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Respectable physicists gone crackpotty July 21, 2007

Posted by dorigo in humor, news, physics, science.
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While discussing with me the ups and downs of a quick diffusion of information in the blogosphere, an esteemed theoretical physicist pointed me to a paper posted on the ArXiV just four days ago, as an example of the damage that scientists themselves may risk causing to their own field of research.

The paper is a startling read. I apologize to the authors for my bluntness, but I am used to speak my mind in my blog: I had not seen such a pile of unmitigated BS in the ArXiV since I don’t know when.

The paper (hep-ph/0707-1919), titled “Search for Future Influence from the LHC”, is written by two respectable physicists, and at least one of them is indeed quite famous. I am tempted to review it in detail, but let me rather choose the path of utter incorrectness for once, by quoting out of context, just to give you the flavor of the whole pile. Quoting out of context is a sublimely reproachable art: you can make a genius look like an idiot, and vice-versa. It’s called journalism, baby.

So here we go. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to get bumpy.

“Abstract: (yes, it starts right there) We propose an experiment which consists of pulling a card and use it to decide restrictions of the running of LHC at CERN, such as luminosity, beam energy or total shut down”.

I have to compose myself, since tears are running down my cheeks.

Ok, let’s move on.

The paper starts with a sobering remark, which nobody can disagree with. It still gets shivers down my spine:

“Usually it is believed by causality that backward causation[1], in the sense of what happens at a later time influences what happens earlier, does not occur”.

That really sets the stage: the authors know what they are talking about: they are not aliens, they pat our shoulder and say, pal, we’re on the same league here.

“When the Higgs particle shall be produced, we shall retest if there could be influence from the future so that, for instance, the potential production of a large number of Higgs particles in a certain time development would cause a pre­-arrangement so that the large number of Higgs productions, should be avoided.”

Hmm… A momentary divergence ?

“Such prearrangements may be considered influence from the future”

No. The helm is firmly set towards nonsense.

The paper now starts discussing probabilities in the context of the path integral formalism, with an action which has an imaginary part (a crucial detail, apparently). A discussion of the impact of a imaginary part of the action on the evolution of the universe follows. Then things get even murkier:

“However, high energy physics machines with their relativistic particles would [...] may [sic] influence their past and for instance such influence could have meant that these machines would have been met with bad luck by prearrangement and got their funds cut so as not work”.

Here I am crying for the revolting grammar, but the point is that these guys are using a noun, “luck”, which, let’s put it mildly, does not belong in a scientific paper. But more tests are in store:

“Seemingly there were no such effects of bad luck for relativistic accelerators as ISR wherein the particles were even stored for long times”.

There follow a couple of sentences which I have no guts to copy here. Some fragments:

“To rescue our model [...] we could, however, make in our opinion the very mild speculation that fundamentally there exists magnetic monopoles [...] provide the argument for that even for the high energy experiments so far no effect of bad or good luck should have been observed”.

And then they turn to the Higgs.

“Thus it is really not unrealistic that precisely at the first a large number of of Higgs production also our model-expectations that is influence for the future would show up”.

That is too much. Such grammar would be enough for me to prevent publication even on a preprint server. But refraining from vomiting, let me quote the following sentence.

“Very interestingly in this connection is that the SSC in Texas accidentally would have been the first machine to produce Higgs on a large scale. However it were actually stopped after a quarter of the tunnel were built, almost a remarkable [underlined in the original] piece of bad luck.”

Aha! Now I get it. Let me guess. Probably the future influenced the minds of US congressmen into voting off the SSC funding, so that fewer Higgses would be produced. The universe is saved! D3B0, open the worm hole, we’re going home!

Do you need to stop reading and get a glass of whiskey ? Please do, it’s not over yet. Pour it down and stay with me till the bitter end. We’re now going into the section called “Proposal of the experiment“. They need to lay down some preliminary observation first.

“It seems most likely that production of Higgs particles should lead to smaller P(s) than no Higgs production since otherwise there would presumably already have been produced lots of Higgs particles in nature somehow.”

Gulp. John, please give me another glass. No ice.

“With this model we expect, that a Higgs producing machine will be stopped by some accident or another if the effect is sufficiently large…”

Oh god.

“The experiment proposed in the present article is to give the ‘foresight’, so to speak, a chance of avoiding having to close LHC by some funding or other bad luck accident, as it happened to SSC, by instead playing a game of pulling a card from a well mixed stack about the running of the LHC”.

John, you can leave the bottle here. Gosh. No kidding. These guys are proposing to save the LHC physics program by pulling a card out of a deck. But it gets even more delirious, if you still haven’t reached the bottom of your scale yet.

“On most of the cards there should be just written ‘use LHC freely’, so that they cause no restrictions.”

Whew, I feel relieved.

“But on a very small fraction of the cards there should be restrictions for luminosity or beam energies or some combination. On one card one may eve have ‘close LHC’.”

I could comment that I did play similar games in my middle school time and again, but I never reverted causality, maybe because I never got the hot card – kissing the ugly ones was the most exciting thing that used to happen.

Enough already ? Not really. Read this:

“The numbers r,a and p should of course be very small, whereas the excess average damage, presumably is of order unity. One could, however, estimate that this damage extra presumably involves even human lives so that several people may be killed during some explosion stopping LHC.”

Wait. You’re right. Enough said.

It’s very sad to see some valuable minds writing such a pile of unmitigated bullshit (I allow myself the word this down the post). It makes one wonder if their reputation is an accident. So now who is the crackpot ? The honest amateur who tries to find a relationship between mass values, or the big shot with hundreds of published papers ?

Nobody is a crackpot. Ideas are good, bad, idiotic, demented. If there were a fifth category, the paper discussed above would belong to it.

Update (for the series, better late than never): I realized with a week of delay that Sabine at Backreaction had already discussed the paper… Oh well, that allowed me a fresh look at it rather than a pre-digested one ;-) Not that I object to Bee’s paper digestion… 

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Comments

1. Helge - July 21, 2007

Maybe, they got a bet running? Maybe on how many people will discuss their paper in their weblog?

Best,
H.

2. Tony Smith - July 21, 2007

The posting of the Nielsen-Ninomiya paper on the hep-ph section of arXiv at 0707.1919
Search for Future Influence from L.H.C
makes me feel honored to be blacklisted by the Cornell arXiv,
so that
my recent work is not in the same pool contaminated by such stuff.

My sympathy to others whose recent work posted on hep-ph is now associated with such garbage.

Tony Smith

PS – Helge’s comment indicating a possibility that Nielsen and Ninomiya may have posted the paper as a joke or social experiment is
sadly
refuted by looking at another paper by Nielsen and Ninomiya:
hep-ph/0612032
entitled “Future Dependent Initial Conditions from Imaginary Part in Lagrangian”
whose abstract concludes with the statement “Higgs machines will be hit by bad luck.”

Now I will go drink some Strega.

