Physics on the Fringe: Book Review

I dream of a new age of curiosity.We have the technical means for it; the desire is there; the things to be known are infinite; the people who can employ themselves at this task exist. Why do we suffer? From too little, from channels that are too narrow, skimpy, quasi-monopolistic, insufficient. There is no point in adopting a protectionist attitude, to prevent “bad” information from invading and suffocating the “good.” Rather, we must multiply the paths and the possibility of comings and goings.

Those are not my words. They were written but 20th century philosopher Michel Foucault, but if I had the same gift for words I would like to say things like that. This was quoted at the front of “Physics on the Fringe”, a book by Margaret Werthem that I read last month while I was on holiday. The book is about “outsider” physicists who work on their own theories outside of the physics mainstream. This is a subject of special interest to me as founder of viXra where many independent physicists (and other scientists and mathematicians) can publish their research, so I was keen to see what kind of picture the author painted. ViXra is not mentioned in the book. Instead there is a chapter about the Natural Philosophy Alliance, another web-based initiative for fringe physicists which has been around much longer.

You can read the manifesto of the NPA on their home page which has statements like “Reigning paradigms in physics and cosmology have for many decades been protected from open challenge by extreme intolerance, excluding debate about the most crucial problems from major journals and meetings.” Let me first make my own position clear. I have written articles on this blog about how some new ideas in the history of science have been attacked as “crackpot” only to be found right. In some cases you could say that the reigning paradigms were protected in that way, so this statement is not completely out-of-order. However, they are talking here about quantum mechanics, general relativity, the big bang theory and the standard model of particle physics. These things have extensive support from experiments performed over a wide range of scales. We know that they are not the final word because there are untested scales where they become inconsistent. They must ultimately be replaced by some new ideas that are likely to look very different from the existing theories. This is what professional physicists work on so presumably the NPA is referring to something more radical. Everyone is entitled to their own view and viXra is open to anything, but personally I don’t think that standard physics is that radically wrong.

“Physics on the Fringe” is all about people who are looking for alternative ways of doing physics that does not use the mathematics of quantum mechanics and general relativity. The impression it gives is that all “outsider” physicists are doing research of this sort. This is not the case. If you look through the physics categories of viXra you may find that about 50% of the papers make it clear that the author does not accept the standard models of physics and is trying to find an alternative. That is a lot but it leaves another 50% who at least believe they are working within the accepted paradigm. Many of these also have what professional physicists would consider to be obvious errors but there remains a smaller percentage where the ideas may still be radical and highly speculative, but they are mathematically sophisticated and apply to the physical regimes where experiment has not yet reached. Personally I think there is value to be found in the full spectrum of research from the craziest ideas to the most sublime, some are more like creative works of art with very little real science, but they may still inspire interesting ideas. Others may contain obvious errors but could still have a gem of knowledge buried within that someone might find. Perhaps a few are genuine new theories that could turn out to be right. This is why I believe that everything should be allowed to be published in non-peer-reviewed archives such as viXra. This does not mean that I do not value peer-review, but peer-review takes many forms. I don’t like peer-review as a closed process that is hidden and determines whether someones work is fit to be seen. I would like to see criticism that is public and where the author can respond. Perhaps now that the closed journal system is being taken apart we will see some new better ways to do peer-review.

So the book is limited in scope and ignores the more interesting work, but what does it have to say?  Chapter 3 tells an interesting story about 19th century mathematician Augustus de Morgan who wrote a book “A budget of Paradoxes” about his collection of theories by outsiders. It may be surprising to learn that the phenomena of amatures with crazy ideas goes back well before the existence of the internet. De Morgan was himself an almost outsider who had rejected a position at Oxford (or was it Cambridge?) because he objected to signing their theological test. Instead he worked at the newly founded University College London. His work on logic may seem ordinary to us now but at the time it was radical. Mathematics was going through a transition from a subject which studied quantity and form to more general ideas founded on pure logic and abstraction and de Morgan was at the forefront of the revolution. The obstacles to acceptance he faced may have given him some affinity with the “paradoxians” who touted their mad ideas at his door. It makes for interesting reading.

The central section of the book covers the work of Jim Carter and his theory of circlons. This is an example of work at the extreme end of fringe physics. Jim Carter did a degree in engineering and made money from his invention of a divers lifting bag. He had a good intuition for physics but his mathematical ability did not match. Like so many people of this ilk he formed his own alternative ideas that tried to explain the world in more mechanical and less mathematical terms. He used experiments where smoke rings are formed and allowed to interact to demonstrate his ideas. Wertheim has spent much time with Carter at his country adobe and has a sympathetic attitude towards his work, but she quite rightly regards it as more like a creative work of art than a valid scientific theory. Experiments with smoke rings are well-known to people who work on fluid dynamics and are great fun, but can they tell us anything about fundamental physics? If you study the mathematics of the soliton like vortexes that maintain surprising stability you will indeed find ideas that are used in quantum field theory, but of course this is not what Carter is doing. Valuable new ideas can indeed be formed in this way but mathematical ability is required. That is the way nature works.

