Quantum Mechanics

Narendra Bhandari

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Quantum Mechanics

The quantum mechanics puts severe constraints on certainty of our knowledge. Two tenets of quantum mechanics that are relevant here can be crudely described as follows. One is that the universe does not exist if you don’t observe it, equivalent to the paradox of the Schrődinger’s cat (see e.g. Gribbin, 1993). This implies that universe and the observer exist as pairs and neither can exist without the other. The other concept is that a particle behaves in different ways at different times. This is clear from the famous two-slit experiment which is the backbone of quantum mechanics and particle-wave duality. Anekāntvād not only explains seemingly contradictory propositions in daily life, philosophy, macroworld, mental exercises and in spiritual domain, it also brought in the concept of Avyaktā or inexpressibility of certain states. Questions which can not be answered in affirmative or negative, like the existence of soul, could be dealt with in the framework of Anekāntvād. It is , it is not; it is and yet it is not, it can not be expressed and so on. This concept is common to Quantum behavior, which can not always be expressed in language. Anekāntvād is not simply a multiview perception theory. It is not a limitation of consciousness that it has limited capability of perception of the physical world . Thus it is not the consequence of not being able to look at an object from different perspectives but that the object can not be known from all the perspectives. Anekāntvād is as fundamental as the uncertainty principle, which states that some properties can not be measured accurately, not because of instrumental limitations but because of inherent behavior of nature.

Thus, in the physical world, as in philosophy, things or ideas have plurality of attributes and these can be apparently contradictory or conflicting. Anekāntvād successfully harmonises or accommodates such views and completes the description of physical reality. But when we talk of manyfoldedness, the question obviously arises, how many. Certainly more than one, but can it be infinite? saptbhangi or sevenfoldedness is a corollary of Anekantvad. This has been very clearly explained by D.S. Kothari in his essay on” Complementarity principle and Eastern philosophy”. According to the principle of Saptabhangi reality can be described in seven ways i.e. it exists, it does not exist, it exists and yet it does not exist, indeterminable, its existence is indeterminable, its non existence is indeterminable and its existence as well as non existence is indeterminable or inexpressible. Saptabhangi has been explained very succinctly by Kothari in a quantum mechanical way by taking the example of a particle in a box which is divided by a partition with a hole into two compartments. Because of the particle-wave duality, the particle can be in compartment A, or in compartment B, In A and still not in A , In B and still not in B, not in A and B, in A as well as in B and in an indeterminate state (avyakta).The same solutions emerge from the considerations of quantum mechanics as has been shown mathematically by taking wave functions.

Quantum numbers:

Besides, the normal properties like mass, electrical charge, motion etc the elementary particles have several other attributes which are denoted by Quantum numbers. These quantum numbers do not change continuously but in multiples of simple numbers like 1 or 1/2, a concept of the quantum theory. Since we are venturing into the unknown territory of physics, names have been given at the fancy of the discoverer and should not be interpreted in terms of its literal meaning. Thus spin may not mean spin in the ordinary sense and there are quantum numbers like isospin, and positional (e.g. orbital) quantum numbers. Quarks, leptons and gluons are currently considered to be the basic building blocks out of which all the matter of the physical world is made. Protons, electrons and neutrons are now thought of as being built from six quarks and six leptons. The current particle models due to Gell-mann and others indicate three generations of quarks and leptons. Leptons include electron like particles, sometimes called mesons and the
associated mass-less neutrinos.

First generation
Quarks: down and up quarks
Leptons: electron and its neutrino (νe)

Second generation
Quarks: strange and charm quarks
Leptons: mu meson (μ) and its neutrino (νμ)

Third generation
Quarks: bottom and top quarks
Leptons: Tau (τ )and its neutrino( ντ).

These quarks come in three colors (red, blue and yellow) making them 18 in all. The 18 quarks and the six leptons (and their antiparticles) sum up to 48. Gluons act as their carriers and there are eight of them. To this when we add the carriers of electromagnetic force ie photons, W± bosons and Z0 , the total goes to 60. These sixty particles make the whole Universe. To this may be added graviton, the carrier of gravitational field.

