When Do Fields Collapse?

when fields collapse, quantum field theory

A main question in physics these days concerns collapse of the “wave-function”: When does this occur? There certainly have been numerous speculations (see, e.g., Ghirardi– Rimini– Weber theory, Penrose Interpretation, Physics forum) and experiments (e.g., “Towards quantum superposition of a mirror”) about this. The most extreme perspective is the view that Schrödinger’s cat is at the same time alive and dead, although Schrödinger proposed this particular thought-experiment (like Einstein’s less-well-known bomb experiment) to demonstrate how absurd such an idea is.

The problem happens because Quantum Mechanics can only calculate probabilities until an observation occurs. Nonetheless Quantum Field Theory, which works in actual field intensities– not probabilities, supplies an uncomplicated unequivocal answer. Sadly, Quantum Field Theory in its authentic sense of “there are no particles, there are only fields” (Art Hobson, Am. J. Phys. 81, 2013) is ignored or misunderstood by most physicists. In QFT the “state” of a system is explained by the field intensities (technically, their expectation value) at each and every point. These fields are real properties of space that act deterministically depending on the field equations– with one exception.

The exemption is field collapse, but in Quantum Field Theory this is a remarkably different thing from “collapse of the wave function” in QM. It is a physical event, not a change in chances. It occurs when a quantum of field, regardless of how spread-out it may be, instantly transfers its energy into a solitary atom and vanishes. (There are also additional kinds of collapse, like scattering, coupled collapse, internal change, etc.) Field collapse is not described by the field equations– it is a different occurrence, but simply because we don’t have a theory for it does not mean it can’t happen. The fact that it is non-local bothers some physicists, but this non-locality has been demonstrated in several experiments, and it does not lead to any inconsistencies or paradoxes.

So whenever field collapse happens, the ultimate “decision”– the defining moment– is reached. This is QFT’s answer to when does collapse occur: when a quantum of field colapses. In the scenario of Schrödinger’s cat, this is when the radiated quantum (perhaps an electron) is captured by an atom in the Geiger counter.

Just before a field quantum finally collapses, it could have interacted or entangled with a lot of other atoms along the way. These interactions are illustrated (deterministically) by the field equations. But the quantum can not have indeed collapsed into any of those atoms, for the reason that collapse can take place just one time, so no matter what you refer to it as– interaction, entanglement, perturbation, or just “diddling”– these initial interactions are reversible and do not bring about macroscopic changes. Then, when the ultimate collapse takes place, those atoms become “undiddled” and return to their unperturbed state.

To sum up, in QFT the “decision” is made when a quantum of field deposits all its energy into an absorbing atom. Besides replying to this question, QFT additionally explains why time dilates in Special Relativity and resolves the wave-particle duality issue of Quantum Mechanics. An individual can simply think about why this particular theory hasn’t already been welcomed and made the basis for our knowledge of nature. I feel it is truly time for physicists to WAKE UP AND SMELL THE QUANTUM FIELDS.

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Book Simplifies Complicated Quantum Field Theory

fields of color, quantum field theory, theory of relativity

The following is a current write-up written about Quantum Field Theory and the book, Fields of Color. The write-up showed up in the Leisure World News on September 4, 2015.

The book “Fields of Color: The Theory that Escaped Einstein” streamlines the complicated Quantum Field Theory in order that a nonprofessional can grasp it. Written by Leisure World resident Rodney Brooks, it contains no formulas– as a matter of fact, no math– and it utilizes colors to represent fields, which in themselves are hard to think of. It demonstrates the field picture of nature resolves the paradoxes of quantum mechanics and relativity that have perplexed a lot of individuals. It is original, detailed, and interesting.

Brooks is impressed and satisfied with the success of his book, that was published in 2011. He states 6,000 copies have been sold, out of the ordinary for a self-published book on physics. In addition, the publication has a 4.4 (out of 5) star rating on Amazon with much more than 90 reader reviews– a higher score than Einstein’s own book on relativity and above Stephen Hawking’s popular book “The Theory of Everything.”.

