QUANTUM MECHANICS

    A singular feature of quantum mechanics is that its predictions generally give only the probability of an event, not a deterministic statement that the event will happen or that it will not.

 "In quantum theory individual events do not always have a well defined cause. For example, the jump of an electron from one atomic orbit to another, or the disintegration of a subatomic particle, may occur spontaneously without any single event causing it. We can never predict when and how such a phenomenon is going to happen; we can only predict its probability. This does not mean that atomic events occur in completely arbitrary fashion; it means only that they are not brought about by local causes. The behavior of any part is determined by its nonlocal connections to the whole, and since we do not know these connections precisely, we have to replace the narrow classical notion of cause and effect by the wider concept of statistical causality. The laws of atomic physics are statistical laws, according to which the probabilities for atomic events are determined by the dynamics of the whole system. Whereas in classical mechanics the properties and behavior of the parts determine those of the whole, the situation is reversed in quantum mechanics; it is the whole that determines the behavior of the parts. " (Fritjof Capra The Turning Point p. 86)

                                                                                                                                                  

  Niels Bohr and planetary model of the atom...                                               

 Werner Heisenberg... 

Albert Einstein...

significance of Relativity Theory

 

Relativity theory has made the cosmic web come alive, so to speak, by revealing its intrinsically dynamic character; by showing that its activity is the very essence of its being. In modern physics the image of the universe as a machine has been transcended by a view of it as one indivisible, dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process. At the subatomic level the interrelatons and interactions between the parts of the whole are more fundamental than the parts themselves. There is motion but there are, ultimately, no moving objects; there is activity but there are no actors; there are no dancers, there is only the dance." (Capra Turning Point 92)  (see Gary Zukav. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. New York: William Morrow. l979)

Copenhagen  Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics....

Niels Bohr and the planetary model of the atom In the early decades of the twentieth century a great paradigm shift occurred from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics and relativity theory. The Danish physicist  Niels Bohr contemplated the paradox or 'paradigm anomaly' arising from the application of Newton's laws to the Rutherford miniature planetary model of the atom. Bohr observed that calculations of the classical mechanical paradigm required the orbiting electrons to give off energy and spiral down into the nucleus(orbital decay) . This would result in the collapse of the atom and theoretically in the instability and the non-existence of matter and the  universe.

To explain the complexity of the hydrogen  spectrum Bohr combined the hydrogen absorption and emission data... spectral lines with Max Planck's new notion of discrete units of light energy... light packets or 'quanta'  an idea resulting from another paradigm anomaly... calculations of classical energy laws predicted that the total energy in a black box should be infinite.

 Bohr started with the spectroscopic data and speculated that electrons revolve around the nucleus in orbits or shells at specific distances from the nucleus.

 Bohr started with the spectroscopic data  Combining hydrogen's spectral lines with the notion of the discrete quantum, Bohr proposed that the electrons travel in fixed orbits or "quantized" energy levels.and proposed a new model for the atom  which theoretically resolved the paradox. He proposed that the electrons revolve around the nucleus and travel in fixed orbits or shells at specific distances from the nucleus. Each orbit is able to accomodate a specific number of electrons. Electrons orbiting in quantized energy levels would release and absorb light as discrete units of energyenergy packets or quanta. This would account for the discontinuous pattern of the hydrogen atom's spectral lines and at the same time the the inability of the electrons to spiral continuously down into the nucleus. When he tested the model with further experiments, he found a perfect fit between the energy formulae for hydrogen's spectral lines and the calculated quantized energy levels. In addition electrons in the lowest energy level, the 'ground state', are stable, the atom cannot collapse, and matter can exist.Bohr's brilliant theory appealed to physicists of the time because it integrated the insights of Planck and Einstein (discontinuous quantum nature of energy) with classical Newtonian mechanics (traditional framework of orbits around a central body).

 He won the Nobel Prize in 1913. But Bohr's atomic model was put into question by Werner Heisenberg when he was a student of theoretical physics at the University of Munich. Heisenberg doubted the validity of making a compromise between quantum theory and classical mechanics of planetary motion because it was unable to explain the more refined results of spectral technology. Heisenberg rejected the classical ideas of planetary orbits on the basis of Einstein's method of using 'observables' to formulate his theory of relativity. Starting with the observable facts of atomic spectra, he explained the results and formulated his theory of quantum mechanics in his autobiography Physics and Beyond.

