Did quantum theory originate as pure research?

Did quantum theory originate as pure research?


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Recently I've read a debate over the futility of demanding "usefulness" from research endeavors, since the potential outcome is unpredictable. As evidence for this statement, a list of random papers of apparently useless or just of academical interest followed. One of them was the development of quantum theory at the beginning of the 20th century.

I don't want to focus on the topic of the debate itself. Instead, I wondered if that premise, that "quantum theory originated as a purely academical/intellectual work", is actually true. It's a post-industrial revolution world after all and patents dealing with heat/electricity maybe were driving a society's need… or maybe not. I couldn't find any evidence for or against it anywhere. I will turn, then, to people more knowledgeable than I.


As far as I can tell from the history, it would be inaccurate to claim either that quantum theory originated completely as pure research or that it had its origins in applied science. To set the stage, there are basically three time periods involved:

1900-1913: Planck's paper on blackbody radiation (1900), Einstein's paper on the photoelectric effect (1905).

1913-1927: The old quantum theory, Bohr model, BKS theory.

1927: Within the space of about a year, a new quantum theory is produced, which is essentially the theory in its modern form.

Planck was working almost totally in his own theoretical world, and his work was considered extremely obscure at the time. He made his bread and butter as a theoretician at a university. (Claims that Planck was funded by lightbulb companies appear to have been false.) Although Einstein was a fairly competent experimentalist, inventor, and engineer, and worked for a while at the Swiss patent office, his work on quanta was way ahead of its time, and seems to have been pure research, unmotivated by any applications.

As we get into the Bohr era, quantum theory per se starts to take shape, and we see a vigorous interplay of theory and experiment, often with clear applications. Spectroscopy was rich in applications before, during, and after this period. For example, people were interested in determining the composition of gases from their spectra. Moseley's work on x-ray spectra and atomic number was carried out in close collaboration with Bohr, and it resulted in, for example, the discovery of hafnium. All of chemistry is one big application of quantum mechanics, and chemistry is rich in applications. Obviously the group centered on Bohr expected their work to have applications in chemistry and atomic and molecular physics, and it certainly did.

With the advent of modern quantum theory in 1927, we very quickly start to see applications. It was only 15 years from this time until the year when the first nuclear pile was operated (1942), and I have a hard time imagining nuclear power being developed without quantum mechanics.

The history of the transistor seems to more or less coincide with the period during which quantum mechanics was developed. The first patent was by Lilienfeld in 1925, but it seems to have taken a long time for progress to be made, mainly because people couldn't purify semiconductors well enough. Lilienfeld did a PhD in physics and had Planck as one of his thesis advisors. He started out as an academic physicist at Leipzig and then transitioned to working in industry in the US.

Some of the early work on quantum physics was carried out with funding from rich individuals rather than governments or universities. The Solvay Conferences were funded by the chemist and industrialist Solvay, and the important Stern-Gerlach experiment, carried out during difficult times in Germany as hyperinflation was getting going, was paid for by US banker Henry Goldman. I would say that these links are evidence of what seems like the typical situation regarding the links of quantum mechanics to applications. People like Solvay, a chemist, surely expected there to be applications, but the applications were not expected to be immediate and lucrative, which is why Goldman and Solvay saw themselves not as investors but as donors.


"Quantum theory originated with Planck's 1900 paper on black-body radiation, and Einstein's 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect." - @jamesqf is right about that fact. But he is not right about the abstractness of these problems. On the contrary:

Many inventors those days tried to invent new "rays". Both problems of rays production and effects caused by rays were researched. And the target was absolutely real - to find something that is useful. X-rays were the best output. But that does not mean that other researchers WANTED to have no practical outcome. Simply sometimes they had luck and sometimes (more often) not. And the photoelectricity laws were very important for them.

The laws of black-body radiation were of use due to the problems mentioned in the previous paragraph, but not only that. Even more important theme of that time was the invention of new engines. And inventors wanted to know the laws of thermodynamics for that. And that law was also important and useful for them, for it helped to understand the subject better.

The distance between "abstract science" and "practical use" was so close in physics those days, that practically there was no abstract science in physics at all. The most abstract objects of science of these days - operators of Heavyside and quaternions of Hamilton made directly possible the lossless sending of messages and radio. But the time of separation of "abstract" science was close - Heavyside, having brought billions to telephone/telegraph companies, died in poverty, in 1920-ties in England.


Quantum Theory

With the turn of the 20th century, the field of physics underwent two major transformations, roughly at the same time. The first was Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which dealt with the universal realm of physics. The second was Quantum Theory, which proposed that energy exists as discrete packets—each called a "quantum." This new branch of physics enabled scientists to describe the interaction between energy and matter down through the subatomic realm.

Einstein saw Quantum Theory as a means to describe Nature on an atomic level, but he doubted that it upheld "a useful basis for the whole of physics." He thought that describing reality required firm predictions followed by direct observations. But individual quantum interactions cannot be observed directly, leaving quantum physicists no choice but to predict the probability that events will occur. Challenging Einstein, physicist Niels Bohr championed Quantum Theory. He argued that the mere act of indirectly observing the atomic realm changes the outcome of quantum interactions. According to Bohr, quantum predictions based on probability accurately describe reality.

Niels Bohr and Max Planck, two of the founding fathers of Quantum Theory, each received a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on quanta. Einstein is considered the third founder of Quantum Theory because he described light as quanta in his theory of the Photoelectric Effect, for which he won the 1921 Nobel Prize.

May 15, 1935: The Physical Review publishes the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) paper claiming to refute Quantum Theory.

Newspapers were quick to share Einstein's skepticism of the "new physics" with the general public. Einstein's paper, "Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?" prompted Niels Bohr to write a rebuttal. Modern experiments have upheld Quantum Theory despite Einstein's objections. However, the EPR paper introduced topics that form the foundation for much of today's physics research.

Einstein and Niels Bohr began disputing Quantum Theory at the prestigious 1927 Solvay Conference, attended by top physicists of the day. By most accounts of this public debate, Bohr was the victor.


Early life

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was the sixth child of a distinguished jurist and professor of law at the University of Kiel. The long family tradition of devotion to church and state, excellence in scholarship, incorruptibility, conservatism, idealism, reliability, and generosity became deeply ingrained in Planck’s own life and work. When Planck was nine years old, his father received an appointment at the University of Munich, and Planck entered the city’s renowned Maximilian Gymnasium, where a teacher, Hermann Müller, stimulated his interest in physics and mathematics. But Planck excelled in all subjects, and after graduation at age 17 he faced a difficult career decision. He ultimately chose physics over classical philology or music because he had dispassionately reached the conclusion that it was in physics that his greatest originality lay. Music, nonetheless, remained an integral part of his life. He possessed the gift of absolute pitch and was an excellent pianist who daily found serenity and delight at the keyboard, enjoying especially the works of Schubert and Brahms. He also loved the outdoors, taking long walks each day and hiking and climbing in the mountains on vacations, even in advanced old age.

