QUANTUM MECHANICS & VISUALIZATION

This was in an email sent to the person who loaned me the Pauli/Jung book.

The Jung/Pauli book, Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgng Pauli and Carl Jung by Arthur I. Miller, although not well written IMHO, gave me deeper insight into the men who created QM.  They were almost all very weird. I speculate that none of them would have reached top research positions today.   It may be that creative competency and weirdness go together (the old madness-creativity link) so that they grease the skids for others.  I have always wondered how the Advanced Institute at Princeton was founded as a refuge for mad geniuses. Also, QM attracts attention today because of its success, but it probably wasn’t big news during the first quarter of the 20th century.  I know X-rays were popular and the meme of the mad scientist emerged during that quarter century. Probably also the technology of electricity.

Like Jung and Pauli (and Eddington) I have made  137  my personal, favorite number.  One of my email addresses is nuet1370@gmail.com

The story of Pauli’s embarrassing demise (late in life) trying to present his (and Heisenberg’s) theory about masses during a tour triggered insights. They were super confident they had a good theory (but it kept changing daily) but it was quickly destroyed during presentation.  How do these mathematical creators function? They tinker with math models and hope that they have a few desired properties and no undesired properties.  Much of the time it appears intuition is not very good and their work is routine variation (but with emotional excitement in what they are doing at the time).

In my physics studies I never learned Quantum Electrodynamics.  From the Pauli/Jung book this theory has never been satisfactory – with infinities that are simply ignored in practice.  I heard of this in my studies and when I looked at the texts I decided to wait until better order was given to the field.  I wonder if the successes of QM are based on a subset of the mathematical theories, and survive because the crazy math at “higher levels” are irrelevant to science – so long as left alone. I have long felt this about string theory – which I really shouldn’t have an opinion as I know nothing about it other than it substitutes “strings” for “points” and supposedly avoids infinities.  Most of higher theoretical physics I classify as mathematical poetry or abstract painting.

The book’s portrayal of Jung lowers my respect for his method.  Both Jung and Pauli seemed to give great reality significance to dreams.  Although I still am open to SYNCHRONICITY,  but the treatment of this idea by Jung and Pauli as portrayed in the book makes me suspect.  This was not the intent of the author.

In that I slipped into book reporting: early in the book he surprised me in describing Copernicus’s model as using epicycles.  in a heliocentric model retrograde motion of planets from Earth is explained simply by the geometry of the planets passing each other in orbits.  Ptolemy needed a holarchy of epicycles to make his computational model fit observational reality.  Maybe Copernicus was still using that computational model and needed it to account for the differences in prediction due to the non circular nature of the orbits.  I “remember” from past reading that the Ptolemaic computations remained more accurate than Copernicus’s computations for more than a century – partly due to the fact that the Ptolemaic establishment had access to much more data than was available to Copernicus.

What I found most interesting and useful was how the VISUALIZABLE BOHR ATOM was a primary barrier to the emergence of QM.  Each advancement came when this model was abandoned. The final model of QM should NOT be imagined as a mini solar system – yet that is how it is presented in early science and to the lay public.  Bohr, both leader of the QM research movement and author of the model personally resisted some advancement. The handicap of visualizability had led me to apply it to our models for societies.  We run into trouble when we extend metaphors from our perceptual spaces to the unobservable realm of the societal.  I am speculating that the “nature” of the societal may be weird re perceptual spaces as QM is weird re perceptual spaces.  The probability aspects of QM are meaningless re the Bohr atom (both Schrodinger’s and Heisenberg’s models match math with data and avoid metaphors from conventional reality). Might there be a probabilistic and wave-function aspect to societal processes. Relaxing visualization needs for comprehending the societal will probably be more useful than any radical discovery of the nature of societal processes – but who knows?

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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