  According to his theory, each orbit would be able to accomodate a specific number of electrons. The electron of the hydrogen atom stays as close as possible to the nucleus, at the lowest energy... the 'ground state'... in the first shell or 'inner shell'. Electrons in the ground state are stable and the atom cannot collapse matter can exist. When the hydrogen atom is excited by heating or 'thermal energy', the electron jumps to higher energy levels at greater distances from the nucleus, the distance from the nucleus depending on the amount of energy supplied. When the external energy is no longer applied, the electron returns to a lower shell, eventually returns to the first shell, emitting light energy.as it jumps from one shell to another, and in the same amount as it absorbed when it jumped to an outer shell. The emission of light becomes visible in the form of spectral lines. An electron making a jump from the outer to the innermost shell releases a certain amount of energy visible as one characteristic spectral line. An electron making one jump from the fifth to the third shell and another from the third to the first shell releases two separate amounts of energy visible as two characteristic spectral lines. The hydrogen electron can make any of a hundred possible combinations of jumps  from the outermost to the innermost shell each one represented by one characteistic spectral line. Bohr worked out the one hundred possible combinations that the hydrogen electron can make as it jumps from the outermost to the innermost shell, and on this basis provided an explanation which could account for the hundred lines in the spectrum of hydrogen gas. Bohr was able to account for the hundred lines in the 'spectrum' of hydrogen gas with his planetary model of the atom. In 1913 he received the Nobel Prize.

As a result of Bohr's work a great paradigm shift occurred from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics

 With Thompson's discovery of the electron, the concept of the 'indivisibility' of the atom was discarded.

At the turn of the century, the mechanistic view of the physical world was challenged by Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory. Since then, new laws of integrated wholes have been postulated... the laws of natural systems of organized complexitEinstein changed the concept of matter as substance with his theory of matter .. highly packaged energy (E=mc2). As transformable energy, matter was conceived as process and the universe as an interacting set of events or processes rather than a static collection of material objects or 'things'. 

The reality of matter and atoms was acceptable with Einstein's "well - testable theory that small particles suspended in a liquid (whose movements are visible through a microscope, and therefore 'real') moved as a result of the random impacts of the moving molecules of the liquid). Einstein conjectured that the then still invisibly small molecules exerted causal effects upon those very small yet 'ordinary' real things. This provided good reasons for the reality of molecules and then further of atoms... This theory was written up in his 1905 paper on Brownian motion.

Einstein and the quantum theory of light In l921 at age twenty six, Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize for the work describing his theory of the quantum nature of light to to explain the properties of light in the context of the 'discontinuous' basic structure of nature. Planck had described how energy is absorbed and emitted in packets called 'quanta'. Einstein went on to demonstrate how light energy is absorbed and emitted in packets called 'photons'. Each photon of a given colour has a certain frequency and thus a certain amount of energy. Photons of high frequency light have more energy than photons of low-frequency light. He proved his theory with an experiment demonstrating the phenomenon known as the 'photoelectric effect'. When light hits the surface of a metal, electrons are loosened from the atoms in the metal. They escape in numbers which can be counted and at a velocity which can be measured. He based his revolutionary theory on the work of the l905 Nobel Prize winner Phillipe Lenard who showed that a flow of electrons begins immediately when impinging light strikes the target metal. .He discovered that reducing the intensity of the impinging light would change the velocity of the escaping electrons. Einstein explained both these phenomena with his particle theory of light, providing a theoretical bridge  between Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics. Since then, new laws of integrated wholes have been postulated..

 When Einstein received news that a French student de Broglie, had speculated on the possibility of electrons as particles displaying wave-like behaviour on the basis of the fact that light waves had been shown to display particle-like behaviour as 'photons.'  Erwin Schrodinger was intrigued and posed the hypothetical question would be possible to 'calculate the movement of the electron wave?' He then demonstrated with an abstract mathematical picture... 'wave function' which represented any solution to his equation... that if the single electron of the hydrogen atom was a 'standing wave' then the wave frequencies would be the same as those for Bohr's fixed orbits and their energies were equal to Heisenberg's calculated frequencies. Schrodinger's former professor Max Born pointed out that the wave solutions were waves of probability and demonstrated that Schrodinger's equation described the probability of observing an electron in a given place at a given time. Physicists were made aware of a very subtle aspect of the reality of the  universe - a reality which could not be visualized.

Heisenberg wondered how it was possible that accurate experimental results could be predicted on the basis of Schrodinger's probability waves for electrons as well as his own calculations of the mechanics of observables. Using a  thought experiment known as his 'microscope experiment', he formulated a new and dramatic  principle which signalled the final stages of the paradigm shift from classical Newtonian  mechanics to quantum mechanics. As one penetrates deeper into the subatomic realm,  accurate measurements are not possible and it becomes impossible to observe something without changing it. It becomes impossible to measure accurately, at the same time, both the position and the momentum of a subatomic particle. As an example, in experiments using gamma rays with the shortest known wave length, it was possible to determine the position of the electron. However, as a result of collisions with high energy gamma rays the electrons were knocked out of orbit - their direction and speed were changed, changing their momentum. Determining the direction of the moving electron requires measurement of both the position and the momentum of the electron. To determine the position of the electron, light of short  wavelength must be used, causing a change of momentum.To determine the momentum of the electron, photons of less energy must be used, but low-energy photons are ineffective  because they have wavelengths which are too long for determining the position of the electron. Thus it becomes impossible to measure simultaneously both the position and the momentum of the moving electron. The measurement of one observable - the electron's position - becomes uncertain as soon as one measures the other observable - the electron's momentum. This is the basis for Heisenberg's 'uncertainty principle' which states that it is the actual process of observation and measurement which produces the uncertainty of observation and measurement.

