What is the currently accepted theory for the Quantum Leap?

Hi everyone, it’s been a while.

This may not be the best place for this question, but it’s worth a shot.

Serious question, as I’m trying to do some proper figuring out involving the nature of particles in quantum physics. I’m trying to include particle interactions with photons and all I keep finding in books and on the internet is stuff like:

“The electron jumps from one energy level to another instantaneously.”

‘Instantaneously’? How the heck does a particle state change being get described as ‘instantaneous’ yet still stay in modern physics? I am going to make the assumption that I just haven’t looked in the right places, and that this is the old theory. Is this the case? What is the current theory that deals with this type of interaction? If this somehow actually is still the current theory, has anyone heard of any promising alternatives?

Is this still standard theory?

It is still standard theory. The heart of quantum theory is the quantization of energy. Energy exists in discrete quantities, not in a smooth continuum. One can have X amount of energy, or 2X, or 3X, but not 1.5X or 2.7X.

Thus, when an electron jumps from one energy state to another, the change is instantaneous. There is no “space” for the electron to cover, and so considerations of duration don’t apply. The electron was at 2X energy, and now it is at 3X, but since 2.nX cannot exist, there were no intermediate energy levels for it to go through on the way.

“Instantaneously” is science-speak for “we can’t measure it”.

It probably takes some amount of time, but it’s just too quick for us to detect. Here’s a link to a thread where we discuss how quantum physics are really just poor measurement:

ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/vi … p?t=155319

Combine this with the emerging argument that some scientists have basically become unreasonable…

Science and the Retreat From Reason:
findarticles.com/p/articles/ … 46435/pg_1

…and you have more than enough reason to be skeptical.

Thankyou for the replies.

Navigator, I can understand the quantization of energy, but there being no ‘space’ sounds like the quantization of space which just does make sense to me. I know matter is energy, and I know distance needs energy to travel but is space also supposed to be another form of energy?

Membrain, thanks for the links, it is good to know that I’m not the only one who has doubts about elements of quantum theory.

We cannot understand reality past its operational usage. We use formulas, manipulate matter and get results. END OF STORY.

Why should the transition be smooth ? What is smooth ? Does a time interval of 10 to the minus a trillion seconds exists ? Then what is the lower limit ? Same for space. If a particle moves along a line, no matter how small the interval, you will reach a limit where it will jump from point to point instantaneously. But isn’t that a miracle ? Something moves in zero time, pops up in another point in space, just like a miracle. But then why isn’t a smooth movement a miracle ? Because we are used to seeing smooth movements in our everyday life ?

There are no answers, we will always be in the dark, we just use things and manipulate matter.

old6598 wrote:

I little pointed, although I agree in general… but don’t underestimate the extent of reality’s operational usage.

Are a those supposed to be rhetorical questions? You know what smooth is, and yes it is relitive. Since when does time have to have a limit? It doesn’t have to have an interval. Still, if it did have to have an interval (although I can’t see a reason for one) wouldn’t it be safer (as to not rule out anything unneccisarily) to assume that time’s quanta is a time interval of 10 to the minus infinity seconds until we have measured otherwise?

But why does space need a interval at all? If there are no intervals then there is no ‘instantanous jumping’.

It is a miricle, a miricle being something that is not understood. But moving from one point to another in zero time does go against so many of the laws of physics I don’t know where to begin. Conservation of energy… Exceeding the speed of light… Why bother going on? Why do we use the smooth movement model instead of assuming that at some level we live in a matrix style model where matter takes on the properties of pixels? Because the smooth movement model makes perfect sense mathimatically and philisophically. I am looking for alternate models, but you are in fact proposing the same model except that you are imposing extra restrictions for no reason.

