Friday, April 22, 2016

Lawyer John Dixon bastardizes SUSY in two new papers

CERN: CMS releases the open data from 2.5/fb of 2011 collisions. I hope that you have 100 spare TB on your hard disks. ;-) Also, Christopher Nolan's brain melted 45 minutes after he began to talk to Kip Thorne, Time Magazine reported while praising Thorne's contribution to LIGO. Let me emphasize that Nolan's brain meltdown wasn't due to any global warming.

Two of the new hep-th papers today were written by John Dixon who offers Gmail as his affiliation (well, so would I right now, but many more people would know who I am):
Canonical Transformations can Dramatically Simplify Supersymmetry

Squarks and Sleptons are not needed for the SSM. They can be, and they should be, transformed away
While the titles are longer than they should be, they're pretty bold and simple claims. You can – and you should – completely erase all scalar partners of known fermions in supersymmetric theories. And that's desirable because no squarks and sleptons have been discovered yet. Well, there is a slight problem: These claims are self-evident rubbish.

If SUSY can be talked about at all, the operators \(Q_\alpha\) with a spinor index have to exist and no one can prevent you from asking what is \(Q\ket{\mu}\) where \(\ket\mu\) is a state with one muon, for example. You simply have to get a bosonic result. The result of the action of some SUSY generators has to be nonzero because the anticommutator of \(Q\)'s contains the momentum which is nonzero. So the action has to be a state with one bosonic particle with the same momentum, perhaps dressed into some stuff related to the SUSY-breaking sector, or this state may be in a different superselection sector (but these issues have to go away if SUSY is restored, e.g. at high energies).

So if the action of all these supercharges were zero, the action of the momentum on \(\ket\mu\) would have to vanish as well – but it clearly doesn't.

Fine. So one reads the titles and sees that it looks totally stupid. But no one would really have written two complicated 20-page papers full of formalism if they were actually dedicated to an idea that an average physics student may see to be childishly wrong in several seconds, right? There must be something I am not getting, right?

So I keep on reading the two papers. A loophole showing that the obvious conclusion that the claim is self-evidently wrong must be written somewhere on the first pages, right? What is the ingenious new possibility that makes it possible to invalidate the simple argument above? I kept on reading and nothing.

The papers look just like physicists' papers. Many crackpots may be rather safely identified because they write their papers in Microsoft Word or something of this sort. But in this case, they are written in \(\rm\TeX\). There are lots of indices so that the "genre" looks indistinguishable from a textbook of supersymmetry, e.g. Wess and Bagger's book. But something is missing because it just doesn't make any sense.

After some time, you learn that the ingenious option that Dixon must have found has something to do with the "replacement of fields by zinns", whatever the latter (zinns) is supposed to be; with the "replacement of chiral multiplets with un-chiral multiplets", whatever un-chiral is supposed to be (some partly ghostly fields?); and with some ingenious action by some "canonical transformations" (those should be just transformations... something that doesn't qualitatively change physics but Dixon seems to conclude otherwise). One may also see that the author seems attached to the classical concept of a Poisson bracket. In a quantum theory, we ultimately need commutators, right? So why are the Poisson brackets everywhere?

All these pet concepts of Mr Dixon are related to some confusingly mixed status of the supercharges that are partly viewed as the BRST charge, it seems. So maybe the guy has basically discovered the topological field theories where the SUSY charges are reinterpreted as BRST charges or vice versa – or something similar but inequivalent and new. You expect some comprehensible explanation of these things but I think that you can never get it.

In the case of this lawyer, a layman who can only see the "formatting" would have no chance to see that these papers are completely nonsensical. Aside from the \(\rm\TeX\), there is also an impressive list of people who are thanked to in the acknowledgements, including Duff, Hull, Ramond, and West. Some of these people had to give Dixon some "endorsement" to post papers to hep-th, I believe.

I vaguely remembered that I have seen this name in the past. And indeed, there are several TRF blog posts about him. In this 2008 text about CyberSUSY, it was indeed observed that the guy confuses BRST charges and supercharges (and their different roles), spinors with scalars, the local symmetries and the global symmetries. But this John Dixon runs a blog, cool. Sadly, it has no traffic.

In 2012, Alejandro Rivero pointed out that John Dixon gave a wise advise to Paul Frampton concerning suitcases at the airport. More importantly, in 2013, John Dixon came here again to tell us that SUSY hasn't been relevant for physics. That's a bizarre starting point if you want to write long articles about SUSY, even new versions of it, which are clearly much less relevant for physics because it must be impossible to define e.g. the state \(Q\ket\mu\) in Dixon's scheme. Does he really believe that one may make meaningful let alone important contributions to the SUSY research if the first assumption he builds upon is that SUSY has been worthless? Understanding why SUSY is a fantastic structure is surely among the first prerequisites you need before you may do research of it.

By the way, you may check that Dixon's very similar 2008 paper on CyberSUSY has 4 citations according to Google Scholar. All of them are self-citations by newer papers by John Dixon. Quite an enthusiast if I avoid the term "vigorous masturbator". It seems that the same is almost entirely true for 20 or so papers that Dixon wrote in the new millennium.

OK, so I think that this guy has gotten some endorsement to post his papers on hep-th. I do believe that his endorsers know that the paper is almost certainly bullšit – or to say at least, they can't coherently explain the new correct idea or result that the papers contain. But they gave him the endorsement, anyway, perhaps to get rid of Dixon's annoying mails. Or because of compassion because they think that it's cruel to tell him that he's wasting his time because he's not on the right track to do anything useful in physics.

I can understand these motivations and there may exist others. But whatever the reason is, this bogus endorsement is circumventing the role of the endorsement system. If you know that it's extremely unlikely that you could ever use a similar paper in your own research – and no one except for Dixon has used his results yet – you simply shouldn't endorse it.

There's no serious problem when one paper by a lawyer is occasionally posted to hep-th and even two papers like this are fun and they only cost a second for an average reader of abstracts to be dealt with. They may be a pleasant distraction. But if everyone behaved like the endorsers of John Dixon's papers, hep-th would be flooded by similar stuff. The density of meaningful papers could drop to a low enough value so that people would start to be discouraged. They would feel that they're following instead. They may need to look for new venues to share the information with other experts.

So I just don't think it's right to circumvent the endorsement system in the sake of compassion etc. I've had sort of similar comments about Free Harvard, Fair Harvard, some plans by Steve Hsu, Ralph Nader, and a few other comrades to abolish tuition at Harvard. You know, much of the special status of Harvard as the world's most famous university – or at least one that could have built the largest endowment – is the fact that it's hard to get there and in many cases, it requires both talent and some wealth or sponsors. It's not a bug, it's a virtue. Without these barriers, Harvard's status could drop to the level of good schools that lack the X-factor, however, such as Charles University in Prague. It's also mostly picking the smartest students in the country. But it's still not Harvard, and it's partly due to its missing links to the "very successful, wealthy, and almost aristocratic, circles".

Feudalism belongs to the history book but some "natural environment for wealth, success, and research" is desirable, anyway. This environment is compatible with some "social mobility". But the goals to make the "social mobility" perfect or 100% are absolutely counterproductive plans of a radical anarchist or an ideologue of a similar sort. A healthy society simply doesn't work and cannot work like that.

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