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    The Quote Of The Week - "No New Physics" Now Conceivable
    By Tommaso Dorigo | May 17th 2013 06:16 AM | 21 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    "New Physics can appear at any moment but it is now conceivable that no new physics will show up at the LHC"

    Guido Altarelli, LHC Nobel Symposium, May 15th 2013

    It is funny reading the above quote if you are one who "conceived" that the LHC could find no new physics 7 years ago, as demonstrated by where I put my money...

    Comments

    John Duffield
    I think you've been lucky to win that bet, Tommaso. Because I think there's new physics that's been missed. Because it isn't "beyond the standard model", it’s "within the standard model", and its pedigree is old physics that's already present in non-HEP fields. John Ellis peddles SUSY at every opportunity, like a Duracell bunny. Guido Altarelli comes out with things like "the minimal standard model Higgs is like a fairy tale", and calls for "a suitable new symmetry". Gian Guidice calls the Higgs sector the "toilet" of the standard model and writes papers like http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.6847 featuring gluinos and neutralinos. And they all walk straight past the low-hanging fruit. Even though Ellis refers to the Higgs field as a "relativistic aether" and Giudice describes GR as "the most elegant and captivating scientific theory ever proposed". You know how I was asking for a picture on your bb blog entry? And you didn’t have one? Well, when it comes to the big picture, these guys don’t have one either.
    dorigo
    Hi John,

    thanks for your fun comment. But I miss your underlying point: what is this new physics within the SM that we've missed ?

    Cheers,
    T.
    John Duffield
    Curved space. Not curved spacetime, curved space. And it's old physics, not new physics. Have a look at page 32 of A Zeptospace Odyssey and you see that Giudice thinks gravity is to do with curved space. You can see Feynman saying much the same here: http://www.peaceone.net/basic/Feynman/V2%20Ch42.pdf . And Wheeler, Feynman's advisor, said "matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move". But gravity isn't curved space, it's inhomogeneous space. Look at Einstein's Leyden Address and google on "inhomogeneous vacuum". Light moving through it curves, so we say spacetime is curved. But space isn't curved, it's inhomogeneous. If space was curved, a thrown ball would follow the same arc regardless of how fast you threw it. Gravity isn't to do with curved space. Electromagnetism is. Read this: http://www.compumag.org/jsite/images/stories/newsletter/ICS-99-06-2-Hammond.pdf. Then ask yourself how gamma-gamma pair production works.    
    Nothing too new or surprising in the linked articles and I always like to read Feynman (in this case, chapter 42 of the 'Lectures')

    > But space isn't curved, it's inhomogeneous

    That "is" is bizarre. Inhomogeneous in what? Sounds like someone just makes a mathematical link between paths through spacetime and light propgation in media here, which is probably useful as long as you don't do QM.

    > Gravity isn't to do with curved space. Electromagnetism is.

    Just no.Sounds adventurous.

    Einstein already went through the effort of trying to rope EM into GR. Failure ensued.

    John Duffield
    It isn't bizarre, Yatima, just unfamiliar to you. Read Einstein's Leyden Address where he said recognition of the fact that “empty space” in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic. Its properties are inhomogeneous, hence the coordinate speed of light varies in a non-inertial reference frame, hence light curves when it moves through a region of space where there's a gravitational field. Light doesn't move through spacetime, because it's an all-times-at-once mathematical model. It's the map, not the territory. Imagine you place parallel-mirror light-clocks in an equatorial slice around the Earth. When you plot all the readings you end up with the typical upturned-hat bowling-ball depiction of gravitational potential, wherein the curvature you can see relates to Riemann curvature. You are plotting "curved spacetime". But the light-clocks near the surface don't go slower because your plot is curved. They go slower because the properties of space at that location are different to the properties of space at a higher location. Einstein failed to rope EM into GR because he approached the problem from the wrong end. If you think curved-space electromagnetism is "just no", give the QM description of how gamma-gamma pair production works. Then brace yourself, because you're in for a nasty shock. 
    Hmmm, I'm not sure that point of view improves things a lot or adds anything. It's like tilde-ing all the variables...

