Comments on Tony Smith's Physics Site
Tony Smith has an extensive and fascinating collection of mathematical physics insights at http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith. He is a mathematician, lawyer, and veteran of the Vietnam War. He is also a string theorist, but has made testable predictions such as in his paper http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0207095. The reason for the cowboy hat is a medical condition, reaction to ultraviolet in sunlight. I'm interested in the reason why supersymmetry in string theory postulates that every fundamental particle is paired to an (unobserved) superpartner with a different spin. This is the 1-1 boson-fermion supersymmetry in string theory. Smith has a paper which uses E6 Lie algebra to avoid the need for this supersymmetry, but to still describe gravity and the standard model in 26 dimensions: http://cdsweb.cern.ch/search.py?recid=730325&ln=en. It was suppressed by arXiv.org, although arXiv.org does host Tony Smith's physical interpretation of string theory (illustration above): http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0102/0102042.pdf
[If you first want a background to symmetry problems in physics, here is a summary:
There are many symmetry theories in modern physics, but the two vital to force mechanisms are the weak force symmetry (which exists for energies above 250 GeV but breaks spontaneously at 250 GeV, because of the Higgs mechanism which mires low energy particles but yields to higher energies, as a ball thrown hard enough will penetrate a glass window), and supersymmetry.
Electroweak theory was developed by Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam. They showed that early in the big bang, there were three weak gauge bosons and a neutral boson, and that the photon which now exists is a combination of two of the original gauge bosons purely because this avoids being stopped by the weak charge of the vacuum; other combinations are stopped so the photon exists uniquely by the filtering out of other weak gauge bosons. Because the photon does not interact with the weak charge of the vacuum, it only interacts with electric charges. The vacuum is composed of weak charge, but not electric charge, so the photon can penetrate any distance of vacuum without attenuation. This is why electric forces are only subject to geometrical dispersion (inverse-square law).
These developments in the 1960s led to the Standard Model of fundamental particles. In this model, the strong nuclear, weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces all become similar at around 10^14 GeV, but beyond that they differ again, with electromagnetic force becoming stronger than the strong and weak forces. In 1974, Howard Georgi and Sheldon Glashow suggested a way to unify all three forces into a single superforce at an energy at 10^16 GeV. This ‘grand unified theory’ of all forces apart from gravity has the three forces unified above 10^16 GeV but separated into three separate forces at lower energies. The way they did this was by ‘supersymmetry’, doubling the particles of the Standard Model, so that each fundamental particle has a supersymmetric partner. The energy of 10^16 GeV is beyond testing on this planet and in this galaxy, so the only useful prediction they could make was that the proton should decay with a half-life somewhat smaller than has already been ruled out by experiment.
Edward Witten developed the current mainstream superstring model, which has 10/11 dimensions. The history of string theory begins in the 1920s with the Kaluza-Klein theory. Kaluza showed that adding a fifth dimension to general relativity units gravity and electromagnetism tensors, while Klein showed that the fifth dimension could remain invisible to us as a rolled up string. In the late 1960s, it was shown that the strings could vibrate and represent fundamental particle energies. In 1985, Philip Candelas, Gary Horowitz, Andy Strominger and Edward Witten suggested that 10-D string theory with the 6 extra dimensions curled up into a Calabi-Yau manifold would model the standard model, preserving supersymmetry and yet giving rise to an observable 4-D spacetime in which there is the right amount of difference between left and right handed interactions to account for the parity-violating weak force. This ‘breakthrough’ speculative invention was called ‘superstrings’ and led to the enormous increase in research in string theory.
Finally, in March 1995, Edward Witten proved that 10-D strongly coupled superstring theory is equivalent to 11-D weakly coupled supergravity. Apparently because it was presented in March, Witten named this new 10/11-D mathematics ‘M-theory’.
Witten then made the misleading claim that ‘string theory predicts gravity’:
‘String theory has the remarkable property of predicting gravity’: false claim by Edward Witten in the April 1996 issue of Physics Today, repudiated by Roger Penrose on page 896 of his book Road to Reality, 2004: ‘in addition to the dimensionality issue, the string theory approach is (so far, in almost all respects) restricted to being merely a perturbation theory’. String theory does not predict for the strength constant of gravity, G! ]
So it is very interesting that Tony Smith's approach gets rid of the need for supersymmetry. My view is that string theory is acceptable if it is made scientific, which means getting the simplest theory which meets the experimental facts and can be induced to make some predictions. His prediction of quark masses, http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/d4d5e6hist.html, is of interest. Those parts of the model I can understand, which are largely at the connections to experimental facts, remind me of Feynman's approach to the unification of physics by guessing. Because the mechanism is not being investigated, but connections are being guessed, there is a tendency to jump hurdles to make connections between the model and the experimental facts. The hurdle jumping in some cases may be a correct leap, but in others it may well be wrong.
UPDATE: see http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=318#comment-7025
Since I want to know the mechanism, the whole basis of the approach - the mathematical speculations at a high level in unfamiliar territory - are a difficulty. The discussion on http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/StringMFbranegrav.html is fascinating. A clear discussion is also at http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/VodouPhysics.html.
