Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's Wrong About Physics Today? All of It!

Via my new favorite website,, I've found a treasure trove of physics denial. Typically we'll see relativity denial or abuse of quantum mechanics to serve whatever ideology you choose. But unless one is going for Neal Adams level crankery, one keeps the denial to a few topics.

Not this guy.

For pretty much any physics concept a layperson would know, and a lot they wouldn't, this guy has a refutation. He covers all the common ones, of course. Relativity, quantum mechanics, the big bang, etc.

But we also see a few surprises. For instance, the author attempts to explain away Maxwell's equations, lasers, the Boltzmann distribution, even energy conservation. How does he do? Well, since the site is too long for an exhaustive analysis, I'll pick apart a few examples.

Curved Space: The concept of a 'curved space', which is essential for present cosmological models, is logically flawed because space can only be defined by the distance between two objects, which is however by definition always given by a straight line.
Ah, circular reasoning at its best. Why can't curved space exist? Because distances between objects are straight lines. Why are distances between objects straight lines? Because space is flat, not curved.

The shortest distances between objects—geodesics—are straight lines only in Euclidean geometry. Since we can measure that the shortest path for light is not a straight line when passing a massive object, we know that matter curves space.
Gravitation: Modern theories of gravitation assume that the gravitational force between two masses is not an instantaneous interaction but is communicated by field quanta (gravitons) moving with the speed of light. However, this model can be shown to result in different forces in different inertial systems and contradicts therefore the definition of a force. [Emphasis mine]

Sorry, guy. You need to show your work.
Schrödinger Equation: Present day Quantum Theory has been developed from the original observation that radiation emitted by an atom appears in the form of discrete spectral lines. The Schrodinger Equation could reproduce this theoretically by postulating a wave equation for the atom which yields only certain energy values as a solution. The associated wave functions are continuous functions in space and therewith do not allow to exactly specify the location of atomic electrons. This has led to the interpretation that electrons as such do not exist as localized particles within the atom but only as some diffuse 'cloud' or even only as mathematical objects. This assumption however is an unallowed generalization of the Schrodinger Equation which strictly makes sense only if applied to radiative transitions. The actual (classical) location of the electron is completely unrelated to the wave functions of the radiative states (apart from a statistical connection) and any non-radiative physical effects (e.g. elastic atomic collisions) can therefore be calculated by the principles of classical physics without any logical contradictions.

Many of the wider applications of the Schrödinger Equation are therefore completely unfounded and inadequate.
Never mind that quantum mechanics as formulated by the Schrödinger equation accurately predicts the results of experiments. Never mind that the classical picture of the electron doesn't, and in fact quantum mechanics solved outstanding problems in the classical model. Never you mind those things, because they're not allowed.

In fact, while the Schrödinger equation was written to reproduce the spectral emissions of hydrogen, it can be applied to innumerable systems. And why shouldn't it? It's a differential equation that describes how a quantum system evolves in time and space. One supplies a few parameters of the problem at hand and—ideally—solves for the behavior at all future times. It would be really strange if a completely different differential equation were required for every different situation. It's not inconceivable, though. Know how we tell? Experiments, that's how. And quantum mechanics, through the Schrödinger equation, is great at predicting the outcome of experiments.

How well did he do? I'm not impressed. Obviously he fails as a scientist because he substitutes (crappy) argument for evidence. But he does pretty well as a crank; he's very ambitious to say the least.

However, I've given you merely a slice of what's contained within. I encourage you to go to the site. Perhaps you'll find something I missed that makes all his arguments hang together.


Ben said...

Anything in there about bees not being able to fly?

Flavin said...

I don't think so. But he doesn't believe in the Bernoulli effect, so maybe that's related.

Prazzie said...

Great, I've nearly completed my collection of "Methods of Torture to Keep in Mind When People Annoy Me". This will go nicely next to my AIG bookmark and the RSS feed link to Dinesh D'Souza's blog. Thanks.

*Edit - I missed a """. The horror!