    > Light doesn't move through spacetime

    Well, yes. Classically, particles "snap to" the locally shortest path of proper time, right? For light, zero proper time. Maybe this universe is just the result of an optimization procedure along some hypertime axis. Who knows.

    Percy Hammond's idea seems interesting (his book "Geometry of Electromagnetic Systems" is too expensive though) but I'm pretty sure I saw something along those lines in Wheeler's "Gravitation". Anyone have a copy handy? I lost mine... :-(

    John Duffield
    Wheeler referred to the geon, which is “an electromagnetic or gravitational wave which is held together in a confined region by the gravitational attraction of its own field energy.”  He got the curved space and the curved spacetime mixed up, and didn’t follow it through using displacement current. The typical electromagnetic sine wave is the derivative of a “hump” of four-potential A. Midway along the hump, four-potential and displacement are at a maximum. You can liken it to a guitar-string wire. The elastic properties of the wire are analogous to ε0 and μ0  which combine as c=√(1/ε0μ0) akin to the mechanics expression v=√(G/ρ). The reduced Planck's constant ħ relates to the displacement, since action is momentum times distance. The fine structure constant α=e²/4πε0ħc  gives the ratio of electromagnetic versus strong coupling, and is like “how easy it is to bend the wire versus stretching it”. Note that α includes the Coulomb constant 1/4πε0 which relates to the area of a sphere. Because what you need to do is not just bend a wire into a circle, but curve a lattice of wires representing space into a sphere. You know that Planck length is l=√(ћG/c³). Replace √(ћG) with 4πn where n is a suitable value. Now set n to 1, and work out 4πn/√(c³). There’s a bit of a binding energy adjustment to make related to the g-factor, but not much. A medical doctor called Andrew Worsley told me about this. Have a read of the Watt-balance section of the wikipedia kilogram article, wherein the plan is to define the kilogram using h and c.
    Has Distler conceded that you have won your bet yet? IIRC there might still be a few months left to the formal deadline, but not even he can believe in new physics in that period.

    dorigo
    Hi Thomas,

    I did not hear Distler lately, last time we discussed this was after last summer, when he said he was not ready to concede the bet yet. Gordon on the other hand said he was willing to, but then we left the matter hanging. Anyway there is no hurry...

    Cheers,
    T.
    A misleading title for your article Tommaso, perhaps due to subtleties of English usage.

    "No new physics now conceivable" would generally be taken to mean that it is inconceivable that new physics will be found. But that is not what Mr Altarelli means. He means that it is now conceivable that there is none - very different.

    dorigo
    Agreed Bill. But too late to change the title.. Anyway readers will figure out what Altarelli means by reading the quote.
    Cheers,
    T.
    dorigo
    What I'll do is what I should have done from the start: put quotes between "no new physics".
    T.
    John Duffield
    Are you there Tomasso? Check out Woit's blog and follow the link to what Weinstein says here:

    http://edge.org/responses/what-is-your-favorite-deep-elegant-or-beautiful-explanation

    My ears pricked up at mention of Atiyah. I know a guy called Qiu-Hong Hu, who was talking to Atiyah at ABB50/25 about TQFT and the nature of the electron. I'm into "Einstein's Geometrical Dream", I know a thing or two about this kind of thing. There may be trouble ahead.  
    dorigo
    Hi John,

    interesting. I am giving a look.

    Cheers,
    T.
    John Duffield
    Uh oh, Tommaso. See the latest blog entry. Woit has got the bit between his teeth, and is getting into a ding-dong with Matt Strassler. Sheesh, HEP needs some discoveries, fast. See this older blog entry: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=5667 ? See the bit that says More worrisome is that the Higgs sector introduces most of the undetermined parameters of the SM, a much more serious defect of the standard theory ? Thar's yer problem! There used to be an old TV program called Candid Camera. One of the spoofs involved taking the engine out of a car, putting a woman behind the wheel, and freewheeling it down a hill such that the woman could pull up on a garage forecourt. The mechanic would stroll up and ask what the problem was, and the woman would say My car's broken down. Then the mechanic would lift the bonnet and step back and scratch his head, and we'd all have a laugh at the look on his face. The standard model is something like that. It's got a hole it in, within it, not beyond it. But the HEP community has this blind spot, and just can't see it. It's like they're sitting in the car going nowhere, year after year. Some guy strolls up and pops the hood and says Thar's yer problem! But nobody's listening. One of the physicists in the car says What's that guy on about? Something about the wave nature of matter and low-hanging fruit? But another physicist says Aw, don't listen to him, he's just some crackpot. Now as I was saying about the multiverse... There may be trouble ahead, because if that car continues going nowhere, the only place it's going is into the crusher.
    Hank
     Thar's yer problem! 
    Why is it his problem?  You blame the HEP community because the theoretical physics community argues over pet ideas.  I can't wrap my head around why an IT person is telling actual physicists they have a blind spot - but are just fine with a whole bunch of flavors of made-up hypothetical physics.

