Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Back to reality: review of book by lead physicist

Many of you know that theoretical physics is still mainly dominated by the school of thought pioneered by Heisenberg, who argued that the concept of objective reality is no longer tenable; we should not even try to understand how reality works, he argued, since our mind is all that is real to us, and all we need to be concerned with is making probabilistic predictions of experiments. That makes life a bit tricky for folks who want to be in touch with reality and to stick with the most established version of mainstream physics, both at the same time. Does anyone even remember the phrase “existence exists?”

A new book on this issue – available free on the web – has appeared, written by Gerard ‘tHooft, one of the key developers of the most mainstream theory of physics, the Standard Model of Physics, which is an example of two quantum field theories (QFT) glued together. Weinberg, Salam and ‘tHooft created EWT, the half which replaces Maxwell’s Laws and which has been tested over more experiments than any other physics theory in history. Just as Dyson developed the math needed to make Feynmann’s earlier work precise enough to be useful, ‘tHooft developed the math needed to convert the ideas of Weiner and Salam into something well-defined enough to meet the standards of physicists.

To download his book, just go to http:arxiv.org and search on his name (looking for cellular automaton interpretation in recent years). But I hope some of my comments will be understandable to people who do not understand everything in his book:
First I thank the person who alerted us to the new book by 'tHooft explaining why he believes that objective reality (without the action at a distance assumed in many world's theories and in recent versions of Bohmianism) is still a tenable possibility in physics. 'tHooft is a brilliant and creative man, rightly recognized as one of the world leaders in the field.

I agree with 'tHooft that local realism is still possible and worth aiming at, despite the huge mass of misinformation out there in mainstream physics about this subject. 'tHooft supports local realism in the new book, just as he did many years ago. At that time, I was excited to find someone else in an excellent position to fight the popular misconceptions, but when I contacted him,  it turned out that he had additional conservative biases such that he may be REDUCING our chances of a "return to reality." The new book does not change that basic fact.

The bias which is a problem here is NOT his opposition to paranormal and spiritual ideas of all kinds. New breakthrough papers in physics do not require that the authors agree on everything else in the world!

The problem is his refusal to really face up to the problems posed by the "Bell's Theorem" experiments. He has a whole chapter on that issue in his book, but it seems to say "Well, I could be right, and this theorem/experiments could be right, so we need to check it further. Maybe my new mathematical theory could be local and realistic, so maybe the theorem somehow doesn't work."

To be honest, that is just sad. The theorem is a theorem, and there is no evidence that his new theory is local/realistic. To escape the consequences of a real mathematical theorem, it is essential to pay focused attention on the REQUIRED CONDITIONS of the theorem which 'tHooft has resisted doing, because of his emotional attachments/distractions which get in the way of seeking a local realistic model.

My 2009 paper in IJTP (open access, easily located via scholar.google.com) goes into detail on the three conditions in the CHSH theorem, and on what is LOGICALLY NECESSARY in order to construct a local realistic theory of physics consistent with the Bell's Theorem experiments. One simply MUST change the PARTICULAR MATHEMATICAL FORMULATION OF "CAUSALITY" assumed in the CHSH theorem.

In the new book, 'tHooft rightly points to constraints on human experimenters as a kind of cause of the Bell's theorem paradox. But he does not work out the IMPLICATIONS of those constraints. The most important implication is that a deterministic underlying theory results in more time-symmetric statistics than what CHSH causality assumes. Thus is what logically makes local realism possible.  But 'tHooft has a kind of phobia about time symmetry which gets in the way of what he wants to do.

In fact, while 'tHooft talks in hypothetical terms about the possibility of a local realistic models able to replicate the success of orthodox quantum mechanics in predicting the Bell's Theorem experiments, I have already constructed such local realistic models in concrete terms, in a series papers posted at arxiv.org, and in my 2015 paper with Dolmatova reviewing those results and going further.

It is ever so frustrating to hear people debate in abstract terms whether such a local realistic models is possible, when in fact it already exists. And no, it's not just a bunch of words; it is math, and testable math at that.

However, there is a very important caveat here. Nature is not always trivial to understand,  when we need to use multiple levels of approximation.

'tHooft rightly notes that canonical QED (KQED) gets a lot of popularity, rightfully, from its relative simplicity. When we assume first simplicity that electric transfer and protons and other simple charged particles all have a radius of zero, that simplifies the task of calculation and prediction. After studying this in much greater depth than 'tHooft has, I do conclude, regretfully, that a local realistic model which maintains that approximation and which fits the main database of QED Experiments is not possible. My 2015 paper with Dolmatova  (QIP, also posted at www.werbos.com/ triphoton.pdf) gives a basic description of MQED, which is not local/realistic any more than KQED is. However, MQED,  unlike KQED, is consistent with the key idea which Einstein, 'tHooft and I all emphasize: the idea that a relatively accurate quantum field theory  (like MQED) can be derived as the emergent statistical outcome of something like deterministic PDE operating at a more fundamental level. We can never show that, until we actually have that kind of quantum theory!

Another barnacle limiting 'tHooft's progress in establishing local realism is his insistence that "no predictions must change. The Born law must not be touched." That would be like refusing to touch the ether assumption and doing the Michelson-Morely Experiment!

I actually have made a lot of progress lately on the type of underlying deterministic model which could fill the gap, concretely. But if the political nonsense is too intense even to allow the trivial new to step of testing alternatives to Born (as in our QIP paper and in a simple new possibility I have discussed), should I even say More? Should I try to teach calculus to people who go psychotic when simple arithmetic comes up? (And when technological applications of "calculus" are riskier than those of "arithmetic ".) And no, I am not thinking of ‘tHooft as I say this.

I wrote that in the Rome airport, in the hours waiting my flight home yesterday, on my Samsung tablet, using my wife’s Google FI phone as a mobile hotspot.
There are of course many technical points which should and could be spelled out in more detail, if a proper venue appears. Will it ever? I don’t know. For example, ‘tHooft seems to understand clearly at times that statistical mixtures of possible true states of the underlying real world  (what HE calls beables) are expressed as density matrices, not wave functions. For bosons at least, there is good reason to believe that these are NOT orthogonal! That math I have worked out, and Scully was excited.. until I also started to present the additional new work demonstrating local realistic models, which totally terrifies the Heisenberg set.

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