Posts Tagged ‘Devoret’

What’s Wrong With All Too Particular Particle Physics Vs Doing Foundations Right

May 21, 2020

What’s Wrong With All Too Particular Particle Physics, What’s Right With Foundations

A famous particle physicist was particularly proud of this statement, which she impregnated her students with: “to be happy as a model builder in particle physics, I had to be O.K. with something like mounting a moose head on a wall and putting a purple scarf on it and not worrying about why it was wearing a purple scarf.” Yeap! 

She fell to her death on a hiking trail in August 2019! Of course she was the moderator of a gigantic group of hikers, more than 100, 000 of them. Not that I would make fun of people who fall off cliffs, as it happened to me more than once, and I was saved by the rope or a miracle… Simply, some people are born leaders, born to “moderate” others. And I hate “moderators”: the truth is always viewed as immoderate as some point, especially when it starts to emerge, like a fragile bud. “Moderators” have always been anxious to crush me. I still remember a long exchange with an electronic magazine publisher, who explained to me that he absolutely agreed with me, and that truth always win, so I didn’t have to worry, in the long run. But those European bankers who were so respected absolutely wanted me removed for suggesting bankers had helped Hitler… That was a bit more than a decade ago…

Lots of vegetables in that soup

So the moderating super genius physicist lady fell off her trail. Do we need high energy “modellers”, are they essential workers? Yes they are (but they can work from home). They are certainly more essential than plain old fashion models… But they shouldn’t have become that fashionable… Nor should they have been allowed to fashion physics into generalized modelling (presumably to look pretty to scientific advisors who are themselves advised to develop preferably science which can turn into death rays of some sort; the Pentagon is deploying combat lasers… Table top accelerators of fermions would be most welcome…)

Physics, and thinking in general, should be about brains, deepest and most immoderate. Fortunately, the COVID crisis is showing that thinking at warp speed is not just useful: there is nothing like it.

Instead, modelling physics has turned into a morass of moose heads with pretty bows of different flavors, colors, and, let’s say it outright, smells. And it smells funny, indeed. The “Standard Model” (SM) groups together fifteen or so “elementary particles”. To make it work, it needs something called the Higgs field. It’s a field which permeates space and “gives mass” to the otherwise massless particles of the SM. That’s all fine, except for one fact. We already have E = mcc… Poincare’ s energy has inertial mass observation. So one can generate mass from just energy… And this is what is happening with nucleons, inside which gluons and quarks zoom around. The zooming around of the putative gluons and quarks generate most of the mass.

So here we have the same philosophical problem as with the Big Bang and “cosmic inflation”: one effect, two independent causes. Let me repeat slowly: we have a way to generate mass, from energy directly. Why do we need another effect to generate mass? Oh, because it’s a consequence of the Standard Model, which otherwise would give no mass to particles. Besides the “Higgs” boson (so-called “Higgs”, from one of seven discoverers, not all Anglo-Saxon, of the idea… but it’s a good Anglo-Saxon sound: Higgsss…) was “found”.


And therein another question: what is an elementary particle? A bump on a graph. Which is bumpy enough. In the eye of the beholder. Smaller than that, and it’s “virtual”. Actually the computations mostly involve “fields”, which are like fields of wheat, except the individual plants are continually shimmering in and out of existence and prominence… That’s why it’s called “Quantum Field Theory” (QFT)… What does “Quantum” means? It means energy is transferred “particle” to “particle” in lumps (Hertz-Planck-Einstein)… But also, everything, during transfers, is about waves (Wave theory of light, Huyghens-Young-Arago-Faraday-Maxwell and “Matter Waves”, De Broglie). Waves of what? We don’t know, we have to do with… waves of probability said Born (he got the Nobel for this interpretation). Waves of probability makes reality tears its hair, full of dead live cats…

One would think that physics, properly done, would consist into finding out what the “particles” and “waves’ and all the metaphysics around both… as the main field of inquiry. But not really, for most physicists. better to decorate moose heads to impress the Beotians. The head of CERN’s theoretical physics division in the 1960s, begged to differ and derived the Bell Inequalities (named after himself, but here deserved). That showed Quantum Physics, in some circumstances, was NONLOCAL. 

The simplest argument for nonlocality is philosophical: Quantum Physics is about waves, waves are intrinsically non local. 

Now nature is also about points; the “particles”. Energy may transfer as waves, it ends up at points. How to go from the wave to the point? That’s called the collapse, the famous Quantum Collapse. Related to the collapse, and a simpler example, are Quantum Jumps. 

One would guess that physics, at its best, would inquire about those notions… And that means not just through thought experiments, but actually experiments. 

Research from Yale University, led by Michel Devoret, a senior french physicist, newly published in Annals of Physics, established that we can reconcile how we describe measurements in classical physics and what is really going on in quantum physics. This has opened a new world: Quantum Jumps go through a preparation period, and such preparation can be inverted, it seems. 

Revealingly, Devoret is from the APPLIED physics department… Although what he does is most fundamental![1]

In SQPR, Sub Quantum Physical Reality, the obvious is proposed: the waves are “real” (not just knowledge waves as in the cat paradox). Although extremely fast, the transition from extended wave to point is progressive, it involves a Quantum Field. And such transitions could be reverted. The general picture also fosters an understanding of what is really going with QFT…    

Physics, and thinking in general, should be about brains, deepest and most immoderate. Fortunately, the COVID crisis is showing that thinking at warp speed is not just useful: there is nothing like it.

Patrice Ayme



[1] It is revealing that Devoret research is implicitly looked down by the Optimates of theoretical physics. It should not be the high energy particle zoo which should be the first focus of research, because it uses and takes for granted Quantum Physics notions which have not been as examined as they deserve.

It is also telling that Frenchmen working in top US universities are not financed in France: the French establishment , the government, the Deep State, the higher spheres of conniving academia and the increasingly unsophisticated population, product of this miasma, does not view ultimate research as crucial to the survival of civilization. They learned nothing most important from French history.