying Object.

Thus, the object had undergone a direct transformation from being (i) an Unidentified Object, to (i) a specific kind of a Flying Object. [Too bad, there never was an intermediate state of its formally being an Unidentified Flying Object.]

I anyway decided to take a snap of this INALFO (Identified, Not Any Longer Flying, Object). Here it is:

It sure was a Diwali-time balloon (with the hot air generated by a burning candle) of the kind they send it up in the sky at night.

OK. The UFO part of this post is now over.

I then slipped on my chappals and stepped out of our flat. As I picked this balloon up, I realized that something had been printed on the other side of it.

It turned out to be a message of love: there was a screen-printed outline of a rose flower, and also the words appearing in the capital letters: “I LOVE.” … The screen-printer had done a poor job of printing, and so, the “YOU” part had got only partially printed; it was almost completely unreadable.

It was funny, I thought. Right on the morning of the most important day of Diwali, I had happened to have received, literally, a message of love from the heavens. … There was this bit of that “family” / “Greeting Cards” / “Gift from the Heavens” / “TV serials” / “Hindi TV News Channels” / “Indians” sort of a drama built into it—the kind of a drama that everyone seems to so much love or at least appreciate, and, simultaneously, none has any actual use for.

Then, to let you gauge the size of the balloon, I placed my copy of the QM book over it (which I happened to be still carrying in my hand, absentmindedly, even in the act of stepping out). I then took another snap, which is here:

OK. Now… Taking a second look at this photograph…. I mean… if you take just this one photograph, and try to decipher the message contained in this photograph by reading it very straight-forwardly…

… Well, yes, I do LOVE QUANTUM PHYSICS, don’t I? Hadn’t the message arrived from the heavens only so I come to “learn” and “realize” and “appreciate” this part about myself? What do you think?

OK. The Mars-Man [^] [^] part of this post, too, is over.

But, have a Happy Diwali anyway!

And, as to me, well, let me now get back to the business of the accreditation-related work (which I’ve had to take home this Diwali season). Bye for now.


Is something like a re-discovery of the same thing by the same person possible?

Yes, we continue to remain very busy.

However, in spite of all that busy-ness, in whatever spare time I have [in the evenings, sometimes at nights, why, even on early mornings [which is quite unlike me, come to think of it!]], I cannot help but “think” in a bit “relaxed” [actually, abstract] manner [and by “thinking,” I mean: musing, surmising, etc.] about… about what else but: QM!

So, I’ve been doing that. Sort of like, relaxed distant wonderings about QM…

Idle musings like that are very helpful. But they also carry a certain danger: it is easy to begin to believe your own story, even if the story itself is not being borne by well-established equations (i.e. by physic-al evidence).

But keeping that part aside, and thus coming to the title question: Is it possible that the same person makes the same discovery twice?

It may be difficult to believe so, but I… I seemed to have managed to have pulled precisely such a trick.

Of course, the “discovery” in question is, relatively speaking, only a part of of the whole story, and not the whole story itself. Still, I do think that I had discovered a certain important part of a conclusion about QM a while ago, and then, later on, had completely forgotten about it, and then, in a slow, patient process, I seem now to have worked inch-by-inch to reach precisely the same old conclusion.

In short, I have re-discovered my own (unpublished) conclusion. The original discovery was may be in the first half of this calendar year. (I might have even made a hand-written note about it, I need to look up my hand-written notes.)

Now, about the conclusion itself. … I don’t know how to put it best, but I seem to have reached the conclusion that the postulates of quantum mechanics [^], say as stated by Dirac and von Neumann [^], have been conceptualized inconsistently.

Please note the issue and the statement I am making, carefully. As you know, more than 9 interpretations of QM [^][^][^] have been acknowledged right in the mainstream studies of QM [read: University courses] themselves. Yet, none of these interpretations, as far as I know, goes on to actually challenge the quantum mechanical formalism itself. They all do accept the postulates just as presented (say by Dirac and von Neumann, the two “mathematicians” among the physicists).

Coming to me, my positions: I, too, used to say exactly the same thing. I used to say that I agree with the quantum postulates themselves. My position was that the conceptual aspects of the theory—at least all of them— are missing, and so, these need to be supplied, and if the need be, these also need to be expanded.

But, as far as the postulates themselves go, mine used to be the same position as that in the mainstream.

Until this morning.

Then, this morning, I came to realize that I have “re-discovered,” (i.e. independently discovered for the second time), that I actually should not be buying into the quantum postulates just as stated; that I should be saying that there are theoretical/conceptual errors/misconceptions/misrepresentations woven-in right in the very process of formalization which produced these postulates.

Since I think that I should be saying so, consider that, with this blog post, I have said so.

Just one more thing: the above doesn’t mean that I don’t accept Schrodinger’s equation. I do. In fact, I now seem to embrace Schrodinger’s equation with even more enthusiasm than I have ever done before. I think it’s a very ingenious and a very beautiful equation.

A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “tum jo hue mere humsafar”
Music: O. P. Nayyar
Singers: Geeta Dutt and Mohammad Rafi
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Update on 2017.10.14 23:57 IST: Streamlined a bit, as usual.



