The Lost Papers of Highgate Hill

Today I am happy to report that I have resurrected a good number of my “lost works” on Nonlinear Quantum Theory and its physical interpretation.

Twenty years ago, I was a post-doctoral researcher at University of Queensland. This was the early 1990s, and I was very active at that time in developing some new lines of research in nonlinear dynamics and quantum measurement.

The goal was to rebuild the present quantum theory from an alternative base. The different base was to use the Schroedinger interpretation of wavefunctions and not the Copenhagen interpretation.

That may seem like a small thing but it is a change with big consequences.

In particular, the Schroedinger interpretation is compatible with nonlinear field theories.

Nonlinear field theories occur naturally if you treat self-interaction effects directly rather than via a second-quantized quantum field theory.

There are many issues to overcome in rebuilding quantum theory along these lines. However, back in the early 1990’s I could see how to move forward.

Unfortunately, getting grant funding is a more difficult task than that of making progress in fundamental physics. The majority of physicists I interacted with at that time considered this line of research to be “too risky”, perhaps even “crazy”.

So it is with the sociology of science. It is pretty close to that of religion.

The majority of my “lost works” were submitted to various peer-reviewed scientific journals and rejected. The standard reason for rejection was: “We do not think this is important enough to warrant publication”. An all too common story with discovery.

However, one paper I actually withdrew from publication. This was the first paper I wrote on the Classical Schroedinger Equation. At the time, I felt this had become obsolete. However, even today, twenty one years later, it seems the results are unknown.

In that period, from 1991-1995, I was making progress so rapidly that my understanding of the field of nonlinear field theories changed extremely quickly. It was, so to say, opening out before me in real-time and there were few other active researchers. Indeed, the majority of physicists simply thought that to even try to build an alternative theory of quantum mechanics was a “crazy thing to do”.

So be it. People are quite rightly “crazy” until they succeed, I said. Then, in a single instant, everybody else is “crazy” for never having tried.

In such circumstances, the traditional model of refereed publications does not function very well. The referee cannot know about other works that are already in the pipe, but which cannot be cited since they are not published.

Pretty soon, things fall apart with the scientific process.

I had moved to a different place than most workers in physics and they knew next to nothing about why. I may has well have been speaking Greek.

It is a funny circumstance in hindsight, but was rather serious at the time.

The upshot was that I had to “find a new career”. I boxed up my notes and moved on.

I quit physics in 1996 and sought to make a living in financial markets. It was always a vague plan to return to my grand project one day. However, I needed some financial independence, liberty and freedom from chasing government funding. Aside: The sociology of herding is the biggest drag on human progress IMHO.

Today I am happy to relate two pieces of progess: 1) I am financially independent of the government; 2) I managed to restore my lost papers from obsolete storage formats.

I have found The Lost Papers of Highgate Hill.

Very Indiana Jones. Perhaps the Mayan prediction was right…

Many Worlds do end in 2012!