Multiple histories. Baloney!

I’ve dug in deep to trying to find out how to make a valid field description that will be implementable in a simulation.  The hope is, just like Conway’s game of life, the right unitary twist field model will show self sustaining quantized behavior that could provide a geometrical basis for the particle zoo.  When you do this, a lot of the baloney in a crackpot idea is forced out into the open–not easy to fool yourself when you have to actually implement an idea.  No surprise that that’s a tough road to follow–what I’ve found is that there are an awful lot of cool ideas that die this way.

I’m still working and thinking, but today I had a great discussion with a friend about a different topic.  Someone was asking me about multiple dimensions and multiple histories, and I told him what I thought–and we had a great time!  You may think physics is a mined out field with not much prospect of exciting work, but discussions like this are why I find this field so fascinating.  There’s not really any chance that I will actually add anything to the base of human knowledge–that’s for university physicists with papers to write.  But we can still think–and that is what I love to do!

Here’s the deal.  Multiple histories and String theory (theories, actually, including M-theory and other multiple dimensional approaches) are two broad classes of theories that try to resolve the non-causality of quantum problems such as entanglement and the dual slit experiment.  In other words, these are theories that try to form a common mathematical basis for general relativity and quantum theory.  These are really the only two approaches that are considered by mainstream physicists–and I don’t think a lot of them really like either approach.  Multiple histories, the idea that all possible alternatives to a triggering event  exist, and that observation resolves the alternatives to a single outcome without violating causality, and multiple dimension theories, which remove causality by providing a near zero length alternative path (via an additional set of dimensions) both have serious problems.  I have no doubt that the history of physics is full of fiery debate about which approach works and is real.

There’s no debate in my mind, though, I think they both severely violate the keep-it-simple-stupid rule–because I think there’s a far better answer.  Causality is a property of particles, massive or massless (eg, photons).  Quantum entanglement and non-causal interference is a property of wave phase.  A simple answer is that the Fourier composition of a collection of group waves is limited in velocity (to c), but the phase information propagates at infinite speed.  The phase information gets to the target (observation point) instantly, but the actual particle takes a while to arrive.  There’s a lot of details to this approach that I won’t cover in this post, but hopefully that is enough for you to get the gist.  No piling on of dimensions, no absurd multiple copies of the universe weaving in and out of observer views (do we have to include all possible observer outcomes as a set of histories–but then just where does it resolve to one observed outcome…. etc).

So my friend asks, if this is a real option, why isn’t presented and considered in the literature or in pop physics books and all?  Well, there’s an excellent chance that this idea *was* considered back in the early quantum theory days and rejected for obvious reasons, just not obvious to me.  Unfortunately, the literature only records successes, not failures and the reasons behind the failure–so valuable information and research about why something *wont* work does not get captured for future generations.  Perhaps a future version of the scientific method will evolve that realizes the value of wrong information (properly labeled) and include it with papers describing groundbreaking correct discoveries.

Even though I suspect a real working physicist would have an easy answer why this approach can’t be, I haven’t heard it yet, read of it yet, nor thought of a good reason why this can’t be the right answer–despite having a hopefully skeptical sense that I am unlikely to have a right answer when no one else has found it.  Don’t know what to tell you there, except that this phase/group wave idea seems a far simpler and more logical explanation than adding dimensions or whole universe copies to our existence.  And in any event, thinking about it and having fun discussing it isn’t restricted to university physicists!


PS:  It may look like I’ve left out the Copenhagen interpretation, which says the process of observation causes composite quantum states to resolve (decohere).  Not really–I categorize this interpretation as a variation that falls under the multiple histories category–the composite quantum state vector contains all possible outcomes).

PPS:  And, then you might come back with:  Oh, this looks like the discredited Pilot Wave approach, where there are multiple pieces to the particle and the surrounding part “guides” the particle.  Dr. Bell, who should have won a Nobel before he died, disproved that one by showing there cannot be internal structure explaining entanglement.   My counterpoint:  You are getting warmer, a better objection–but Fourier composition does not mean physical components–the Pilot Wave is not the same as a group wave composition forming a particle.

Then there’s DeBroglie, Bohm, and a whole bunch of others.  I’ll leave you to research the rest of it.  It’s kind of a tired debate now…

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