Planck entered the University of Munich in the fall of 1874 but found little encouragement there from physics professor Philipp von Jolly. During a year spent at the University of Berlin (1877–78), he was unimpressed by the lectures of Hermann von Helmholtz and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, despite their eminence as research scientists. His intellectual capacities were, however, brought to a focus as the result of his independent study, especially of Rudolf Clausius’s writings on thermodynamics. Returning to Munich, he received his doctoral degree in July 1879 (the year of Einstein’s birth) at the unusually young age of 21. The following year he completed his Habilitationsschrift (qualifying dissertation) at Munich and became a Privatdozent (lecturer). In 1885, with the help of his father’s professional connections, he was appointed ausserordentlicher Professor (associate professor) at the University of Kiel. In 1889, after the death of Kirchhoff, Planck received an appointment to the University of Berlin, where he came to venerate Helmholtz as a mentor and colleague. In 1892 he was promoted to ordentlicher Professor (full professor). He had only nine doctoral students altogether, but his Berlin lectures on all branches of theoretical physics went through many editions and exerted great influence. He remained in Berlin for the rest of his active life.

Planck recalled that his “original decision to devote myself to science was a direct result of the discovery…that the laws of human reasoning coincide with the laws governing the sequences of the impressions we receive from the world about us that, therefore, pure reasoning can enable man to gain an insight into the mechanism of the [world]….” He deliberately decided, in other words, to become a theoretical physicist at a time when theoretical physics was not yet recognized as a discipline in its own right. But he went further: he concluded that the existence of physical laws presupposes that the “outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for the laws which apply to this absolute appeared…as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life.”

The first instance of an absolute in nature that impressed Planck deeply, even as a Gymnasium student, was the law of the conservation of energy, the first law of thermodynamics. Later, during his university years, he became equally convinced that the entropy law, the second law of thermodynamics, was also an absolute law of nature. The second law became the subject of his doctoral dissertation at Munich, and it lay at the core of the researches that led him to discover the quantum of action, now known as Planck’s constant h, in 1900.

In 1859–60 Kirchhoff had defined a blackbody as an object that reemits all of the radiant energy incident upon it i.e., it is a perfect emitter and absorber of radiation. There was, therefore, something absolute about blackbody radiation, and by the 1890s various experimental and theoretical attempts had been made to determine its spectral energy distribution—the curve displaying how much radiant energy is emitted at different frequencies for a given temperature of the blackbody. Planck was particularly attracted to the formula found in 1896 by his colleague Wilhelm Wien at the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR) in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and he subsequently made a series of attempts to derive “Wien’s law” on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics. By October 1900, however, other colleagues at the PTR, the experimentalists Otto Richard Lummer, Ernst Pringsheim, Heinrich Rubens, and Ferdinand Kurlbaum, had found definite indications that Wien’s law, while valid at high frequencies, broke down completely at low frequencies.

Planck learned of these results just before a meeting of the German Physical Society on October 19. He knew how the entropy of the radiation had to depend mathematically upon its energy in the high-frequency region if Wien’s law held there. He also saw what this dependence had to be in the low-frequency region in order to reproduce the experimental results there. Planck guessed, therefore, that he should try to combine these two expressions in the simplest way possible, and to transform the result into a formula relating the energy of the radiation to its frequency.

The result, which is known as Planck’s radiation law, was hailed as indisputably correct. To Planck, however, it was simply a guess, a “lucky intuition.” If it was to be taken seriously, it had to be derived somehow from first principles. That was the task to which Planck immediately directed his energies, and by December 14, 1900, he had succeeded—but at great cost. To achieve his goal, Planck found that he had to relinquish one of his own most cherished beliefs, that the second law of thermodynamics was an absolute law of nature. Instead he had to embrace Ludwig Boltzmann’s interpretation, that the second law was a statistical law. In addition, Planck had to assume that the oscillators comprising the blackbody and re-emitting the radiant energy incident upon them could not absorb this energy continuously but only in discrete amounts, in quanta of energy only by statistically distributing these quanta, each containing an amount of energy hν proportional to its frequency, over all of the oscillators present in the blackbody could Planck derive the formula he had hit upon two months earlier. He adduced additional evidence for the importance of his formula by using it to evaluate the constant h (his value was 6.55 × 10 −27 erg-second, close to the modern value of 6.626 × 10 −27 erg-second), as well as the so-called Boltzmann constant (the fundamental constant in kinetic theory and statistical mechanics), Avogadro’s number, and the charge of the electron. As time went on physicists recognized ever more clearly that—because Planck’s constant was not zero but had a small but finite value—the microphysical world, the world of atomic dimensions, could not in principle be described by ordinary classical mechanics. A profound revolution in physical theory was in the making.

Planck’s concept of energy quanta, in other words, conflicted fundamentally with all past physical theory. He was driven to introduce it strictly by the force of his logic he was, as one historian put it, a reluctant revolutionary. Indeed, it was years before the far-reaching consequences of Planck’s achievement were generally recognized, and in this Einstein played a central role. In 1905, independently of Planck’s work, Einstein argued that under certain circumstances radiant energy itself seemed to consist of quanta (light quanta, later called photons), and in 1907 he showed the generality of the quantum hypothesis by using it to interpret the temperature dependence of the specific heats of solids. In 1909 Einstein introduced the wave-particle duality into physics. In October 1911 Planck and Einstein were among the group of prominent physicists who attended the first Solvay conference in Brussels. The discussions there stimulated Henri Poincaré to provide a mathematical proof that Planck’s radiation law necessarily required the introduction of quanta—a proof that converted James Jeans and others into supporters of the quantum theory. In 1913 Niels Bohr also contributed greatly to its establishment through his quantum theory of the hydrogen atom. Ironically, Planck himself was one of the last to struggle for a return to classical theory, a stance he later regarded not with regret but as a means by which he had thoroughly convinced himself of the necessity of the quantum theory. Opposition to Einstein’s radical light quantum hypothesis of 1905 persisted until after the discovery of the Compton effect in 1922.


Max Planck and the Problem of Black Body Radiation

Heat Radiation

The first clue that radiation might also have particle-like properties came in 1900. It came in apparently innocuous work on heat radiation. This sort of radiation is familiar to everyone. It is the radiation that warms our hands in front of fire, that burns the toast and that provides the intense glare of a furnace. Physicists had been measuring how much energy is found in each of the different frequencies (i.e. colors) that comprise heat radiation. That distribution varies with the temperature of the radiation. As a body that emits radiation passes from red to orange to white heat, the frequencies with the greatest energy change correspondingly.

