17 February 2011

Why are there no predictions?

We all notice that the number of papers in the hep-th section of arxiv is decreasing. We all notice that for years, no paper in hep-th has made predictions on the experiments at the LHC. No predictions by thousands of people. Obviously, they do not want to make false predictions just before the LHC is starting up again.

This is strange. Anybody who makes the correct prediction will become well-known, and make a big step in her or his career. And anybody who makes a false prediction will be forgotten. So there is no danger in making a false prediction, but a lot to gain in making a correct one. Still, nobody is making predictions.

The conclusion is evident: all the people who are silent now have no faith in their own work. Making predictions is the way of science. Silence is a sign that tells a lot! And who is silent? String theorists are silent. Loop quantum gravity people are. Supersymmetry people are. Little Higgs people are. Higgsless people are. Almost nobody is left!

This widespread silence shows: most people in fundamental physics do not believe their own theory! Slowly, the strange dark world, unrelated to reality, in which they live is coming to light. What a depressing view.

15 February 2011

Maximum force - and men

A few physicists - Mazza, Kostro, Gibbons, Schiller - state that there is a maximum force:
  • c^4/G or about 10^44 N.
I did something simple. I told this to a researcher in the field. Then I asked another. And another. All got enraged. Really enraged. Why? They say it is wrong. So I emailed a few of the proponents to ask; they wrote back saying that the limit exists and is correct (up to a factor 1/4).

So I started asking. Can anybody show a system in nature with a higher value? No. Can anybody imagine a system with a higher value? In Schiller's book on relativity I found a discussion of all sort of attempts to exceed the value, and all are in vain. As I was told, this is related to the hoop conjecture by Thorne; when energy gets too compressed, it turns into a black hole.

Wow. A maximum force in nature? This sounds like the best statement on general relativity since decades. I did a literature search. Nobody else talks about it! This seems like the greatest missed marketing opportunity for general relativity since its discovery. I cannot believe it! When will they give a Christmas lecture about it?

But now the other side. Do people get upset because they hear religious overtones? Do they see their religion in danger? Or are they upset because they missed the discovery? Is it envy?

There are two lessons form this story:
  • Testing who is stronger is a typical male occupation; and fights about maximum force seem about the most nasty ones.
  • Many physicists make truth into a taboo subject.
Maximum force confirms the theme of this blog: truth and fundamental physics research are usually separate. O tempora, o mores!

Update: two references.

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0210109  GW Gibbons, The Maximum Tension Principle in General Relativity

http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0607090 C Schiller, General relativity and cosmology derived from principle of maximum power or force

14 February 2011

Please lie about electrodynamics - and about supersymmetry

On a recent entry in a now defunct blog, I received an angry comment that classical electrodynamics was exact, and that I should endorse this view. Every blogger receives comments from crackpots, but this one was particularly funny. Two issues were requested: I should denounce people that claim quantum effects and those that claim gravitational effects of electrodynamics - no joke. I never had been asked so clearly to refute the whole of modern physics, and to go back to the 19th century. I would like to point to a website explaining such views, but unfortunately, there is none.

Another harsh commenter claimed that supersymmetry cannot be refuted, because it is correct, though yet unconfirmed. A few days later, the LHC released data showing that the latest search for superparticles - gluinos in this case - was unsuccessful.

Some people will not be convinced by any data whatsoever.

13 February 2011

Arkani-Hamed prefers spaghetti to supersymmetry

I am kidding - but only a bit. In his suit-wearing talk in Princeton of which I have written before, there is one moment where Arkani-Hamed seems to hesitate. He says that fundamental physicists need to throw space-time out of the window. Then he adds that usually, before doing that, they introduce many complications into space-time, such as higher dimensions and fermionic coordinates. But if you watch that moment again, you get the impression that he is hesitating.

Schiller's spaghetti model realizes what Arkani-Hamed was hesitating about in his talk: it changes directly from a situation with space-time to a situation without. If I understand it well, the spaghetti model describes continuity as thermal average, and this average is not possible at high energy. So space-time is thrown out of the window directly, without making it complicated beforehand.

In conclusion, Arkani-Hamed should prefer the spaghetti model to supersymmetry.