How to Understand Quantum Physics

By Mario Wingert (June 5th 2019)

In a nutshell: Understanding quantum physics means to understand the experimentally founded failure of the atomic hypothesis, the particle concepts of mechanics and the wave model. Only then is it possible to recognize the necessity of new physical reality models and to come to the conclusion that a genuine understanding of quantum properties requires a revolution in physics and thus a fundamentally new understanding of nature and reality.

Double-slit and partial reflection experiments show that even single light quanta, electrons and atoms have to pass both ways simultaneously (fact 1), but always act locally-point-like as an energetic whole (fact 2). These two facts are experimentally clearly proven and undisputed, but can not be explained physically until today.

The main reason for this is above all the disregard of the experiment: the atomistic conception of particles is simply used further, although the interference condition (fact 1) already clearly disproves the atomic hypothesis and all particle concepts of mechanics. The atomic hypothesis has thus failed and proves to be a paradigmatic assumption that cannot be justified physically (not acknowledging this fact leads to complete confusion in the interpretation of quantum theory). This means that also chemistry has to get by without atom hypothesis, which is quite compatible with Avogadro's molecular hypothesis. The second reason for the lack of physical explanations and models which are free of contradictions is that the wave model is physically-conceptually and mathematically incomplete: Although it can map division processes and thus the interference condition (fact 1), it cannot map local, discrete, energetically-holistic absorption events (fact 2), which would require a reunification of the two partial waves. Reason for this is the assumption of linearity and irreversibility of the division process. If one accepts the experimental facts, one is forced to design a new, non-atomistic model of reality, which must apply both to the structure of the electromagnetic field and to the field structure of matter, hence the molecule. It is therefore a matter of a new, as yet unknown structure of the field, which Einstein had postulated with his quantum hypothesis in 1905, but could never find - which refers directly to the deficits of Maxwell's field theory (especially the interpretation of c).

Quantum physics is our most important science, but is considered extremely difficult and incomprehensible because no one understands its physical meaning, as Richard Feynman already stressed 55 years ago. Nothing has changed in this respect to this day. The reason for this is the unresolved wave/particle paradox (or wave/quantum-thought-of-as-a-particle paradox) and the widespread belief that a solution is neither possible nor necessary.

Reality seems strange and incomprehensible, because the experiments show unexplained division processes, which don't make sense at all in the atomic and mechanistic world view. Nevertheless, the experiments are valid for single atoms, molecules, electrons and light quanta - and perhaps also for macroscopic bodies (see figure above). If, however, division processes take place in the experiments, they refute the atomic and mechanistic world view, i.e. the paradigmatic assumption of indivisibility. This is an extremely disturbing message for physicists who still believe in the existence of indivisible particles of all kinds (elementary particles are today often imagined as field-like particles, i.e. tiny spheres of "field substance").

Double-slit and partial reflection experiments further show that this division process cannot be of a mechanical nature, i.e. it cannot represent a disintegration into separated individual parts as in mechanics, since the quantities of energy emitted can only ever come to effect  locally and as a whole. If one wants to consider the division process as real and explain it with the wave model or a non-particle field theory, one is confronted with a deficit of the theory: Neither the wave model nor the field theory can explain how the two - now apparently spatially separated - parts or field branches should reunite locally to form an energetically whole object. Furthermore, there exists an unexplained physical connection between the two components, which manifests itself experimentally as opposite spin, entanglement and non-locality. The experiment thus clearly shows a physical connection between the two system components or field branches. But this physical connection contradicts the current interpretation of special relativity, or more precisely, the interpretation of constant c, in which the two components or field branches appear to be spatially separated.

This means that the field theory, as it is currently understood, does not understand the nature of the division process, nor the local-holistic absorption, i.e. the two effects shown by the experiment. In physics, this is also known as measurement problem. Most physicists help themselves by ignoring the reality of the division process in the experiment and simply further explaining the local, energetically holistic absorption effects with the atomistic particle hypothesis. They thus confuse the energetic wholeness of the effect - the acting energy quantum - with the wholeness of a body of mechanics, i.e. they assume that the atom or elementary particle has the ability to somehow survive the division experiment as a whole. This, however, is inadmissible even according to the equations of the theory, because this contradicts the interference condition in the experiment (called superposition postulate in quantum theory), which unambiguously refers to a simultaneous passage of both ways and thus clearly points to division processes.