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In 1900, as the newest and latest of the data came in, Max Planck in Berlin was working on understanding the physical processes that led to these distributions of energy. He was well aware of the latest results of his Berlin colleagues, Lummer and Pringsheim, and that no present theory fitted with their latest experimental data. He devised a new account that fitted very well. In his account, heat radiation is a jumble of many frequencies of electromagnetic waves that have come to equilibrium in a cavity. The waves are absorbed and emitted by oscillating charges in the walls of the cavity. That way, the temperature of the walls can be conveyed to the radiation itself. The cavity really just is an oven and it is filling the space inside with heat radiation. This radiation inside the cavity was known as " cavity radiation ."

If a tiny window was opened in the walls of the cavity, the radiation released would also have the temperature of the cavity. Some clever thermodynamic arguments showed that it had exactly the same composition as radiation re-emitted by a body at that same temperature if that body had the special property that it absorbed perfectly all radiation that fell on it, before re-radiating it. Such bodies are called "black" so that form of radiation is known as " black body radiation ."

Planck's Analysis of 1900

Planck found a very simple formula that fitted the latest experimental results very well. His problem was to tell a theoretical story about how that formula came about. After some hesitation, he found such a story. However the essential computation in his story depended upon a very odd assumption . (Debate continues today over whether Planck actually realized how radical this assumption was and how crucial it was to his account.) Planck modelled the heat radiation as coming from energized electric resonators.

Ordinary resonators of classical physics are just masses vibrating on springs, as shown in the figure. They can take on a continuous range of energies.

Planck's story required that these resonators not be energized over a continuous range of energies. Instead they might take energies of, say, 0, 1, 2, 3, . units, but nothing in between . Energies of say 1.2 units or 3.7 units were prohibited.

Deciding what those units were proved to be important. The units of energy were tied to the resonant frequency of the resonator. They were given by Planck's formula:

That means that the allowed energies are (h x frequency), twice (h x frequency), thrice (h x frequency), and so on.

The letter h stands for a new constant of nature introduced by Planck and now called "Planck's constant." This new constant plays the same of role in quantum theory that the speed of light plays in relativity theory it tells us when quantum effects will be important. The number is very small, suggesting that quantum effects are to be expected in the small for example, for ordinary frequencies, units of energy given by Planck's formula will be very small, so we will not notice the granularity it requires when we look at the larger energies of systems ordinary experience. (h = 6.62 x 10 -27 erg seconds.)

Planck's original formula applied to the energy of the resonators. He tried hard to confine the discontinuity it suggested to these resonators and even just to the interaction between radiation and the resonators. Over the next decade, other physicists began to see that the discontinuity could not be confined. Computations analogous to those of Planck from 1900 could be applied to heat radiation directly . They drove to the conclusion that Planck's formula applied directly to heat radiation as well. In each frequency, the energy of heat radiation must come in whole units of h x frequency. That conclusion is hard to reconcile with the idea that heat radiation is purely a wave phenomenon.


4 Answers 4

"A pure state is the quantum state where we have exact information about the quantum system. And the mixed state is the combination of probabilities of the information about the quantum state . different distributions of pure states can generate equivalent mixed states. I did not understand how a combination of exact information can result in the combination of probabilities.".

On a Bloch sphere, pure states are represented by a point on the surface of the sphere, whereas mixed states are represented by an interior point. The completely mixed state of a single qubit $<<2>>I_<2>,>$ is represented by the center of the sphere, by symmetry. The purity of a state can be visualized as the degree in which it is close to the surface of the sphere.

In quantum mechanics, the state of a quantum system is represented by a state vector (or ket) $| psi angle$. A quantum system with a state vector $| psi angle$ is called a pure state. However, it is also possible for a system to be in a statistical ensemble of different state vectors: For example, there may be a 50% probability that the state vector is $| psi_1 angle$ and a 50% chance that the state vector is $| psi_2 angle$.

This system would be in a mixed state. The density matrix is especially useful for mixed states, because any state, pure or mixed, can be characterized by a single density matrix.

The state vector $|psi angle$ of a pure state completely determines the statistical behavior of a measurement. For concreteness, take an observable quantity, and let A be the associated observable operator that has a representation on the Hilbert space $>$ of the quantum system. For any real-valued, analytical function $F$ defined on the real numbers, suppose that $F(A)$ is the result of applying $F$ to the outcome of a measurement. The expectation value of $F(A)$ is

$langle psi | F(A) | psi angle, .$

Now consider a mixed state prepared by statistically combining two different pure states $| psi angle$ and $| phi angle$, with the associated probabilities $p$ and $1 − p$, respectively. The associated probabilities mean that the preparation process for the quantum system ends in the state $|psi angle$ with probability $p$ and in the state $|phi angle$ with probability $1 − p$.


Did quantum fluctuations create the universe?

Given the discussion raised by Stephen Hawking’s latest book, some of our readers might find this reply, posted by Professor Edgar Andrews on an Amazon.co.uk discussion thread, useful:

“Nobody made evolution. It arises as a natural and inescapable consequence of the laws of nature in the universe in which we find ourselves, which themselves are a natural and inescapable consequence of the completely random quantum fluctuation which caused the big bang, at which point the “laws” of causality break down so it is meaningless to enquire who or what caused that.”

“But that really doesn’t wash, does it? In the same breath you say the big bang was caused by quantum fluctuations and then claim that it is meaningless to enquire what caused the big bang. That may be post-modernism but it certainly isn’t logic (or physics for that matter). But there are deeper fallacies with your explanations, as follows:

1) The laws of nature, you say, are the “inescapable consequences” of “completely random quantum fluctuations”. By what logic can inescapable consequences arise from random events? Random events can only lead to contingent consequences but to be “inescapable” the consequences cannot be contingent but must be determinate (necessary).

2) For the laws of nature to be a “consequence” of anything, the principle of causality must operate. Without causality there can be neither causes nor consequences. But you then tell us that back beyond the big bang the laws of causality break down. You really cannot have it both ways.

3) You say the big bang was “caused” by “random quantum fluctuations”. Quite apart from reinforcing my last point by invoking causality prior to the existence of the cosmos, you have to answer a different question … fluctuations in what? Before the big bang there existed neither matter, energy, space nor time, so by definition there could be no fluctuations in any of these entities. (If you claim there was something of a material nature “there” before the big bang, we are no longer talking about the ultimate origin of the universe).

3) Next comes another question. Are not quantum fluctuations themselves a manifestation of natural law (e.g. the laws of quantum mechanics)? How then could quantum fluctuations be the ultimate cause of natural law as you claim? Did the laws governing quantum fluctuation invent themselves? Not even Stephen Hawking believes that.”[/pk_box]

Edgar Andrews is the Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London and author of the excellent book, Who Made God? Searching for a Theory of Everything. Who Made God? is available from Amazon and New Zealand bookstores (Grace & Truth Publications has copies available for $24 NZD).

