# Archive for category About method and progress

### Beautiful mathematics vs. qualitative insights

Posted by Dirk Pons in About method and progress, Difficult problems in Physics, Philosophy and Physics, Responses, Time on February 26, 2016

### Which is better for fundamental physics: beautiful mathematics based on pure concepts, or qualitative insights based on natural phenomena?

According to Lee Smolin in a 2015 arxiv paper [1], it’s the latter.

*mathematics [is used] as a substitute for insight into nature*‘ (p13).

*‘The point is not how beautiful the equations are, it is how minimal the assumptions needed and how elegant the explanations.*‘ (http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.07551)

*Thousands of theorists have spent decades studying these [string theory] ideas, and there is not yet a single connection with experiment*‘ (p6-7).

### Mathematical symmetries: More or fewer?

### How to find a better physics?

*‘begin with new physical principles*‘ (p8). Thus we should expect new physics will emerge by developing qualitative explanations based on intuitive insights from natural phenomena, rather than trying to extend existing mathematics. Explanations that are valuable are those that are efficient (fewer parameters, less tuning, and not involving extremely big or small numbers) and logically consistent with physical realism (‘tell a coherent story’). It is necessary that the explanations come first, and the mathematics follows later as a subordinate activity to formalise and represent those insights.

*no such principles have been proposed*‘ (p8) is incorrect. Ourselves and others have proposed new physical principles – ours is called the Cordus theory and based on a proposed internal structure to particles. Other theories exist, see vixra and arxiv. The bigger issue is that physics journals are mostly deaf to propositions regarding new principles. Our own papers have been summarily rejected by editors many times due to ‘lack of mathematical content’ or ‘we do not publish speculative material’, or ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. In an ideal world all candidate solutions would at least be admitted to scrutiny, but this does not actually happen and there are multiple existing ideas in the wilds that never make it through to the formal journal literature frequented by physicists. Even then, those ideas that undergo peer review and are published, are not necessarily widely available. The problem is that the academic search engines, like Elsevier’s Compendex and Thompson’s Web of Science, are selective in what journals they index, and fail to provide reliable coverage of the more radical elements of physics. (Google Scholar appears to provide an unbiassed assay of the literature.) Most physicists would have to go out of their way to inform themselves of the protosciences and new propositions that circulate in the wild outside their bubbles of knowledge. Not all those proposals can possibly be right, but neither are they all necessarily wrong. In mitigation, the body of literature in physics has become so voluminous that it is impossible for any one physicist to be fully informed about all developments, even within a sub-field like fundamental physics. But the point remains that new principles of physics do exist, based on intuitive insights from natural phenomena, and which have high explanatory power, exactly how Smolin expected things to develop.

*fewer*rather than more symmetries. This is also consistent with our work, which indicates that both the asymmetrical leptogenesis and baryogenesis processes can be conceptually explained as consequences of a single deeper symmetry (http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jmp.2014.517193). That is the matter-antimatter species differentiation (http://dx.doi.org/10.4006/0836-1398-27.1.26). That also explains asymmetries in decay rates (http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/apr.v7n2p1).

Dirk Pons

26 February 2016, Christchurch, New Zealand

*This is an expansion of a post at Physics Forum **https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/smolin-lessons-from-einsteins-discovery.849464/#post-5390859*

References

[1] 1. Smolin, L.: Lessons from Einstein’s 1915 discovery of general relativity. arxiv 1512.07551, 1-14 (2015). doi: http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.07551

### New non-local hidden-variable solutions

Posted by Dirk Pons in About method and progress, Difficult problems in Physics on March 29, 2014

‘Hidden variable solutions’ are theories of fundamental physics that propose that particles (e.g. the electron) have inner structure. By comparison quantum mechanics (QM) and the Standard Model are based on the premise that a particle is a zero-dimensional (0D) point.

However it is known from experiment that particles have many properties, that make them different to other particles. For example the electron has negative charge, a certain mass, and a spin.

