Saturday, December 6, 2014

Paul Steinhardt's New Inflation Theory--Better Than Most, But Still Wrong

On Scientific American’s blog Cross-Check, John Horgan shares an interview with superstar physicist Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University on the subject of cosmic inflation, the period of rapid expansion of the universe immediately following the big bang. In “Physicist Paul Steinhardt Slams Inflation, Cosmic Theory He Helped Conceive,” Horgan quotes Steinhardt’s explanation for his change of heart and on the cyclic model he’s developed to replace the current leading models. He says, 

The cyclic model emerged when my collaborators and I asked the question: is there any way of explaining the smoothness and flatness of the universe and small ripples in density without inflation?  The answer was yes: the key is to have a universe in which the big bang is replaced by a big bounce.   In this picture, the present period of expansion and cooling is preceded before the bounce by an epoch of contraction, and the important events that shape the large-scale structure of the universe (smoothing, flattening and generating fluctuations) occur before the bounce during a period of slow contraction.   There is no high-energy inflation phase – the universe goes straight from the bounce into a period of slow expansion and cooling.  Inflation is not needed to smooth and flatten the universe.  Consequently, there is no multiverse. The bounces can repeat at regular intervals resulting in a cyclic universe.  In some versions, the theory is geodesically complete (existing infinitely into the past), unlike inflation, which requires a beginning and special initial conditions.

The remarkable thing about Steinhardt’s cyclic theory is that it is actually correct in its gross outline. As we saw here, what actually happens is a contraction in the size of the universe that is simultaneous with a rapid inflation in the number of spacetime points. This is followed by a phase transition to the period of slow expansion and cooling that Steinhardt mentions. So he’s right about the contraction and subsequent expansion, but he’s wrong when he asserts that there’s no high-energy inflation phase. He doesn’t know about our spacetime model with its discrete points.

 I once tried to tell Dr. Steinhardt about the correct theory, but I got no response. Physicists develop the ability to smell correspondence from nonphysicists trying to help them do their jobs, and it goes directly into the trash. Such is life.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Neutrinos Are Serious Physics

I want to continue developing our spacetime model in some of its more sophisticated aspects. We need to know about left- and right-handed particles and why there are no right-handed neutrinos. We’ll show that when you have the correct spacetime model, these esoteric subjects aren’t as intimidating as they’re sometimes made to seem.

Win Some, Lose Some

A couple of new takes on dark matter showed up this week. One is completely wrong and the other is exactly right in concept if not in the model proposed to explain the concept.

In Physical Review Letters, a group of British and Italian physicists has published their conclusion that dark energy is increasing as it feeds off dark matter. As we saw here, dark energy is the proliferation of spacetime points by self-reproduction. It drives inflation, ultimately leaving spacetime in a state of coherent oscillation. The oscillation energy is dark matter, some of which decays to form luminous ordinary matter. So these scientists have it exactly backwards, Dark matter comes from dark energy; it doesn’t decay to dark energy.

On the arXiv, P.Q. Hung and K.J. Ludwick have come out with a model that has the inflaton (the field that drives inflation, which we know is dark energy) decaying to dark matter (correct), a proportion of which decays to luminous matter (correct). Their mathematical analysis is based on something called the luminogenesis model, which isn’t a very widely accepted model. I don’t understand the mathematics, but it looks way too complicated to be correct. However, it’s remarkable that they have the basic interaction right. Unfortunately, their fellow physicists will probably ignore it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Still Not Getting Warmer

At Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit answers the question, “Are there any plausible alternatives to string/M-theory as a fundamental theory of physics?” with a resounding “No!” Lee Smolin begs to differ, commenting that “There is a whole generation of brilliant young theorists working on alternatives to string theory you should meet.”

Readers of this blog know what spacetime and matter are made of, and can be pretty confident that all of that young brain power is barking up the wrong trees. Wish I could help.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Evil says, "I'm possible, therefore I am."

I found the following item on Peter Woit’s blog, Not Even Wrong.

The New Scientist article has Don Page pointing out that this [the many worlds interpretation] explains the problem of evil. God likes the idea of everything possible happening all the time so much he’d rather not be bothered to stop bad things from happening:

“God has values,” he says. “He wants us to enjoy life, but he also wants to create an elegant universe.” To God the importance of elegance comes before that of suffering, which, Page infers, is why bad things happen. “God won’t collapse the wave function to cure people of cancer, or prevent earthquakes or whatever, because that would make the universe much more inelegant.”