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I’v always doubted the big bang theory. To me the universe is infinite as energy is infinite and the universe is purely energy, everything that is is formed from energy and energy can not be lost only the information in the energy, see the recent developments in black hole research where they have proved just this, so its simple really, the universe has always been just not as we know it. To think there was nothing and then suddenly bang a universe is as ridiculous as the christians idea of creation. Think of it this way, Black holes suck energy out of the universe and Suns or White holes, which is what they are the exact opposite of a black hole, spew energy back into the universe and the information of the energy is altered in the process. You can’t create more energy or deplete energy you can only convert energy….. True infinity.

Energy is not infinite. Where you discovered that it was cannot have been a reputable source. Its probably the case that you misunderstood what you were reading. Energy, along with the universe, began to exist according to the predictions of the standard Big Bang model.

You say, “To think there was nothing and then suddenly bang a universe is as ridiculous as the christians idea of creation.”
Well, nothing then BANG, a universe, is ridiculous, I agree. Nothing comes from nothing, as the philosophers say. But this is not AS ridiclous as the Christian idea of creation. The Christian idea of creation ascribes the cause of the universe to God. The Christian view agrees with the philosophical maxim, for on this view something (the universe) came from something (God), not that something came from nothing.

Doesn’t the conservation of energy law in physics say energy can’t be created or destroyed, only changed to different forms of energy, like the principle of mass/matter conversion is with matter? If both energy and matter in a closed system(The universe would qualify as a closed system, as what is outside of the cosmological horizon of the Big Bang?) cannot be created or destroyed, simply changed into different forms of matter and energy, if they stay constant in this closed system of a universe we live in, as the laws of physics dictate, wouldn’t it be logical to think that all this mass and energy that comprises our universe has ALWAYS existed?

The Big Bang states that the universe was once a singularity, as that’s as far as we can go due to the laws of physics as we know them break down entirely, and then expanded from there. Maybe all matter and energy in the universe existed at that singularity, and has always existed, no creator or god needed? Maybe the laws of physics have to go sleep for a bit like we think they do in singularities for the quantum fluctuations to do their work?

John, your assertion has several insurmountable difficulties. First, You cannot account for the original question that has plagued Hawking and other theoretical physicists for decades: Why something rather than nothing? Regardless of the “size” of your singularity (relative in any sense) it must be accounted for. Secondly, account for the conditions that led to “instability” of the singularity that caused the initial growth (hyper inflation). Why sit in dormancy for an eternity, then radically change. Whence the impetus? A change in condition necessitates causation. Also, the probabilities of quantum events is directly proportional to time intervals. As the time decreases, the probability decreases. For a singularity event of the “creation” moment, time=zero, therefore probability=zero. There is no justification to deny the Law of Cause and Effect merely because it is theologically or philosophically discomforting. Additionally the existence of information and intelligence mandates a prior intelligence to the formation of the universe, it is inescapable. If we were to approach any other discipline, such as forensics or engineering, with the same degree of closed-mindedness of pure naturalism, we would of necessity arrive at ludicrous and illogical conclusions.

The laws of thermodynamics (and specifically, the first law you mentioned that states energy cannot be created or destroyed) only applies once the universe is created – not before there is a universe. It only aplies within the universe – not on the universe. So there’s no contradiction here with the science of thermodynamics and the idea that the universe began to exist.

You make some interesting points of course. However, The Big Bang as a cosmological Theory is still relatively incomplete. I was simply postulating a possibility, that matter and energy, and by necessity our universe, in one state or another is eternal. I will say it truthfully, I can’t account for what caused hyper inflation to begin with, there are a couple of ideas out there, like i said with quantum fluctuations being a possible source, but of course modern science cant push our theoretical framework passed the Planck scale, because once you go passed that, everything breaks down, including the laws of thermodynamics I believe, Stuart.

However Ktisis, you then go on to say that information and intelligence existing as part of this universe must necessitate a prior intelligence. You are making this claim on what grounds? Why is it mandated that intelligence needs a source? Why isn’t it a by-product of evolution? No where in science does it say we know how the universe started, because we dont know, we have theories, ideas of how it might have happened, based on measurable phenomenon we are currently able to observe, but no concrete ” Yeah, this is how it went down”. When you say God did it, the burden of proof is on you.

Apply Occam’s Razor then – What is simplest? God did it, which of course brings to mind all kinds of stuff like, if God created the universe, who created God?

Or the universe has always existed, in one state or another? We can see the universe, we can test the universe. Theres all kinds of matter and energy, abundunt everywhere, but no proof, no testable effect, of God having done it.

I’d like to ask before hand you guys disregard the general anti-religious flavor of the above video, as it is hosted by Richard Dawkins. It’s a presentation by Lawrence Krauss (also an atheist, forgive him his Religious snide commentary) on the possibility of the beggining of the universe. It’s interesting to watch, if you love science.

I’d also like to say that I myself am not an atheist, i honestly couldn’t categorize, as I neither believe in any of the dominant religions of our day and age, nor hold any particular atheistic views, I guess I’m agnostic. However, I find some of the anti-religious rhetoric that comes from people like Dawkins a tad distasteful, so I simply ask for a little forgiveness.

Actually you can test Theism as a hypothesis. For instance, If God (as concieved by Christians) exists, then the universe had a beginning.

Your theory that matter and energy are eternal will not work. Two philosophical proofs, (1) from the impossibilty of an acutal infinite, and (2) from the impossibilty of reaching an actual infinite by a series of equal successions, rule this out. Otherwise, there are scientific proofs that the universe is not eternal in the past. (3) The second law of Thermodynamics, the law of energy conservation indicates that the universe is not eternal in the past, and (4) the predictions of the Standard Big Bang Model. Here you say the theoretical framework cannot be extended beyong the planck time. Thats wrong. It is observation that cannot be extended beyond the planck time, not the theory. Only the breifest glance at the history of 20th century cosmogonies is enough to show this. However, due to the lengthy procession of failed theories that have sought to divert the absolute beginning of the universe predicted by the Standard Model and extend its life into the infinite past, we have good reason to think that future attempts will also be unsuccessful. Secondly, the Bord Guth Vilenkin theorum (c. 2004) positively proves that the universe had a beginning, by showing that any universe that has been in a state of cosmic inflation cannot be extended into the infinite past, but had an absolute beginning.

