Saturday, January 05, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Theory of something: QM has reached limits

Several people have asked me about the following press release that was published a few days ago and that was reprinted at various servers such as one that belongs to San Francisco Chronicle:

Theory of Something Reveals Why Quantum Mechanics has Reached its Limits: Mass is Outside of Particles (press release)
We learn that quantum mechanics has been defeated. More colorfully, the mass is located in a grid outside particles that is 100,000 times larger than the particle itself. A proton has a core with 63 "negtrinos", electron has 9 of them, and the hydrogen atom has a "grid room" for 16,525 "negtrinos".

Lots of similar nonsensical sentences, mostly with additional nonsensical numbers and new words, follow, together with a bizarre YouTube video. The press release also promotes their website,
Theory of Something.COM
Let's pick a picture from that website.

The sidebar contains lots of amazing statements such as "all forces are electromagnetical", "\(F=ma\) has been finally derived", "neutrinos and negtrinos are in the grid and fill the space", and so on. Lots of infantile pictures are added. All big problems are claimed to be solved (dark energy is everywhere, too) although there is no evidence on that page that the author has understood what the problems actually are or, at least, how they're called.

But let's reproduce the following image:

Now, I must ask all the people who were intrigued by this stuff: Can't you just figure out that this is pure childish rubbish that someone has made up? If you can't, you just fail to understand science and Nature at the high school level. It's scary.

The same question may be asked in millions of other contexts in which various types of pure junk are being hyped. For example, there's a YouTube video (with 300,000+ views) promoting Keshe's Foundation's alleged "discovery" of a method to obtain unlimited free energy and the cure for any disease out of a plasma. Someone asked whether it was a legitimate science and I gave a long answer. Guess whether the answer was YES or NO. Needless to say, a wishful thinking is a big part of this belief. Genuinely sincere and genuinely ignorant people just want the future to be rosy, they want to be a part of it, and they're not capable or they're not willing to distinguish the actual evidence (or at least common sense) from their wishful thinking.

But look at the "model" of the particles that was shown on the picture a few paragraphs above. Could you really believe that something like that could be true, something like that could arise from a legitimate scientific research?

In this "model", particles resemble a tennis racket with an extra disk-shaped structure of concentric circles decorated by extra "grid points" in the middle. Could a sane person believe that Nature works in this way?

First of all, the plane of the tennis racket is really two-dimensional while objects in the real world are three-dimensional. Why would Nature confine Herself into two dimensions and wouldn't use the third dimension at all?

Now, look at the complicated pattern. Could it arise naturally? Why? Why don't you draw another grid, a hexagon grid with three holes, each containing a pair of concentric elephants? This is not just a satirical rhetorical question; I am totally serious about this question. If Nature allowed the "tennis racket" particles, it would have to allow "elephant triplets in honeycomb" as well. If it didn't allow it, what laws could possible justify that "tennis rackets" are allowed but "elephant triplets in honeycomb" are not?

In other words, can't you see that the pattern on the picture is hugely contrived, self-evidently man-made? Nature isn't man-made. The laws of physics that dictate the shape of patterns are natural mathematical laws. Why would they produce something so similar to complicated man-made objects such as modified "tennis rackets"? It's clearly preposterous, isn't it?

Such pictures must be attractive for the laymen because they are "very concrete" and the particles have been "visualized". The pattern has lots of features you may spent lots of time with and memorize, thus convincing yourself that you are thinking about a scientific model. At the intuitive level, people may like it. But people, it's exactly the opposite what one should expect when it comes to a description of Nature. A true description of Nature isn't necessarily easy to be visualized. However, what's even more obvious is that it doesn't contain (almost) any arbitrary features that would have to be memorized.

You see that I am alluding to some activities that many people may have liked – or been good at – at school. They liked drawing and pointing and they liked to memorize things. But haven't you understood that these are skills that are not excessively important to understand Nature? Haven't you seen that physics works differently?

Nature simply has reasons explaining why the things are the way they are and they're often reasons that may only be accurately formulated in the language of mathematics. The picture of the "tennis racket" is exactly opposite in character. Its whole glory is about tons of features that don't have any justification.

It's sort of annoying that most of the people can't identify nonsense – "theories" that would look preposterous even to semi-intelligent people 2,000 years ago. But the situation is probably even worse because even a large number of people who have college degrees; and perhaps a majority of the journalists or even science journalists is constantly ready to buy (and resell) any piece of crap even though a reasonably rational person may see it is crap by looking at 1 or 2 sentences or 1/4 of a picture.

