Absurdities in Modern Physics: A Solution
4-2 What Is Realism?
The concept of realism was accepted and used in all fields of physics from the beginning of history until the beginning of this century. However, since the development of modern physics, the interpretation of quantum mechanics has rejected realism.
Before discussing the concept of realism, let us examine with great care what it means. Realism has been defined in various ways. One of the definitions of realism is: "The quality of the universe existing independently of ourselves."
However, the Berkeley-Copenhagen interpretation denies the existence of realism. According to modern physics, matter starts to exist only at the moment the observer learns about its existence.
This bizarre belief is illustrated by one of the great masters of the Berkeley-Copenhagen interpretation. Heisenberg [4.1] states:
Let us recall that Cramer[4.2]makes the same claim in different words:
4-3 Confusion on the
A logical understanding of realism is central to a rational science. Definitions of realism are not given here for the pleasure of giving a good definition. They are absolutely essential to achieve coherence and logic in science.
Not enough efforts have been made to describe with sufficient intelligibility what is meant by realism or reality. It is quite inadequate to say that reality is the quality of being real or that realism is a faithful portrayal of reality [4.5]. A lot of confusion remains.
One can find at least three different example, in which the expression reality is used with different meanings. Let us consider what sort of reality is involved when we speak of:
a) the reality of existence of a mass;
b) the reality of existence of thoughts; and
c) the reality of existence of lengths, time, an electric charge, a mass distribution, etc.
The same expression reality of existence is used in all three cases, but each example has different implications. We know that a mass exists independently of our mind, while our thoughts evidently do not. However, both thoughts and massesare usually considered to have a real existence. It certainly does not mean the same kind of real existence. There is a clear and fundamental difference between these "realities".
It is impossible to have a clear understanding of realism (reality of existence) in physics when the same word reality, is applied to both thoughts ormasses. The difference between the reality of matter and the reality of thoughts is not usually taken into account. Finally, it must also be noted that reality of time and the reality of lengths are still other kinds of reality.
Let us go back to the three cases mentioned above. Let us give a specific name to each kind of realism. We consider:
a) Physical Realism, when one deals with the reality of existence of masses.
b) Mental Realism, when one deals with the reality of existence of thoughts, and
c) Distinctive Realism, when one deals with the reality of existence of specific qualities like lengths, time, electric charges etc. These are qualities that belong to masses and consequently are distinguishable from masses themselves. Geometrical properties also possess some kind of reality.
Definitions given to realism are usually vague because they fail to show these fundamental differences. Among some interesting definitions of realism [4.3] is this:
Velocities, lengths and time are not matter.
Let us consider properties qualifying matter. We have parameters like velocities, lengths time, (mass) distribution etc. These are distinctive properties that do not exist without matter.
The fact that a velocity is given to a mass or that an observer moves with respect to it does not change the physical reality or the fundamental nature of that mass. The velocity with respect to the observer is not a physical reality. It is a description of the relative motion of the observer with respect to the physical reality (the mass). The velocity of the observer does not exist without the observer.
We must conclude that mass has the unique property of having an independent existence. The electric charge is only a property of masses since in physics, there exists no electric charge without mass. We have found that only masses have a completely autonomous existence independently of anything else. Lengths, time, charges and (mass) distributions do not have their autonomous existence without a mass to support them. Mass is the support of all other physical quantities. The existence of lengths, time and charges is bound to the existence of mass. Needless to say thoughts do not have an autonomous existence.
So, one must conclude that in physics, physical reality necessarily implies autonomous existence. Autonomous existence is a key condition for realism.
The difficulty of deciding whether a physical description involves reality or not appears mostly when we consider a description that uses partly physical reality and partly some non-physical reality. Most of the time it is claimed that a description implies physical reality simply because a part of the phenomenon implies physical reality. It is not noticed that only one part of the description involves physical reality. That difference is sometimes very subtle and thus often remains unnoticed. This error exists at many cases in physics and is responsible for most of the absurdities in modern physics.
A simple example is the case of mass distribution. It is clear that a mass has an autonomous existence but the distribution of that mass does not have an autonomous existence, since there cannot be any distribution without mass.
One can multiply these examples. The case of a description of sound waves in air is quite interesting. Sound waves propagate as a variation of air pressure in space and time. Waves exist independently of the relative motion of the observer. Independent observers can come to the same fundamental description compatible with reality. However, waves do not exist independently of the gas carrying them.
The description of waves is nothing but a description of the distribution of matter in space. Without matter, there could not be waves. Waves do not have an autonomous existence. Since waves have no autonomous existence, they have no absolute physical reality.
Furthermore, when an observer moves with respect to air, he can observe a Doppler effect. That change of frequency is completely due to the observer's motion, or to the motion of the experimental apparatus. There is no physical reality in the Doppler effect itself, since the relative velocity has no autonomous existence. The frequency shifted Doppler effect is true but it has no physical reality.
Let us conclude with a practical description of physical reality. Physical reality exists only in the case of matter, since it is the only thing that has its own autonomous existence, independently of any observer's mind, location or time. Furthermore, the objective description of fundamental reality implies that there is no relative motion with respect to the mass observed, since relative motion (with respect to the observer) does not exist independently of the observer and can distort observations.
We must finally point out that the family of words related to realism and reality includes the word realistic. However, we must avoid using the word realisticin this context, because it simply means that it is not absurd. Also, the word realis often confused with true.
4-4 Test of Physical
In order to see if there is some physical reality in the phenomenon observed, it is useful to devise a test. We consider that physical reality exists if the description of one thing (a mass) given by one observer is compatible with another description of the same thing, given by another independent observer. To be completely sure of the independent existence, the observer must not be aware of the observations made by others. This is the way to show that observations are independent of the observer's mind. There must also be more than one observer, and the experiment must be done at various times, so that when the observational results are compiled, the observations lead to independent and compatible descriptions. Finally, the description of the object must be compatible with a complete autonomous existence. Those conditions are essential to test physical reality that is a necessary condition for realism.
Multiple independent observers are required because, if a thing does not have its own existence, independent of the observer, it is logically impossible that all independent observers who are not aware of each other can always give a compatible description by chance.
Let us give an example. Let us suppose that many people, having independently seen the moon, give a compatible description of it. In that case, one should not have any reasonable doubt that the moon has an independent existence, even if during some short instants, nobody looks at it. The description of the moon does not become fundamentally different because it is observed at a different time and from a different direction. As seen above, time, direction and velocities do not change the nature of the moon. If one day, somebody discovers that the moon does not actually exist for an instant, then this last observation will be a new discovery that will require the total revision of the physical model.