*Alan Kestner asked the Naked Scientists:*

Hi naked scientists,

I read McQueen's article "Is the concept of an aether relative today?" with great interest but I have a question for him. How does he explain the random nature of single photons when they exit a double slit? O.K. they create an interference pattern as all waves do but why should a single photon choose one single path over another? There is nothing in his idea which suggests how this would happen.

As it happens, I have a slightly different idea about the aether which does allow for this. I wonder if you would have a brief look at it below and give me some sort of critique on it. I will quite understand if you think it is too silly or you don't have the time.

All the best

Alan Kestner

Oxford UK

Vacuum energy as the difference of two states

I have read that there are two ways of calculating the vacuum energy of space. You can either use general relativity and work it out from the curvature of space using astronomical observations or you can work it out from quantum mechanics. There are enormous discrepancies between them known as the vacuum catastrophe. However, is there not a third way of calculating it? If you took a tiny cube of space one could imagine that each face contained energy. Of course we could not observe this because of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. However, we are not talking about this cube having velocity. The uncertainty would be in its orientation. So the cube would be continually appearing, disappearing and then appearing again at a different random orientation. Now if you were to take a slightly larger volume with several of these cubes in it, we could imagine that there might be two states, one in which the appearance and reappearance created random cubes and very occasionally one in which th

ey were lined up in an ordered way. Could vacuum energy be the difference between these two states. In other words the very large energies calculated from QM might potentially arrange themselves on the walls of the cubes but be unavailable or inert (and so not measurable) and the actual value of the vacuum energy is the difference between these two states (rather like the difference in energy between water and ice)?

3D/2D interface interpretation of the wave-packet

If one accepted the "random/ordered-cube" interpretation of vacuum energy above could you use this to calculated what is happening with a photon and wave-packet? The energy associated with a photon (e.g. electron changing its orbital) would move out into the vacuum. Here it would encounter a cube of vacuum energy which at that precise moment would have a specific orientation to the direction of motion of the energy (we don't know this at this time because it is completely random). The energy would then do two things: first it would bulge out the 6 surfaces of the cube (if some of the energy was vibrational) with the precise components of curvature dependent on the orientation of the cube in the X-Y, Y-Z and Z-X planes in relationship to the direction of motion of the energy. Second it would suck the randomness out of the vacuum energy, aligning them over the extent of the wave packet (which contains many of them) with an angle in X, Y and Z equivalent to the original orientation of t

he first vacuum "cube". This double wave then travels through space with the front end of the packet aligning up the cubes at the packet's original angle and the back end releasing the ordered structure back to random cubes again (with no loss of energy). In other words what you have is a moving standing wave with a transverse wave travelling from front to back of the wave packet, on top of which sits a series of bulges of the cubes' walls, tiny at the front and back but larger at the centre (i.e. a second wave moving in the opposite direction, back to front).

Measurement interference and possible proof

With this model, the energy of the photon and its wave packet then implodes on measurement (the ordered nature of the wave packet is destroyed) and it moves back inwards again to the central vacuum cube (the exact reverse of the wave-packet's formation) so that all the energy is concentrated at one point. Now comes the interesting part. If the wave-packet and photon encounter a double slit the moving standing wave is split in two. On exit it acts like two tiny waves just within the wave-packet. The bulges on the 6 surfaces interfere with each other and the result is that the only orientation at which the energy can combine constructively again is if the wave packet changes its angle to normal to the original orientation of the first "vacuum-cube". Thus the energy of the photon exits the double slit at this angle to the screen where it is measured. To the laboratory observer the exact point where the photon lands seems to be completely random, but this simply reflects the orientation

angle embedded in the photon / wave-packet. This could be very simply tested by placing a second double slit at one of the peaks of the interference pattern. Instead of giving a second much fainter interference pattern all the photons would concentrate in a single spot. The angle subtended by this spot to the second double slit would exactly match that between the the second and first double slits.

Entangled particles

Couldn't this also give some sort of understanding to what is happening with entangled particles? If the orientation angle of the vacuum cubes making up the wave packet are fixed at its birth, it carries this "localization" with it wherever it goes. It is not an extra variable as EPR paradox seems to rule out but a constant actually embedded into the wave (its orientation in the XY, YZ, and ZX planes in relation to the direction of travel of the wave packet). And, of course, each photon will have a different orientation (as it is random) unless they are entangled.

*What do you think?*