A system under observation is changed in such a way that observation becomes impossible. Of primary signifance to paradigm shift, it has been repeatedly verified by experiment that Heisenberg's 'uncertainty principle' undermines the idea of a causal universe.According to Heisenberg, the characteristic probability wave of quantum physics, refers to a tendency of an event occurring..."standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality between the possibility and the reality."In the autumn of l927, physicists met in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the central philosophical issue of the new physics of quantum mechanics. The question discussed was the following: what should replace Newtonian physics as a philosophical basisfor the study of subatomic phenomena? The laws governing individual events were discarded and the formulation decided upon was known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. According to this interpretation, quantum theory does not explain in detail what is going on in a particular event but it is complete because it works. It works because it correlates with experience in every possible experimental situation. This can be illustrated with the following example of atomic theory. Located at the center of the atom, the nucleus occupies a small part of the volume but almost all of its mass. Each of the electrons moves in a three-dimensional 'electron cloud' made up of standing waves surrounding the nucleus. The shape of the standing waves depends on the probability patterns of finding the point electron at any given place in the cloud. This modern concept of the atom can account for experimental observations and thus correlates with experience. It is thereforea valid hypothetical construct. Quantum mechanics can predict probabilities of subatomic events with the same precision with which Newtonian physics can predict events on the macroscopic level even though it cannot predict specific events;

 Werner Heisenberg and the 'uncertainty principle'  Bohr's atomic model was questioned by Werner Heisenberg when he was a student of theoretical physics at the University of Munich. Heisenberg doubted the validity of making a compromise between quantum theory and classical mechanics of planetary motion because it was unable to explain the more refined results of spectral technology. Heisenberg rejected the classical ideas of planetary orbits on the basis of Einstein's method of

using only 'observables' to formulate his theory of relativity. He started with the observable facts of atomic spectra. He explained the results and formulated his theory of quantum mechanics in his autobiography Physics and Beyond.

 

He was surprised to learn later from Einstein himself that to start with observables could also be limiting since it is the theory which tells the scientist what to look for!

Using a thought experiment known as his 'microscope experiment', Heisenberg formulated a new and dramatic principle which signaled the final stages of the paradigm shift from the universe of classical Newtonian mechanics to the universe of quantum mechanics. To "see" an electron and locate its position it is necessary to use gamma rays which have a very short wavelength but high energy. With a gamma-ray microscope, the position of the electron can be located. In the process its direction is changed as a result of the collision with the energetic photons. In order to determine the direction of the moving electron, it is necessary to use less energetic photons but low-energy photons have long wavelengths. The electron's direction could be determined but not its position. Whence the 'uncertainty principle' which states that in measuring some observables, others become uncertain. It is the process of observation itself which changes the system so as to prevent some of the observables from being measured.

Uncertainty principle states that it is the actual process of  observation and measurement which produces the uncertainty of observation and measurement. A system under observation is changed in such a way that observation becomes impossible. Of primary significance to paradigm shift, it has been repeatedly verified by experiment that Heisenberg's 'uncertainty principle' undermines the idea of a causal universe. According to Heisenberg, the characteristic probability wave of quantum physics, refers to a tendency of an event occurring..."standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event,  a strange kind of physical reality between the possibility and the reality." This can be illustrated with the following example of atomic theory. Located at the center of the atom, the nucleus occupies a small part of the volume but almost all of its mass. Each of the electrons moves in a three-dimensional 'electron cloud' made up of standing waves surrounding the nucleus. The shape of the standing waves depends on the probability patterns of finding the point electron at any given place in the cloud. This modern concept of the atom can account for experimental observations and thus correlates with experience. It is therefore a valid hypothetical construct. In quantum theory individual events do not always have a well defined cause. For example, the jummp of an electron from one atomic orbit to another, or the disintegration of a subatomic particle, may occur spontaneously without any single event causing it. We can never predict when and how such a phenomenon is going to happen; we can only predict its probability. This does not mean that atomic events occur in completely arbitrary fashion; it means only that they are not brought about by local causes. The behavior of any part is determined by its nonlocal connections to the whole, and since we do not know these connections precisely, we have to replace the narrow classical notion of cause and effect by the wider concept of statistical causality. The laws of atomic physics are statistical laws, according to which the probabilities for atomic events are determined by the dynamics of the whole system. Whereas in classical mechanics the properties and behavior of the parts determine those of the whole, the situation is reversed in quantum mechanics; it is the whole that determines the behavior of the parts. Relativity theory has made the cosmic web come alive, so to speak, by revealing its intrinsically dynamic character; by showing that its activity is the very essence of its being. In modern physics the image of the universe as a machine has been transcended by a view of it as one indivisible, dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic porcess. At the subatomic level the interrelatons and interactions between the parts of the whole are more fundamental than the parts themselves. There is motion but there are, ultimately, no moving objects; there is activity but there are no actors; there are no dancers, there is only the dance. the universe which appears to exist independently is actually a part of a whole "organic pattern." An example of a phenomenon which can be explained in terms of the 'discontinuous' structure of nature is the complex spectroscopic pattern of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is the simplest of the atoms, with one electron orbiting the nucleus which contains one proton. Yet when the hydrogen gas is excited and its light is made to shine through a spectroscope, the resulting spectrum contains over one hundred lines. Subatomic events described by the new quantum theory were shown to be determined by laws of probability.

