Thursday, September 20, 2007

Weinberg Right and Wrong


With Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow, Stephen Weinberg won the 1979 Nobel Prize for work on electroweak interactions. This theory unifies the electromagnetic and weak forces. Though the key element of the Higgs boson has not yet been found, enough of the theory was verified to award Weinberg a trip to Sweden. Like this scientist, Weinberg was invited to speak at Imperial College this year. He cancelled because of "a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British public opinion."

He wrote: "I know that some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel, rather than generally against Jews. But given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism."

Weinberg knew what some of us find out the hard way, the UK is being overrun by misogyny and anti-Semitism. In today's world, Ahmadinejad can fly anywhere he wants to speak, while the rest of us are harassed by "security." The sort of hatred that led to WW2 is alive and thriving. The centre has moved to the Middle East, hidden behind a different religion, infiltrated into Britain to undermine it from within.

This scientist fondly remembers reading Weinberg's "The First Three Minutes" as a child. While Weinberg's contributions to physics have been valuable, his textbook "Gravitation and Cosmology" has led to many misconceptions. This old (1972) book repeats the absurdity that h = c = 1. By trying to cancel out the value of c, it lets people ignore that the speed of light may change. Nearly every physics grad student has been forced to use this book, spreading its errors around the world. The examples of Nige on SU(2) x SU(3) and Carl Brannen on particle masses show that newer and more predictive theories need their turn.

Weinberg knows that the Beyond Einstein programme and "dark energy" are still in trouble. Originally a decision was to be announced Sept 8 with an announcement by Michael Griffin Sept 9. Silence by NASA's top brass is making scientists nervous. Having lived through the debacle of the Superconducting Super Collider, Weinberg has decided to diss the entire human spaceflight program. Someone please tell him that the SSC had nothing to do with NASA's budget.

At a "dark energy" workshop in Baltimore, Weinberg went beyond: "The international space station is an orbital turkey. No important science has come out of it. I could almost say no science has come out of it. And I would go beyond that and say that the whole manned spaceflight program, which is so enormously expensive, has produced nothing of scientific value."

Weinberg ignores the fact that ISS is uncompleted and its laboratory life has yet to begin. He neglects the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an experiment that will explore higher energies than any Earthly accelerator. The AMS is still sitting in a clean room and desperately needs to fly on ISS. Support by another Nobel winner for AMS would be a big help.

"The whole manned spaceflight program...has produced nothing of scientific value" is completely unsupported. Human spaceflight has inspired development of products too numerous to describe. The Earthrise photo from Apollo 8 (above) inspired the modern environmental movement. Discovery of a Lunar Orbit Anomaly by Apollo is more evidence for a changing speed of light. If not for Apollo, scientists would still not have a clue how our Moon formed. The Hubble Space Telescope could not have accomplished its mission without being serviced by humans. A statement like that in front of the Space Telescope Science Institute discredits the speaker.

One can not argue that Shuttle/ISS costs too much and does not return enough science. Despite many missteps, human spaceflight has support from young and old, left and right. Humans have an instinctive desire to fly and to explore. You can not imagine the reaction people have toward someone in a spacesuit! Most of the public hasn't heard of "dark energy," much less cared about it. Weinberg's stand on anti-Semitism is laudable, but even a Nobel Prize holder can be out of line.

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28 Comments:

Blogger alex kaplan said...

I think what is led to WW2 is WW1,and it is too early to deduce about the present situation and other historical events

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is nonsense. Equating a dislike of Israel with a dislike of Jews is despicable and shows you are not capable of rational thought on this subject. If you think britain is being over run by antisemitism then you are clearly completely nutso.

I think I'll unsubscribe from this blog immediately. I've no desire to support extremism of his nature. It is just funny to hear someone who presumably is critical of creationism in America and such adopt a worldview that suffers from all the same logical flaws and is just as bizarre. Oh well. i suppose you'll just lump me in with all the other supposed jew haters - even tho i am a jew myself.

9:43 AM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

I think also the antisemitism was before anti Israelism there is a certain connection betwen two phenomena.I don't think that people who like Jews started to hate them because they disagree with the Israely politics

10:15 AM  
Anonymous artemus said...

Weinberg said, "Human beings don't serve any useful function in space...They radiate heat, they're very expensive to keep alive and unlike robotic missions, they have a natural desire to come back, so that anything involving human beings is enormously expensive."

I fully agree. In fact, human beings don't serve any useful function on Earth, either. They're very expensive to keep alive, they cause pollution and other environmental havoc, and worst of all, they reproduce, so all those problems only get worse as time goes on. Hardly any humans do scientific research or even care about it. All most of us really do is take up space.

