8 June 2018

Robert Dijkgraaf, the Genius: one paper, many Nobel prizes

Robert Dijkgraaf, an important string theorist, is a real Genius. Not a simple one like Einstein, Maxwell, Heisenberg or Bohr. He is much more. Look at his new article:

The title says it all. There are no laws of physics. Please, believe him!
  1. Energy is not conserved.
  2. The speed of light is not a limit.
  3. Charge is not conserved.
  4. Gravity can be repulsive.
  5. Momentum is not conserved.
With statement 1, Dijkraaf has revolutionized the energy industry. Everybody will have energy at will from now on! Forget worrying about the oil prize! With statement 2, he has shown that Einstein was a fool. I met a few others that thought so, but most of them are locked up in institutions in the meantime. Forget these poor souls, Robert is much smarter than them! With statement 3, he avoids paying his electricity bill! With statement 4, he lets his roof float above his house! And with statement 5, he can reduce the speed of cars on the highway just by the power of his thoughts. No accidents any more! He is already saving many lives!

Lets start a twitter campaign! Hail the Genius! Not a small genius like the others you have read about until now. Robert truly is the Great Genius with a capital G! The next Nobel prizes in physics, economy and medicine should go to him!

24 March 2018

Spaghetti vs. strings - and the neutrino chance

Schiller claims that his strand-spaghetti model contains general relativity and also the standard model of particle physics. See here and here. What should we make of this claim? I summarize my scepticism.

  1. The spaghetti model predicts that there is no physics beyond the standard model. This is a bold claim; it could be true and it could be wrong. Most particle physicists would disagree; especially theoreticians like to point out that the standard model cannot be right or at least, that it cannot be complete. Are their arguments correct or wishful thinking? This is hard to tell. The topic would be worth a separate investigation. One thing is sure: many researchers disagree with the prediction.
  2. The spaghetti model predicts that there are no additional elementary particles in nature. It claims that dark matter is nothing different from usual matter and black holes. Obviously, experiments can prove this prediction wrong at any time. Supersymmetry and dark matter fans disagree, but they are rather quiet at present.
  3. The spaghetti model did not calculate absolute particle masses yet. This is a big issue, because neutrino masses are not yet known. The model would gain instant credibility if a neutrino mass value would be calculated, published and then confirmed by experiment. Why does this not happen? Is it really so difficult to calculate mass values? 
  4. The spaghetti model predicts cosmology with a decreasing cosmological constant. There are no good measurements about this issue yet. And the proposal is rather uncommon in the community.
Do we just need to be patient and to wait for more results? Here are a few other points that make me think:

  • Schiller did not publish yet. He did not publish a single paper on strands. On his website, Schiller writes that his work is not ripe for publication yet. Are the spaghetti not cooked enough yet?
  • Schiller has made mistakes and changed his model in the past. He once predicted that the Higgs boson would not exist. He then added the Higgs. And he eliminated knots. Like in real spaghetti.
  • Schiller has no support from other researchers. He seems to work alone.
  • And Schiller is not a woman, as I always wanted any good researcher on unification to be. OK, this is not a serious argument. 

  • Are these points of any weight? I do not know; probably not. Also, there are unquestionable positive sides: Experiments agree with his spaghetti model. There is no multiverse in the spaghetti model. The press and the media are not involved. There is no mention of holography and string theory. (A dark point: Schiller does mention qubits...) And finally, because the spaghetti model agrees with data, but not with string theory, an ignominious ex-researcher from Czechia called Schiller a "crackpot". That is how deep string theorists have fallen: if you make statements that agree with experiment, you get ad hominem attacks. Schiller should bear this as a badge of honour - at least until disagreement with data occurs. Insults by Czech or other string theorists are a good sign. Spaghetti or strings, that's the question!

    What should I make of all this? My own conclusion: I will wait to write more biting satire until the neutrino mass is predicted or until the spaghetti model is falsified. 

    6 February 2018

    Satire or Reality? Unification vs Experimental Data - On Funding and IQ

    I read Schiller's slides about his strand model again. I got the latest version from http://www.motionmountain.net/Schiller-Strand-Colour-Talk.pdf His simple model retrodicts general relativity, quantum theory, the spectrum of elementary particles and the gauge groups. And it proposes ways to calculate the standard model parameters.

    The ideas could be true. After all, they agree with experimental data so far.

    The ideas cannot be true. After all, why should a single researcher with little funding deduce more results that thousands of heavily funded string and quantum gravity researchers?

    A non-funded model cannot be true. Why should there be interest for a unified model that agrees with data? Why should there be interest for a unified model that deduces everything known? Researchers are proud of their funding. There will be no interest for the model in the coming years. Because theoretical research is not a battle for right or wrong; it is a battle for funds. A new entrant that reduces other people's funding is not interesting. Interest will only appear once funds are available.

    The ideas cannot be true. They are much too simple. They do not require a high IQ.

    The ideas could be true. They agree with data.

    A simple model cannot be true. Why should there be interest for a simple model that agrees with data? We all know that unification must be hard, really hard to understand. Researchers in theory are proud of their IQ. Because theoretical research is not a battle for right or wrong; it is a battle to show off your IQ. Showing off your IQ is more important than agreement with data.

    All this real world satire.  My opinion? I like the model; it is cute. But it is not finished.  Time will tell.

    17 January 2018

    MeToo in Physics Blogging

    When I see what Sabine Hossenfelder has to endure, when I look at the comments I sometimes get on this blog, when I see what other female bloggers must cope with, I am sad - and angry. How can some men (not all men, but some men!) write things to and about female bloggers they don't even know that are so full of hate? Don't they have mothers, grandmothers, greatgrandmothers? Don't they have fathers, grandfathers, greatgrandfathers? 

