Saturday, June 28, 2008
Ludicriousness of vacuous views about the vacuum
Does the vacuum have energy? Can particles pop out of the vacuum to change the solutions of equations? Where did such absurd ideas come from? One approximation scheme for solving the equations of quantum electrodynamics is perturbation theory. In it are terms which have been called vacuum expectation values. Does it have anything to do with the vacuum? Of course not. Just because someone gave it a name that includes the word vacuum physicists, who get very confused because of names (like quantum mechanics), decided that since the word vacuum is part of the name it must have something to do with a property of the vacuum. Because of that silly mistake they have invented a large set of (religious) beliefs about the properties of the vacuum. Of course all these beliefs are ridiculous. That is why physicists believe them so strongly. If a different approximation method was used, or a different name was given, these absurd beliefs would never have occurred. And if someone suggested them they would have been laughed at. It is an interesting psychological question why physicists, and journalists, accept such nonsense instead of laughing at it. Perhaps they enjoy being crackpots (and being laughed at). Undoubtedly they often are.