So could the writings of someone like Carter inspire original ideas in others at least? Let me give another example of his ideas. Carter believes that the force of gravity does not really exist. Instead, he says, everything is expanding at an exponential rate and it is the ground accelerating up that appears to make us cling to Earth. This he thinks is a much better idea than general relativity which is all wrong. Physicists would laugh but there is a deep irony underneath. The theory that the Earth expands in this way is actually highly unoriginal and has been proposed many times. It is possible that such a crazy idea was known to Einstein. Perhaps when he discussed physics and philosophy with his friends at their “Olympia Academy” one of them may have proposed something similar as a topic for discussion. Einstein with his better analytic mind would have seen immediately that such an idea can only explain terrestrial gravity. In space everything would just fall towards the centre of the expansion. planetary orbits would require a different theory but that would be a step back to pre-Newtonian physics that undid the highly successful unification of gravity. However, Einstein was at that time an outsider himself unable to get a professional position as a physicist so he had more sympathy for crazy ideas. He might have seen that there was still some part of the theory that was right. Gravity really is like the pseudo forces caused by acceleration as experienced when in a moving lift. In time this would lead to the equivalence principle and the realisation that the idea would work if the explanation was that spacetime is bending instead of objects expanding. This was the birth of general relativity. In “Physics on the Fringe” Wertheim does not seem to appreciate this aspect of such ideas.

It the turn of the twentieth century Carter’s ideas could have been inspirational, but 100 years later I doubt that they have much value beyond the esthetic. Other more advances ideas at the other end of the fringe physics spectrum however, can be more useful. A good example is the work of Ed Fredkin who has published in viXra. He is well-known for his ideas about cellular automata as an underlying theory of physics (similar to Wolfram but predating) . Fredkin was an IT pioneer who invented some of the concepts used in modern operating systems and he was a professor at MIT, but his greater interest is in physics. Because of his position and his warm personality he has been able to discuss his ideas at length with Feynman and ‘t Hooft amongst others. His explanations of computing to Feynman led to the foundation of quantum computing and it is probably no coincidence that ‘t Hooft’s first paper on the holographic principal uses a cellular automata as a model. So Fredkin has been influential with his theories but of course he is not satisfied if they don’t accept his underlying idea. The problem is that a cellular automata is at odds with the principles of both relativity and quantum mechanics. Fredkin is not dissuaded by arguments that something is impossible. He was told the same thing about reversible computing and found a way to do it. He also likes to point out that cellular automata have the power of universal computation so there is no limit to what they can do. Sometimes the most interesting thoughts lie behind the craziest ideas.

There is one other chapter in the book that is worth commenting on. Wertheim describes her experience of attending a conference about quantum cosmology with its talk of multiverses, eternal inflation and the like. She compares this with the crazy ideas she had seen at an NPA conference, leaving the impression that the only real difference is that one set of crazy ideas is produced by outsiders and the other by insiders.  Here’s my opinion for what it is worth. I think string theory will turn out to be important in physics and will be the answer to unifying quantum gravity once we can work out the maths that underly it although for now we can only speculate about how that will work out. The multiverse landscape is another layer of speculation on top that I like philosophically but speculation on top of speculation has to be seen for what it is. Eternal inflation is yet another layer of speculation on top of that and I think the base of temporal causality and fluctuation from nothing are just bad philosophy so I just don’t believe it. I still think that it is right to explore that kind of theory but it should be shown for what it is, i.e. it is speculation upon speculation upon speculation. As Werthhiem recognises, this physics is popular because it sounds great on science documentaries and is promoted by a culture of superstar physicists (she mentions. Personally I am more excited by the work of someone like Nima Arkani-Hamed on non-locality and emergent spacetime that comes from Super Yang-Mills scattering amplitudes, but this kind of thing is harder to present on prime-time TV. Just my opinion, you are entitled to differ.

Nevertheless, there is a qualitative difference between such work on quantum cosmology and the theories presented by the NPA. The former assumes that quantum mechanics, general relativity and the big bang theory are correct up to the points where they are untested and theory suggests they will break down. Mathematics is used along side speculative ideas to try to understand what is possible within the constraints of logical consistency and confirmed observation. The physicists of the NPA throw all that away (OK to be fair that is too much of a generalisation to cover the wide range of ideas they present but that is how it is presented.) This means that it is more likely to lead to important new ideas that tell us something real about the world we live in.

