Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Higgs Blogging

While checking out the latest New York Times story on the fairy field, I found an anti-establishment physics blog that's way more interesting than Not Even Wrong: check out this blog by R. Mirman, complete with links to error messages for the cosmological constant. This old guy is angry.

Clifford seemed a little bothered by my continued vocal disbelief in the existence of fairy fields, and he said, "Hi Kea! I see you’re still ahead of us fools who wait for experiments before concluding what we believe about Nature."

Well, actually, as it happens, I was, and still am, of the opinion that theoretical science is at least partly about trying to understand the outcomes of experiments before they are performed. It is therefore my duty, as a professional (albeit unpaid) quantum gravity theorist, to make sensible predictions about events at the LHC, and elsewhere. And then there is the not so minor issue of all the previous experiments that were supposed to see certain fairy particles, but didn't. What are all those experimentalists doing, anyway?

Meanwhile Amanda, at Tommaso Dorigo's blog, said (in disparagement as usual), "Almost as bad: Famous Physicist says: Here is a really interesting idea: let’s all use category theory/twistors/moonshine/-fill in badly motivated or frankly unphysical idea which is clearly going nowhere HERE-."

Wow! Isn't that cool! Category Theory and Twistors and Moonshine are getting mocked all in one breath! Most of the physicists I know still haven't thought about these things. Maybe physics is progressing as it should, after all.

So why does the Higgs not exist? For starters, there never was any reason to think it should. As everyone knows, QFT likes particles to be massless. QFT does not solve mass generation: it includes masses as parameters. Secondly, our best bets for observables in a theory which does actually describe mass, doesn't include in any obvious way a Higgs particle. In other words, it doesn't exist. Other stuff probably exists, but it's different stuff. Now many people keep insisting on telling me that physical observables are about symmetry, and this friendly advice is usually accompanied by much hand-waving about Lagrangians and representation theory and other mathematics from QFT, which never had anything to do with gravity, as it is observed.

By the way, those infernal twistors also say interesting things about massless particles, like about how they might be viewed in a unified setting using cohomology. And like how higher non-Abelian cohomology is needed to understand mass. Now I realise that QFT doesn't usually deal with twistors, but Nature (the bitch) isn't going to let QFT reign supreme forever, folks, especially when it comes to the issue of mass generation.

It seems obvious that the fairy field is unlikely to exist, even without formally extending the notion of observable into the language of motivic cohomology and moonshine (but that sounds like fun). Maybe I'm just stupid and I never understood QFT and there really is a Higgs, which Fermilab will find any day now. I guess we'll wait and see, just like we'll keep waiting for protons to decay, or gravitational waves to magically appear in the M31 GRB event.

Update: Tony Smith just posted an article on moonshine monsters, Jordan octonions, and the Standard Model here. Enjoy.

7 Comments:

Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Dear Kea,

thank you very much for polemic comments! They saved my day!

I have personally had a period of disbelief on Higgs and I wrote equally polemic comments;-).

I believed that p-adic thermodynamics explains both fermion and boson masses until it became clear that the mass ratio for W and Z having purely group theoretical interpretation is very very difficult to reproduce without Higgs. This is a real challenge for Higgs-non-believers.

Standard model introduces Higgs in ad hoc manner but in TGD Higgs appears as naturally gauge bosons (wormhole contacts with fermion and antifermion at opposite throats) so that now I have decided to believe that Higgs exist in my personal Universe.

The notion of coherent state is the conceptual piece behind Higgs vacuum expectation value and I have been also skeptical about this notion: especially in the case of super-conductivity where the coherent state of Cooper pairs breaks fermion number conservation among other things. Zero energy ontology saved the situation in this respect and I am relieved.



TGD Higgs however does not determine fermion masses and everything is consistent with the assumption that Higgs contribution to fermion masses vanishes. There is actually a good argument stating that Higgs cannot develop vacuum expectation at fermionic space-time sheets (requires TGD based notion of space-time and about generalized Feynman diagrams): the very notion of this vacuum expectation makes sense only in gauge boson sector. This means that Higgs could have very small coupling to fermions and Higgs might not be found for long time.

So a friendly warning to Kea: if Higgs will not be found in the expected schedule, do not open the bottle of champaign immediately;)!

Best, Matti

July 26, 2007 3:01 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Thanks, Matti. Don't worry, I wouldn't be opening any bottles of champagne (unless someone else is offering). I don't think this issue will be decided on the Higgs non observation alone, but on the whole gamut of 'anomalies' and real quantitative predictions, when they appear.