3. Guess Who - July 21, 2007

There is a guy at the University of Washington who’s trying to set up an experiment on “backward causality” involving only a laser, a beam splitter and plenty of optical fiber. No Higgs, no messing around with billion dollar colliders. At least he’s cheap. So cheap in fact that he could get no funding until some newspaper wrote about his “plight” and he received some $40000 in donations to perform the experiment:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/07/17/274531.aspx

Here’s the really scary part. Quoting straight from the Cosmic Log post:

Cramer is grateful for all the donations, but he admitted that he’s “a little uncomfortable” about the way things have gone so far. Usually, physicists work in obscurity, get some funding, conduct an experiment, publish the results – and only then does the publicity come, if the results are spectacular enough. The way Cramer sees it, there’s been a heck of a lot of publicity already about an experiment that has yet to be done.

“We seem to be doing it sort of backwards, in a sense,” he said. Then, realizing that he’s been talking about backward causality, he added with a chuckle that “it may be relevant to the experiment we’re trying to do.”:

See, maybe Nielsen and Ninomiya are on to something, but got it backwards: the experiment really wants to be performed. ;)

P.S. Strega is great. Wish I had some handy.

4. Kea - July 22, 2007

Disturbing post, Tommaso, but I cannot believe you misspelt whyskey

5. dorigo - July 22, 2007

Indeed. Corrected before you mentioned it… I had a hard time during posting this, because of some glitch with wordpress. I now fixed a few other things too…

Cheers,
T.

6. dorigo - July 22, 2007

Hi Helge, Tony is right – this is no joke. It is darn serious BS.

Tony, I agree, hep-ph could use some rehashing of their censorship lists…

GW, sure, the two crackpots are not alone in this game of perverted causality. But the article they wrote really, really goes too far. Maybe they do have some ace up their sleeve. Then again, they busted it.

Cheers,
T.

7. Quantoken - July 22, 2007

Come on, Dorigo! Even an Italian high energy physicist can use some sense of humor. Don’t you ever laugh? It’s a prank OK, but it’s not serious crackpotism.

And it is NOT a crackpot idea that the LHC may well be shut down for funding reasons. You know it is not about science. It is about politics and economy. I suggest that we shut down LHC, for the reason that it is using up too much of the limited remaining helium resources on earth, depriving other fields of science their fair change of development, like cryogenics. It is true, the start up and operation of LHC will consume almost 30% of the world’s helium production.

Helium IS the second most abundant element in the universe but it is an extremely rare element on the earth, generated by natural decay of elements, and only exists in certain rigid geological structures where the rocks are so tight they can not escape. We have not yet grasped the technology that would allow we to travel to outspace and harvest helium economically. Nuclear reactors in the world does generate minuscule amount of helium but the cost will run to a million times more expensive than gold.

8. Alejandro Rivero - July 22, 2007

Hey, we could do a paper about not finding the Higgs: No new physics in the LHC would imply violation of unitarity, thus non conservation of the probability, thus the sum of the probabilities of all the possible outcomes being different of the unity (but I am not sure if it should be greater than unity or smaller than unity). Now try to work out causality in this scenario.

9. Amitabha - July 22, 2007

You actually read the whole paper! I am impressed. I gave up right after reading the abstract.

10. tulpoeid - July 22, 2007

It’s sad, but admittedly, this blog is sloping down the filthy side of journalism… How could you omit the quote “In this way we claim to obtain the
second law of thermodynamics out of our model” ???

11. Jester - July 22, 2007

The funniest thing is that Nielsen is beginning this August his associate professorship at CERN TH. Thus, he has the means to demonstrate the backwards-in-time influence. For example, he could prove his theory by flooding the tunnel or blowing up the detectors…
Hats off to the selection commitee :-)

12. dorigo - July 22, 2007

Hi Quantoken, helium is extracted from natural gas and there is no risk of running out of supplies in the near future. As far as your proposal to shut down the LHC because it is using too much of it, I guess it does well fit in this column, given the sorely a-scientific nature of the things it deals with.

Hi Alejandro. Yes, it is a good suggestion, but I think I have more constructive ways of using my vacation time ;-) We should ask the guys to work out a way to make money gambling. Before then, they should be prevented from publishing again…

Amitabha, it is one’s duty when reporting about a paper to at least read it once :)

Tulpoeid, I did spot the sentence, but there was such a long list of quotable nonsensical assertions that it remained in the queue. Thanks for bringing it up…

Hi Jester, yes, it is embarassing to hire somebody who proposes to close the lab. I hope he will change his research interests…

Cheers to all,
T.

13. Guess Who - July 22, 2007

In fairness, I feel obliged to point out that there is a simple way to avoid the (accidental) “close the lab” outcome. The deck of cards could be consulted every 24 hours (or other convenient time period), and the result would be valid only for the next 24 hours. So, the worst possible outcome of each draw would be “don’t run the LHC for the next 24 hours”. Now, if that result kept coming up day after day, in spite of having some very low probability (e.g. one in a million, with a radioactive sample connected to a detector acting as true random number generator and a computer doing the “drawing” of “cards”) even we hardnosed skeptics would have to start wondering what’s going on. If, on the other hand, there is no backward causality, the LHC will run as usual and no damage will have been done.

14. Alejandro Rivero - July 23, 2007

“Dr Mary Malone would have been familiar with that sort of story in the course of her search for dark matter. But it might not have occurred to her, for example, when she sent a postcard to an old friend shortly after arriving in Oxford for the first time, that that card itself would trace part of a story that hadn’t yet happened when she wrote it. Perhaps some particles move backwards in time; perhaps the future affects the past in some way we don’t understand; or perhaps the universe is simply more aware than we are. There are many things we haven’t yet learned how to read”

15. Philip Alexander - July 23, 2007

In this house of R’lyeh, the Great Cthulu sleeps and dreams of our world, spinning.

And we shall use the weapons of the Great Old Ones to defeat them, and set our world free.

This is an approved article by the Society To Free Earth From Time Lane Hijackers. Begone, pests.

16. serafino - July 23, 2007

Wait, isn’t their paper an … extended anthropic principle?
s.

The motto of the Serra di Cassano family (written on their famous palace in Naples) was ‘VENTURI NON IMMEMOR AEVI’, ‘we do not forget the future’, or something like that. (Unfortunately the family
had, since then, a tragic story).

17. Qubit - July 23, 2007

Would this card be a card from a standard pack or a special card or a Joker?
Do you think there will be an Earthquake tomorrow? Only if you have built a two loop colider and not told anyone!

Maybe there is an Hannibal Lecter out there who eats branes for breakfast so Quick that it does not matter how big you build your collider?

We set sail on a ship towards nonsense a long time ago, it’s just nobody has realised it yet. Here is a bit of nonsense; I’ve tested all colliders in the universe already, and yours is poor, plays a nice light note tho!( when it works! ) It’s when you’ve created a band that starts playing Nearer, My God to Thee, then its time to worry; all the musicians went down with the ship! Am just glad am the Chef!

Breakfast anyone?

18. M - July 23, 2007

Papers by Nielsen are considered as crazy in the good sense.

