Posts Tagged Hidden variable theory

Beautiful mathematics vs. qualitative insights

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.

As I understand him, Smolin’s main point is that elegant qualitative explanations are more valuable than beautiful mathematics, that physics fails to progress when ‘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)
The symmetry methodology receives criticism for the proliferation of assumptions it requires, and the lack of explanatory power. Likewise particle supersymmetry is  identified as having the same failings. Smolin is also critical of of string theory, writing, ‘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?

Smolin is especially critical of the idea that progress might be found in increasingly elaborate mathematical symmetries.
I also wonder whether the ‘symmetries’ idea is overloaded. The basic concept of symmetry is that some attribute of the system should be preserved when transformed about some dimension. Even if it is possible to represent this mathematically, we should still be prudent about which attributes, transformations, and dimensions to accept. Actual physics does not necessarily follow mathematical representation. There is generally a lack of critical evaluation of the validity of specific attributes, transformations, and dimensions for the proposed symmetries. The *time* variable is a case in point. Mathematical treatments invariably consider it to be a dimension, yet empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows this not to be the case.
Irreversibility shows that time does not evidence symmetry. The time dimension cannot be traversed in a controlled manner, neither forward and especially not backward. Also, a complex system of particles will not spontaneously revert to its former configuration.   Consequently *time* cannot be considered to be a dimension about which it is valid to apply a symmetry transformation even when one exists mathematically. Logically, we should therefore discard any mathematical symmetry that has a time dimension to it. That reduces the field considerably, since many symmetries have a temporal component.
Alternatively, if we are to continue to rely on temporal symmetries, it will be necessary to understand how the mechanics of irreversibility arises, and why those symmetries are exempt therefrom. I accept that relativity considers time to be a dimension, and has achieved significant theoretical advances with that premise. However relativity is also a theory of macroscopic interactions, and it is possible that assuming time to be a dimension is a sufficiently accurate premise at this scale, but not at others. Our own work suggests that time could be an emergent property of matter, rather than a dimension (http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/apr.v5n6p23).  This makes it much easier to explain the origins of the arrow of time and of irreversibility. So it can be fruitful, in an ontological way, to be sceptical of the idea that mathematical formalisms of symmetry are necessarily valid representations of actual physics. It might be reading too much into Smolin’s meaning when he says that ‘time… properties reflect the positions … of matter in the universe’ (p12), but that seems consistent with our proposition.

How to find a better physics?

The solution, Smolin says, is to ‘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.
However it is not so easy to do that in practice, and Smolin does not have suggestions for where these new physical principles should be sought. His statement that ‘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.
Smolin suspects that true solutions will have 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).
In a way, though he does not use the words, Smolin tacitly endorses the principle of physical realism: that physical observable phenomena do have deeper causal mechanics involving parameters that exist objectively. He never mentions the hidden-variable solutions. Perhaps this is indicative of the position of most theorists, that the hidden variable sector has been unproductive. Everyone has given up on it as intractable, and now ignore it. According to Google Scholar, ours looks to be the only group left in the world that is publishing non-local hidden-variable (NLHV) solutions. Time will tell whether or not these are strong enough, but these do already embody Smolin’s injunction to take a fresh look for new physical principles.

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

 

 

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Variable decay rates of nuclides

Our previous work indicates that, under the rules of this framework of physics, the neutrino and antineutrino (neutrino-species) interact differently with matter. Specifically that (a) they interact differently with the proton compared to the neutron, and (b) they are not only by-products of the decay of those nucleons as in the conventional understanding, but also can be inputs that initiate decay. (See previous posts).

Extending that work to the nuclides more generally, we are now able to show how it might be that decay rates could be somewhat erratic for β+, β-, and EC. It is predicted on theoretical grounds that the β-, β+ and electron capture processes may be induced by pre-supply of neutrino-species, and that the effects are asymmetrical for those species. Also predicted is that different input energies are required, i.e. that a threshold effect exists. Four simple  lemmas are proposed with which it is straightforward to explain why β- and EC decays would be enhanced and correlate to solar neutrino flux (proximity & activity), and alpha (α) emission unaffected.

