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Writings based on Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand's most popular novels are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, which present her philosophy, Objectivism, in vivid characterizations.

  Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, esthetics, and  politics are the five main branches of philosophy that she identifies. Utilizing her methodology, one can be rational about all aspects of life. These essays present my understanding of Objectivism.

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Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998

On The Elementary Wave Theory by Lewis Little


There are confusing aspects to the way the theory is currently
written, in that: Lewis seems to be using the term "wave" in the
standard meaning (something that oscillates) near the beginning;
then claims there is nothing more fundamental than his
"elementary waves," so there is not anything *to* oscillate;
then goes on to say his "elementary waves" are real *things*
(not a disturbance of something); then goes on to say they can
be thought of as waves when one considers they are moving (at
the speed of light). Given the revolutionary aspects of his
theory, I can understand the difficulty of presenting it.

His "elementary waves" are not some disembodied action, though
there is a section of the theory that implies this. I think he
may have switched context without clearly indicating that he had
done so. More to the point, I think he wrote it from his context
throughout, but didn't make his context clear to the reader, so
one is left with the confusions I indicated in the previous
paragraph.

In essence, the "elementary waves" are a new type of physical
fundamental entity -- one not composed of particles (electrons,
protons, neutrons, or quarks) -- and "fill" the space between
particles. These "elementary waves" have certain features that
give the impression of an oscillation, but is really these
features "viewed" from the perspective of a "detector" that is
stationary relative to the "elementary wave." He gives the
analogy of a string with ripples on it, moving past the viewer
at high speeds.

Another good analogy would be the grooves of a phonograph
record, which are not waves in and of themselves (in the usual
sense), but indentations in a piece of plastic, that move the
needle up and down when the record spins. If you unwind the
grooves along the spiral, resulting in a long, straight piece of
plastic with bumps on it, then move this entity along a needle,
the same sounds could be heard. If one then (mentally) abstracts
away the plastic, and considers a long entity with features,
you'd have a description of Lewis Little's "elementary waves."

Personally, I, too, wish he had called them something other than
"waves," since this nomenclature seems to be at the root of many
people rejecting his theory out of hand -- as arbitrary because
he talks about waves that don't oscillate.

Implicit in the form of the question is the reason why it
shouldn't be called the aether, because of the historical
baggage. Though this could be overcome if the term was "rescued"
(as Miss Rand did with "selfishness").

The 1800's conception of the aether, which is still with us
today, was that it was something composed of matter that would
obey the standard laws of fluid dynamics. However, this lead to
many contradictions, such as it had to be thin enough not to
impede the planets in their orbits (virtually a total vacuum),
yet dense enough to account for the speed of light (multiple
times the density of lead). In my opinion, the scientists of the
day were too concrete bound, and unable to conceive of a real
thing that wasn't made of matter (i.e. particles) -- even though
they knew about fields, and that fields didn't have many of the
properties of matter per se.

Actually, if Lewis Little is correct, matter is composed of
particles *and* "elementary waves" -- or rather what we perceive
as "solid" matter is the effect of "elementary waves"
interacting with particles, or even "elementary waves" creating
particles.


Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 00:30:05 -0400 (EDT)
Elementary Waves
Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

I have a question
regarding the Schrodinger Wave Equation.

I know in current physics, the equation is not considered to be
a description of a real physical wave, but Schrodinger certainly
meant it to be such (regardless of his errors of application).
So, the question is: When the equation is solved for a given
set of parameters, does it describe something that occupies
three dimensional space -- i.e. does it have a shape? or does it
more describe a fluctuation of energy for a given region of
space? or either, depending on one's perspective?

I ask this because one can think of an equation of an
electromagnetic wave as describing either: 1) changes in a local
electromagnetic field in three dimensional space; or 2) a real
thing that occupies three dimensional space that moves along at
the speed of light.

As with the "elementary waves," an electromagnetic wave is not
thought to need a medium -- unless one wants to consider the
electric field to be the medium of such a wave. That is, an
electromagnetic wave can be described entirely by referencing it
to electric and magnetic fields that are capable of changing.

When the electromagnetic wave is considered as a real thing
(rather than an oscillation of fields), one gets a mathematical
description of a three dimensional object that has certain
attributes in its various regions. This seems to be what Lewis
Little means when he says the Schrodinger Wave Equation
describes the "elementary waves."

So, as a follow-up question, since Lewis Little would say that
an electromagnetic wave is a type of "elementary wave" (he told
me this personally over a year ago), is there a solution to the
Schrodinger Wave Equation that gives the parameters of an
electromagnetic wave? And do the other solutions describe other
three dimensional objects that can't be put in terms of changing
fields?


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