Fairy Tale Stories near the Big Bang

stringsYesterday’s claim that gravitational waves have been detected in the cosmic microwave background … I cannot help but posting a subchapter of Bankrupting Physics here (more  comments will follow soon):


If an electron hits its rare, exotic, mirror-image positron, both end their lives in a dramatic gamma-ray flash of pair annihilation. For that reason, particles such as the positron are called “antimatter.” Conversely, particle couples made of matter and antimatter can be generated out of a single photon just as well. Even the much heavier proton-antiproton pairs can be created if, of course, the photon’s energy is high enough to meet Einstein’s formula E = mc2. Antimatter puzzles physicists a lot. It hardly ever appearsin everyday life because it would promptly be annihilated by its counterpartin normal matter, but it is always present when new particles are created. The heavier the particles are the more effort is needed in big colliders to produce them, so it is sometimes speculated that these particles could have been formed cost-free shortly aft er the Big Bang, in the so-called primordial phase of tremendous heat. It’s a wonderful idea, but unfortunately it is also untestable. How could the information about high-energy particle creation and annihilation survive for 380,000 years in a sizzling hot soup?

Notwithstanding this, I have heard conference presentations in which people in all seriousness talk about their hope to detect such “signatures” of pair annihilation in the cosmic microwave background. This is already absurd because of the complexity of what happens to radiation aft er it is released at the end of the plasma era, but especially because we know literally nothing about what happened prior to that. How many physical processes could have superimposed themselves on the radiation and rendered any “signature” void by this point!

You can compare such a data analysis to that of satellite images of the ocean surface. We can ascertain the sea level to the centimeter, and infrared images can tell us the exact temperature. Thus, one can clearly identify the gulf stream of the North Atlantic, maybe even deduce the salinity and the algae percentage from a spectral analysis. And if you’re lucky, you read the wind speed from the ripples on the water. But fi nding primordial particles on the WMAP chart would be as if, by analyzing the movement of the ocean surface, you would identify deep sea fish and classify them zoologically. Th is doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t several research groups devoted to doing exactly this.

 Who does not lose one’s mind while reasoning about certain things, has nothing to lose – Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

3 thoughts on “Fairy Tale Stories near the Big Bang

  1. Just finished reading your book. You and Shiela have put together an excellent story based in fact that by the way is testable. Found it a captivting read, because I agree that Physics is a train that has lost it’s wheels, moral compass, and has abandon humanity where and when they are need more. The only disappointment I found is the same one where the auther(s) breifly mention Fractals and then disgrad them as “unscaleable” A petre dish full of microbes looks the same under a microscope as the Hubble “deep feild” images. Wonder if it occurred to anyone else that the vast scales of the cosmos are equivalent to the vast space between particals. It is also note worthy to mention the solutions that work at one scale will also work through the entire scale.

    At any rate congradulations with your book.

    • Thanks for your comments. Regarding fractals, we didn*t dismiss the possibility that they play a role in cosmic evolution.
      My friend Francesco Sylos-Labini has presented interesting arguments in favor.

  2. I love your book, Bankrupting Physics. On page 133 you make the following statement: “I dont want want to attach blame here, but one must soberly admit that there is no theory making predictions from first principles.” I believe Dewey Larson’s Reciprocal Theory does exactly that. I especially urge you to read his book: “Nothing But Motion” (or any of the other 5 books he wrote). It addresses the theme you stress in your book regarding the nature of gravity.

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