In its essence, quantum field theory (QFT) defines a world made of fields, not particles (neutrons, electrons, protons) as most physicists conclude. Nevertheless the field principle is hard to grasp. To quote from Chapter 1 of “Fields of Color”: “To put it briefly, a field is a property or a condition of space. The field concept was introduced into physics in 1845 by Michael Faraday as an explanation for electric and magnetic forces. However, the idea that fields can exist by themselves as “properties of space” was too much for physicists of the time to accept.” (Chapter 1 in its entirety can be read at http://www.quantum-field-theory.net/).

Colors of Fields.
Later this principle was expanded to other fields. “In Quantum Field Theory the entire fabric of the cosmos is made of fields, and I use (arbitrary) colors to help people visualize them,” says Brooks. “If you can picture the sky as blue, you can picture the fields that exist in space. Besides the EM (electromagnetic) field (‘green’), there are the strong force field (‘purple’) that holds protons and neutrons together in the atomic nucleus and the weak force field (‘brown’) that is responsible for radioactive decay. Gravity is also a field (‘blue’), and not ‘curvature of space-time’ which most people, including me, have trouble visualizing.”.

He continues: “In QFT, space is the same old three-dimensional space that we intuitively believe in, and time is the time that we intuitively believe in. Even matter is made of fields– in fact two fields. I use yellow for light particles like the electron and red for heavy particles,.

like the proton. But make no mistake, in QFT these ‘particles’ are not little balls; they are spread-out chunks of field, called quanta. Thus the usual picture of the atom with electrons traveling around the nucleus like little balls, is replaced by a ‘yellowness’ of the space around the nucleus that represents the electron field.”.

Brooks’ interest in physics was initially triggered when at age 14 he read Arthur Eddington’s “The Nature of the Physical World.” This publication illustrates how a table is made of small atoms that in turn could be split into even tinier objects. “So this is what the world is built of,” Brooks thought at the time. In college at the University of Florida he majored in mathematics with a minor in physics. He was then drafted into the army for 2 years.

Quantum Field Theory Answers Problem.
Fast forward to graduate school at Harvard University where Brooks was a National Science Foundation scholar, majoring in physics. During the course of this time, he went to a three-year formal lecture series instructed by Julian Schwinger. The Nobel prize-winning physicist had just finished his reformulation of QFT, so the timing was excellent. “I was astounded that all the paradoxes of relativity and quantum mechanics that had earlier perplexed me evaporated or were settled,” Brooks says.

After receiving his Ph.D. at Harvard under Nobel laureate Norman Ramsey, Brooks worked for 25 years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., in neuroimaging. His 1st research was regarding the new method of Computered Tomography (CT), during which time he devised the procedure now called dual-energy CT. Then, he did research on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and lastly in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). All in all, Brooks published 124 peer-reviewed articles.

Once he retired, he and his spouse, Karen Brooks, relocated to New Zealand in 2001. That was when he became conscious of the prevalent confusion about physics, specifically quantum mechanics and relativity, whilst his cherished QFT that resolves the mystification was disregardeded, misconceived, or neglected.

“Consequently I undertook the mission of clarifying the principles of quantum field theory to the general public,” Brooks says.

His book was first released in New Zealand in 2010, and is currently in its 2nd edition.

In 2012, his grandchildren, who live in Maryland called out, and he and his wife moved to Leisure World, where he moves ahead to work on his mission. Though Einstein eventually came to believe that reality should include fields and fields alone, he preferred there to be a solitary “unified” field that would not merely consist of gravity and electromagnetic forces (the only two forces recognized back then), but would additionally contain matter.

He invested the last 25 years of his life unsuccessfully looking for this unified field theory.

Referring to the particle image that he espoused, physicist Richard Feynman once said, “The theory … describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is– absurd.”.

Brooks, on the contrary, concludes his introductory chapter by saying, “I hope you can accept Nature as She is: beautiful, consistent and in accord with common sense– and made of quantized fields.”.

Find out more on the Fields of Color Blog.