Could Particles be just distortions in Space?

1. Nov 21, 2009

jhart

Can anyone tell me if the unification of Matter and Space has been dismissed?

Since I started thinking about this I have seen another amateur Physicist publish a similar idea but despite several web searches I can’t find anyone taking it seriously. I suspect this means it has already been dismissed, but I’d like to know either way.

This is my way of putting it:

Suppose matter (including photons and other zero rest mass “particles”) is just knots or kinks in space. Further suppose that the properties of different particles are simply the result of different shapes, sizes, spins etc of these knots or kinks. The knots/kinks can propagate through space as waves on space itself.

If there are enough knots/kinks close together in space then could the combined pinching effect be responsible for General Relativistic space distortion?

If there are extra dimensions other than the 4 we experience then perhaps the knots/kinks could have an expression in some of the other dimensions as well.

An analogy commonly used for the benefit of lay people like me is “imagine these extra dimensions being flat, like the inside of a straw”.

Well, pushing this analogy a bit, if you imagine two knots/kinks moving on the inside of a bent straw. If one knot/kink is catching up with the other one then as they approach each other the local distortion of the straw would affect the path taken by the 2 knots/kinks more significantly than the over all bending of the straw.

The idea being that the bending of the straw represents gravity, and the local pinching inside the straw some other force (strong nuclear force say).

2. Nov 21, 2009

twofish-quant

Yes they "could" be, but the hard part is to show that they are.

The problem is that in order to make this work, you have to have some detailed predictions, like when this kink hits this knot it what is the probability that it will bounce off with this angle. It turns out to be very hard to make a simple picture fit with what we know about particles.

3. Nov 21, 2009

twofish-quant

Let me explain to you one (of many) particular difficulties with a theory of kinks and knots.

It's known that two half-spin particles can't be at the same place at the same time. This is why you don't fall through the floor made of atoms and you *do* fall through a floor made of light. It turns out that it's not that easy to get this sort of behavior in a theory in which particles are kinks and knots in space.

4. Nov 21, 2009

atyy

String theory?

5. Nov 22, 2009

Chalnoth

Well, technically that's because of the electrostatic repulsion between the electrons. But regardless, your point is correct: this idea needs to be vastly more specific to really provide any judgment on it. It's not an easy thing to do, of course, but it needs to be done to say anything one way or another.

6. Nov 22, 2009

twofish-quant

If you can get it to work, then maybe.....

7. Nov 22, 2009

Skolon

Some time ago I find this site (not searching for it): [link removed].

It looks like an attempt of mathematically development of this idea (particle are knots in higher dimensions) but I don't have the right grounding to say if is right or wrong.

Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2009
8. Nov 22, 2009

twofish-quant

My impression is that it's a lot of mathematics with almost no physics content at all.

9. Nov 22, 2009

George Jones

Staff Emeritus
Physics Forums rules require the use of mainstream, published references. While papers on knots and kinks in spacetime have been published in reputable research journals, you have given a link to a very non-mainstream and possibly crackpot paper.

Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2009
10. Nov 23, 2009

Skolon

You are right, I'm sorry. I will try to remember that next time.

L.E.: By the way, how someone like me (with no special education in physics) can know what is in the mainstream of a particular physics domain or not? What can guide me?

Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
11. Nov 23, 2009

jhart

Thanks twofish-quant!

Can anyone point me towards mainstream literature where this sort of thing is discussed?

12. Nov 23, 2009

Wallace

Skolon: A good rule of thumb is that anything from mainstream science will be published or publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. For something like Biology, which is a huge field, this can be maybe a little tricky, but for astronomy/cosmology operationally it's quite simple. If the article you are looking at can be found via http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html" [Broken] then its probably fine, with only a very small number of exceptions. If you posted asking about anything from either site no one will complain though. If you are interested in finding journal articles on some subject use these rather than Google.

Jhart: I don't think you'll find kinks and knots discussed anywhere, but what twofish was talking about is the Pauli Exclusion principle, which you can find discussed in chemistry and physics textbooks. You could probably start with the wiki site on this as well, usually for fundamental concepts like this the wiki articles are pretty good.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
13. Nov 23, 2009

George Jones

Staff Emeritus
Maybe not at a level for laypersons, but the research literature on gravitational solitons is fairly extensive.

14. Nov 23, 2009

Wallace

Well sure, but it's drawing a long bow to suggest that graviational solitons resemble the kinks and knots described in the OP! Sure, the terminology of a 'kink' comes up, but just because the signs are the same doesn't mean the signifieds are.

15. Nov 23, 2009

Staff: Mentor

scholar.google.com might be fairly reliable. I don't know how comprehensive it is, or whether it includes "fringe" journals with loose reviewing standards.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
16. Nov 23, 2009

Chalnoth

scholar.google.com is easy, but the two sites that Wallace mentioned are far more reliable, if you want it to be more likely to obtain high-quality papers.

17. Nov 23, 2009

Wallace

Yeah Google scholar is often better for finding articles if you are already well versed in the field, Google are just so good at search algorithms that it functions better than the search methods used by ADS or ArXiv (especially ArXiv which is a pain to search). The down-side of Google scholar, as Chalnoth suggested, is that there is less of a quality gaurantee, so you need your own BS detector to be functioning.

