Is science sometimes in danger of getting tunnel vision? Recently published ebook author, Ian Miller, looks at other possible theories arising from data that we think we understand. Can looking problems in a different light give scientists a different perspective?

A Sooth!

In my new ebook entitled Guidance Waves, An Alternative Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, I wrote in the introduction, . . . you to tread a path that differs from the well-trodden path. Your friends will shake their heads in despair, as if to say, "What are you doing going off there?" Don't you hate it when you are right? What inspired that is that down in this part of the world we have just completed the NZIC Chemistry Conference, and at the first morning tea (and let's face it, the real benefit of conferences lies in the conversations over tea, lunch, etc) one of my oldest friends asked me what I was up to, so naturally I told him about my alternative interpretation of quantum mechanics. There was the predictable smile and the shake of the head. So why? I followed that in the ebook introduction with This is a real problem regarding quantum mechanics, because when calculations based on the Schrödinger equation always give agreement with observation, the main path is "obviously correct". The question is, is it "obviously correct"?

First, I must say at once that I do not dispute the Schrödinger equation; what I dispute is what it means. One of the examples I give is the particle in a box with walls with infinite wave impedance, and where the walls are close enough together to require a clear zero point energy. Let us restrict it to the one dimensional box, in which case you get a wave with one antinode in the centre and two nodes at the walls, which is the classical stationary wave. The particle now has a zero point energy because the Schrödinger equation requires the particle to have motion; it cannot be stationary with respect to the box walls. So, the motion now must go along our chosen axis, and it must go equally in each direction, averaged over sufficient time. Now, the question is, how does the particle turn around?

What you will initially think (and there is no evidence to suspect this is incorrect) is that it will strike the wall and bounce back – a fully elastic collision. However, that cannot happen within the Born interpretation, the reason being, the probability of a particle being at a point is proportional to the square of what I call the wave displacement (the amplitude is the displacement at the antinode). Now, at the wall there is a node, which by definition has zero wave displacement, so the surface of the wall is the one place the particle cannot be. The same argument comes through, say, the ground state of the valence orbital of the caesium atom: how does the electron cross the nodal surfaces? You cannot go from positive to negative without going through zero, and the square of zero is always zero. I would be very interested to hear a lucid statement on that point within the Born interpretation.

Leaving all that aside, I should add that the conference was, in my view, a success, and it showed conclusively that chemistry is not only alive and well in this rather remote part of the world, but it is also vibrant, as shown by the number and enthusiasm of the younger chemists. Finally, a reminder that the promo mentioned in last post starts this coming Friday.

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