Monday, February 03, 2014

SUSY as a balanced budget amendment

Off-topic (via W. Zajc): Dennis Overbye of NYT wrote an article about \(1+2+3+\dots = -1/12\) which looks sort of decent to me. He's generally a very good science writer, I think. The cartoon is also amusing and, when interpreted correctly, insightful.
Just a link. Kyle Cranmer of NYU (and ATLAS) at Quantum Diaries develops a fun analogy between the government and the Higgs naturalness:
The Higgs Boson: A Natural Disaster!
The tax revenues are the positive contributions to the Higgs squared mass, the government expenses are the negative contributions. The budget surplus or deficit (well, usually the latter) depends on the year (well, it is getting worse) while the total Higgs mass depends on the renormalization group (RG) scale (the cancellation looks increasingly fine-tuned if you look at it from the viewpoint of lower and lower energies relatively to the cutoff scale).

Some RG effects are even compared to the inflation.

Now, it would be bizarre if the budget deficit were a tiny fraction of the expenses. But the Higgs mass is much smaller than the apparent individual positive and negative contributions.

How would it be possible if this balance existed in the government budget? It would need the government officials not to be irresponsible populist as$holes. But it's extremely unnatural i.e. effectively unlikely that the government officials aren't as$holes. They probably are.

So there must be a different, more likely, more natural reason, and the reason could be a balanced budget amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is compared to a solution to the naturalness problem – supersymmetry is the most well-motivated one (yes, SUSY instantly gets under the attack by an aggressive crank in the comment section, and be sure that I am not the only one who counts Dr. Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong as one)).

Increasing energy at which no signs of SUSY or another solution to the naturalness puzzle appears will increase the chances of an "anthropic" solution in which the near-perfect cancellation of the Higgs mass terms is a coincidence, perhaps one "encouraged" by the anthropic bias i.e. a greater exposure/probability assigned to possibilities that allow intelligent life.

I would like to develop the analogy and verify whether it really works in some more detail but I am out of energy today.


  1. Lubos,

    Unification is clearly a central paradigm of physics, but is it not logically possible that gravitation does not unify with the other forces? If gravity doesn’t unify, might not the GR equations be the lowest order solution from a series where the rank 4 tensors are but the first term of an infinite series of algebraic objects, something akin to the multipole expansions of continuum electrodynamics? Such a path could lead to black holes of small but finite dimension and a continuum setting where radiation issues would be easily addressed. Or am I just an idiot?

  2. Exactly, Gene, newer dinosaurs and mammals agree with you while some other species are largely missing this key point. ;-)

  3. Speaking of assholiness,

    I thought you might enjoy this.

  4. LOL.

    "Thanks, I hope it atones for my earlier transgressions."

    I hope that His "God" will forgive this sinner a short burst of rationality.

  5. I thought the black hole information problem was asked and answered years ago, Lubos. I seem to remember that Hawking initially thought that the information was lost and later admitted he was wrong and that those who had held the information wasn’t irretrievably lost were right.

    My understanding is this. The event horizon is a sphere defined by the Schwarzschild radius. On one side of this sphere, we have the known universe where space-time is being folded at less than the speed of light. On the other side of it, it is being folded faster than the speed of light, hence the name black hole because light itself cannot escape from it. This idea has been around a long time because Karl Schwarzschild, the guy, who came up with it was killed in the First World War. So you would think that the “information,” that is the information on the particles that have crossed the Schwarzhild limit is lost. But this isn’t quite right, because of quantum mechanics. In the quantum foam of space-time you constantly have virtual particles being formed. This doesn’t have any real effect on our corner of the universe. The particles are formed in pairs and annihilate each other shortly after they pop into creation. But if this happens at the event horizon of a black hole, the particles can come into existence on opposite sides of the boundary. The one within the Schwarzschild radius remains in the black hole while the one outside it can be ejected into the observable universe where we live. That is the black hole leaks particles and if it is leaking particles, then it is leaking information. Over incredibly long periods, this leakage results in the Schwarzschild radius going to zero and whatever residual material in the black hole should flood back into the universe as the black hole ceases to exist.

  6. Cynthia! I had no idea you could express yourself so well... did not think you had it in you ;)

    Whether by sheer coincidence or not, that just happens to sum up my own understanding. Unfortunately, most of the time I thought I understood something it later turns out to be wrong, but maybe this time is an exception.