Therefore, I propose we all commit suicide, except for a small cadre of physicists and geologists who will conduct research using robots built by a eunuch slave class of mechanical engineers and administered by a eunuch slave class of NSF program managers. The scientists will live out meaningful lives refereeing each other's journal articles, peer-reviewing each other's grant applications, and attending each other's tenure parties. Specialized robots will also be built to satisfy the, uh, carnal needs of these few remaining humans. I call it, "The Weinberg/Park Utopia"

12:30 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

...they have a natural desire to come back...

This displays a real lack of explorer spirit. Given the chance to explore new worlds and communicate it back to the people of Earth, I would gladly give up the idea of returning.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

P.S. No offense to a great physicist intended.

12:48 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks, another very good point by Kea. Australia, Hawaii and New Zealand were settled by people on one-way trips. A lot of us would jump at the chance to permanently settle in Space.

1:47 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Kea, talking about those 1-way trips reminds me of your famous adventure in the mountains.

7:01 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi Louise,
Australia Hawaii and New Zealand were virtual earthly paradises. Well at least you could breathe the 'atmosphere' drink the water and live off the land, the only dangers were some 'natives' some diseases and/or other colonists.

So, where in Space can we find the same conditions. Unless someone first builds an artificial self-sustaining environment and screens any crew for susceptibility to tantrum attacks and space sickness

2:46 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

PS - There is no anti-semitism in Britain, and to claim so is a flagrant and ignorant lie.

However there is very serious opposition to any apartheid and how the Palestinian problem is being dealt with. Gaza and the West Bank are very real 20th century - 'concentration camps' - where a whole generation has grown with no future and no hope, and unable to build or plan a future.

2:51 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

So Louise any comment on:
Is there a human link to dark energy?
Steve Weinberger says, the fact that most of the energy in the universe is in a completely unknown form is both exciting and embarrassing. "You know 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered with water," he said. Our ignorance of what dark energy is "would be the equivalent that we had no clue what water was".

2:56 AM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

Concentration camps? How do you know,Quasar,have you ever been there?

Consentration camps have not get humonitarian help from all over there world.I saw houses in the West Bank that I will never afford my self to build.

4:54 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Nice to hear from you, Q9, that things are better. Somebody tell Weinberg. I must visit you in the UK sometime.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Frank Glover said...

If only as a head of state, Ahmadinejad most certainly has plenty of his own security.

And New York City has been quite willing to tell him where he can (not) go...

8:20 AM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

You are very nice man q,but you are antisemitist and I am sorry a visit your blog

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Darnell Clayton said...

@ Artemus: Heh! But what happens when the robots rebel?

Quasar 9: No anti-semitism in England? So out of the millions who live there, you wouldn't find a single anti-Semite? I find that hard to believe.

Also, I have been to Palestine before (I also have friends who make frequent visits there) and no it isn't a concentration camp (as many Arabs live in Israel with greater freedom than there than her "friendly" neighbors).

@ Alex Kaplan: I don't think "Q" is anti-semetic. He just disagree's with the Israel-West Bank issue.

@ Louise: I wonder how many people would be willing to purchase "one way" trips to the Moon, Mars, etc.?

12:22 PM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

Only anti-semitist can claim that anti - semitism not exist.

In addition he claims that West Bank and Gasa are concentraton camps.

I haven't been in the concentration camp,but my grandparents did.By what they told me West bank and Gasa don't look like concentration camp at all.

12:48 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Alex, I don't know what you think a 'concentration' camp is - but a strip of land from which you cannot get out of fits the bill.

Now how does a palestinian get out of Gaza, when there are security checkpoints all around. There is no free movement of people or goods - whether it be for obvious justified or unjustified reasons.

And the West Bank has been turned into a set of clusters or walled enclosures. Being surrounded by fences and army patrols - that is the definition of a 'concentration' camp.

Steve Weinberger doesn't have to ask the Palestinian Authority for permission to travel.

8:39 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

That aside, Louise glad to see you are still going strong.

8:40 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi darnell clayton,

I meant it is not 'generic'
of course there are people who hate themselves and their mother in Britain, but we do not dismiss Britons as self-loathing mother hating Europeans. Though of course more than half oppose the EU too.

The Gaza Strip and the fenced in clusters in the West Bank are filled with millions of people who have no rights or political voice outside their own ghettos.

Imagine if the German government fenced in the East Germans, or the more than six million Turks living in germany, and denied them a vote.

