Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sabine Hossenfelder: Looking in the Wrong Places

Looking in the Wrong Places is a new Edge essay by prominent theoretician and prolific writer/blogger Sabine Hossenfelder. It’s basically a lament about the lack of progress that’s hampered theoretical physics for a long time, as summarized in the following paragraph.

The field that I mostly work in is the foundations of physics, which is, roughly speaking, composed of cosmology, the foundations of quantum mechanics, high-energy particle physics, and quantum gravity. It’s a peculiar field because there hasn’t been new data for almost four decades, since we established the Standard Model of particle physics. There has been, of course, the Higgs particle that was discovered at the LHC in 2012, and there have been some additions to the Standard Model, but there has not been a great new paradigm change, as Kuhn would have put it. We’re still using the same techniques, and we’re still working with the same theories as we did in the 1970s.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Modified Gravity versus Particle Dark Matter

Sabine Hossenfelder is offering a new version of modified Newtonian dynamics, or MOND, which she calls Covariant Emergent Gravity, or CEG. She explains it at her blog Backreaction here and in an arXiv paper here. She shows that CEG fits the data on the radial acceleration of stars in galaxies much better than particle dark matter. There’s no doubt that she’s right. The problem is that there’s ample evidence for the existence of dark matter, and no known reason why the acceleration of gravity should suddenly change at some distance from a center of mass.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why Is There Something Rather THan Nothing?

“Why is there something rather than nothing? It’s a classic puzzle that’s getting a lot of attention now. Sean Carroll has just posted his opinion on the arXiv—he’s decided there’s no answer. Here’s his abstract:

It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

John Baez Struggles with the Continuum

Mathematician John Baez has a paper on the arXiv called Struggles with the Continuum, which he concludes with this:

We have seen that in every major theory of physics, challenging mathematical questions arise from the assumption that spacetime is a continuum. The continuum threatens us with infinities. Do these infinities threaten our ability to extract predictions from these theories—or even our ability to formulate these theories in a precise way? We can answer these questions, but only with hard work. Is this a sign that we are somehow on the wrong track? Is the continuum as we understand it only an approximation to some deeper model of spacetime? Only time will tell. Nature is providing us with plenty of clues, but it will take patience to read them correctly.

As readers of this blog well know, the assumption that spacetime is a continuum is absolutely wrong. The spacetime model that is the main subject of this blog is a discrete model that avoids all of the struggles that John discusses. I’ve pointed this out to him in an e-mail, but I don’t expect it to do any good.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lee Smolin: Still Missing The Point On Quantum Gravity

In a new arXiv paper entitled “What are we missing in our search for quantum gravity?,” Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics summarizes various approaches to a theory of quantum gravity, lamenting that

Despite enormous effort from thousands of dedicated researchers over a century, the search for the quantum theory of gravity has not yet arrived at a satisfactory conclusion.

At the end of the paper he seems to give up on all of the current approaches.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Quantum Gravity Is A Wild Goose Chase

Quantum theory and Einstein’s general relativity are the two main pillars of modern physics. Quantum mechanics makes highly accurate predictions in the realm of the very small, while general relativity does the same on a cosmic scale. Unfortunately, the two theories are incompatible, leading vast numbers of theoretical physicists to attempt to unite them in a theory of quantum gravity, with a notable lack of success.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Isotopic Spin? It's Just The Higgs

Isotopic spin and the Higgs mechanism are two major features of the Standard Model that I’ve written about on this blog, but I just realized that for some unknown reason I’ve never pointed out that these two phenomena are closely related. One could almost say that they’re the same phenomenon. Mainstream physicists have no idea that this is the case. I’ll correct this oversight in this post.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

God Enters Essay Contest

I’ve submitted one of my earlier posts, A Letter from God,  to the Foundational Questions Institute’s current essay contest. The theme is “Wandering Towards a Goal – How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions?” I hope to show in a humorous way that what gives rise to everything is not mathematics but consciousness aka existence. You can find the essay here,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Existence of Dark Matter Challenged

A recent paper is causing a stir among cosmologists and bloggers because it appears to present evidence that dark matter may not exist. The authors’ observations reveal a strong correlation between the gravitational acceleration observed to be acting on stars in galaxies and the gravitational acceleration inferred from the distribution of luminous (baryonic) matter. If dark matter is a particle, as almost everyone has been assuming, it can’t explain this behavior. Ethan Siegel at Starts with a Bang comments on the situation here and Sabine Hossenfelder at Backreaction discusses it here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Physics Q&A#4. The Cosmological Constant

I spend a lot of time on this blog explaining a physical spacetime model and the underlying metaphysics. In this series of posts, each entry poses a physics question for the spacetime model, along with the answer.