    All of us have mothers and fathers. We all have female and male sides, and female and male gifts. I am amazed by what women did and can do, and I am amazed by what men did and can do. Life comes to each of us through both. We are different, but we are all where and what the universe wants us to be.

    6 January 2018

    The spaghetti model of nature - really a theory of everything?

    Schiller has posted a pdf with 16 slides: "From Strand Model Unification to the Fine Structure Constant" on his site www.motionmountain.net/research.html . It is a concise summary of his ideas and saves reading his much longer book.

    He defines his model, explains his calculation of black hole entropy with strands, and then gives his model for Dirac particles as tangles. He presents his specific particle models and continues with his strand model of interactions as deformations and summarizes his U(1), SU(2) and SU(3) deduction from strands. He also lists quite a number of experimental predictions. All this in just 11 slides. Then he uses just 4 more slides to deduce an approximation for the fine structure constant. He gives an integral expression. There is a summary on the last slide.

    As a reader, I was a bit overwhelmed at first. He has the whole of cosmology in a quarter of a slide. OK, it is not the focus of his talk, but its is a daring feat. On slide 11, the end of his introduction of the strand model, he basically says: "sorry folks, there is nothing beyond the standard model - but now we can calculate its parameters." That is quite a claim.

    He then only talks about the fine structure constant. I want to check his formula in the coming days. I do not like his approximation yet. And I have several issues with the whole argument. More soon.

    9 December 2017

    A new spaghetti sauce

    An email convinced me to read the text on the spaghetti model again, in its newest version. Yep, Schiller has changed quite a few things in the last two years. His "strand model" is still crazy. In its latest edition, he has no knots any more, just tangles. That simplifies the correspondence with particle interactions.

    But some of the tangle-particle assignments are still doubtful: the tangles for the last two neutrinos, for the up quark and also for the W might need revision.

    Undaunted, Schiller has a new calculation for the fine structure constant from his model. His simple approximation produces a result within 10%. Amusing. I tend to be skeptical about calculations of the fine structure constant, and I am not sure that Schiller takes his calculation seriously either. But who knows? The model has explained more than any other conjecture that I have read about.

    Even though the model is produced by a man, I like it: it is so different from anything else. And it predicts no new physics. That looks like real courage to me.  The spaghetti model is a slap in the face of all those pompous theoreticians that claim that their own theory is the only game in town. I do not whether to laugh or to cry. Let's see wether this sauce is more sucessful.

    3 December 2017

    Witten - It from Qubit

    Witten and many others repeat it like a mantra: "it from qubit". This rallying cry of depressed theoreticians has never led to any tangible result. That is what all my friends and acquaintances told me since I can remember.

    But isn't the spaghetti model a realization of the mantra? I hate to put such a loose idea as 'it from qubit' - and such a looser's idea, to be honest - in the neighborhood of the spaghetti model. But the analogy is striking. Is the basic principle of the spaghetti model a qubit?

    Is Witten advertizing the spaghetti model?

    28 October 2017

    Niels Bohr, my physics professor and Peter Woit

    I like Peter Woit; he is a nice and honest man. Nevertheless I want to poke a little bit of fun at him.

    My physics professor at university told me to read Niels Bohr. That is not easy. But I did it. Most of it I did not like. But I liked one idea of his: Bohr used to write that quantum mechanics is summarized in the statement that hbar is not zero. So did my teacher.

    My prof told us that starting from a nonzero hbar value we can distinguish state and measurement. And then quantum mechanics appears. hbar is even at the origin of the term "quantum".

    The world was ok - until modern mathematical physicists appeared. Peter Woit is one of them. These people refused this connection between hbar and quantum theory. They claim that is is not that simple, that quantum theory exists by itself, independently of hbar, and that hbar is not the reason for the Hilbert space. History and facts shows the opposite, but who cares? :-)

    The ideology behind such mathematical opinions explains why mathematical physicists will *not* succeed in finding the unified theory - especially when male.

    22 October 2017

    The conformal standard model from Berlin

    The Conformal Standard Model - finally an attempt for a unified model in arixv! There have not been such speculations for years. Here it is: https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.06149  by Lewandowski, Meissner, and Nicolai.

    So, what should we think about it? The model fits experiments and makes predictions: (few) new particles, dark matter is one of them, and a few more details. So far so good. We will wait for the experimental tests and then see what happens.

    But there are reasons to be unsure. A number of questions are not addressed:

    - How does the particle spectrum arise? No real answer is given.
    - What determines the gauge groups? Is there any answer?
    - How exactly do the gauge couplings arise? The answer in the paper is not so clear.
    - What about mixing matrices, electric dipole moments and neutrino masses? No numbers are predicted, but (indirectly) ranges of values; so this might be plausible.
    - Why does space have three dimensions? No answer is given.
    - What happens at the Planck scale? No answer.
    - Does inflation occur? No answer - but then, no one is needed anyway.

    So what shall we think of the paper? The nice side about it: No supersymmetry, no axions, no strings, no loop quantum gravity. The more questionable side: new particles are predicted that nobody has seen yet.

    If they are flowers, they will blossom!

    19 October 2017

    Why women will need time - but less than sheep

    One of my memes is that the theory of everything will be found by a woman. But it will take time. Because many women listen to machos.

    And the machos of theory research are used to say: "Your ideas are crazy. And you are crazy." Because this is the definition of a macho: somebody who puts others down.

    The good news is that the machos do the same also among men. They put other men down. And men listen to machos even more than women do.  Look at the hundreds of people who work on string theory. They are not men, they are sheep. They follow a path with no chance of success. String theorists are a group of machos surrounded by a larger group of sheep. Sheep are those men who do not dare to behave as machos, but secretly admire them.

    Indeed, there are almost no women doing string theory. We know why. We do not ride dead horses!