Quantum Dynamics

Basic Questions About Quantum Dynamics

First placed on the Internet in March 2008

  • In the 1920s and 1930s, researchers were very surprised and confused when they discovered that electrons seem to only orbit atomic nuclei in very specific orbits.
  • Several layers of assumptions were made in order to try to explain that situation, and nearly all of them now turn out to be clearly (partly) wrong!
  • Quantum Dynamics and Quantum Physics later developed, entirely on the basis of these incorrect assumptions!
  • A simple equation was created to mathematically present the energy level of an electron in (simple) atoms, but it turned out to be close but never exactly correct.
  • As a result, a quantity which came to be known as the Quantum Defect was experimentally measured and then simply applied to those equations to make them come out correct! Nearly all Physicists even call this a FUDGE FACTOR!
  • This presentation shows that it is not a Fudge Factor at all, and the so-called Quantum Defect can very accurately be calculated and therefore predicted.
  • More than that, the Quantum Defect was always assumed to be a DISTANCE measurement, but this presentation shows conclusively that it is based ENTIRELY on the ELECTRICAL CHARGE of the nucleus of any atom. That means that an entire BASIC assumption regarding the very nature of the relationships between charge, distance and energy, have been completely wrong! (But often CLOSE!)
  • As a result, the very basis of the argument for Quantum Dynamics seems to come into question!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in March 2008.

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The basis of quantum dynamics may have some serious questions which have never been properly confronted or answered. Most modern Physicists properly describe quantum mechanics as a THEORY, in other words as a working hypothesis, which has shown itself to be wonderfully useful. But others seem to accept it as an absolute fact, upon which they have felt confident to build entire new fields of Physics. I am not so sure.

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It is useful to examine the way that Quantum thinking first arose in the 1920s and 1930s. The basic information of atomic structure was then just being discovered, and many experiments gave results that provided great confusion among Physicists. Specifically, the long held assumption that amounts of energy was a continuous variable was seeming to be challenged in many experiments. It was quite clear that atoms and electrons seemed to only exist with very specific amounts of energy in them.

Much earlier, Einstein's work on the Photoelectric Effect provided a starting point, where it did not matter how bright a light was, regarding the amount of energy that each ionized electron carried away, but that the color of the light did affect it.

Bohr's basic theory of atomic structure established these very distinct energy levels, where no electrons seemed to ever exist in any intermediate states. Nearly all other experiments supported and confirmed the general conclusions.

Physics did not have any good way of handling, or even describing such situations. There were conclusions found that expressed some aspects of such things, such as the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which stated that electrons can NOT exist in energy states (orbits) other than a limited number of very precisely defined ones and that two electrons cannot simultaneously occupy the same energy state of the atom. Energy state soon got described as quantum state.

Heisenberg found the Uncertainty Principle in 1927, which indicated that it was impossible to determine both the position and the momentum of any particle, such as an electron, with a precision better than a certain very specific level.

Within the mathematics of Physics, there was another matter that resulted in something called the Quantum Defect. There is no doubt that Pauli's work has been centrally important in advancing Physics, such as by defining every individual electron in a specific atom by four quantum numbers, where each therefore has a unique energy content.

These various findings caused Physics calculations to begin to be done as probability calculations (and therefore the beginnings of quantum mechanics) rather than as the exact calculations (of classical mechanics).

There is another basic error in the assumptions on which this all was based. That assumption is based on some conclusions of LaPlace, Leverrier and LaGrange around 150 years ago. Their findings were actually regarding perturbation interactions of planets in the solar system, but they were carried over into Nuclear Physics as well.

Their conclusion was that planets COULD perturb each others' orbits in ALL WAYS EXCEPT ONE, where five of the six basic parameters of an orbit might be altered by perturbations. They assumed that the sixth, the average orbital radius could not be changed due to perturbations. That SEEMED like a fine conclusion at the time, and it has been very useful for Astronomers and Physicists ever since. IF the Conservation of Energy and Conservation of Angular Momentum are each always true, then simple equations can show that no such alteration of the semi-major axis dimension would be possible.

However, that has been found to have (at least) one exception! When two planets are in orbits in different planes, then they cause an effect called Regression of the Nodes of the orbit, which is essentially the same as a Precessional effect on the orbit. Euler's set of three Differential Equations, which are the three-dimensional expression of Newton's Laws of Motion, are easily seen to show that a motion or action in ONE axis necessarily causes a Regression or Precession effect in a DIFFERENT axis (90 degrees away).

The result of this is that the Conservation of Angular Momentum can NOT be conserved under those conditions! An obvious and simple example is where a simple toy gyroscope is placed on its pedestal and then released. A Precessional motion BEGINS as soon as it is released. That Precessional motion necessarily has Angular Momentum, which is easily calculated and monitored. There started out ZERO Angular Momentum in that (Z) axis, and a moment later, there IS Angluar Momentum! (The ENERGY for this new motion arose from the body of the gyroscope FALLING a tiny fraction of a millimeter in the Earth's gravitational field, so Energy IS Conserved. But Angular Momentum is definitely not.

A more complete discussion of this matter is presented in both: Conservation of Angular Momentum - An Exception or Violation
Precession of Gyroscopes and of the Earth Gyroscope Precession and Precession of the Earth's Equinoxes
The consequences of this regarding electrons in atoms are extremely important. Even though these violations of the Conservation of Angular Momentum tend to be very small effects, when they continue to operate for many thousands or millions or billions of orbits, the electrons can therefore have their orbital radii changed due to mutual perturbations of two electrons. Conservation of Energy is still valid.

The fact that electrons orbit nuclei at extremely high velocities, generally a significant fraction of the speed of light, and their orbital circumference is very tiny, an electron completes billions and even trillions of orbits every second.

This gives plenty of time for any mutual perturbations to occur in the pattern of electron radii. FASTER than any of our experiments can ever detect, such perturbations become completed, and so as quick as we can photograph or otherwise detect the positions of electrons, they are always in the orbits that we expect!

But rather than that being due to any Exclusion Effect, it is actually due to the alteration of the electrons' orbits by mutual perturbations AND the fact that we have "slow eyes" regarding being able to detect such things! So the very specific electron orbits are certainly valid, but the EXPLANATION of why that is is completely different than has always been assumed!

Essentially, this reasoning ELIMINATES the need for even conjecturing the basic premises of Quantum Dynamics!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in March 2008.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago