Galactic rotation rates and other popular controversies
I've complained bitterly about Jeremy Webb before. He is editor of New Scientist, and regularly publishes articles which falsely make comments to the effect that 'nobody has predicted gravity, its mechanism is not understood by anyone (and being a scientist, I'm not armwaving here, I've personally interviewed all of the billions of people in the world) ...'
These comments appear in articles discussing the fundamental forces, string theory, etc. The latest was an editorial on page 5 of the 29 April 2006 issue, which is unsigned but may be by him. The first email he sent me was on a Monday or Tuesday evening in December 2002 (I can search it out if needed), and complained that he had to write the editorial for the following morning. (The second email, a few months later, from him complained that he had just returned from holiday and was therefore not refreshed and able to send me a reply to my enquiry letter...)
Anyway, in the editorial he (or whoever he gets to do his work for him should he have been on holiday again, which may well be the case) writes:
'The most that can be said for a physical law is that it is a hypothesis that has been confirmed by experiment so many times that it becomes universally accepted. There is nothing natural about it, however: it is a wholly human construct. Yet we still baulk when somebody tries to revoke one.'
This is very poorly written. Firstly, mathematically based laws can be natural (Feynman argued that physical laws have a naturally beautiful simplicity, and people such as Wigner argued - less convincingly - that because Pi occurs in some geometric integrals relating to natural probability, the mathematics is natural, and the universe is based on mathematics rather than being merely incompletely modelled by it in some quantitative aspects depending on whether you consider string theory to be pseudoscience or genius).
Secondly, 'a miss is as near as a mile': even if science is about falsifying well established and widely accepted facts (such activity is deemed crackpot territory according to John Baez and many other mainstream scientists), then failing to produce the results required, failing to deliver the goods is hardly exciting. If someone tries to revoke a law and doesn't succeed, they don't get treated in the way Sir Karl Popper claimed they do. Popper claimed basically that 'science proceeds by falsification, not by proof', which is contrary to Archimedes' proofs of the laws of buoyancy and so on. Popper was seriously confused, because nobody has won a mainstream prize for just falsifying an established theory. Science simply is not done that way. Science proceeds constructively, by doing work. The New Scientist editorial proceeds:
'That is what is happening to the inverse-square law at the heart of Newton's law of gravitation. ... The trouble is that this relationship fails for stars at the outer reaches of galaxies, whose orbits suggest some extra pull towards the galactic centre. It was to explain this discrepancy that dark matter was conjured up [by Fritz Zwicky in 1933], but with dark matter still elusive, another potential solution is looking increasingly attractive: change the law.'
This changed law programme is called 'MOND: modified Newtonian dynamics'. It is now ten years since I first wrote up the gravity mechanism in a long paper. General relativity in the usual cosmological solution gives
a/R = (1/3)('cosmological constant', if any) - (4/3)Pi.G(rho + 3p)
where a is the acceleration of the universe, R is the radius, rho is the density and p is the pressure contribution to expansion: p = 0 for non-relativistic matter; p = rho.(c^2)/3 for relativistic matter (such as energetic particles travelling at velocities approaching c in the earliest times in the big bang). Negative pressure produces accelerated expansion.
The Hubble constant, H, more correctly termed the Hubble 'parameter' (the expansion rate evolves with time and only appears a constant because we are seeing the past with time as we look to greater distances) in this model is
H^2 = (v/R)^2 = (1/3)('cosmological constant', if any) + (8/3)(Pi.G.rho) - k/(XR)^2
~= (1/3)('cosmological constant', if any) + (8/3)(Pi.G.rho)
where k is the geometry of the expansion curve for the universe (k = -1, 0, or +1; WMAP data shows k ~ 0, in general relativity jargon this is a very 'flat' geometry of spacetime) and X is the radius of the curvature of spacetime, i.e., simply the radius of a circle that a photon of light would travel around the universe due to being trapped by gravity (this is the geodesic).
Because the cosmological constant and the third term on the right hand side are generally negligible (especially if exponential inflation occurs at the earliest absolute time in the expansion of the universe), the gives the usual Friedmann prediction for density is approximately:
Density, rho = (3/8)(H^2)/(Pi.G).
This is the actual density for the WMAP observations of a flat spacetime. This formula is over-estimates the observed density of discovered matter in the universe by an order of magnitude!
The gravity mechanism I came up with and which was first written up about 10 years ago today, and first published via the October 1996 letters pages of Electronics World, gives a different formula, which - unlike the mainstream equation above - makes the right predictions:
Density, rho = (3/4)(H^2)/(Pi.G.e^3).
It also predicted in 1996 that the universe is not slowing down, a prediction confirmed by observation in 1998! It also leads to a wide range of other useful and accurate predictions for Standard Model parameters.
Normally in science you hear people saying that the one thing which is impressive is good predictions! However, my work was simply suppressed by Nature and other journals and the new 1998 observations were taken into cosmology by a mechanism-less fudge or arbitrary adjustment of the equations to artificially force the model to fit the new facts! This is called the Lambda-CDM (Lambda-Cold Dark Model) and disproves Kuhn's concept of scientific revolutions. Faced with a simple mechanism, they prefer to ignore it and go for a crackpot approach based on faith in the unseen, unobservable, unpredictable type(s) of 'dark matter' which is really contrary to science.
