Particles as Information Packets? What does this mean? Does information come in packets? And what is the relationship between information and particles? How could a particle be information? Or vice versa, how could an information packet be a particle? What is the relevance?
In the prior article of this monograph, we explored the disobedient nature of the subatomic world. Our atom-based world defines obedience. Particles and waves are distinct and separate in our atom-based world. Particles are defined by both position and trajectory. Further, these entities operate in a space/time continuum, where energy is continuous. Our atom-based world is definitive, not probabilistic. Atoms are the building blocks of our material world.
Conversely, the subatomic world is probabilistic, not definitive. As such, it is impossible to predict the behavior of individual electrons and photons. Further, space and energy in the subatomic world are quantized.
Two of the subatomic entities, protons and neutrons, are obedient in that they behave like traditional particles. The other two subatomic entities, electrons and photons, are disobedient in that they don't behave like traditional particles. Electrons behave ambiguously, sometimes as a wave and sometimes as a particle. Further, an electron's position or trajectory can be described, but not both. To calculate a photon's probability of behavior, one must take into account all possible paths including forward and backward in time. In short, electrons and photons don't behave like the particles in our common atom-based world.
If electrons and photons are neither wave, nor particle, what could they be? Or if they behave like particles, as Feynman insists, what are the differences and similarities between these ‘particles’ and traditional particles? How must we expand our understanding of particles to encompass electrons and photons? To resolve this question, let us begin the discussion by considering the notion that particles in the general sense are elemental information packets or waves. Let’s see why particles must have this essence to include electrons and photons in the particle category.
The Schrödinger equation characterized the electron as a wave. To resolve difficulties with this interpretation, Max Born showed that the electron was instead characterized by a probability wave. As such, the wave pulse revealed probable information as to the electron’s position and trajectory. In other words, the probability wave that characterizes the electron is a packet of information.
“One way to say this is to describe it is an ‘information wave’.” (Physics for Poets, p. 223)
However, this information doesn’t reveal if the electron is a wave or particle. Quantized probabilistic information packets characterize the behavior of electrons and photons, not their essence. In contrast, atoms are neither quantized, nor probabilistic, nor characterized by information packets.
Heisenberg further refined the limits of the information contained in the electron's probability wave. His Uncertainty Principle proved that this probability wave could only reveal information about the probable position or momentum of the electron, but not both simultaneously. In other words, Plank’s quantum constant constrained the information contained in the electron’s probability wave.
This uncertainty is a major divergence from particles in our everyday atom-based world. In this world, a particle’s position in space and momentum through time can be precisely identified. Every object moves through space and time. In fact, these two features, position and momentum, seem to be inextricably joined. Heisenberg’s analysis showed that this is not true of the electron. Besides having an indeterminate position, it is impossible to know both position and momentum simultaneously. The Uncertainty Principle separates the inextricable in the subatomic world.
This logical structure parallels our analysis of mass. In the article, Data Stream Mass, we provided analysis to show that inertia and substance are joined in the material world, while they are separated in the Living Algorithm's world of information digestion. In other words, the substance/inertia complex is 1 in the matter plane and 2 in the information plane. Similarly, location and momentum are joined in our atom-based world, while they are separate for the electron. The location/momentum complex is 1 in the atomic plane and 2 in the electron's orthogonal plane. This logical symmetry lends credence to our analysis of mass.
Electrons and photons don't fit into the category boxes of our atom-based world. It is evident that Science must construct another category box to hold them. However, constructing a new category was a discomforting proposition then and is still now. Up until the discovery of the electron and photon at the beginning of the 20th century, scientists could separate every phenomenon in the material universe into waves or particles. Still over a century later, we hold onto this categorization of our physical world as wave or particle. Popular texts on science call electrons one of 3 particles that make up the atom. Photons are considered to be the energy of light. Even the highest level, or at least the most funded form, of Physics is called Particle Physics. This name is certainly misleading as the subatomic particles these scientists study bear little relationship, if any, to the particles of everyday life.
No self-respecting Physicist would say that an electron is just a particle; nor would they claim that a photon is exclusively energy. In fact, scientists everywhere understand that electrons and photons behave ambiguously in terms of these basic categories. Yet, they continue to resist the notion that electrons and photons don't fit into traditional categories and instead belong in an entirely different category box. Reiterating for retention: Atomic essences are not the same as the subatomic essences that they consist of.