LHC is not an easy machine; for the first time CERN built a collider while having budget problems; precision data suggest a light Higgs and finding it needs a difficult analysis; the Higgs can be be undetectable in a hadron machine if it decays into new neutral particles…

It is quite possible that the “prediction” by Nielsen will be successful for the next 20 years!

19. dorigo - July 23, 2007

GW, I may agree that once one crosses the line of mental sanity there still are various levels of craziness. However, I do not see the benefit of performing an experiment on backward causation with such a pile of nonsense as support…

Alejandro, who is Mary Malone ? Is that a quote from a science fiction book ?

Serafino, thanks for the quote from the Serra of Cassino… Never heard of them before.

Philip, Qubit, ok, the paper is nonsensical, but this column should remain sane – at least so I hope.

M, good point. Nielsen may have made a smart move after all… His first few years at CERN will be crowned by a working prediction – until he finds a way to flood the tunnel.

Cheers all,
T.

20. Tony Smith - July 24, 2007

Dr. Mary Malone is a character in Phillip Pullman’s 3-part book “His Dark Materials”, sort of like Harry Potter with a bit more physics and many-universes. Part 1 (called in the USA “The Golden Compass”) will be released in movie form this December.
Dr. Malone studies the I Ching and Dark Matter Shadow Particles of Consciousness also called Dust (“… when people consult the I Ching, they’re getting in touch with Shadow particles … dark matter …”).
As Alejandro said in a comment on Cosmic Variance: “… Not only Dark Matter, but also extra dimensions are explicitly named in the books, let’s see what happens in the filmed version. …”.

Mark on Cosmic Variance on 21 June 2007 put up a post titled “Pullman Wins the Carnegie of Carnegies” about the fact that the first part of the trilogy “… was declared the finest children’s book of the last 70 years …”.
Some of the comments on that post deal with interpretations of how Pullman deals with aspects of religion (he is pretty clearly against Authoritarian religious structures, but it is not clear that he is against all religious belief).

Tony Smith

PS – Maybe Nielsen et al are wasting their talents by posting their work on the physics arXiv instead of publishing it as children’s novels and movies. Think of how much money Harry Potter has made (the BBC says “… Harry Potter has made author JK Rowling richer than the Queen, according to The Sunday Times Rich List …”), and Pullman’s Dark Materials may make, and how usefully it could be spent in funding real experimental physics.

21. Not Even Wrong » Blog Archive » Quick Links - July 24, 2007

[...] year’s award for most ludicrous hep-ph paper is likely to be won in a walk by this one. Tommaso is even better than Sabine on the [...]

22. Tony Smith - July 24, 2007

Over on Not Even Wrong, where Peter Woit says aboout the new paper by Nielsen and Ninomiya “… This year’s award for most ludicrous hep-ph paper is likely to be won in a walk by this one. …”,
there is an apparently serious comment by Kapsar Olsen saying:

“Concerning Holger and Ninomiya’s paper:
Yes the idea is crazy, and contrary to what we know, but I don’t think it is fair to call it “ludicrous”. If you accept some of the premises – which of course might be very hard – then certainly the idea is not foolish, or completely unreasonable.
Try to read the paper, and present your own reason for why you think it is “ludicrous”.
Kasper”.

Kasper Olsen’s blog site says “… I hold a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and my current work is concentrated on string theory – the “landscape” and applications of K-theory in D-brane physics; and more recently, various aspects of Ricci flows. …”.

The fact that Kasper Olsen is a landscape string theorist supports my feelings that a lot of today’s theoretical physicists are so wrapped up in superstring abstract math that they don’t have the time and energy to really understand the Standard Model well enough (i.e., at a level of detail similar to that set out in the review sections of the Particle Data Group publications) to realize what fascinating stuff is being done at Fermilab and will be done at LHC.
Since they known to journalists as “EXPERT BRILLIANT PHYSICISTS”, journalists will ask them about the expensive machine that is LHC,
and
since they don’t understand the fascinating details of the real stuff (and certainly don’t want to admit ignorance to a mere journalist) they talk about what they know about, which is extra dimensions and black holes etc
thus
distorting the general public’s understanding of physics.
As JoAnne Hewett (Stanford real physicist) said (over at Cosmic Variance) about Stanford Landscape Superstringers:
“… in reality, as a phenomenologist at SLAC,
I am literally (in many senses) miles away from that stuff
and have essentially no interaction with the campus string theorists.
So, I am not connected to that stuff at all …”.

Tony Smith

PS – On the other hand, maybe the fact that Kasper Olsen refers to Nielsen (and not Ninomiya) by his first name (Holger) indicates that personal friendship may play a role in Kapser Olsen’s defense of the Nielsen-Ninomiya paper.

Tony Smith

23. Fred - July 24, 2007

Marshall “T” Earp,

This post is like a good ol’ western: cards, booze, and characters that deserve to be shot. Based on your excerpts, it seems like they are hedging their bets on the side of intelligent design. Fear is a big stick that is particularly effective on mortals. I like the recurring idea of using science fiction for the funding of sciencific research except for the belief that it would only confuse and be abused by the “socially challenged” forces that seem to rise to power every single generation. Funny, but the more I learn the more I appreciate the existence of someone like Keith Richards of the Stones each day. As the slaves from the Deep South long ago penned and rejoiced, “Rock ‘n roll, baby. Rock n’ roll.”

24. Warren Doud - July 24, 2007

Dorigo – your disdain for the colleagues that you are criticizing shows up in many of the paragraphs you write. Vomiting because of grammar? This can have the effect of coloring my opinion of your opponents, before I have even met them. Surely their conclusions are not affected by their syntax, especially in blogs where everything is dashed off in haste.

But worse than that, you are using ad hominem arguments, which are often seen as the last resort of a logician who has run out of cogent arguments.

You do not encourage me, by careful and impersonal writing, to want to wade through your verbiage to try to glean the good information from it. As I read I feel like the dung bird who follows the elephant and tries to get a meal from what is left behind; he does find a few kernels of grain, but look how much manure he has to push aside to get his meal.

Cordially,

Warren

25. dorigo - July 24, 2007

Hi Warren,

sorry – you stepped on the wrong post. I am used to much milder language, but strangely enough, when I am on vacation I get more aggressive.

The paper in question did, however, raise outrage in my feelings as a scientist, and I stroke back in rage. Too bad if I get to lose a few readers every now and then by being politically incorrect and harsh – I cannot always play the good guy.

Cheers,
T.

26. f15mos - July 24, 2007

Tomasso,

You have missed the point completely but showed how narrowminded and arrogant your are.

Great physics comes from looking outside the box and not from conteplating yet another global fit and tan(beta)) vs mass(higgs) exclusion plots.

27. dorigo - July 24, 2007

F15,

I indeed missed the point of the paper. And I am arrogant at times – not always, but you cannot always be narcotically correct. As for narrowmindness, I deny that.

Cheers,
T.

28. dorigo - July 24, 2007

Hi Tony,

thanks for the explanation on Mary Malone… And yes, I saw the comment on Woit’s blog – I did answer it. As to speculations on personal links, I prefer to avoid them… I must say I think I have already gone a bit over the edge with the tone of my criticism to
the paper, so I prefer to avoid adding speculations to injury.

