FALSE ALARM; PHYSICS IS ALIVE AND WELL

 

   No "requiem" for physics is being planned yet, for physics is not dead, as some physicists and writers have asserted. Dick Teresi's call to plunge into mourning appeared first in the New York Times. I have read its reprint in the June 16th, 1994 issue of the International Herald Tribune. Contrary to Teresi's opinion, physics is alive and well and will remain healthy for a long, long time. His requiem has been held only at the grave of the Superconducting Supercollider, or SSC, project. The body of physics is not buried in the giant tomb of SSC in Texas.     

   In the fall of last year, the United States House of Representatives and the Senate stopped financing this 11-billion dollar giant particle accelerator project. Its high-tech equipment was to be located in a 54-mile circular underground tunnel. The SSC was heavily promoted by a small group of physicists and their political supporters, mainly from Texas, where the SSC project was stopped. However, the majority of scientists and statesmen had been against such monumental expenditure. In their opinion new theories and smaller and less costly experimental apparatus could advance physics. Indeed, the entire history of physics shows that theoretical and experimental physics have been more often advanced by ingenious ideas requiring small amounts of money, rather than by huge amounts spent on enlarged duplications of existing equipment.

   One can argue that Galileo with his primitive telescope made pioneering discoveries which allowed him to create a new theory of the solar system defeating the previous earth- centered view. But contrary arguments can be raised, for instance, that the increasing size of telescopes has allowed the discovery of more distant members of the solar system, galaxies, supernovas, etc. True, larger, costlier, and more sophisticated apparatus can penetrate deeper into the unknown.  Larger telescopes have only enlarged this view. But the discovery of galaxies, the expansion of the universe, the red shift, and other cosmological observations have required new theories and predictions, such as the black holes. Ingenious ideas have also lead to new advanced instruments and techniques, such as radio, x-ray, infrared, ultraviolet, and radar astronomy. These were not simple enlargements of previously developed known instruments—such as the SSC was - but were new inventions. 

 

PROGRESS NEEDS NOVEL IDEAS MORE THAN MONEY     

   Breakthroughs in science have always been based on pioneering ideas and theories. Particle accelerators have been used to verify theoretical predictions. Elementary particles accelerated at near the speed of light smash into one another inside all particle accelerators. In a shower of fragments new sub-atomic particles are created by such events which can be detected in various ways. The structure of protons, neutrons, electrons and other sub-atomic particles has been discovered in this manner during the last fifty years. However, Earlier theories of the atomic structure have been confirmed by much simpler and cheaper experimental apparatus. But the true pioneers like Marie Curie (Sklodowska), Ernest Rutherford, and Robert A. Millikan have made fundamentally new discoveries with primitive apparatus at modest cost, compared with the high price of modern atom smashers. Brilliant ideas, the invention of new methods, and perseverance have helped the pioneers to unlock the secrets of the sub-atomic world, and earned them the Nobel prize.     

   I am not saying that costly modern scientific equipment is not a necessary tool of contemporary physics. The point I am making is that the bigger and costlier is not always better than the smaller and the less costly apparatus. New theories have to be verified experimentally. They can explain already existing data, and often produce unexpected events. Predictions often require the development of novel methods and the invention of new experimental techniques. In contemporary nuclear physics, new facts have already emerged demonstrating my thesis. Teresi himself reported in his "requiem" the April 1994 discovery of the "top quark". Scientists of Fermi laboratory at Batavia, Illinois have detected this long sought after particle with a significantly more modest accelerator than the giant SSC was to be.      

   Earlier, protons and neutrons had been thought to be "elementary" particles, without internal components. About two decades ago high-speed collisions altered this view. It turned out that protons and neutrons are divisible, and are composed of smaller particles. Murray Gell-Mann named these ultimate building elements of matter "quarks". He won the Nobel Prize for his theory of quarks in 1969. By 1993 five of these quarks had been identified by experimental physicists. The credit for finding the elusive sixth top quark went to the modest Fermi laboratory's accelerator and its team of scientists, not to the giant Superconducting Supercollider, as some had hoped. Today the theory that all matter in the universe is created by 12 fundamental particles, six quarks and six "leptons" seems to be confirmed. New experimental findings and other theories, however, began to cast some doubt that the exploration of matter has been completed.      

 

THERE IS NO END TO DISCOVERIES    

   The media is bringing us reports and ideas regularly. For instance, on April 19th 1994, the The New York Times reported promising results achieved with a room-sized accelerator at the University of California L.A. The August 1994 issue of Discovery Magazine reports that in a Hamburg accelerator protons were collided at near the speed of light. Normally two jets of particles are produced by such collisions when the proton breaks up into quarks. Quarks have an extremely short life, after which they disintegrate into such particle jets as observed in Hamburg. But, in about ten percent of the collisions, only one jet stream emerged which gives rise to the supposition that the colliding proton hit a "glueball" rather than a quark. A glueball is thought of as a group of "gluons" which supposedly holds the quarks together in the proton. The search continues to demonstrate the presumed existence of glueballs.     

