Wilczek and his Grid

I'm reading The Lightness of Being by Frank Wilczek and I'm trying to work out what credence I should give the idea of "The Grid".

Several questions.
Isn't his "Grid" just the same as the old fashioned idea of ether? If not, how does it differ from "ether"?

How does this idea stand amongst SERIOUS scientists? For example, is it regarded as "way out" or "probable" or "just an interesting idea"?

Is the LHC capable of giving a definite answer about its existence eg if it finds the Higgs Particle?
 
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I'm not very familiar with Wilczek's 'Grid' idea, but it seems to fit right in with what to me seems a recent (perhaps re-) emergence of, well, emergentist notions about 'fundamental' physics, where perhaps the core idea is that fundamental degrees of freedom really aren't, but are best thought of as collective excitations of some -- usually not further elaborated upon -- more fundamental stuff, typically thought of as a lattice of some sort, or an analogue to a condensed state of matter.

Such ideas have several pleasing properties, and some which make them somewhat unpalatable to a lot of physicists. One of the perhaps most striking features is that whatever emergentist framework one considers, you get a cosmological constant with relative ease -- in condensed matter systems, like, for instance, a cold quantum liquid, the pressure in general vanishes; however, if it is only a droplet, one gets surface corrections scaling as an inverse power of the droplet size, which indeed is the correct behaviour for a cosmological constant. Similarly, in the entropic gravity framework, dark energy is considered to be the entropic force exerted by the cosmological horizon, which again yields the right order of magnitude value.

On the other hand, generically, symmetries thought to be exact, such as Lorentz or gauge symmetry, turn out to be only approximate in condensed matter schemes, for instance -- there, considering a non-relativistic substrate, in the vicinity of Fermi points, quasiparticles with Lorentzian propagators emerge, but only at sufficiently low temperature. Indeed, one often finds what is dubbed an 'anti-GUT' behaviour in condensed matter systems: rather than 'breaking down' from more to less symmetry as the system cools, new symmetries emerge as it condenses, in stark contrast to the usual assumption that the higher the energy, the higher the symmetry (the GUT viewpoint).

One interesting feature about condensed matter models is their universality -- that at low energy, their behaviour is almost totally independent from their underlying constituents; rather, they fall within one of a small number of universality classes, some of which quite generically yield behaviour very much like what we observe in particle physics -- systems with Fermi points, for instance.

Currently, there are several distinct but related (or so it seems to me) approaches being pursued -- G. E. Volovik is perhaps the champion of straight-up condensed matter analogies, with his book 'The Universe in a Helium Droplet' providing an exhaustive (and, despite the somewhat droll name, serious and technical) overview of the field (the main ideas of which are also present in http://www.pnas.org/content/96/11/6042.full" to quantum gravity, due to Loll, Ambjorn et al, in this vein.

Oh, and yes, 'ether' is indeed a word that crops up often in this context, see for instance in http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/9803021" [Broken] by Levin/Wen.

This just to illustrate that there are indeed 'serious scientists' working on related approaches -- sorry if I went a bit overboard there with my free associations, it's just that it's a topic I'd been wanting to discuss for quite some time. Feel free to disregard this though if it's too off-topic...
 
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[Off topic] S.Daedelus... Thank you for the links to the Jegerlehner and Levin/Wen papers.

IMHO, an "aether" does exist, but by definition cannot be Observed because a) aether particles cannot emit field-forces; and b) the all observations of physical phenomena (e.g., by an intelligent observer) REQUIRE field-forces.

That's still no excuse for having to put up with 80 years of QM/GR incompatibility and "quantum weirdness."

I believe that with a little geometry, a little mathematics, common sense and a lot of computing prowess, an aether can be modelled. I don't have the computer stuff, but I do have a fairly logical common sense model up to the point where mutually reinforcing Huygen pulses coalesce into a dynamic 'soft solid' which should support emergent "quantum-like" phonon behavior. Hence my interest in Levin/Wen and other works which reference "aether" and "phonons" in the same sentence.

d.
 
I'm reading The Lightness of Being by Frank Wilczek and I'm trying to work out what credence I should give the idea of "The Grid".

Several questions.
Isn't his "Grid" just the same as the old fashioned idea of ether? If not, how does it differ from "ether"?
PeterPumpkin, I have read Frank Wilczek's book the "The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces" and it is an ok book; I liked it!

It is obvious that he is describing an "Aether" or "Ether", the actual word is found in the title of his book. He is a Nobel Prize winner, so you think that this book would have a big impact in physics. It hasn't yet. I wonder why??

However, in my opinion Wilczek is not describing the classic or old fashioned idea of ether. I am assuming that you are refering to the classical Ether of Michelson and Morely; and their failed experiment.

There are several different models of the Aether out there, and it is slowly becoming popular again, however with some head-wind resistance. It appears that Wilczek is trying to develop a "String Theory" model of the Aether. This is a novel idea.

I however prefer the Ideal Gas Model of the Aether as proposed by Steven Rado, and his book "Aethro-Kinematics"


How does this idea stand amongst SERIOUS scientists? For example, is it regarded as "way out" or "probable" or "just an interesting idea"?
Once again in my humble opinion, physicists are being forced to reconsider the Aether concepts again because of things like "Dark Matter" and "Dark Energy" being measured and discussed in main stream physics.

The Aether is being resurrected under the names: Non-Baryonic Matter, Quintessence, Vacuum Expectation Value Energy, Ground State Energy, Zero Point Energy, Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), Higgs Field, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy.

Is the LHC capable of giving a definite answer about its existence eg if it finds the Higgs Particle?
In short, I would say yes!
 

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