Of Particular Significance

Why the Higgs and Gravity are Unrelated

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 10/15/2012

One of the questions I get most often from my readers is this:

  • Since gravity pulls on things proportional to their mass, and since the Higgs field is responsible for giving everything its mass, there obviously must be a deep connection between the Higgs and gravity… right?

It’s a very reasonable guess, but — it turns out to be completely wrong. The problem is that this statement combines a 17th century notion of gravity, long ago revised, with an overly simplified version of a late-20th century notion of where masses of various particles comes from.  I’ve finally produced the Higgs FAQ version 2.0, intended for non-experts with little background in the subject, and as part of that, I’ve answered this question.  But since the question is so common, I thought I’d also put the answer in a post of its own.

As preface, let me bring out my professorial training and correct the question above with a red pen:

  • Since gravity pulls on things proportional to their mass to a combination of their energy and momentum, and since the Higgs field is responsible of giving everything not everything, just the known elementary particles excepting the Higgs particle itself its mass, there obviously must be a deep connection between the Higgs and gravity… right? wrong.

Now let me explain these corrections one by one.

When you first learn about gravity in school, you learn Newton’s law: that the force of gravity between two objects, one of mass M1 and one of mass M2, has a strength proportional to the product M1 M2.

But that was true before Einstein. It turns out that Newton’s law needs to be revised: the Einsteinian statement of the law is (roughly) that for two objects that are slow-moving (i.e. their speed relative to one another is much less than c, the speed of light) and have energy E1 and E2, the gravitational force between them has a strength proportional to the product E1 E2.

How are these two statements, the Newtonian and the Einsteinian, consistent? They are consistent because Einstein and his followers established that for any ordinary object, the relation between its energy E, momentum p and mass M [sometimes called “rest mass”, but just called `mass’ by particle physicists] is

  • E2 = (p c)2 + (M c2)2

For a slow-moving object, p ≈ Mv (where v is the object’s velocity) and pc ≈ Mvc is much smaller than Mc2. And therefore

  • E2 ≈ (M c2)2    (i.e., E ≈ M c2 for slow objects)

Since planets, moons, and artificial satellites all move with velocities well below 0.1% of c relative to each other and to the sun, the gravitational forces between them are proportional to

  • E1 E2 ≈ M1 M2 c4

And since c is a constant, for such objects Einstein’s law of gravity and Newton’s law of gravity are completely consistent; the force law is proportional to the product of the energies and to the product of the masses, because the two are proportional to one another.

But for objects that have high speeds relative to one another, or for objects subject to extremely strong gravitational pulls (which will quickly develop high speeds if they don’t have them already), the Einsteinian law of gravity involves a complicated combination of momentum and energy, in which mass does not explicitly appear. This is why Einstein’s version of gravity even pulls on things like light, which is made from photons that have no mass at all. (And it is why gravitational waves — waves in space and time, massless just like light — can be formed by objects that are orbiting one another.) Simply put, the Einsteinian view of gravity (now reasonably well confirmed by experiment) differs significantly from the Newtonian view, and in particular, it is not mass but energy and momentum which are primary. And all objects, not matter what they are made from or how they are moving from your point of view, have energy — so everything in the universe exerts a gravitational effect on everything else. We say “gravity is a universal force” (here the term is not referring not to the universe but to the notion of universality — of complete generality.)

What about the Higgs field being the source for all mass in the universe? This statement, though you will often find it in the press or in glib articles written for the public, is false.

What is the true statement? Well, here is a list of the elementary particles that we know about so far. The massless ones are

  • photons, gluons, gravitons (the latter presumed to exist)

while the ones with mass are

  • W and Z particles
  • quarks: top, bottom, charm, strange, up, down
  • charged leptons: electrons, muons, taus
  • neutrinos: three types (at least two and probably all three with small masses)
  • the recently discovered new particle with a mass of 125 GeV/c2 (which I will assume for now is a Higgs particle of some type)

Now it is true that the W and Z particles, the quarks, the charged leptons and the neutrinos must get their mass from a Higgs field. It’s not possible for them to have masses any other way. But this is not true of the Higgs particle itself.

The mass of the Higgs particle does not entirely come from the Higgs field!

