Tuesday, October 03, 2006

COSMO 2006

Lake Tahoe is high in the Sierras on the California-Nevada border. It was site of the COSMO 2006 conference, attracting scientists from around the world. I listened to Andrei Linde about eternal inflation and Neil Turok about cyclic universes. On Friday we heard talks from theorist-author Lisa Randall and influential cosmologist Michael Turner.

Today I will focus on Turner's talk. Michael is often credited with coining the term "dark energy," yet he is willing to adopt other ideas. Among his bullet points:

* The Hot Big Bang model is "reality-based,"
(which is why CMB observers earned a Nobel prize today).
* The highly-touted "precision cosmology" depends on priors.

* "Measuring the gears is not the same as understanding the machine."

* We are "over-invested" in string theory and inflation.

* There is no Plan B for cosmology.

He made a list of ideas that need to be investigated. The very top of his list was: VARYING CONSTANTS.

Recently I have replied to as many questions as possible. Despite my answering every objection, some will not be convinced. Don't worry guys, at one time only three people understood General Relativity. Even the most influential cosmologists are coming to our side. It is time to get with the program.


Blogger Rae Ann said...

Just keep trying! Sometimes it's hard for people to accept things that don't look like what they deeply wish they looked like. I know I'm as guilty of that as the next person. At my level of ignorance I guess I don't really understand how your ideas can't be incorporated into many other things, especially if they fit with observations, etc. Can they not be a 'missing link' that so many have been looking for?

10:54 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

HI Rae Ann: Your encouragement is appreciated. Your posts show that you have more sense and better taste in music than many scientists. Some are so "educated" that they can't think out of their box. We all need to get out and learn from nature.

8:40 PM  
Blogger nige said...

Hi Louise,

"There is no Plan B for cosmology."

Sometimes you find the mainstream saying this. They say: "OK, there are questions, it would be nice if there was an alternative to compare to the mainstream model. But there isn't yet any REAL alternative."

In fact, this can just be propaganda. The string theorists are learning to live with Dr Peter Woit continuously objecting, and they are making the best of the situation!

For example, they refer to him because he is critical of strings, and this makes the string theorists sound more objective than would be the case otherwise.

So they are actually trying to adjust to the presence of objections now. This is much better than a few years ago when they successfully prevented the publication of Woit's book by academic publishers. But I am still suspicious.

Any tolerance shown to Woit is heavily dependent on the fact that he is not strongly pushing his own ideas (the use of representation theory to predict the Standard Model with chiral symmetries, as one example).

If he was saying "string theory is wrong because representation theory does the vitally needed job far more economically", then I think the reaction he would receive would be more hostile than it is. (It is of course very hostile from Motl, but most other strong theorists try not to be hostile when they have no evidence to support such hostility.)

Actually, Woit takes a very cautious view in making his case where he writes his own work on physics up. He emphasises if an idea is "tentative" or "speculative" instead of hyping it. String theorists do the exact opposite, and I think this is the major problem he has with string theory: overhype.

Dr Lee Smolin writes a lot about how keen he is to support alternatives, and how Einstein type physicists would have difficulties being heard outside the mainstream today. However, that doesn't mean that in practical terms Smolin is interested in, for example, the quantum loop gravity dynamics I suggest where a loop is the exchange of a graviton from one mass to another mass and then back again. These dynamics do make predictions, and my original paper (which expressed the same physics in different concepts) in EW, Oct 96, predicted two years ahead of the experiment that the universe wasn't slowing down. It also predicts strength of gravity and much more, correctly within the experimental error limits of the data put into the equation.

Despite this, it is not likely that Smolin will try to get my paper put on arXiv. I put my paper on arXiv myself in 2002 using my Glos uni email to validate (since 2002 they now require referees or whatever). It was up there for about 30 seconds before being deleted and the arXiv number was then replaced by another paper.

Other people have also been suppressed. Lunsford was published in a peer-reviewed mainstream journal and then deleted from arXiv. Tony Smith also.

Then the mainstream - having first suppressed alternatives in seconds without reading them let alone checking them - has the gall to claim that there are no alternatives. Journals are the same. They don't send radical ideas for review unless they have mainstream affiliation, and even then the papers will be rejected due to bad referee reports if they are too innovative.

Einstein had problems with Physical Review in 1936, although Einstein seems to have been slightly in the wrong technically in his paper (see http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-58/iss-9/p43.html ), he hated the censorship of ideas:

"In the course of working on this last problem [cylindrical gravitational waves] Einstein believed for some time that he had shown that the rigorous relativistic field equations do not allow for the existence of gravitational waves. After he found the mistake in the argument, the final manuscript was prepared and sent to the Physical Review [emphasis mine]. It was returned to him accompanied by a lengthy referee report in which clarifications were requested. Einstein was enraged and wrote to the editor that he objected to his paper being shown to colleagues prior to publication. The editor courteously replied that refereeing was a procedure generally applied to all papers submitted to his journal, adding that he regretted that Einstein may not have been aware of this custom. Einstein sent the paper to the Journal of the Franklin Institute and, apart from one brief note of rebuttal, never published in the Physical Review again." - Abraham Pais,

- http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-6/p9.html

The point is, Einstein felt that his paper should have been published, and critics should have been able to criticise it later. Einstein did not feel it was right to censor publication because of alleged errors.

He felt that journals should publish ideas, and if the ideas are wrong, then subsequent issues should publish refutations.

Instead of course, the journals are so cautious that they censor out anything that is innovative and suspect unless it is endorsed by the mainstream. Where the mainstream has a vested interest in something else, the outsider gets nowhere.

Edward Witten created vast problems for people like me by claiming:

"String theory has the remarkable property of predicting gravity." - Edward Witten, M-theory originator, Physics Today, April 96.

This vacuous claim (string theory doesn't really predict anything) is commonly used to suppress new ideas on gravity: "why publish a new idea to predict gravity, when M-theory already does so?"

Stanley G. Brown, Editor, Physical Review Letters, wrote me by email on 2 Jan 2003: "Physical Review Letters does not, in general, publish papers on alternatives to currently accepted theories." He then refused to send my manuscript (LZ8276 Cook) to peer-review because of Witten's claim.

Even if my paper had gone to peer-review, it would have been dismissed by stringy reviewers (who are not my "peers" really anyway), so - in a way - Brown did what he had to do. It would have been a waste of time and money sending a paper for peer-review after Witten's claims and with the mainstream dominated by a groupthink of stringy beliefs.

It is inspiring that you are gaining supporters and overcoming prejudices. When suppressed, it is a good idea to make use of the time to extend and check your ideas as far as you can so you are ready when any opportunity arises.

Best wishes,

1:16 AM  
Blogger nige said...

Just to put Witten's claim into context, compare it to Eddington's statement:

‘It has been said that more than 200 theories of gravitation have been put forward; but the most plausible of these have all had the defect that they lead nowhere and admit of no experimental test.’ - Sir Arthur Eddington, ‘Space Time and Gravitation’, Cambridge University Press, 1921, p64.

Witten said:

‘String theory has the remarkable property of predicting gravity.’ - Edward Witten, M-theory originator, Physics Today, April 96.

Therefore, Witten's string theory is crackpot just like those 200 gravity theories Eddington refers to because of the ‘defect that [extra dimensional string theory, M-theory] lead nowhere [see the 10^500 solutions landscape or rather quagmire] and admit of no experimental test.’

1:37 AM  
Blogger mark said...


which is quite interesting.

4:27 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Right on, Nigel. Mark, I just read that NEW. I go to many conferences and listen to all sorts of ideas. All I can say is that those boys should start looking at those other approaches.

6:40 PM  

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