8:58 PM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

You want to tell me that everyone who wants can enter to England?

There checkpoints and soldiers because terroristic organization continually trying to attack inocent civilians in Israel.
They were not taken from their homes and brought to concentration camps only because they palestinians.There are not sent to the gas chambers because they palestians.This association is awfull and hurt all the Jewish people and civilized world.

About the rights of palestinians.Let me remind that they themself choose Hamas to the majority of parlament, extreme organization that like Natzi party in Germany won a democratic election,and than cancell the democraty and the civil rights.And that was happen in Gasa strip.
I dont think any country shall allow citizens from the hostile state to move freely on their territory.If England like them a lot why shouldn't it takes all of them? Because countries like Egypt and Jordan don't let innocent palestinians to go through also.May be they suscpicious that they are not so innocent.

It is very easy to blame Israel in what is happens in palestine.But palestine is independent authority and Israel should not be responsible about what is going on there.It was responsible too much time.

Jews built they own country,when English soldiers were trying to capture them and put them in concentration camps.Jews defeated all the enemies that come to conqery their country.Jews can defend themself an this is a message to al natzis like you all over the world.

10:01 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

"They were not taken from their homes and brought to concentration camps only because they palestinians"

You re-writing history?
At least Half the Palestinians in the concentration camps had homes elsewhere before they were forced into the concentration camps.

Anyway enuff - this is Louise's blog, and not an open invitation for you to show 'your' prejudices.

10:54 PM  
Blogger alex kaplan said...

It is you who rewrite history.There is no concentration camps in the West Bank and Gasa,and there never was.There were palestinians refugees who left their homes during the war, who supported this war with the willines to come back,as they thought,when Israel will be dstroyed.They live in the refugee camps.With the time this refugee camps become a blocks of a big citys like Rafiah or Han Unes.There were also Jews who leaved their homes during the war.

And this is nothing to do with the present situation.

11:14 PM  
Blogger El Ché said...

Lady: you are a strange mixture of physically cute, technologically progressive and downright politically-thatcherite ugly. I suggest you get as much of a political education as you have a scientific one: you appear to have hung around too long with the wrong sort.

2:11 PM  
Blogger nige said...

Hi Louise,

Thanks for mentioning the idea to reduce U(1)xSU(2)xSU(3) to something simpler like SU(2)xSU(3) where the SU(2) exists with both massive (weak isospin force mediating) and massless (gravity and electromagnetism mediating) gauge bosons, i.e. with mass being supplied to only half of the gauge bosons in such a way as to account for the left-handedness of isospin force interactions. Or possibly the corrected standard model will be something else like SU(4) which encompasses combinations of U(2) and SU(3) symmetry groups, or SU(2)xSU(2)xSU(3) with mass being supplied to only the gauge bosons in one of the SU(2) groups there (the short ranged weak force gauge bosons).

Glashow and Schwinger investigated the origina SU(2) Yang-Mills theory as early as 1956 in trying to use SU(2) to unify electromagnetism and weak interactions.

Glashw and Georgi comleted it and pubished it in Physical Review Letters, 28, 1494 (1972).

But that tried to unify electromagnetism and weak interactions by SU(2) by using 2 charged gauge bosons to mediate weak interactions and the 1 neutral gauge boson to mediate electromagnetic interactions.

What Glashow should have done is to investigate using SU(2) to represent electromagnetism (2 charged massless gauge bosons) and gravity (one neutral gauge boson) and also using SU(2) the way he correctly did in the Standard Model, then analyse how these two uses of SU(2) (one for long-ranged electromagnetism-gravity, and one for the short-ranged weak interactions) are related by the way that mass is given to presumably half of the gauge bosons by an external field to create the weak interaction which only acts on left-handed particles.

I agree Salam, Glashow and Weinberg were right about the weak force, SU(2) and strong force SU(3).

Their guess that U(1)xSU(2) is electroweak unification,where U(1) is supposed to be electromagnetism (and weak hypercharge) and SU(2) weak isospin, isn't verified because the theory can't predict anything precise and falsifiable about the Higgs field. There is a landscape of various speculative ideas about the Higgs bosons.