This contradiction has been known since the beginning of quantum theory and was the reason why Einstein, who introduced the atomistic particle model for the quantum of light in 1905 explicitly only as a provisional auxiliary conception for the quantum-like energy properties of the field, always pointed out that this wave/ particle paradox has to be solved and that the true structure of the field is still to be found. Einstein was clear from the beginning - in contrast to many physicists later - that the atomistic conception clearly contradicts double-slit or partial reflection experiments. Unfortunately, he only expressed this clearly in a private letter to Lorentz in 1909, while in his publication he had made the assumption that the energy of light is distributed discontinuously in space (acceptable) and consists of quantities of energy which are localized in space points and "move without dividing themselves" (not acceptable, because not compatible with experiment and wave theory). While this was still completely clear to every physicist around 1905, his misleading formulation of a working hypothesis 20 years later led to an atomistic idea of the light quantum, called photon. Even today, many physicists refer to Einstein when they interpret the light quantum as an indivisible particle, although modern double-slit and partial reflection experiments have clearly proven that individual photons must also be divisible. In short, today the atomistic conception of the quantum of light is experimentally disproved and wrong.

Since the quantum-mechanical interpretation of Born, Bohr and Heisenberg in 1927, which has prevailed as the Copenhagen interpretation, the dilemma has been circumvented by a philosophical interpretation which states that the field - or wave model - has no claim to reality at this moment and is only a mathematical procedure for calculating the statistical probability of the position of particles, so that the atomic and elementary particle hypothesis appears rescued - at least in the macroscopic realm, but in the experiment only after registration. Bohr's actual core message, however, was that in quantum physics neither atoms, nor indivisible particles, nor waves can be understood as models of physical reality (because that whould contradict the experiment).

While that is obvious, the question arises how to interprete this experimental failure of our physical models: Do we need completely new models of the constitution of reality, like Einstein demanded? And if so, can the quantum mechanical description of physical reality then be considered complete? Or do we have to accept Bohr's new epistemology, which tries to convince us that we can preserve the atomistic world view, the particle model, classical mechanics and the wave model of electrodynamics as useful tools of physics, although they cannot really apply to the constitution of reality and its elementary structures? Bohr and Heisenberg have clearly recognized and emphasized that quantum mechanics cannot make any statements about the true constitution of reality. Nevertheless, they claimed that a solution to the contradiction between the wave model and the atomistic particle model is impossible on principle - and thus also better physical models and theories of the constitution of reality. As anybody can recognize, that is rather a non-epistemology, a clear departure from the original goals of natural science. And this is the point at which Niels Bohr introduced a strange philosophy into physics and redefined its goals.

Many physicists believe that it is impossible to answer such interpretation questions through experiments, or to clearly decide which models and theories are wrong, but this is not true: Max Born's statistical interpretation of the mathematical wave equation by means of indivisible particles (whether thought materially or field-like, makes no difference) is experimentally untenable, i.e. simply wrong. It leads to all those confused, philosophically inspired interpretations that fantasize from "conscious observations," "measurements that produce reality," or "mysterious influences of consciousness". Since the atomistic conception is already disproved by the interference condition, i.e. by the simultaneous passage through two openings or paths, which indicates a division process, one can no longer speak of indivisible particles (or particles at all), their trajectories, orbits, flight times or positions, or that a particle suddenly materializes locally by registration or measurement. At this point one can clearly see how strongly the atomistic paradigm logically deforms the physical interpretation even in the case of unambiguous experimental facts. The atomistic hypothesis and the particle concepts are already clearly refuted by the experiment (which Thomas Young already knew in 1811), even if there is no explanation yet for local point-like absorption events. The wave model, on the other hand, can represent the simultaneous passage of the double slit and the interference pattern (for which it was designed by Thomas Young), but not point-like, individual absorption events from which the stripe pattern arises, i.e. the quantum-like structure of the radiation (which Young could not yet know). As a result, the wave model is only half correct and incomplete. The aspect that the local effective actions are subject to a certain statistic, on the other hand, is experimentally clearly proven.

