Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Major Meltdown

Lest there be anyone remaining under the delusion that all is well in the world of physics ...

Today Woit discusses the predictable actions of the arxiv over the backward causation joke theory. This follows a jaw dropping plunge by Carroll, who was already swimming in the murky depths of the Multiverse*, into a confidant explanation of the plausibility of backward causation ideas given the non local nature of quantum gravity:
Because they are not actually crackpots, they even admit what they’re doing — in their own words, “Our model with an imaginary part of the action begins with a series of not completely convincing, but still suggestive, assumptions.”
Well, it must be all right then, mustn't it? Or is there perhaps another scent in the air? In the words of Alberich: you eternal revellers! Beware!

*The Multiverse: the bandwagon idea that quantum information theory has won the String Wars, but that mainstream theory will still be hunky dory with that.

5 Comments:

Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

I see nothing crackpottish in backward causation as a concept. What is crackpottish or probably just a joke is to propose that this would explain why Higgs has not yet been discovered. As far as plausibility is considered this brings to my mind the brane constructions meant to reproduce standard model symmetries (certainly not jokes)!

In TGD Universe zero energy ontology justifies backwards causation and it forms the corner stone of TGD inspired quantum biology and consciousness theory. The basic mechanisms of intentional action, metabolism, and memory rely on backwards causation in this framework. One must of course make a clear distinction between geometric time and subjective time (sequence of quantum jumps) in order to avoid paradoxes. The precise articulation of this distinction has turned out to be extremely useful exercise.

Libet's paradoxical finding that neural activity precedes conscious decision finds in this framework a nice explanation without giving up free will. Phase conjugate laser beams provide the direct experimental evidence at the level of physics: for instance, they obey second law in reversed direction of geometric time: this has even technological application.

Since the generally accepted conceptual framework is lacking, theoretical physicists follow Wittgenstein's advice and prefer to be silent about these fascinating phenomena. And about many other things too: it seems that the recent day theoretical physics is filled with taboos;-)).

October 15, 2009 9:24 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Matti, naturally I have no problem with the idea of 'backward causation' per se ... only with the ridiculous non predictions being discussed here, couched in terms of classical actions!

October 16, 2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

I must agree with Kea, this multiverse idea is becoming like a comedy routine.

October 16, 2009 1:11 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Multiverses as quantum superpositions of geometric objects are unavoidable in any theory of quantum gravitation starting from a geometric description of gravitation.

The notion of multiverse in M-theory context is however extremely poorly defined. Should one introduce probability amplitudes in all possible 11-D space-times and try to geometrize this space and show that Calabi-Yau times circle times M^4:s appears as preferred ones? Should one also introduce probability amplitudes for all possible configurations of all possible branes inside particular 11-D manifold? Should one introduce at classical level decomposition of 11-D space-time to regions in good approximation of the desired form?

To me this is a hopeless mess both mathematically and physically. Like thermodynamics before Boltzman whose work colleagues stubbornly refused to recognize with tragic consequences.


My own modest proposal is following. Let us start by asking whether the higher-D space-time could be selected uniquely, say by starting from the idea that associativity fixes physics completely.

a) 8-D space-times with Minkowski signature allow octonionic representation of gamma matrices as products of octonions and Pauli's sigma matrices. Consider local Clifford algebra in M^8, which is the simplest possible choice.

b) Ask what are the local associative sub-algebras of this algebra (one could and must also consider co-associative sub-algebras). Associativity corresponds to a restriction of local Clifford algebra elements to 4-D (hyper-)quaternionic surface Quaternionicity means that one can assign quaternionic plane, not necessarily tangent plane, to each of its points by some rule. If the 4-D quaternionic planes form an integrable distribution in some sense, we have got 4-D space-time.

c) Do these quaternionic local Clifford sub-algebras allow commutative local sub-algebras? They do. This leads to a slicing of given hyper-quaternionic space-time surface by 2-D stringy surfaces (they are commutative) with slices parametrized by what I call partonic 2-surfaces (Euclidian string world sheets). In finite measurement implying discretization you get a collection of strings.

d) These properties imply M^8-M^4xCP_2 duality that is mapping of these surfaces in M^8 to M^4xCP_2 giving standard model symmetries and TGD in its basic form.

e) The meaning of (hyper-)quaternionicity depends on the criteria assigning to given point of space-time surface quaternionic plane. Classical variational principle provides this criterion. For volume as action (non-physical choice) one obtains standard induced gamma matrices spanning tangent space. For Kahler action one obtains modified gammas and quaternionic sub-algebra does not span tangent space. This option is physical and besides producing standard model gauge field dynamics it provides the richests structure (quantum criticality, inclusion hierarchy of super-conformal algebras corresponding to that for HFFS of type II_1, etc..).


The world of classical worlds (WCW) is the multiverse of TGD and can be identified as the space of these quaternionic sub-algebras of the octonionic local Clifford and entire quantum TGD follows from mere algebra. Quantum states are spinor fields in WCW formed by quaternionic local Clifford sub-algebras. No landscape is obtained in this multiverse. Standard model symmetries are always the fundamental symmetries having purely number theoretical meaning. This picture is mathematically precisely defined with well-developed connections with existing physics. Mathematicians could immediately start to apply their methodology and intuition to develop TGD as a purely mathematical discipline.

But first something should be done. Maybe Nobel committee should follow their strategy when it gave peace price for Kissinger: Nobels to the leading string gurus! String wars would cease, landscape nightmare -the Vietnam of physics- would be soon forgotten, and theoreticians would be eagerly studying physics again;-).

October 16, 2009 4:53 PM  
Anonymous chimpanzee said...

Kea & Louise:

This was simply a hack/poser "science" Journalist, sensationalizing a paper

[ writers constantly get pressured by their Editors to write "copy" that gets eyeballs, towards the $$ bottomline. It's ratings Bonanza time, right? ]

for the purpose of gaining eyeballs & Advertising Revenue. At least Bee spotted it:

Sabine Hossenfelder wrote:
"Robert [ me, aka Chimp Genius ]: The article by Oberbye doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is why it's being picked up. Ironically by people saying it doesn't deserve the attention. See the weirdness? Why don't they just ignore the NYT and their insistence to proclaim physicists are all crazy? That way they are just playing along."

Melissa Franklin/Harvard (experimental particle physicist) also picked up on this phenomena, this from the SSC cancellation days:

"Why the New York TImes doesn't get the right-spin on our data"
-- talk at xxx university

[ the NY Times fabricated a poser article, rationalizing the SSC cancellation based on the funny names of the elementary particles ]

Two words: Dimwit Reality

..referring to the scientifically-challenged Public

(AND poser Journalists who try to write anything scientifically meaningful)

Here's the KILLER post, EVERYONE SHOULD SAVE IT ON THEIR COMPUTER & post it on the SN/Social Networking VIral websites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace:

"Everyone who gave this book one star should realize that this book is entertainment. Hancock is not a scientist or an academic of any kind -he's a
journalist! ... Of course Hancock tailors the facts
to fit his theories - he is not constrained by truth, science, or even ethics. He is a journalist.

...This book, and all those like it that preach pseudo-science, appeal to the majority of people in this world who are scientifically challenged. Most
Americans don't have enough scientific knowledge to understand the technology they face everyday, much less untangle the fact and fantasy in this book. It is entertainment, but it's dangerous - science interpreted by a journalist!"
-- reader in Cincinnati/OH, review of "Fingerprints of the Gods"

[ Hancock advocates crackpot conspiracy=extraterrestial civilization in
Antarctica were our ancestors. This clown has a BOOK, & 2-part series running on the Discovery Channel!! Tons of hits, sales, advertising Revenue. Making a $$ killing. And, Kea is working as a waitress. I'm in tears right now.. ]

I got so riled up today on Facebook (on behalf of Bee), this is what I wrote:

"Again, it's all about the different universes. Scientists live in their own "bubble Universe" of elitism/logic & Idiots/Morons/Fools living in their "Dimwit Reality" (pathetic & otherwise useless worthless lives). OF COURSE, the mainstream media (useless as it is) PANDERS to the masses of "You can't fix STUPID". Give the fools what they want, & newspapers sell copy, build traffic (from the minions), build Advertiser portfolio, generate Advertising Revenue. It's all Economics..Stupid-nomics."
-- Chimp Genius

I can't believe some physicists actually TOOK THIS HACK JOB seriously. Of course it was junk journalism..we live in a Junk Food society.

"Who is the Bigger Fool...the fool [ hack poser Journalist ] or the Fool [ physicists who took the poser seriously ] who Followed him"
-- Obi Wan Kenobi

October 16, 2009 5:00 PM  

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