Why aren’t physicists ashamed of what is claimed to be modern physics?
Published in physic.philica.com
Recent work in "physics" raises some fascinating questions, not about physics, for it has nothing to do with physics or reality, nor is it meant to obviously, but about the sociology of science, honesty and the policies and purposes of the science community. This work, appearing in and often filling all the "leading" journals like the Physical Review and the Physical Review Letters, shows how bizarre the human "thought" process can become.
But isn't this work very carefully peer reviewed (that is censored) before being published? It is a fundamental belief of the academic community that the way to find truth is through censorship. Referees are brilliant geniuses who are highly objective and would never allow their own personal, selfish interests, their prejudices, to affect their judgments. Yet criticism, even just analysis, of their papers would show that the referees and editors are producing nonsense and undermine their careers. However when a scientist receives a paper to referee there is a magic transformation that gives him, her or it the ability to see the future so as to be able to tell whether the material in the paper will be important now or later, turns the referee into a fully objective, brilliant genius, removing all possible conflicts of interest no matter how severe, even any concern that the paper will destroy the referee's career. It is well-known that scientists believe in magic. The whole process of administering science is based on the magic transformation.
Let us see then some of the truths that peer review (censorship) leads to. These have been discussed extensively before [1,3,4,5,6] and here it is only possible to give summaries of a few examples with details in the literature.
These emphasize why it is so essential that honest discussions not appear in the literature. That would wreck people's careers. Thus "honest", objective refereeing is vital to prevent that, prevent truth.
Perhaps the most faddish, widespread work in physics is on string theory and beyond that on branes. There is a slight problem that these require the dimension be 10 or 11. String theory has been criticized as being unable to make predictions. But it has made one: the dimension and that is wildly wrong. In science if experiment disagrees with your theory the proper thing to do is ignore experiment. And that is just what is done.
However it has long been known that physics (thus a universe) would be impossible in any dimension but 3+1 . String theory and its extensions are therefore impossible. But this is a very uninteresting result: uniquely for modern physics it agrees with reality instead of wildly disagreeing with it. Thus no one cares about that result.
The argument (based on group theory ) is simple (although too long to be given here). Coordinates are given by real numbers. Streets are labeled by real, not complex, numbers. The behaviors of objects are given by wavefunctions, and these are complex (involving the square root of -1). Suppose we rotate the coordinates, say choose a z axis at an angle to the previously chosen one. Consider, for example, a wavefunction that gives the spin of an electron to be along z. We must transform the wavefunction to give the spin at an angle to the new z axis. These are transformations on complex numbers. Thus when we rotate (real) coordinates we must transform (complex) wavefunctions. Also the transformations must be (essentially) the same. Technically the unitary group transforming the complex wavefunctions must be homomorphic to the orthogonal (rotation) group transforming the real coordinates. However they are not, which makes physics impossible. Fortunately there is one exception in which they are, dimension 3+1. That is the reason for the dimension of space, and the only possible dimension.
String theory and branes and such cannot possibly be correct, they are nonsense, worse than astrology. They are like a theory requiring 1+1 to equal 3, or ones with spin . These would be exciting and a lot of "physicists" would love them.
But "physicists" are aware of the many problems with these theories. Their reaction is "they are not crackpot enough, we have to find more crackpot versions". That they are working very hard, with much success, in doing.
Ignoring, which the universe cannot, that string theory is impossible, it is at best wildly speculative (with no rationale and other severe problems ). Consider however the many books written about it, and which sell quite well. Do people buy the books because they want to know about the latest wild speculations or because they believe these books present the (almost) certain truth about nature? Do these books warn readers that they are at best wild speculation? If not aren't they misleading people into buying (paying money for) them? Isn't that fraud?
Science societies, and governments, put great emphasis on ethics and get very (publicly) disturbed when someone misrepresents data. Of course we all know that they are really do not take ethics seriously but only use it to distract attention from what is actually happening. Is destruction of knowledge and holding back science, wasting vast amounts of taxpayer money and the careers of many scientists, by censorship (under the euphemism "peer review") ethical? Certainly. If that is what the leaders of science want to do it is by definition ethical.
We see then that giving censorship a euphemism "peer review" turns it into a magical process for finding truth (or is for protecting the leaders of the science community?).
If this work is all nonsense why are so many "physicists" doing it? Why not work on a reasonable theory? The problem is that there are none. If someone cannot develop a theory of high-temperature superconductivity there are a vast number of different problems, and fields, in condensed-matter physics (and beyond) to work on. But in areas like particle physics developing a reasonable theory would be a major scientific accomplishment. No one has (yet?). Yet academics' job is to publish. (It is irrelevant whether it contributes knowledge or leads to the advancement of the field.) There are graduate students to provide with theses problems. And publication is necessary to get grants providing much needed overhead (universities are businesses and need money). What to do if there is nothing to work on (except get into a different branch of the subject)? It is here that peer review is so especially important. The leaders of the field develop theories that, no matter how nonsensical, are accepted. Every one then works in these fields and the referees and editors publish their papers. Thus professors get publications, much taxpayer money, titles with lots of adjectives and invitations to conferences (holidays at taxpayer expense). And if the Dean asks "what kind of nonsense are you publishing, and under our name"? the answer is "the censors approved it so it does not matter if it is complete nonsense". Peer review is essential. And being in accord with the latest fad, no matter how absurd, is required for success. In academic life what is important is not truth, not scholarship, but conformity. Peer review enforces the much needed conformity so is fundamental in the search for "truth".
There is much other fascinating work in modern "physics". There is a general belief about the Bohm version of the EPR experiment that quantum mechanics gives that spatially separated objects exhibit correlations, so that quantum mechanics is nonlocal. But that would violate an uncertainty principle (number-phase). This argument has nothing to do quantum mechanics which is a statistical theory. It cannot be applied to a single event which this argument requires. What the argument shows is that classical physics is nonlocal. Consider a spherical shell which explodes into two objects spinning in (of course) opposite directions (which cannot be known until measured). When the spin direction of one is measured that of the other is forced into the opposite direction, even though it is now in a different galaxy. Hence classical physics is nonlocal . Those who think quantum mechanics is nonlocal (which it is not and which the argument does not show) must agree that it is really classical physics that is nonlocal.
Physicists have spent much time, and public money, looking for proton decay. But conservation of energy prohibits proton decay . The proton cannot decay. The belief comes from putting the proton in multiplets with objects that do decay. But what is put into these is not the proton. Using p as the symbol for an object does not make it into a proton. That has strong (nuclear) interactions and these prevent the decay (leading to conservation of baryons). If strong interactions are not taken into account (and they are not) the whole argument is irrelevant and the belief in proton decay wrong. But if they want to do that they can put George Bush into the same multiplet and he would decay also. Unfortunately that does not happen either (at least not in that sense).
There are (too) many "physicists" working to quantize gravity. When quantum mechanics was first developed people did not understand it (of course) or how to use it. Thus what they did was to take classical formalism and apply tricks (usually changing commuting operators into noncommuting ones) to get the quantum mechanical formalism. This way of guessing was called quantitization. Classical physics is inherently inconsistent, impossible. Thus this method is changing an inconsistent theory, classical physics, into a correct one, quantum mechanics, was called quantitization. That is like finding some trick to change Aristotelian physics into classical physics. It makes no sense . And most systems do not have classical analogs to use. That is not the way to find the correct formalism (as most people know, but not explicitly).
Beyond that there is already a quantum theory of gravity, the only possible one: general relativity [1,4]. Why do physicists dislike Einstein so much? Quantitization of gravity is not a scientific pursuit but purely a make-work project for theoretical physicists.
A major problem in "physics" is to understand why the cosmological constant is so small. And it is, it is trivially 0. But such an obvious simple answer is boring so there is much work studying this "problem" [1,4]. Putting it, , in Einstein's equation (subscripts suppressed), G(x,y,z,t) = , equates a function to a constant. That is like saying that [sin(x)][tan(3x)] + 5cos[9x][sin(99x)] = 55 for all values of x. Even a pre-high school student would know that it is nonsense. But such a student would never be made a professor of physics. A more sophisticated way of saying this is that it equates a function of a massless representation of the Poincaré group to a function of a momentum-0 representation, which is like equating a vector and a scalar. No physics student would dare do that. But physics professors get many papers from doing that. There can be no cosmological constant.
The cosmological constant is supposed to be due to the energy of the vacuum. This belief in vacuum energy and that the vacuum is full of particles jumping in and out of it is due to the use of Feynman diagrams which includes ones that look like this. But these diagrams are merely pictures to help with the bookkeeping in an approximation scheme (perturbation theory). These concepts of vacuum energy and that it is full of particles would never have arisen if a different approximation scheme were used. "Physicists" believe that nature is determined by the calculational methods they employ. It is unlikely nature agrees. However if the vacuum has energy it must be possible to get some out (or it would be meaningless to say it has energy). But the vacuum is a big place so there is a lot of energy. Thus these "physicists" who say that the vacuum has energy are claiming that there is a perpetual motion machine. They should build a model.
Are there magnetic monopoles ? In Maxwell's equations the electric charge appears but there is a hole left for a magnetic monopole. But that is irrelevant as these equations are purely classical. Most physicists apparently have never heard that classical physics is wrong (nor is it possible ) and quantum mechanics is the correct formalism. However it must be admitted that quantum mechanics is so new (only about 80 years old) that most physicists haven't had time to learn of it. The correct theory (as just a few physicists know) is quantum electrodynamics. But in it there is no room in for a monopole or any way of putting one in. A monopole cannot affect charged particles so is undetectable thus nonexistent. The lack of symmetry that has everyone so concerned is merely a quirk of the wrong formalism.
Also there are no such things as point charges. The electromagnetic field is not a physical object, it is not gauge invariant and obviously it is not measurable. The potential is .
Why is gravity so weak? It may not be obvious that it is but hold a paper clip up with a magnet. The entire earth is pulling it down with the gravitational force while the little magnet, so with a weak magnetic force, is holding it up. Or if your hand is charged from walking across a rug it can hold up a piece of paper which the entire earth is pulling down. Thus gravity must be very weak. This not usually noticeable because objects are uncharged. (However magnetic fields play very large parts in astrophysics and cosmology). One fascinating idea (which of course does not lead to the calculation of the gravitational constant) is that gravity is weak because it leaks out of the universe  (undoubtedly helping much taxpayer money to leak out with it). Not only is gravity weak but so is the intelligence of those who provide money for such nonsense.
It is an article of faith among "physicists" that quantum mechanics is weird, strange, inconsistent with common sense [1,5]. What is weird is the obsession of "physicists" for flaunting their incompetence and confusion about their own field. Quantum mechanics is completely clear, easily understandable and totally necessary. Much of the misunderstanding is due to misuse of language (something so extensive it cannot be considered here), using words in two senses simultaneously, words that are not words or have meaning different from what is intended .
. Mirman, R. (1995a), Group Theory: An Intuitive Approach (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.).
. Mirman, R. (1995b), Group Theoretical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Commack, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; republished by Backinprint.com).
. Mirman, R. (1995c), Massless Representations of the Poincaré Group, electromagnetism, gravitation, quantum mechanics, geometry (Commack, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; republished by Backinprint.com).
. Mirman, R. (2001a), Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory: geometry, language, logic (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; republished by Backinprint.com).
. Mirman, R. (2001b), Quantum Field Theory, Conformal Group Theory, Conformal Field Theory: Mathematical and conceptual foundations, physical and geometrical applications (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; republished by Backinprint.com).
Information about this Article
Published on Monday 23rd October, 2006 at 12:38:33.
Peer review added 23rd October, 2006 at 13:34:38
This article has little to recommend it. It consists of sarcasm, mockery, unsubstantiated claims, and non sequiters. The author invites us to go down a rabbit-hole of verifiability, citing himself six times and no one else. Moreover, the article’s abject tone of hostility ensures that it will not be heard by its putative audience.
Peer review added 25th October, 2006 at 14:03:46
From the self-references, I can deduce that you have thought about quantum physics for at least 10 years. That is a commendable feat in itself, I must say.
Peer review added 3rd January, 2007 at 21:46:21
Though Mirman has a worthwhile thesis, it lacks coherence and basic grounding. Thus his group theory arguments may be correct within their conceptual and axiomatic system. The decisive test for physicists is (or should be) whether they represent the real world.
Peer review added 16th February, 2007 at 01:22:41
I agree with much of what the author says, and it is important that it be published. Fads are too commonly self perpetuating in physics and string theory is the worst example of this. The author weakens his argument by being a bit too overeaching and doctrinaire. This can give the impression that his polemic has more to do with his own frustration than with actual improper reviewing. That is unfortunate because improper reviewing is rampant and the whole concept of “peer review” should be reviewed, but I am afraid this article will not be given full weight because of its personal nature. The argument would be strengthened by some outside references other than just to the author. He makes many strong statements of fact, but I don’t agree with all of them. I have looked at his argument against proton decay, and do not agree with it. While the gist of the article is in the right direction, it is weakened by too many absolute assertions, not all of which are as absolute as the author would like.
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