   On another front, around the early 1960s, Isak Pomeranchuk, a Soviet physicist, whose theory indicated the possible existence of a new particle  called "pomeron" after his name. Experimental scientists are thinking about various means of verifying his theory.  An interesting, high-resolution new particle accelerator is being built at the University of Virginia. In April 1993, this innovative design was the winner out of five competing proposals. The project is financed by the US Department of Energy. Its cost is about half-billion dollars, less then one twentieth of the now discarded Supercollider project. This new particle accelerator very likely will surpass the performance of the gigantic European Large Electron Positron (LEP) atom smasher, located under the Jura mountains in a 17-mile long tunnel in Switzerland. Professor Jim McCarthy conceived this new and promising Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, or CEBAF. The first tests are expected to begin in 1995-96. The novelty of CEFAB lies in its innovative design which reduces the size of this linear accelerator to less than a mile, increases its beam intensity, as well as the power of resolution of its detectors. Instead of using pulsed particle beams and periodic collisions, CEBAF's beam is continuous. Its clever design uses new methods of accelerating and cooling to reduce the problem of extreme heat generated in high energy particle accelerators.      

 

PART TWO        

ATTEMPTS TO CREATE A GRAND UNIFICATION THEORY    

    Physics is alive and well, and will keep progressing despite despite of those who saw its death when Congress stopped financing the Superconducting Supercollider Project. Historically, most experimental apparatus was designed and built with some prior theory and expectations to verify it. Conversely, unexpected experimental findings have always given rise to new improved theories. Newton's laws were not defeated, but extended by Einstein's more encompassing laws of motion and gravity. In my opinion the greatest challenge of contemporary physics is not finding a gluon or a pomeron, but in the creation of a Grand Unification Theory.     

    Professor Stephen Hawking has an excellent summary of the problem in his book, A Brief History of Time. A single theory and verification is sought in the unified description of the four known forces of nature: the electro-magnetic, the weak and the strong nuclear forces, and the gravitational force. With great effort a partial unification was achieved with the utilization of "a number of parameters whose values cannot be predicted from the theory but have to be chosen to fit in with experiment." At a very high energy, the electro-magnetic and nuclear forces are expected to have the same strength "and so could just be different aspects of a single force" according to Hawking.  The mystery of the subatomic world and the universe may be more intriguing, perhaps simpler, than the presently dominating mathematical theories. Complete, or "grand", unification of physics would require the integration of the laws of gravity and motion with quantum mechanics. Einstein and other scientists have tried but failed to accomplish this monumental task during the past four decades. Until the turn of the 19th century, all forces acting through distance have been supposed to act through an ethereal material media of transmission filling empty space. Even the famous Maxwell equations of electro-magnetic forces had been derived through a physical model of the aether, or ether. At the end of the 19th century, Michelson and Morley's experiments failed to demonstrate the existence of the ether. At the same time, their experiments have shown that the speed of light is independent of the speed of its moving source. The various theories of the ether, and the attempts to describe the fundamental forces of nature in material terms, ended with the birth of Einstein's Theory of Relativity in 1907.     

 

THE GREAT MYSTERY OF THE PHYSICAL LINK BETWEEN MATTER AND FORCES IS STILL WAITING FOR DISCOVERY     

    Since the first decade of the 20th century, the major method of theoretical physicists relied heavily upon mathematical descriptions of nature. Great debates have been held about the physical meaning of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle which is one of the fundamental equations of quantum mechanics. Heisenberg himself provided different interpretations regarding the physical meaning of his equation, from time to time.     

    Einstein did not explain the physical nature of the substance carrying light either. Instead, he postulated the speed of light as an axiom that the speed of light is constant and independent of the motion of its source. Einstein believed that the description of a physical substance which moves with the speed of light, "a lumino-ferrous ether will prove to be superfluous." How light and other forces propagate through seemingly empty space is still a mystery to common sense logic.  The natural world appears to be an indivisible three-dimensional material entity in all of its aspects. Events of this world take place in time - the fourth dimension of moving matter - in this eventful, ceaselessly changing, dynamic universe. Are the invisible forces of nature exceptions? Can they act on ponderable matter through nothingness? To common sense logic forces must act through some material substance.    

    Forces and energy are various manifestations of matter. Aristotle viewed matter as a "primary substance" while its "form" is changing, but the two are an inseparable essence of matter. Barbara Jancar quotes Aristotle that primary "substance is indwelling form" inseparable from "matter". My application of such materialistic principle of primary matter substance - through the method I call "conditional logic" - strongly indicates that forces and energy must be described in material terms. Accordingly, three-dimensional matter, such as mass-bearing protons and other subatomic particles, cannot loose their substance, their essential matterness, but can disintegrate or change into other forms of matter. Consequently, the essence of energy and forces must be in some forms of "primary matter" which must exist in some yet unknown tangible form.       