Cheers,
T.

29. dorigo - July 24, 2007

Fred, I too like science fiction, and science budgets are not nearly superluminal these days, rather they are really down to Earth. But mixing science and science fiction is very dangerous for the former IMO.

Cheers,
T.

30. f15mos - July 25, 2007

Tomasso,

History repeats itself – anything out of orindary is being ridiculed and proponents of new ideas are called names. The first to throw a stone a loudmouth, superficial posers like yourself. If you had a grain of common sense you would have deleted non-substantiated attack on the article that
violates your mediocre common sense.

Read the referneces wherein. Stephen Hawking rings a bell? Check out
this link at least, do some googling (this is what you seem to do to fill your day)

http://everythingforever.com/hawking.htm

Bottomline, recall quarks, dual nature of matter, genetics, phsycoanalysis, black holes, special theory of relativity. All started with calling proponents of these ideas “crackpots” and today you are looking for bumps in the mass spectrum to get your butter on bread thanks to them. So please shut th f*ck up.

31. amanda - July 25, 2007

I don’t see any reason to be upset. People write a crazy paper, everyone sees that it is crazy, paper never gets cited, no harm done. What is *far* worse is when Famous Physicist declares :” We understand, in detail, exactly how quantum gravity/eternal inflation/baby universes/black hole evaporation/[fill in utterly mysterious thing HERE] work.” Then subsequent papers treat this statement as fact. *That* is vastly more dangerous, and worthy of getting upset about. Almost as bad: Famous Physicist says: “Here is a really interesting idea: let’s all use category theory/twistors/moonshine/[fill in badly motivated or frankly unphysical idea which is clearly going nowhere HERE]” and then suddenly the paper, which would have been ignored if it had been written by anyone else, starts getting cited heavily. Again, what N+N have done is trivial by comparison.

32. Bee - July 25, 2007

Hi Tommaso: *lol* great job :-) We too had an amusing discussion about that paper here. It’s still not completely clear to me what the authors were aiming at. Maybe they just found the arxiv needs to improve its entertainment value.
Best,

B.

33. tulpoeid - July 25, 2007

f15mos, I personally doubt you are a scientist, even an amateur one (which is so ok), yourself; mentioning the references of an article and especially S. Hawking’s name in order to prove its validity is a dead give away. The article is very deep in bs and everyone is having a laugh at it around the world; if you had some arguments or better language I guess it’d be interesting to listen to you, but now as a reader I feel annoyed…

34. Zathras - July 25, 2007

This “proposal,” if it can be called that, reminds of the MIT time travellers convention a few years ago. The fact that no time travellers showed up is evidence on the possibility of time travel then, just like this card to be drawn for this experiment may yield evidence of people in future influencing the choice.

35. Kea - July 25, 2007

Famous Physicist says: “Here is a really interesting idea: let’s all use category theory/twistors/moonshine/[fill in badly motivated or frankly unphysical idea which is clearly going nowhere HERE]”

Hmmmm. Assuming first that this is referring to Witten’s latest work (after all, there aren’t many famous physicists working directly with Moonshine) there is the problem that Witten has never really said anything about Category Theory, even in the excellent Langlands papers. Assuming, to the contrary, that this is a general comment about the apparent uselessness of said subjects…I would be interested to hear Amanda’s detailed analysis of the state of quantum gravity theory and why these superb ideas are of no physical use.

36. Tony Smith - July 26, 2007

Amanda said “… moonshine … badly motivated or frankly unphysical idea which is clearly going nowhere …”.

Although I am not a “famous physicist” such as Witten,
my physics model does involve Monster Group moonshine stuff,
and my latest work (based on string theory with strings being interpreted
physically as particle world-lines) is in pdf form at
http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/MonsterStringCell.pdf
It is partly motivated by the fact that the order of the Monster Group is
roughly the product of
the square of the Planck Mass
and
the square of the Weak Boson Mass
in units of the positronium mass (about 1 MeV).
It is connected with reality in the sense that it contains the Standard Model,
as set out in more detail in some of my earlier papers.
Therefore,
I disagree with Amanda’s claim that Monster moonshine is “… badly motivated …
unphysical …[or]… clearly going nowhere …”.

Tony Smith

PS – The paper is not on the Cornell arXiv because I have been blacklisted.

37. island - July 26, 2007

Wait, isn’t their paper an … extended anthropic principle?

No.

If there were a fifth category, the paper discussed above would belong to it.

Observer Ejected Quantum Mechanics… lol

38. Kea - July 26, 2007

Cool, Tony! Thanks a lot! This crackpot stuff is really catching on.

39. Kea - July 26, 2007

OK, I’ve read it now, Tony. Operads! Bloody brilliant. Just one major gripe: under step 11 you mention MacDowell-Mansouri for DE etc., but we can get a no-DE varying-c cosmology from the Jordan moonshine picture by using 3 Times from the SO(3,3) twistor picture a la (eg.) Sparling.

40. amanda - July 26, 2007

I don’t want to discuss all this stuff because it would be off-topic. Let me give another example instead, drawn to my attention by a posting on Bee’s blog. There’s a Stanford celebrity who has a series of papers out that reason as follows: observers generate a lot of entropy. THEREFORE observers are most likely to be found at times when a lot of entropy is being generated. He then uses this to compute the cosmological constant. My point: bullshit that will in all likelihood lead to some poor bastard wasting 4+ years on a PhD is far, far worse than totally harmless bullshit of the Nielsen variety. Why get upset over the latter and not the former?

41. island - July 26, 2007

There’s a Stanford celebrity who has a series of papers out that reason as follows: observers generate a lot of entropy. THEREFORE observers are most likely to be found at times when a lot of entropy is being generated. He then uses this to compute the cosmological constant.

Amanda, that doesn’t even begin to make sense. You can’t calculate the cc from times when entropy is high, and that certainly is not what is observed.

The anthropic connection to entropy is *efficiency* – we tend to maximize work because we’re lazy or not crazy, but that’s also the difference between a wide-open expanding universe and what is observed. Entropy always increases with minimum wasted energy.

The result is a more even dissemination of energy than would be the case if the universe were wide-open, because much energy would go inert before it could do any work if entropy was maximized by the cc.

The AP is an energy conservation law in this context, and can be quantified via the Lindblad equation, which derives that the small cc serves as a natural harmonic damper mechanism that keeps the imbalanced universe from evolving inhomogeneously, so this is the most natural configuration… (IF the universe is finite and closed… and if given that there is an inherent asymmetry in the energy). This will necessarily maximize the time that the expansion process takes, and that’s what a flat universe accomplishes via anthropic structuring.

The AP very apparently tells us that the universe is finite, closed and bounded… only nobody listens because, uh… ‘we know so much more about it all now’… phhhht

42. AphexTriplet - July 26, 2007

Thanks to Dorigo, for entertaining me while I avoid finishing a paper. After reading so much BS and meta-BS, and now adding my meta-meta-BS, etc, I am compelled to say something, if only for my own sake: it’s exhausting when a community tries to always be proper, rational and correct to the point of neuroticism. This paper was funny (to some of us). We shared a laugh. The end. By the way: what helps drive some people away from a blog may be what helps attract others.