  7. The comments in the previous posting might interest you, too:

  8. Fun analogy, thanks for pointing this out Lumo :-)

    I would look forward to a more detailed elaboration, for example how can the finanial troubles many countries have be explained in this analogy?

    I would say that the culprits of the disaster have triggered explicit SUSY breaking leading to the appearance of nasty tachyons (budget deficits with negative mass squared)...

  9. LOL, these countries probably suffer from an explicit supersymmetry breaking. ;-)

    I wasn't bold enough to write an analogy that would actually solve all the financial problems. ;-) The focus would be on the differences, the calculation and logic of calculation of the probabilities that the budget is balanced or Higgs is light, or the probability that a rule is adopted that makes the cancellation. These are subtle issues and if they could be fully answered, they would also solve the question whether naturalness and/or anthropic reasoning are valid.

  10. Thanks for the compliment but I clearly didn't deserve it.

    If you detect a signal photon at a D1 interference minima (assuming that the probability density conditioned on D1 is really zero), then you can indeed predict that D1 will be avoided.

    But as I tried to explain to everyone but I have obviously failed, there is no information being transmitted to "guarantee" that D1 will be avoided by the partner at the moment when you detect the first photon in the interference minimum. Instead, the correlated properties have been imprinted into both photons *before* you found the first one at the D1 interference minimum, and this correlated imprint was there since the very moment when the two photons were born together.

    There is no violation of relativity here whatsoever. It's like Bertlman's socks, only with the quantum ambiguities. Bertlman is a crazy Austrian physicist who always takes two socks of different colors. So if you see the left sock is red, you may be sure that the right sock isn't red. Even if his leg get spread by thousands of miles (ouch), the observed anticorrelation doesn't mean that the socks communicated. Instead, it's a consequence of their being created as anticorrelated.

    The same is true for quantum correlations. The only difference is that the color of each sock may be undetermined up to the moment of the first measurement. But quantum mechanics may still guarantee the precise (or approximate) correlation between two pieces of information and this correlation (entanglement) is created at the beginning, when the two susbsystems (photons) were (created or living) together, just like in the case of socks!

  11. I think you are being just a bit unfair to Cynthia. She has always expressed herself well. What you are surprised at,I think, is her deep understanding of black holes.

  12. Shame on you Lubos!!

  13. CentralCharge15

    David Z simply can not stop shooting down rather advance non-trivial technical perfectly legitimate QFT questions ... :-(

    Asking for the opinion of others in chat is hypocritical as we both know that

    a) David Z listens only to what people who exactly agree with him say (it would be completely pointless to tell him that the question is legitimate and very important for physicists; I know from experience that he would only shoot it down even faster just to annoy me)

    b) Chat is almost exclusively visited (apart from all mods appearing there from time to time) by SE politicians and APODs, so nobody will speak up against David Z s intention to shoot the question down.

    APODs are "Agressive Pompous Overreaching Dilettants" ;-), who have no deep knowledge about advanced (theoretical) physics topics but happily close legitimate technical and/or advanced questions misusing any excuse for it (APODs can be found in the comments below too popular news about physics too for example). Their behavior and harmfulness is similar to the one of replicators known from stargate ;-)

    Once they have infected a technically advanced community it is doomed ...

  14. A question: did the delayed-choice experiments conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the University
    of Vienna in 2012 demonstrate retrocausality in a physical sense, or is this more a thought exercise tapped onto an entanglement expiriment?

  15. Dear Gene, I like to have Disqus show me "latest comments" on TRF but without the names of commenters. Then, I guess who wrote them. It's a little game I play, a blindfold test, if you will allow me this mangled metaphor, of TRF commenters. On average, I guess right four out of five times. Among the regular commenters, I score 100 percent for lucretius and Alexander Ac within the first couple of sentences, to give two names from opposite ends of a spectrum, and close to 100 percent for you and a number of others. Others are less frequently recognizable. When I saw Cynthia's comment about information loss in black holes, I was struck by the accessible and logical style and immediately curious about the author. I never would have guessed it was her. (For a while I was unable to tell her and commenter woodnfish apart, which was curious because ostensibly they were political antipodes -- unless far left and far right do in fact meet on the dark side of the moon -- but I got better at it.)

