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28 September 2011 Two types of arguing in physics: a critical discussion
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Abstract
Arguments in physics regarding light are often based on either mechanistic concepts, or on a "which way" discussion where the question of "indistinguishability" is crucial. The last kind of arguing is based on the concept of an indivisible, point-like photon, a concept stemming historically from the most common explanation of the photoelectric effect. There seems, however, to be an important lack of consistency between arguing based on indivisible particle-like photons and the actual quantum formalism for calculating detailed outcomes from various experiments. Crucial parts of the actual calculations of diffraction and interference phenomena seem in fact to be very similar in the classical and the quantum descriptions, and are based either on classic electromagnetic fields, or on quantum fields. It is the interpretations that differ. It would be interesting to downgrade the concept of an indivisible particle-like photon and upgrade the importance of the quantum field description we really use in the detailed calculations. It is our impression that we by that could avoid quite a few weird conclusions we live with today. A few examples are given.
© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Arnt Inge Vistnes "Two types of arguing in physics: a critical discussion", Proc. SPIE 8121, The Nature of Light: What are Photons? IV, 81211I (28 September 2011); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.892725
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