The Wave Structure of Matter
This final section of discussions linked to speculative science has been deliberately positioned at the end, because to some extent it may be one that most professional physicists will simply dismiss as wrong. However, if you were able to question them on the details as to why all of the ideas under the banner of a ‘wave structure of matter’ are so obviously wrong, it is possible that you might not get such a clear-cut answer. In this context, we might begin by characterizing the basic issue in the form of a question:
While this appears to be a fairly fundamental question, if you a search the Internet for an answer, it seems that most definitions are somewhat circular, e.g. a particle is a minute portion of matter. However, while we possibly understand the idea being suggested, it might be argued that the question about the nature of a particle has only been transposed into the definition of matter. However, let us pursue this argument for the moment:
What is matter?
Matter is a physical substance that occupies space and possesses rest mass.
While the statement that matter occupies space and the idea of rest mass may appear to add some scientific authority to the definition, we are possibly none the wiser as to the real nature of the ‘physical substance’ being inferred. Of course, if we follow Einstein's equivalence of mass and energy, based on his most famous equation [E=mc2], it might be suggested that mass must be energy within some definable volume of space, i.e. an energy density. As pointed out in the opening introduction to 'Speculative Science', western society is often more orientated towards a structural view of science, possibly because its language is orientated towards nouns, i.e. we like to give things names. However, while giving ‘something’ a name might help in its general classification, it does not really constituent a scientific explanation of that ‘something’. So maybe we need to focus on a more scientific definition of a particle rather than a general dictionary definitions so that the issue of scale might be better highlighted:
Wikipedia Extract: Particle
In the physical sciences, a particle is a small localized object to which can be ascribed several physical or chemical properties such as volume or mass. The term ‘particle’ is usually applied differently to three classes of size. The term macroscopic particle, usually refers to particles much larger than atoms and molecules. Another type, microscopic particles usually refers to particles of sizes ranging from atoms to molecules. The smallest of particles are the subatomic particles, which refer to particles smaller than atoms. These would include particles such as the constituents of atoms – protons, neutrons, and electrons.
While this abbreviated description is attempting to be more specific in its scope, especially in respect to scale, it still ends up providing a circular argument in which subatomic particles are only made of other smaller particles, e.g. protons, neutrons and electrons. While we could pursue this questioning to the proton and neutron, the normal answer will be that they are made of quarks, so let us just jump to the smallest particle in the subatomic hierarchy and pose the question:
What physical substance is an electron made of?
It is suggested that any search for help within the standard particle model may not necessarily provide any further insight, only a more detailed description of a convoluted hierarchy of esoteric particles. Of course, at this point, a physicist might simply make reference to quantum theory in the form of ‘quantum field theory’ that describes an altogether different picture of the subatomic world, which is more orientated towards ‘fields’ rather than ‘particles’. While any reader new to this sort of discussion is advise to first review the mainstream descriptions of quantum reality, you might also wish to take note of an admission by Richard Feynman, one of the founders of the theory of ‘quantum electrodynamics’
“What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school and you think I’m am going to explain it to you so that you can understand it? No, you’re not going to be able to understand it. Why, then am I going to bother you with all this? Why are you to sit here all this time, when you won’t be able to understand what I am going to say? It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don’t understand it. You see, my physics students don’t understand it either. That because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.”
While it is entirely possible that researchers have become more accustomed to some of the ideas within quantum theory, this does not necessarily mean that they understand what is really going on within its description of quantum reality. Reviewing the post-war developments in quantum theory, see ‘part-2’, will possibly give some flavour of the mathematical complexity and conceptual ambiguity that this model imposes.
But does any other viable description exist?
As highlighted in the earlier discussion of ‘speculative cosmology’, the definition of ‘viable’ may depend on the scope of speculation you are prepared to entertain. For it needs to be said that the ‘wave structure of matter’ has little to no support within mainstream physics. This said, this highly speculative theory does attempt to rationalise the observed properties within the ‘particle model’ in a way that might be worthy of some further investigation. As such, a review of this model is the primary purpose of this section of discussions.