So given the universe had a beginning (premise 2, KCA), and that nothing can come from nothing (premise 1, KCA), applying Occam’s Razoris not detrimental to the conclusion of the KCA, nor Theism since we are ‘not positing anything beyond necessity.’ Thats Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor is not whatever explanation is simplest. And for whatever its worth, God as the cause of the universe is an advance in simplicity anyway, since God is simple compared to the effect – the complex material universe. God is an immaterial mind – tremendously simple entity (even if God did have a cause).

Sure you can hypothesize with theism to your heart’s content, but there is no empirical data, no measurable effect to prove your hypothesis. What do you use as empirical data to prove God? I’m not even referring to any particular one, for sake of argument, we will list God as the being who created the universe, hypothetically

Also, you say you cant get something from nothing, which is of course correct. The problem is, there is no such thing as “Nothing” The Quantum Vacuum as shown in the Casimir Effect shows this. Even in Vacuum there are quantum fluctuations, with virtual particles popping in and out of existence.

Also, you keep mentioning the law of thermal dynamics, but physical laws as we know them break down at the singularity and no longer apply, hence why observation doesn’t extend past the Planck scale of the cosmological singularity predicted in the Standard Model, because the laws and rules of the universe that we use for most science dont apply at the singularity, they don’t do what they are supposed to.

The thing is, we have no clue what happened prior to the Big Bang. The difference is, you claim that at the beggining it was God that set the ball rolling. Where is the Proof? There isn’t any. I was just theorizing, and of course, as you pointed out, there are many reasons for my theory to not be correct. The theistic Idea however, has no evidence to support it whatsoever, It’s totally in the domain of philosophy.

Saying the universe has a begining is not the same as saying it came from nothing.. It simply suggests that there is something external. It doesn’t have to be a God.

the fact is nobody knows. Saying God did it explains nothing.

Hey what happened to my previous post

Censorship isn’t fair in a debate guys

Also, The BGV theorem has this to say, quoted directly from the paper

Many inflating spacetimes are likely to violate the weak energy condition, a key assumption of singularity theorems. Here we offer a simple kinematical argument, requiring no energy condition, that a cosmological model which is inflating — or just expanding sufficiently fast — must be incomplete in null and timelike past directions. Specifically, we obtain a bound on the integral of the Hubble parameter over a past-directed timelike or null geodesic. Thus inflationary models require physics other than inflation to describe the past boundary of the inflating region of spacetime.
……
and later

Whatever the possibilities for the boundary, it is clear
that unless the averaged expansion condition can somehow
be avoided for all past-directed geodesics, inflation
alone is not sufficient to provide a complete description of
the Universe, and some new physics is necessary in order
to determine the correct conditions at the boundary

“inflation alone is not sufficient to provide a complete description of
the Universe, and some new physics is necessary in order
to determine the correct conditions at the boundary”

It doesn’t say anything about God, Just that there is some kind of new physics that we are not aware of that would be responsible.
Your twisting that paper to suit your preconceptions Stuart. You’re inserting “God” As the new physics. Youre combining philosophy and science., not a very logical thing to do.

You also make some other wild assumptions that have no basis in fact.
“God is an immaterial Mind” What do you base this off? Where is your empirical evidence of this?
“God is Simple ” Once again, evidence? Where is your evidence?
The existence of God as the cause immediatley leads to infinite regression, as if God is the cause of the universe what is the cause of god? Thats complex, not simple.

John, it doesn’t really reflect well on you when you jump to the conclusion that your comment wasn’t immediately published because of “censorship”.

Our comment filter is fairly stringent to avoid spam, which we get a lot of. So most comments have to be manually approved. And believe it or not, we don’t sit in the WordPress dashboard all day hitting the Refresh button P

There is a major philosophical problem with your above comments. I will freely admit there is no purely empirical evidence for God. However, empirical evidence can be used to support a premise, which when combined with philosophical notions in other premises can lead toward a logical conclusion. You say comining philosophy and science is illogical? No. This method describes the process of forming every other reasonable belief, including scientific beliefs formed by responsible empirical enquiry.

For instance, one could say, there is a creature out there with certain attributes, say for instance it has wings, can swim as well as a fish, the male sits on the eggs to keep it warm, it can grow as tall as 100cm. We can be skeptical about it, because its doesn’t sound like anything we’ve ever seen or experienced. But when we hear about the emperor penguin, (perhaps you saw it for yourself, perhaps you read about it, or heard it described on the BBC by David Attinborough) you say to youself, ‘Hey, this fits the description.’ Then we combine this empirical evidence a philosophical assumption (hidden premise), i.e. “The report I am recieving from my senses is trustworthy,” and/or “This creature is not logically impossible,” and/or ” Likewise, Attinborough would not make this up, but he and his crew would have a direct and immediate sensory impression.” We then can conclude justifiably ‘My hypothesis [of such a creture with certain attributes] was right after all.’ Likewise, we have a concept of God as having certain attributes, we know from the KCA that the universe has a cause, and then when we consider what it would mean for something to be a cause of the universe, then we can say, ‘Hey, this fits the description of such a being.’

This is like Aquinas saying, ‘And this being, everyone calls God.’ What properties does the “something external [to the universe]” have, do you think? Now doesn’t such a description fit the concept of God quite nicely? And what are you going to call it? This being/cause/whatever, afterall, created the universe.

I agree there is no such THING as nothing. After all, thats the meaning of nothing – No-thing. Some people call the vacuum “nothing” but it is clearly not nothing. It is something, endowed and governed by physical laws. The universe however began from nothing in the sense of creatio ex nihilo, No-thing.

This is the prediction of the Standard Big Bang Model. Other models that have tried to extend the universe into the infinite past have continually failed to recommend themselves to the scietific community, and because of the Bord Guth Vilenkin theorem, cannot be infinite in the past since the theorem is independant of a physical description of the past universe. It was Alan Guth, I believe, who said, “With the proof now in, cosmologists must now face the problem of an absolute beginning.”

I’m not inserting God here as the new physics! I’m using the Bord Guth Vilenkin theorem as support for the beginning of the universe.

“God is an immaterial mind.” I base this off the revealed and traditional concept of God. But is there another reason why the creator or cause of the universe would be an immaterial mind. Since the universe is all that is material, the cause of the universe must be immaterial. Since the only immaterial things that philsophers are aware of are minds and abstract objects, and since abstract objects cannot cause anything, then the cause of the unvierse must be a mind. Thus, the cause of the universe must be an immaterial mind. God is an immaterial mind. And an immaterial mind is tremendously simple. It cannot be divided since it has not physical parts – it has no components to put together.

“The existence of God as the cause immediatley leads to infinite regression, as if God is the cause of the universe what is the cause of god? Thats complex, not simple.”

If God had a cause that wouldn’t mean he was complex. But what is your problem with infinite regressions anyway? Its an eternal universe that is an infinite regression, which based on your above comments above, you don’t have a problem with. A major inconsistancy in your arguments here.

