Posts Tagged ‘Epicycles’

Plutocracy’s Tentacles All Over Physics

October 19, 2014

There is a lot of politics in theoretical physics. Why? Because physics makes people dream, and tells them how to think. Thus, if one wants to make people in advanced countries dream and think wrong, one has to start with physics. Also there is an increasing gap between what technology allows and what legislation forbids, as tech goes ever faster. The crooks work the gap hard. See the Bitcoin story (and the hate mail that goes with it).

That’s how the drug trade was made possible: ultimately all the money has to be laundered. And only the banks can do this. But there were no laws sending bankers to slammers for that, plus lax enforcement. So, in the end a criminal activity, drugs, was rendered possible by another branch of government, banking (dim wits say banks are not part of government).

What lessons can be learned from the presentation of the gravitational-waves story? Ponders Nature (October 14, 2014).

Well, much: the much publicized discovery of Cosmic Inflation was scientific fraud, and it has bit the dust. Yet, it keeps on going. It’s even more than scientific fraud, it’s tax payer fraud: most advanced science, including the prizes (such as Milner prize, see below) is financed by the public (directly or not; so are the plutocratic universities).

Says Nature: “The (welcome) rise of the science blogger has fuelled this navel-gazing. Some bloggers seem to spend most of their time criticizing other science writers, or at least debunking examples of what they regard as inferior science writing. But they do lots of good stuff too. Although traditionalists lament the decline of science coverage in the mainstream press, a terrific amount of analysis and comment, much of it very technical, is happening online under their noses.”

Make no mistakes: it’s not because there are no equations, that it is not technical. An equation, after all, is just a sentence saying that two things that look different are actually the same.

I am notoriously against the Cosmic Inflation Theory (that the universe blew up at 10^10 the speed of light, or so; that is ten billion times faster than c, or more). My reasons are solidly scientifico-philosophical, and have been detailed in many essays previously.

As the evidence for Cosmic Inflation bit the dust, as I had expected, my comments were censored on Quanta Magazine. Silly comments were allowed, so it’s not like the standards are too high.

So I enquired about this bias. I found a possible source quickly. Quanta is financed by the Simons Foundation. (Of course Quanta says they are independent; just like the hand which feeds the pigeon is independent of the pigeon, I guess.)

Jim Simons is a multibillionaire mathematician who built a more than 100 BILLION (yes, with a B, as in billion) dollars business in high frequency trading. Basically Simons has the fastest computers, and employs the brightest mathematicians and physicists. When one has faster computers, and programs, one can make sure money.

This what the best and brightest do these days. Stealing from others, and the faster, the better. A case of degenerating civilization.

It is difficult to explain what the high frequency trading crooks do: their job is exploiting all the loopholes between technique and ethics. They can leverage tremendously some derivative trades (say in the futures market). They can also simultaneously take direct positions extremely fast. The combination is sure profits, by leading the markets where they want them to go, beyond the sight of legislators (who are very happy to be fed caviar by high frequency traders).

In other words, high frequency trading and related derivative activities make the world’s most lucrative organized crime. Except it’s not officially a crime.

The whole thing ought to be unlawful. Just as slavery is unlawful, and for the same reason (because it puts too much power in the hands of too few, making them increasingly vicious, until people really own people as if they were bananas).

Only now, in 2014, American legislators are starting to smell the roses (Simons is a major donor to the Democratic Party). (See note.)

Similarly, the “Double Irish” so many enormous plutocratic corporations use to avoid taxation all together is not an official crime, just a real one.

Simons also worked with his adviser Chern who also created ST Yau. (Together they worked on the Chern-Simons Class; BTW, I also knew Chern.)

It will be interesting to see if I keep on being systematically censored there. The age of computers is also that of unethical behavior rendered particularly easy to implement (see how Mr. Simons made his fortune, although he probably envision himself as a saint, because he gave money to some scientists, tax deductible, of course).

So who is this Natalie W who censored me?

Could she be a chick paid by plutocrats in more ways than one? (As one way is clearly established, through Jim Simons, much respected in scientific circles, because he has trop beaucoup bucks; if you want to be hated and despised in scientific circle, criticize Jim Simons).

Could there be a conspiracy? I quickly found this:

People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say

By Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer, February 28, 2012.

Natalie says: “The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, “very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is,” Dunning told Life’s Little Mysteries.”

The most incompetent among us serve as canaries in the coal mine signifying a larger quandary in the concept of democracy; truly ignorant people may be the worst judges of candidates and ideas, Dunning said, but we all suffer from a degree of blindness from our own personal lack of expertise.”

Otherwise said, only plutocrats know who the experts are.

This argument was already used by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Aristotle thought his friends, lovers and executors, Antipater and Craterus were the best and brightest, they established literal plutocracy in Athens.

Natalie writes nice articles. She knows who is smart. Certainly not those who esteem democracy. Conspirare is breathing together, no need for a plot: conspiracy is better, because impossible to prove (she sat with some of my comments for weeks before rejecting them, no doubt consulting with higher-ups).

A few years back, a Silicon Valley multibillionaire of Russian oligarchic origin, Yuri Milner, funded a three million dollar prize for crazy pseudo-physics, the “Fundamental Physics Prize”. Pseudo-physics has become most of what the public knows as physics. (The Nobel committee revolted against this by giving the prize to a very practical and real invention, blue LEDs.)

“Physics” means “Nature”, and Milner has his own notion of nature. The more un-natural, the better (as one would expect from someone who made his fortune under Yeltsin, after a stint at the World Bank; Milner, like Simons, but not as much, is also a scientist, physics).

Most of the recipients of the Milner prize did not discover anything, they are just experts at self-advertising, and the “discoveries” they made (Cosmic Inflation, The Multiverse, String Theory, all sorts of weird and obscure mathematical, or pseudo-mathematical techniques) actually, well, did not happen indeed. At least not in natural nature.

When Einstein (helped to) elaborate a slightly more sophisticated theory of gravitation than the one co-discovered by Newton, at least he started from a fact of nature: the advance of the perihelion of Mercury, which the “Newtonian” theory could not explain at all (the advance comes from the fact time runs slow next to the Sun).

Most of Milner’s prize “discoveries” are not yet discoveries, and probably never will be.

I am certain though that fabulous prizes were attributed in the Roman Empire for the epicycles theory.

Why am I so sure? The richest intellectuals ever, lived in the Second Century of the fascist plutocracy known as the Roman empire. They were, at best, all mediocre thinkers. Plutocracy can survive only if mediocre thinking triumphs, because plutocracy is mediocre thinking personified.

During plutocracy, a degree of magical and superstitious thinking is entertained. Much modern physics, such as String Theory, Cosmic Inflation, is complete superstition: it stands totally above the world, there is no proof for it whatsoever, it stretches reason beyond words, and it’s not even the first thing to think of in fundamental physics.

Thus it is perfect, because pseudo-physics is a killing field for reason. And that’s why plutocrats love it.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Note on American legislators discovering fraud from Simons and the like: Both Milner (Russia) and Simons are politically connected (& Simons worked for NSA). On July 22, 2014, Simons was condemned by the U.S. Senate for the use of complex barrier options to disguise short term trading (subject to higher ordinary income tax rates) as long-term capital gains. “Renaissance Technologies was able to avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes by disguising its day-to-day stock trades as long term investments,” said Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the committee’s ranking Republican, in his opening statement. “Two banks and a handful of hedge funds developed a complex financial structure to engage in highly profitable trades while claiming an unjustified lower tax rate and avoiding limits on trading with borrowed money,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) in his prepared remarks. Nice wake-up, guys! Were you playing sleeping beauty before?

Is Simons going to jail for stealing 6 billion dollars? Don’t hold your breath. Just expect my scientific comments to Quanta to keep on being censored.

Philosophia Naturalis I

March 13, 2014

Philosophy is what inquiring minds have to do when we don’t know for sure, and before we know for sure. The latter is called science (OK, sometimes we have to revise our opinions drastically, as new axioms supersede the old ones).

I have sharply differed with professor Strassler in the past (he wrote at some point that physics was strictly defined by equations, and I sharply debunked that myth: it is obviously not even the case of mathematics; to his honor, he published my brutal objection).

My position, same as Archimedes,  Newton or Descartes, is that philosophy comes first. When a dashing scientific advance does not require new philosophy, it means it’s not that deep.

New Physics Principles Are Always Born From Philosophy

New Physics Principles Are Always Born From Philosophy

I have my own possible insights to propose in physics, but before I get there, let Matt Strassler expose the problem. I have done so myself in similar terms, but it’s refreshing to read a top professional do it so well, and to the point.

In a magnificent essay, “What if the Large Hadron Collider Finds Nothing Else?”, wonderfully philosophical, for a professional physicist, Mr. Strassler ponders how future science is guessed by exploring how we established our beliefs. That’s my kind of science:

“What will it mean, for the 100 TeV collider project and more generally, if the LHC, having made possible the discovery of the Higgs particle, provides us with no more clues?…

Before we go any further, let’s keep in mind that we already know that the Standard Model isn’t all there is to nature. The Standard Model does not provide a consistent theory of gravity, nor does it explain neutrino masses, dark matter or “dark energy” (also known as the cosmological constant). Moreover, many of its features are just things we have to accept without explanation, such as the strengths of the forces, the existence of “three generations” (i.e., that there are two heavier cousins of the electron, two for the up quark and two for the down quark), the values of the masses of the various particles, etc. However, even though the Standard Model has its limitations, it is possible that everything that can actually be measured at the LHC — which cannot measure neutrino masses or directly observe dark matter or dark energy — will be well-described by the Standard Model. What if this is the case?

Michelson and Morley, and What They Discovered

In science, giving strong evidence that something isn’t there can be as important as discovering something that is there — and it’s often harder to do, because you have to thoroughly exclude all possibilities. [It’s very hard to show that your lost keys are nowhere in the house — you have to convince yourself that you looked everywhere.] A famous example is the case of Albert Michelson, in his two experiments (one in 1881, a second with Edward Morley in 1887) trying to detect the “ether wind”.