Now at about the same time that the 'rigid frame' of scientific dualism was collapsing in physics,

 Copenhagen  Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.  In the autumn of l927, physicists met in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the central philosophical  issue of the new physics of quantum mechanics. The question discussed was the following: what should replace Newtonian physics as a philosophical basis for the study of subatomic phenomena? The laws governing individual events were discarded and the formulation decided upon was known as the  Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. According to this interpretation, quantum theory does not explain in detail what is going on in a particular event but it is complete because it works. It works because it correlates with experience in every possible experimental situation. This can be illustrated with the following example of atomic theory. Located at the centre of the atom, the nucleus occupies a small part of the volume but almost all of its mass. Each of the electrons moves in a three-dimensional 'electron cloud' made up of standing waves surrounding the  nucleus. The shape of the standing waves depends on the probability patterns of finding the  point electron at any given place in the cloud. This modern concept of the atom can account for experimental observations and thus correlates with experience. It is therefore a valid hypothetical construct.

Quantum mechanics can predict probabilities of subatomic events with the same precision with which Newtonian physics can predict events on the macroscopic level  even though it cannot predict specific events.

"The quantum revolution was so cataclysmic because it attacked not one or two conclusions of classical physics but its very cornerstone, the foundation upon which the whole edifice was erected, and that was the subject-object dualism... It was abundantly clear to these physicists that 'objective measurement and verification could no longer be the mark of absolute reality, because the measured object could never be completely separated from the measuring subject-the measure and the measurer, the verified and the verifier, at this level, are one and the same." (Ken Wilbur Eye to Eye: Science and Transpersonal Psychology.

..in different paradigms are unable to communicate clearly. They "talk through each other" and the result is a 'paradigm debate'. Strict adherence to falsification testing would not account for necessary modification and adjustment of theories and assumption in the event of errors and unknown complexity of factors intervening in an experimental situation. With Kuhn's analysis of working scientists engaged in scientific activity, the observer is observed and we enter the looking-glass universe. We are shown that the scientific process constitutes one movement involving both the physical and metaphysical, both facts and ideas, both matter and consciousness, both experiment and experimenter. The nature of these relationships should be questioned and investigated by the new looking-glass scientists within the theoretical framework of the new paradigm which is defined by Kuhn's thesis. In the early decades of the twentieth century a great paradigm shift occurred from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics (led by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger) and relativity theory (led by Albert Einstein).

The Cartesian view of the universe as a mechanical system provided a 'scientific' sanction for the manipulation and exploitation of nature that has become typical of Western culture. Descartes himself shared Bacon's view that the aim of science was the domination and control of nature. While Newtonian physics applies to the macroscopic world of bicycles and billiard balls, quantum mechanics applies to the subatomic realm. The concept of scientific objectivity prevailed in Newtonian physics. The subjective effects of the experimenter's choice of methods prevails in quantum mechanics. We as a part of nature are studying nature. And everything in the universe which appears to exist independently is actually a part of a whole 'organic pattern'. To "see" an electron and locate its position it is necessary to use gamma rays which have a very short wavelength but high energy. With a gamma-ray microscope, the position of the electron can be located. In the process its direction is changed as a result of the collision with the energetic photons. In order to determine the direction of the moving electron, it is necessary to use less energetic photons. Having long wavelengths, the low-energy photons would be ineffective in determining the electron's position. Whence the 'uncertainty principle' which states that in measuring some observables, others become uncertain. The laws of atomic physics are statistical laws, according to which the probabilities for atomic events are determined by the dynamics of the whole system. Whereas in classical mechanics the properties and behavior of the parts determine those of the whole, the situation is reversed in quantum mechanics; it is the whole that determines the behavior of the...