Why Physics is a Huge Failure
After hundreds of years of progress at figuring out how the universe works, we are left at a crossroads that seems to meet at an intersection of failure. Failure at an epic level.
I am not talking about the kind of failure like "I missed the bus" or "I could of had a V-8", no... the kind of failure of all the stuff we think we know about the universe is simply wrong.
MIND BLOWING 10 DIMENSIONAL SPACE
In one of my other articles, I wrote about the theory of everything, a way to logically look at the universe and have your mind blown by 10 dimensional space. In some ways, its an encompassing theory of higher and lower dimensional spaces, temporal spaces and informational probability spaces that make a lot of sense and offers an enticing view of the future of exploration for mankind.
PICTURE OF THE INTERNAL WORKINGS AT CERN
However, based on what the Large Hadron Collider (CERN) is telling us about how the universe is built, its completely wrong. In fact, what CERN is telling us, is our ideas of space time and Quantum mechanics cannot be right!
All this comes along with the fairly recent discovery of the Higgs Particle. In fact, if you're thinking about a particle as a fundamental building block of matter, its wrong. Electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and anything you think of as a point like particle is an incorrect assumption based on atomic theory that is still taught in elementary and high schools and its decades old. The whole of school life showing pictures of atoms like this (below) is wrong. Its a complete fallacy only to be an example of how humans can easily understand matter and energy based on old science and outdated theories.
In fact, what we have right now in physics is two dual theories that are both backed by a ton of science and mathematics that are completely unreconcilable to each other. The two theories are Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. I bet you have heard of both of them. Quantum Mechanics is very good at describing the universe at very small scales and General Relativity is very good at describing the universe we can see and live in at our scale and larger. You can almost divide the universe into the two theories at the size of about a Hydrogen atoms diameter. Too bad that each theory is great and well proven, but neither can work together. To try to reconcile this, is part of the reason the Large Hadron Collider was built.
To reconcile the two seemingly correct views of the universe, elaborate ideas have been floated and tested to figure out what reality is at its core. They have come up with many ideas over the last 70 years, but two have really stuck and are battling it out today. They are String Theory and the Standard Model.
The essential idea behind string theory is this: all of the different 'fundamental ' particles of the Standard Model are really just different manifestations of one basic object: a string. How can that be? Well, we would ordinarily picture an electron, for instance, as a point with no internal structure. A point cannot do anything but move. But, if string theory is correct, then under an extremely powerful 'microscope' we would realize that the electron is not really a point, but a tiny loop of string.
and the Standard model:
...describes both the fundamental building blocks out of which the whole universe is made, and the forces through which these blocks interact. There are twelve basic building blocks and four forces.
The behavior of all of these particles and forces is described with impeccable precision by the Standard Model, with one notable exception: gravity. For technical reasons, the gravitational force, the most familiar in our every day lives, has proven very difficult to describe microscopically. This has been one of the most important problems in theoretical physics. Many scientists are working to formulate a quantum theory of gravity and so far none have succeeded. Gravity SUCKS!
Alternatively, in the last few decades, string theory has emerged as the most promising candidate for a microscopic theory of gravity. And it is infinitely more ambitious than that: it attempts to provide a complete, unified, and consistent description of the fundamental structure of our universe. (For this reason it is sometimes, quite arrogantly, called a 'Theory of Everything').
The essential idea behind string theory is this: all of the different 'fundamental ' particles of the Standard Model are really just different manifestations of one basic object: a string. How can that be? Well, we would ordinarily picture an electron, for instance, as a point with no internal structure. A point cannot do anything but move. But, if string theory is correct, then under an extremely powerful 'microscope' we would realize that the electron is not really a point, but a tiny loop of string. A string can do something aside from moving – it can oscillate in different ways. If it oscillates a certain way, then from a distance, unable to tell it is really a string, we see an electron. But if it oscillates some other way, well, then we call it a photon, or a quark, or a ... you get the idea. So, if string theory is correct, the entire universe is made of vibrating dimensional strings.
The crazy thing about string theory is that there is a sound mathematical foundation to the theory and it does predict many things successfully, but its completely made up. Science has never discovered a "string" and said, look, there it is, a string as we predicted. Nope. Never happened.
So for this reason, using CERN (the Large Hadron Collider) to help proves string theory was one of its promising jobs, but over the last two years it has not helped to prove that string theory at all. In fact it has disproven it. You see, if string theory is correct they you would expect to find all kinds of particles at different levels of energy being created as matter is smashed into itself at CERN. You would expect to see many levels of particles at levels of MeVs and GeVs. But we just have not seen it at all. In fact the only thing CERN has proven to date is that the particles in the standard model are correct and we just don't find much else.
