Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

B Unelegant, Unnatural, Ugly BSM theme books

  1. Oct 26, 2017 #1
    What other books are there akin to Peter Woit's "Not Even Wrong" or Lee Smolin's "The Trouble with Physics"? I just learnt Sabine has a new book coming but it's more than 8 months from now.. I want to entertain myself reading books like them this weekend.. are there none written like Woit's or Smolin's (perhaps I miss others?).

    And.. Are you for or against Naturalness and why?



    "The book is about the role of arguments from beauty, naturalness, and elegance in the foundations of physics, by which I mean high energy physics, cosmology, quantum gravity, and quantum foundations. Or at least that’s what I thought the book would be about. What the book really is about is how to abuse mathematics while pretending to do science."


    "While the book focuses on physics, my aim is much more general. The current situation in the foundations of physics is a vivid example for how science fails to self-correct. The reasons for this failure, as I lay out in the book, are unaddressed social and cognitive biases. But this isn't a problem specific to the foundations of physics. It’s a problem that befalls all disciplines, just that in my area the prevalence of not-so-scientific thinking is particularly obvious due to the lack of data.

    This isn’t a nice book and sadly it’s foreseeable most of my colleagues will hate it. By writing it, I waived my hopes of ever getting tenure. This didn’t come easily to me. But I have waited two decades for things to change and they didn’t change and I came to conclude at the very least I can point at the problems I see."
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2018 Award

    Wait a minute, Sabine doesn't yet have a tenure? How is that possible? :wideeyed:

    Speaking of that, I think I have seen somewhere that @vanhees71 also does not yet have a tenure. Something is deeply wrong about funding of science. :frown:
  4. Oct 27, 2017 #3
    Just look for self-published theories-of-everything. Most such books should contain a chapter or two explaining how and why modern physics went wrong.
  5. Oct 27, 2017 #4
    I'm reading the paper (pointed out by Sabine in her blog) which was published a few days ago. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1710.07663.pdf, there is a passage inside at page 5: "The Standard Model is incapable of shedding light on the dynamics underlying electroweak symmetry breaking or explaining the structure of quarks, leptons, and their mass pattern at a fundamental level."

    But is it not, electroweak symmetry breaking is believed to be due to the `Higgs mechanism'. In this mechanism, all particles in the Standard Model, including the photon and the img37.png and img271.png bosons, interact with a particle called the `Higgs boson', and it is their differing interactions with this particle that makes them appear so different at low energies.

    What did Gian Giudice mean that the Standard Model was incapable of shedding light on the dynamics underlying electroweak symmetry breaking at a fundamental level. What kind of dynamics must be understood or are looking for?
  6. Oct 27, 2017 #5
    Many self-published theories of everything have fatal or fundamental flaws. I have dozens of such books in my shelf and wasted so much time in them. That is why what I need are peered reviewed and accepted (but may be disliked) works similar to Woit's Not Even Wrong.

    Maybe you mean stuff in Arxiv is the one to look for? But there are literally hundreds of papers. That is why a book should be appropriate as there are wider reviews and criticisms.

    Whatever. If Sabine and company were right. It's like when we look at a car or tank, the round wheel or square body or round turret or oblong belt is the symmetry or gauge principle... so the savages just merely noticed the forms. But they don't know function. Likewise. If the standard model is based on emergence in terms of gauge principle.. then beyond the standard the model according to the paper mentioned above is not about gauge principle (akin to the engine of the car or tank).

    Maybe there are two kinds of physics for the respective audience (this is my impression after thinking of Sabine blogs and the paper references)

    1. Physics of the masses = based on gauge principle
    2. Physics of the elite = based on entirely new formalism beyond the standard model

    Point is. This is useful to hide to the savages the concept of engines. If beyond the standard model has dangerous application like shifting the metastable vacuum or higgs, then we are in a very fortunate period when the rest don't know the full theory.. maybe it should remain this way until the moral development of humanity deserves it.