18. Nov 23, 2009

George Jones

Staff Emeritus
Researchers, going back at least to Einstein and Rosen in 1935, have tried to implement at least some of the stuff, particles and forces built out of spacetime, in the original post. With hindsight, the work by Einstein and Rosen clearly did not work out as they had hoped. Other early attempts by a couple of fairly big names:

J. A Wheeler, "Geons", Physical Reveview, 97, 511-536 (1955)

C. W. Misner and J. A. Wheeler, "Classical physics as geometry: gravitation, electromagnetism, unquantized charge, and mass as properties of curved empty space", Annals of Physics, 2, 525-603 (1957).

In the half-century since these investigations, I suspect that a number of lesser known (and maybe a few well known) physicists have published stuff along these lines in reputable journals.

So real researchers have tried to quantify at least some of the ideas in the original post, but, as twofish-quant noted, no one has been able to make these theoretical ideas work physically.

19. Nov 23, 2009

jhart

Thanks all, I will see what I can find.

I am not a total layperson, I have an undergrad degree in Physics but it was a long time ago and I have forgotten most of it.

I do remember Pauli's exclusion principle however, and that was part of what I was thinking about when I thought of the inside of a straw analogy.

I was imagining a particle like a photon to be a very simple distortion perhaps only affecting the dimensions of space we are used to, and particles with more complex properties as being represented by more complex distortions into "smaller" dimensions.

20. Nov 23, 2009

Skolon

Thank you Wallace. I know this is off topic but allow me to ask something more.

For a layperson like me both sources can be sometimes too advanced. I don't try to became an expert. I read all this just because I like to know. Popularization sites (papers or books) are in this situations accepted? Or asking in other way: how can I recognize a good popularization site?

21. Nov 23, 2009

George Jones

Staff Emeritus
Certain magazines, like Scientific American, almost always will be okay.

With some effort, the links by Wallace can be used for less clear-cut cases. A good popular-level book or magazine article will refer to the work of scientists. Check to see if these scientists have published this work in a mainstream journal (there are a journals for cranks and peer-reviewed by cranks) or put their work on the arXiv. If they have, then the popularization probably is okay.

Do the same for stand-alone articles on the web. Check to see if the author's ideas have been published.

I know this is a pain, but I don't know what else to say.

22. Nov 24, 2009

twofish-quant

Sociologically speaking both wikipedia and Los Alamos Preprint server is interesting. Because anyone can upload pretty much anything there, but you have a situation in which good material seems crowd out bad.

My explanation for why that is is that cranks really don't have that much to say. You publish your great theory that purports to explain everything in the universe, and then what? What happens with "non-cranks" is that you have a lot of discussion going back and forth, so the good stuff tends to overwhelm bad stuff.

Also I don't have that much faith in peer review. Peer review seems to work well in the physical sciences, but it works rather badly in social sciences and humanities. Within economics there are people that I think of as cranks that end up on the peer review boards for major journals, and non-cranks that don't publish academically but end up writing decent stuff in working papers.

23. Nov 24, 2009

twofish-quant

One rule of thumb that I use that works pretty well at distinguish cranks from non-cranks, is to ask the question "what do you *NOT* know?" "what do you *NOT* understand?" Someone that claims to know and understand everything is likely to be quite out of touch with reality, and what thing that I've found with people that really do understand something is that they usually understand the limits of their knowledge.

I think you can apply that to the knot physics page. It's not clear to me that the author has spend any real time thinking about what *doesn't* work.

24. Nov 24, 2009

Chalnoth

Well, I personally think that Wikipedia seems to do rather well largely because their guidelines favor solid information over speculation and supposition. I think cranks quickly get discouraged from posting in the arxiv because it is most commonly frequented by scientists who just ignore their papers altogether. They have a much easier time getting attention through other outlets.

Yes. And the peer review that goes into getting a paper published is just the start of peer review. A hell of a lot of crap still makes it through.

As for the social sciences, my vague suspicion is that it is much more difficult because we are likely evolved to actually misunderstand ourselves. My argument is simple: if evolution has had any say in our beliefs, then it has selected for beliefs that are useful, not beliefs that are true. And while true beliefs can be useful, untrue ones can be as well. Thus I strongly expect that there is a subset of our tendencies towards certain beliefs that are (or were) useful, but ultimately incorrect. But because they ring so true to us, they're incredibly difficult to overcome. And so those studying humans have a harder time at it.

By contrast, I have a hard time believing that evolution would have anything to say about whether or not particles could be just distortions in space.

25. Nov 24, 2009

twofish-quant

People have been trying to speculate along this line of thinking since the 1920's, but the trouble is that no one has gotten a model of distortions that seems to work. You are welcome to try, but you'll need to spend a few years catching up on everything that has been tried since the 1920's that doesn't quite work.

One problem is that it turns out that it is quite difficult to get a theory that has fermions into a theory that looks as particles as space distortions. There was some excitement with the idea of supersymmetry in the late-1970's.