That’s what we call being a great big quitter. We have found some answers so far, and there is no reason why we cannot figure out what is really going on on the tiniest levels. Yes, we need better experimental evidence. Yes, science has become a little too theorhetical. (a few too many ‘believers’ toating mathbooks for my liking) But that’s how humanity works: we screw up, we figure out where we went wrong, we move on. I doubt we will suddenly figure out every problem out all at once, but we are gradually eating away at them.

Going from one point to another passing an infinite number of points in space and an infinite number of time intervals is just as absurd.

In fact the pixels of reality are the elementary particles of physics, the electrons, photons and virtual particles that pop up from nowhere to disappear again in a very short time interval. The whole idea behind quantum physics is that reality is actually a series of pure numbers, pixels, fixed intervals.

What is understanding ? Ancient civilizations understood everything because they had no questions, just rituals and their gods. Everything is totally incomprehensible and an absolute total miracle. We confuse understanding with manipulation, and in fact we simply manipulate matter, move it around and sometimes use formulas and more complex procedures and sequences of operations to move matter around, but matter is totally incomprehensible, totally unknown, a total mystery forever, and the more we study it the more it will become a mystery, absurd.

The laws of physics are always approximations. In our macroscopic world and life, things that appear instantaneously seem to go against the laws of physics, but they do not. Actually it is the smooth, linear world that is odd and goes against the real laws of physics which are quanutm laws, where things appear and disappear instantaneously for no reason at all, like the virtual particles of quantum electrodynamics.

We are simply used to seeing smooth changes and movements, but being used to something is just a psychological situation and does not correspond to reality. If we were an organism that lived at the quantum level we would see particles and all kinds of oddball matter-energy configurations appear and disappear constantly. If we as a quantum organism then saw the macroscopic world with its linear movements, it would seem absurd and a total miracle. How on earth can things move smoothly ? What an incredible miracle!

Our language and thoughts are “quantized”. There is no smooth transition between one concept or word into another, they are all distinct. So our thoughts are very similar to the quantum model of distinct intervals, of only a small selection of combinations, possibilities and concepts.

All our life is just a small selection of combinations of thoughts, concepts and emotions, so the quantum model seems very close to reality. When we do force or invent smooth, linear, “analog” concepts or thoughts, they become ART , which is just an experience and no longer makes any logical sense.

To propose what might be an alternate model:

Is there any harm in combining the two? By this I mean, can we picture a quantized fabric of the universe where matter moves faster in some “pockets” than other “pockets” yet is still infinitely divisible?

To further pursue this line of thinking, each “pocket” could then again be broken down into “fast” and “slow” “sub-pockets”. The “fast” in this case being the area that quantum particle/waves seem to travel through instantaneously (according to our measurement). It allows for imperceptible movement through the fast patches.

I would compare it to a fork slicing through a piece of cake. When you go through the bread, it goes slow, but when you hit the frosting it moves faster. Something like that.

Is this agreeable to anybody? It takes into account both what we seem to know and what we seem to not know. It also seems to address that things seem to travel at different rates of speed.

Yes it could work. But you can invent a trillion models of reality, what you really need AND USE in the end is just a set of formulas, operational procedures to follow to manipulate reality; only the operational usage of a theory really counts. No matter how you want to describe reality, what counts is just how you manipulate reality. Philosophers have invented many theories, but since you can’t apply them directly to manipulate reality they are all true and false at the same time, but mostly irrelevant.

We cannot understand reality past its operational usage. We use formulas, manipulate matter and get results. END OF STORY. Trying to describe reality past its operational usage is irrelevant or at most AN ART FORM. In fact invent a trillion theories and lets see which is prettier aesthetically. Physics becomes philosophy BECOMES ART.

What is not operational? Quanta is a fact. Divisibility is a fact. Motion dependent upon environment is a fact. I just combined them all. If you want to dispute something, name it.

Operational means what has a technological implication or makes a difference on how we can experience and manipulate reality. If a theory brings about a new development in technology or changes some aspect of how we can manipulate reality, then it has a consequence.

