This wonderful article from Wired magazine was shared by Ms. K.M., and I have to share it along with a few of (really) high octane comments from my amateur's corner. The article concerns the hunt for the elusive Higgs boson in particle physics, the problems encountered thus far (like not being able to find it or a whole slew of other particles predicted by the Standard Model), and how some physicists are beginning to rethink a lot of very fundamental things. Here's the article:

Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis

This brings back memories of the time when, as a college adjunct professor, I taught a class in the history and the history of the philosophy of science. One particularly bright student, as we were discussing the Medieval debates between Nominalism and Realism, brought up the state of quantum mechanics, multiplying particles to explain each observed phenomenon, to the extent that particles were being described not only with the standard litany of attributes - spin, charge, mass, and so on - but with other characteristics like "colors" and "flavors". His observation was that modern physics seemed to be nothing but metaphysics all over again, but this time with equations thrown in for good measure, for an added element of bewilderment. A minority of physicists, like Herr Unzicker in Germany, have complained about the whole proliferation of models, theories and particles, and called it "fairy tale physics."

The bewilderment seems to have hit physicists themselves now in increasing numbers, and for those of us on the amateur benches who have perhaps intuited something awry with the standard model, the admission may or may not be perceived as good news.  Here's why, according to the article:

"In the equations of the “Standard Model” of particle physics, only a particle discovered in 2012, called the Higgs boson, comes equipped with mass from the get-go. According to a theory developed 50 years ago by the British physicist Peter Higgs and associates, it doles out mass to other elementary particles through its interactions with them. Electrons, W and Z bosons, individual quarks and so on: All their masses are believed to derive from the Higgs boson — and, in a feedback effect, they simultaneously dial the Higgs mass up or down, too.

The new scale symmetry approach rewrites the beginning of that story. 'The idea is that maybe even the Higgs mass is not really there,' said Alessandro Strumia, a particle physicist at the University of Pisa in Italy. “It can be understood with some dynamics.”

"The concept seems far-fetched, but it is garnering interest at a time of widespread soul-searching in the field. When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN Laboratory in Geneva closed down for upgrades in early 2013, its collisions had failed to yield any of dozens of particles that many theorists had included in their equations for more than 30 years. The grand flop suggests that researchers may have taken a wrong turn decades ago in their understanding of how to calculate the masses of particles."(Emphasis added)

The new ideas being bantered about in some models being proposed, are nothing less than breathtaking if one is accustomed to standard methods including dimensional analysis and so on, for they are doing away with the notions of mass and length at the most primordial level entirely, and hence, with the notion of scale:

"This little-explored idea, known as scale symmetry, constitutes a radical departure from long-standing assumptions about how elementary particles acquire their properties. But it has recently emerged as a common theme of numerous talks and papers by respected particle physicists. With their field stuck at a nasty impasse, the researchers have returned to the master equations that describe the known particles and their interactions, and are asking: What happens when you erase the terms in the equations having to do with mass and length?

"Nature, at the deepest level, may not differentiate between scales. With scale symmetry, physicists start with a basic equation that sets forth a massless collection of particles, each a unique confluence of characteristics such as whether it is matter or antimatter and has positive or negative electric charge. As these particles attract and repel one another and the effects of their interactions cascade like dominoes through the calculations, scale symmetry “breaks,” and masses and lengths spontaneously arise."(All emphases added)

In other words, what is being suggested, to put it crudely, is that mass and dimensionality (length and so on) arise as a result of complex interactions of fundamental electromagnetic principles,  charge (and hence spin characteristics), and so on. A little later in the article we have this stunner: does all mass arise in this fashion, regardless of the scale on which one is dealing, from particles to stars?:

"Similar dynamical effects generate 99 percent of the mass in the visible universe. Protons and neutrons are amalgams — each one a trio of lightweight elementary particles called quarks. The energy used to hold these quarks together gives them a combined mass that is around 100 times more than the sum of the parts. 'Most of the mass that we see is generated in this way, so we are interested in seeing if it’s possible to generate all mass in this way,' said Alberto Salvio, a particle physicist at the Autonomous University of Madrid and the co-author of a recent paper on a scale-symmetric theory of nature."(Emphasis added)

More stunners follow, including the idea of "agravity", meaning basically that gravity is a dimensionless thing, giving rise to ghosts in the machine, so to speak:

"A theory called “agravity” (for “adimensional gravity”) developed by Salvio and Strumia may be the most concrete realization of the scale symmetry idea thus far. Agravity weaves the laws of physics at all scales into a single, cohesive picture in which the Higgs mass and the Planck mass both arise through separate dynamical effects. As detailed in June in the Journal of High-Energy Physics, agravity also offers an explanation for why the universe inflated into existence in the first place. According to the theory, scale-symmetry breaking would have caused an exponential expansion in the size of space-time during the Big Bang.

