Anti-Matter Antidote

On my New Physics tab, I have a set of links that document some important facts that are unexplained by modern particle theory. These aren’t obscure points of experience. Rather, they include facts such as “the proton weighs 50 times as much as it should” and “quazars precede galaxy formation.” They are “first order” facts that should cause every particle theorist to blush in shame.

Experimenters at CERN have now magnified the problem.

The reigning theory of the universe holds that it formed from a super-hot gas – so hot that the very fabric of space contained more energy than the existing particles. As the universe cooled, that energy was converted to particles.

One problem with this theory is that energy is converted to matter through a process called “pair production.” You can’t make only one particle – you have to make two.

Specifically, the particle comes with an “anti-particle” with equal mass and opposite charge. The conundrum is that those particles attract, and when they meet, they annihilate each other. The matter and anti-matter convert back to pure energy.

This leads the physicists to wonder: how did we end up with a universe composed only of matter? In principle, there should be equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, and every solid object should be annihilated.

The answer proposed by the theorists was that matter and anti-matter are slightly different – and most importantly in their stability. Anti-matter must disappear through some unknown process that preserves matter.

The experiment reported today attempted to measure differences between the most important building-block of matter – the proton – and its antiparticle. None was detected.

In consequence, everything created by the Big Bang (or the Expansive Cool – take your pick) should have disappeared a long time ago. There should be no gas clouds, no galaxies, no planets, and no life.

If that’s not a reason to be looking for new theories of fundamental physics, then what would be?

The Big Bang Collapses

Yet again.

One of the challenges confronting astrophysicists is figuring out how galaxies form. The problem arises in kind of a round-about way.

The space the fills our universe is remarkably uniform. That’s surprising, because it formed from an extremely violent context. We would expect it to be warped, in the mode of Einstein’s general relativity, causing light to “bend” as it traveled the great distances between galaxies. In addition, until a couple of years ago it was believed that the universe was coasting to a stop. In other words, the mass of the universe appeared to be just enough to keep the galaxies from flying apart forever, but not so much that they would turn around and collide together in a “big crunch.”

These two questions were reconciled with Alan Guth’s “inflationary universe” hypothesis. This holds that the universe was created with an invisible, uniform background energy that dissipated very early, creating most of the matter that we see around us.

One consequence of this model is that matter should be distributed uniformly in the universe. This is a problem for galaxy formation, because if matter is distributed uniformly, there’s no reason for it to start clumping together. There have to be little pockets of higher density for galaxies to form. When only normal matter is included in the simulations of the early universe, galaxies form way to slowly, and don’t exhibit the large-scale structures that we observe in the deep sky surveys.

Worse, when we look around the universe, we can’t actually see enough visible matter to account for the gravitational braking that slows down the rushing apart of the galaxies.

One way of solving these conundrums is “dark matter.” The proposed properties of dark matter are that it does not emit light (it’s dark) and that it has a different kind of mass that causes it to clump together to seed the formation of galaxies.

Today we have a negative result from an experiment designed to detect dark matter. This won’t deter the theorists for long – they’ll just come up with new forms of dark matter that are invisible to the detector (this is an old trick, which caught out my thesis adviser back in the ’80s).  But it does seem to make Occam’s razor cut more in the direction of the generative orders proposal for the formation of the early universe. That model doesn’t need inflation or dark matter or a multiverse to work. It anticipates just the universe that we see around us.

*sigh* Just saying.

Super Massive Black Holes

New study indicates that super massive black holes did not form through slow accretion from normal black holes, but rather early in the evolution of the universe in some unknown, cataclysmic process.

This contradicts the “Big Bang” theory, but is expected in a physics of Generative Orders (see points 7 and 8 of the “Reference Model”).

Galactic Asymmetry and the Big Bang

The reigning model of cosmology (the history of the universe) holds that it formed as a cooling bubble in a super-heated stew. It proposes that a lot of energy was stored in the fabric of space (whatever that means), and what we recognize as matter was created as that energy was released. That matter slowly coalesced to form concentrated seeds that eventually grew into galaxies. It’s a model not too different from the model we have for the formation of the solar system.