Mental operations are different from real, practical manipulations of reality. Of course it is true that, strangely enough, mental operations in the realm of mathematics sometimes can be mapped to the material world. But many mental operations are just philosophy or art.

Of corse philosophy and art can change how we experience reality, so are they also a technology ? maybe, and especially when we start to directly manipulate our mental neural circuits AKA technological singularity …

And you hit the nail on the head. What we imagine as mental operations, dividing space and time infinitely for example, or instantaneous jumps etc are exactly mental models, approximations, just mental pictures of what we think matter and reality is.

But when you really try to do it physically, divide matter into smaller and smaller pieces, then this model starts to break down. And we confuse our imagination with reality. They are two different things and we may possibly never be able to imagine or understand matter - reality past a certain point.

Sometimes models (especially mathematical models) can map somehow onto reality, many times they cannot, because we can’t know reality past certain limits.

Why ? Compared to what ? In fact the debate on what is odd and what is normal is based on a suspension of belief that physics can behave in a certain way. The laws of physics can be anything at all and may even not be laws at all for all we know.

So maybe there are an infinite number of time intervals or maybe particles pop out of nowhere or maybe any number of possibilities, the odder the better. We can’t establish what is right because it looks right or is FAMILIAR, but only on what regularity we discover. And there may end up not being any regularity at all and there may not even be any LAWS OF PHYSICS at all.

Aside from the fact that for example gamma rays have a cycle of of 10 to the minus 30 seconds. I doubt we will ever be able to see a smaller time interval, but even if we could see 10 to the minus 100 seconds, we don’t know how space and time appear at even smaller intervals. The limits of the observable universe apply also to the very small…

This has been comprehensively answered above but let me put into a simple piece of language, or as simple as I can.:slight_smile:

In physics we can measure an electron at a certain state or another state, we cannot measure it in terms of anything else, our tools are not that precise.


Lets say we have state 1. And we can measure it at state 2(a more excited state) But we lack the precision to measure it in between these states. We therefore have to say the amount of time it takes to change from state 1 to 2 is unknowable given the current limits of the experiment, because we simply do not have the means to measure any state in between.

Thus it could be some weird quantum instantaneous travel(unlikely) Or it could just be such a small period of time Ie 1x10^-25 seconds, that we cannot in any way measure, when we get a result from the experiment, we have state 1 or state 2. To say that it took x amount of time to get from one to the other is currently meaningless, and so no one will speculate exactly what happens in between, as they simply don’t have the right tools to show it.

Realistically it seems intuitive that the electron doesn’t just teleport to it’s new orbital. Mathematically it cannot be shown that it does or it doesn’t.

It’s all interconnected. How do we measure space? In terms of the time it takes for something going a given speed to travel that distance. What determines that, in turn? The object’s mass and energy. Since energy is quantized, so is velocity, and since the way we measure space is a function of velocity, so is space.

This also means that mass and time, as well as space and energy, are quantized, since the equations can be solved for any of the above and all are functions of energy in some way or other.

Mentat Monkey’s statement amounts to the “shut up and calculate” that prevails among a lot of physicists, i.e., this is the mathematical model that works, don’t worry about what it means. As far as science qua science is concerned, he’s right. However, we’re engaged in philosophy here, not science, so it’s perfectly OK to think about what these things mean.

People have intuitive problems with quantum mechanics mostly because the world it depicts violates common sense, and to a lesser extent becaue it violates cherished metaphysical stances such as determinism or classical realism. I prefer simply to accept that, to abandon determinism and classical realism, and to recognize that common sense is built upon our sense perception of the everyday world. Since QM deals with levels of reality underlying the everyday world, levels that we cannot see, I can very easily accept that some of our perceptions, such as the smoothness of continua, amount to sensory illusions. Just as one can look at a digitized photograph and see, not individual pixels, but the picture those pixels create, so we can look at the product of quantum indeterminacy and physical pixellation (so to speak) and still see the world we know.