43. tom - July 26, 2007

I found myself laughing while reading their paper. Their premises are absurd. It seems their basic premise is:

But what about the Titanic? Because it sank, does this prove backwards causality is associated with iceburgs? Should passenger ships draw from a deck of cards to determine whether to sail? Perhaps their next paper should be on the connection between backwards causality and ice?

Because the LHC is so complex, it is easy to believe that something may go awry with its operations. I hope that this does not occur. But if it does, do we have to listen to these authors say “I told you so!” What they are doing is very disengenious.

44. tom - July 26, 2007

I meant to say:

It seems their basic premise is: If something goes bad with the LHC, this suggests backwards causality is associated with the Higgs particle.

45. island - July 26, 2007

Not if you believe that the Higgs field is tachyonic, so you’re right, it IS a stretch… of Dirac’s negative energy solutions, which are themselves a re/miss-interpretation of his hole theory… on and on the insanity goes:

Historical models
As the modern understanding of particle physics began to develop, retrocausality was at times employed as a tool to model then-unfamiliar or unusual conditions, including electromagnetism and antimatter.

Feynman employed retrocausality to propose a model of the positron[17] by reinterpreting the negative-energy solutions of the Dirac equation. In this model, electrons moving backward in time would appear to possess a positive electric charge. Wheeler invoked this concept to explain the identical properties shared by all electrons, suggesting that “they are all the same electron” with a complex, self-intersecting worldline.[18] Yoichiro Nambu later applied it to all production and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs, stating that “the eventual creation and annihilation of pairs that may occur now and then is no creation or annihilation, but only a change of direction of moving particles, from past to future, or from future to past.”[19] Although further understanding of antimatter has rendered this model largely obsolete,[20] it is still employed for conceptual purposes, such as in Feynman diagrams.

Once Upon a SpaceTime

46. dorigo - July 27, 2007

Hi Amanda,

thank you for putting things in perspective.

Bee, sorry for not noticing you had already discussed the paper. I apologize – being on vacation makes
my attention to other blogs more erratic.

Zathras, I am unaware of the MIT time travel convention, do I need a time machine to get an invitation ?

Kea, Tony, others, you are welcome to discuss here, but I can’t be of any help – for me moonshine is a
rather annoying thing as a visual observer of galaxies, nothing more.

Amanda, I agree with the fact that some BS is more dangerous than other varieties. But anybody has the right
to decide which one to have fun of…

Tom, I think that the authors did not consider their paper an insurance bet. I think they want to bet on the real thing,
by drawing the cards rather than seeing the dealer’s… If you know blackjack you understand what I mean.

Cheers all,

T.

47. Zathras - July 27, 2007

Here is a report on the time travelers’ convention:

http://web.mit.edu/adorai/timetraveler/

48. f15mos - July 27, 2007

Yep,

I am no scientist not even amateur. I’m a bouncer in brothel.

But you know what? I happened to listen to Holger Bech Nielsen’ lecture, or conference talk rather, and then talk to him in person at cocktail party. So far no one I ever encountered impressed me so much (and I met quite a few of famous people). So you guys keep on laughing. Ignorance is a bliss.

Myself, being true to the spirit of experiment, would support CERN official running the proposal drawing of the card. Does not cost too much to do it.

f15mos

49. island - July 27, 2007

Okay, I found this on Bee’s blog and it’s a little different than what I’d understood Amanda to be saying:

For example at Stanford it is ok to claim that observers are most likely to be found under conditions that maximize entropy production…

This is true, humans are “Far-From-Equilibrium-Dissipative-Structures”. This is something that we have in common with black holes… among “other” things, like the creation and isolation of matter/antimatter pairs.

… and this is used to “calculate” the cosmological constant and “solve” the coincidence problem.

Quantum mechanics depends very much on Hamiltonian mechanics, and so it isn’t inherently able to describe dissipative structuring, except by way of a special master equation case for the Lindblad equation. You can weakly couple an oscillator to a bath of oscillators that are in thermal equilibrium with a broad band spectrum, and then average over the bath.

Does this, alone, solve the coincidence problem?

Only if you think that the cc is *the* coincidence problem.

Which is about par for the course of what ignorant yet opinionated people know about the anthropic physics!

50. Going to find the Higgs boson, BRB! » wizardishungry - July 31, 2007

[...] out the comments on those articles for some people much, much, much, more knowledgeable than me. This blog has some pretty good comments on the paper; but I’m pretty sure the original authors are [...]

51. Hugo Eckener - December 18, 2007

You are a bunch of conceited snot-noses. Go look up “Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment” and see if you can find experiments done where backwards-causality has been demonstrated. I know of at least two.

Go do some reading before inserting your pencil in your butt and using it to type on your keyboard.

52. Embarrassing Crackpottery « Not Even Wrong - October 12, 2009

[...] more here from Tommaso Dorigo. I should have mentioned that his posting from a couple years back Respectable physicists gone crackpotty was linked to in the article by Overbye, who had an accurate take on the subject from at least one [...]

53. Chris Long - October 13, 2009

Hey, if you believe in Many Worlds and Quantum Immortality, and assuming the proper use of LHC would result in the destruction of the Earth, then the LHC will continue to experience accidents etc. and never function properly.

54. M - October 13, 2009

Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernencko: these three premiers of Soviet Union unexpectedly died around 1984, such that Gorbachev could lead the process that ended with the fall of Soviet Union, such that the US congress stopped funding the SSC, such that the Higgs was not discovered.

According to the new theory of backwards causation, you should be proud of having destroyed communism.

55. chris - October 13, 2009

which is another argument *against* playing the card game :-)

56. David Banwell - October 13, 2009

Hi i’m a failed physicist, I tried to be a physicist and failed. I can’t diregard Nielson et al arguement via quantitative reasoning, but I can say that it is obvious crap. Has no one thought that the authors may both be having nervous breakdowns a la -whats his name – the protagonist in “A beautiful mind”. This was a movie about crazy mathematicians. Anyways, gosh darn, the notions in that paper are so dumb. I don’t know, people seem to always think that the ideas that abound in modern physics nowadays mean that anything is possible, still when you think about ideas like dark matter, serious questioning about whether the universe is finite and bounded or not makes you wonder if modern physicists haven’t had a hand in creating these b.s. perceptions. I mean when you talk about those things, I think one should be very clear in expressing the fact that these things are a result of mathematical models that have not been properly tested, perhaps with the exception of the Standard Model, or so people say. I think physicists, should be clear that until these things, membranes, d-branes, superstings etc, are subject to rigorous tests, then no-one involved in creating the mathematics of those things can be said to really know what they are talking about. In actual reality I mean not in mathematics. There is a difference between mathematical models and the real world I think.

dorigo - October 13, 2009

Hi David,

being a failed physicist is much, much better than being a achieved engineer ;-) Anyway one word must be said in favor of the effort of these two ex-respectable physicists: they have really creative ideas.