I have no idea whether this lack of ability to see that self-evident nonsense is nonsense is due to the people's intrinsic limitations and low intelligence or their life-long "revolt" against the physics teachers who were intimidating them at school or some mistakes in the education that could be fixed or due to the atmosphere in which people are taught to believe everything and anything that is written anywhere in the media or press releases despite the fact that much if not most of things that are written at similar places these days are garbage.

It would be nice to know the actual reasons but it would be even nicer if people weren't this staggeringly gullible or this unbelievably stupid.

And that's the memo.

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snail feedback (24) :

reader anna v said...

You are correct Lubos , it is one of those :" i am a genius and have found out everything" sites. I looked at the site, though, a bit ,and he does use 3 dimensions and time, so is not so completely outside reality. Just way off.

reader oceanographer said...

Well nothing more than just another nonsence by someone without any idea about physics- even in the earth science institutes we receive on average one such >100 pages theory daily (probably they first try to send them to theoretical divisions and then to people like us)

reader Smoking Frog said...

If I had come upon the Chronicle article without having read your blog post, I would have reacted with something between extreme suspicion and near-total rejection, but my reason would have been the discrepancy between what was presented and what (little) I know of advanced physics. If I had gone on to look at Theory of, I would have been even more suspicious, for the same reason, but also because of the style and approach.

Without the "what (little) I know," I can only say that the style and approach would have repelled me. I would not have thought that a tennis racket's being plausible required an elephant cartoon to be plausible, or anything like that.

So I think you underestimate the value of knowledge of actual subject matter or at least of knowledge not far below it in the scheme of things. It pains me a little to say this, because usually I'm prejudiced to believe in either willful or actual stupidity.

reader Bohdan said...

Haha, this is so called "mašíbl".

Czechia has its own champions Mr Hrbek (Radiation theory of gravity) or Mr Kahuda..(Czech psychoenergetic company)

reader Shane L Harris said...

Wow, listen to the venom. I have an idea. Find them and burn them as heretics.

reader Luboš Motl said...

They're no heretics, they're just plain idiots.

As Bohdan mentioned above, each person like that is known as a "mašíbl", it stands for "magoři-šílenci-blbi"

which is a text written on a box reserved for their texts in the Czech patent office. The three words translate as "nutcases-lunatics-morons". Sadly, the English abbreviation would be "nulumo" :-).

reader Rob Ryan said...

Sure, it's childish and megalomaniacal. But I think that someone (even a scientist) presented with QM and the Copenhagen interpretation (let alone string theory) in, say, 1850 may very well have reacted to that as you've reacted to this. That's not to say that the "Theory of Something" is worth looking at seriously but rather that insulting people who ask the question of whether it may be valid is unjustified.

reader disqus_PUCxZRmOTn said...

To non-scientists, these kinds of arguments and pictures look exactly like the ones found in typical pop-physics books. I think a lot of people have just been mislead into thinking descriptions like that are real science.

Obviously there's more to the real science than that, but I think most people don't understand that and get stuck thinking that the oversimplified analogy is basically real science.

I think a lot of reasonably intelligent people fall for these kinds of things because they've never seen any real science, so they just don't know what it looks like.

reader Luboš Motl said...

This is just complete crap. I can surely distinguish a music of the far future from infantile games resembling a distant history of science and philosophy.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You must be right. These tennis rackets may look crazy but in some sense, they are extremely similar to some/many of the popular presentations of serious science.

But if the result of popularization is that people are ready to believe that elementary particles are tennis rackets, such a popularization isn't really helping people to understand science, perhaps just the opposite is true.

reader Eugene S said...

Dear Lubos, the insaniac has posted a looong screed on his website that he expects you to publish here also. Please, don't give in to his request. You cannot win in a discussion with hard-core crackpots. Even if you reduce their wiggle room step by step and make it super hyper ultra clear that they are wrong, they then bolt on another epicycle to their grotesque "theory" and claim that they have "clarified" a "misunderstanding". That "clarification" will be equally as wrong as everything else they wrote. However, you would need to invest eq

reader Dilaton said...

Wow, for some reason my intrincic nonsense/spam filter has hidden this TRF article from me, such that I have taken notice of it relatively late, LOL ... :-D.

Of course, the nonsense is the hyped model and not the TRF article ;-).

Are they really serious about it? To me it looks like some kind of a parody since this tennis racket model is so blatantly infantil and nonsensical; how in the world can anybody (who is not a kindergarten kid) take such a thing serious ?!

reader Robert Rehbock said...

