Re: The Big Bang

carl feynman (
Fri, 07 Nov 1997 23:41:08 -0500

I've been remaining quiet with respect to the 'Big Bang' thread, for
reasons I explain more fully below. However, the use of my name in vain by
Mr. Hollick has induced me to write this message.

At 06:46 PM 11/6/97 GMT0, Tony Hollick wrote:

> The ballistic theory describes, predicts and explains interference.
> Ballistic photons have _frequencies_ -- they're like tiny rotating
> electric dipoles. You _have_ to learn to understand this stuff.
> Feynman can -- why the hell can't you?

There's two plausible referents for 'Feynman' in this sentence. One of
them is me, Carl Feynman, and the other is my father, Richard Feynman. I
can assure you that neither of us understands your cockamamie renunciation
of twenetieth-century physics. Well, my father might understand it, but he
certainly doesn't agree with it. Here's a quote from 'The Feynman Lectures
on Physics' (v3, ch1, p 10), discussing the notion that you might be able
to explain quantum phenomena by having classical particles with internal
state like your 'tiny rotating electric dipoles':

[Feynman has just described the oddities of quantum interference.] We make
now a few remarks on a suggestion that has sometimes been made to try to
avoid the description we have given: "Perhaps the electron has some kind of
internal works-- some inner variables-- that we do not yet know about.
Perhaps that is why we cannot predict what would happen. If we could look
more closely at the electron, we would be able to tell where it would end
up." So far as we know, that is impossible. We would still be in
difficulty. [He goes on to describe why these models don't work.]

I'm not going to bother transcribing the rest of the paragraph. That's
because I am assuming that (a) the vast majority of people on this list do
not agree with you, and (b) you will never change your mind, no matter how
hard anyone tries. On what grounds do I assume (b)? I don't know you
personally, but I've seen the work of lots of people who have, like you,
come up with a complete reconstruction of physics according to radical new
principles. My father would get letters and phone calls from them
periodically, and occasional unwelcome visits. Like you, they don't like
Einstein. Like you, they don't know much mathematics, but they do erect
complex systems of important-sounding concepts. Like you, they argue
indefatigably and according to rules unlike those used by ordinary
physicists, or, indeed, ordinary rational people. Like you, they feel
oppressed, abused and neglected by the world at large. And it is generally
impossible to change their mind, which certainly seems true of you so far.
My father was careful to distinguish such people from genuine seekers after
knowledge; to the latter, he would provide careful replies to their
letters, and would spend considerable time on the phone with them. To the
former, he would not reply, having learned from experience that any
attempt at correspondence generally results in an interminable series of
screeds of steadily increasing vituperation. I have followed this
principle on this list, and hence have not replied to any of your posts
since you joined the list, no matter how obviously fallacious.

You are free to accuse me of closed-mindedness, rudeness, stupidity, or
adherence to any number of unsound philosophical practices. I doubt I will
comment further on this matter.


PS. And, while we're at it, my father thought Einstein was right about the
peculiar way velocities add, which would imply he would disagree with you
on that matter also.