Cheers,
T.

57. David Banwell - October 13, 2009

Hmm I should have read through that last post, my grammar is pretty bad. Anyways the gist of my argument is that there is a difference between mathematical possibilities and actual reality.
I think Neilson et al may have missed that or they are completely crazy, i’m leaning toward completely crazy.

Hell, I don’t know if what they are saying is in fact mathematically possible, faulty wiring + really expensive project cancellation => universal conspiracy, that’s just crazy talk.

dorigo - October 13, 2009

Please note: this blog is inactive since April 2009. Please visit my current blog at http://www.scientificblogging.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/ . Cheers!
T.

58. Higgs boson could ripple back through time and prevent the Hadron Collider being built « Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff) - October 13, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

59. The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate « NWO News - October 13, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

60. dm - October 14, 2009

This paper is simply about not closing the LHC for any reason and continue searching on.

Instead of saying it bluntly, they mask it in something psuedoscience in its worst.

61. Dimension Man - October 14, 2009

Doesn’t their message beg the response “go for it”. The “god particle” will stop us from discovering what nature doesn’t intend for us to discover (such as the ability to develop a black hole sucking up our universe into another dimension?). So reason follows let’s push the “luck” boys and see what nature intends for us to discover.
We won’t find it unless nature give us the go ahead.

62. Chris - October 14, 2009

It’s a joke — and it ought to elicit laughter, not a blog post.

63. Miles Williams - October 14, 2009

Like the people that said you couldn’t travel faster than 25 miles per hour, the world is flat, you have made as many assumptions as the authors of this paper, the difference is, they have stated that theirs is based on theory and speculation, you have dismissed their ideas like a bible basher dismisses evolution. Open minds and a critical eye are more useful than your comments.

64. Stevo - October 14, 2009

Just seems like a very strong version of the anthropic principle, which is widely understood, if not universally accepted.

I haven’t read the article, and don’t intend to, but the craziness in it seems orders of magnitude less profound than the craziness in quantum mechanics which appears to be a reasonable approximation of the world.

The leaps of faith and wild speculation though… let’s leave that to fiction.

65. floreign - October 14, 2009

Nice, I got this link from a NY Times article on LHC.

I’m not that kind of physicist. I mean this article sounds so little like the physics I’m used to, that I am inclined to remembering that one of my profs in grad school gave me as a gift, when the course has concluded, a collection of stories by Isaac Asimov (although I definitely favor other genre authors). It all started with a short story about the cyclical evolution of the universe which he referred to in the context of thermodynamics. So I guess you may expect I might be full of sci-fi it.

But, for other purposes than theoretical advance, it might be instructive to go back and read an old novelette written by brothers Strugatsky (yes, the ones with Stalker=Picnic On the Roadside). Really, this Higgs fail-safe system reminds me of it. In short, we follow an astrophysicist who is annoyed that whenever a certain idea about how to finalize a calculation comes into his mind, something distracting happens in real life: either someone calls a wrong number on the phone, or even a fake female relative of his wife comes from another city asking for boarding. He later encounters a historian interested in the economy of 19th century japan, who has headaches whenever he starts writing his next book. They end up meeting with a large community of scientists with similar issues, and the consensus is that the Universe itself feels threatened by the then level of the human discoveries, and defends itself in a natural way, in order to keep its veils intact. The ending is really mind-bending, with speculations about Schrodinger equations having as solutions wavefunctions describing such curvy females and other disturbing occurrences.

Now, what I write here might be a treasure of speculative thought, but as far as I am concerned I will keep these lectures for my time off. It’s just my decision, I admit I am not competent enough in these matters, and frankly I could use some money if I were to publish such a fictional story. Or a movie script. Oh wait, I heard they already played with antimatter-filled buckets around LHC in the sequel to Da Vinci’s Code (not my regular movie fare). Must… think… of… something… else…

Intelectually provoking (although I have other plans for my readings), but scientifically I’m happy to specialize in another field. Really.

66. Anon - October 14, 2009

I’m not a scientist. But I don’t need to be one to realise when someone is being an arrogant bully/jerk. You sir are what we call a double-popped-collared douchebag. Hope your rant made your little life feel importrant.

67. Iverson - October 14, 2009

Hi, I am also a failed Physicist. Now, having read through this stuff, it is pretty clear why I failed. I was destined to discover Higgs. But of course, Higgs saw to it that I would never get to that point. That certainly takes a load off of my mind.

68. dorigo - October 14, 2009

Hi all,

thank you for your comments, I can see that there are different views, which is good. But some I think have a deviant view of what Science is. The paper we are discussing goes beyond what Science should be, in several ways. That, at least, is my humble opinion, and if I expressed it in sarcastic terms above is because I wanted to have some fun in the process. Isn’t that one of the purposes of a blog ? For a more balanced approach, go back to the NYT piece by Dennis. I am a scientist so I have my personal biases.

For those of you who like particle physics, my blog moved from here to my new site in April 2009.

Best,
T.

69. Oxize - October 14, 2009

Like their titles state “theoretical physicist”. I guess they werent even been at Cern.

The only thing they want is to delay the project. There nothing like traveling back in time. We dont know even yet how to bend space and time.

70. El bosón de Higgs manipula nuestras mentes [WTF] | Tecnobot - October 14, 2009

[...] ha dedicado a la teoría una zona importante del periódico, pero a la blogosfera no le ha gustado nada esta teoría. Que dos “físicos respetables” se dediquen a formular teorías que ni [...]

71. /:set\AI - October 14, 2009

it’s interesting to me how the history of science and rational discourse is saturated by respectable people claiming that some idea is outrageous- then that idea becomes gospel for the next generation of scientists- like the Big Bang or Strings-

to me if the math works the math works- maybe it is not the case- but it should not be dismissed due to personal aesthetics or contemporary trends-

72. Obvious SQL Table Error - October 14, 2009

Question: How did you post this on July 21, 2007? Did that sneaky particle go back in time and give you the essay?

73. dorigo - October 14, 2009

hah, this really is a stranger case. It is the past influencing the future: they wrote a crackpotty paper in July 2007, and then wrote another one now. The NYT picked it up now, I picked it up two years ago. I guess one might say the NYT was not “on the news” on this one…

Cheers,
T.

74. Joshua Roebke » The Fate of Physics - October 15, 2009

[...] admittedly, is linked to in the Overbye article though is not given its proper authority) see here. I don’t think Overbye is doing either himself or physics any favors by writing an article [...]

75. Reverse Causation, Changes from the Future « Frames /sing - October 15, 2009

[...] Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate”, a bloggist ridiculing the original thought “Respectable physicists gone crackpotty” and the original article “Search for Effect of Influence from Future in Large Hadron [...]

76. SMB - October 15, 2009

Hi – I’m neither a physicist nor in any way capable of understanding the basis for the article. I happened onto this blog through a NYT link. That said, as a university scientist who also teaches writing to undergrads, I am left with the impression that your argument against their stance is based on their grammar. Apparently both the physicists in question are non-native English speakers. It would be interesting to see how well you function writing/being interviewed in Japanese or Danish.

