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Quantum Gravity’s Time Problem (quantamagazine.org)
114 points by CarolineW on Dec 3, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments

I have a question as a non physics/math person:

We assume that light speed is a constant, but we also know that speed is measured as distance/time. We know that in the presence of high gravity (or proximity to very high mass), or very high speed, we experience time dilation, and that perspective and location matters WRT actual time.

So, how do we assume that light speed is constant? Does the distance moved change relative to the proximity to mass, and the time unit vary in value as well? If not, do we just assume that the lack of proximity to mass in between galaxies doesn't change the behavior of light when we say that the proximity to black holes does?

> We assume that light speed is a constant, but we also know that speed is measured as distance/time.

Correct. However, the crucial part that is missing from your thought process is that: 1) light can only travel in a "straight" line, and 2) "straight" lines are defined by the spacetime metric.

As a lower-dimensional analogy, think of what a "straight" line means on the surface of a sphere[1]. The shortest path between two points is, by definition, a "straight" line, but if the space itself that the path is embedded in is curved, then when viewed from a higher dimension (i.e. on the surface of the sphere it's straight for you, but if you were in space) it would appear curved.

The analogy fails when you attempt to think about it in higher dimensions, since humans have a very difficult time perceiving anything greater than the standard 3+1 spatial & time dimensions. But the math still holds.

Light will always travel in a straight line, it just so happens that gravity redefines what "straight" actually means[2].

1. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GreatCircle.html 2. Explanation simplified for clarity.

Said another way - light follows the shortest path between two points. In flat spacetime, that is a line. In curved spacetime, it may be some other path - like a path traced by an ant walking on a sphere. These paths are called geodesics:


Gravity can stretch spacetime to make the distance light has to travel longer than in an unaltered "flat" universe. But can it also shrink, causing a photon to arrive at a destination in a shorter time? And I don't mean a wormhole, which requires tearing in a topological sense.

I'm also not a physicist, but as far as I understood special relativity and also according to this [1] Quora answer, the speed of light is same in every frame of reference, so the universe compensates variations in speed by dilating time. This is also consistent with Maxwell's equations [2].

[1] https://www.quora.com/Why-does-time-dilation-occur-And-why-d... [2] https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=2605

'Does the distance moved change relative to the proximity to mass'

Yes, length contraction happens alongside time dilation. If I travel towards you, the distance between us shrinks in my frame of reference.

It's constant within a given frame of reference.

No, the speed of light is the same in ALL inertial frames of reference. This is the crucial postulate from which all special relativity comes as a consequence.

Although I think your comment is clearer... I think he's saying "within any given frame of reference", which is the same.

As you say:

The speed of light measured within ALL inertial (non-accelerated eg by GRAVITY!) frames of reference.

SR is the model of fixed continuous space-time (and the "inertial frames of reference" are defined only in such model). Thus the SR is applicable to the reality only as much as the real space-time can be approximated by such a model. That approximation is pretty good usually, except at the very large scales (the non-fixed, expanding, nature of the real space-time starts to show more than negligible deviation from the SR model) and at the very low scales where the non-continuous nature of the real space-time starts to play a role.

>“anti-de Sitter” (AdS) space. In these warped worlds, spatial increments get shorter and shorter as you move out from the center.

and that sounds like the metric is p-adic there. While our typical Cartesian coordinates express the metric naturally produced by the real numbers, at large scale the world may have different metric. Our 46B ly radius visible Universe's Schwarzschild radius is about 10B ly, so if we go about 160B ly beyond the visible Universe border - we "can" do it as otherwise the Earth would be the "center of Creation" - we will have the 200B ly radius Universe which is inside its own Schwarzschild radius equal to those 200B ly - so our visible 46B ly radius Universe is basically inside that large black hole and at that scale the space seems to be AdS.

So, really it isn't a universal constant, then? I guess the makes sense.

Sub question - if photons are light particles, moving at the speed of light, then do they actually experience time dilation themselves? i.e. from the frame of reference of the photon, is the local time for the photon ticking away in one frame, while the outside world appears to move much much faster? Or, relative to us is time on the photon moving very slowly?

It is a universal constant. See above.

The photon travels at the speed of light c. If you look at the expression for the time dilation, you will see that it tends to infinity as v approaches c. Remember that this relates the time experienced between two frames moving relative to each other at a constant velocity v. However the fact is that the expression fails when v=c, since you have a division by zero. This reflects the fact that it is impossible to do a Lorentz boost that relates two frames moving relative to each other at c. This in turn means concept of time dilation in an object moving at the speed of light, such as a photon, is meaningless. There is no such thing as the time experienced from the point of view of the photon.

I realise I probably wasn't very clear, but it's difficult to lay it all out in a small paragraph.

That is actually a great explanation, thanks. So, photons don't experience time? Does that mean that they don't experience entropy, either? I.e. They don't lose any energy in transit, since to them "transit" is instantaneous.

Another question this raises for me is that if photons move in a timeless state between 2 points, what accounts for the period of their oscillation in the particle/wave duality? If they are tracing the fastest path through spacetime, yet to them, the time dimension is non existent, how do they have wave characteristics?

I'm on mobile and not a physicist but the key is the observer. Photons don't observe anything.

We observe them since we observe time and they do have energy changes that we observe (I believe this is how colors and red shift work).

The speed of light does not change for each given reference frame, i.e. it is constant. However, space and time are observed differently depending on a given reference frame.

With regards to your second question, photons experience no time whatsoever. From the photon's perspective, they travel the universe from the point of emission to the point of absorption instantly.

If you want to understand this, I highly suggest watching this video explaining reference frames: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRDOqiqBUQY

And this playlist of the excellent PBS Space Time series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YycAzdtUIko&list=PLsPUh22kYm...

Actually for a photon time is so dilated, it does not exists anymore. From its perspective everything "happens" at the same "time". There are quite a few answers for this :




This is exactly wrong. Light speed is constant in all frames

What is the speed of light in a photon's frame of reference?

Same as any other, however. A photon has a very distorted view of distance.