So, after a ton of money and planning, along comes the Higgs Particle as it was first conjectured to exist. There is a lot of confusion and difficulty understanding the Higgs and its really got to do with how we have been taught to understand mass and matter. Thinking of matter as a force, like magnetism or gravity is a very foreign idea, but it seems to be true.
Using the math in the Standard Model, the Higgs Particle was expected to come in around 125 GeV (Giga-electron volts. Using the math of String Theory, we expected the Higgs Boson to weigh about 160 GeV. Well, guess what, this Higgs weights 126 GeV. Very close to the standard model. And additional experiments over the last couple of years is further proving that the Higgs field is as it was predicted to be, the field that contributes mass to what we think of as particles.
Again, everything you think you know about matter is wrong. Matter does not really exist and mass is kind of tied to matter, as in, all matter has mass. What the Higgs is, is a force that proves that there is a quantum field that controls how mass and matter are manifested. But its really called the Higgs Boson. Bosons carry forces, and are not really there as a point like thing. So its really a Higgs field, like a magnetic field, a gravitational field or a football field. Ha! But kind of true if you think of a field as a space where things can exist.
In fact, what we have really learned is that space, matter and reality are really nothing more than fields, and what we think of as matter and solid objects or nothing more than nodes or axis points in the field lines where the forces come together to form a localized disturbance, like water ripples coming together.
In reality, any area of vacant space is a bunch of forces that interact at the quantum level to form possibilities. The amazing thing is that even though it seems like empty space should really be very easy to model and predict, by the time you add up all the forces: gravity, nuclear, Higgs, electro-magnetic and how they interact, it becomes a huge computational equation that seems to require super computers and many hours of computations just to model a few split seconds of nothingness. In fact we can express every point in the universe as an equation.
For those of you who have never seen the unified field equation here it is:
Fun? Simple? Well, its solid math but when you try to apply it to every point in a cubic foot, you can quickly see how this equation, that successfully predicts the outcome of every physics experiment, becomes pretty difficult to do in real time. In fact it takes several hours just to model the amount of space that the nucleus of an atom takes up with an extremely powerful computer.
Here is a working example of the equation in a quantum vacuum that is modeled on the a supercomputer and in an extremely small section of space:
Empty space is not really empty and particles might really just be probabilities of the crossing of field lines that causes us to think that there is something there, but in reality the only thing that really seems to exist are quantum fields of different sorts and intensity. Just like we can see the ripples in the pond, we can detect particles of matter bouncing on pools of field lines.
So, to sum up, String Theory in all its great promise seems to be complete bunk, the Standard model seems to be partially correct (except that gravity thing that no one seems to quite understand) and we really have no idea what to do with the truths of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity not working at all together. FAIL!
Just to be clear, I didn't even touch on Dark Matter and Dark Energy yet. Why? Well because we know there are more forces and our observations of the universe don't make us very comfortable that we got it right. So from careful study of the expansion of space and the movement of matter that we can see, we know we are missing about 85% of everything that is out there. Face it physicists, 85% of the universe is still a complete mystery to you and you just have to sit there and take it.
Or do you??
While its true that we know that we don't know an awful lot, to me, its cool that there is still so much to learn and understand. In the 85% of the unknown, there will be a million questions to learn more. Sometimes I think that God deliberately make the universe so hard to figure out that you can only discover it a bit at a time as you grow and learn as a species.
Observation on the standard model:
Because the Standard Model does predict certain "particles" and their behaviors, you can break the universe down into three sets of elementary building blocks of all matter plus the fundamental forces. (Gravity excluded for now)
These are the 12 particles of the Standard Model. While we see the electron, electron neutrino, up quark and down quark in our universe everywhere we look, we do not see the more exotic muon and tau strata of matter in normal interactions. These particles seem to operate at much higher frequencies! (Their mass is listed in electron volts)
To me, this seems to point to higher dimensions, much as String Theory presents, but with only two dimensions higher than ours. Perhaps gravity interacts with these higher dimensions and is why it seems so much weaker than the other forces?
We also know that gravity and time are intertwined from relativistic experiments, along with light being some sort of fundamental barrier for mass. Gravity and mass are also intertwined. We also know that light and the speed of light can be changed by gravity. These are tantalizing observations to me. We really have no good idea why light travels at the speed it does, nor why time and gravity are intertwined.
Is gravity a function of mass? Does mass and the Higgs field create gravity? Is the Higgs field really the gravity field? Do black holes punch a hole in the universe? If so, where does it go? Can dark energy be used for space travel? If light is a wave, what is the medium that its traveling on?
So many questions...so little time.