77. Steve - October 15, 2009

See, these Japanese/Danish guys make sense to me, but I think they do a bad job of explaining what they’re getting at.

To me, it’s like this:

Imagine an object–a football, let’s say–whose up is down. You say “Whose up is down? What?? That doesn’t even make any sense!”

Correct! For there to be such a football would be abhorrent to the nature of nature. It just doesn’t make sense for an abstraction such as “up” to be its own opposite.

So: the existence of Universe-X, in which there is a football whose up is down, WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN.

But then imagine a bunch of engineers felt compelled, for whatever reason, to get together and create a machine which could, if it worked properly, create a football whose up is down (and thereby create Universe-X). After creating it, all they had to do was run it, and “SHAZAM!” you get a football whose up is down!

But remember: Universe=X WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN.

So, for whatever reason, the crazy football machine never ever gets run.

What would this look like to the engineers? Maybe it would look like “bad luck”, maybe it would look like a piece of the machine breaking down, maybe it would look like a lack of funding.

Point is: the notion of the Higgs Boson traveling “back in time” to kill its grandfather is stupid. Frankly, I think if the LHC doesn’t work, it won’t have anything to do with the Higgs Boson, per se, but instead with the fact that engineers have built a machine, which, if run properly, would create a universe which will never exist, thereby ensuring the failure of their machine.

I’ve done this, too. One time, I built a machine that made unicorns. But a universe in which unicorns exist will never happen, so my machine keeps failing.

Maybe we’ll see more of this as technology marches forward: machine meant to create impossibilities that simply fail to work. There should be a term for this. Call it The XF Effect. “XF” stands for “XF Football”.

78. Robert - October 15, 2009

It’s not impossible but there’s no real facts supporting it. If we try to make the particle another 15 times without success then we’d start considering theories like this… right now it’s just staring at the clouds and wondering out loud.

Is it impossible? Forget all the causality stuff and think of it this way….

The universe is like a tree… the base is the big bang… the branches are different possibilities.. the leaves are the possible states of the universe at certain times. Now imagine a tree that grew around a telephone pole. That telephone pole would represent all instances of the particle being in existence. No matter what path we take waking the tree from base to leaf we’ll never be in the middle of the pole. The branch might head toward the pole but will inevitably take a turn.

Don’t even have to talk about god or whatever else… its just physics.. no going into the pole.. like no going faster then light… *shrug*

79. Mad Scientist Syndrome « bybe - October 16, 2009

[...] Others have gone into great detail on why these guys are a bit off their rocker (see, e.g. this blog that was cited in the NY Times article), so I’ll save you the rehashing.  But as a plea to [...]

80. The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate « PSI TECH Technical Remote Viewing - October 16, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

81. Rick.y - October 16, 2009

The future did not return to the past in order to prevent the “A” bomb.

82. Kevin - October 16, 2009

I like the TV/movie plot sensibilities of it all.
If a Higgs were created in six months time in the LHC and travelled back in time it would be on the other side of the earths orbit not inside the current position of the LHC. With all the other cosmic progressions of the sun and the galaxy etc, it will never be in the same position to interact with the physical LHC anyway, ever.

83. Time-travelling Higgs sabotages the LHC. No, really « Interesting finds - October 16, 2009

[...] more excitable corners of the physics blogosphere have been considerably less polite about the [...]

84. nick - October 17, 2009

there is a theory that says the universe predicted its birth , so created itself out of nothing

so out of the quantum vacuum there was a flunctuation later called the big bang ,

anyway about the article , i think you should be able to tell the metaphysical hue it contains and the fact that they could be having a point and also the possibility of these two guys being up to something…

85. The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate | The Future: 15 Minutes from Now… - October 17, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

86. Time Travel, and Entanglement - Christian Forums - October 18, 2009

[...] with "a series of not completely convincing, but still suggestive, assumptions". Some more excitable corners of the physics blogosphere have been considerably less polite about the theory. Even more fun is Nielsen and Ninomiya's [...]

87. AE Oregon - October 18, 2009

Quick––in any numerical base is today April Fools’ Day? This has the feel of the ice moles surviving in Antarctica, tunneling with their super-heated noses, and yet gathering sufficient calories from the bacteria therein.

Would be simpler for them to say that there is a Multiverse and that no possible Universe leading to a Higgs particle discovery would cohere? But as whatever led to this hypothetical decoherence presumably pre-exists from the onset of that subset Universe, how would it exist in the first place? Why did that Universe not pull a Barney Fife and “Nip it, Andy. Nip it in the bud,” before those SSC vetoing senators were twinkles in their fathers’ eyes?

This is I suppose the central criticism of ALL string theory, its failure to produce unambiguously testable propositions while inventing particulars with scarcely a nod to parsimony. Is it “bad” for science to say that the emperor has no clothes? Not if you’re a taxpayer. Nonsense needs airing.

88. Rick.Y - October 19, 2009

Maybe Jimmy Hoffa will hitch a ride back & tell us where he is buried.

89. xdatos » Blog Archive » The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - October 19, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

90. Robert Persson - October 20, 2009

I am going to be blunt too. This article is shamefully complacent. You have ridiculed Nielsen and Ninomiya, but have done nothing to refute it beyond saying that it is self-evidently ridiculous. I am not a physicist and I have no idea how to evaluate Nielsen and Ninomiya’s theory, but I am a logical person and it is painfully evident that your article is no more than a piece of Dawkinsesque gloating and tells me absolutely fuck all.

91. My Favorite Story of the Year: Time-Travelers Use Super-Awesome Physics to Sabotage the Large Hadron Collider - Carlos Hernandez - October 20, 2009

[...] you, plenty of fine scientists think Nielsen and Ninomiya are off their their collective rocker (this post, which I followed from the NYT’s article, throughly dismantles the idea). But what interests me is the fact that, as insane and unscientific as the theory sounds, and the [...]

92. Protege - October 20, 2009

I for once like to keep an open mind. The best discoveries were laughed upon when first presented to the world. But the revolutionary scientists that dare to see the bigger picture will have the last laugh.
(And I am a scientist.)

93. guest - October 21, 2009

“”I could comment that I did play similar games in my middle school time and again, but I never reverted causality, maybe because I never got the hot card – kissing the ugly ones was the most exciting thing that used to happen.”

Off topic: so kissing a not so good looking girl is bad? Wow. If that is the way you live your life I feel pretty pity for you. And please don’t use the word ugly. Come on!

On topic: a pretty bizarre article. A kind of Sokal meets physics? Strange. Very strange….

94. Moseley101 - October 21, 2009

Let us not forget Niels Bohr’s famous quote:

“We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.”

I am no quantum physicist, but I’m smart enough to know that the underlying reality on a particle level is almost too bizarre to be comprehended by a sane mind.
Who will have the last laugh?

95. skyle - October 22, 2009

So if, say, they pull funding for CERN, then that will prove at least that they’re not wrong – something happened to stop LHC from running. So to prove that the theory is incorrect, they’ll have to keep the funds flowing. Sounds like an inusrance policy to me, to ensure that the funding keeps flowing in.