The correct interpretation of the experiments and the incomplete mathematical wave model can therefore only be that they reflect the statistical probability of point-like, energetic-holistic interactions of a branched field with matter. Consequently, local absorption events require a local fusion process of the branched field structure - only then can the emitted energy be completely and locally absorbed. This also satisfies the principle of energy conservation (in contrast to other interpretations). Nevertheless, what the experiment shows does not seem compatible with Einstein's theory of relativity, since the two field branches, rays or partial waves appear spatially separated in this theory and can therefore no longer interact with each other. In practice, however, the experiments show that absorption events always take place locally and energetically holistically and that branched systems are physically connected and form a whole, so that Einstein's notion of spatial separation and the later derived notions of "non-locality" and "instantaneous actions-at-a-distance" cannot be correct. The experiments now also reveal what exactly is wrong with it:

They show that energetic-holistic (quantum-like) and local (point-like) absorption events are subject to a double Einstein symmetry condition: The first is Einstein's definition of the energetically holistic quantum as given in the quantum theory of light; the second is Einstein's definition of simultaneity as given in the special theory of relativity. This means that both branches must actually exist, contribute to the energy transfer and simultaneously arrive at the point of absorption. The experiment therefore excludes explanations such as the decoherence hypothesis or quantum field theories which consider only one of the two branches to be energy carrying and contributing to the absorption event (the intention is to avoid a real division of the quantum at the double-slit or beam splitter; this is also how the quantum mechanical interpretation works, at least mathematically). In addition, the experiment excludes interpretations that take the wave theory literally, although it cannot reproduce energetic-holistic absorption events. These interpretations do not recognize the incompleteness of wave theory and claim that a "collapse of the wave function" (of the mathematical model) or a reunion of the two branches (physically) never takes place. This leads to the Many Worlds interpretation, which claims that wave theory in the quantum version is an irreversible branching process in which the entire universe branches and doubles in double-slit and partial reflection experiments. This interpretation does not really explain the experiment, is highly speculative and unnecessarily pompous. The only interesting aspect is the idea of a branching, which in wave theory is occasionally, but always only metaphorically, used for the two resulting partial waves or rays. However, the wave theory does not know any real physical field structure and therefore cannot explain phenomena such as spin and entanglement. The reason for this already goes back to Maxwell, who could not clarify the kind of motion, which hides behind electrical and magnetic polarization processes of fields, although he knew that they could not be of a mechanical nature. Maxwell called this process of charge separation and opposite pole formation "displacement", which caused some confusion due to its mechanical associations.

If, however, one accepts unbiasedly the failure of the atomistic hypothesis, the particle conceptions and the incompleteness of wave theory, it becomes clear how quantum physics and relativity show themselves in the experiment and how they can be united. The purely mechanically derived kinematics that led Einstein to his interpretation of the principle of relativity (which is about the symmetry of motion) can now be reinterpreted and supplemented by a new form of motion that provides the missing physical conception for Maxwell's polarization movement: In double-slit, partial reflection and polarization experiments, a new, non-mechanical kinematics becomes visible, in which branching processes of the field produce in itself opposite field structures, i.e. enantiomorphic fields. And these can arise and disappear. The relative-principle is therefore not only about motion in the sense of mechanics, but also about movement in the sense of structural change. And that is exactly what a unification of quantum theory and wave theory demands if it is to lead to a generally valid field theory: A continuous field with variable and discrete structure. Holistic division and branching processes, as we can recognize and prove here in experiments, are able to form physically coherent field structures, which can store and release energy only in certain quantities.

