ahammel wrote:So you just look at, say, cheese and you intuition goes "oh yeah, that's obviously made of quarks", does it?lgw wrote:Matter is obviously tiny balls of stuff, says naive intuition.

My intuition says "that's obviously made of stuff". My intuition does not see it as an anti-node in the cheese field. Admittedly, Wallace might see it differently.

doogly wrote:But it is wrong. There is no difference between the electric field and the electron field. It's all fields.

Like, what precisely are you proposing? A particle based alternative to QFT that is just as accurate?

Yup, that exactly. There's no substantive mathematical difference between viewing an electron as a "cloud of probability" (the best explanation I ever got in high school), and as a "cloud of quasi-particles", if you choose the nature of those quasi-particles carefully. (Thanks for the term PM 2ring!)

Tchebu wrote:Moreover, as soon as you know anything at all about waves it becomes pretty obvious that things that look like cohesive lumps that move as one don't necessarily have to consist of smaller pieces moving together, so it really doesn't take much to blow any intuition about it being made of tiny balls out of the water.

Solids mostly do consist of smaller pieces moving together, is the thing. It's easy to explain the solidity of matter as a fence: the electrons are the fenceposts, the electric field is the fencing, and the nucleus (well, and the electrons not participating the process) are the post holes.

Sure, there are some things harder to explain, but that just means more work is needed to link them to intuition.

PM 2Ring wrote:Why are you trying to get away from "there's just this universal "field" that describes the probability that there's an electron at any given place"?

Personally, I like the cellular automaton approach: an electron is like a glider in Conway's Game of Life. It appears to be an oscillating entity that moves in a certain way, but really it's just an evolving pattern of the underlying substrate (the electron field).

I also like the cellular automaton approach, and serious work is being done there, but it's devilishly hard to reconcile with relativity. Really, it's velocity, not position, that's seems to interact locally, and that's not easy to make sense of.

I'm trying to get away from things that make little intuitive sense. a "field that describes the probability that there's an electron at any given place" seems rather circular and non-informative an an answer to "what is an electron?" Sure, it works, no arguments there. But it's unsatisfying.

And that's really the problem with the Standard Model in a nutshell, isn't it? It works great, but it's messy and inelegant and non-intuitive and all that sort of subjective stuff. Finding better answers to "what's really happening" that don't change the math would be, well, better!

I want intuitive explanations that are not lies to children because the math remains sound, that can be taught qualitatively at the high school level, and produce real understanding, instead of a sneaking suspicion that "those quantum guys are just running a long con on the funding groups".