Looking back at what I have written I see that I have been quite critical of the book, but on the whole it is full of interesting facts and presents a thought-provoking point of view. I think that anyone involved in fringe physics would enjoy the read.


32 Responses to Physics on the Fringe: Book Review

  1. Leo Vuyk says:

    Bill, you wrote:
    “Valuable new ideas can indeed be formed in this way but mathematical ability is required. That is the way nature works.”
    Perhaps there is an experimental way by a variation on Benjamin Libet’s experiment.
    see:

    Wavefunction collapse and Human choice-making inside an entangled mirror symmetrical Multiverse.

    http://vixra.org/pdf/1103.0015v1.pdf

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      What I said was about theory rather than experiment. By the way, yours was the only name in the book I recognised as a viXra author

    • Leo Vuyk says:

      see perhaps also in the same pdf, my proposal for a new Stern Gerlach experiment with Two magnets;

      The proposal for this experiment, is based on the hypothesis that all heated and vaporized silver atoms inside the silver oven are entangled as a whole and that magnetic measurement of one atom travelling outside the oven influences the magnetic polarity of all the other atoms in the oven.
      If the oven sends the silver atoms (by shutters) alternately to the two magnets, then the resulting impact pattern on both screens will show an additional BAR in the middle of the original impact pattern. (see figure 7)
      This could be the explanation for the fact that only up and down orientated atoms should enter into the S-G magnet to explain the “non smearing” effect on the screen.
      John S. Bell described his doubts about the Stern Gerlach experiment interpretation in his book: “Speakable and unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics on chapter 16 page 140-141.
      Ref, [7].
      John Bell argued that there is no logic to be found behind the fact, that there is a so called “absence of smearing” of the particle impact pattern on the screen

    • Leo:

      Thanks, you had me laughing tears…!

      Only a Dutch could have written that – trust me, I know a few, and was even married to one.

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        Philip, you are right of course.
        What I wrote was not very english I guess.:
        “Thanks Phil and sorry for my failure typing of your name”

  2. Robert L. Oldershaw says:

    I am amazed at the near total lack of interest in Discrete Scale Relativity by physicists and science writers.

    DSR embraces both quantum mechanics and general relativity but it proposes that nature has a new symmetry: discrete relativity of scale. This new symmetry leads to a discrete self-similar scaling for GR.

    This new paradigm has made scores of successful retrodictions of fundamental properties of subatomic systems, atoms, stars and galaxies. It successfully predicted pulsar-planets, trillions of unbound planetary-mass “nomad” objects, and the M-dwarf star planet abundance anomaly.

    The new paradigm resolves the vacuum energy density crisis, identifies the physical meaning of the fine structure constant, and provides a unified explanation for observed cosmological phenomena. It offers an etremely promising path to the unification of QM and GR.

    DSR is essentially a discrete fractal model for nature, and fractal phenomena are ubiquitous in nature.

    Why is this theory studiously ignored when it can do for physics what Darwin’s theory of evolution did for biology: provide a general paradigm that makes sense of the whole field?

    Robert L. Oldershaw

    http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw

    Discrete Scale Relativity

    • @ Robert, I agree with the basic principle of the SSCP, even on the scale that we are able to be aware of (only 5% of the whole) we are not yet sure that we are aware of it… Only this does not mean of course that the total of scales is 100%, perhaps it goes somewhere where even our 5% is only 10^-33% etc.
      Wilhelmus de Wilde

      http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/913

  3. dehilster says:

    The problem with the author of the book and the blog is that they don’t read criticisms that are serious. They only read new theories of everything that usually are quite daft.

    From the website http://www.einsteinwrong.com:

    Question
    If Einstein is wrong, why don’t I know anything about it and why is it not all over the news?

    Answer
    The mainstream simply does not read criticisms and refutations about relativity, the big bang, etc. This is bourne out in a report by 60 Minutes in April of 2009 called “Cold Fusion is Hot Again”. Sixty Minutes discovered the reason cold fusion is not accepted by the mainstream is that no one in the mainstream reads what those outside the mainstream are doing and reporting. Thus, scientists outside the mainstream continue their work without recognition or support of the mainstream scientists and media.

    Here is a quote from the April 2009 60 Minutes story:

    “You know, I wonder how you feel about going public endorsing this phenomenon on 60 Minutes when maybe 90 percent, I’m guessing, of your colleagues think that it’s crackpot science?” Pelley asked.