Nobel Prize winning Richard Feynman regarding the nature of electrons and photons:
“It’s rather interesting to note that electrons looked like particles at first, and their wavish character was later discovered. On the other hand, apart for Newton making a mistake and thinking that light was ‘corpuscular’, light looked like waves at first, ant its characteristics as a particle were discovered later. In fact, both objects behave somewhat like waves and somewhat like particle. In order to save ourselves from inventing new words such as ‘wavicles’, we have chosen to call these objects ‘particles’.” (QED, p. 85)
In other words, Feynman and his community of physicists have ignored or resisted categorizing subatomic objects, such as photons and electrons. In fact, they still call them ‘particles’ and refer to them as ‘objects’. Both of these words are incredibly misleading as they imply that the subatomic entities are similar in nature to ‘objects’ and ‘particles’ in our atom-based world. Indeed, to encompass both types of ‘particles’, we must either expand the notion of particle or come up with a new category.
Why does Science resist the notion that electrons and photons belong to a new category?
The dichotomy of particle and wave was, and is, comforting. This emotional response, the warm, fuzzy feeling, is due, in part, to the dominance of sight in the development of the logic of mathematics. As we shall see, Science is based in the logic of the eye, rather than the logic of the ear. Anything that could be seen was presumed to be real. We have all seen sand, or even dust, as examples of particulate matter. We have all observed the behavior of water, the ripples on a pond or breakers on a lake or in the ocean, as examples of wave-like behavior.
We develop the notion that electrons and photons are information waves or packets. But who has observed an information packet or seen one in action? The information packet is a category box that is not well understood in terms of visual experience, and by extension the logic of eyes. This is a fatal flaw in terms of the sight-driven scientific community.
Although we don’t directly see information packets, we regularly experience information packets through our ears. Words and music are two types of information packets. However, the logic of science and math is driven by the logic of sight, as we shall see. Consequently, scientists have a difficult time understanding phenomena that instead obey the logic of sound. We further theorize that the logic of sound does not adhere to the either-or logic of sight. Indeed, we will attempt to show that the logic of sound is more appropriate for disobedient equations.
To better understand the differences between the logic of sight and sound, let us examine some implications of the subatomic uncertainty regarding location and momentum.
We can observe the location and momentum of traditional particles with the eye. We watch the trajectory of a baseball as it soars into the air after being struck by a bat. Under the proper circumstances, we can even observe individual atoms and molecules in action. The precise location and trajectories of even the smallest of ‘normal’ particles is observable. In other words, sight confirms the behavior and existence of particles in our atom-based world. This includes location and motion.
Further, these particles can stop and start. The football rolls to rest after being kicked. With an electron microscope, we can even observe stationary or vibrating atoms and molecules in a crystal, rock, or even a cube of ice. Again sight confirms the reality of these particles.
Sight lends credence to the particle’s reality. Then equations predict the behavior of these microscopic, yet not subatomic particles. This logical redundancy simultaneously both affirms our perceptions and the equations.
In contrast, electrons and photons are not sight driven phenomenon. It is impossible to see an electron or a photon. We can't see them stop, start, or move in any way at all. We can only see or hear their effects. If we see evidence of electrons, we don't see an electron. We instead see the cloud - the force field - an electron generates. In similar fashion, we can see iron filings reflecting a magnetic field, but we are not seeing the magnetic field. Because of the difficulties in actually seeing photons and electrons, scientists prefer to hear photons and electrons. For this task, they employ an instrument that is called a photomultiplier.
However, sound and sight are very different in terms of evidence. Sight is relatively concrete and permanent. Sound is transitory. Because we see an image, we believe it to be true. If we hear something, we need additional corroboration before assuming reality. Humans imitate bird sounds to disguise their presence. In our everyday world, a redundancy loop is created between all of our senses to affirm reality. Sound by itself is too transitory. We hear a branch crack, and check to see what cracked it. The cracking could have myriad causes. We hear a car and check to see who is in it.