    I agree that I could have been classier in delivering my compliment, but Cynthia has annoyed me so many times with her sledgehammering "Occupy Wall Street"-style rhetoric that I could not resist a dig.

  16. Dear Shodan, in non-relativistic QM, one may consider perfectly sensible theories that are not indistinguishable. So I think it means that there can't be any "QM explanation" at this level.

    Quantum field theory or "stronger" theory is required by special relativity, and it does imply that the particles are indistinguishable because they're created by (anti)commuting fields.

    One may also argue in favor of indistinguishability using statistical physics - entropy of a large number of particles, and whether it can contain log(N!) somewhere.

  17. I suppose you mean the articles around etc.

    They never changed the past; the final detection of the data in the experiment just invents a story that is easier to be interpreted by people if they imagine that the later (discrete) measurement is an assumption (and even people if they think carefully shouldn't have a problem with it).

    But the probability calculus has no problem whatsoever in predicting the later measurements (as conditioned probabilities) while taking the earlier measurement as a condition/assumption. So the acausal interpretation is in no way necessary; the influence on the past obviously isn't physical or "usable" in the science-fiction way.

  18. Right, asking for "opinions" on chat is just a formal ceremony : ) to fake democracy . . .

  19. Hi Eduardo,

    I hope your thesis defence went well. I don't know if you have been reading the tpproposal blog lately, but I am certainly hoping that you would still be interested in Physics Overflow, and hopefully have enough time for it.

    Maybe you would want to participate in the sort of "private beta" for the site? You can read more here:

    The domain, which now has a little "Under Construction" sort of message, has been booked by Polar Kernel, and I hope again that you are interested in joining the private beta.

    Dilaton has posted the instructions for joining the private beta here:

  20. Now Ron Maimon is on board, he has signed in the technical beta of Physics Overflow too and is willing to help us :-)))


  21. It is really annoying how some people can not accept being contradicted in the review queues

    and try to impose their personal biased opinion by all means. For example by complaining in chat about questions they personally dont understand / like attracting reopen votes. This is outright undermining the process of fair community moderation ...

  22. Wow, have you seen this?

    And I was just positively surprised that Brandon Enright seems to have found the "reopen button" and is sporadically even able to push it on the right occasion... :-(

    He (and everybody) should know darn well why I am no longer able to ask, answer, etc there since a long time: The site is no longer friendly to technical (advanced topic) questions and some high rep users (including moderators) openly expressed their hostility towards legitimate topics I would have been interested in ...

  23. Who is Ron Maimon? I have read some of his posts on Physics.SE - seems like a very interesting learned fellow

  24. Yep, he is immensely knowledgeable and a brilliant role model of a honest scientist (he is interested in other things than physics too).

    On Physics SE, in particular SE politicians and people who are not particularly knowledgeable and or interested in advance physics did not tolerate him, because he is outspoken and dares to call a spade a spade, critizize wrong notions and ideas in clear words as it should be done in science, instead of politically correctly beating around the bush. The SE politicians and APODs (Arrogant Pompous Overreaching Dilletants) always persecuted him for "being rude" (just to be sure, he never personally insulted anybody) whereas the real physicists and serious students liked and appreciated his brilliant contributions. Others (still) call him a crackpot because he does not have an academic position at a university, but I am sure if he wanted to he could have written a PhD in no time and even be a Porf. Unfortunately, the bad guys were successful at the end which triggered the downfall of Physics SE about a year ago

    The current 1 year ban they slashed upon him was for a ridiculous no-issue, he had a lively discussion with somebody in the context of which he said "go away" at some point, but later the two guys succesfully resolved their issue. Nevertheless, a sourposs ADOD (or more then one) obviously felt entitled to flag his comment, which mad him banned for a darn whole year. This was discussed on Quora a bit. You can find it when looking for the Question "Why did Ron Maimon stop contributing to Stack Exchange".

    Ron is equally (if not more) self critical as he is critical with others: He once mentioned that he did not dare to show up again on Theoretical Physics SE because of feeling shamed about not being able to timely deliver a proof of something he promised. I am sure they would have highly welcomed his contributions nevertheless ...