    “I certainly was among those 90 percent before I looked at the data. And I can see where they’ll be very concerned when they see this piece. All I have to say is: read the published results. Talk to the scientists. Never let anyone do your thinking for you,” he replied.

    ——————

    PROBLEMS WITH MAINSTREAM SCIENCE (from the NPA website)

    The big bang is fundamentally flawed. Red-shift can be explained in many ways other than expansion. Also, the universe is clearly reveals the complete life cycle of cosmic bodies which does not point to one beginning but to an eternal and evolving universe.

    Relativity has flawed assumptions and when the proof for such is closely examined, it is not proof at all. Hundreds of papers and explanations are have been writen by NPA members and others detailing arguments against the most common claims and proof of relativity – both special and general.

    Expansion tectonics (the earth is expanding / growing) is a much better model than modern-day plate tectonics. The evidence for expansion is overwhelming, with the sea floor bed ages pointing the way to all continents fitting together on a smaller orb.

    The universe is much more electrical than currently thought where gravity has dominated the explanation for the universe’s structures in mainstream science.

    Terminology is really a big problem in mainstream science. For example, energy is only a concept not a thing, space-time is an absurd concept, parallel universe is illogical (there is only one universe), and there are only three dimensions, not four or more. These are some of the terminology that has been tackled by NPA members over the decades.

    Infinity is very important to science. There are not ultimate particles or structures in the universe. There are always smaller and bigger structures to discover.

    Science in the mainstream is dominated by politics, not science. Criticism of Einstein, the big bang, and other mainstream theories is not allowed in the mainstream whereas in all other human endeavors including music, art, literature, business, and politics, and engineering, opposing ideas are necessary for coming up with the best solutions humans can muster. The NPA encourages diverse opinion, believing that better truths will emerge.

    The NPA is where the Galileos, Aristotles, and Newtons are working today. As always has been with scientific progress, the mainstream becomes dogmatic and religious like, with outsiders not afraid to tackle the problems with modern science. Mainstream science has too much invested to throw away basic concepts like the big bang and relativity to start anew.

    Most all NPA scientists agree that science took a huge wrong-turn in the early part of the 20th century. Many NPA members independently and collectively are starting physics and cosmology over from the time of Einstein in 1905 in order to put science back on track.

    The mainstream believes the NPA members do not understand or study the mainstream and this could not be further from the truth. The NPA exists because its members both cooperatively and independently have identified fundamental flaws in mainstream physics and cosmology, knowing it better than the mainstream by necessity in order to identify its major flaws so we can go about the task of putting science back on the path to truth.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      It is interesting how so much of this centers on an argument that Einstein is wrong. The general theory of relativity is not complete of course, but within a classical setting for GM/r sufficiently large (approaching the speed of light c), or for velocities large 1 > v/c >> 0 in special relativity, relativity is remarkably accurate. The experimental verifications are consistently in support of relativity. The detection of gravitational radiation is the last outstanding empirical support that is currently outstanding. However, the Hulst-Taylor measurement of pulsar timing is an indirect confirmation of gravitational radiation.

      I suspect this dislike of Einstein stems from my early dislike as a child. From preschool and into grade school we were sending astronauts to the moon. I thought this was the most incredible thing. I knew all the astronauts, the missions, made models of the Apollo spacecraft, watched for hours the TV coverage — and I loved Star Trek. I learned around the same time about the ultimate speed limit c. I also learned about the distances to other stars and it became apparent in 3rd grade that Einstein put a big crimp on the idea of star travel. This was a major bummer, but I did get over it. I think deep down that people dislike Einstein because relativity puts certain limits on various ideas that are commonly presented in pulp fiction, TV screen plays and movies. People really think Einstein is wrong because they don’t like certain implications. This is like the biblical creationists who think Darwin is all washed up because evolution puts a bite on certain theological ideas.

      Is Einstein completely right? Probably not, but where Einstein fails is in a domain of experience that is far more subtle and difficult, and a domain that we have little actual experience with as yet. This is where the domains of gravitation and quantum mechanics intersect or merge. Einstein was impressed with the locality of Maxwell’s equations and realized that to preserve this he had to throw out Galilean relativity and impose an invariance of paths or proper time in order to define a transformation of space and time in a manner which preserved electrodynamics. Relativity is then a dynamics of space with permits us to define field theories in a local manner and so they can evolve by certain mathematical “machines” that we can benchmark against measurements. We work quantum field in spacetime with various locality and unitarity gadgets built into these theories. The one field we are not able to quantize very well is gravity (or spacetime) itself. These gadgets are probably a form of excess baggage that needs to be either generalized or abandoned in a more general setting. In this situation general relativity is then in some manner deformed or subsumed into some more general considerations.

