Authors: Jean Louis Van Belle
This paper offers some epistemological reflections on the idea of elementary particles, boson and quark-gluon theory, and the nature of quantum-mechanical conservation laws. We apply Occam’s Razor Principle to what we think of as an unnecessary ‘multiplication of concepts’ by ‘the young wolves’ (Feynman, Dyson, Schwinger etc.) as they were claiming their own territory by trying to distinguish themselves from the first-generation quantum physicists (Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Dirac, Pauli, etc.). We argue that their abandoning of Dirac’s research agenda (a kinematic model of quantum mechanics) has failed. We have no convincing model of the strong force, and the idea of virtual particles mediating forces resembles 19th aether theory: it looks like a superfluous concept. We also think it is a crucial mistake to think of the weak force as a force. Decay or disintegration processes should be analyzed in terms of transient or resonant oscillations and in terms of classical laws: conservation of energy, linear and angular momentum, charge and – importantly – the Planck-Einstein relation. Indeed, we argue the Planck-Einstein relation embodies the idea of the elementary cycle which – as a theoretical concept – has much more explanatory power than the idea of a particle. We feel vindicated by the 2019 revision of SI units (which abolished the mass unit as a fundamental unit) and the recent development of intuitive ‘mass without mass’ models of the electron and the photon.
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