Monday, December 1, 2014

The Gestalt Effect in Quantum Physics

Are all models of quantum objects illusions?

Whether an intentional illusion or an unconscious cognitive fallacy, it is clear that models of Quantum objects not real objects at all. They are almost always Gestalt reification effects. From the time I first laid eyes on models of the atom in my high school chemistry book, I had an intuitive notion that they weren't realistic. Only recently, however, did I learn the name of the concept they employed: the Gestalt Effect. Not a single quantum "model" depicts an actual object- they are exclusively Gestalt effects.

Examples of Gestalt reification

The Gestalt Effect according to Wikipedia, "is the capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements". It is the combination of multiple, disconnected and unrelated forms into one new whole object. This is also known as "reification" which is converting an abstract concept into an object. Reification is a common problem in modern physics. Abstract concepts such as "wave", "field", "charge", and "force" are routinely converted into concrete objects used to perform the actions of their theory. However, I didn't see until recently how the greatest reification was right before my eyes in the models they show you at the start of any physics or chemistry textbook.

These Objects Don't Really Exist

I came to this realization when I stumbled upon an art project at called, "These Objects Don't Really Exist" by Swiss artist Felice Varini.  Being a Scientist interested in objects and existence, I clicked on it. What I found were amazing illusions of objects created by painting disconnected shapes on various surfaces to produce the image of a single object when viewed from the intended perspective. Standing anywhere else destroys the illusion. I found this fascinating and began to research more about this technique, which is when I first discovered Gestalt psychology for myself. After reading over the wikipedia page for Gestalt psych and coming across the section titled, "reification", I finally made the connection to the Quantum models.

Each and every one of the quantum models presented here is a Gestalt illusion.

So we have tiny disconnected spheres and dots forming one "whole object" called the Atom. Then we have a bar magnet surrounded by dotted lines meant to create an illusory object called a "magnetic field". After that is their model of light, a supposed single object composed of wavy lines and straight arrows all surrounding an imaginary axis. Last but not least is, of course, the illusion of an object they call "spacetime" is created with a grid of imaginary lines.

Each and every one of these composed of many disconnected objects and symbols that are meant to be taken together as a single object, just like Felice's art project. However, Felice proves to be a better physicist than artist when he openly admits that his illusions present objects that do not exist. Clearly, he understands the definition of existence better than modern physicists.

In physics, we cannot present multiple entities that are not physically interconnected as if they are a single object. Models in physics are supposed to present the REAL THING as we assume it to be formed in reality. People have confused these illusions with real objects and this has fundamentally impeded our understanding of reality. If we are to communicate Scientific ideas, specifically those concerning physics, we need to be able to construct accurate, realistic models that undergo phenomena consistent with their form. That means a thing must act in accordance with it's shape. A wheel can roll, a spring can bounce, but a group of disconnected spheres can't do anything but fall apart under any stress.


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