The six types of quarks are named as up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm. But “up” does not mean up in the colloquial sense, nor “bottom” means bottom but they are just names. All the names mean is that they are different from each other. Like wise they have been given quantum numbers called color and flavor, which have nothing to do with their literal meaning. Color actually means a type of force and flavor means another attribute. So when we say a quark has a color (usually red, yellow or blue) it simply means they experience a kind of force, called the “strong” force but are different, ie have different attributes. Similarly gluons do have flavor and different attributes. What these attributes are in the context of common sense is debatable or rather inexpressible. The lesson, in context of Anekantvad is that as we go to finer constituents of matter, new attributes come into play and the number of attributes increase. The concept that there would be one fundamental particle in nature which has given rise to the visible universe is erroneous and is the crux of Anekantvad.

Now let me ask my question in another way! If I hold “a” particular perspective of a thing or “concept”, is it a limitation of my consciousness or it is the way the object reveals itself. I take the premise that the consciousness has no limitation of comprehension and is capable of conceiving many or all the perspectives at once . It is the object which exhibits different perspectives at different times , in different contexts. In other words multiple perspectives is the inherent quality of an object of the physical world. Thus Anekāntvād is not simply a multiview perception theory but enables us to understand the true nature of reality. It is not a limitation of consciousness that it has limited capability of perception of the physical world . It is not looking at an object from different perspectives but that the object itself exhibits multiple perspectives which can not all be known at the same time to describe its “state” completely. Thus , in the physical realm, Anekāntvād is as fundamental as the Uncertainty principle, which states that some properties can not be measured accurately, not because of inherent nature of the behavior in the microworld.

Separately, the various quantum numbers may describe only a part of the reality, but taken together they described the whole. In the microworld, we encounter two other phenomena which have some relevance in the present discussion :confinement and entanglement The property of “confinement” of quarks in the quark-gluon plasma has been observed. Simply stated, quarks can not be isolated as free particles. It will only be speculative to think of what other attributes will be observed as one goes to further finer and finer constituents of matter, of quarks, if there are any. Entanglement implies that all the particles in the universe behave in an inter-related manner, Briefly stated, when two systems, of which we know the states, enter into temporary physical interaction due to known forces between them, and after a time of mutual influence, the system separate again, then they no longer be described in the same way as before. By interaction, we may say the quantum states have become entangled. All the particles in the Universe interacted together at the time of Big Bang and therefore they are all entangled.

Basic Forces of Nature

At this point of discussion it may be useful to briefly enumerate various forces of nature which affect these particles. Is every thing controlled by one kind of force, which manifests in different ways at different energies or there are many kinds of basic forces. Long time ago electric and magnetic forces were considered to be different till Maxwell, way back in 1863, showed that they are one and the same , now called the electromagnetic force. They control the behavior of charged particles. Then there is gravitation which is the weakest of all, but binds all the matter in the universe together. For understanding behavior of elementary particles we need two nuclear forces, the weak ( responsible for reactions where neutrinos are involved) and the strong (which
binds the quarks and nucleons in an atom together). Recently Weinberg and Salam showed that the weak force is the same as electromagnetic force at high energy (temperature> 1029K) and only at lower temperature they appear to be different. For this synthesis they got a Nobel Prize. Thus we say that electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces have been unified into electroweak force. Thus, as of now, we are left with three basic forces of nature: gravitation, strong nuclear force and electroweak. It would be satisfying and simpler if all these three forces are a manifestation of “one” single force and therefore attempts have been made to unify them in a Grand unification theory (GUT) or theory of everything (TOE). Lot of efforts are being made to unify these various forces of nature. The greatest unification of all times was done by Einstein who showed that mass and energy is the same thing and gave his famous formula E= mc2. Whether there is only one ultimate force of nature or there are many, remains to be ascertained by further research but as of now it is difficult to reconcile the three forces into one, again consistent with Anekantvad.

We thus see that by properly amalgamating Jain concepts with concepts of modern physics, it should be possible to ascertain the true nature of reality and make further predictions. Anekantvad can be applied to test many predictions of modern science and may have a role to play in making a correct choice between different possibilities.