And why would you think that a being that bought time into existence with the universe, itself began to exist? This is your burden if you’re to advance this argument. It is unfortunately for those who advance the argument immediately apparent the very question is ridiculous. The cause of the universe (all space and time) must be timeless, thus be beginningless and unchanging. That which is beginningless and unchanging is necessary: the universe is contingent (it didn’t have to exist) – the cause of the unverse must be not-contingent, i.e. necessary (it had to exitst). So the question “Who made God?” is therefore exactly “What was the cause of an uncaused cause?” Analogously, it is like the question “What is the name of the bachelor’s wife?” or like saying “The area of the circle is the square of both its sides.” It’s idiotic. Really! Why people think its profound is beyond me.

Refer to the website address at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy pertaining to dark energy.

The following is the extract of the second paragraph under the sub-title of “Negative Pressure” for the main subject of the ‘Nature Of Dark Energy’:

According to General Relativity, the pressure within a substance contributes to its gravitational attraction for other things just as its mass density does. This happens because the physical quantity that causes matter to generate gravitational effects is the Stress-energy tensor, which contains both the energy (or matter) density of a substance and its pressure and viscosity.

As the phrase, the physical quantity that causes matter to generate gravitational effects is mentioned in the extracted paragraph, it gives the implication that physical quantity of matter has to exist prior to the generation of gravitational effects. Or in other words, it opposes the principality that gravitational effects could occur at the absence of matter. As it is described pertaining to Dark Energy, it implies that Dark Energy could only be derived from the existence of the physical quantity of matter. This certainly rejects Stephen Hawking’s theory in which dark energy could exist prior to the formation of the universe as if that dark energy could exist the support or influence from the physical quantity of matter.

The following is the extract of the third paragraph under the sub-title of ‘Cosmological Constant’ for the main subject of the ‘Nature of Dark Energy’:

The simplest explanation for dark energy is that it is simply the “cost of having space”: that is, a volume of space has some intrinsic, fundamental energy. This is the cosmological constant, sometimes called Lambda (hence Lambda-CDM model) after the Greek letter ?, the symbol used to mathematically represent this quantity. Since energy and mass are related by E = mc2, Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts that it will have a gravitational effect..

E = mc2 has been used to be related to Dark Energy. As energy and mass are related in according to General Relativity and if m = 0, no matter how big the number that c could be, E (the dark energy) would turn up to be 0 since 0 is multiplied by c2 always equal to 0. Or in other words, E (the dark energy) should be equal to 0 at the absence of substance. Stephen Hawking’s theory certainly contradicts Eistein’s theory in the sense that he supports that dark energy could exist even though there could not be any matter existed prior to the formation of the universe. As E (the dark energy should be equal to 0) when m=0, it provides the proof that there would not be at dark energy prior to the formation of the universe. As there would not be any dark energy prior to the formation of the universe, how could Stephen Hawking uses quantum theory to support that gravity or the so-called, dark energy, could create something out of nothing. Thus, Stephen Hawking has twisted Eistein’s theory to support his own theory.

Refer to the website address at: http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/history/newtongrav.html pertaining to the law of universal gravitation. The following is the extract of the definition of law of universal gravitation:

Every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force directed along the time of centers for the two objects that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely separation between the two objects. Fg = G(m1 m2)//r2. (Fg is the gravitational force m1 & m2 are the masses of the two objects r is the separation between the objects and G is the universal gravitational constant. From the formula, we note that Fg (the gravitational force or in replacement of dark energy) has a direct influence from two masses (m1 & m2). If either of the m is equal to 0, Fg would turn up to be 0. Isaac Newton’s theory certainly opposes Stephen Hawking in which gravity or the so-called, dark energy, could exist at the absence of matter prior to the formation of this universe in this energy or gravity could create something out of nothing.

From the above analyses, it would come to the conclusion that Stephen Hawking has twisted both Newton’s theory as well as Eistein to support his quantum theory in which gravity, or the so-called, dark energy, could create something out of nothing.

As Stephen Hawking has twisted both Newton’s gravitational theory and Eistein to support his theory that quantum fluctuation could create the universe, this gives us the idea that his theory contradicts sicence in realtiy and that put his theory to be in doubts about its reliability and acceptability.

Stephen Hawking might mention that both Newton’s gravitational theory and Eistein are wrong. As he was not born at the time of the formation of the universe to observe its creation, his theory is simply not tested and ithrough his wild imagination by twisting scientific theories to suit his concept.

Could we have some rebuttal from John for Stuart? The debate was going very nicely, and I would love to see how John would come back, and I’m sure Stuart would too!


The real history of quantum biology

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Quantum biology, a young and increasingly popular science genre, isn't as new as many believe, with a complicated and somewhat dark history, explain the founders of the world's first quantum biology doctoral training centre.

In a paper published by the Royal Society journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Professors Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey trace the origins of quantum biology as far back as the late 1920s when the Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, delivered an influential lecture on whether the then new 'atomic theory' could help solve the mystery of life.

In their paper, The origins of quantum biology, McFadden and Al-Khalili examine nearly 100 years of pioneering and improbable questions about the relationship between the fuzzy and almost magical world of quantum physics and the rigid and organised field of biology.

Quantum biology seeks to understand whether quantum mechanics plays a role in biological processes. Recent research has already shown phenomena such as photosynthesis, respiration, bird navigation and even the way we think are all influenced by quantum mechanics.

Earlier this year, Professors McFadden and Al-Khalili opened the doors to their new Doctoral Training Centre for Quantum Biology. The centre, which is supported by the Leverhulme Trust, trains a new generation of scientists who can operate across the boundaries of biology, chemistry and quantum physics to pioneer research in quantum biology.

Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Co-Director of the Centre for Quantum Biology at the University of Surrey, said: "Quantum biology is wrongly regarded as a very new scientific discipline, when it actually began before the Second World War. Back then, a few quantum physicists tried to understand what was special about life itself and whether quantum mechanics might shed any light on the matter. In this paper we tell the story of how it all began and why it is only now making a comeback."

Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics and Co-Director of the Centre for Quantum Biology at the University of Surrey, said: "With the University of Surrey now hosting the world's first doctoral training centre in quantum biology and training Ph.D. students in this interdisciplinary field, we felt it was a good time tell the world something about its origins.

"We had wanted to lay out the history of quantum biology as far back as 2015, when Johnjoe and I wrote our popular science book,Life on the Edge, which has already been translated into 16 languages and was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Book Prize."


Plum Pudding Model and Rutherford Model

JESPER KLAUSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Up to this point, atoms were believed to be the smallest units of matter. In 1897, J.J. Thomson discovered the electron. He believed atoms could be divided. Because the electron carried a negative charge, he proposed a plum pudding model of the atom, in which electrons were embedded in a mass of positive charge to yield an electrically neutral atom.

