Quantum Physics has long been a circus. When De Broglie proposed his thesis, his thesis jury (which comprised top physicists, including a Nobel Laureate) did not know what to make of it, and consulted Einstein. Einstein was enthusiastic, saying de Broglie “lifted a piece of the veil”. Three years later, de Broglie got the Nobel and proposed his pilot wave theory. Pauli made an objection, de Broglie replied to it with the consummate politeness of the Prince he was, and thus the reply was not noticed. Five years after, the great mathematician Von Neumann asserted a “proof” that there was no Quantum Mechanics but for the one elaborated in Copenhagen. De Broglie’s objections were not listened to. Another two decades later, David Bohm presented de Broglie theory at the Institute for Advanced Physics in Princeton. But Bohm was drowned by question about why he had refused to testify at the Committee on Anti-American Activities in Congress (the American born Bohm promptly lost his job at Princeton University and his US passport, and would leave the US forever).
The usual interpretation of Quantum Physics consider that the De Broglie Matter Waves therein are only probability waves. This idea of Nobel Laureate Born has eschewed controversy. However Einstein sourly remarked: “God does not play with dice.” To which Nobel Laureate Bohr smartly replied:”Stop telling God what to do!”
De Broglie suggested a “Double Solution” theory, which was promptly forgotten as Dirac launched Quantum ElectroDynamics by starting from the simplest relativistic wave, and building the (spinor) space he needed to have said wave wave in it. Bohm revived (some of) De Broglie’s ideas by proposing to guide an always well defined particle with a (nonlocal) “quantum potential”.
And The Madness Set In:
Nowadays, descriptions of Quantum Physics are keen to assert that something can be in two places at the same time, that there are many worlds, or universes, created each time something happen, that cats are dead and alive, that the observer creates reality, etc…
All this derangement affecting physicists has something to do with a collective madness similar to the pseudo-scientific theories behind the Slave Trade, Stalinism, or Nazism.
No, I am not exaggerating. The theory behind enslaving Black Africans (going all the way back to the Middle Ages) was that Black Africans were, somehow, the missing link between man and ape. That’s why the Pope allowed the slave trade.
Neither am I exaggerating about fascism: the Nazis were actually obsessed by the new physics, a world where everything seemed possible. They called it “Jewish Physics”, and several Nobel laureates (Lenard, etc.), top mathematicians (say Teichmuller, who died on the Eastern Front in combat) were its opponents.
It contributed to suggest an overall mood:’if anything is possible, why not surrealism, fascism, Stalinism, Nazism?’
Germany has long led, intellectually (not to say France did not lead too, but it was the great opponent). Thus when top physicists became Nazis even before Hitler did, they no doubt impressed the latter by their attacks on “Jewish Science”.
The madness was not confined to the Nazis, stricto sensu. An excellent example is Max Planck, discoverer of the Quantum.
Planck accepted Einstein’s paper on “The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” without references… When it was sure that Planck knew about the work of Poincare’, Lorentz, Fitzgerald, Michelson-Morley, etc. on Relativity. Poincaré was a star, and had toured the USA, delivering lectures on “Relativity” the year prior.
So what was Planck up to? Promoting the German arriviste to the cost of the most accomplished mathematician and physicist, because the latter was a Frenchman. (Poincaré , who was as elevated a character as can be found, nevertheless complained about Einstein plagiarism later.) Not only was Poincaré French, but his family was refugee from the occupation of Lorraine by the Prussians. Raymond Poincaré, who was prime minister of France several times and president of the French Republic during World War I, was Henri’s cousin.
This is of some import, in the understanding of ideas, to this day: Poincaré discovered the idea of gravitational waves, and explained why all interactions should go at the speed of light. Scientists who published (stole) the same ideas later could not copy all of Poincaré ’s arguments, it would have been too obvious (that they stole the ideas), so those important details of Poincaré have been forgotten… And this haunts physics to this day
I believe that this is how the extremely all too relative, theory of Relativity a la Einstein appeared: Einstein could not duplicate all of Poincaré’s details, so he omitted (some of) them… Resulting in a (slick) theory with a glaring defect: all classes of frames in uniform motion are supposed to be equivalent, a blatant absurdity (as even the Big Bang theory imposes a unique class of comoving frames). This brought a lot of (on-going) confusion (say about “rest” mass).
Planck did not stop with stealing Relativity from Poincaré, and offering it to the Great German empire.
Planck endorsed the general excitement of the German public, when Germany attacked the world on August 1, 1914. He wrote that, “Besides much that is horrible, there is also much that is unexpectedly great and beautiful: the smooth solution of the most difficult domestic political problems by the unification of all parties (and) … the extolling of everything good and noble.”
Planck also signed the infamous “Manifesto of the 93 intellectuals“, a pamphlet of war propaganda (while Einstein at the academy in Berlin, retained a pacifistic attitude which almost led to his imprisonment, although he was saved by his Swiss citizenship). The Manifesto, ironically enough, enumerated German war crimes, while denying (‘not true’) that they had happened. It did not occur to the idiots who had signed it, that just denying this long litany of crimes was itself a proof that they had occurred… And it’s telling they had to deny them: the German population obviously was debating whether those crimes had happened, now that the war was not doing well.
Planck got punished for his nationalism: his second son Erwin was taken prisoner by the French in 1914. His eldest son Karl died at Verdun (along with another 305,000 soldiers). When he saw Hitler was destroying Germany, Planck went to see the dictator, to try to change his mind, bringing to his attention that he was demolishing German universities. But to no avail. In January 1945, Erwin, to whom he had been particularly close, was sentenced to death by the obscene and delirious Nazi “people” court, the Volksgerichtshof. Because Erwin participated in the failed attempt to make a coup against the criminal Hitler in July 1944. Erwin was executed on 23 January 1945 (along with around 5,000 German army officers, all the way to Feldmarshal).
So what to think of the “Multiverse”, “Dead and Alive Cats”, Things which are in different places at the same time, etc.? Do they have to do with suggesting, even promoting, a global reign of unreason?
I think they do. I think the top mood contaminate lesser intellectuals, political advisers, even politicians themselves. Thus political and social leaders feel anything goes, so, next thing you know, they suggest crazy things, like self-regulating finance, trade treaties where plutocrats can sue states (apparently one of the features of TPP and TTIP), or a world which keeps on piling CO2, because everything is relative, dead, thus alive, and everywhere is the same, here, there and everywhere, since at the same place, in space, time, or whatever.
Physics, historically, was not just a model of knowledge, but of rational rectitude. This has been lost. And it was lost from technical reasons, discarding other approaches, in part because of sheer nationalism.
In the 1960s John Bell, the Irishman who was director of theory at CERN, published a book with his famous theorem on nonlocality inside:”Speakables and Unspeakables in Quantum Mechanics”. A title full of hidden sense.