96. CERN PARTICLE FATE « DAVIDJGREGORY.COM - October 22, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

97. PW - October 27, 2009

Since the primary objections you have seem to have to do with grammar, let me point out just a few of many of your own mistakes in this area. Keep in mind that the authors of the paper are not native speakers. Presumably you are a native speaker?

“I allow myself the word this down the post”

“I apologize to the authors for my bluntness, but I am used to speak my mind in my blog”

“That really sets the stage: the authors know what they are talking about: they are not aliens, they pat our shoulder and say, pal, we’re on the same league here.”

If you still do not know why the above phrases are incorrect, find someone to help you.

dorigo - October 27, 2009

Dear PW,

I am Italian, so your comment simply does not apply.
It would not apply anyway, because this is a blog and not a container of scientific publications.
In any case, thank you for your corrections. I always try to improve my English.
Best regards
T.

98. PW - October 27, 2009

Just as I wrote that comment, my March 15th, 2010 self came back through a wormhole or something and tried to unplug my PC, but I was able to click the “say it!” button before he succeeded. Then he disappeared before I could find out what was going on. My fear is that this discussion will develop into a holy war of some sort, and he was trying to prevent that from happening at the outset.

99. dorigo - October 27, 2009

No problem. I have better things to do myself…

Please realize that this blog is inactive – my new blog is now at http://www.scientificblogging.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/ in case you (or others) are interested.
Cheers,
T.

100. Pachu - October 28, 2009

wow, this thread jumps from date December 18, 2007 to October 12, 2009 !

we are seeing some Nielsen Ninomiya phenomena….

101. The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - Religious Education Forum - October 29, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

102. St. Pete Skeptics Society » Blog Archive » Back…From the Future! - October 29, 2009

[...] lot of the buzz has been backlash and loud outcries, as if the article were crankish; however, the article itself [...]

103. Because it’s Worth Repeating « Temporary Drawer - October 30, 2009

[...] they cherry-on-top, for me, was this hoaxed-analysis. Which I thought was incredibly funny, until I went to bed and woke up the day after without being [...]

104. Alejandro Walker - November 12, 2009

Wouldn’t hurt proving/discarding a time travelling theory pulling a card out of a deck would it?

dorigo - November 16, 2009

Alejandro, no, it would not hurt, but it is just a silly thing to propose, with a multi-billion-dollar experiment. If the LHC has ten years to work, one day of operations costs about 3-4 million dollars. And they are proposing to decide whether to run or not based on a card turn. This is not physics, it is just idiocy.
Cheers,
T.

105. Derek Sorensen » God hates Higgs - November 18, 2009

[...] These guys might just be having a joke at everyone’s expense, although it appears that many in the Physics community aren’t laughing. While some physicists think this kind of speculation isn’t a problem, others describe the pair’s ideas as ‘embarrassing crackpottery’, or simply ‘crackpotty’. [...]

106. The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate « Wingmaker's blog - November 19, 2009

[...] should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss. The theory was greeted on some blogs with comparisons to Harry Potter. But craziness has a fine history in a physics that talks [...]

107. Anant Dixit - November 20, 2009

I support Alejandro. If all say it doesn’t hurt to pull a card out, let us pull a card out and get rid of the theory once and for all. But if the bad card does pop up, it will send shivers even if u shrug them off later and go for best of 3. :)

108. Rune Hansen - November 29, 2009

He’s a highly regarded professor. He has said times that he is very skeptical toward his own theory – but, nonetheless, he thinks that it’s an interesting theory. Here’s a link:

dorigo - November 29, 2009

Sorry Rune, what you say was true ten years ago, but now the general consensus is that indeed, he’s fried his own brain.
Cheers,
T.

Rune Hansen - November 29, 2009

Hey,

Hmm, that’s not a consensus’ I’ve heard about. I’ve attended many of his classes at the University of Copenhagen, and even though I don’t always follow his arguments or theories, I still think he’s an inspiration.

109. dorigo - November 29, 2009

Rune, I do not know how respected he still is in Copenhagen, but I can tell you what is the consensus among particle theorists, and that is what I was discussing. In any case, he can be a perfectly good chap otherwise, but his last three or four papers (and a few interviews) are just plain nuts, and they are also damaging fundamental science. Passing the message that anything you can dream about can be good, testable science, is a bad idea, especially in our times.
Cheers,
T.

Rune Hansen - November 29, 2009

Hej, dorigo

He always has the irony. I think he’s reached a point where he just makes wild theories – but he’s always argumenting. I don’t think he’s damaging anything. Take it or leave it. I don’t say that I agree or anything but what’s wrong with trying something new. Did you read his essay? It’s really is interesting. Did you watch the interview? He is not certain about anything, he’s having fun. Does he, himself, believe in the theory? Not really. But this is a test. I think people are overreacting. He’s always been nuts but that’s his condition.

110. dorigo - November 29, 2009

Hi Rune,

irony is a good thing, but it is not enough to justify any weird behaviour. I read all his papers -rather, you might not have read mine here above, which demonstrates I did go through one of them with care. And yes, I have seen the interview you point at. Nice funny chap, but that is exactly what I am arguing against. You seem open-minded enough about this to listen to my point.

When a person who has earned the respect of the field and the title of “theoretical physicist”, when one is a professor, teaches at a University, etcetera, when somebody with that rank lets go with these kinds of delusions of a “god” -as he clarifies in his interview this is not maybe a god with all the bells and whistles, but still a superior entity playing with us mice in the lab- he is damaging the image of serious science, because people who listen to that interview are justified if they start believing that he is a representative sample of theoretical physicists. Hell, not many get interviewed by CNN, NYT, etcetera these days. So he is damaging the field by projecting a improper image.
He is also damaging the field by mingling together the idea of a supernatural entity with hard science. People are justified if they look at the interview and conclude that scientists are nutcases and that they are not too different from theologists.

You look a reasonable person, so I cannot see how you do not see this.

Cheers,
T.

111. Rune Hansen - November 29, 2009

Hey, dorigo

No, I didn’t read your paper – but I most certainly will! I’m looking forward to doing so.

Thanks for calling me a reasonable person (In despite of my bad English), but I still don’t agree that he’s damaging anything. I am sure that you are more into this stuff than I am and have studied the matter on a whole other level than I have.

But calling him dangorous is the same as calling a priest’s work damaging to the congregation because he deviates from the holy text in the favour of ‘scientific proofs’ – without turning down the point of origin.

I don’t think any ‘normal’ person with no knowledge of this matter will get affected by what he says. Heck, they wouldn’t even read his essay. ‘Hard science’ is nothing more – when it comes to the origin of the universe – than saying, ‘What’s plausible?’ And that’s the exact point he makes in this rather ironic interview. ‘The empirical proof’ is what he somehow makes fun of – without turning it down, that is.In my opinion.

112. Rune Hansen - November 29, 2009

Ehmm, of course I read your blog on this matter. Hope you got the irony…

– Cheers

113. Hadron collider: A particle of fate-NY Times « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand - December 1, 2009

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