      This is however not a rejection of relativity within the standard domain of observation we are familiar with. So far relativity has stood remarkably well. Even more tested is quantum mechanics, and the far more bizarre implications of nonlocality and contextual nature of quantum waves are very strongly tested. There are those who dislike that sort of thing, and people like hidden variables so that quantum mechanics can be reduced to classical locality. Joy Christian is the latest Don Quixote who is on this mission, where his valiant steed Rocinante is a mathematical sleight of hand he excuses by endlessly saying, “You do not understand geometric algebra and quantum foundations the way I do.”

      Physics is hard not because the problems at the chapter endings of a textbook are hard, but because it flies in the face of our prejudices. A minority of people understand basic freshman physics, and half or most people when asked questions: “A large and small mass fall from a tower, which will fall the fastest?,” or “A moving car hits a parked car, which car receives the largest force of impact?” will get these wrong. Even elementary physics challenges expectations of the neophyte student on how the world is ordered. Once elementary students demolish their biased expectations then they can solve the problems in the book, which might take effort, but they are workable. The same continues with new foundations of physics, such as the modern 20th century physics of relativity and quantum mechanics, and our current obstruction against our understanding of quantum gravity is entirely the same problem.

  4. Robert L. Oldershaw says:

    Einstein did not have time to complete the relativity program.

    He knew that to do so, and to incorporate the phenomena of QM, would require an expansion of the fundamental symmetries of our models.

    In his very last scientific writing, for an Italian conference: “50 Years of Relativity”, he was exploring the concepts of self-similarity and relativity of scale. He did not have time to pursue this promising way to unify physics.

    Discrete Scale Relativity shows how to incorporate relativity of scale [necessarily a discrete or broken symmetry] into General Relativity.

    It is an excellent for the new 21st century paradigm.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Fractal Cosmology

  5. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    A couple of years ago I was invited to the Natural Philosophy Alliance. Not knowing what this really was, I did something to the effect of a mouse click and I was in. It became instantly apparent that the NPA is a complete wacko organization. There are people trying to prove Einstein wrong, some who think gravity has been getting weaker causing the Earth to expand (gotta like that one), rejections of Maxwell theory, moon hoaxers and loads of other stuff. I get these updates from it and it is occasionally good for a bit of a laugh. The NPA reaches down to the level of people trying to prove UFOs are true and other such mundane nonsense. Sometimes people from the NPA send stuff on a distributed email list, writings or web sites etc, and that stuff is a serious barrel of laughs. I probably should get my name off of it, but I do like the occasional chuckle I get from it.

    • dehilster says:

      I think you may be on hallucinating. The NPA does not accept papers on UFOS and you have not read any serious refutations of special and general relativity, both the theories and evidence. So as the turn-coat in the 60 minutes peice said, you as well as other don’t read serious refutations. As people stick their heads in the sands, the NPA takes science forward.

  6. William Nelson says:

    I’m not sure I’d quote Foucault in any context relating to the useful practice of science. His career spanned of the great ages for curiosity and exploration that mankind has ever seen, but he didn’t recognize that because of his philosophical prejudices. What Foucault would call a “new age of curiosity” would probably be an absolute travesty in scientific terms.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      He wasn’t talking about physics and the words may mean something very different in their proper context, but taken in isolation they express the state of science in the age of the internet very well.

  7. mcsphysics says:

    Phil, you wrote:

    “Carter believes that the force of gravity does not really exist. Instead, he says, everything is expanding at an exponential rate and it is the ground accelerating up that appears to make us cling to Earth. This he thinks is a much better idea than general relativity which is all wrong. Physicists would laugh but there is a deep irony underneath. The theory that the Earth expands in this way is actually highly unoriginal and has been proposed many times. It is possible that such a crazy idea was known to Einstein. … Einstein with his better analytic mind would have seen immediately that such an idea can only explain terrestrial gravity. In space everything would just fall towards the centre of the expansion. Planetary orbits would require a different theory but that would be a step back to pre-Newtonian physics that undid the highly successful unification of gravity. However, Einstein … might have seen that there was still some part of the theory that was right. Gravity really is like the pseudo forces caused by acceleration as experienced when in a moving lift. In time this would lead to the equivalence principle and the realisation that the idea would work if the explanation was that spacetime is bending instead of objects expanding. This was the birth of general relativity.”

    Let me suggest another scenario of evolution of the “expanding earth” idea which does solve for planetary orbits, yet does not step back to pre-Newtonian physics:

    Saying that matter expands into space is in essence equivalent to saying that space shrinks into matter, because supposing that all universal matter expands in a similar (exponential) rate, is equivalent to supposing that all matter expands relative to space (otherwise, relative to what?). A significant simplification of this relative volume change would be to postulate that space shrinks into matter. We can name such shrink “spacetime bending” (to this end, one should simply ignore the habit of physicists to illustrate spacetime bending by drawing geodesics instead of radial lines).

