Quantum Weirdness – A Matter of Relativity? Part 2

Quantum Weirdness

A Matter of Relativity? 


Copyright 2006/2007 James A. Tabb 

Part 2 – Double Slit Weirdness

When a proper light source (coherent – light from a single source all at the same frequency) is placed in front of a screen with a narrow slit, the light is diffracted (spread out) as it goes through the slit and appears as a shaded band centered on a screen or photographic film. The light is scattered and/or bent by the edges of the slit as shown in Figure 3.

Single Slit Diffraction
Figure 3. Single Slit Diffraction

 If we add two more slits located side by side between the first slit and the screen, the light passing through each of the new slits is diffracted again such that the photons from each slit are bent across each path and combine to reinforce or cancel each other where they strike the screen.

 Double Slit Diffraction

Figure 4. Double Slit Interference

The result is an interference pattern (light and dark bands) on the screen as shown in Figure 4. If you block either of the two middle slits, the interference pattern disappears. If a photographic film replaces the screen and the intensity is reduced so that only a few hundred photons are sent through the double slits before the film is developed, the interference pattern will be made up of individual dots organized in a pattern that duplicates the interference pattern. Keep the film in place long enough and the patterns become more complete. Put a cover over one of the slits and the film still shows dots, but no interference pattern, only a diffraction band. Put a detector in one of the slits and the interference pattern also disappears.

Now if the light source is reduced in intensity enough to send only one photon at a time, a weird result can be seen if the photographic film is left long enough (days or even months in a very dark box) where both slits are left open. The interference pattern continues to develop on the film, even though there is no possibility of interference (or even photon bumping) unless the individual photons go through both slits somehow.

Part of the current explanation is that the photon goes both ways, but any measurement (putting a detector in the path) always disturbs the measurement. In fact a whole class of quantum theory has developed around the inability to make precise measurements due to the measurement disturbance problem. How do we explain this quantum weirdness?

A Matter of Relativity

There are two processes going here. One process is the real time that our experimenter sees, about 1 nanosecond per foot of photon travel. The photon is traveling through the experiment with real and measurable delays from the emitter to the first slit and from there to the double slits and from there to the film. The other process is that the photon’s relativistic path is zero so it is in contact with the film and the emitter at once and all of its paths in between are of zero length and require zero time. All paths that can lead to the same path are conjoined. Time of flight and distances for the photon expand only as it passes through the setup. The photon and the observer see simultaneous events differently. All the events are simultaneous to the photon, but none are to the experimenter.

All the elements of our experiment have no depth and seem to be congruent as if they were paper cutouts that have been bonded together with the emitting source. As observers, we can’t see it. As the photon leaves one element of our experiment, such as the first screen with one slit, the double slits are squeezed down to a point and plastered across its nose. The photon easily fits across both slits of the second screen as the distances to them are zero and thus the distance between them is also zero. Indeed it fits across the entire second screen, but the edges are less distorted. Since the photon is also plastered across the slits, everything behind the slits is also plastered there – the entire path is available at one instant as in Figure 5 a. The photon is able to take all paths (even simultaneously) that lead to a common point because they are all in front of it as it enters our experiment, and zero distance separates all the paths. No amount of fiddling with flipping mirrors or detectors will fool the photon into disclosing its path because the mirrors and detectors are also plastered to the photon’s nose throughout its (instantaneous) flight. The mirrors and detectors are in place when the photon makes its decision or they are not. The result is path shut or open.

As the photon moves from the first screen to the second, the second screen moves with it (attached to its nose) until it reaches its normal (real world as we see it) dimension and then expands as the photon moves into the slits as in Figure 5 b. Portions perpendicular to the path of the photon become normal size and atoms from the edges again buffet the photon.  Everything behind the photon is of no consequence, gone – vanished.

Relativistic Double Slit

Figure 5. – Relativistic Double Slit

 From the relativistic point of view, the photon has a number of crisis points such as within the first slit. As it passes through the first slit, the atoms at the edge of the slit buffet it and the photon’s path is randomly diffracted from the original path.   The slit has grown to normal size (perpendicular to the photon’s travel) but now the photon is virtually attached to the entire screen containing the double slits in the background that represent the next crisis point or wakeup call. If neither slit is blocked, it has an opportunity to go through both.

