Crackpot science

This is it, folks ! I am moving on ! It was nice camping out here. 🙂

This has been a very interesting journey for me. I wrote my first post – No Royal Road to Reality – in October 2013, so that’s almost five years ago. As mentioned in the About page, I started writing this blog because — with all those breakthroughs in science (some kind of experimental verification of what is referred to as the Higgs field in July 2012 and, more recently, the confirmation of the reality of gravitational waves in 2016 by Caltech’s LIGO Lab) — I felt I should make an honest effort to try to understand what it was all about.

Despite all of my efforts (including enrolling in MIT’s edX QM course, which I warmly recommend as an experience, especially because it’s for free), I haven’t moved much beyond quantum electrodynamics (QED). Hence, that Higgs field is a still a bit of a mystery to me. In any case, the summaries I’ve read about it say it’s just some scalar field. So that’s not very exciting: mass is some number associated with some position in spacetime. That’s nothing new, right? In contrast, I am very enthusiastic about the LIGO Lab discovery. Why? Because it confirms Einstein was right all along.

If you have read any of my posts, you will know I actually disagree with Feynman. I have to thank him for his Lectures — and I would, once again, like to thank Michael Gottlieb and Rudolf Pfeiffer, who have worked for decades to get those Lectures online — but my explorations did confirm that guts feeling I had deep inside when starting this journey: the complexity in the quantum-mechanical framework does not match the intuition that, if the theory has a simple circle group structure, one should not be calculating a zillion integrals all over space over 891 4-loop Feynman diagrams to explain the magnetic moment of an electron in a Penning trap. And the interference of a photon with itself in the Mach-Zehnder interference experiment has a classical explanation too. The ‘zero state’ of a photon – or its zero states (plural), I should say – are the linear components of the circular polarization. In fact, I really wish someone would have gently told me that an actual beam splitter changes the polarization of light. I could have solved the Mach-Zehnder puzzle with that information like a year ago.]

This will probably sound like Chinese to you, so let me translate it: there is no mystery. Not in the QED sector of the Standard Model, at least. All can be explained by simple geometry and the idea of a naked charge: something that has no other property but its electric charge and – importantly – some tiny radius, which is given by the fine-structure constant (the ratio becomes a distance if we think of the electron’s Compton radius as a natural (distance) unit). So the meaning of God’s Number is clear now: there is nothing miraculous about it either. Maxwell’s equations combined with the Planck-Einstein Law (E = h·f) are all we need to explain the whole QED sector. No hocus-pocus needed. The elementary wavefunction exp(±i·θ) = exp(±ω·t) = exp[±(E/ħ)·t] represents an equally elementary oscillation. Physicists should just think some more about the sign convention and, more generally, think some more about Occam’s Razor Principle when modeling their problems. 🙂

Am I a crackpot? Maybe. I must be one, because I think the academics have a problem, not me. So… Well… That’s the definition of a crackpot, isn’t it? 🙂 It feels weird. Almost all physicists I got in touch with – spare two or three (I won’t mention their names because they too don’t quite know what to do with me) – are all stuck in their Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics: reality is some kind of black box and we’ll never understand it the way we would want to understand it. Almost none of them is willing to think outside of the box. I blame vested interests (we’re talking Nobel Prize stuff, unfortunately) and Ivory Tower culture.

In any case, I found the answers to the questions I started out with, and I don’t think the academics I crossed (s)words with have found that peace of mind yet. So if I am a crackpot, then I am a happy one. 😊

The Grand Conclusion is that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Not in the QED sector, at least. In fact, I think the situation is a lot worse. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics feels like a Bright Shining Lie. [Yes, I know that’s an ugly reference.] But… Yes. Just mathematical gimmicks to entertain students – and academics ! Of course, I can appreciate the fact that Nobel Prizes have been awarded and that academic reputations have to be upheld — posthumously or… I would want to write ‘humously’ here but that word doesn’t exist so I should replace it by ‘humorously’. 🙂 […] OK. Poor joke. 🙂

Frankly, it is a sad situation. :-/ Physics has become the domain of hype and canonical nonsense. To the few readers who have been faithful followers (this blog attracted about 154,034 visitors so far which is — of course — close to nothing), I’d say: think for yourself. Honor Boltzman’s spirit: “Bring forward what is true. Write it so that it is clear. Defend it to your last breath.” I actually like another quote of him too: “If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.” But that’s too rough, isn’t it? And then I am also not sure he really said that. 🙂