If you are in one of the S&T fields and don’t know what “paperity” means, then guess it’s time you checked out the Web site: [^].

Came to know of it only today. Was doing some Web search on QM, and landed here [^]. Then, out of curiosity, also checked out an outgoing link [^] from that page, and thus, got the idea behind the site. … Hmmm… Need to explore it a bit more, but no time right now, so, may be, some time later!

Bye for now.

A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “saawan barse, tarse dil…”
Music: Aadesh Shrivastava, Anand Milind
Singers: Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

[TBD. May be tomorrow. Done right tonight (21:40 IST, 11 July 2017). Also corrected the spelling of “paperity” in the title and in the text.]

“Measure for Measure”—a pop-sci video on QM

This post is about a video on QM for the layman. The title of the video is: “Measure for Measure: Quantum Physics and Reality” [^]. It is also available on YouTube, here [^].

I don’t recall precisely where on the ‘net I saw the video being mentioned. Anyway, even though its running time is 01:38:43 (i.e. 1 hour, 38 minutes, making it something like a full-length feature film), I still went ahead, downloaded it and watched it in full. (Yes, I am that interested in QM!)

The video was shot live at an event called “World Science Festival.” I didn’t know about it beforehand, but here is the Wiki on the festival [^], and here is the organizer’s site [^].

The event in the video is something like a panel discussion done on stage, in front of a live audience, by four professors of physics/philosophy. … Actually five, including the moderator.

Brian Greene of Columbia [^] is the moderator. (Apparently, he co-founded the World Science Festival.) The discussion panel itself consists of: (i) David Albert of Columbia [^]. He speaks like a philosopher but seems inclined towards a specific speculative theory of QM, viz. the GRW theory. (He has that peculiar, nasal, New York accent… Reminds you of Dr. Harry Binswanger—I mean, by the accent.) (ii) Sheldon Goldstein of Rutgers [^]. He is a Bohmian, out and out. (iii) Sean Carroll of CalTech [^]. At least in the branch of the infinity of the universes in which this video unfolds, he acts 100% deterministically as an Everettian. (iv) Ruediger Schack of Royal Holloway (the spelling is correct) [^]. I perceive him as a QBist; guess you would, too.

Though the video is something like a panel discussion, it does not begin right away with dudes sitting on chairs and talking to each other. Even before the panel itself assembles on the stage, there is a racy introduction to the quantum riddles, mainly on the wave-particle duality, presented by the moderator himself. (Prof. Greene would easily make for a competent TV evangelist.) This part runs for some 20 minutes or so. Then, even once the panel discussion is in progress, it is sometimes interwoven with a few short visualizations/animations that try to convey the essential ideas of each of the above viewpoints.

I of course don’t agree with any one of these approaches—but then, that is an entirely different story.

Coming back to the video, yes, I do want to recommend it to you. The individual presentations as well as the panel discussions (and comments) are done pretty well, in an engaging and informal way. I did enjoy watching it.

The parts which I perhaps appreciated the most were (i) the comment (near the end) by David Albert, between 01:24:19–01:28:02, esp. near 1:27:20 (“small potatoes”) and, (ii) soon later, another question by Brian Greene and another answer by David Albert, between 01:33:26–01:34:30.

In this second comment, David Albert notes that “the serious discussions of [the foundational issues of QM] … only got started 20 years ago,” even though the questions themselves do go back to about 100 years ago.

That is so true.

The video was recorded recently. About 20 years ago means: from about mid-1990s onwards. Thus, it is only from mid-1990s, Albert observes, that the research atmosphere concerning the foundational issues of QM has changed—he means for the better. I think that is true. Very true.

For instance, when I was in UAB (1990–93), the resistance to attempting even just a small variation to the entrenched mainstream view (which means, the Copenhagen interpretation (CI for short)) was so enormous and all pervading, I mean even in the US/Europe, that I was dead sure that a graduate student like me would never be able to get his nascent ideas on QM published, ever. It therefore came as a big (and a very joyous) surprise to me when my papers on QM actually got accepted (in 2005). … Yes, the attitudes of physicists have changed. Anyway, my point here is, the mainstream view used to be so entrenched back then—just about 20 years ago. The Copenhagen interpretation still was the ruling dogma, those days. Therefore, that remark by Prof. Albert does carry some definite truth.

Prof. Albert’s observation also prompts me to pose a question to you.

What could be the broad social, cultural, technological, economic, or philosophic reasons behind the fact that people (researchers, graduate students) these days don’t feel the same kind of pressure in pursuing new ideas in the field of Foundations of QM? Is the relatively greater ease of publishing papers in foundations of QM, in your opinion, an indication of some negative trends in the culture? Does it show a lowering of the editorial standards? Or is there something positive about this change? Why has it become easier to discuss foundations of QM? What do you think?

I do have my own guess about it, and I would sure like to share it with you. But before I do that, I would very much like to hear from you.

Any guesses? What could be the reason(s) why the serious discussions on foundations of QM might have begun to occur much more freely only after mid-1990s—even though the questions had been raised as early as in 1920s (or earlier)?

Over to you.

Greetings in advance for the Republic Day. I [^] am still jobless.