Sound comes as waves of information. This information is not permanent, but must be sustained. We hear an instrument or a voice only as long as the note or words are maintained. As soon as the singer stops singing or the speaker stops speaking the sound stops. In contrast under standard conditions, the visual image of stationary object is relatively permanent. We don't need to do anything to sustain our vision. Although our eyes vibrate and the eyelids blink to sustain our vision, this dynamic feature of sight is biological in nature. Our cognitive perception tells us that vision is permanent and sound is transitory. In similar fashion, touch is permanent. We touch something and it doesn't go away. A note may linger due to the acoustics of a church or the echo in a valley. But in general sound immediately fades out of existence. This is a good thing. Otherwise our ears would be clogged by traces of what went before. We wouldn't be able to even understand a simple spoken sentence.
The transitory nature of sound means that auditory information is dynamic, not static. There is no permanent essence to sound. In contrast, sight is static. Our obsession with photographs and painting is evidence of the static nature of sight. We take a visual snapshot of a moment in time. This picture captures the visual content of this moment. Because sight and emotions are tied up, the photograph may even capture the emotional content of the moment.
Conversely, nobody takes sound snapshots to capture the auditory content of the moment. For one, sound must exist through time to make any sense. Even the simplest syllable has duration. When these mini-sounds are connected into meaningful words and sentences, entire minutes are required to grasp the meaning. The shortest songs are 3 minutes long. As such, sound instants have no meaning.
Another difference between the logic of sound and sight has to do with context/content dichotomy. In our everyday world of perception, sight reveals the static content of our environment at every instant in time. In contrast, context reveals the meaning of sound. On the simplest level, accompanying adjective modify the meaning of word. On more complex levels, Bach creates musical compositions that require the listener to 'remember' the entire piece to fully appreciate it. Even the simplest pieces rely on temporal memory to create a sense of comfort when we sing the repetitive chorus. A chord doesn't exist independent of context. The content of sound is both emphemeral and context-based. The content of sight is both permanent and content-based. (Remember from our earlier discussion that both electrons and living systems are also context-based, as opposed to atoms and our material world, which are both content-based.)
Because of the ephemeral and context-based nature of sound, it doesn't convey the absolute essence of sight. Instead sound conveys transitory and dynamic information about the environment. Somebody is making noise currently. A bang went off a few minutes ago. The construction people are working because I hear them hammering nails. They must have stopped because I don't hear them working any longer. In contrast, no matter what the worker is doing his visual nature is permanent, whether laboring or at rest. We can only hear a dynamic condition. A static situation doesn't generate sound. Of course, sometimes a change to silence can reveal a dynamic situation. For instance, we investigate when our children suddenly become silent. the music goes off, a machine stops working, or a typist ceases punching keys. But each of these only capture our attention if there is a change.
One last point about sound. The meaning of sound is not contained in an oscilloscope. The wave patterns can assist us in our ability to understand sound as a physical commodity. They can assist us in our ability to refine our music. But the physical characteristics of sound are not the meaning. We create the meaning of music and words from the context of our lives. The information in a word is not defined physically, but mentally. We enjoy the emotional content of a piece of music because of what is in our head. The physical sound triggers the understanding of the sounds of a conversation, but they do not reveal the meaning of the words. In other words, the information of sound that we respond to is mental, not physical.
The point is that scientists now rely on sound rather than sight for detailed information about individual electrons and photons. And, as we just illustrated, the logic of sound and sight is entirely different. Sight reveals the surface of things, while sound reveals their dynamic quality. Our permanent indestructible atom-based world is obedient to the logic of sight. The transitory quantized subatomic world is disobedient to the logic of sight.
Just as sound consists transitory pulses of information that exist through time, electrons and photons also seem to be pulses of information that exist through time. As such, our atom-based world and the subatomic world are based in different inferential structures. If a photon is a particle, then a particle must be a packet of information. Perhaps an atom is just a more permanent type of information than is a sound wave. But the substance of sound is based in information, not in permanent essence.
Finally, sound is inherently self-referential in the sense that it makes no sense by itself. We must constantly reference past experience to understand both words and music. The meaning is neither inherent nor objective. The meaning is instead subjective, in the sense that it is determined mentally, not by physical attributes. Of course, the self-referential nature of the meaning of sound, throws the logic of sound into the disobedient category. Remember obedient equations and logic don't refer to themselves, else they are non-well founded. As such, the disobedient logic of sound is ideally suited to the disobedient nature of self-reflective Life.
For more, check out the next article in the stream – Partial Reflection: Spinning Arrows as Info Packets.