Play around with this: http://gamelab.mit.edu/games/a-slower-speed-of-light/

There is a little bit of geometry and group theory jargon here in my description of 'c' in General Relativity, but no equations:

The plane tangent to the surface of the ball in this diagram is a tangent space.


A metric on a space determines lengths (both spatial lengths and time durations).

The geometry of spacetime induces the Minkowski metric on tangent spaces.

At every point in a Minkowski space lengths are invariant under the Poincaré isometry group, which means that lengths stay the same under any or all of three spatial translations along orthogonal axes, three rotations about these axes, three Lorentz boosts, and one time translation.

There is one free parameter in the Poincaré group, which is "c", which physically corresponds to a particle with zero invariant mass. Photons are expected to have zero invariant mass, and experiment sets a very very very small upper bound on their mass.

Observers in the same tangent space as a photon will measure it as massless and moving at 'c'.

Minkowski space is flat spacetime, and in flat spacetime each tangent space covers the whole spacetime; they overlap completely.

As you add curvature^2 to the geometry of spacetime, the tangent spaces shrink and are oriented to each other at different angles.

Observers in one tangent space measuring a photon in another tangent space may not agree on its speed. In fact, in General Relativity, it is mostly forbidden to talk about the relative velocities of objects in other tangent spaces -- that's a dramatic departure from Special Relativity, but then SR is the theory of Minkowski space, where all tangent spaces cover the same region of spacetime, and so they are indistinguishable.

Spacetime curvature around us is pretty gentle, so within a small laboratory test apparatus everything is in the same tangent space or so close to it that differences aren't detectable. We have excellent and readily reproduced data on the speed of light in such setups.

The Poincaré isometry group is a subgroup of the group theory of the Standard Model. All the scatterings allowed under the Standard Model are in a region of spacetime where curvature doesn't matter, and we have many exabytes of evidence supporting the Standard Model in terrestrial experiments, in experimental systems elsewhere in the solar system, and in astronomical observations. Indeed, we can use the repeatability of the Standard Model and its built-in Poincaré invariance to measure spacetime curvature, and we do so with GNSS systems like GPS.

A violation of Poincaré invariance would produce different behaviours in microscopic systems, and so far they have not been detected. The Lorentz group is a subgroup of the Poincaré group, and there have been many tests specifically probing for violations of Lorentz invariance near us and in distant parts of the observable universe, and as of today none have been found after a century of trying.

So unless there is a low energy breakdown of the Standard Model, we can be pretty confident that the photon is a massless particle and moves at 'c' for all observers close to the photon.

> "The whole state of system-plus-clock doesn’t change in time"

How is this different from the classical view of the universe as deterministic? In a Newtonian universe, all future states can be determined from the current state, so the universe can be seen as a "frozen" 4-dimensional object.

The article's a bit scattered but its central theme seems to be the Problem of Time.

There's a wikipedia article on that, of course, and it's not so bad.


The structure of the the paragraph you quoted and the one following it is similar to the first two long paragraphs under the "Proposed solutions to the problem of time" section of the wikipedia article.

There is a bit more here:


and a technical overview in the first section of https://arxiv.org/abs/1009.2157

I wrote "seems", because I found it hard to focus on an article whose second paragraph is a grotesque of General Relativity and in subsequent paragraphs brings in a not especially clearly related set of links to the author's previous articles on the recent Verlinde paper on emergent gravity and the amplituhedron, among others. :-(

The frozen 4 dimensional object creates a projection of the other dimensions, including time and relative time. Time is hen a subsystem within the system.

Their analogy, aptly for HN, is that of computer code which is in one dimension interpreted amd executed linearly, being able to project something like a 3D game. Think something like minecraft's source code being interpreted and creating an infinite procedurally generated world that constantly evolves with an in game timer despite the source code still being static. Quantum mechanics, the mechanics governing the source code could still make it timeless and indeterministic, but output of the code (the projection), is still bound by the in game physics and timer much like time in general relativity.

But is their proposal that, like Minecraft, we can detect properties of the background execution through apparent non-determinism (or other mechanism)?

Cause Minecraft actually has two detectable, distinct notions of time: a game tick and update ordering of the underlying computation.

Minecraft can even be viewed as having quantum effects caused by a universal nonlocal variable, Bohmian mechanics styles, with the apparent non-determinism resulting from that non-local hidden variable interacting woth the update engine. (The hidden variable is the ordering of the updates in real time rather than MC time.)

I always thought we should teach physics with Minecraft, but the engine sucks too much for me to seriously recommend it.


Imgur album on detecting MC update ordering via redstone; pictures somehow got out of order.


Well, it's similar, except in this case the universe wouldn't have to be deterministic. As far as I can tell there's no law saying you can't have two clocks, where observers entangled with either observe a different sequence of events.

I think Leonard Susskind touched this point in one of the theoretical minimum lectures [1] but I really can not tell which one. While we can quite easily imagine adding and removing space dimensions, nobody ever figured out what it would mean to have more than one time dimension.

I think he also talked about time traveling in this context - you can go back and forth in space because there is more than one space dimension and so you can turn around and walk the other direction. Unless you instantaneously flip around that is nothing you can do with just one dimension like our one time dimension.

But those things aside, the order of spatially separated events is not in general well defined if you take general relativity into account. There is a causal ordering all observers agree on but that still allows some observers to see some events in one order or another.

I skimmed the papers linked in the article but they are quite a bit above what I can immediately grasp. But one thing I noticed was that they talked a lot about observable changes, so now I am wondering whether the entire system they are talking about is really static or whether we are just unable to observe the evolution of the entire system?

If it is really static like the block universe, then I have not the slightest idea of how two subsystems can experience time if you think of one as a clock and the other as an observer watching the clock. In case of the block universe I can totally understand how everything is deterministic and all times exist in parallel, but I never understood what mechanism picks out the slice that is my or your now.

[1] http://theoreticalminimum.com

Reading this made me think of the question of whether our universe is actually a simulation.