Physics Qustion #4. The Cosmological Constant Problem (Dark Energy Problem).
Measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation confirm that the universe is flat. There is not enough matter in it to explain this, so it is thought that there must be some "dark energy" that acts like Einstein's cosmological constant and has just the right value to make the universe flat. Supernova measurements show that the universal expansion is accelerating, and the dark energy is thought to be responsible for this effect as well. Physicists have no idea what this dark energy might be or how it gets so finely tuned as to make the universe perfectly flat. The best candidate, vacuum energy density, doesn't work, because the cosmological constant is 120 orders of magnitude smaller than the vacuum energy density calculated using the Standard Model.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Has Ed Witten Given Up On Consciousness?

Sad to say, but many physicists seem to be on the verge of giving up. Some think they’ll never know how the universe came to be, The multiverse is basically a cop-out, an excuse for abandoning the search for answers. The other big bugaboo is consciousness. As John Horgan reports on Scientific American’s Cross-Check, no less a superstar than Edward Witten now believes that consciousness “will remain a mystery.” All this pessimism comes as a result of many decades of failure to make significant progress on the hard questions.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Smolin and Unger Get It Spectacularly Wrong

Physicist Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute has been saying for some years tht physics and cosmology are in crisis. The standard models are highly successful as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough, and for decades, there’s been a frustrating failure of all attempts to go beyond them. Sabine Hossenfelder agrees. In a post for Fortune, she writes:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

750-GeV Bump Is A Third-Generation Higgs Boson--Not

Update August 5, 2016: The LHC collaborations have announced that the 750-GeV bump they saw in their 2015 data is not there in their 2016 data. It was a statistical fluke, so you can ignore this post--it's wrong. It shows once again that in physics,if you know the answer you're looking for, you can always find a way to get it.


A small excess of decays to two photons at a mass of 750 GeV, seen by both the CMS and ATLAS experiments at the LHC, has the physics community in a tizzy. If confirmed, the bump is evidence for a new particle that isn’t predicted by the Standard Model, thereby qualifying as the long-sought “new physics” that could break the current doldrums in particle physics. Theorists have already published dozens of papers attempting to explain the small bump in the data. The new particle would be a boson, most closely resembling a heavy Higgs boson with six times the 125-GeV mass of the known Higgs.

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think the LHC’s bump is real. I predict that it is in fact a heavy Higgs boson. It turns out that such a particle can be easily explained in the context of the spacetime model that is the subject of this blog.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Proton Structure Isn't Fixed

Science Alert reports that, “Physicists are about to test a hypothesis that could rewrite the textbooks.” This momentous hypothesis is that the structure of the proton varies. If the proton is in an atomic nucleus, its structure may be different than if it’s a free proton.

According to the model that I’m presenting in this blog, this hypothesis is true! To see this, we can use the standard proton model which says that the proton is composed of three quarks. When the proton is in an atomic nucleus with other protons and neutrons, the quarks in all of the nucleons interpenetrate, that is, they get all mixed up so it’s impossible to tell which quarks belong to which nucleon. That’s why it’s impossible to separate the nucleons without applying enormous force and breaking them into a zillion pieces. It’s said that they are held together by the strong force, one of nature’s four forces, along with gravity, the electromagnetic force and the weak force.

If the proposed test is well done, I predict it will succeed.

Time Goes Backwards, But Not In A Mirror

An item on Quartz reports that two separate groups of scientists have decided that there may be a “mirror universe” in which time moves backwards. That time moves backwards shouldn’t surprise readers of this blog. However, this doesn’t happen in some mirror universe, but in our very own world. As I explained here, time in our universe takes a step backwards for every step forwards, so we live in a superposition of forward-time and backward-time universes. We only see the forward-time universe because the expansion of the universe guarantees that one direction of time always has more spacetime points and therefore more particles than antiparticles. All the antiparticles were annihilated, leaving essentially no trace of the backward-time universe. However, all of the backward-time spacetime points are still around  because points don’t annihilate. This is a good thing because we couldn’t explain the stardard model without them. Follow the link for more information.