    So since you see it and no one else does, what is in that blind spot?
    John Duffield
    It's his problem because public and politicians are losing faith in HEP and questioning its worth. See for example Zapperz's* blog where he says "Especially here in the US where funding for high energy physics is so crappy". You know the situation at Fermilab and elsewhere, and you know it's getting worse. By the way, the argument that's blowing up is between mathematicians and physicists. 

    The blind spot is the Higgs sector. I can see it because I'm an analyst, with a wide physics knowledge. See Guidice's Zeptospace Odyssey. The Higgs mechanism is responsible for 1% of the mass of matter, but that's at odds with E=mc² and "the mass of a body is a measure of it energy-content". Look further and you find Ellis referring to the Higgs field “as a kind of relativistic aether”. It’s only a short cosmic-treacle to cosmic-elastic condensate-step from that, to saying the Higgs field is responsible for 100% of photon energy-momentum. Then because you know about the wave nature of matter and that in atomic orbitals “electrons exist as standing waves”, you know the free electron is a standing wave too. Then you can say the Higgs field is responsible for 100% of electron mass. Momentum is a measure of how difficult to change the state of motion of a wave propagating linearly at c, inertia is a measure of how difficult it is to change the state of motion of a standing wave in a spin ½ "Dirac's belt" configuration. Or some other configuration where the "partons" are things like the bottom quark. Take a look at the Watt-balance section of the wikipedia kilogram article, wherein the proposal is to define the kilogram using h and c and not much else. The Higgs field is right there in that h. Then you pay attention to Percy Hammond and what actually happens in pair production and α=e²/4πε₀ħc and 1/4πε₀ and l=√(ћG/c³) and 4πn/√(c³), because the electron is just not some point particle. It's not just "an excitation of the electron field". It's a quantum field structure, and it's got a topology and a geometry. And when the penny drops with that, BANG goes the first free parameter, and then others are going down like ninepins. Then you follow that G and you're putting gravity into the standard model. And all the while the discoveries are coming thick and fast, and you get to keep your Higgs boson. Win win.

    * Talking of Zapperz, see his very latest blog entry. He's railing against crackpots. There's a guy who absolutely doesn't want no-nonsense independent science. And he is not alone. 
    dorigo
    Aw, John, sorry but one can't base speculations on these matters using a popularization book as a source.

    "The Higgs mechanism is responsible for 1% of the mass of matter, but that's at odds with E=mc² and "the mass of a body is a measure of it energy-content"."

    not at odds. The mass that the Higgs boson coupling is providing to elementary particles is the rest mass of constituents, but since quarks are bound inside hadrons, most of the mass of the latter is due to the energy of the system -kinetic and potential. There is nothing at odds with relativistic equations.

    For a clarification, and actually an interesting discussion among experts, see the comments thread here.