The universe as a simulation is one of those ideas that sound interesting at first but are actually pretty useless the longer you think about them. There is for example also solipsism, the idea that only you exist and the rest of the world is just in your mind, or Last Thursdayism, the idea that the world came into existence last Thursday with all our minds filled with fake memories of the time before last Thursday.

Those ideas put you - if you believe in them - in a spot where you can learn nothing about the world. There is nothing that allows you, even in principle, to figure out if there was a universe before last Thursday or if there is a world outside of your mind. There is not much more that would allow you to figure out whether the universe is a simulation or not.

Many people talking about that idea suggest to look for indicators of limited computing resources, rounding error or whatnot. But that is totally misguided in my opinion because it presupposes that you know what at least one of the two options, the universe or a simulation of it, looks like.

Who is to say that the laws of physics of the universe do not look like they are using floating numbers? Who is to say that a simulation of a universe may have to deal with limited resources? The outside world could be so foreign to us, time, space and laws of physics may not even be a thing there. Realistically the only way to distinguish between a real universe and simulation would be if the owner of the simulation told you in a pretty obvious way like with small serial numbers printed on all the electrons.

I kind of understand that people don't like the idea of not even seriously considering a substantial class of ideas that are not in conflict with what we see and that could therefore actually be correct. It also seems not very satisfying to throw some probabilities at them, last Thursday, unlikely, a simulation, totally reasonable thing to do, pretty likely. In the end, if it is not falsifiable, just ignore it and have one fewer things to worry about.

I don't think universe as a simulation is epistemologically equivalent to solipsism or this "Last Thursdayism" thing (love the name, by the way).

Solipsism is meaningless. What it means to say that there is nothing outside of your mind? Surely you can't predict or control what is going to happen to your experience, so how can you say that everything is "inside" your mind? what that even means? And if you are a solipsist and wanted to predict what is going to happen next, what you should be doing?

You should start to associate causation to patterns in your experience, and observe carefully that patterns. Those patterns behaviour are not decided by you, so, by definition, they are outside your mind.

"Last Thursdayism" have the same problem that all the religions: OK, maybe it's true, but.. why do you choose Thursday, why not Monday? why not one minute ago? It's totally arbitrary.

Simulation argument has serious experimental issues, but I would not discard it yet. Maybe we can think of something.

I would argue that solipsism and a universe simulation are actually very close. You observe x and it might be A or B but you have no ground truth on what A or B looks like or how to distinguish them.

In case of solipsism you experience a universe around you but there seems to be nothing you could use to decide whether you are experiencing an independent outside universe through your senses or whether your mind is just hallucinating this whole outside universe.

In case of the universe simulation you experience a universe around you but you have no a priori knowledge what a real universe and what a simulation of a universe is supposed to look like, you seem to be stuck in more or less the same place as with solipsism.

You should start to associate causation to patterns in your experience, and observe carefully that patterns. Those patterns behaviour are not decided by you, so, by definition, they are outside your mind.

I think mind is probably not the right word here because it has the connotation of control, brain might be the better choice because there are things going on you can not control (ignoring whether you actually have any control to begin with). It may have not been clear from my first comment, but I was especially referring to metaphysical solipsism, denying the existence of an independent outer reality.

Simulation argument has serious experimental issues, but I would not discard it yet. Maybe we can think of something.

Personally I just don't think about it for the moment. There is surely the possibility that we make progress one way or another, but every time I try thinking about it, it leads nowhere. Maybe one day we discover the fundamental laws of physics, logical self-consistent and the only self-consistent laws of physics possible. With mathematical proof. Do we now know that our universe is real, it is after all nothing less than the only way it could ever have been?

Or did the simulator just mess with us again? We could be using inconsistent logic all day long, writing wrong mathematical proofs and be teaching them to the next generation in our universities. But just before someone realizes the error, just after we observed the contradicting consequences of our wrong reasoning, the simulator erases the relevant memory and life goes on as if nothing happened.

Unless somebody wants you to find out, you will never find out. The potential enemy in this scenario is just so powerful, you can not win.

"I would argue that solipsism and a universe simulation are actually very close."

I agree with you that from the point of view of testability both are very similar, but, in my view, from the point of view of logic reasoning are almost the opposite.

Solipsism is just bad reasoning or, at most, a semantic trick: I define my mind as everything there is out there, so, obviously, everything is in my mind. But we have science, precisely, to try to understand what it is out there, and "out there" means outside of our minds.

On the other hand, you arrive to the simulation argument by deduction. That's what, testability apart, make it interesting. The reasoning is: if a simulation is possible, then, many are possible. If there are many simulations in the universe, what is more probable? to be in the universe or in a simulation?

I agree that we don't know what to do with that, but you have to recognize that it's a damn good trick of logic.

I define my mind as everything there is out there, so, obviously, everything is in my mind. But we have science, precisely, to try to understand what it is out there, and "out there" means outside of our minds.

But that is the very point of solipsism - because you are experiencing the outside world only through your senses in your mind, you are unable to decide whether the outside world even exists. The two options are 1) your body with your brain and your mind exists in the usual universe and you can learn about the universe through your senses and 2) the usual universe does not exist, only your brain or your body or something along that line actually exists and the entire universe you think exists outside of your body is just something your mind made up, your mind is simulating the universe for you.

So this is not about redefining mind to mean all the universe, it is about emptying the universe until only your body or your brain or whatever remains, dreaming or hallucinating or simulating the thing we just got rid of all day long so that you can not tell the difference.

Well, obviously, we only have access to our senses.

As I have not control through introspection to my sensorial experience, surely, there is something "out there" generating it. That something is what we (or, as we are talking about solipsism, I) are trying to understand.

What is the point of saying that, what is doing it, i's "my mind"? What have we learned doing that except to mud the issue at hand?

I am actually a bit confused, maybe it is just because English is not my first language and I am misunderstanding some nuances of what you are trying to say. So let my try it from another point of view.

