‘Spin’ is a fundamental property of fundamental particles such as the electron, conjuring up images of a small sphere rapidly rotating on its axis like a planet in a shrunken solar system.
Just not. I can not. For one thing, electrons are not spheres of matter but points described in the mathematics of probability.
But Caltech philosopher of physics Charles T.
By framing the basis of matter primarily in terms of fields, he says, some of the properties and paradoxes that arise from a particle-centered view are blurred out.
“Philosophers tend to be attracted to problems that have been unsolved for a really long time,” Says Siebens.
“In quantum mechanics, we have methods for predicting the results of experiments that work well for electrons and explain spin, but important fundamental questions remain unanswered: Why do these methods work, and what is going on inside the atom?”
For the better part of a century, physicists have grappled with experimental results that the tiniest bits of reality don’t look or act like the objects in our everyday lives.
Spin is one such adjective. Like a spinning ball hitting the inner wall of a billiard table, it carries angular momentum and affects the direction of the moving particle. However, unlike the cue ball, the particle’s spin cannot speed up or slow down – rather, it is always limited to a specific value.
To make the fundamental nature of matter even more difficult to visualize, consider the fact that the size of an electron is so small that it effectively lacks size. If it were large enough to have a volume, the negative charge scattered throughout that space would push itself, shredding the electron.
Remarkably, even if we were to be charitable and give the electron as a particle the largest radius experiments would allow, its spin would exceed the speed of light—something that may or may not be a factor in deals on this scale, but for the sake of it many physicists are enough to refuse to talk about spin of electrons. .
One way to make the tapestry of basic physics a little easier to map is to describe points of matter as actions embedded in the tapestry of a field and then interpret those actions as particles.
Quantum field theory QFT does this successfully, weaving together aspects of Einstein’s special theory of relativity, classical field theory, and particle propositions of quantum physics.
It’s not a controversial theory, and yet there is still debate about whether these fields are fundamental—existing even if the blobs rippling through them are silent—or if particles are the main actors representing vital information and fields are just a convenience. script.
To us, it might seem like a trivial distinction. But for philosophers like Spencer, the consequences are worth exploring.
As explained In a 2019 article published in Time Journal: “Sometimes advances in physics require a support first re-examination, reinterpretation and revision of the theories we already have.”
A re-examination of quantum field theory underscores several important advantages of making fields a priority in physics over a particle-first approach, including a model that reimagines electrons in ways that may give us better insights into their behavior.
“In an atom, the electron is often pictured as a cloud showing where the electron is, but I think the electron is actually propagated above that cloud,” Says.
By actually spreading the electron through a field rather than being confined to a point, the electron may actually rotate in ways that are less mathematical and more physically described.
Although it wouldn’t be anything like a small planet in the solar system, this spinning electron would at least be moving at a speed that defied no laws.
Just how this diffuse spread of negatively charged matter resists detonating itself is a question for which Spence has no answer. But by focusing on the field aspects of the scattering electron, he feels any solutions will make more sense than issues arising from infinite confinement particles.
There is a quote that has become folklore in the halls of quantum theorists – “Shut up and count.It has become a saying synonymous with avant-garde landscapes From the quantum realm, where imagery and metaphor fail to compete with the uncanny precision of pure mathematics.
Every now and then, it’s important to pause our calculations and plunge into challenging some old assumptions—and maybe even stick around for a new perspective on the fundamentals of physics.
This paper has been published in Synthesis.