(Died: June 11, 2014)
Interests: Electron, Proton Age: 79
The Hotson ?family business? is English literature. Mr. Hotson's father and uncle had Harvard Ph.D.s in the subject, and his late uncle was a famous Shakespeare scholar. Mr. Hotson, however, always intended a career in physics. Unfortunately, he could not resist asking awkward questions. His professors taught that conservation of mass-energy is the never-violated, rock-solid foundation of all physics. In ?pair production? a photon of at least 1.022 MeV ?creates? an electron-positron pair, each with 0.511 MeV of rest energy, with any excess being the momentum of the ?created? pair. So supposedly the conservation books balance. But the ?created? electron and positron both have spin (angular momentum) energy of h/4p. By any assumption as to the size of electron or positron, this is far more energy than that supplied by the photon at ?creation.?
?Isn't angular momentum energy?? he asked a professor. ?Of course it is. This half-integer spin angular momentum is the energy needed by the electron to set up a stable standing wave around the proton. Thus it is responsible for the Pauli exclusion principle, hence for the extension and stability of all matter. You could say it is the sole cause of the periodic table of elements.? ?Then where does all this energy come from? How can the ?created' electron have something like sixteen times more energy than the photon that supposedly ?created' it? Isn't this a huge violation of your never-violated rock-solid foundation of all physics?? ?We regard spin angular momentum as an ?inherent property' of electron and positron, not as a violation of conservation.? ?But if it's real energy, where does it come from? Does the Energy Fairy step in and proclaim a miracle every time ?creation' is invoked, billions of times a second? How does this fit your never-violated conservation??
??Inherent property' means we don't talk about it, and you won't either if you want to pass this course.? Well, this answer sounded to him like the Stephen Leacock aphorism: ??Shut up,' he explained.? Later Mr. Hotson was taken aside and told that his ?attitude? was disrupting the class, and that further, with his ?attitude,? there was no chance in hell of his completing a graduate program in physics, so ?save your money.? He ended up at the Sorbonne studying French literature, and later became a professional land surveyor. However, he has retained a lifelong interest in the ?awkward questions? of physics, and with Dirac's Equation has found some answers.