The model is notoriously called the “Big Bang” theory, but it’s not really a bang, nor is the universe really big in absolute terms. In fact, in that super-heated stew our universe is just a little tiny bubble that only looks big to us because as energy is released from the fabric of space signals travel more slowly through it, much as a violin string vibrates more slowly when it is loosened. In my book Love Works I coin another term for the process: the “Expansive Cool.”

The problem is that this model of gradual accretion is very difficult to reconcile with the structure and sub-structure  of the universe. This was first apparent in the distribution of galaxies, which is non-uniform. A more recent study of the age of stars in the Milky Way also shows some surprising structure.

It will be interesting to see if the cosmologists can come up with an explanation. I have to hand it to the astronomers, though: they sure know how to use pretty pictures to make a point!


From the Earth to the Sun and Back Again

One of the hazards of engaging in epistemological debate is that they almost always become religious. We look back through the haze of history, trying to understand the practices by which knowledge is revealed to us, hoping to glean insights that help us heal divisive intellectual conflicts in the present.

Currently, these discussions become religious because our era suffers from an extreme bifurcation in our pursuit of knowledge. In no other era of human history have the two great pursuits of understanding – religion and science – been perceived as diametrically opposed. The linear causality of Einstein stands in contradiction of the gift of prophesy, and the power and predictability of dumb matter seduces us into believing that we can achieve all of our desires right here on Earth. Conversely, science denies us the comfort of meaning, to the extent that some denounce the search for meaning, or go even further to propose that this reality is evidence of a malefic creator.

Given this modern myopia, in looking back at the great episodes of resistance to truth, we tend to focus on the conflict between science and religion. Consider, for example, the succession from geocentric models of the solar system to the heliocentric models. The oppression of Brahe and Galileo is characterized as resistance by a religious elite threatened by the destruction of a Platonic universe whose geometrical perfection (circles moving within circles) was advanced as proof of the existence of the Christian God.

In fact, the history was rather more subtle, and its consideration brings a great deal of insight into the intellectual resistance to the program of this blog, declared on the title bar: “Unifying Science and Spirituality.”

The Greeks advanced both the geocentric and heliocentric models. If the ancients had been capable of building the instruments used by Galileo, they would certainly have settled on the latter. They resolved on the former for entirely practical reasons: they were concerned with using the positions of the stars to calculate the calendar date and the position of objects on the Earth’s surface. Culturally, their needs were absolutely geocentric. To solve this problem, they correlated geographical position with stellar observations and the progression of the seasons. Next, they sought methods for compacting this large body of data in a form that could be used by voyagers. The technology most adaptable to that purpose was the mathematics of circular revolution. Not only was the mathematics of circular revolution relatively simple, it was easy to translate to mechanical form as instruments containing rotating dials.

The “geocentric” model of the heavens was not in essence a philosophical proposition, but a proposition of practical technology. The principle motivation for upending the model was that over the centuries, the circular approximations began to fail. Designs specified in the first century produced the wrong answers in the eleventh century. A more reliable model was necessary, and the application of the new mathematics of elliptical analysis revealed that the heliocentric model fit the data more reliably than did the geocentric model of circular revolution.

As for the resistance of the Church, Galileo insisted on publishing an insulting parody of the Pope with his observations. He made his science a political issue. This was not an idle matter: the Church used the feudal compact to constrain the rapaciousness of those with a monopoly on the instruments of war. Those scientists were well accepted that chose to engage with the Church with the aim of minimizing the social disruption that always comes with new knowledge.

In my own intellectual adventures here on this blog, I find myself confronted by those that tout modern cosmology as proof that the universe is a machine unfolding without purpose from its initial conditions. The foremost intellectual challenge to that conclusion has been “fine tuning” – the delicate balance of the fundamental constants of nature (specifically the relative strengths of the four forces) that must be preserved if life is to survive. The solution to this conundrum has been the “multiverse” variant of the Big Bang theory (the name itself is a mischaracterization). The multiverse proposition holds that universes exist with and without life – we just happen to occupy one in which life is possible.