How does QM explain these? It doesn’t. Instead it proposes that these are ‘intrinsic’ properties. i.e. disembodied attributes. How might these properties arise then? According to QM, that is not a meaningful question to ask. The mathematics simply requires these attributes, and QM pointedly rejects the notion that there might be natural explanations at a deeper level of physics. Consequently the more extremist interpretations of QM would have us believe that reality is fundamentally mathematical, and that the probabilistic nature of superposition is simply all there is, that there is nothing deeper (Copenhagen interpretation). Hence an assumption that indeterminism is fundamental (Born & Heisenberg).

The hidden variable theories propose that there is a deeper inner structure to a particle. This physical structure then causes the properties of charge, mass, spin (etc). These internal structures are ‘hidden’ to external inspection, hence the name. According to this perspective, the probabilistic equations of QM are approximations to a deeper mechanics. Einstein believed that QM was fundamentally incomplete (EPR, 1935) and suspected the existence of hidden variables. However the hidden sector has historically failed to live up to expectations, the main difficulty being the sheer lack of specific solutions. It is all very well to say that in principle a particle might have inner structure, but to do anything useful one has to propose a specific internal design. That’s where things have failed to progress. There is no obvious hidden variable solution, and very few candidate designs.

To make things harder, one whole category of possibilities, the *local *hidden-variable designs, have been eliminated by the Bell type inequalities (Bell, 1964). The other category, the *non-local *hidden variable (NLHV) designs, is also under theoretical siege (Leggett, 2013)(Groblacher 2007) such that the remaining solution space is limited. As those authors have commented, if a NLHV solution exists at all, it must be counter-intuitive.

The candidate hidden-variable designs are as follow:

- The de-Broglie-Bohm theory (Bohm, 1966), also called the ‘pilot-wave’ theory. (See wikipedia). This has not done well, though there are still scientists who are progressing the idea and seeking to extend it. However in its present state it is not able to explain a diverse range of other fundamental phenomena, and hence is not yet as extensive as QM. There are many things it cannot explain. Some have even suggested it is merely another interpretation of QM, but I think that’s taking it a bit too far.
- Others?At the present time, if you search for NLHV solutions there is not much more than de-Broglie-Bohm. This goes to show how hard it has been to come up with candidates that can evade the Bell-type inequalities. Here are a few more ideas. These are mostly mathematical treatments rather than specific proposals for natural structures, so are difficult to interpret or apply, and their ontological explanatory power is weak, but they show that people are still chipping away at the problem in creative ways.
- Lokajícek’s hidden variable theory.
- Bach’s theory, here or here, with a critique here.
- Others?

- The Cordus theory (covered elsewhere on this site) can be considered a NLHV design. Unusually, it has been developed using a systems engineering design methodology, as opposed to the mathematical theory building that every other attempt has used. Consequently it is descriptive theory, rather than a mathematical formalism. Nonetheless it has good ontological explanatory power, arguably better than QM. All that weirdness of quantum mechanics gets washed away in natural explanations involving the deeper sub-components of the particle. We think it can explain, in an ontological sense, anything that quantum mechanics purports to explain (which is not always a lot). But it doesn’t do the quantitative formalism as well as QM, so is limited in that regard.

Most physicists believe that quantum mechanics is a complete description of reality, and only needs extending. They are generally dismissive of hidden variable designs. However NLHV designs are not dead, just incredibly hard to find. It’s not impossible that a new physics could be found in the hidden sector.

Dirk Pons, 29 March 2014

### FQXi essay contest: Questioning the Foundations

Posted by Dirk Pons in About method and progress, Overview, general cordus principles on July 31, 2012

The purpose of the Foundational Questions Institute is to encourage ‘innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality’. Their 2012 essay contest invites authors to identify *Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?*

In our submisison we use cordus to show that the 0-D point premise can be challenged, and is likely to have profound consequences for physics when it falls. There are many things for which cordus offers explanations, and for this essay we had to focus on some and not cover others. Basically we decided to focus our essay on the conventional assumption that particles are merely points. From there we explore the alternative options and show how cordus offers a viable solution.

You can see and discuss our submission here.

Why not join in and see what new ideas are surfacing? There are some really interesting essays there, and something for everyone whether you like the mathematical approach to physics, the descriptive, or the philosophical.

Dirk