I thin they are just pranking sort of like movie "The Yes Men" a documentary about frauds pretending to represent WTO and presenting wild offensive ideas to delegates at economic development conferences, etc.. I mean really, this is too stupid to take seriously

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Eugene, I have already approved the comment, it's right beneath our exchange. It just passed all the criteria. Moreover, even nutcases who want to read such things are bringing traffic t this blog. ;-)

reader Derek said...

I think you dismissed the theory a bit too easy. Did you really didn’t see that the "Tennis racket" was a magnifying glass?

Don't get stopped by the style of the pictures, check the numbers and calculations which there are plenty of in the full theory. Most “crackpot theories” doesn’t have any checkable calculations at all, so when the Theory of Something has, it should be easy for you to debunk.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Apologies, I am not gonna join you in mindlessly parroting crackpots' talking points. The picture shows a tennis racket and the wording makes it very clear that the grid in the tennis racket is a part of the "theory", not just a visualization tool. That's why they count the 2D space as an integer amount of "grid room".

reader Derek said...

I know there are three dimensions from reading the full theory. There is even a picture of the three dimensional grid in the video and on the front of his homepage.

The base of the theory is that there is a grid of only negative particles in our universe (ether), around a particle core the particles in the grid align themselves in spherical layers (grid rooms), see it as layers of an onion (three dimensions).

It is up to you if you want to review the theory or not, but you should preferably understand how it is supposed to work and under its provided premises’, not judge it according to your own misunderstandings. Otherwise it your blog post won’t change anything, those who believe it´s crackpot will continue to do so and those who believe in the theory will still believe in it.

reader George Tom said...

Lupos, below you replied to Derek “shows a tennis racket and the wording makes it very clear that the grid in the tennis racket is a part of the "theory", not just a visualization tool. That's why they count the 2D space as an integer amount of "grid room".

So, after being unable to see that it is a magnifying glass – not a tennis racket – You don’t even read Tosman’s reply? First paragraph says “It is a magnifying glass and the structure inside is 3 dimensional”.

If you change the theory you are reviewing into your own, are you not reviewing yourself then?

reader Thiago said...

This theory reminds me a song of a popular singer here in Brazil:

"Now, every asshole pretends to be a genius or a poet
In every corner, a pseudo-prophet holding an umbrella and a lollipop"

(Agora todo imbecil passa por gênio poeta
Em cada esquina um pseudo-profeta
Com um guarda-chuva e um pirulito na mão
- Teddy Boy, Rock e Brilhantina from Raul Seixas)

Sorry for my lousy english

reader Shannon said...

The guys says in "ToS change our view of reality" : "And the most hands-on radical change is that the mass and energy (E=mc2) of matter is not inside an object, but surrounding it! It is the Grid that gives mass to matter and it can only contribute with 96 kg/m3. A 75 kg man has his mass in a 700 liter “Grid room” always surrounding him. And the densest objects can only have 0.5% of their mass inside the object itself. The Grid room around a head is as large as the Gloria in the mosaic in the picture… (There are Grid rooms around all objects – dead or alive – it is just the density that counts.)"

Naaaah !

reader Casper said...

If there is no extra dimension to put all the paranormal hidden variables in the theory must be wrong.

reader George Tom said...

Lupos, below you replied to Derek “shows a tennis racket and the wording makes it very clear that the grid in the tennis racket is a part of the "theory", not just a visualization tool. That's why they count the 2D space as an integer amount of "grid room".

So, after being unable to see that it is a magnifying glass – not a tennis racket – You don’t even read Tosman’s reply? First paragraph says “It is a magnifying glass and the structure inside is 3 dimensional”.

If you change the theory you are reviewing into your own, are you not reviewing yourself then?

reader G.d. Tosman said...

Shannon, I was even more surprised than you when finding that mass does not fit within objects – It is “unbelievable” but a supported consequence of the ToS, that space only can contribute with 96,4 kg/m^3 to the mass of an object, see ToS 4.5.3 and ToS Summary 2.5.1.

Have you reached any of the even “more amazing” consequences of the ToS? There are quite a few! /G.D.

reader David Dennison said...

You claim that the kg is not a "base unit" in your absurd theory, yet you use the kg in the response above. Also, I find your statement that "QM works, but it makes no sense." to be unbelievably arrogant and foolish. Just because G D Tosman doesn't understand quantum mechanics we need to overturn all of the physics behind it? Reread your textbooks Tosman; I think you missed most of the information between the first and last pages.

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