The most prevalent interpretation of quantum mechanics among physicists today, is the Copenhagen Interpretation (CI). This interpretation treats
nature, and fundamental constituents of matter, as both particulate and energetic. In other words the behavior, properties, and qualities are
considered to function both like waves in a medium and also like grains of sand in ‘space’. These behaviors are contradictory in both logical and
empirical contexts. Wave propagation requires a medium, whereas classical ideas of separate fundamental particles apparently do not. Depending on our
method of probing or measuring a natural system, we ‘observe’ either the wave behavior or the particle behavior.
We do not actually see with our own eyes wave behavior or particle behavior. What we are doing, is interpreting the observations from the experiment
as either wave or particle behavior in a useful mathematical model, as we see fit. We have a hard time imagining things which we cannot see, and
which we do not have adequate visual representations for - namely a quantum wave of space, or what we call ‘particles,’ ‘matter,’ or
My prominent detractors will see this as arbitrary philosophical speculation, especially those whose careers are firmly entrenched in the area of
high-energy particle and nuclear physics, such as the ATLAS team and various international coalitions of particle accelerator experiments. They will
say that since I have never participated in multi-billion dollar experiments with the ‘particles’, that I cannot possibly have a better (or even
competent) understanding of the complexities of what the ‘particle’ actually is.
My response, is that we must address the philosophical roots and logical deductions of the previous scientific developments of their field.
Separate, grain-like elementary ‘particles’ forming a ‘statistical probability cloud’(proposed as solutions to Schrodinger’s equations by
Max Born) that behave according to wave mechanics is not inherently the best interpretation of the experiments, nor are they a priori truths.
Schrodinger’s quantum wave equations do not explicitly tell us what nature is, they model behavior which we choose to interpret in a specific
The reason the CI incorporates wave behavior of matter, is because it is supported by experimental evidence in such famous cases as the Wave-Particle
Duality (WPD). The CI introduces the concept of ‘complementarity’ which allows this demonstrated wave behavior to co-exist with the previous
notion of separate and discrete ‘particles’ in a mathematical model. In no way do the mathematical formulations of the CI have the authority to
say that nature is actually existing in this complementary way outside the confines of certain observations, but the CI asserts they are empirically
equivalent to each other for mathematical purposes.
It is debatable whether the discrete material particle aspect is functionally necessary, if it is just an illusory artifact of imperfect
observations, or if it is just an old friend tagging along for the ride. I opt for the middle option, as it is an option considered by a few
prominent figures whom it is now appropriate to appeal to - for appeasing my skeptical colleagues. If they won’t listen to the philosopher of
physics, perhaps they will heed a physicist’s philosophy:
“Maybe that is our mistake: maybe there are no particle positions and velocities,
but only waves. It is just that we try to fit the waves to our preconceived ideas of
positions and velocities. The resulting mismatch is the cause of the apparent unpredictability.”
(Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time,
“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen
[lit. ‘foam coming’].”
Think of a rope being oscillated up and down in a wave pattern, which is then interrupted by a hand touching the rope which stops or ‘collapses’
the wave. This hand is the observation equipment, while the rope is the natural quantum system. The energetic values of the whole rope are observed
by the hand and appear discrete, but the physical contact destroys the oscillating wave structure as it was before the observation.
This analogy is helpful in understanding that Schrodinger’s equations were intended to describe a real physical density wave in space, and
Schrodinger himself disagreed with the statistical probability solution based on the discrete particle interpretation in the Copenhagen Interpretation
as was proposed by Max Born. The final ‘nail in the coffin’ is that we have experimental confirmation of a quantum wave medium in space. Seen in
demonstrations of ‘zero-point energy’, or ‘vacuum energy density’, this means there is no such thing as ‘empty space’ or a literal
‘vacuum’ in nature. This follows logically if we know that all matter in the universe is waves propagating in a medium, rather than discrete
‘particles’ in empty space.