Where does its mass come from? Oh, that’s a long story that ends in a question rather than an answer. I will try to explain it someday. For now, suffice it to say that the mass of the Higgs particle does not have a single, simple, understood source, and the curious feature is that its mass is so small — this is one aspect of the enormous puzzle called the hierarchy problem.

But in any case, the Higgs field is not the universal giver of mass to elementary particles. The Higgs particle itself gets its mass, at least in part, from elsewhere. And it probably isn’t alone. It is very possible that dark matter is made from particles, and these too probably get at least part of their mass from another source. Dark matter is believed by most physicists and astronomers to be the majority of the matter in the universe; it is believed to provide the majority of the mass of the Milky Way Galaxy that we inhabit. The Higgs field likely provides little of that mass.

Other things get their masses from sources other than the Higgs particle. The majority of the mass of an atom is its nucleus, not its lightweight electrons on the outside. And nuclei are made from protons and neutrons — bags of imprisoned or “confined” quarks, antiquarks and gluons. These quarks, antiquarks and gluons go roaring around inside their little prison at very high speeds, and the masses of the proton and neutron are as much due to those energies, and to the energy that is needed to trap the quarks etc. inside the bag, as it is due to the masses of the quarks and antiquarks contained within the bag. So the proton’s and neutron’s masses do not come predominantly from the Higgs field. [Experts: There is a subtlety here, having to do with how the Higgs field affects the confinement scale; but even when it is accounted for, the statement remains essentially true.] So the mass of the earth, or the mass of the sun, would change, but not enormously, if there were no Higgs field… assuming they could hold together at all, which would not be true of the earth.

And black holes, which are some of the most massive objects in the universe, holding court at the centers of most galaxies, can in principle be made entirely from massless things. You can make a black hole entirely out of photons, in principle. In practise most black holes are made from ordinary matter, but ordinary matter’s mass is mostly from atomic nuclei, and as we just noted, that doesn’t come entirely from the Higgs field.

No matter how you view it, the Higgs field is not the universal giver of mass to things in the universe: not to ordinary atomic matter, not to dark matter, not to black holes. To most known fundamental particles, yes — and it is crucial in ensuring that atoms exist at all. But there would be just as much interesting gravitational physics going on in the universe if there were no Higgs field. There just wouldn’t be any atoms, or any people to study them.

Finally, you can ask more technically whether, in the equations that physicists study, there is any mathematical connection between gravity and the Higgs field. The answer is no. Gravitational fields have spin 2 and are described as part of space and time; they interact with all particles and fields in nature. The Higgs field, which has spin 0, only interacts directly with elementary particles and fields that also participate in the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces.

So — the guess that the Higgs has something to do with gravity is natural for a non-expert, but I am afraid it is naive; it comes from misunderstanding both

  1. the Higgs field, which is not universal: it gives masses to most of the known elementary particles but not to the Higgs particle itself, and not to protons and neutrons, dark matter (most likely), or black holes,
  2. and Einstein’s gravity, which is universal and has to do with energy and momentum but not mass directly, and most certainly does pull on protons and neutrons, dark matter and black holes even though their masses don’t come entirely from the Higgs field.

It’s really true: despite appearances at first glance, the relation between gravity and the Higgs is just skin deep.

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656 Responses

  1. “Gravitational fields have spin 2 and are described as part of space and time; they interact with all particles and fields in nature. The Higgs field, which has spin 0, only interacts directly with elementary particles and fields that also participate in the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces.”

    Preample: If there is unification, one fundamental “force”, then there must be a link between gravity and the Higgs (and all the other mass giving fields).

    So, what concept can be created to put both (all) in the same equation? … Can the Fourier transform be used to explain this relationship?

    Here is one idea; Looking at the overall picture of the universe, the “cosmic web” you see the structure as an array of filaments of various lengths and shapes and energies but a web all connected together (by gravity?). And this system of galaxies and everything else moving and interact like any other system we have analyzed with the use of the Fourier transform. And like any system there is a fundamental frequency and many (almost infinite) harmonics (at lower energies).

    So, can the gravitational field be the fundamental and the Higgs (and others) are the “lower” harmonics of the same “universal field”. And it is these lower harmonics, Higgs, which are giving mass (low velocities energies packets)?