I personally don't dream much or at least usually do not remember much or any of it, but in principle walking along a beach and dreaming about walking along a beach should feel pretty much the same until you realize you only dreamed the latter. So more or less identical experiences to you can have two very different origins, one is rooted in some external reality, the other one is just some kind of hallucination.

You can easily inspect the world of the real beach and at least in principle, maybe by lucid dreaming or something like that, you could also inspect the world of the dreamed up beach. If you never realized you were dreaming, both scenarios might be indistinguishable for you and form the reality you are living in, but nonetheless with very different underlying realities. Does that make sense? There is the reality you are experiencing (beach) and there is the reality that is causing your experience, which may (dreamed up beach) or may not (real beach) be the same thing.

"Experimental" is a key here which distinguishes the simulation hypothesis. There are two things we can do:

1. attempt to create a simulated universe 2. make predictions about our universe based on the hypotheis

I would not rule either of these out as futile.

To some extend we are already simulating the universe, from the smallest scales like lattice QCD simulations because we can not analytically solve the problems to the largest scales to test or hypothesizes about the history of the universe and everything in between. But how would this help to shed any light on the problem of a [non-]simulated universe?

And as mentioned before, making predictions seems even more problematic to me. Where would you even start predicting things? Nobody has ever seen a universe and a universe simulator next to each other and could therefore say we should watch out for this or that to tell the two apart. You probably don't even have good reasons to assume that a simulation would be anything like the outside universe, our universe could be the equivalent of a Tetris level running on a phone somewhere in the real universe.

> Solipsism is meaningless

Not in all contexts. A healthy dose of solipsism is a good thing - in the sense of it giving us some means of defense against what one could call "reality hypnosis", which is giving too much significance to the status quo, i.e. to what is happening (at present). Reality, too, can be "meaningless", and once that has been realized, it often turns out that changing it is not that difficult.

The difficulty I have with the "universe as a simulation" hypothesis is that it pre-supposes a fundamental difference between simulation and reality, which I strongly suspect is not the case. Everything we have observed about our physical reality indicates that it is 1) composed of mathematical structures and 2) it is computable.

Given these characteristics it is clear that the universe we experience could be executed by any system capable of computation [Universal Raspberry Pi if you will :)]. As such, it is highly likely (almost a certainty) that whatever more foundational reality exists outside of our experience it is very different than ours and is responsible for the computational effort that generates the universe we experience. Given that any physical system is capable of computation when properly organized one could easily imagine a higher dimensional structure that did not require an intelligent being to build it that just "happens" to compute this reality.

Would that be considered a "simulation"? Or is a simulation something that requires an intelligent being to build it? Obviously this turns into a bit of semantics.

The idea that the universe is a simulation is just a different way to express the religious impulse.

Actually its just the opposite - most folks who invoke 'the universe is a simulation' view this as a 'scientific' way of positing a creator of the universe that is not God. Rather it is a program being run on some fantastical computer.

Yes, but how does this bring us any closer to answering any of the unanswered questions in Cosmology? I assert that it doesn't.

It is man's fate to forever believe that the universe is a complex composite of his latest discovered technology.

That sounds like one of those fake papers generated by a Markov chain that sometimes gets accepted into reputable physics journals when a researcher wants to prove that modern physics has gone a bit... silly.

I just ran into an interesting theory for Gravity: Subquantum Kinetics

It's featured in Dr. Paul LaViolette's book The Secrets of Anti-gravity Propulsion, and there's a really interesting section that challenges the Standard Model in Quantum Mechanics called the Model G in Subquantum Kinetics.

The idea is that matter is born out of what's called the Ether, the origin to all energy. The positive and negative electrical energy sums a positive or negative charge with a "spin" -- which also yields positive or negative gravity.

This is a video that simulates matter being created out of the Ether:


Supposedly, it's been rejected by other researchers because it goes against Einstein's theory of Relativity and the Big Bang, -- however, there's been rumors the Model G is being used by underground, black-project sites like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing (e.g. Northrop Grumman's B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.)

Here's a lecture by Dr. Paul LaViolette featuring content from his book:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifEgGMFK-VU - (warning: audio isn't great)

That is crackpottery, pseudoscience and conspiracy theory at 11. Forget about it if you are interested in any serious conversation about physics.

I think you're proving Dr. Paul LaViolette's point why the theory is not getting attention: emotional, knee-jerk reactions like this.

Seems like I have to agree with everything you say in order to have a conversation about physics with you.

It has absolutely nothing to do with what I am saying, what that guy says is inconsistent with reality and probably with itself. Science is decided by experimental facts, not by opinions. But he just ignores all the things we have learned by using scientific methods in the past centuries and now know to be true.

When you search for »subquantum kinetics«, the first result on Google for me is »Subquantum Kinetics (a nontechnical summary)« [1] and this is from the first two paragraphs.

One of its distinctive features is that it begins at the subquantum level for its point of departure. By comparison, conventional physics and most alternative physics theories begin with mathematically quantified observations of physical phenomena at the quantum and macrophysical level and attempt to deduce physical theories based on those observations. Since the conventional approach must take into account numerous experimental observations, the end result is a fragmented and often contradictory set of theories which must later be sewn together with mathematical acrobatics. [...] Instead of beginning with physical observations, subquantum kinetics begins by postulating a set of well-ordered reaction processes that are proposed to take place at the subquantum level.

Let me translate that. Mainstream physics does experiments and tries to explain the results with theories using math. But the resulting math is not beautiful so I postulate some nicer math ignoring physical reality altogether. Admittedly he later mentions tuning his math until it matches reality but that doesn't provide any justification for his initial choices. Nothing what he proposes makes much sense, just have a look at this comparison chart [2] linked to from the summary.

I am not even a physicist, but I understand enough about it that I could probably rip apart most of the arguments he is trying to make, at least if they make enough sense to be actually attackable. And I would do it if I were confident that it would somehow help someone, but if you are in some way interested in physics and look at theories like subquantum kinetics without becoming skeptical, then chances are unfortunately pretty slim that tearing apart such a theory using accepted knowledge will change your mind.