July 26, 2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kea, thanks for your mention of my Monster Moonshine paper.
You said over on Tommaso's blog
"... Just one major gripe: under step 11 you mention MacDowell-Mansouri for DE etc., but we can get a no-DE varying-c cosmology from the Jordan moonshine picture by using 3 Times from the SO(3,3) twistor picture a la (eg.) Sparling. ...".

I was not sure whether I should say this over on Tommso's blog or here, but I decided to say it here to avoid getting too far off-topic (about model details) there, so:

You are right that my use of Spin(2,4) and MacDowell-Mansouri getting Dark Energy and constant c is not the only way to do step 11.

For some time my friend Danny Ross Lunsford, who advocates using Spin(3,3), and I have had friendly discussions about relative merits of the Spin(3,3) approach and the Spin(2,4) approach, and I don't think that the Spin(3,3) approach is wrong, it is just that I feel more comfortable with Spin(2,4) and Dark Energy and constant c, so that is how I write my stuff.

However,
since it is clear (see the Penrose and Rindler books) that the twistors of Spin(3,3) are equivalent to the conformal quaternionic stuff of Spin(2,4),
I suspect that both approaches are correct and are just different ways of looking at the same elephant.
So,
it is my guess that a fully worked-out variable-c model with no explicit Dark Energy will (through the dynamics of the varying c) be physically equivalent to the conformal constant-c with Dark Energy.
Such a possible equivalence is something that I would like to write up in a future paper.

As to what might be an obstruction to such a possible equivalence,
at the Clifford Algebra level
Cl(2,4) is the 4x4 quaternionic matrix algebra M(4,Q)
and
Cl(3,3) is the 8x8 real matrix algebra M(8,R)
but
I am not sure whether that makes a physically important difference.

So I think that it would be useful to work on both approaches, and try to some day show either that they are physically equivalent or that there is some specific experiment that could distinguish them.

Tony Smith

July 26, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Tony, thanks.

I suspect that both approaches are correct and are just different ways of looking at the same elephant.

You may be right, and I used to think about DE versions too, but it's not clear that they remain equivalent in the full QG theory, and I doubt very much that they do since Lambda=0 seems to be required by the flat space (QFT) limit of the latest spin foam models. And some of us like the idea that Lambda=0 is required by a QG principle of 'covariance'. Moreover, I think the conceptual picture of an emergent GR (not to mention Riofrio's WMAP analysis) works much better with no DE, which is an ugly idea.

July 26, 2007 4:43 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Concerning cosmological constant I feel myself a bit skeptic although for a moment I took it seriously.

In TGD critical cosmology is almost unique from the requirement of imbeddability to M^4xCP_2. The astonishing finding of last week was that it predicts accelerating expansion. The interpretation of accelerated periods of expansion would be in terms of quantum criticality of phase transition increasing the value of gravitational hbar and thus also the sizes of large voids. These quantum phase transitions would be universal and appear in all length scales and define cosmic counterparts for quantum transitions at atomic length scale. A possible application that I have already suggested would be to RHIC.

These transitions would be between stationary cosmologies serving as models for stationary quantum states. They would be modelled by small deformations of vacuum extremals extremizing curvature scalar for the induced metric (conservation of gravitational four momentum in this kind of situation). Again something highly unique.

By criticality Lambda would be still be there but would tell the density of very large hbar dark matter assignable to various kinds of string like objects rather than energy. Note however that pressure negative during the critical period as it is for genuine lambda (think of transferring Lambda sqrt(g) to the matter side of Einstein's equations). The microscopic reason would be however the phase transition increasing hbar.

Best, Matti

July 26, 2007 5:47 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Interesting blog, though I hope we don't grow up to be old and angry. It is about time someone wondered whether "dark energy" and other suppositions are deliberate falsehood or just mass hallucination.

July 27, 2007 4:24 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi Kea,

Speculation
I think that I may have a conceptual means of relating gravity to the other forces. At best this is insightful {I hope], but not rigourus. This idea is merely an interpretation of historically recognized work of others.

Solenoids [helices or catenoids] may be functionally responsible for the forces.

See 'Iron Core Solenoid' contrasting air / iron solenoids, each with helical wiring [Hyperphysics, GSU, next to last topic that webpage]

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/elemag.html

I made similar comments at the Reference Frame in 'Veneziano & Gasperini: book' and Backreaction 'FIAS, the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies'.

July 27, 2007 11:05 AM  

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