And as for whether or not a “field” qualifies as a “thing” that waves:
Well, what is a field? Physicists often define a field as a quantity assigned to various points of space, so basically, a series of numbers.
Now, the problem is that many physicists think that a field itself explains something. For instance, they might assert that the electromagnetic field explains the behavior of charged particles.
But, it doesn’t. The field allows one to calculate the behavior and properties of charged particles, but it does not itself explain why those properties have those values and why the particles behave the way they do.
For that, you need to explain how the field works. You need to explain what it is about the entities involved and their relationships which cause the behavior described by the field.
But, the short version of the answer is that no, since according to this definition, a field is simply a mathematical description of properties and actions, then it can not qualify as a thing that waves.
Now let’s take this definition of a field, that is to say, a field is “a region where each point is affected by a force.”
Well, a region of space clearly cannot wave, since it is just a relationship. Things in that region might wave around and explain how the force manifests, but that is not the same as the field being a wave or the field waving.
Using either definition of a “field”, it is an abstraction dealing with entities and relationships between them. The field still needs a physical explanation in terms of things that exist, not numbers attached to space.
And if you define a field as a region where each point is affected by force, you need to physically explain the force.
I hope that clarifies and answers your question, Steve.
And that was the last question which brings us to the end of this episode. Remember to check out the website and subscribe if you like our podcast, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get the updates!
You can also support us on Patreon, any amount contributed is received with appreciation and goes towards time and resources spent on producing and promoting the show!
You are welcome to send in questions about any of the things talked about in this episode or about irrational stuff in physics or the philosophy of science in general. Send them in to: [email protected]
Thanks for listening! Please tune in for the next episode and start thinking of some questions! Until then, stay rational!