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 2016-12-17 The Michelson Myth The Michelson Myth"Some of the current applications of optical interferometry are accurate measurements of distances, displacements, and vibrations; tests of optical systems; studies of gas flows and plasmas; studies of surface topography; measurements of temperature, pressure, and electrical and magnetic fields; rotation sensing; high resolution spectroscopy, and laser frequency measurements. Applications being explored include high-speed all-optical logic and the detection of gravitational waves. There is little doubt that, in the near future, many more will be found."(P. Hariharan "Basics of INTERFEROMETRY", 2007)You know how a full moon seems to follow you everywhere you go? Well, you can recreate the same eerie experience with a piece of cardboard in which you have made a small hole. Now all you need is a window pane and a light source. I can use the street lamps I can see from my kitchen or from the living room. If I place the cardboard against the glass in such a way that I can see a street lamp through it, then however I shift the cardboard, at least horizontally, I keep seeing the same street lamp!Figure 3.1 of Hariharan's book is very enlightening, pun intended. It shows one point source, a fatty point on the left, forming the top of a triangle lying on its side, with its two sides crossing a straight line with two slits, and ending at a second vertical line where the screen is supposed to be. The aim of the author is to make us understand the strange behavior of light when it has to go through two slits. The sides represent what light particles are supposed to do, go straight in an oblique line, up, respectively down, to the screen. We would therefore expect bright spots in two places, there where the sides of the triangle meet the base. But then, how to explain the bright spots in the middle, right in front of the part of the wall separating the two slits? This is where the wave theory was born, and this where it has to be put finally to rest.For that, we need our stalking moon.Imagine the cardboard as wide as your window, with small holes cut throughout its width at random, or on the contrary, at very precise intervals. Whatever hole you choose to look through, you see the same moon, or street lamp, staring back at you. What is then happening inside your eye, optically speaking?Apparently, it looks like that there is one light source for each hole, which then makes it quite natural for light to shine even in the middle section protected by the dividing wall between the two slits.We have now solved one part of the mystery, why one single light source can create a continuous bright line beyond the two slits. We still have to explain why we see isolated spots instead of a continuous bright line.For that we first have to remember that a pinhole functions like a magnifier even without a lens, which allows us to say that the spots we see do not represent the light source in its totality, but probably a single ray. The rays meeting at a split separate again on their way to the screen and create the so-called fringes.Et voilà! All that rests to be done is to prove it empirically, or make it at least as plausible as the wave theory of light.That shouldn't be too difficult, right?[see also The Michelson Interferometer] Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25074 Reply

 2016-12-18 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti At the water hole (2)Look at the image of the moon on your retina while you are moving. Or the image of the street lamp when you are moving the cardboard. The pinhole is situated left or right, up or down, from the lamp. How, then, do you get to see the lamp? It is like the rays first go obliquely in the direction of the hole where they align very nicely in the same original configuration, and from there emit their light through the hole. It is in such situations that the wave theory is the most attractive. Nevertheless, even the wave theory cannot explain how we can have a refraction of the light beams simply by going through a hole. And, if we assume that the light particles are bouncing of the edges of the hole, then we do not need the wave theory.Of course, we would then have to also assume that the light particles are kept in the same spatial configuration all through their journey. Which means that only a part of the outer periphery of the image will actually come in contact with the edge of the whole, the other particles bouncing of the particles before them and keeping this way the image intact. Because of the recoil, the image at the hole will always be smaller than the hole itself. And what happens then?If the particles are then deflected through the hole further into the dark chamber, there would be no reason for the particles standing at the same level or on the same line, not to end up all at the same location, in an indistinguishable heap of light.This is where the concept of wave can turn out to be very useful!What if, just like by a water wave, the particles are only moving up and down, one after the other? The particles at the hole will make other particles vibrate, and this in all directions.We are getting closer and closer to Huygens, aren't we?The only problem with this argumentation is that it is wrong. To see that imagine the image of the street lamp like a light ball flying to the hole in an oblique direction, and stopping just short of the farther edge. It is now blocking the hole, its surface barely (not) touching its outer circle. The fact that nothing but magic would stop some parts of it from hitting the edge and bouncing back does not negate the fact that it will be all the while emitting light into the hole and that light will be going in a straight line. It would be like an electric torch being carried through space in an oblique line while still shining directly forward in the usual way. In fact, there is no reason why we could not replace the street lamp with a flash light, turned on, which we would keep seeing however we move relative to the hole.Also, Huygens conception assumes that light waves move out of themselves, and have therefore to concentrate their energy on the straight lines and limit the secondary waves at the edges. It is very much a magical process that perpetuates itself against all logic.I love magic, I just don't think it belongs in science.That is why I prefer thinking that light rays, just like electric or magnetic forces, have to be renewed constantly. Electromagnetism or gravitomagnetism?  And what does the light do when it goes through the hole? Well, first, some of the outer rays will be blocked by the edges, then, a smaller image will continue its oblique journey, all the while shining forward and left and right. Isn't that neat? Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25106 Reply