[1] http://starburstfound.org/subquantum-kinetics-a-nontechnical...

[2] http://www.starburstfound.org/SQK/SQK-c.html

You're not really proving or disproving anything. You're just complaining he's using another mathematical model. So what?

The worst part is you have no basis for any of your arguments, yet somehow you feel authorized to completely dismiss the theory altogether because it somehow offends your perspective of the world.

Either post real scientific data / material, or look up cognitive dissonance.

I am not going to go through all the nonsense that this guy has made up over years or decades, that is not worth the time. But if you can point to one specific idea, prediction, refutal of mainstream physics or whatever you like within his work, written in a way that can be understood by an interested layman, not longer than say 25 pages or so, then I will try to explain you why he is wrong in that instance.

Think of it this way: the Universe is continuously expanding, -- so in a way, it's like we're still experiencing the Big Bang.

So... does that mean matter is still being produced? Yes, from the Ether.

Completely agree that it does sound crazy, but I think it makes more sense than our current way of modeling the Universe. The interesting part is that it invites the possibility of spiritual connections which feels amazing to finally scientifically acknowledge.

I could be wrong, but I invite you to consider the possibility that there is more to life than we realize. I sincerely wish you the best either decision you make.

So... does that mean matter is still being produced? Yes, from the Ether.

Where do you take this from? To the best of our knowledge the universe does not produce new matter. Space expands but that is new empty space, not space filled with some kind of matter.

It's from the Model G theory in Subquantum Kinetics, -- and it seems more believable than a finite amount of matter being made from a single blast of energy billions of years ago.

But physics is not about believing, it's about describing reality. And when we look at our universe, we are not seeing new matter being created. If the theory actually says that new matter is created while the the universe expands and the amount is not so small that it may have escaped detection, then the theory is wrong. And not because somebody believes or says something but because the theory does not match reality.

It theoretically happens very slowly, so it probably does escape detection.

The universe is old, at least according to mainstream physics, even small changes would accumulate over billions of years and cubic lightyears. And we are good at measuring things, we famously measured the g-factor to a part in a trillion, detecting gravitational waves required detecting length changes on the order 1/1000th the diameter of a proton, 0.000000000000000001 meters. A quick search reveals that we know the energy density of the universe to better than half a percent. So what are the numbers? How much new matter is generated per unit time and volume according to the theory?

I'm still researching this, but it's happening at a quantum level, so I expect it to be slow. But like you said, it will have an aggregate affect over time.

Also, it sounds like you're interested. Why not read the book or watch the video lecture?

I am not interested, I am absolutely sure that the theory is total nonsense. I just wanted to make you realize that, preferably by making you discover it yourself by hinting at problems, not by simply telling you that it is wrong.


As was pointed out, this comment is absolutely not up to the standards of civility that the guidelines ask for. They're actually independent of what you're replying to—we especially don't have permission to make bad threads worse.


Please be civil on HN. There's never a reason to insult and attack a user regardless of the discussion.

Eh, I don't think it's unfair: this person is openly attacking me for giving attention to a form of untested science -- declaring it "crockpottery".

I honestly feel proud of myself for how much I held back on this lazy person's pathetic logic: "doesn't line up with my beliefs? then it can't be true!"

I'll happily edit my statement that can defend the scientific need to dismiss information with complete prejudice, but I doubt any such logic exists. Why do I have such confidence? Because people that dismiss information without thinking are pathetic.

The theory is not being dismissed because it is offensive; it's being dismissed because it has all the signs of a crackpot theory and none of the signs of a legitimate one. It is trivial to tear it apart. But if someone tore it apart, using the trivial arguments, you would not believe them - you would say "oh, you're just rejecting him like everyone else", "you're part of the brainwashed mainstream".

There are thousands of arguments like this online. People who somehow got to PhDs from weird unheard of schools, went off the deep end, and publish their 'theories', which aren't developed enough to even argue against, but are written in half-intelligible, imprecise language, claim to be "ignored by the establishment", claim to solve this-and-that problem with a method that the establishment wrote off prematurely, etc, whatever. They're all the same.

This particular 'theory' (though that's not a fair word for it) scores easily over 100 on this list: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html, and so isn't even worth a person's time to look at.

A simple line of reasoning to support this:

If it was a legitimate theory, it would start with concrete statements about how it proposes the world works. Not vague, hand-waving stuff. It would start with math - lots of it. It would start with a precise explanation of how the experiments that prove an ether to be impossible missed the truth for 100 years. It would discuss examples where mainstream physics fails to predict the right result of experiment, and then show, with calculations an informed reader could follow, how it makes better ones.

The guy is telling you he's right, and you're believing him, or at least taking him seriously -- like a sucker. He's telling you "no one else is believing me, but it's because I'm being ignored unjustly", but you've skipped the more likely explanation: "no one else is believing me because what I'm saying makes no sense".

But I, who knows enough physics to parse this stuff am waiting for him to show me he's right, and he's not doing that at all. Nor is he showing anyone else, which is why he's being ignored.

It's not all your fault, though. It's way easier to spot these crackpot theories when you've a) studied legitimate ones and b) seen so many other crackpot theories that say all the same stuff.

You can't use a hypothetical to disprove a theory. Your entire comment is completely baseless: "These people don't follow my school of thought, so they must be wrong!"

No offense, but using your ego to make an argument is pathetic. I'm aware the theory sounds crazy; I'm not an idiot. But I'm also not going to let my hubris dictate what I can or can't research. That's just stupid.

No, you don't understand. I'm not trying to disprove a theory. I'm saying that the person who's writing what we're reading hasn't said anything even meaningful enough to dispute. The words they write don't have logical content as a theory. You can sort of squeeze them into statements that sound possible at a hand-waving level, but there's no scientific content. They're "not even wrong" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong).

I'm not rejecting the guy cause of hubris or because I'm obsessed with the orthodoxy or something. I'm rejecting him cause his words are meaningless garbage, according to my ability to critically analyze what he's writing. Of course it's possible that I'm too dumb to understand them, but, statistically speaking, when I can understand most of the good physics out there, I come to trust my intuition on this stuff and write off people who can't communicate an idea at even a basic level without become super vague and defending themselves by saying "no one's taking them seriously" and "everyone else missed this" instead of an actual argument.