  2. Mass is an illusion just as the appearance of solidity. The Higgs field imparts a “drag” on the particle giving the appearance of what we know as mass. Gravity is still not a “given” as a force, No one has generated a gravity wave yet in a laboratory yet.

    1. There is much more to inertial mass than drag, much more to QFT than topology, and much more to learn about the dimension known as time in the vacuum.

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  7. Hey guys, get a load of this:


    A new (quantum) law of gravity is being put through its paces at the Perimeter institute. This one is worth a look-see, seems to do everything that General Relativity does and much more. Looks like we might not need theories of Dark Matter and / or Dark Energy after all.

    Go back and check out the Penrose rings in the Cosmic Background Radiation again. Penrose is Stephen Hawking’s mentor, the way Minkowski was Einstein’s calculus teacher. It really pays to learn from a master, evidently.

    1. Thanks for the alert – yes sounds interesting. Personally as an amateur I am more attracted to the realization of a Universal constant time( space ), Which I think was Newton’s notion.

    2. Science fiction Warning:

      Supernovae do not seem to be as rare as once thought thanks to the advance in cosmological telescopic arrays & robotic searches. So the thinking is if any intelligent life forms were in the vicinity of a sun which was about to go caput would it not be in their interest to make themselves known in the hope to escape their inevitable fate?

      Supposing our sun was 200 years away from such an event how would we spend those last years? Take no action or pursue outrageous attempts to ensure that our species should exist in some way? And it they were substantially more tech advanced than us would they not send such a sun down through a worm hole to move it away? If such a thing could be possible. Or modify the supposed Higss field around it to switch the tired sun off? Supposing that such an intelligence had 1+ million years of technological insight vs our tiny 5000 years they should have solved the problems which we spend all our time on? Then if they could master the Higgs Field they would be using many locations in space today to further develop and expand their species to provide them with habitable choices ensuring the longevity of the species and not dependant upon their local solitary sun. In essence they would be planetary nomadic empire builders, curving space at will checking out potential places to pitch their tents. No evidence of that is apparent so I guess E’Rosen worm holes and Higgs Field physical fantasies, and we are the only intelligent species in a place called Universe! Which is most unlikely. Surely their work would be evident in some way i.e curving large areas of the universe or some other major manipulation of Space. We have not sighted any such occurances so presumably not possible or we have not looked for it?

      Or, they have mastered the Higgs Field and now enjoy a massless existence?

    3. At 9.44 his plate states that a photon or electron may be moved around by an underlying undetected wave. This caught my attention as it sort of smacks with my repetitive intuition that the fabric of space is constantly emerging and as I have stated in my 2012 essay, where it is necessary to constantly produce New Space for anything to move and not just an infinitesimal. Space used to be thought of as a static void. Now we are coming to terms with the fact that is constantly enlarging ( expanding ) and not constructed from nothing.

      His laser light polarization seems compelling but I do not fully understand the outcome and final statement on how it brings new light on the historic 2 slit experiment.

    1. Gravitons are not emitted by the earth, any more than electrically charged objects emit photons. To get an electrically charged object to emit a photon, you have to wiggle it back and forth. Same for gravitons.

      Constant gravitational or electrical fields are sometimes said to be due to “virtual gravitons” or “virtual photons”, but these are not gravitons or photons. http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/ In fact, the energy of the gravitational field of the earth is *negative*.

      Zero-point energy is a completely different issue… it is an issue that is present even in empty space, and depends fundamentally on the fact that all fields are really quantum fields.

    2. How can you say Gravitons exist where as far as I understand not in the text books, but only exist in the minds of people who theorsize about such entities. It still may be the result of a completely different force, field or just a medium of information as yet undetected.

  8. I missed you guys too.

    Another really good reason that gravity theories like Le Sage’s or Nordstrom’s have nothing whatsoever to do with the recent Higgs discovery has to do with this:


    Mathematically, a scalar field (even an exotic one like Higgs) cannot possibly produce stable planetary orbits. Only inverse square law fields can do this on large scales. Knowing about the Higgs mechanism and Higgs field, it basically gets astrophysics nowhere to look for better answers than to rely on General Relativity.