    I assume that my suggested scenario is not the one by which Einstein derived at his explanation, otherwise we should have heard of a discussion of the issue (may be he followed yours suggested scenario, indeed, i.e. he did not recognize the relativity of volumes issue, thus skipped directly to spacetime bending). It could thus be suspected that may be he missed something important, after all.

    Personally, I hold spacetime bending and the shrinking of space are both incorrect ideas, but this is only thanks to the “shrinking of space” evolution step of thinking, from which I was able to derive at even a better idea, at least to my belief.

    Thank you for your great book review.

    Meir

    • dehilster says:

      This is why Margaret’s book is safe. She picked someone from the NPA that was much more “far-out” ideas. James concepts make you think, but I think 99% of those in the NPA would say it is simply wrong.

      The difference with the NPA however is that they allow for different views as long as they are serious in their attempt. The mainstream allows for no dissident.

      That is a huge difference. All other endeavors in human endeavor requires competition to come up with the best answers – engineering, the arts, technology, business. But theoretical physics and cosmology does not allow this. This is why it has been stuck and on the wrong path for 100 years now.

  8. The laws of Nature were here since the beginning of the universe. Yet, they did not and still do not worry about the recognition by anyone while we human are dying to find it out, such as the billions dollars spent at CERN.

    A truth without being recognized is not a lost for that truth, as we are (who are not knowing it) the only losers. If an idea is true, it will always be a winner, fringe or not.

  9. Leo I find your work interesting but have a hard time ever exchanging some dialog with you.

    And Phillip Gibbs, I guess I am mostly a poet, not formal enough to post a paper- that said, you inspired me to make a poetic post today – hmmm, as a prolific writer of poems you will not find it in my town unless one is part of a university- but that does not stop learning and enquirey- the sciences, even big science is a noble human enterprise- and Mr Gong just perhaps not all laws of nature have been discovered or perhaps invented in the fringes of our dreams.

    pesla.blogspot Metaphor and Simile and the Spin Dream Catcher

    Does the moon exist when we do not see it? Einstein felt so, but there is no guarantee that is true of our deeper thoughts and dreams.

    ThePeSla

  10. Leo,

    Sorry if you misunderstood, your work makes sense in an area where it adds to my own world views in a different direction- the distinguishing of types of black holes is certainly the case for example and observations from astronomy hints it so.

    As far as the comments to this excellent review(was it not Foucault that said we can write ourselves out of the play?) I have been looking at this discrete approach a long time and recently refined it and do believe Einstein was working in this direction up to the end and that we transcend, not make such physics obsolete.

    I think the visual approach can tell us a lot but why we can imagine such theories is a science in itself at our cores, what grounds someone in the images they choose. Why we do this. Where do the words come from. It goes beyond personalities and politics.

    I would like to learn a little more before my exit from this play.

    Other than techonolgy we are not much further ahead at a time when there is so much more to do as if we are just beginning our philosophy, science, and eventually the reach for the stars.

    ThePeSla

  11. Very good Phil. I agree completely with what you say. :-)

  12. The best argument in favor of allowing all flowers to bloom in the Garden of Science comes from the development of particle physics during the last decades. One cannot speak of triumph;-).

    The GUT paradigm (GUTP for short ) has been dominating during this period. One of its basic implications is the instability of proton. Quarks and leptons belong to single big multiplet of the gauge group so that baryon and lepton number are not conserved separately and proton decays. It has been however experimentally found that proton does not decay in any of he predicted manners (it could of course decay but not via the channels breaking B and L!). The fine tuning needed to keep proton stable enough has become standard challenge of any GUT. Also the low energy limit of string theory relies on GUTP. Everything in mainstream relies on it.

    GUTP might be however wrong! We cannot prove this experimentally since it is always possible to fine tune the proton lifetime to be long enough. We can only show the theoretical implausibility of GUTP and proton lifetime has have already done that. Also the huge mass differences between particles fermions belonging to same multiplet of symmetry make GUTP implausible and suggest that something is lacking: the notion of scale. All this have been however put under the rug.

    This inability to disprove GUTP experimentally makes things worse and Big Science with its enormous institutional inertia forces to continue on the wrong track: too many faces to loose. This is like trying to stop the march of a million army marching towards its destruction even when generals quite well know what will happen.