Glashow describes the situation in his Nobel acceptance lecture of 8 December 1979, Towards a Unified Theory - Threads in a Tapestry:

‘Schwinger, as early as 1956, believed that the weak and electromagnetic interactions should be combined into a gauge theory. The charged massive vector intermediary and the massless photon were to be the gauge mesons. As his student, I accepted his faith. ... We used the original SU(2) gauge interaction of Yang and Mills. Things had to be arranged so that the charged current, but not the neutral (electromagnetic) current, would violate parity and strangeness. Such a theory is technically possible to construct, but it is both ugly and experimentally false [H. Georgi and S. L. Glashow, Physical Review Letters, 28, 1494 (1972)]. We know now that neutral currents do exist and that the electroweak gauge group must be larger than SU(2).

‘Another electroweak synthesis without neutral currents was put forward by Salam and Ward in 1959. Again, they failed to see how to incorporate the experimental fact of parity violation. Incidentally, in a continuation of their work in 1961, they suggested a gauge theory of strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions based on the local symmetry group SU(2) x SU(2) [A. Salam and J. Ward, Nuovo Cimento, 19, 165 (1961)]. This was a remarkable portent of the SU(3) x SU(2) x U(1) model which is accepted today.

‘We come to my own work done in Copenhagen in 1960, and done independently by Salam and Ward. We finally saw that a gauge group larger than SU(2) was necessary to describe the electroweak interactions. Salam and Ward were motivated by the compelling beauty of gauge theory. I thought I saw a way to a renormalizable scheme. I was led to SU(2) x U(1) by analogy with the appropriate isospin-hypercharge group which characterizes strong interactions. In this model there were two electrically neutral intermediaries: the massless photon and a massive neutral vector meson which I called B but which is now known as Z. The weak mixing angle determined to what linear combination of SU(2) x U(1) generators B would correspond. The precise form of the predicted neutral-current interaction has been verified by recent experimental data. ...’

But going back a step, U(1) has only 1 charge and 1 gauge boson. How can that explain electromagnetism physically? Feynman diagrams make perfect physical sense for SU(2) weak interactions. Problems occur physically when trying to understand U(1), but it is easy to correct this by replacing the U(1) in the standard model by SU(2) to represent the 2 charges and 3 gauge bosons required for electromagnetism (2 charged massless gauge bosons) and gravity (1 uncharged gauge boson). This also introduces gravity into the standard model, a massive bonus because it is based on observations, not speculations, and it makes checkable falsifiable predictions.

There is many major flaw in using U(1) to represent electromagnetic interactions; you have to assume that positrons are electrons travelling backwards in time for the calculation, etc. Physically it makes more sense to use a group with two charges like SU(2) to represent electromagnetism. You then have 3 electromagnetic gauge bosons (just like the SU(2) weak gauge bosons before the unobserved "Higgs bosons" give the weak bosons their mass).

The two charged electromagnetic gauge bosons mediate the positive and negative electric fields respectively, while the neutral electromagnetic gauge boson mediates gravity; the hierarchy problem for the relative strength of electromagnetism and gravity between fundamental particles (EM is about 10^40 times the stronger) is solved this way by the path integral of the charged gauge bosons relative to neutral gauge bosons. The way to think of it is as a large number of charged capacitor plates, half with positive charges and half with negative. The vacuum between them is a form of dielectric (the electric permittivity of the vacuum is not zero). If you have some regular arrangement of capacitor plates, you get a summing of the potential just as you do when you arrange batteries in series. But if they are randomly arranged, the gauge bosons are unlikely to be mediated regularly from electron to proton, to electron to proton, and so on. Instead it will be random and there the statistics are more like a drunkard's walk: the net effect of all the pairs of charges in the universe is just the square root of the number of pairs of charges, multiplied by the average potential from one pair. That's for electromagnetism. For gravity, the neutral gauge bosons exchanged can't canse any addition of potential, since all masses have the same quantum gravity charge (the charge in a theory of quantum gravity is called mass, and all masses fall the same way in a gravitational field; whereas in electromagnetism where you have two types of charge, there are two possible directions a charge can be accelerated in an electric field: depending on whether the charge is positive or negative it will be attracted or repelled by the field of another charge). So if we have a physical mechanism of gravity for neutral gauge bosons, it's easy to show why for 10^80 fermions in the universe the electromagnetic coupling constant is 10^40 times the gravity coupling constant.

10:09 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Wow, Weinberg's views on anti-semitism certainly bring out some strong opinions.

Nige, your informed remarks on SU(2) x SU(3) are again appreciated. My experience is that the simpler idea (like yours) usually wins out. I look forward to reading your posts again.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex,listening to your speeches,one can think that a great patriot is speaking.And that is a man who deserted his reserver's duty.What do you care about this issues?

9:11 AM  
Anonymous name said...

Please write anything else!

9:21 AM  

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