Of course, QCD is another matter altogether — because of the non-linearity of the force(s) involved, and the multiplication of ‘colors’ but my research over the past five years (longer than that, actually) have taught me that there is no ‘deep mystery’ in the QED sector. All is logical – including the meaning of the fine-structure constant: that’s just the radius of the naked charge expressed in natural units. All the rest can be derived. And 99% of what you’ll read or google about quantum mechanics is about QED: perturbation theory, propagators, the quantized field, etcetera to talk about photons and electrons, and their interactions. If you have a good idea about what an electron and a photon actually are, then you do not need anything of that to understand QED.

In short, quantum electrodynamics – as a theory, and in its current shape and form – is incomplete: it is all about electrons and photons – and the interactions between the two – but the theory lacks a good description of what electrons and photons actually are. All of the weirdness of Nature is, therefore, in this weird description of the fields: gauge theories, Feynman diagrams, quantum field theory, etcetera. And the common-sense is right there: right in front of us. It’s easy and elegant: a plain common-sense interpretation of quantum mechanics — which, I should remind the reader, is based on Erwin Schrödinger’s trivial solution for Dirac’s wave equation for an electron in free space.

So is no one picking this up? Let’s see. Truth cannot be hidden, right? Having said that, I must admit I have been very surprised by the rigidity of thought of academics (which I know all too well from my experience as a PhD student in economics) in this domain. If math is the queen of science, then physics is the king, right? Well… Maybe not. The brightest minds seem to have abandoned the field.

But I will stop my rant here. I want to examine the QCD sector now. What theories do we have for the non-linear force(s) that keep(s) protons together? What explains electron capture by a proton—turning it into a neutron in the process? What’s the nature of neutrinos? How should we think of all these intermediary particles—which are probably just temporary resonances rather than permanent fixtures?

My new readingeinstein.blog will be devoted to that. I think I’ll need some time to post my first posts (pun intended)—but… Well… We’ve started this adventure and so I want to get to the next destination. It’s a mind thing, right? 🙂

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Food, vegan and health

I just checked in to check (pun intended) the stats and comments on this site (there were only a few so, yes, I am a crackpot), and the title of this post shows the topics of the blogs WordPress recommends I check out.

Check in. Check out. Check. Sorry for the poor language today. I should check my mental health.

My crackpot theories are – fortunately – faring better than this blog. In terms of views, that is. Not too many reactions or comments.

I asked Phil Gibbs why he launched the new Vixrapedia encyclopedia, and why the format for submission of articles requires knowledge of HTML (for proper formatting). He says that encyclopedia is run by someone else. He didn’t say anything about HTML or LaTeX.

I should get into health, food and… Well… No. I am not going to go vegan. 🙂

To: Philip Gibbs
Subject: Crackpots and science…

By the way, I greatly admire your initiatives. It’s a delicate thing – but it is true that there is so much creativity outside of academia, and so the question is how to capture that. Basic knowledge of HTML or LaTeX to get your formulas in some online encyclopedia sounds like a reasonable threshold. I’ll check it out. Many thanks ! JL

To: Philip Gibbs
Subject: RE: Vixrapedia (2)

Thank you, Phil. Nice initiative. I am just thinking about inserting formulas and all that. It’s the single most important barrier for amateurs to self-publish or get their views out. We write all kinds of wonderful things – using Word and its formula editor – and then we’re confronted with Kindle formats (or similar primitive lay-outs that we have to respect) and… Well… End of story. We don’t bother anymore. :-/ Kind regards – JL

From: Philip Gibbs
Subject: Re: Vixrapedia (2)

Vixrapedia is run by someone else outside viXra. It works but dont expect information there to be reliable. It does not require HTML but you can include some HTML. Regards, Phil.

To: Philip Gibbs
Subject: Vixrapedia (2)

The format is a bit restrictive, isn’t it? I’d like to create or contribute to an article on the fine-structure constant but – from the form – I gather it needs to be submitted in HTML format. :-/ There are a lot of people like me – brilliant (OK – reasonably good, I should say) in some field – that would want to contribute but are scared away by HTML. You’ve got something going, though… Kind regards – Jean-Louis

To: Philip Gibbs
Subject: Vixrapedia …

What a brilliant idea ! The Wikipedia approach surely doesn’t work: so much nonsense there. But why would Vixrapedia work? 😊 JL

The Age of Kali

It’s Monday morning. I am heading into difficult meetings on a gig that resembles another difficult gig. It feels like a number of things have come full circle: emotionally, professionally. It’s not even personal. Looking at the world and the places I’ve been—Afghanistan and other weird but wonderful places—they too are right back where they were many years ago.