 2016-12-18 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti To See the LightHow come we see a light even when there is darkness between us and the light?Maybe that photography can help us out again. You can take a picture of the end of a tunnel and make sure only a white spot can be seen in a sea of black. What is interesting is that the white will be totally isolated and we have therefore apparently no way of explaining how it could activate the emulsion on one part of the negative without affecting the rest.If you think in terms of lenses and lines, then the lines which brought the light to the middle of the negative apparently never cut the same plane as the other lines. It is like the negative was laid flat, and the light was dropped from above. But even then, to have such a pristine black surrounding the bright spot is only possible if the light only appeared at the last moment, when it was already at its final destination. For this to be possible can mean only one thing: whatever caused the light to travel to the negative, or to our eyes, was not strong enough to light up the space in between. It seems that light not only disappears in vacuum, but also in the normal atmosphere.Of course we already knew that. It is the rule of the inverse square law of distance. What nobody, I think, ever realized before, is what it meant exactly. Our eyes, and photographic films, are sensitive enough to react to a stimulus which leaves matter apparently undisturbed.That raises a very interesting question: is it possible for light, in whatever form, to have an effect on matter without us seeing how it happened, or which path the light took? More to the point at hand, is it possible that a sensitive screen shows fringes while we have no idea how they got there?I certainly would not advocate such a spooky explanation, but it is no doubt worth investigating. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25110 Reply

 2016-12-22 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti The Emperor's ClothesYou know what happens if you shine a laser pen on the wall, and look at the spot through different lenses? Well, it looks, sometimes, suspiciously like the so-called interference patterns through one or more slits. People have been breaking their head for centuries over the meaning of those patterns, and the spaces between them, and here you can see them outside of any slit!When you think about it, it is not really amazing. Thomas Young, in his "The Bakerian Lecture: Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics" (1804), or Fresnel in "MÉMOIRE SUR LA DIFFRACTION DE LA LUMIERE", 1818, as well as contemporary teachers like Ezekiel or Wolfson, all make use of lenses (a simple magnifying glass in the case of Fresnel) to examine the spot.I must admit that I would find it it quite humorous if indeed all the strange effects that have occupied Newton, Huygens, and so many others, would turn out to be effects of the lenses through which those same effects are observed.Everybody assumes that the use of lenses or prisms is neutral, that we are still looking at light phenomena in their natural state. That strikes me as rather naive. I am waiting for some equipment and will definitely return to this fascinating issue. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25222 Reply

 2016-12-22 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti To See the Light (2)I find this old video clip about diffraction very enlightening in that it shows the different colors live, and not in a computer animation. Look at all the colors displayed and assume that white and black are colors like any other. What would your conclusion be? Would you still think that rays are somehow destructively interfering with each other?I find that hard to believe. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25226 Reply

 2016-12-23 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti The Logic of numbers: when goats can flyFlying GoatsThe Logic of NumbersMister Feynman, lend me your dreams: the False Duality of LightIn the Japanese two-slit experiment interference patterns emerge even though electrons are emitted one at the time. So, as Feynman would say, "how can this be?"Maybe the way of registering the events is the reason we are facing such a conundrum. If successive single events have the same graphs as that of waves, we should ask ourselves if the graphs depicting wave events are doing justice to the phenomenon. Is the model of crests and troughs really compatible with the facts?. The intensity of the wave is a numerical value.What happens if you register the impact of the water at single, well defined moments? A crest and a trough which we consider as simultaneous will be considered as two isolated events, each with an intensity value. The only difference is that instead of putting the result directly in our graph, we put both values separately. The end result will be mathematically the same.In other words, if you take the wave impacts and register them at intervals comparable to those used for photons and electrons, you will still get the same pattern. Only now the distinction between waves and particles has lost any meaning it ever had!So, maybe I was right after all. Maybe waves do not exist. Except in our perception and in mathematics.[I am aware that this analysis still does not explain the existence of the so-called interference patterns. But the discussion is now freed of the dichotomy particle-wave.] Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25274 Reply

 2016-12-23 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti The Logic of numbers: when goats can fly (2)Where do the interference phenomena come from? The mathematics developed for wave interference can still be of great help. I refer to the excellent video of Khan's Academy.There he gives the example of 8 rays and how they behave together.Here is what he says in short. If the first and the fifth ray interfere destructively, then so will the second and the sixth, the third and the seventh, etc.But we do not have interference anymore, so how could that help us?Well, there is interference only if we add them together, which we do not need to. They can be considered as isolated impacts which either hit the screen one after the other, or even simultaneously. Assuming that they would destroy each other is assuming that which the wave theory is supposed to prove. It is quite possible that such a simultaneous impact would be translated into two successive reactions. Also, the shorter the interval the less likely they will arrive simultaneously, and even if they did, they could knock each other off and both recoil.The question now is, are those empty spots explained by such calculations, because the same logic could be used to explain the bright spots? Well, I think it is the same logic that explains both the empty spaces and the bright spots. It is just a matter of choosing which kind of interactions we are considering. The empty spots will be the places where particles bounce off each other because they arrive simultaneously at the same location, while the bright spots are the places where the particles hit in close succession. So Khan's explanation remains valid after all, even if there are no interference phenomena and light is not a wave! All we need to do is replace the concepts of crest and through by that of time (and place) of impact. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25278 Reply

 2016-12-24 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti From Young to Feynman or from Wave to QuantumIn (1804) Young already showed that the interference patterns disappeared from the shadow of an object when one side of the object was covered. It was just like the famous lecture by Feynman in which he argued that the patterns created by two slits where different from the sum of both slits when water waves, photons or electrons where considered, and not hard particles like bullets.Feynman celebrated (the anniversary of) the end of logic with a smile: it is not true, he said, that the particle (photon or electron) has to go either through hole #1 or hole #2. Apparently all we could say for sure is how probable it is that it will go though one hole or the other.I think I have showed that it was Feynman's logic that was faulty, and not Logic itself. Once we reject the wave concepts of crest and trough, and their mathematical translation, there is no reason at all to believe in the (mathematical or scientific) reality of waves. We can affirm with absolute certainty that the particle will necessarily go through either one or the other hole, whether we observe it or not. The fact that observation is equivalent to the blocking of one hole is the reason why the interference patterns disappear. That is therefore what we have to explain.The whole argumentation by Feynman is based on the putative difference of patterns created by macroscopic elements like bullets, and subatomic particles like photons and electrons. Both in this lecture, and in the  third volume of his "Lectures on Physics: Quantum Mechanics", Feynman specifies that the gun shooting the bullets is not really precise, which makes it easier for the bullets to go in the direction of either hole. As I argued, the distinction between a wave and a particle was practically canceled by such an assumption, since a gun shooting straight would most likely hit the panel between the two slits. It is therefore not surprising that in the end the patterns which are wrongly attributed to waves (only) turn out to be applicable to particles (as well). The problem of the interference patterns turns out therefore to be a false problem. Whether we are dealing with particles or waves, the same patterns are created by two (or more) slits, and those patterns disappear when one slit is covered one way or the other. The fact that interference patterns disappear have therefore nothing to do with the question of waves or particles. In fact, the whole concept of wave becomes suspicious and void of (scientific) meaning. Particles and Waves I think I have given a plausible explanation of why these patterns appear, and that is at the same time the reason why they also can disappear. Blocking one slit is equivalent, with the caveat of an imprecise gun (and the help of Heisenberg's principle), to letting all bullets go through one slit, with the corresponding distribution and pattern.And now I am almost afraid to ask: where does that leave Quantum Theory? [see my promise in Bell's Theorem for Dummies or the Collapse of the Wave Function ] Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25282 Reply