"However, the theory has what most experts consider a serious flaw: It requires the existence of strange particle-like entities called “ghosts.” Ghosts either have negative energies or negative probabilities of existing — both of which wreak havoc on the equations of the quantum world.

“'Negative probabilities rule out the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, so that’s a dreadful option,' said Kelly Stelle, a theoretical particle physicist at Imperial College, London, who first showed in 1977 that certain gravity theories give rise to ghosts. Such theories can only work, Stelle said, if the ghosts somehow decouple from the other particles and keep to themselves. 'Many attempts have been made along these lines; it’s not a dead subject, just rather technical and without much joy,' he said.

And (at least for this blogger), one of the most interesting suggestions to come out of the current debate is the suggestion that what separates these worlds of hidden particles and "ghosts" is that of a phase transition(or to put it in my amateur's extremely crude terms, that phase is perhaps another aspect of standard dimensionality, a "boundary condition"):

"Meanwhile, other groups are crafting their own scale-symmetric theories. Lindner and colleagues have proposed a model with a new “hidden sector” of particles, while Bardeen, Lykken, Marcela Carena and Martin Bauer of Fermilab and Wolfgang Altmannshofer of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, argue in an Aug. 14 paper that the scales of the Standard Model and gravity are separated as if by a phase transition. The researchers have identified a mass scale where the Higgs boson stops interacting with other particles, causing their masses to drop to zero. It is at this scale-free point that a phase change-like crossover occurs. And just as water behaves differently than ice, different sets of self-contained laws operate above and below this critical point." (Emphasis added)

Now, where's the high octane speculation in all this (besides that of the physicists with their equations?) Well, I don't know about you, but I couldn't help but think, as I read this article, of the statements made by Ben Rich to the effect that he and his team at the Lockheed Skunkworks had found an "error in the equations", and now they could "take ET home." I couldn't help but think of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White, and his claim that the mass-energy conversion required to create a "space warp" is smaller than first calculated by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; I couldn't help but think of Thomas Townsend Brown and his whole idea of a coupling of electromagnetism and gravity, and therewith of his experiments with capacitors and dielectrics. Indeed. Stop and think about all those men, in the context of the Wired article, where physicists are toying with the idea of throwing the mass and length components out of the equations, where phase constitutes a boundary condition of some sort, where mass arises as the result of interactions involving spin, charge, and so on.

See you on the flip side.


  1. Just out of curiosity Dr. Farrell,

    Have you reviewed the work of Dr. Dewey B. Larson? He’s not here to defend his many detractors in academia, & has been removed from Wikipedia & other sites where discussions on physics usually take place, but in light of this article & the posits it (& you) provide(s), the material begs to be seriously reviewed (yet again)….

    I am not a physicist & I only loosely follow the discipline so I very well accept the reality that I am presenting or reviewing material that has no basis for a serious discussion, however….. I suppose that could be said about a great many theoretical physicists that push their ideas on the general public….. & I think the remarks you have made & reference to the article above somewhat underscores that notion, does it not?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter (no pun intended) & as always, thank you for all of your hard work & constant supply of “brain food!”

    Peace be with you.

  2. Perfect! Herein lies the crux of it. Mass is merely bits of ether [itty vortices of various spin characteristics permeating infinity] placed [thought!] into relation to each other such that their electromagnetic interaction gives the impression of solidity. No such thing as mass. Isn’t that how the topographic metaphor turns itself into this cosmos?

  3. I pray that the hunt for the Higgs boson will bring down the modern Ptolemaic science Big Bang, String Theory, Fusion . As for a multi-universe I doubt it needs Higgs boson to exist but I wish that Star Trek-Star Wars coexistence with Time Traders and Quest Across Time.

  4. I think the pseudo Mxxx, who commented on the Wired article, has it pretty much right:

    “To unravel the debacle that the Standard Model has turned out to be, physics will need to delve much further back to the basic model of the atom. Attraction between protons and electrons in other atoms doesn’t magically cease once they are bound in an atom. They each continue to attract every other opposite particle in the universe, though the strength of this attraction is tempered by the repulsion to similar particles. This, and nothing more far-fetched is THE cause of gravity.

