Now, this one was shared by a lot of you who, like me, have been following the developments at CERN's large hadron collider in Geneva with a bit of a jaundiced eye. First we had the sort-of announcement of the discovery of the so-called "god particle," the Higgs boson, allegedly the particle in the quantum pantheon for imparting mass to everything else. I say "pantheon" here because it strikes me as extremely odd and curious that physics seems somehow trapped in the old this-god-does-that-function paradigm: we have gods of "wisdom, fertility, and (pick a function)" and this particle-does-mass and that particle does that... and spin moments, and directionality, and quarks and "colors,"... I'm reminded a bit of the old nominalist-versus-realist debates of the late Middle Ages. But anyway, back to the Higgs. Then the discovery was sort-of retracted, then sort-of confirmed.Then we even heard, briefly, of some sort of "discovery" of something with "superluminal" velocities, but no, that's impossible because Pope Einstein said so. Then we had the stories coming out of how some physicists were actually toying with the idea of recasting their equations entirely without the notion of dimensionality, allegedly, so the story would seem, because of the High Weirdness they're finding when they crank up their alchemical machine at Geneva. When I heard that one I had to do a double-take, for the idea of modern mathematical physics without dimensionality in the equations would seem to throw the whole last 200 years of physics into a cocked hat. Maxwell, of course, had his quaternions with its scalar potentials, but even he had to get around to dimensionality at some point. Einstein's general relativity is a highly dimensional theory, as are the various early 20th century stabs at unified field theories from Kaluza-Klein to Vaclav Hlavaty and on down even to modern string and m-theory. It's as if they are suggesting that the whole of mathematical physics be recast as a theory of Nothing with lots and lots of scalars and zero-sum vectors (or are those the same thing? One can imagine David Bohm asking such a question).
Then along comes Indian theoretical physicist Amit Goswami, who, fed up with the underlying Cartesian-materialist-epiphenomenalism of it all, just bluntly proposes in Leibnizian fashion that consciousness - that's right, immaterial, incorporeal, metaphysical consciousness, Mind itself, as it were - is the underlying bedrock of physics, and not a bunch of particles emerging from an endless Dirac sea of ...well... nothing once again. Needless to say, his views are controversial.
Well, now Dr. Goswami has joined Stephen Hawking in warning about CERN's Large Hadron collider, fearing that at some point, something catastrophic might happen. In fact, he goes further, in this article, by saying "We (physicists) have no ******* idea what we're doing:"
Now, in case you missed the salient points, here they are once again:
"The University of Oregon professor warned that the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, could potentially wipe out the entire planet if the project is not put to a halt.
“'Seriously, when myself, Higgs and Ben (Benjamin Lockspeiser CERN’s first president) first pitched the idea, we never thought it would get funding. It was gonna cost billions for Christs sake,' he recalled. “'Fuck knows what the thing does – no one does. Firing particles at each other at the speed of light can’t end well. I’m just worried now we took the joke too far'." (Emphasis added)
Now, obviously, Dr. Gotswami has no aversion to colorful language (and no, just because I'm quoting the article does not mean the rules on this website for commentary are suspended). One wonders, really, why he is using such language, and my speculation is that he is doing so in order to underscore the danger. Most disturbingly, he admits no one really knows what the Large Hadron Collider is really doing. But wiping out the entire planet?
Here's my problem (and my high octane speculation of the day). Back when the alchemical machine in Geneva was being prepared to be fired up for the first time, there were efforts being undertaken, largely in Germany, to head off the project and not turn it on at all. The reason? Well, again, because some feared catastrophic consequences of a planetary scale. They were, of course, ignored and scoffed at. But now, Gotswami has joined Hawking in uttering vague and dire apocalyptic warnings of planetary consequences if a stop is not put to it now. And that suggests these scientists know something that they're not saying. The question is, what?
So far as the story has emerged, there are some clues, though precious few. Hawking, of course, has made his career largely in "the physics of the very large," black holes and singularities and such. Gotswami, conversely, has gone into the bewitching field of the very small, quantum mechanics and its pantheon of particles-as-functions. So we have two physicists at opposite ends of the metrology scale, saying essentially the same thing. The third clue is that in the wake of the weird CERN results, we heard those strange calls for doing away with dimensionality in the equations altogether, an idea that, at first glance, seems to be in the same metaphysical camp as Gotswami with his emphasis on consciousness, and not materialism, as the principia prima of physics(Plato and the Neoplatonists must be smiling down from the Elysian fields at that one).
Thus, what seems to be suggested from all of this is something that I suspected years ago when all this CERN talk first started, and that I first voiced on Ms. George Ann Hughes' The Byte Show, namely, that they had found something so unexpected in terms of their conventional models that it left them quietly, and perhaps secretly, scrambling at their blackboards or computer screens with their Mathcad programs. Perhaps, I suggested, they discovered something that confirmed that torsion was not the small dismissible micro-effect that always got tossed out in the equations, but a real macro-effect possibly capable of producing Hawking's dreaded black holes, or perhaps it was something else. Perhaps they discovered that linear mappings of individual observers went out the window when group observers were involved, and everything became non-linear... or perhaps they discovered that the difference between the two was itself a rotation group... and we're back to square one... But whatever it was they did discover - and in my opinion they did discover something - they're not coming (in my purely amateur opinion once again), entirely clean.
Ok... I';m done. And thank you for indulging my really crazy high octane speculation of the day...
See you on the flip side...
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