    There are indeed theories outside the GUT paradigm but they have been systematically censored out. For decades ago the decision makers of finnish science made absolutely clear to me that work with non-standard theories is allowed only for retired professors. They also emphasized the necessity of critical mass: the age of individuals in science is over. Nowadays we would talk about group think instead of critical mass.

    LHC is now demonstrating the failure of superstring approach and of the standard view about SUSY, and perhaps also the failure of Higgs paradigm. From this it should be only a small step to the realization that the entire GUTP has been totally wrong. My sincere hope is that this realization comes as soon as possible.

    If this happens, we will return to the roots and ask questions, which could have been asked for four decades ago. Could baryon and lepton numbers be conserved separately as it indeed looks? What quark color really is: could it be that gauge theory description is only an approximation? Could standard model symmetries have some deeper meaning? This return to the roots could have been possible decades ago if the communication of alternative visions about fundamental physics would have been allowed.

  13. Leo Vuyk says:

    Robert I agree:
    Einstein had no time because he did not have the information we have or we can produce by satellite based expriments..
    see:
    Experiments to determine the mass related Lightspeed extinction volume around the Earth and around spinning objects in the Lab.

    http://vixra.org/pdf/1102.0056v1.pdf

    According to Einstein’s relativity theory, the speed of light is the same in all reference frames for every observer. However, there seem to be tiny differences in the lightspeed if we observe the outliers of satellite to satellite distance measurements. At the same time tiny structural irregularities in Planetary radar-pulse reflection measurements, between the Earth and Venus and Mercury where found by I.I. Shapiro in 1964. Both observations support the idea of the existence of ellipsoidal lightspeed extinction volumes around massive objects like the earth. As a consequence we propose new lightspeed experiments between the earth and dual satellites or dual balloons and even in the laboratory to support these lightspeed extinction ideas.

    • Leo Vuyk,

      That is an interesting observation- but what causes this ultimately? Can we observe such phenomena beyond the extinction volume? Why isn’t the WMAP not an place of such extinction volume? This continuous view already corresponds to the mechanism that is grounded on probability so why is it not a unified view of the two physics? I add a third view, a third physics or frame that does explain a little better the discrete. It came from observations, as your interest too, on lattices or ball lightning.

      That or crackpot baiters like Lubos insists that God plays dice with the cosmos after all and think they can stack cubes to fill space like we can squares in a plane with integral numbers.

      Sorry I misspelled your name in places in my posts,

      I have a very long rant btw I may post on our Lubos as a challenge to him to show me wrong on any of this, too long to post here I guess. If under that shell game there is something empty with a probability of extinction beyond our narrow view of things as we are dragged in our reference frames in orbits of the mass of the old paradigm of those before us – but who am I to judge, I cannot say that Lubos is full of nonsense- just perhaps something not sensed.

      I hope that for awhile anyway that places like this even in debate will be like the correspondences between the great theoreticians of the past- but we all seem outside as the media evolve and our extinction makes us deaf to the message beyond our spinning dance around this shrinking or expanding pea of this world (which btw would shrink to twelve diamond faces as the surface of a hypercube – you see there are ways to fill space with cubes but they are golden and irrational in lengths.

      The Pe Sla

  14. leo vuyk says:

    Edgar,

    you wrote:
    Can we observe such phenomena beyond the extinction volume?
    Yes.
    If you look at my I.I. Shapiro interpretation of his radar reflection data e.g. on Venus, which is more clear than Mercury’s, I hope you will come to the same logical conclusion of the extinction of the extra lightspeed around earth and venus-related to the solar reference frame-, as I did which I depicted in my small drawing.

  15. Mike says:

    Philip,

    First, let me say that your support of any idea (even “crazy” ones) is honorable. It was Oppenheimer who told his group at Los Alamos when they were stuck on a problem, that what we need right now are some “crazy” ideas. Sadly, the last 60 years will be known in history as a miniature dark age – where attempts were made to squelch information. I know a lot of people make this claim, but the fact that we are having this discussion about peer review confirms what is starting to come to light. Second, I agree that it is hard to throw away modern physics when there is so much experimental evidence and I don’t know that all of NPA is trying to do that. It is actually the case that more than one theory (and associated mathematics) can accurately describe an experiment, up to a point. When one theory predicts things that the other one does not, it’s time for that theory to reign. Because there are many unexplained phenomena with our current theories (dark energy, dark matter, marrying QM and GRT), we are looking for a theory that describes all of our experimental data AND adds the missing information that explain these unknown variables. Many in the NPA do not dispute the scientific data for modern physics but rather see better explanations for it that also explains all of the other data. Trying to replace quantum mechanics may seem hard with it’s wealth of data, but remember that almost anything can be represented as a wave function (I have seen stock market predictors like this). For instance, it is entirely possible that the inverse square law which produces all of our infinities is a low-energy (or short distance) approximation and many famous physicists (Yukawa for one) have spent time working on the formula that describes the rest of the curve. To call this fringe or crackpot is counterproductive – we could spend forever trying to use these outdated concepts only to get more infinities (read Weinberg’s sad tale of living with infinities and ask yourself if we shouldn’t start looking). Also, people who become famous off of old theories twisted just slightly to explain new data doesn’t help – we propagate a culture of “don’t change this too much” less you be considered a crackpot, where a formula that explains that data and much more is probably still out there.