 2016-12-24 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti The Logic of numbers: when goats can fly (3)The presence of empty spaces cannot be explained (solely) by the collision and reciprocal repulsion of particles, since the same spaces are also present when electrons are emitted in successive single shots. Where do these spaces come from?I think I will have to refer to the fact that we are always dealing with an inaccurate gun, and that locations which receive enough impacts will light up more brightly that those who receive less. The empty spaces look much less empty when the sensitivity of the screen is greatly enhanced. There might be no reason to assume that those empty spaces are totally empty. Except for the fact that light rays might be discontinuous in the width of the beam. Maybe there is an empty space between each two rays, but that is something that will have to wait empirical confirmation.***From Young to Feynman or from Wave to Quantum (2)The reader might wonder what my final thoughts are concerning interference patterns. Didn't I suggest that they might be artifacts created by lenses, just like refraction phenomena? First, I do not have any final thought yet, and consider my research as a work in progress. Second, both points of view are perfectly compatible. Even if they are artifacts, interference phenomena will not be any less real, and the explanations given last might still be applicable. After all, our eyes are also lenses. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25286 Reply

 2016-12-25 The Michelson Myth Reply to Hachem El Ouggouti mirror mirror on the wallSpecular and diffuse reflection. It sounds all so plausible. But how are we able to see objects which are not reflected by mirrors? A 3D object will be by definition non-specular and the rays falling on it will be reflected in all directions. Still, vision is usually uneventful. There is only one conclusion possible, we do not see the reflected rays! What do we see then?Maybe we should make the distinction between how objects reflect rays from the way objects are reflected from them. The way an object reflects rays is the way we see it. But, unlike a mirror, an object does not need to reflect any other object but itself.Take the surface of the water when it is not reflecting anything but diffuse ambient (day)light. We can clearly see it, but we can also see an object reflected on its surface. Water, just like a mirror, can send us its image as well as that of other objects. But most objects can't. They send only their own image.We must therefore make the distinction between general reflection of rays which make objects visible, and reflection of rays which makes the image of objects visible.In fact, this simply says that not every object is a mirror.Still, the puzzle remains. An object cannot be reflected from a non-mirror, but the non-mirror itself can be reflected and seen. What is then the difference between reflecting and being reflected?The image of a second object, when falling on a non-mirror, is scattered in the same way as the own rays of the non-mirror. That means that we can see the non-mirror only, even if in somewhat altered colors because of the effect of (the image of) the second object.The distinction between a non-mirror, as are most objects, and the image of any other object, mirror or non-mirror, is crucial. We see non-mirrors like we see the non-reflecting parts of a mirror. Imagine standing on the side and looking at a mirror. You see its surface like you would see any other object. It is not reflecting anything from its ambient environment to you, only itself. You might as well look at any non-mirror.The distinction between specular and diffuse reflection therefore only makes sense when we are thinking about how images of objects are reflected from other objects. This distinction does not explain vision. In fact, according to this distinction, we should not be able to see anything unless it is reflected by a mirror!This confusion is painfully evident in the attempts of Khan to explain vision. ***The Uncertainty PrincipleThe fact that vision does not depend on photons emitted by an object to our eyes makes it in principle possible to observe through which hole an electron has passed without the use of other light than the one created by the passage of the electron or the photon itself. We do not therefore need extraneous light to follow the trajectory of particles. The practical implementation of such a principle is something way beyond my expertise, but I will try to present it as clearly as I can.Heisenberg's Principle is based on the idea that we need at least one photon to hit a particle and come back to our eye for us to see the particle. If the latter is small enough, the photon will make it deviate from its trajectory, or even annihilate it, irremediably changing the outcome of the observation. Remember the picture of the tunnel? I apologize for milking the example out, but I don't seem able to think of a better one.The light coming from the entrance impinges on our retina as well as the negative in our camera, but does not leave any trace in its wake until it has reached them. Instead of a tunnel, imagine looking at the two slits and observing the path taken by each photon or electron. Theoretically, we should be able to observe what is happening without changing anything to the outcome. After all, we do not need to add any detector or project any light in their path.This does not mean that vision somehow happens in a magical way, that the light at the end of a tunnel impinges on our retina by jumping over the distance separating us and leaving no trace behind it. It just means that there is something missing in our knowledge of light and vision.As importantly, it means that Heisenberg's Principle is not necessarily true. Permanent link: https://philpapers.org/post/25322 Reply