The random generation of universes in the Big Bang, however, results from the proposition that we can explain all of nature by using two branches of mathematics: group theory and Fourier analysis. Both of these methods are relatively susceptible to hand calculation. What is little understood by the public is that the theorists trumpet their successes and ignore their failures. The application of current theory to study of the hydrogen nucleus is summarized here, and the results are incredibly ugly.

Why is the theory not abandoned? For the same reason that the geocentric theory was not abandoned: physicists and astronomers have used the current theory to justify the construction of multi-billion dollar observatories. As the Church did, they oppose any idea that might destabilize the social order that pays their salaries.

What is scandalous is that the interstellar navel-gazing saps money from problems here on Earth that desperately call for the full commitment of our best and brightest minds. The scientists need to get the heads out of the stars and back onto the Earth.

Shedding Light on Light Mysteries

In the last post, I identified correspondences between superfluid motion and the phenomenon that are described by the equations of quantum mechanics and special relativity. The discussion leads to the assumption that light is a disturbance in a cold – and therefore highly ordered (“crystal-like”) – sea of dark energy.

The illustration in that post showed a perfect lattice, but given what we know about the universe, we’d expect the dark energy lattice to be a little less regular. For example, we know from the Michelson-Morley experiment that dark energy is entrained with massive objects, which tend to be round. There’s an old adage about “pounding a round peg into a square hole” (or was it the other way around) that fits here: the distortion created by the spherical Earth requires accommodation from the rectangular lattice, which will introduce defects.

And then we have the early history of the universe: unless the universe was unfolded from a single location, dark energy will organize itself locally, just as we see in crystals formed in solution. Here’s a picture of insulin crystals:

Insulin crystals grown in solution
Now obviously as these crystals grow to fill in the volume, there’s going to be some places where they don’t fit together nicely, which is going to leave defects in the final mass. So it would happen with the dark energy lattice.

What would we expect to happen when light encounters such a defect? Well, a reasonable analogy is what happens when a water wave encounters a rock. While most of the wave will continue around the rock, ripples will be cast off all around.

Do we see evidence of this in our study of the universe? Well, yes we do. First of all is the cosmic microwave background. But there’s more than than. Recent studies reveal that there is too much light coming from the empty space between galaxies (see Galaxies Aren’t Bright Enough). Astronomers originally assumed that the light had to come from early sources (back around the “Big Bang”, which I think is hokum), but that early light should should be “stretched”, and therefore redder than it is. So the light must be coming from modern sources. Without any other proof, astronomers suppose that there must be many stars between galaxies.

In the lattice model, the cosmic microwave background and extra light between galaxies actually go together: if light is scattered by dark energy, it will lose a little bit of its energy (perhaps into microwaves) and change its direction. Therefore, some of the light coming from a distant galaxy will appear to have originated from empty space, and space will seem to be filled with microwaves.

Finally, the loss of energy from scattering in the lattice explains why light emitted from distant galaxies appears redder than light from nearer galaxies. In current theory, this is explained as due to the relativistic Doppler effect (similar to what we experience when a car passes us with its horn blaring, the pitch drops after the car passes us). But with the discovery of Dark Energy, other mechanisms may exist to explain this effect.

I will admit that the last two paragraphs are a “have you cake and eat it too” situation. If light from distant galaxies loses energy to scattering, it would be diffused as it passes, which would make the galaxies indistinct. But remember that the volume around galaxies is expected to have many more defects in the lattice than the intergalactic medium, which would cause stronger scattering in their vicinity. And when defects exist, radiation may also be emitted when the lattice reorganizes itself to close the defect. The point is that there is a whole set of new phenomena to consider when explaining astrophysical observations.

All this without needing to suppose a Big Bang at all.