 

CONJECTURE AND HYPOTHESIS VERSUS PSEUDO SCIENCE    

    Mathematical theories and equations can have several interpretations in physics. Some of these may seem illogical to common physical sense. One such interpretation is the possibility of the reversal of time. "Time travel" into the past and the future have been favored by science fiction writers. Occasionally, however, reputed journals give scientific credit to otherwise sheer speculation without any evidence or logic. Volume 270, No. 3, the March 1994 issue of the Scientific American has such article. Its cover page has the caption, "Visiting Yourself in the Past". Newton called such fantasies as "occult" speculation versus hypotheses. However, a theory presented as a conjecture can help the advancement of science.     

    According to my conjecture, "mass-bearing" particles can be composed entirely of "massless" primary matter particles. In my book - being edited now - space is not empty, but filled with innumerable massless three-dimensional `primary matter' particles, or p, in ceaseless random motion. Logic dictates that if such undetectable particles fill space the laws of their motions must be different from those of mass-bearing particles. The laws of p collisions can't obey Newton's laws, for ultimately solid matter particles cannot rebound, unlike billiard balls. When two p particles collide head-on along the same trajectory, they must come to rest relative to one another. There can be other spontaneous symmetrical p particle formations, at relative rest with respect ot each other. It is possible, that at such instants their prior momentum becomes detectable energy equivalent with Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2

 

BEYOND OUR DYNAMIC UNIVERSE MUST BE INCESSANT SO FAR UNDETECTED CHANGE     

    If primary matter particles indeed exist they must collide with each other in various formations. Simultaneous collisions of two, three, or more p particles have decreasing probabilities. Such collisions could result in balanced vector formations and temporary relative rest of such clusters, while non-symmetrical collisions could form altered trajectories along linear and circular paths. The probability of two or more p particles remaining in relative rest with respect to each other is estimated to be very small. Otherwise, we would see mass-bearing matter spontaneously forming in space occasionally, seemingly from nothingness. However, it is possible that cosmic rays are created by p formations under rare symmetries and extremely large energies. Primary matter particles combine, disintegrate, recombine with calculable probabilities in certain formations. A dynamic cosmos of continuously changing events is seen to be caused by these conjectured ceaselessly moving primary matter particles.         

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SCALE    

    Gravitational force can easily be explained through the foregoing presumption, if vast space is seen as a dynamic "field" of p particles. Two mass-bearing bodies are seen as being in the "shadow" of each other, thereby being pushed rather than attracted to one another. The gravitational force is due to a greater number of impacts of p particles in the outer than the inner regions - in the shadow - of two bodies. In the scale of the cosmos and macroscopic distances, p particles can be seen as a crowded homogeneous "field". If this view is correct, then gravitational force can be calculated as a differential pressure in the field of p particles. The equations of Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein can be seen as the propagation of waves due to p particle interactions - in different configurations and movements - in the field. Such differential equations are based on the notion of large scale continuum. In the relatively small space inside atoms, the notion of continuum does not seem to be applicable. In such confined spaces p particle interactions are probabilistic events. The equations of quantum mechanics apply instead of continuum. Random interactions observed in particle accelerators are also likely to be influenced by the random probability of p particle impacts. Spontaneous radioactive decay could also be due to ceaseless bombardment of primary massless p particles. 

 

THE MEANINGS OF SO FAR MEANINGLESS TERMS    

    The physical meaning of several terms can be clarified by a corpuscular theory of space beyond forces and energy. For instance, from a logical point of view, the speed of anything is related to the motion of a body. It does not seem logical to see the speed of light as the speed of nothing. The field of p particles can be the carrying substance of light waves and responsible for the speed of light or electro-magnetic waves in general. Primary matter particles could be moving much faster than light, and speed of light may be some average of the speed of specific interactions between p particles. The curvature of space-time, the bending of light rays passing by massive cosmological bodies can have meaningful physical explanations also in this manner. The apparent paradox of narrow split experiments in which atomic particles seem to appear simultaneously at two different locations may also find logical explanations through faster than light p particle interactions with ponderable matter.     

 

IDEAS COME FREE TO INDIVIDUALS; ONLY THEIR IMPLEMENTATION COSTS MONEY     

    Modern physics has a tremendous number of theories which do not readily make common sense, and have not been demonstrated experimentally either. Yet, such theories are not presented as science fiction or conjecture, but as if they were serious science. Critics have rightly pointed out the ultimate need to verify all theories and suppositions experimentally. Nevertheless, physics and science in general cannot progress without theories. Theoretical and experimental sciences are in symbiotic relationships: they must progress hand-in-hand. Novel theories are usually the products of individuals. They are free. Ideas don't have to be financed by the public. The educated scientific community can judge with a high degree of confidence which ideas are worth pursuing both mathematically as well as through experimentation.     

    I see the future of physics in the creation of new theories which will lead to the description of the fundamental forces of nature and energy in material terms, such as given in my conjecture. Should the future produce such a "grand" theory, it will be provable by both already known data as well as new experiments and observations. Colossal duplication of known particle accelerators - such as the now defunct SSC project - will not be necessary.