Photon Recombining

Figure 6. Photon Recombining

I see the photon as being a packet of energy that obeys the laws of conservation of energy. It flows around the barrier between the two slits only if it can recombine on the other side without ever completely breaking into two separate pieces. It behaves almost like a perfect fluid and leaks through where it can, but unlike a perfect fluid, it cannot separate into multiple “drops”.

If the packet can meld behind the slit spacer as in figure 6, it does so before it separates in front of the spacer. The melding process takes place an integral number of wavelengths from the slits and results in a change in path that leads to an impact in the interference pattern, a pattern that can be calculated using the methods of QED.  As soon as the melding takes place, the photon separates in front of the slit spacer and begins joining the rest of the body already melded together, so that the photon is always a full packet of energy

If melding does not take place because of a blocking detector or some other shield, then the photon pulls itself into whichever slit passed the bigger portion of its packet and slips through that slit whole.  If it is the blocked slit, it is destroyed there.  If it is the unblocked slit, it comes though whole but does not interfere with itself because it did not meld around the slit due to the blockage in the other slit.  It may also be destroyed by the slit itself.   The photon is destroyed in the blocked slit or on the film behind the open one, never both. It makes no choice. In the case of a blocked slit, there is no recombination. The side with the larger energy pulls the photon through an opening if there is one and if that opening has a detector or blockage, it dies there.

The answer to the weirdness of photons seeming to interefere with itself is that it is due to the forshortening of the experiment due to the effects of relativity.

Next:  Polarized Light Weirdness Explained


3 responses to “Quantum Weirdness – A Matter of Relativity? Part 2

  1. I have some problems with your Figure 5b and associated explanation (and similar figures on other pages) that I may come back to later, but for now let’s assume that there is indeed a relativistic flattening of the entire source, single slit, double slit, and screen to a set of ordered layers of zero thickness as illustrated in Figure 5a. Then even if we quibble about the details of how the photon experiences all of these layers simultaneously, it at least seems plausible that it can do so, resulting in a dot on the screen whose location is consistent with a probabilistic interpretation of an interference pattern. As you say, we then can expect such a pattern to emerge on the screen after many photons have arrived, as is seen by experiment. It is an idea that I find appealing. (This does not mean that I am convinced it is valid, but I have had similar ideas related to other quantum phenomena.)

    However, photons are not the only things that exhibit this interference phenomenon. Some experiments have been done with massive objects, such as buckeyballs (60 atoms of carbon arranged in the shape of a soccer ball) that also exhibit double slit interference.
    These material objects cannot travel at the speed of light, so they cannot experience the layers of the apparatus simultaneously. Yet somehow a stream of these massive objects creates an interference pattern that is consistent with their de Broglie wavelength. Have you thought about the implications of these experiments to your theory?

    • Regarding buckyballs, electrons, atoms, etc. which display this attribute of self interference to various degrees, I believe that relativistic effects come into play at any group velocity to a greater extent than the group velocity would warrant for any object whose components parts are moving at some large fraction of the speed of light.

      By that I mean an atom has internal components (quarks for example and electrons) that are moving at an enormous speed. Do we know how fast? I don’t, but I suspect that it is a significant fraction of c. Some of these internal components cause the atom to jitter wildly and some work against the effects, but the effects are still there. There are parts moving in the direction of the group velocity and some crosswise and at times some directly against it.

      There are times when the parts moving in the direction of the group likely come very close to the speed of light in relation to the apparatus making up the slits. Larger objects (buckyballs as opposed to individual atoms) would have, on average, more of the internal components working to cancel some of the effects to a greater extent than smaller objects (atoms for example) and thus would exhibit less detectable effects, eventually becoming non detectable as the size is increased. In other words, an atom might be very fuzzy if we could see it, and often that jitter is in the direction of travel at significant amplitude and velocity, but a buckyball would be far less fuzzy, have lower amplitude jitter and lower velocities at the surface, but still have some measurement problems if we try to pin the surface down, and would still exhibit some relativistic effects passing though a slit.

      I have routinely used photons as examples and c as their speed to show that the distance is foreshortened to zero, as is time, but in truth, any object that approaches the speed of light has foreshortened distance and time and it is my idea that the jitter related to the measurement problem and the self interference seen by atoms and small molecules is due to that same effect, meaning mostly the wild internal motion of quarks within the atoms.

  2. Delayed choice quantum eraser, specifically the “recovery” of an interference pattern
    by returning which-path info to indeterminability….ruh roh george…may have to rethink some things.

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