    You see. This is why I need to read peered reviewed books or else I'll just be exposed to the authors unpeered reviewed ideas. Also Woit and Smolin books were written in 2007. I wonder why there are no major works like it for the past 10 years??
  7. Oct 27, 2017 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    On page 3: "First, no mechanism..." .
  8. Oct 27, 2017 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    What I don't get at this naturalness and quantum contributions to the Higgs mass: doesn't this heavily depend on perturbation theory? Would we still have this issue if we would have a non-perturbative formulation of the SM?
  9. Oct 27, 2017 #8
    I'm pretty sure there's no physics illuminati who already know the reason why the electroweak vacuum is finetuned to metastability. The theoretical elite were expecting the LHC to reveal supersymmetry, not criticality.
  10. Oct 27, 2017 #9
    Have you read the paper reference 5 about Naturalness by the same author https://arxiv.org/pdf/0801.2562.pdf

    You mean the Hierarchy Problem is solved by non-perturbative approach? any reference about this?
  11. Oct 27, 2017 #10
    about this paper related to Sabine blog, I have a question in page 5 of https://arxiv.org/pdf/0801.2562.pdf

    "In the Standard Model there is no symmetry protecting the Higgs mass and this is the basic cause of the large quantum corrections in eq. (5) that bring mH close to Λ. The absence of a symmetry protecting mH is linked to the spin-zero nature of the Higgs boson, as can be understood by a simple argument. Massless particles of spin 1/2 or higher have two degrees of freedom. Massive particles of spin 1/2 or higher have more than two degrees of freedom9. Therefore there is a conceptual distinction between the massless and massive cases. This distinction is due to the presence of an extra symmetry in the massless theory (gauge symmetry for spin 1, chiral symmetry for spin 1/2). The symmetry allows us to eliminate some degrees of freedom from the massless theory. This argument is valid for any particle with spin 1/2 or higher, but not for spin 0. There exist special symmetries able to protect spin-0 masses (non-linearly realized symmetries, supersymmetry) but they are not present in the Standard Model. This is why the Higgs boson is viewed as “unnatural"

    I can't find my copy of Lisa Randall Warped Passages in which she described the same thing. I'd like to see the math or exact details of how massive particles of spin 1/2 for example has extra symmetry in form of chirality and polarizations that can protect it from being pulled into large quantum corrections unlike the higgs mass spin 0. Can anyone point me to any paper that directly show the computations? Thanks.
  12. Oct 27, 2017 #11
    by the way I think the reason no new books akin to Woit's "Not Even Wrong" and Smolin "The Trouble with Physics" was written the past 10 years was because many are waiting for the LHC to find either supersymmetry or new dimensions or WIMPs or whatever... and they don't want to look stupid for speaking too soon.. but in light of null results in almost all departments.. we have new books appearing soon like Sabine "Lost in Math". Wonder what other forthcoming books similar to them. But Woit and Smolin are brave and not proven wrong. Also let's praise Sabine for being so brave as when she wrote regarding sacrificing her tenure:

    "Regarding tenure. The game you have to play to get tenure is to convince a committee that you will do more of what they're already doing at that place. You don't get hired for criticizing others. It counts for nothing in the best case, and against you in the worst case.

    But please don't misunderstand this, I'm not complaining. I am happy doing what I'm doing because I feel it's the right thing to do. I just meant to say I have debated back and forth with myself for a long time whether I should publicly denounce most of the research in my field as nonsense. It would have been easy enough to write a book about something else, you know, the usual science cheer leading stuff. But it's just not me."

    I wonder what parts of her research she denounce as nonsense? anyone knows?

