18 April 2011

Can particles exist at the fundamental level?

In an informal group brainstorm, a male friend recently told me:

"If we want to understand the world, the concept of particle must be eliminated."

I asked what he meant and he said that elementary particles cannot be the basic bricks of matter. If they did, he said, there would be no way to understand their properties. The idea of elementary particle, he argued, prevents people from finding the theory of everything.

A simple argument, but a correct one. And one I never saw in print.

Only a few candidates for the theory of everything realize this requirement: string theory, loop quantum gravity - including Bilson-Thompson's braids - and the strand model.


  1. I also propose to understand things via quasi-particles. As to elementary particles, they can be used along with quasi-particles but they are never free whereas quasi-particles can be "free". See my popular explanation in http://arxiv.org/abs/0811.4416

  2. Vladimir,

    I read your paper, but you are doing something different.

    The comment of my friend was much more radical. He meant that particles cannot exist *at all*.

  3. Not until they are observed

  4. Yes, but electrons and neutrinos are observed, and they are elementary. The comment of my friend was that there must be an underlying reality that explains their properties. And in this underlying reality, particles cannot exist as separate concepts, but must emerge from the underlying reality.