If they had a prediction of the properties of this matter, so that there was a possibility of learning something, then it would at least have a chance of being tested. As it is, it cannot be falsified and by Popper's nonsense it is simply not science by their own definition (it is the mainstream, not me, that cling's on to Popper's criterion when repeatedly ignoring my submissions and refuse to read and peer-review my proof of the mechanism and correct equations; so their hypocrisy is funny).
The Lambda-CDM model says over 90% of the universe is composed of a mixture of invisible 'dark matter' and otherwise unobserved 'dark energy'. As with Ptolemies epicycles and other non-scientific mainstream theories such as vortex atoms, ghosts, ESP, paranormal, Josephson, Brian, etc., it doesn't predict the properties of either, or say how we can test it or learn anything from it. This puts it well into the realms of string theory crackpots who suggest that we need 10/11 dimensions in order to account for gravitons which have never been observed, in and which do not predict anything. Wolfgang Pauli called such speculations 'not even wrong'. However the taxpayer funds string theory and this sort of thing, and people buy New Scientist.
There is no mechanism possible to hound these pseudosciences either out of control science, or into taking responsibility for investigating the facts. The situation is like that of the mountaineer who reaches the summit for the first time ever in history. He takes photos to prove it. He returns and stakes his claim in the records. The reactions are as follows:
1. 'Show your proof to someone else, I'm not interested in it.'
2. 'The editor won't print this sort of nonsense.'
3. 'Anybody can climb any mountain, so who cares?'
4. 'Feynman once said nobody knows how to climb that mountain, so there!'
No individual has the power to publish the facts. The closest I came was email dialogue with Stanley Brown, editor of Physical Review Letters. On the one hand I'm disgusted by what has happened, but on the other hand it was to be expected. There is a danger that too much of the work is being done by me: in 1996 my paper was mainly an outline of the proofs, but today it has hardened into more rigorous mathematical proof. If it had been published in Nature even as just a very brief letter in 1996, then the editor of Nature would have allowed other people to work on the subject, by providing a forum for discussion. Some mainstream mathematical physicists could have worked on it and taken the credit for developing it into a viable theory. Instead, I'm doing all the work myself because that forum was denied. This is annoying because it is not the community spirit of a physics group which was I enjoyed at university.
I've repeatedly tried to get others interested via internet Physics Forums and similar, where the reaction has been abusive and downright fascist. Hitting back with equal force, which the editor of Electronics World - Phil Reed - suggested to me as a tactic in 2004, on the internet just resulted in my proof being dishonestly called speculation and my being banned from responding. It is identical to the Iraqi 'War', a fighting of general insurgency which is like trying to cut soup with a knife - impossible. Just as in such political situations, there is prejudice which prevents reasoned settlement of differences. People led by Dr Lubos Motl and others have, by and large, made up their minds that string theory settles gravity, and the Lambda CDM model settles cosmology, and that unobserved 10/11 dimensional spacetime, unobserved superpartners for every visible partner, and unobserved dark energy and dark matter is 90% or more of the universe. To prove contrary facts is like starting a religious heresy: people are more concerned with punishing you for the heresy than listening and being reasonable.
If you have a particular identifiable opponent, then you know who to fight to get things moving. But since there is a general fascist-style bigotry to contend with, everyone is basically the enemy for one reason or more: the substance of your scientific work is ignored and personal abuse against you is directed from many quarters, from people who don't know you personally.
The cosmic background radiation maps from COBE and more recently WMAP show a large-scale anisotropy or variation in temperature across space which is primordial (from the early big bang) and smaller scale variation again due to variations from acoustic waves (sound) in the compressed big bang fireball, but at later times (the cosmic background radiation was emitted 400,000 years after the big bang).
Because this can be plotted out into a wavy curve of wave amplitude versus effective frequency, the standard dark matter model was often presented as a unique fit to the observations. However, in 2005 Constantinos Skordis used relativistic MOND to show that it produced a similar fit to the observations! (This is published on page 54 of the 29 April 2006 issue of New Scientist.) Doubtless other models with parameters that offset those of the mainstream will also produces a similarly good fit (especially after receiving the same anount of attention and funding that the mainstream has had all these years!).
The important thing here is that the most impressive claims for uniqueness of the arbitrary fudge Lambda CDM model are fraudulent. Just because the uniqueness claims are fraudulent, does not in itself prove that another given model is right because the other models are obviously then not unique in themselves either. But it should make respectable journal editors more prone to publish the facts!
Exact statement Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
I've received some email requests for a clarification of the exact statement of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. If uncertainty in distance can occur in two different directions, then the uncertainty is is only half of what it would be if it can only occur in one direction. If x is uncertainty in distance and p is uncertainty in momentum, then xp is at least h bar providing that x is always positive. If distance can be positive as well as negative, then the uncertainty is half h bar. The uncertainty principle takes on different forms depending on the situation which is under consideration.