  16. Leo,

    I put this on my status on fb today:

    “I am wondering at just what point my abstract ideas on the cosmos came together, deeply and concretely that I feel rather comfortable in the new paradigm- yes and to find others with similar view, and at last acceptance that we should not limit such enquiry by anyone if we are to make progress in science. It was a rather high level and subtle change- I am trying to say- but we do not need physics to feel this way in the depths of anyone’s feelings or poetic moods.”

    and I looked at your link you posted last here. It is very synchronous to my views and many I have encountered in the blog-o-sphere as if we are all heading in new directions that perhaps converge.

    The science magazines report that having a purpose late in life delays our mental and brain decay. In so many ways our theories are beautiful but that is not quite enough for why apply make up to the wrinkles of old age when we can reset the germ cells and nerves to a fresh start as with theories. I am surprised that those who work on the foundations find such a wide space to explore at a time when told such a purpose will not lead to a promising career.

    On the internet I have seen those in debate with some new part of the picture or what they vaguely think a part is and they have asked me how I understand when the others do not see it. We are marginalized ourselves for supporting such people and looking a little deeper at their visions and in the wider states of our shared enquiry I see another one saying things like “I am out of here, I have better things to do with my golden years…” and it is a tragedy they give up, one on the order of the death of my astronomer friend after such an accumulation of wisdom and work that nature seems to be indifferent to such a vanishing.

    Your link is such a remarkable page closer to your thoughts than thru comments to other theory blogs. If you read some of them, including my own, we seem to entertain the same conclusions of which I will not comment here in detail, nor can I detract from it as if a challenge any more than you are considering shoring up the theory yourself. This idea of a spacious center (nucleus) in black-hole like things seems to be a deeper place to consider as well what happens on the front of flat or spherical waves, and so on… not to detract from anyone’s contribution where it is original.

    Thank you for your efforts and inspiration. Perhaps this time our purposes for the sake of science in this medium in our ideal beginnings, such as the efforts of our Gibbs, will take, and all those who think in the field will work together at the wave front of chaos and haunting certainty, that which I see is the ground or expression of our subtle or distinct humanity.

    Is this Bell the one with the Inequality?

    Keep Enquiring everyone!

    • leo vuyk says:

      Edgar,

      Thank you for your kind words.
      Yes John S. Bell is the “Bell’s theorem” man.

  17. Dirk Pons says:

    Thanks Phil, nice summary.

    Only in physics is it even necessary to write a book like this! Even the word ‘paradigm’, loosely meaning a fixed conceptual framework, was first used of physics! Only in physics is it necessary to have sites like vixra! Only in physics are innovations treated with contemptious terms like ‘fringe’.

    Architects build their innovations and we live in them, Artists fabricate their innovations and we pay to view them, Engineers manufacture their innovations and we fall over ourselves to buy them. Chemists, Psychologists, Material Scientists, Management… they all value innovation. They celebrate lateral thinking, intuition, brainstorming, and creative problem-solving.

    But not in physics. Physics has an odd attitude to its ongoing epistemology.

    Which makes one wonder whether this is simply because of the people who inhabit the discipline: their personalities, predilections, and the culture they have created. Maybe they are just naturally low on Openness?

    Like you, I enjoy hearing alternative explanations. I don’t agree with most of them, but that in no way lessens my appreciation for their work. It is in being exposed to the flow of ideas, that new intuitions emerge and creativity happens. Orthodox physicists seem to fear such exposure.

    Physics has lurched into an almost exclusive use of mathematical modelling for its advancement, and has lost its appreciation for other forms of innovation, unless it comes from the in-group. It was not always like this in physics.

    • dehilster says:

      Dirk:

      I totally agree. In fact, I’m giving a paper on the subject of consensus in physics at the NPA conference this year. Innovation and alternatives are healthy for all endeavors except in physics and cosmology.

      You should take a look at the NPA’s latest works. They are very interesting work and alternatives that are quite interesting. Here is the link.

      http://www.worldnpa.org/site/npa-proceedings/

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