Ernest Rutherford, one of Thomson's students, disproved the plum pudding model in 1909. Rutherford found that the positive charge of an atom and most of its mass were at the center, or nucleus, of an atom. He described a planetary model in which electrons orbited a small, positive-charged nucleus.


Contents

Origin and education Edit

Louis de Broglie belonged to the famous aristocratic family of Broglie, whose representatives for several centuries occupied important military and political posts in France. The father of the future physicist, Louis-Alphonse-Victor, 5th duc de Broglie, was married to Pauline d’Armaille, the granddaughter of the Napoleonic General Philippe Paul, comte de Ségur. They had five children in addition to Louis, these are: Albertina (1872–1946), subsequently the Marquise de Luppé Maurice (1875–1960), subsequently a famous experimental physicist Philip (1881–1890), who died two years before the birth of Louis, and Pauline, Comtesse de Pange (1888–1972), subsequently a famous writer. [13] Louis was born in Dieppe, Seine-Maritime. As the youngest child in the family, Louis grew up in relative loneliness, read a lot, was fond of history, especially political. From early childhood, he had a good memory and could accurately read an excerpt from a theatrical production or give a complete list of ministers of the Third Republic of France. For him was predicted a great future as a statesman. [14]

De Broglie had intended a career in humanities, and received his first degree in history. Afterwards he turned his attention toward mathematics and physics and received a degree in physics. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he offered his services to the army in the development of radio communications.

Military service Edit

After graduation, Louis de Broglie as a simple sapper joined the engineering forces to undergo compulsory service. It began at Fort Mont Valérien, but soon, on the initiative of his brother, he was seconded to the Wireless Communications Service and worked on the Eiffel Tower, where the radio transmitter was located. Louis de Broglie remained in military service throughout the First World War, dealing with purely technical issues. In particular, together with Léon Brillouin and brother Maurice, he participated in establishing wireless communications with submarines. Prince Louis was demobilized in August 1919 with the rank of adjudant. Later, the scientist regretted that he had to spend about six years away from the fundamental problems of science that interested him. [14] [15]

Scientific and pedagogical career Edit

His 1924 thesis Recherches sur la théorie des quanta [16] (Research on the Theory of the Quanta) introduced his theory of electron waves. This included the wave–particle duality theory of matter, based on the work of Max Planck and Albert Einstein on light. This research culminated in the de Broglie hypothesis stating that any moving particle or object had an associated wave. De Broglie thus created a new field in physics, the mécanique ondulatoire, or wave mechanics, uniting the physics of energy (wave) and matter (particle). For this he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1929.

In his later career, de Broglie worked to develop a causal explanation of wave mechanics, in opposition to the wholly probabilistic models which dominate quantum mechanical theory it was refined by David Bohm in the 1950s. The theory has since been known as the De Broglie–Bohm theory.

In addition to strictly scientific work, de Broglie thought and wrote about the philosophy of science, including the value of modern scientific discoveries.

De Broglie became a member of the Académie des sciences in 1933, and was the academy's perpetual secretary from 1942. He was asked to join Le Conseil de l'Union Catholique des Scientifiques Francais, but declined because he was non-religious. [17] [18] On 12 October 1944, he was elected to the Académie Française, replacing mathematician Émile Picard. Because of the deaths and imprisonments of Académie members during the occupation and other effects of the war, the Académie was unable to meet the quorum of twenty members for his election due to the exceptional circumstances, however, his unanimous election by the seventeen members present was accepted. In an event unique in the history of the Académie, he was received as a member by his own brother Maurice, who had been elected in 1934. UNESCO awarded him the first Kalinga Prize in 1952 for his work in popularizing scientific knowledge, and he was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society on 23 April 1953.

Louis became the 7th duc de Broglie in 1960 upon the death without heir of his elder brother, Maurice, 6th duc de Broglie, also a physicist.

In 1961, he received the title of Knight of the Grand Cross in the Légion d'honneur. De Broglie was awarded a post as counselor to the French High Commission of Atomic Energy in 1945 for his efforts to bring industry and science closer together. He established a center for applied mechanics at the Henri Poincaré Institute, where research into optics, cybernetics, and atomic energy were carried out. He inspired the formation of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science and was an early member. [19] His funeral was held 23 March 1987 at the Church of Saint-Pierre-de-Neuilly. [20]

Louis never married. When he died in Louveciennes, [6] he was succeeded as duke by a distant cousin, Victor-François, 8th duc de Broglie.

Physics of X-ray and photoelectric effect Edit

The first works of Louis de Broglie (early 1920s) were performed in the laboratory of his older brother Maurice and dealt with the features of the photoelectric effect and the properties of x-rays. These publications examined the absorption of X-rays and described this phenomenon using the Bohr theory, applied quantum principles to the interpretation of photoelectron spectra, and gave a systematic classification of X-ray spectra. [14] The studies of X-ray spectra were important for elucidating the structure of the internal electron shells of atoms (optical spectra are determined by the outer shells). Thus, the results of experiments conducted together with Alexandre Dauvillier, revealed the shortcomings of the existing schemes for the distribution of electrons in atoms these difficulties were eliminated by Edmund Stoner. [21] Another result was the elucidation of the insufficiency of the Sommerfeld formula for determining the position of lines in X-ray spectra this discrepancy was eliminated after the discovery of the electron spin. In 1925 and 1926, Leningrad physicist Orest Khvolson nominated the de Broglie brothers for the Nobel Prize for their work in the field of X-rays. [13]

Matter and wave–particle duality Edit

Studying the nature of X-ray radiation and discussing its properties with his brother Maurice, who considered these rays to be some kind of combination of waves and particles, contributed to Louis de Broglie's awareness of the need to build a theory linking particle and wave representations. In addition, he was familiar with the works (1919–1922) of Marcel Brillouin, which proposed a hydrodynamic model of an atom and attempted to relate it to the results of Bohr's theory. The starting point in the work of Louis de Broglie was the idea of A. Einstein about the quanta of light. In his first article on this subject, published in 1922, the French scientist considered blackbody radiation as a gas of light quanta and, using classical statistical mechanics, derived the Wien radiation law in the framework of such a representation. In his next publication, he tried to reconcile the concept of light quanta with the phenomena of interference and diffraction and came to the conclusion that it was necessary to associate a certain periodicity with quanta. In this case, light quanta were interpreted by him as relativistic particles of very small mass. [22]