I guess it boils down to this:

If you can't tell this guy is crazy, how would you tell that anyone is crazy? Is there anything that can be written down that you wouldn't take seriously? Maybe something like "what if the world is made of tiny lemons, in various configurations?" Well, I draw the line way higher than that, and considerably higher than where this guy is, and I can see that he's below the line with five seconds of reading, and it's no surprise at all when 5 more minutes of reading, or 30, or whatever, completely corroborates my initial instinct.

Edit: actually, it boils down to this: Your ability, cm127, to critically analyze theories and determine if they're scientifically meaningful is deficient. You don't have to believe me, of course, cause this is the internet, but I implore you to consider the possibility.

Edit 2: also, you're wrong that "you can't use a hypothetical to disprove a theory" - well, almost wrong. You can use a hypothetical to argue against a theory. It's not that it's disproving. It's that the hypothetical shows you "here are some things that would probably be true if this theory was legitimate", and because those things are not true, it raises the probability (via Bayes rule) that the theory is incorrect. You are supposed to consider this, think "ah, well, that makes the theory more likely to be incorrect". That's the point of the argument.

Also, it's really disingenuous to write off a whole post as baseless without responding to the points, each of which (I would argue) is a valid criticism.

Here's another form of crazy: trying to force Relativity into a unified field for over a hundred years and getting nowhere. Yeah, you'll "probably" get it one day...

What did Einstein use to say? "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

BTW, if you can't argue logically, -- which is essentially all I'm getting from your comments: you can't talk about "science" outside of your echo chamber; it's "beneath" you, -- who cares what you think?

Either drop the emotional act and think like a scientist, or quit wasting both our time.

Edit: the joke is all your arguments are just as rhetorical.

Edit2: you're also making an ironic comment that the theory needs more research while arguing that it shouldn't.

Here's another form of crazy: trying to force Relativity into a unified field for over a hundred years and getting nowhere. Yeah, you'll "probably" get it one day...

I mean that statement is pure rhetorics, but anyway, you are surly aware that it took 358 years to prove Fermat's Last Theorem, a mathematical theorem where everyone was aware of the axioms and no experiments had to be done?

Either drop the emotional act and think like a scientist, or quit wasting both our time.

You are really not understanding what ajkjk is trying to say. I absolutely agree with him and don't think it can be stated much clearer than he did. But maybe you can realize it yourself. I found »Subquantum Kinetics: A Systems Approach to Physics and Cosmology« at Google Books [1], skimmed it a bit and now have a simple question. Which model describes our universe, Model G or Model G-2? And which experiment produced which outcome to make that decision for one and against the other model?

Maybe trying to answer this very simple question, which of the proposed equations describe our universe, will make you realize that this theory has no answers at all.

[1] https://books.google.de/books?id=8HQJAvA1EqkC

Jesus Christ, I'm not your professor. Do your own research.

You have the skills to read about this stuff. Why do you need me?

I'm not trying to convince you to believe in anything. I just wanted to have a conversation about how anti-gravity can or can't be possible, but you're just refusing the conversation altogether. That's just so lazy...

You are either trolling or unwilling or unable to follow simple arguments, choose whatever seems appropriate.

Seriously? Bringing up a researched subject is trolling because I don't know all the answers you're postulating as if I've studied this extensively for years..?

Is this how "scientists" treat new theories? Unless they're bundled into a nice package the theory is completely untouchable?

Please don't tell me that's true because that would mean "science" is a joke. It literally means the community can't think for themselves: they need a leader to prove their understanding.

Pathetic. Call me a troll all you want, but I will never be that pathetic.

Seriously? Bringing up a researched subject is trolling because I don't know all the answers you're postulating as if I've studied this extensively for years..?

I didn't call you a troll, I just considered the possibility because that would explain pretty well the way the discussion happened, but I may return to this later. And yes, I expect you to have answers. You are defending this theory, you say that this theory should be taken serious and you dismiss all the objections brought up, you better have reasons and answers to support this.

But let's back up, I will give you the benefit of doubt and assume you are not trolling and that you really can not see why this theory is nonsense. I will take the position of the author of the theory and I will try to put you in my position by making up the following scenario.

Imagine we meet for the first time and talk a bit about the internet. At some point I say that I want to explain to you how the internet works. You know, there are those trucks with wings. They are loaded with high-pitched blue bananas every time you press a key on your keyboard. Then that guy in China walks into the store for hexagonal green steel fish and...

You may never have studied computer science but you are now certainly questioning my sanity. You may yourself not exactly know how the internet works, but you are damn sure that it does not work the way I am trying to tell you. Even my sentences don't really make sense, high-pitched describes sounds and I am using it to describe a color. And blue bananas? Maybe genetic engineering, not totally impossible but as far as you know that is not a thing.

But I insist, yes, that is the way the internet works, at least consider the possibility. You may give it some more thought, maybe if we are living in a really messed up version of the matrix and the machines enjoy trolling humans, maybe in such a world the internet could work with trucks with wings. You would suggest to drive around SD cards or hard disks on those trucks, but maybe blue bananas are just fine in that world.

A fraction of a second later you are back with your thoughts in the real world, may explanation of the internet is obviously complete utter bullshit. You are not sure what makes me say what I said about the workings of internet. Am I trying to troll you? Am I insane? Am I just really dumb? Anyway, you tell me no, that is not how the internet works.

You don't provide any explanation because what I just said is so obviously wrong to everyone with the slightest knowledge about the internet, there is no point in providing an explanation. I complain, you can not just dismiss my theory of the workings of the internet without any justification.

You don't even know where to start, how do you argue against things like high-pitched blue that don't make sense to begin with? After some thought you ask me about the guy in China. What is his name? And what do I mean with China, obviously the borders of China changed throughout history? At least these are some bits of the theory one can sensibly talk about and maybe you can build from there and demonstrate to me that my theory is not self-consistent or consistent with reality.