    I recalled telling my friend before that the universe with 200 billion galaxies were once at least the size of a gem that can be put in a ring in the finger.. and she said I watched too many Marvel movies.. and it is nonsense to the max and can't be true.. lol.. but I don't think this is what Sabine considered nonsense. Maybe what she considered nonsense are supersymmetry, string theory and the like.
  13. Oct 28, 2017 #12


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    No, I mean I don't understand how finetuning would show up in non-perturbative calculations.
  14. Oct 28, 2017 #13
    The Higgs hierarchy problem can be solved by:

    1. Supersymmetry
    2. Fine tuning
    3. Extra Dimensions (Randall RS1, RS2)
    4. Multiverse Anthropic principle
    5. Dimensional transmutation see for example https://motls.blogspot.com/2014/08/adimensional-gravity.html#disqus_thread and


    However I'm not sure what Sabine believed in... http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2016/07/why-lhc-is-such-disappointment-delusion.html

    Does she believe in fine tuning?

    I've been googling a couple of hours and I couldn't find her exact statement. Since this thread is about her.. I wanna to know what she thinks. I don't want to ask her directly as I want to save it for more important stuff.

    Anyway if the first 3 mechanisms didn't exist.. It seems Dimensional Transmutation is the very likely mechanism.. what you think?

    And if the Higgs mass is derived from the dark sector via the higgs portal.. https://arxiv.org/abs/1301.4224

    What would happen if you decouple the higgs portal from the dark sector? would all matter suddenly lose all mass and travel at speed of light (except from mass that comes relativistically)? I've googled long for this answer and couldn't find it so I'm asking the experts here. Thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2017
  15. Oct 28, 2017 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  16. Oct 28, 2017 #15
    Thanks for the link. I read it and more enlightened on the issue. Mitchell Porter summarized it well in message 31 what I was trying to inquire:

    "... The real hierarchy problem is not the problem that one number is small and the other number is big. The problem is that we have theories in which, to match experiment, we need an observed quantity to come out small, and the way we do that is to employ a fundamental parameter that is very big, but which is finetuned so as to be almost entirely cancelled out by quantum effects.
    Originally I thought Hossenfelder understood this, and was taking the attitude, so what? ... in an example of that hardboiled empiricism which says, to hell with preconceptions and common sense and human intuition; what matters in science is agreement with experiment, and these finetuned theories agree with experiment. She does actually say something like that, it's just that I am no longer sure whether she thinks finetuning means huge cancellations, or just small numbers."

    Reference https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/sabine-on-strong-cp-hiearchy.919386/page-2

    What's bothering me is it appears she actually believes that as quanta explains that the Higgs boson mass seems as if it is reduced not by mirror-image effects but by random and improbable cancellations between unrelated numbers — essentially, the initial mass of the Higgs seems to exactly counterbalance the huge contributions to its mass from gluons, quarks, gravitational states and all the rest! she really believes this? It's unlikely, but yet she believes this. This is what is puzzling.

    If she really believes this (does she). Then it's like Lubos defending superstrings at all costs.

    I'd like to know the case because Sabine seems to be the our Last Hope. If she can denounce most of her field as nonsense (as she put it). Then if we can show her some proof. Then she can be persuaded. The situation now is not because we don't have any new BSM data.. but simply no one wants to look at it. So I'm hoping she could. And her future book can influence the other 10,000 physicists on the planet.
  17. Oct 28, 2017 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The problem is not just convincing physicists by content to explore new paradigms. The problem is that modern academia gives little room for young people to explore new stuff. It's much easier to write the zillionth paper on technical stuff in a well-understood paradigm than to take the risk to develop new ideas.
  18. Oct 28, 2017 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Nowadays, we consider the standard model to be an effective field theory. The roots of naturalness are effective field theory. However, there is more than one notion of naturalness, and this has been discussed eg.