Basically the observed variability is proposed to be caused by the way neutrinos and antineutrinos induce decay differently. This is an interesting and potentially important finding because there are otherwise no physical explanations for how variable decay rates might arise. So the contribution here is providing a candidate theory.

We have put the paper out to peer-review, so it is currently under submission. If you are interested in preliminary information, the pre-print may be found at the physics archive:

http://vixra.org/abs/1502.0077

This work makes the novel contribution of proposing a detailed mechanism for neutrino-species induced decay, broadly consistent with the empirical evidence.

Dirk Pons

New Zealand, 14 Feb 2015

 

You may also be interested in related sites talking about variable decay rates:

http://phys.org/news202456660.html

https://tnrtb.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/commentary-on-variable-radioactive-decay-rates/

See also the references in our paper for a summary of the journal literature.

 

UPDATE (20 April 2015): This paper has been published as DOI: 10.5539/apr.v7n3p18 and is available open access here http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/apr/article/view/46281/25558

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A physical interpretation of string theory?

String theory (which is really a broad family of theories) suggests that it is possible to make sense of fundamental physics. But only if there are 11 dimensions in which to  operate (or 10,  or 26 depending on the version of the theory). Unfortunately it can’t tell us anything about how or where those other extra dimensions exist. Also problematic is that there are innumerably many solutions to the mathematics, and it has not been possible to identify a variant that corresponds to the world we inhabit. So the potential in string theory has never been realised. It is too abstract to provide working models or physical explanations. Physicists are divided about its usefulness: some love it, while others, like Lee Smolin and Peter Woit, are critical of string theory for its  speculative nature, lack of testable predictions, and cognitive dominance over physics.

Projection of a Calabi-Yau manifold, one of th...

Projection of a Calabi-Yau manifold, one of the ways of compactifying the extra dimensions posited by string theory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consequently we have considered string theory generally irrelevant:  at least for our purpose of seeking a physically meaningful explanation for physics.  However some strange coincidences have caused us to question this position.

Do the Eleven variables for a cordus particule, correspond to the Eleven dimensions for string theory?

We notice that it requires 11 variables to define a cordus particule. These are all features of the geometry, such as the number and orientation of the discrete field elements (HEDs). Strangely, that’s the same number of dimensions in M-theory, one of the popular string theories.  Another similarity that string theory predicts that the photon is an open string, and cordus also predicts a photon particule with two free ends.

Two coincidences don’t make a pattern. Nonetheless it raises an interesting possibility:

cordus and string theory might be describing the same thing from different perspectives

It may be that a cordus-type model, or some other model of hidden-internal-variables, is a physical representation of one of the string theories. That’s an interesting thought, because if it were even partly true then it would open up a whole new set of research possibilities.

So what we are suggesting here is that the ‘orthogonal spatial dimensions’ in string theory might correspond to ‘geometric independent-variables’ in a hidden-variable solution. That would also neatly explain where the extra string dimensions go: they simply represent small-scale geometric features at the sub-quantum level.

It is a radical thought, and of course the weak point in our argument is the assumption that dimensions = variables. Is that valid or not? Yes, from the general perspective of maths (and statistics, and engineering dimensional-analysis too), but string theory may have other constraints of which we are unaware. Something for a string theorist to look into? See here for details:  http://vixra.org/abs/1204.0047

Seeing a possible connection between string theory and hidden-variable theories has, up to now, not been feasible. This is because hidden-variable theories have been under siege from Bell-type inequalities, and because of a lack of such theories. Having an operational concept like cordus makes the comparison possible.

 Perhaps string theory might yet be a tool for the development of physically meaningful explanations for fundamental physics?

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