My answer? What the heck, do your own research, why do I have to explain everything to you in detail? But about China, maybe it was a guy from Japan, I am not yet sure about that. You still don't know how I came up with this bullshit and why I am telling it to you, but you are certainly not going to stick around any longer wasting your time in a pointless discussion that leads nowhere.

That certainly is a bit exaggerated at times but really not that much. If this doesn't help you to understand why I responded in the way I did, then I don't know what will, and I kind of doubt anything will at all. And because I have to consider the possibility that you are trolling me, sitting behind your screen and having a good laugh about how you just wasted another hour of the time of some random guy on the internet, I will not continue this discussion much if any longer. I actually don't even know how to respond not knowing whether you are trolling or whether you are serious and I don't know which one would be worse.

Let's take a step even further back: why am I defending this theory?

I only brought up what I was reading: a new theory that challenges quantum mechanics. Why did I bring this up? To add to the discussion. The responses I got weren't rational objections: they were pathetic insults that added no scientific value.

Then you got huffy about specific variables from my rough summary, and further upset when I couldn't offer more information.

Again, I don't care about your laziness and institutionally-taught bias: that's your problem. I'm just going to point it out when you brush off theories without research because you're not doing anyone any favors. It's lazy and slightly fraudulent: you're dismissing evidence without reviewing evidence.

Look, I'll be happy to agree that this theory can use more attention to prove or disprove, but I haven't heard any rational explanation as to why it shouldn't get any attention at all.

Let's take a step even further back: why am I defending this theory?

You: Have a look at this theory.

Me: That is not a theory, the author is not even using a proven methods to develop it.

ajkjk: It's not right or wrong, the text is just random gibberish, it doesn't mean anything.

You: You guys are just ignorant and lazy and don't understand things.

So you say it is a theory worth looking at, we say the text is just random gibberish without meaning. How do we decide that? I know that some online journals are using text analysis tools to tell serious articles and crackpottery apart, but I have no such tools available and I am not sure you would accept that, wouldn't you suggest that those tools are biased toward mainstream thinking and writing?

The usual way would of course be to just tell you to read that stuff and see yourself that it is gibberish, but I have to assume you already read it and that you are unable or unwilling to see that it is indeed gibberish. So I have to assume that you at least believe that you are understanding the text at least to some extend and that it makes at least some sense. How would I try to show the opposite?

I could ask you to write a short summary of the theory or of some part of it in the hope that this would force you to realize that you are unable to actually express the content of the theory, that would probably work. But looking back at the discussion I would expect you to just refuse that because it is not your responsibility, the burden should be on us to prove to you that this is not a good theory.

And here I guess we are stuck. I don't know how to prove to you that the text is random gibberish in a way that you would accept it, you are refusing to cooperate because you think the burden should be on our side. So I think we are done here, we have to agree to disagree, unless you can suggest a good method to tell real theories and random gibberish apart or unless you are willing to cooperate and want to try to write a summary or extract a concrete falsifiable idea or prediction from the text so that we can work from there.

No, I did not say that it needs more research. I said that it's meaningless drivel. And I said that I am capable of discerning that, and that it is easy to discern. You seem not to be able to discern that, and that's unfortunate. All I can do is show you how to do it, which I have attempted.

The reason real physicists ignore this guy is because they do 'think like scientists', and they can tell -- easily -- that this stuff is, as I have said, meaningless drivel. The reasons they can easily tell this are the reasons I listed above.

What specifically makes the theory drivel? Exactly, what is scientifically not matching?

Take your time because I'm pretty sure you don't have the mental capacity to think for yourself. You depend on a government or an academy to think for you because you're so cognitively incompetent.

Let's take a step back and count the number of comments you're arguing without scientific explanation. You might as well be preaching about a religious deity because you're conjuring more faith than logic.

It's drivel because the individual sentences of the 'theory' are just .. meaningless. Here's an absolutely trivial exercise to demonstrate it: let's find a paper he wrote and see if it makes any sense. (Turns out these are hard to find, because most of his work is apparently creating websites about how great he is.)

Take a random paper I found: http://vixra.org/pdf/0910.0006v1.pdf

"It conceives subatomic particles to be Turing wave patterns that self-organize within a subquantum medium that functions as an open reaction-diffusion system."

This is meaningless. But maybe if I read on I'll find out that it's just extremely poorly written?

"Under the right conditions, the concentrations of the variable reactants of these reaction systems spontaneously self-organize into stationary reactiondiffusion wave patterns called Turing patterns, so named in recognition of Alan Turing who in 1952 was the first to point out their importance for biological morphogenesis. "

Also meaningless.

"In a three-dimensional volume we would expect that a supercritical Brusselator reaction-diffusion system would give rise to a periodic structure having a Gaussian central core surrounded by a pattern of concentric spherical shells of declining amplitude"


"Etherons in this reaction system play a morphogenetic role similar to Turing's morphogens."



This paper says nothing meaningful. It's not precise enough to be parsed into predictions about the universe. He'll tell you that it predicts stuff, but the words and equations don't. They don't say anything that can be unambiguously mapped to predictions, equations, or statements of any sort. I could throw all these words - etherons, Brusselators, Turing waves, etc into a random text generator, and the result would be as meaningful as his actual writing.

That or, it has content but it's so obfuscated under meaningless jargon with no meaningful explanations, no simple sentences, no ability to explain a single point lucidly, that it effectively says nothing.

Either way, there is no reason to take it seriously if it can't formulate meaningful and communicative English sentences.

Also, it's extremely weird to accuse me of depending on a government to think for me when I've generated like a dozen carefully argued rational thoughts here, including all sorts of scientific explanation. You're just.. ignoring them, and attacking me. You have to stop that.

Complaining about linguistic specifications is not arguing rational thoughts; it's arguing laziness.

Seriously, concede that you don't understand the theory and therefore can't make certain judgements (because you arguably can't think for yourself), or STFU. Why is this is so complicated?