It remained to extend the wave considerations to any massive particles, and in the summer of 1923 a decisive breakthrough occurred. De Broglie outlined his ideas in a short note "Waves and quanta" (French: Ondes et quanta, presented at a meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences on September 10, 1923), which marked the beginning of the creation of wave mechanics. In this paper, the scientist suggested that a moving particle with energy E and velocity v is characterized by some internal periodic process with a frequency E / h , where h is Planck's constant. To reconcile these considerations, based on the quantum principle, with the ideas of special relativity, de Broglie was forced to associate a "fictitious wave" with a moving body, which propagates with the velocity c 2 / v /v> . Such a wave, which later received the name phase, or de Broglie wave, in the process of body movement remains in phase with the internal periodic process. Having then examined the motion of an electron in a closed orbit, the scientist showed that the requirement for phase matching directly leads to the quantum Bohr-Sommerfeld condition, that is, to quantize the angular momentum. In the next two notes (reported at the meetings on September 24 and October 8, respectively), de Broglie came to the conclusion that the particle velocity is equal to the group velocity of phase waves, and the particle moves along the normal to surfaces of equal phase. In the general case, the trajectory of a particle can be determined using Fermat's principle (for waves) or the principle of least action (for particles), which indicates a connection between geometric optics and classical mechanics. [23]

This theory set the basis of wave mechanics. It was supported by Einstein, confirmed by the electron diffraction experiments of G P Thomson and Davisson and Germer, and generalized by the work of Schrödinger.

However, this generalization was statistical and was not approved of by de Broglie, who said "that the particle must be the seat of an internal periodic movement and that it must move in a wave in order to remain in phase with it was ignored by the actual physicists [who are] wrong to consider a wave propagation without localization of the particle, which was quite contrary to my original ideas."

From a philosophical viewpoint, this theory of matter-waves has contributed greatly to the ruin of the atomism of the past. Originally, de Broglie thought that real wave (i.e., having a direct physical interpretation) was associated with particles. In fact, the wave aspect of matter was formalized by a wavefunction defined by the Schrödinger equation, which is a pure mathematical entity having a probabilistic interpretation, without the support of real physical elements. This wavefunction gives an appearance of wave behavior to matter, without making real physical waves appear. However, until the end of his life de Broglie returned to a direct and real physical interpretation of matter-waves, following the work of David Bohm. The de Broglie–Bohm theory is today the only interpretation giving real status to matter-waves and representing the predictions of quantum theory.

Conjecture of an internal clock of the electron Edit

In his 1924 thesis, de Broglie conjectured that the electron has an internal clock that constitutes part of the mechanism by which a pilot wave guides a particle. [24] Subsequently, David Hestenes has proposed a link to the zitterbewegung that was suggested by Erwin Schrödinger. [25]

While attempts at verifying the internal clock hypothesis and measuring clock frequency are so far not conclusive, [26] recent experimental data is at least compatible with de Broglie's conjecture. [27]

Non-nullity and variability of mass Edit

According to de Broglie, the neutrino and the photon have rest masses that are non-zero, though very low. That a photon is not quite massless is imposed by the coherence of his theory. Incidentally, this rejection of the hypothesis of a massless photon enabled him to doubt the hypothesis of the expansion of the universe.

In addition, he believed that the true mass of particles is not constant, but variable, and that each particle can be represented as a thermodynamic machine equivalent to a cyclic integral of action.

Generalization of the principle of least action Edit

In the second part of his 1924 thesis, de Broglie used the equivalence of the mechanical principle of least action with Fermat's optical principle: "Fermat's principle applied to phase waves is identical to Maupertuis' principle applied to the moving body the possible dynamic trajectories of the moving body are identical to the possible rays of the wave." This equivalence had been pointed out by Hamilton a century earlier, and published by him around 1830, in an era where no experience gave proof of the fundamental principles of physics being involved in the description of atomic phenomena.

Up to his final work, he appeared to be the physicist who most sought that dimension of action which Max Planck, at the beginning of the 20th century, had shown to be the only universal unity (with his dimension of entropy).

Duality of the laws of nature Edit

Far from claiming to make "the contradiction disappear" which Max Born thought could be achieved with a statistical approach, de Broglie extended wave–particle duality to all particles (and to crystals which revealed the effects of diffraction) and extended the principle of duality to the laws of nature.

His last work made a single system of laws from the two large systems of thermodynamics and of mechanics:

When Boltzmann and his continuators developed their statistical interpretation of Thermodynamics, one could have considered Thermodynamics to be a complicated branch of Dynamics. But, with my actual ideas, it's Dynamics that appear to be a simplified branch of Thermodynamics. I think that, of all the ideas that I've introduced in quantum theory in these past years, it's that idea that is, by far, the most important and the most profound.

That idea seems to match the continuous–discontinuous duality, since its dynamics could be the limit of its thermodynamics when transitions to continuous limits are postulated. It is also close to that of Leibniz, who posited the necessity of "architectonic principles" to complete the system of mechanical laws.

However, according to him, there is less duality, in the sense of opposition, than synthesis (one is the limit of the other) and the effort of synthesis is constant according to him, like in his first formula, in which the first member pertains to mechanics and the second to optics:

Neutrino theory of light Edit

This theory, which dates from 1934, introduces the idea that the photon is equivalent to the fusion of two Dirac neutrinos.

It shows that the movement of the center of gravity of these two particles obeys the Maxwell equations—that implies that the neutrino and the photon both have rest masses that are non-zero, though very low.

Hidden thermodynamics Edit

De Broglie's final idea was the hidden thermodynamics of isolated particles. It is an attempt to bring together the three furthest principles of physics: the principles of Fermat, Maupertuis, and Carnot.

In this work, action becomes a sort of opposite to entropy, through an equation that relates the only two universal dimensions of the form:

As a consequence of its great impact, this theory brings back the uncertainty principle to distances around extrema of action, distances corresponding to reductions in entropy.


Later career and writings

After receiving his doctorate, de Broglie remained at the Sorbonne, becoming in 1928 professor of theoretical physics at the newly founded Henri Poincaré Institute, where he taught until his retirement in 1962. He also acted, after 1945, as an adviser to the French Atomic Energy Commissariat.

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, de Broglie received, in 1952, the Kalinga Prize, awarded by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, in recognition of his writings on science for the general public. He was a foreign member of the British Royal Society, a member of the French Academy of Sciences, and, like several of his forebears, a member of the Académie Française.

De Broglie’s keen interest in the philosophical implications of modern physics found expression in addresses, articles, and books. The central question for him was whether the statistical considerations that are fundamental to atomic physics reflect an ignorance of underlying causes or whether they express all that there is to be known the latter would be the case if, as some believe, the act of measuring affects, and is inseparable from, what is measured. For about three decades after his work of 1923, de Broglie held the view that underlying causes could not be delineated in a final sense, but, with the passing of time, he returned to his earlier belief that the statistical theories hide “a completely determined and ascertainable reality behind variables which elude our experimental techniques.”