  25. Ron's been abusive to some folks at Quora, and so he's been banned from editing posts for a month. He gave an interesting interview about himself here:

    Check out 35:25-36:20 where he has complimentary stuff to say about Lubos ;)

  26. Hey, what has happened? How did I, an English major, fall into this rabbit hole about BH, GR and most every other letter combination of the alphabet? I'll let you know if I understand any of it. But since I appear to be trapped in here, I will comment, Mr. Motl, that if you had, about a certain climate scientist, said, "... hasn't written a single paper in her/his life whose basic content would be correct and new at the same moment" and "They haven't changed her/his understanding of these topics; they have kept it at zero because she/he hasn't understood anything in this field", the aforementioned climate scientist would right now be suing you for all you are worth. Defamation of character and all that. Is there, by the way, any way to get out of this RH?

  27. The premise of the black hole hypothesis is that given enough pressure, matter can be compressed to an arbitrarily small volume, the volume of a singularity being less than the volume of an atomic nucleus. Experimental evidence of the compressibility of various materials indicates that the relationship between pressure and volume is non-linear. Thus we do not know how matter behaves under the extreme pressures existing at the center of a large star. Any claim to knowledge in this regard should not be taken seriously. The black hole hypothesis is the result of an unwarranted extrapolation of the relation of pressure to volume, one that is so far beyond the observed relations as to be in the realm of fantasy. The entire debate about event horizons and such is therefore essentially scholastic in nature. The notion that compressibility of matter can be extrapolated into a range of values totally outside of the experimental range is entirely unwarranted. Furthermore, the infinite compressibility assumption is only one of several unwarranted assumptions on which the black hole hypothesis rests. Another, even more serious flaw is the notion that a star can resist its inward gravitational pressure by producing energy and that once the energy is exhausted, a gravitational collapse is inevitable. In fact the gravitational force experienced by a star is independent of any energetic processes that may be taking place within it, as any outwardly acting force produced by such processes is exactly balanced by an inwardly acting one, pursuant to Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Black holes might be possible if matter were infinitely compressible. Pigs might be able to fly, if they had wings.

  28. I think if you reformulated every single one of your assertions as questions and if you then posted them to one of the websites where experts tackle questions from the public, you would have a good chance of getting answers.

  29. The experts have no answers to these questions, Eugene. I have raised such questions for the last quarter of a century but the response is typically silence, as at this forum. Such questions are deemed to be beyond the pale, because they do not deal with the issue under discussion, which is in the nature of how hot are the fires of hell? but question the premises, i.e., what evidence do we have for the existence of hell? Can a fire burn forever without fuel? Is there enough oxygen in hell to sustain such fires? A good Catholic never questions the existence of hell, just as a good astrophysicist never doubts the holy doctrine of the infinite compressibility of matter. If your premises lead your to the absurd conclusion that all of the matter of a large star can be compressed to a volume smaller than an atomic nucleus, you would be well advised to try to identify the erroneous premise on which such an obviously absurd conclusion is based. Even more absurd is the notion that thermonuclear reactions can alleviate the pressure on the inner core of a star. It reminds me of the story of the rider riding a horse, who placed a very heavy sack of flour in front of him. Seeing the horse getting somewhat weary, the rider tried to alleviate the horse's burden by placing the sack of flour on his own shoulders (while riding the horse as before). It didn't work, needless to say. In the same way a whatever activity, thermonuclear or not, occurs within a star, it cannot cancel or in any way alleviate the gravitational pressure of the star's outer layers.

  30. Of course quantum mechanics gives accurate predictions. But there is a way that things happen. You can't just say we'll uhmmmm.... The wave function collapse isn't real so I don't have to worry about it. And apparently you forget that counterfactual definiteness, true or not, defies common sense as much as nonlocality. It seems like you really want quantum mechanics to make perfect sense because of some psychological need of yours. It sounds like you are backing up statements with statements that don't support them at all. You're just trying to ignore what's going on by using the excuse that the math works. It's ridiculous and I can't believe that you can't see it.

  31. And I probably know how you're going to respond to that. It's the response that some people would have. Yes quantum mechanics is a good predictor. But I believe more will be discovered without* making quantum mechanics wrong about anything. We don't have a complete picture of the world so far I believe and I think there will be something that replaces counterfactual definiteness. Or maybe you are right. Maybe, as the effects of the inability to distinguish between identical particles tells us, the mathematics is all there really is and the universe is made of information

  32. Just to be sure, your comments are meaningless streams of emotions and this sentence will be my only reply.