Remarkably, this is very close to the truth. The glaring problem with it, however, is Page’s attribution of human-like qualities to God. As we saw here, God is the atemporal aspect of existence. It is a thought thinking itself. It simply is. It doesn’t like or want. In observing itself it sees one world of the many possible worlds, and it sees everything in that world that is possible, thereby creating it. This is not because it wants to create this kind of world, but simply because it is existence, the creator of everything possible. We see some things as evil and some as good, but to God everything simply is. A fundamental tenet of quantum mechanics is that if something is possible, there is a nonzero probability that it will be observed. That’s exactly what you’d expect in a universe that consists of existence observing itself.

Many Worlds, Yet Again

On his blog, Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit reports that the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is getting favorable press again. We dealt with this interpretation here, showing that the many worlds form a population of possible worlds from which, in true quantum mechanical fashion, only one is chosen as atemporal existence observes itself. The many worlds interpretation proves that you can't do accurate physics if you ignore metaphysics.

Friday, September 26, 2014

All About the Higgs

When we first met the Higgs field, we didn’t say much about it, but it’s very important and there’s a lot we need to know about it. So let’s talk Higgs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

No, Guys, That's Not How Inflation Went

Sean Carroll is blogging about his new arXiv paper, in which he and Grant Remmen analyze a couple of inflation models to see how likely it is that they produce enough inflation to explain why the universe is so flat and smooth. It’s interesting work, but not very useful because, as I told you here, inflation didn’t happen according to those models or any of the other inflation models the physicists have proposed. As usual, it comes down to whether your spacetime model is correct, and theirs ain’t.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quantum Superpositions: Super Stuff

In an early post on this blog, entitled “What Are We Missing?”, I explained that the two things keeping the physicists from making progress are their fear of metaphysics and their lack of a correct spacetime model. I then showed that metaphysics is really physics and nothing to be afraid of, and I’m now doing a series of posts about the spacetime model that they need.

In my last post, we discovered that our spacetime of discrete points easily reproduces the physics of the early universe and is full of electrons, positrons, neutrinos, antineutrinos, and photons. This time I want to cover what I believe to be one of the truly wonderful features of this spacetime. It comes directly from the quantum mechanical principle of superposition and it gives us the composite particles such as protons and neutrons and the heavier leptons.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Point Quads...Seriously?

We’re in the process of constructing the spacetime model that I say is one of the things the physicists are missing that’s currently blocking their progress. In this post we’ll learn more about the structure of our spacetime. To discover its geometry, we used a symmetry principle—that the physics of the universe should look the same to every observer. The same principle can teach us something about time. Remember that there is an aspect of the universe that is atemporal—there’s no time. This means that the temporal aspect of the universe—the one we see—should also have zero time. Now, how in the world can a temporal universe have zero time? Easy. It just has to take a step backward for every step forward in time. What this does is split our spacetime into two similar fields, one going forward in time and one going backward. But there’s a subtlety here: one direction always has more points because the universe expands with every time step, forward or backward.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Particles, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy

In my last post, we gave birth to the spacetime model that the physicists are missing—one of the reasons why they’re not making progress. Now we need to flesh out the model by adding the structural details that will allow us to explain the standard models of particle physics and cosmology.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Really Big Bang, and then...Inflation

In her excellent blog, Backreaction, phenomenologist Sabine Hossenfelder laments the difficulty of finding a precise answer to the question, “What is a Singularity?” She talks about several kinds of mathematical and cosmological singularities and attempts to clear up the confusion about them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Metaphysics Is Physics--Just Think About It.

We tend to think of thoughts as nonphysical, nothing but the results of electrical activity in our brains. But are they all nonphysical? What about atemporal existence?  As I explained in this post, it’s a thought that exists in itself because it’s conscious—it thinks itself. I say that makes it physical. as solidly real as any other thing you can think of, and certainly more so than you or me, since it’s immortal and we’re not. By “physical,” I mean exactly what you’d think—stuff you can touch and feel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Many Worlds Are Called, but Only One Is Chosen

In a blog post entitled “Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Is Probably Correct,” Sean Carroll explains his strong belief in Hugh Everett III’s theory. It’s obvious that this universe results from a series of events, almost all of which could have produced some other outcome. So, there must be many, many possible universes, maybe not an infinite number, but a lot. Why this universe? Do all of these possible universes exist? The physicist Hugh Everett III thought that they do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All the Metaphysics You Need to Know

 “I think, therefore I am”. That was the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes. What was he saying?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"What Are We Missing?"

The physicists have problems. They’re charged with finding out what the universe is all about, and they don’t have a clue where to go from here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beware the Retired Engineer!

Physicists often complain about the volume of mail they receive from crackpots who want them to verify their badly conceived theories. What I didn’t realize is that any given crackpot has a high likelihood of being a retired engineer, and more specifically a retired electrical engineer! It came as quite a shock to learn this, since I happen to be a retired electrical engineer (and, some would say, a crackpot as well).