Do you have a unified field theory? No? Then by definition you literally don't understand how the universe works. Ironically, you should use that fact to accept why you might be wrong about Subquantum Kinetics.

Nah. I am confident in my ability to identify a coherent theory if I see one, and I am sure that that ability would hold up under scrutiny (say, if a physicist prepared a test of some coherent and incoherent theories and tested me to see if I could tell them apart). So I'm concluding this theory is incoherent according to my fairly well-informed ability to analyze theories.

It's not that "I don't understand it". It's just that it's meaningless. If it's meaningless as English language, it's definitely meaningless as physics. And there is nothing "lazy" about that argument.

Also, clearly I am thinking for myself since I am writing all my thoughts out for you. So that's a pretty pointless attack.

There is absolutely no requirement for a person to have a UFT in order to be able to criticize other people's writing. This is obvious.

Look: I'll just state what is bothering me about your comments: you're trying to assert your opinion as scientific fact / proof without a scientific explanation; you're trying to force me to blindly believe whatever you say.

It bothers me when people can't explain their views; it tells me they're more comfortable to listening than talking, and that they should only listen to select sources because they're too lazy (or possibly scared) to form a dissenting opinion on their own.

You could absolutely be right that Dr. LaViolette is completely wrong, -- but we're not going to know for sure unless we challenge our selves by challenging different theories. Deciding the outcome without any inquiry is practically psychotic: you're denying reality under the delusion that your pride knows everything.

The lecture is interesting because there is a history in electrogravitics from the early 20th century that suddenly became classified in the 1950s. The decade's obsession in flying saucers and UFOs actually derived from real prototypes these aerospace companies were making.

The implication that these companies have possibly suppressed research in this field is daunting, but seeing the universe as a continuous expansion from a higher energy that everything derives from is also transcending.

Again, the theory could be completely wrong, -- but if it somehow is miraculously correct it'd be a shame to not see it all because of some silly pride.

LOL! If you'd ask me if I would be having conversations about anti-gravity a month ago, I'd probably laugh, too. Ugh! It feels hilariously ironic because I've laughed at these people, too. It's almost like we're conditioned to think this way.

Anyways, cheers! Good luck; God bless!

I'm not rejecting his theory because of pride or blindness. I'm rejecting it because I evaluated it with my brain and determined it to be bad. I'm saying that it is possible to 'know for sure' in some cases, insofar as my brain is working correctly. This is 2+2=5 stuff. I'm as sure he is wrong from reading his writing as I am sure that 2+2=4, because it's dead simple reading comprehension to be able to tell, if you have a bit of physics background.

I'm telling you that it seems like you don't have the background to evaluate theories correctly, and so you should take note that this is a bad theory and if you think it sounds reasonable, you need to figure out why and correct that in your intuition.

The level of expertise required to realize this guy is a moron is around first year undergraduate physics. That's all. I'm totally serious.

Yes, I'm speaking with unearned authority, having no credentials to share or anything like that. All I can tell you is that I think I know my stuff and I am absolutely confident in my judgment here.

There are theories that I would take seriously in the world. This is not one of them.

This is an example of a recent paper that proposes a theory that is not part of mainstream acceptance, but is not obviously wrong and deserves consideration: https://arxiv.org/abs/1611.02269 .

Note how different it looks. How it has math, arguments, and rigor. How it knows the current state of research in the field. How it isn't posted on a series of fringe websites that seem to all be owned by the same few people. How it doesn't have to tell you there's a conspiracy to suppress it, because its merits stand on their own.

Also, you have to stop accusing me of 'not explaining my views' and 'thinking what academics or governments tell me to". I've written you several thousand words of my views, so those attacks are clearly baseless.

How do you know you're not being taught 2+2=5. No one is close to figuring out a unifying field theory based on "The Standard Model" and Relativity, so in many ways it doesn't really make sense to obsess over these old models. Fermat's Last Theorem didn't take hundreds of years to postulate -- only to prove.

So... properties of the models you obsess over are kinda baseless: it hides the fact that the theories are still incomplete.

Seriously, what's the point in obsessing over incomplete theorems? Just to get the same grant money to write the same dribble over and over, so all new theories look the same: "promising" yet still missing the ultimate goal: a unifying field theorem.

The formulas are presented and coherently explained in both the lecture and the book. Yes, I have a BSEE, and yes I've always had issues with our current model, -- especially with dielectric materials; it's literally filled with holes.

So, yeah... quit the pretentious talk. I use to believe everything you're selling: institutions know everything; agree with authority and get your degree or grant money. Subquantum Kinetics might not be the answer, but it has an interesting approach that finally unifies fields.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube of people creating their own T.T. Brown experiments. The Model G is just a theory just like the Standard Model only it is literally more unified. Already it's a better theorem because both aren't quite proven -- they're still just theories; (again, properties of each theories are proven, but that doesn't ultimately prove the model is 100% correct or not), -- but the difference between the two models is Model G has a unified field theorem.

Again, I wish you luck; God bless!

Okay, what about this? In »The Pioneer maser signal anomaly: Possible confirmation of spontaneous photon blueshifting« [1] Paul LaViolette claims the observed anomaly in the Pioneer signals »[...] [is] a necessary consequence of the subquantum kinetics physics methodology.« and »[...] the observed effect was predicted over a decade before the announced discovery of the Pioneer anomaly [...]«. By now we know that the Pioneer anomaly [2] is due to anisotropic radiation pressure, see the Wikipedia article for references. This of course means that the effect predicted by subquantum kinetics does not exist which in turn strongly implies that subquantum kinetics is wrong.

[1] https://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0603/0603191.pdf

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly

I don't care as much for the Big Bang, but for it to go against relativity seems a bit hard to swallow.

Yeah, no kidding... because that would also challenge the "Laws" of Thermodynamics, too: Free Energy from the Ether.

*I have to put that in quotes because it's not actually a law, right? You shouldn't go to jail for breaking it.

Yeah, this is insane and totally wrong.

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