    This, and similar interactions of attraction and repulsion of more fundamental particles such as quarks explains the elusive ‘mass’ of particles as well as many of the other ‘mysterious’ actions in the universe such as inflation theory, relativity, and the absence of Higgs Boson particles. Unfortunately I suspect such clear and deceptively simple causes are beyond what the field of physics is willing and able to make such a dramatic about-face on.”

    1. Certainly has the “feel” of a common sense approach.
      “They” have; however, steered straight into a metaphysics vortex explanation, with a apostate vengeance.
      Who abhors such a vacuum of physic’s knowledge going down the “truth hole”?
      Correcting this low-hanging fruit in the show-them-your-better orchard has to have happened one too many damn times?

  5. The crew of the good ship Lollypop found Higgs’ boson and his mate hiding in the hold making yaya in a bathtub, and they threw both of them overboard with their bath water, and the tub too.

    Phlogiston rules !

  6. Oh, what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive!
    And therein lies a tale for Dr. Farrell and old97polarcat are in the ballpark of the theatre of deception. First mankind? untangling the mystery of the universe. Only, to solve a major “error in the equation”; to then become a repurposed entanglement. That this phase transition mirrors the deceptive universe, is a synchronous/symmetrical function. For once one moves a piece of the puzzle in-place a synchronous/symmetrical rebalancing(negative to positive, positive to negative [nothing in concept]) occurs in the awareness of the observer. That the divides the mass(again, all related but in different fields of consciousness/measurement) so that eventually the “error in the equations” bleeds(crosses over to balance the mass/now/reality) to the masses(population consciousness of the whole/hole = nothing). I better stop my imitation of Professor Irwin Corey… before I get Schrodinger’s cat too entangled in this yarn.
    But later on in the poem is this:

    Where’s the coward that would not dare
    To fight for such a land?

    Again the spirit being for an open system rather than a closed system. And that is probably something to do with the universal expansion of knowledge; and perhaps the expansion of the universe itself. But as the world today exists in a closed corporatized system; I can’t see a bright future for human evolution(getting down to Earth). Perhaps one day, the world will win the trifecta for a sustainable human evolution; in an Open-Spectrum, Open-Source Software, Open-Source Data Access world of the near-future. There, one and all, could the apply the DEEP Thought processes necessary to unravel the heretofore elitist deceptions, that currently cloak themselves in pseudo realities(including sciences & technologies).

  7. Particles, mass, and other properties–some “non-local”–pop out of an aether that is scaled in knowable ratios and much much bigger, and pervasive, than the matter derived from it.

    And conventional physics can use incredibly abstruse maths to posit some of this, while ignoring the fairly obvious holes in conventional math and science that certainly allow for most of these things:


    Aether drift of the earth has been repeatedly measured for the last 130 years. (By Silvertooth as recently as the 1980s.)

    Integral calculus is based on multiplying by zero and obtaining results, while in normal math something times zero always equals zero.

    Numbers like Pi can’t really be infinite and non-repeating since just the expression of such would take infinite energy–or in the terms of an engineer, one can’t construct a perfectly flat surface, on which to build these perfect circles–this has big implications for the idea of straight lines.

    The energy of a rocket burning in space interacts with another substrate to induce the rocket to move. (In fact any fire anywhere does something similar, but rockets are directed. This is a source for the opposite reaction rule.)

    Imaginary numbers are very real and valid solutions to equations, and sure suggest where to look for answers to many of these problems, but physicists introduce absolute value bars as a way out of addressing that “problem”.

    Much of science is lost in the language of describing the thing instead of experiencing the thing.

  8. Dr. Farrell:

    Yes, and imagine what it would be like to be the poor SOB who figured out the “error” only to have it locked up for going on 40 years now in special access projects. And therein lies my issue with this scenario: someone in these vast, unaccountable special access programs would have had let something slip. Of course, leaks can be plugged — ala Hastings, that GCHQ fellow who ended up on the wrong side of the carryall, and thousands of others. Still, all I see when I look around is disinformation, vast mountains of it. Rich may be an example of an small slip, like the ones Buzz Aldrin has dropped here and there. But there sure must be a whole lot of disgruntled physicists out there who know they deserve a Nobel and wouldn’t be above some posthumous data drops. If you are right, and I suspect you are, there should be more Rich- and Aldrin-like nuggets out there.

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