This new branching kinematics requires a new interpretation of the constant c as a symmetry condition describing a bidirectional motion. This means that we are dealing with a movement that can occur simultaneously in two opposite directions in both the mechanical and structural sense. This has consequences for the definition of c: Each of the two light beams or wave branches can only propagate with 1/2 c; for the total system 2 x 1/2 c = c applies. The relative speed between two opposite wave fronts or light rays of a branched field system propagating in opposite directions is thus c - and not 2 c, as follows from Maxwell's definition of c. This also applies to the expansion speed of a spherical wavefront. Maxwell's interpretation of the constant c was based on the idea of a directional motion of light (and electric current), which led to a one-way definition of the speed of light. Einstein had adopted this definition of c under the assumption that the modified Maxwell-Hertz-Lorentz equations are valid. Einstein's one-way definition of the speed of light leads to the postulate of a spatial separation and then to the contradiction between obviously existing instantaneous "actions-at-a-distance" (distance 2 c) and the constant speed of light (c). The two-way interpretation of c solves the problem of apparent action-at-a-distance effects, since Maxwell's light sphere can now represent a physically and spatially coherent system due to the expansion speed c, which was not possible before - with an expansion speed of 2 c (which has not been noticed so far). Local, point-like absorption events and the associated structural changes of the field can now be explained and modelled without the occurrence of superluminal velocity. This also solves the so-called horizon problem of cosmology.

Furthermore, with the new kinematics it becomes clear that the enantiomorphic properties of branched fields are qualitative, i.e. real physical properties that are scale-independent. Length and time scales play no physical role in such a system; simultaneity or timelessness prevails in the entire field system. This means that the concept of time itself - thought of as duration or absolutely elapsing time - does not have the slightest physical meaning, i.e. time does not exist at all as a physical entity. But this also means that in branched field systems an instantaneous communication and interaction must be possible over arbitrarily large distances. In fact, we already know something like this under the misleading name "teleportation". However, in these experiments no particles are transferred, but enantiomorphic field branching is generated, manipulated, mirrored and fused.

The formation of an enantiomorphic field branching is completely identical to the phenomenon of polarization and thus also explains the phenomenon of "spin and entanglement": Spin is not a self-rotation of particles - this model is clearly wrong - but the physical expression of a field branching that generates enantiomorphic, i.e. opposite field properties. In the case of light a holistically divided, enantiomorphic magnetic field is created. The fact that the two branches actually have opposite ontological properties relative to each other can be demonstrated experimentally by means of the exactly opposite magnetic field directions of the two branches or light rays. This is exactly what we call polarization. The same applies to electric charges ("electrons"), which can be further branched at will, i.e. cannot be indivisible particles, and thereby form enantiomorphic field properties, which are characterized by opposite magnetic field vectors and opposite electric charges. Branched electron fields, which we describe atomistic-mechanistically as pairs of electrons with spin up / spin down, are identical with an electron-positron pair, i.e. a matter-antimatter combination.

The experiments also show that field branching processes of light are reversible. Consequently, we have to distinguish between non-effective and effective interactions: Field branching and field structure fusions are energetically ineffective interactions in which the emitted energy is neither transmitted nor lost. Absorption events are energetically effective interactions in which the originally emitted amount of energy is transferred locally and holistically to matter field structures, which thereby branch out more deeply themselves. In this way, light generates mass, i.e. structural mass. This also means that branching and reflection events cannot be assigned a measurable time. It is physically impossible to determine the time at which an emitted light beam is reflected by a full mirror or when a light beam branches off at a beam splitter. Therefore, the speed of light can only be theoretically defined and practically determined by two-way experiments. Statements about times and durations are therefore only possible on the basis of effective emission and absorption events. Of course, statistics remain an experimental fact, but they do not exclude causal explanations. However, the statistical interpretation only makes sense under the assumption that the probability of an effective interaction in the respective experimental setup is 100 % and can thus be set to 1, which means that the experimenter does not miss any effective interaction (which would influence the statistics)

The interpretation problem of quantum physics is therefore not about mysterious, unrecognizable properties of nature or the limitations of human thinking due to evolution (also a fairy tale, inspired by Aesop's fable of the sour grapes), but simply about the failure of physical models, paradigms and theories, which are clearly refuted by the experiment - in short, about a model making problem of physics. This cognitive model making problem is called wave/particle or wave/quantum paradox and has been considered unsolvable for over 90 years. And yet the experiments clearly show where the solution of the quantum enigma can be found: We only have to give up the indivisibility assumption - Democritus' atomic hypothesis and all particle concepts - without ifs and buts and develop a new field concept that describes holistic division processes respectively branching and fusion processes and thus the true elementary constitution of matter and fields. This is a task that can certainly be solved and shows that we also need new, creative design thinking in physics in order to be able to overcome experimentally untenable ideas and not viable physical concepts.