    Which fine-tuning arguments are fine?
    Alexei Grinbaum

    There are also interesting comments on naturalness in

    Five lectures on effective field theory
    David B. Kaplan

    2004 TASI Lectures on Supersymmetry Breaking
    Markus A. Luty
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  19. Oct 28, 2017 #18
    What proof? What data? What are you talking about?
  20. Oct 29, 2017 #19
    Oh. I just thought out of desperation Sabine and her kids can join me to visit a haunted house (hey it's Halloween in a few days so have some fun) and witness poltergeists where objects move on their own and stones teleporting from places to places.. Me and my friends are witness to this.. But I know forum rule says never to mention any experience beyond the standard model.. so hmm.. treat it as a Halloween thing (let's say for fun really). I just can't imagine why scientists have no difficulty accepting the universe with 200 billion galaxies were once the size of the earth or even a marble. While they can never just imagine the simpler idea of poltergiests (even while many physicists are considering the dark matter sector as composed of complex things too, so what's wrong with dark matter sector organisms). With Sabine I just hope or say wish it may be about to change and if she witnessed them too and wrote a book about her experience.. maybe it can convince other physicists.

    Ok. Let's go to on topic and the meat of the thread (lest the mods be angry. Mods, I won't mention about the above again sorry and consider it a special occasion because it's Halloween). Let's talk about Agravity now as this seems to be the most promising solution to the Higgs Hierarchy Problem.

    When antimatter particles were first considered in equations, they seemed like negative energy. In Agravity, there are ghosts that produce negative probabilities, does anyone or any new arxiv paper has other interpretation for them akin to identification of antiparticles from the negative energy in Dirac equation?

    Here's a good description of them at https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-a...icists-propose-a-symmetry-of-scales-20140818/ or in the serious Agravity paper https://arxiv.org/abs/1403.4226

    A theory called “agravity” (for “adimensional gravity”) developed by Salvio and Strumia may be the most concrete realization of the scale symmetry idea thus far. Agravity weaves the laws of physics at all scales into a single, cohesive picture in which the Higgs mass and the Planck mass both arise through separate dynamical effects. As detailed in June in the Journal of High-Energy Physics, agravity also offers an explanation for why the universe inflated into existence in the first place. According to the theory, scale-symmetry breaking would have caused an exponential expansion in the size of space-time during the Big Bang.

    However, the theory has what most experts consider a serious flaw: It requires the existence of strange particle-like entities called “ghosts.” Ghosts either have negative energies or negative probabilities of existing — both of which wreak havoc on the equations of the quantum world.

    “Negative probabilities rule out the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, so that’s a dreadful option,” said Kelly Stelle, a theoretical particle physicist at Imperial College, London, who first showed in 1977 that certain gravity theories give rise to ghosts. Such theories can only work, Stelle said, if the ghosts somehow decouple from the other particles and keep to themselves. “Many attempts have been made along these lines; it’s not a dead subject, just rather technical and without much joy,” he said.

    Strumia and Salvio think that, given all the advantages of agravity, ghosts deserve a second chance. “When antimatter particles were first considered in equations, they seemed like negative energy,” Strumia said. “They seemed nonsense. Maybe these ghosts seem nonsense but one can find some sensible interpretation.”
  21. Oct 29, 2017 #20
    Ok, this is an easier problem in contrast to Agravity ghosts above.

    In the Hierarchy problem, for the Higgs to be 125 GeV instead of 10^18 GeV, there must be opposite contribution or as https://www.quantumdiaries.org/2012...why-the-higgs-has-a-snowballs-chance-in-hell/ put it "
    then the only way to make sense of the 1018 GeV mass contribution from the loop diagram above is if the “classical” (or “tree”) diagram has a value which precisely cancels that huge number to leave only a 125 GeV mass"

    Is Sabine arguing that there is no problem for that kind of incredible calculations? (can someone definitely confirm this is the what she thinks). It's not clear on her writing and even amongst you. I can't believe it is normal. Do you believe it's normal.. why?

    Without Supersymmetry. and Multiverse and Randall Extra Dimensional not detected. It seems scale symmetry like Agravity is the best option. What you think?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?