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Dirac’s Sea of Particles

September 22, 2021

In Chapter 24 of the Road to Reality Roger Penrose gives a concise explanation of the emergence of quantum field theory.

The story revolves around Paul Dirac. In order to account relativistically for quantum particles there is a requirement for the existence of various anti-particles and virtual particles. The electron must have a positron, for example, and all the forces must be transmitted by particles also, electromagnetism by photons, Nuclear force by gluons, etc.

The reason for this requirement I think is, on the basic level, two fold:

Firstly, time must be treated on the same footing as the spatial dimensions in order to combine the quantum theory with relativity. And this requires a reimagining of certain fundamental quantities such as energy and mass.

Secondly, reality is to be constrained by conservation principles and treated as a closed system where energy cannot emerge from nothing or disappear into nothing. As a result, each particle is balanced out by proposed anti-particles.

The final picture that emerges is the Dirac sea, where it is argued the reason electrons do not spontaneously get emitted from an atom below their basic positive level is because of a dirac sea of positrons occupying all the space on the mirror side of the physical universe of forces. This dirac sea is used to explain the stability of electrons in their orbits of atoms at the lowest energy levels.

Now, I need to clarify and look into this much more granted, but it raises an interesting question based on other stuff that I have read:

Could this dirac sea be equivalent to the zero point field, or ether, of energy proposed by some competing theories that don’t rely on the requirement of energy conservation for the universe as a whole, due to treating it as an open system not a closed system? If so, perhaps this could be an avenue to save us from some quite arbitrary introduction of countless new particles, that seem to keep being required to balance out the energy of the other particles. Not to mention the requirements for dark energy and dark matter.

Could all this arbitrary scaffolding be removed simply by acknowledging we live in an open universe on the fundamental level, in which processes are fundamental, not particles, and in which there is no need to restrict ourselves to a perspective or frame of reference of closing some box around the universe in order to isolate particulate entities. Is this a case of something I have been arguing in various ways for a long time, that we have been confusing our model/replica/limited copy of reality with the reality itself?

Time, and more study, will tell.

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