He offers a $100,000 prize at http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/VoDouPhysicsPrize5.html for further work.
At http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/cnfGrHg.html, Smith quotes Feynman:
Richard Feynman's book Lectures on Gravitation (1962-63 lectures at Caltech), Addison-Wesley 1995, contains a section on Quantum Gravity by Brian Hatfield, who says: "... Feynman ... felt ... that ... the fact that a massless spin-2 field can be interpreted as a metric was simply a "coincidence" ... In order to produce a static force and not just scattering, the emission or absorption of a single graviton by either particle [of a pair of particles] must leave both particles in the same internal state ... Therefore the graviton must have integer spin. ... when the exchange particle carries odd integer spin, like charges repel and opposite charges attract ... when the exchanged particle carries even integer spin, the potential is universally attractive ... If we assume that the exchanged particle is spin 0, then we lose the coupling of gravity to the spin-1 photon ... the graviton is massless because gravity is a long ranged force and it is spin 2 in order to be able to couple the energy content of matter with universal attraction ...".
The whole basis of this is spin 2 graviton approach for quantum gravity wrong, because it is mechanism-less. It is possible to produce a physical mechanism which works and makes predictions, http://feynman137.tripod.com/, although it is very unorthodox or 'crackpot'. To me, the more 'crackpot' the facts seem, the better. This mechanism shows that gravity is a background effect of the Feynman electromagnetic mechanism, whereby charges are continually exchanging gauge boson radiation which produces the electromagnetic force. Experimentally, I'm building on Heaviside/Catt work, although both Heaviside and Catt had crackpotism in interpreting their work. Dr Arnold Lynch, instructed by J.J. Thomson in the 30s, and who worked on the computer used to break German codes inWWII, wrote me a few years before he died that Heaviside made a mess of the 'Heaviside slab of energy current' theory in one important respect: waveguides. Although Heaviside had developed the Poynting vector independently of Poynting to describe light speed electric morse code signals in the undersea cable between Newcastle and Denmark in 1875, he fell down when he visualised a waveguide (a rectangular metal box used to feed radio signals at UHF or microwave to an antenna without radiation escaping while in transit) as a short-circuited transmission line (two parallel plates connected together by two more plates to form a box). This, Heaviside pointed out, could never carry radio waves. However, it works, so Heaviside's belief that a radio waveguide would function as a transmission line was false. Catt does not appear to know or care about the mechanisms going in electromagnetism, despite his political type 'concerns'. He certainly refuses to do science when I try to discuss with him. So Catt is really crackpot!
Heaviside neglected the fact that his mechanism for electricity is not merely 'guided' by the surfaces of the conductors, but actually TIED to them, whereas radiowaves between metal plates just bounce around. The TEM wave of electricity is totally different to the radiowave, the radiowave starts at one conductor, travels through the vacuum at c, then arrives (after the delay t = d/c) at the receiver conductor. This is radio. It is Maxwell's 'DISPLACEMENT CURRENT' energy, not his 'light wave' model. The Heaviside/TEM wave of electricity goes in a direction 90 degrees different to the DISPLACEMENT CURRENT that is called radio waves. I've explained this to Catt, but he prefers rearranging the deck chairs aboard the Titanic as it sinks. He won't take notice of me, despite mechanism, proof and experimental fact.
Tony Smith on the other hand, is way into the mathematical side of physics, and is open minded to string theories, extra dimensions, dark energy and dark matter epicycles in cosmology, and multiverse (multiple 'universes' interpretation of quantum mechanics). This tends to send my blood pressure up a great deal, since these speculations are pushing to the religion side of science. However, it isn't as bad as Michio Kaku’s UFO's and Parallel Worlds.
Tony Smith's page http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/CornellBan.html is my favourite page on the internet. I just love it the page , the heresy and suppression by arXiv.org: 'Sufi Islam, IFA, the Rig Veda, and Physics and the multicultural backgrounds of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was banned by Cornell...'. I've downloaded the 4 MB book which arXiv.org. I just love the fact that it was suppressed by arXiv.org. It is full of mathematics, advanced geometries with fascinating asides into religion. It really is good, the kind of book to have in your laptop as an escape. I like Tony Smith's recent poem:
'It seems to me that this modification of part of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” gives an optimistic (from my point of view) vision of the future of SuperString Theory:
'As I pass through my incarnations
in every age and race,
I make my proper protestations
to the Gods of the String Theory Place.
Peering at reverent Stringers
I watch them flourish and fall.
'And the Gods of Experiment Results,
I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us.
They showed us each in turn.
That water would certainly wet us,
as Fire would certainly burn:
They denied that Wishes were Horses;
they denied that a Pig had Wings.
'So we worshiped the Gods of String Theory
Who promised these beautiful things.
But, though we had plenty of Strings,
there was nothing our Strings could predict,
And the Gods of Experment said:
‘That means that String Theory is sick.’
'Then the Gods of String Theory tumbled,
and their smooth-tounged wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
and began to belive it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters,
and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of Experiment Results
limped up to explain it once more:
As surely as Water will wet us,
as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of Experiment Results
with inevitable truth will return!