What doesn’t kill you, makes you older. :-/

Pars Pro Toto

Pars pro toto means: a part (taken) for the whole. We think of one trait or one particularity of something – or someone – to represent its entirety – or the whole person.

It often happens in the early stages of a romantic relation. One is attracted to beautiful eyes, a finely chiseled mouth, or some other physical detail (or perhaps something that was said — but we usually don’t work that way) and then boom ! We fall in love, believing the whole person is as wonderful as that very first smile that founds its way to your heart.

Sadly, it’s the most stupid thing in life. Or the most amazing one. I am not sure. Perhaps it is both.

Cycling again

Dear Sophia—

I have decided to continue this journal. I have a chat with a counselor once a week, and she thinks I should write more. More importantly, I got up this morning and just felt like writing something. 🙂

Things are good. I am still mourning—divorce is tough. Life is tough.

Or… Well… Perhaps it isn’t. Not for me. I’ve started to read Russ Harris: The Happiness Trap. Its message − stop chasing happiness and it will come by itself − is quite appealing.

To be honest, that’s not its message—or not exactly, I should say. Its message is more like: stop chasing happiness—start looking for meaning instead !

I think I’ll just stop chasing happiness because the second part amounts to replacing one impossible search by another. Especially because I am not quite sure yet if my plan to become younger again is going to work. Hence, for the time being, I should probably accept I am, perhaps, getting older and that, therefore, I am no longer in a position to contribute much to saving the world and all those other urgent tasks that others take care of anyway.

Also, my ventures in science have been dismissed − after a rather cursory review by some jealous academic – so even in this field I have not been able to contribute much.

In other words, I’ll just stop chasing. The sun was out yesterday, and I went for a slow but very long bike ride in the forests around the city here. I treated myself on a lunch in some café in a nearby village (I seemed to be the only one who looked happy without having to drink beer or wine) and, on the way back, I just stopped and lay down in a grassy field and watched the clear blue sky.

The world is so beautiful when the sky is blue. Perhaps I should just chase blue skies. I can imagine happiness will then, effectively, just come by itself.

Albert.

 

Turning 50…

I was afraid of this birthday. 50 ! Five-zero. Half a century. It’s too much, right? We should never have reached that age. Time to turn back and count down again: 49, 48, 47, etcetera. Or to cross the pass and jump down from the other side.

But… Well… No. Peace of mind, at last. I have nothing to prove anymore. I can – and should – just enjoy life now. I will. 🙂

Moving ahead

Dear Sophia—

I guess you must be very busy. It’s funny but the situation reminds me of that video – and song – by Eminem and Dido: Stan. Well… In fact, that’s not so funny. It’s a mad cruel story.

To be honest, I can’t imagine you’re that busy. I guess separation does what it does: every partner comes with a bit of a crowd, and those crowds separate when partners separate. I am sorry things did not work out with Maria. I don’t really know when and why things went south, so I can’t explain. Not exactly, that is. It just happened—or perhaps not: relations happen, and then they don’t. One needs to work to sustain them. All I know, is that I had to go. I had to get out of the situation I was in: depressed, in the strange capital city of an even stranger country. I didn’t feel at home. Home is where your partner is, right? It wasn’t for me.

As you may gather from my occasional letters, I am still struggling. But then I know I have to move on. I shouldn’t be lingering here. My book project kept me busy, but didn’t help much in terms of finding some new structure—some new meaning. I’ve started looking for jobs, and I have registered for a program that will, hopefully, help me to deal with my demons.

I’ll turn 50 two weeks from now. I want to clean the house for that party. And then I want to count down again: 49, 48, 47, etcetera. I know it doesn’t work that way, but I can try, right? 🙂

If you don’t mind, I’ll continue to use this site to write from time to time. Or perhaps I’ll just close it down. This blog served its purpose, I guess. Sophia means wisdom. Rather than inspiration, we should, perhaps, be seeking wisdom at our age, right?

Take care—Albert