Claes,

I am posting this comment here in its entirety, because it was too long to go on your Blogspot blog. An abridged version will be posted over there.

I have recently finished reading your book Dr Faustus of Modern Physics.

I have also been reviewing your recent publications of other material regarding your finite precision computation.

I would like, at present, to ask you two questions about this work.

Before I do, I want to thank you for the time and effort you have put into the work. While I do not agree with all aspects of it, I believe that there is much insight and value to be found in it, and I think that many of your scientific conclusions in this body of work are probably true. I also believe that with time, the question of which specific items are of value, and how much value will become clearer.

The topic I want to ask you about is J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in developing certain “cover-ups” of the type that you illustrate in “Dr Faustus”.

The book makes, I believe, only two extremely brief references to Oppenheimer. One is on page 65, where he is cited by Michio Kaku as complaining about the high number of “particles” being discovered, and the other is on page 127, where he is called by yourself as a “witness” against Einstein.

If you will bear with me, I would like to quote, at the end of this comment, several passages from Wikipedia articles.

After considering those passages, my first question to you is this: would you agree that an argument could be made for including Oppenheimer as one of your “Faustian” scientists, and perhaps also for including an “indictment” of Oppenheimer alongside those of Born, Boltzmann, Planck, Einstein, and Bohr?

Following the theme of “Dr Faustus”, I believe that Oppenheimer’s “statistical and quantum sellout” is comparable to Bohr’s, and that his “atom bomb sellout” surpasses both Bohr’s and Einstein’s.

I would also like to ask if there was any particular reason you gave Oppenheimer so little criticism in your book.

Thank you for your consideration of these questions and for this blog.

Richard T. Fowler

Quotations.

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “J. Robert Oppenheimer”:

[Oppenheimer] and Born published a famous paper on the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, which separates nuclear motion from electronic motion in the mathematical treatment of molecules, allowing nuclear motion to be neglected to simplify calculations. [. . .]

Initially, [Oppenheimer’s] major interest was the theory of the continuous spectrum and his first published paper, in 1926, concerned the quantum theory of molecular band spectra. He developed a method to carry out calculations of its transition probabilities. [. . .]

Oppenheimer also [. . .] started work that eventually led to descriptions of quantum tunneling. In 1931 he co-wrote a paper on the “Relativistic Theory of the Photoelectric Effect” with his student Harvey Hall,[45] in which, based on empirical evidence, he correctly disputed Dirac’s assertion that two of the energy levels of the hydrogen atom have the same energy [. . . .]

As early as 1930, Oppenheimer wrote a paper essentially predicting the existence of the positron, after a paper by Paul Dirac proposed that electrons could have both a positive charge and negative energy. [. . .] Oppenheimer, drawing on the body of experimental evidence, rejected the idea that the predicted positively charged electrons were protons. He argued that they would have to have the same mass as an electron [. . . .]

Oppenheimer’s papers were considered difficult to understand even by the standards of the abstract topics he was expert in. [. . .]

Murray Gell-Mann [. . .] who, as a visiting scientist, worked with him at the Institute for Advanced Study [. . .], offered this opinion:

He didn’t have Sitzfleisch, ‘sitting flesh,’ when you sit on a chair. As far as I know, he never wrote a long paper or did a long calculation [. . . .] [H]is own work consisted of little aperçus, but quite brilliant ones. But he inspired other people to do things, and his influence was fantastic.[53]

[. . .]

In September [1942], Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., [became] director of what became known as the Manhattan Project.[91] Groves selected Oppenheimer to head the project’s secret weapons laboratory, a choice which surprised many [. . . .] [Groves] detected in Oppenheimer something that many others did not, an “overweening ambition” that Groves reckoned would supply the drive necessary to push the project to a successful conclusion. [. . .]

A series of conferences in New York from 1947 through 1949 saw physicists switch back from war work [. . . .] Under Oppenheimer’s direction, physicists tackled the greatest outstanding problem of the pre-war years: infinite, divergent, and non-sensical expressions in the quantum electrodynamics of elementary particles. [. . .] Probing questions from Oppenheimer prompted Robert Marshak’s innovative two-meson hypothesis: that there were actually two types of mesons, pions and muons. [. . .]

The question of [Oppenheimer’s and Teller’s] responsibility toward humanity [. . .] is the basis of the opera Doctor Atomic by John Adams (2005), which was commissioned to portray Oppenheimer as a modern-day Faust.

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “Quantum spacetime”:

The idea of quantum spacetime was proposed in the early days of quantum theory by Heisenberg and Ivanenko as a way to eliminate infinities from quantum field theory. The germ of the idea passed from Heisenberg [. . .] to **Robert Oppenheimer**, who carried it to Hartland Snyder, who published the first concrete example [1].

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “Quantum electrodynamics”:

Dirac described the quantization of the electromagnetic field as an ensemble of harmonic oscillators with the introduction of the concept of creation and annihilation operators of particles. In the following years, with contributions from [Pauli, Wigner, Jordan, Heisenberg, and Fermi], physicists came to believe that, in principle, it would be possible to perform any computation for any physical process involving photons and charged particles. However, further studies [by Bloch with Nordsieck and Weisskopf] in 1937 and 1939, revealed that such computations were reliable only at a first order of perturbation theory, **a problem already pointed out by Robert Oppenheimer.**[6] [The reference #6 is to a 1930 paper authored solely by Oppenheimer. –RTF] At higher orders in the series infinities emerged, making such computations meaningless and casting serious doubts on the internal consistency of the theory itself[. . . .] [I]t appeared that a fundamental incompatibility existed between special relativity and quantum mechanics.

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “Molecular Hamiltonian”:

Almost all calculations of molecular wavefunctions are based on the separation of the Coulomb Hamiltonian first devised by Born and Oppenheimer. [. . .]

Once the Schrödinger equation of the clamped nucleus Hamiltonian has been solved for a sufficient number of constellations of the nuclei, an appropriate eigenvalue (usually the lowest) can be seen as a function of the nuclear coordinates, which leads to a potential energy surface.

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “Hartree–Fock method”:

The Hartree–Fock method is typically used to solve the time-independent Schrödinger equation for a multi-electron atom or molecule as described in the Born–Oppenheimer approximation. [. . .]

The Hartree–Fock method makes five major simplifications in order to deal with this task:

* The Born–Oppenheimer approximation is inherently assumed. [. . .]

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “Antiparticle”:

The vacuum state is defined as the state with no particle or antiparticle, i.e. a[k]|0>=0 and and b[k]|0>=0. Then the energy of the vacuum is exactly E[0]. Since all energies are measured relative to the vacuum, H is positive definite. Analysis of the properties of a[k] and b[k] shows that one is the annihilation operator for particles and the other for antiparticles. This is the case of a fermion.

This approach is due to Vladimir Fock, Wendell Furry **and Robert Oppenheimer**. If one quantizes a real scalar field, then one finds that there is only one kind of annihilation operator; therefore, real scalar fields describe neutral bosons. Since complex scalar fields admit two different kinds of annihilation operators, which are related by conjugation, such fields describe charged bosons.

FROM THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “John von Neumann”:

After the war, Robert Oppenheimer remarked that the physicists involved in the Manhattan project had “known sin”. Von Neumann’s response was that “sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it.”

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