Light had been shown to be a wave in the 1800s; and like all waves known at the time, it was assumed to be a wave in something material, just as sound waves are waves in air, and ocean waves are waves in water. This material was termed the “luminiferous ether”. As we can detect our motion through air or through water in various ways, it seemed that it should be possible to detect our motion through the ether, specifically by looking for the possibility that light traveling in different directions travels at slightly different speeds.  This is what Michelson and Morley were trying to do: detect the movement of the Earth through the luminiferous ether.

Both of Michelson’s measurements failed to detect any ether wind, and did so expertly and convincingly. And for the convincing method that he invented — an experimental device called an interferometer, which had many other uses too — Michelson won the Nobel Prize in 1907. Meanwhile the failure to detect the ether drove both FitzGerald and Lorentz to consider radical new ideas about how matter might be deformed as it moves through the ether.”

So far so good. Then Strassler deviates from reality with a bout of Einstein religion (attributing Relativity to Einstein, because the real discoverer was French)

It’s Poincare’ who invented and named the “Principle of Relativity”, and insisted that Lorentz get the Nobel  for the Lorentz transformation-Poincare’ Group; the only reason Poincare’ did not get the physics Nobel for Relativity is that he died in 1911: no Nobel was given for Relativity, as a result: it could not be given for the parrot because he parroted!

It’s not just a question of anti-French hatred, or scientific priority, but of logical causality (thus Poincare’ versus Einstein is a scientific problem of the most subtle type!).

Strassler: “In Michelson’s case, the failure to discover the ether was itself a discovery, recognized only in retrospect: a discovery that the ether did not exist. (Or, if you’d like to say that it does exist, which some people do, then what was discovered is that the ether is utterly unlike any normal material substance in which waves are observed; no matter how fast or in what direction you are moving relative to me, both of us are at rest relative to the ether.) So one must not be too quick to assume that a lack of discovery is actually a step backwards; it may actually be a huge step forward.”

After he published the proof of E = mcc in 1900, Poincare’ pondered a lot about the part in parenthesis above. So did I. My conclusion? Particles create space, that’s why they are always at rest relative to it. (This is a glimpse to a possible future explanation, I do not claim it’s obvious.)

Strassler: “Epicycles or a Revolution?

There were various attempts to make sense of Michelson and Morley’s experiment.

Some interpretations involved  tweaks of the notion of the ether.  Tweaks of this type, in which some original idea (here, the ether) is retained, but adjusted somehow to explain the data, are often referred to as “epicycles” by scientists.   (This is analogous to the way an epicycle was used by Ptolemy to explain the complex motions of the planets in the sky, in order to retain an earth-centered universe; the sun-centered solar system requires no such epicycles.) A tweak of this sort could have been the right direction to explain Michelson and Morley’s data, but as it turned out, it was not. Instead, the non-detection of the ether wind required something more dramatic — for it turned out that waves of light, though at first glance very similar to other types of waves, were in fact extraordinarily different. There simply was no ether wind for Michelson and Morley to detect.

If the LHC discovers nothing beyond the Standard Model, we will face what I see as a similar mystery. ”

The reason why Ptolemy could get away with epicycles is that any periodic motion can be decomposed in a sum of circular motions. The mathematician Fourier, born in Grenoble, proved this, and used it to solve a lot of things.

Notice that the problem with Ptolemy was philosophical implausibility: the Greeks knew that the Sun was very far (say more than 30 million kilometers). Thus the Sun had to be enormous.

Sitiing on their bottoms, Greeks astronomers could have been asked the following question: “Hey guys, do you think it’s more likely that something as enormous as the Sun turns around tiny Earth once a day, at an enormous speed, or that the Earth rotates around itself, once a day, and around Sol, at a much more sedate way?”

Of course the latter.

To get an even stronger feeling that way, one had to have a feeling for inertia, which Buridan, contradicting Aristotle, discovered around 1320 CE. This is exactly the reasoning Buridan made when he published his heliocentric theory (misattributed to Copernic, because Buridan was French, and the Church mighty).

Amusingly a mathematician, Steward, published a list of “the 17 equations that changed the world”. He shows his ugly pro-plutocratic face, by mentioning an equation about the pricing of derivatives in the financial markets, as one of the 17.

Steward claims Newton found two of the 17 equations. The first one, the definition of a derivative, was found by Fermat (a Frenchman, thus incapable of science). The second one, that of the gravitational force was, according to Isaac Newton himself, discovered by another Frenchman (Newton wrote this under oath, in his fight about that equation, with Hooke… a physicist still famous for the elastic force law).

Mr. Steward forgot, among his equations, to mention the Quantum equation: E = hf (Planck-Einstein-De Broglie). There is more money in flattering hedge fund managers, than in remembering Quantum Physics.

In the next essay, why Matt Strassler feels one needs to think out of the box, and I will roll out my own type of experiments to keep on pushing, until we get a different worldview. Whereas nobody can be sure about the Standard Model approach giving birth to something interesting, I will explain my proposed approach is guaranteed to be fruitful (at least at some point).

Patrice Aymé