    Cheers,
    T.
    John Duffield
    I read it, Tomasso, and I was not impressed. Sean Carroll is the guy who talks about the evil twin universe where time runs backwards. And his blog entry concerns Michiu Kaku saying the Higgs helped cause the big bang. Not a good start. Then Carroll says stuff like the proton gets mass from the gluons holding the quarks together and one quark by itself would have infinite mass forgetting that in a hadron like the proton, the gluons are virtual particles. Then John Conway says quarks are whirling round at relativistic speeds, then Carroll puts it down to the residual energy of the strong force, then Travis likens quarks to meteors. Then vmarko says the total energy is actually negative, and refers to renormalization as if it's magic, then Matt Strassler defends John Conway and picks up vmarko saying binding energy can be positive. Martin Savage seems to know what he's talking about. So does Patrick, but he doesn't understand what a fermion field actually is. But ooh, there's Frank Close, a "relativistic aether" man. He's getting warm with details of how this confinement arises. Prof Layman is getting warm too with It would seem to indicate that they are really vibrations in the Higgs Field. I've spoken to Prof Layman before. But shucks, nobody raised the issue of how the Higgs boson gets its mass from the kinetic energy of the LHC protons, and nobody brought up low-energy proton-antiproton annihilation to gamma photons. Nobody said where do all the fundamental quarks and gluons and strong force go? But thanks anyway. Frank Close is at Oxford. I wonder what's he's going to be doing on Friday afternoon? 
    Hank
    I rail against crackpots all of the time. Saying that not accepting crackpots means not accepting creative science is a false dichotomy. Crackpots are rarely creative, they instead read something suitably cosmic or wacky and run with it.

    Big Physics is the only field hurt in the US, lots of smaller particle physics programs get approved just fine (NovA with Fermilab, for example) - and it is such because we showed we cannot pull it off with the SSC. We had a lot of success with a cute robot from Mars last year but the president canceled the trip to the moon, that doesn't mean astronomy is in crisis. It means we don't want projects 'too big to fail' any more. 

    It's not a science crisis in HEP either and the Higgs is not the aether, the aether is just one of those things people have invoked for the last 20 years to disparage everything science doesn't know (see also, dark energy, dark matter, etc.). 

    But contending there is this vast intellectual conspiracy and only some lone wolf on his blog realizes it is The Myth Of The Oppressed Underdog.  While I respect that you feel analytical enough to have found something no one in physics does, I instead know a lot of physicists and accept simple psychology.  Many are angry, competitive pricks who love nothing better than to make each other look stupid when possible - if there was a crack in HEP, it would be talked about everywhere.

    The head of the CIA can't keep his mistress a secret so a flaw in the Higgs would certainly be well known. The only cracks are in the theoretical community, where a whole lot of Dr. Oz-types are selling miracle cures and rely on not needing an evidence basis.

    You seem to be more interested in provoking physicists than learning any physics. That is the road to madness. 
    John Duffield
    You shouldn't rail, Hank. You should point out why something is mistaken. I tell you what, give me a paragraph explaining how gamma-gamma pair production works, and I'll point out why it's mistaken. Maybe then you'll understand something important. 

    Physics is hurting in a lot of places. The USA, Canada, Australia, the UK. Unless something changes it isn't going to get better, it's going to get worse.  You might not think there's a crisis in HEP, but remember the end of Terminator, what the gas station guy said: there's a storm coming. I'm not going to sit on my hands and do nothing about it. I'm going to do what I can to help.

    No, the aether is not "one of those things people have invoked for the last 20 years to disparage everything science doesn't know".  Where did you get that from? Go and read Einstein's Leyden Address, and search arXiv on the word. Take a look at aether theories on Wikipedia and see the Robert Laughlin quote.

    And there is no vast intellectual conspiracy. It's just how physics is, because of human nature. Have you ever read Graham Farmelo's The Strangest Man, about Dirac? Take a look at page 53. It's talking about 1923, and it says this: At that time, Cunningham and Eddington were streets ahead of the majority of their Cambridge colleagues, who dismissed Einstein's work, ignored it, or denied its significance. Don't believe me? Take a look at Clifford M Will's The Confrontation between General Relativity and Experiment. See page 6, and note this: "the steady accumulation of experimental support, together with the successful merger of special relativity with quantum mechanics, led to its being accepted by mainstream physicists by the late 1920s. It took 25 years for special relativity to become mainstream. Because Planck was right: science advances one funeral at a time. Because the first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. Why do you think we have creationists in this world? Because of religion? No, because people are convictional, and the irony is this: they are utterly convinced that they aren't.

    I'm not interested in provoking physicists, Hank. I'm interested in saving their bacon. But all said and done if I'm getting in the way of what you're trying to do here, drop me a line. I'll understand.