    Sorry to have bothered anyone.

    Still, it would be nice if there were a bridge between the two domains of some sort, or at least a solid number that wasn’t ± 120 orders of magnitude for the vacuum energy.

    Keep up the great work, and hopefully we will see some more results to knock our socks back off after the LHC upgrade in 2015.

  9. The graviton does have zero spin since it is a scalar particle and a scalar field does not have a sense of direction or any spin. All particles above 100 Gev appear to be massless which is why sometimes they say the graviton has no mass so they are both right. It has mass but it is also energy.

    1. This is completely wrong. The graviton (like the gravitational waves in Einstein’s theory) are spin two. A theory with a spin-zero graviton would be Nordstrom’s theory of gravity, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordstr%C3%B6m's_theory_of_gravitation, which is ruled out by data in favor of Einstein’s.

      “All particles above 100 GeV appear to be massless” — that’s wrong no matter how you interpret it. A top quark has a mass of 175 GeV/c^2; it isn’t massless, nor does it appear to be massless when it has kinetic energy above 100 GeV, nor can it ever have total energy smaller than 175 GeV. So I don’t know what you’re talking about, and my conclusion (on behalf of my readers) is that you don’t either.

      1. Hi Matt,

        I am happy that you finally stop all these non-sense postings on this long thread, from people who mis-understand physics and want to expose their own non-scientfic theories, misleading other peoples.

  10. James, speed does effect the mass because acceleration is felt independently of mass. According to the equivalence principle acceleration and inertial mass equal gravity so inertial force, acceleration equal gravity in a free fall. The kinetic energy (energy of motion) of the relativistic protons in the LCH have seven thousand times the rest mass of a proton at rest. E = MC squared Energy equals matter and mass which is expressed by many extra virtual quarks and gluons in the proton close to light speed in the LCH. The extra mass allows for higher more massive particles to be discovered; the virtual quarks and gluons collide with each other.

    1. You’re playing into a misconception about how the term “mass” is used in particle physics. Let me suggest you read http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/mass-energy-matter-etc/more-on-mass/the-two-definitions-of-mass-and-why-i-use-only-one/

      With the definition of mass you are using, all photons have a mass. With the definition that particle physicists use, all photons are massless. If you don’t keep careful track of which definition you’re using, you’ll get completely confused. [It’s really awful that history left us with this mess! Einstein used both definitions at different points in his career.]

      In particle physics, the equation E = mc^2 is taken to ONLY be true for particles at rest, not to be true always. The equivalence principle is more subtly defined than as merely the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass.

      On this website I ALWAYS use the above definition, where mass = what some call “rest mass” [and not the one you are using, where mass = what some call “relativistic mass” and I call “Energy, divided by a constant”].

  11. Only 100 km from the LHC? Lucky guy! I’d have to drive over 350 miles to get to Fermilab.

    I think we are about the same age.

    I have read some of your website ‘gravity explained’.

    Thanks profusely for your work in thin films and flat panel display technology, Edward. The number of folks who know the first thing about birefringence, even among quite technical people, is so small, it really should embarrass them! If it suddenly all went away tomorrow, I wonder how long it would take them to regain such capability, since they seem to understand nothing about it. Like my two year old granddaughter putting small fingerprints all over my flat screen monitor for no good reason, they seem to have no idea how long it took to develop the technology that makes their fancy iPhones possible. Anyone can buy fancy stuff; making it from scratch takes more functional grey matter than 99.99% of them will ever have, or even meet in their short lives.

    It’s nice to see that someone else here appreciates that gravitational, inertial masses must be related, or else both Newton and GR carry about as much weight as anyone else’s cracked pot ideas about the subject, including my own. It is their predictions (mostly accurate ones) that set their theories apart from the untested ones. Thanks to Newton, we know the Earth will not spiral into the sun any time soon. Thanks to Einstein, we can have GPS.

    I don’t expect that knowing about the Higgs mechanism or Higgs field will lead to any breakthroughs in ‘inertial dampeners’ or star drive technology any time soon either, but who knows?

    My own ideas about gravity have changed throughout my life, but until seeing the Higgs Lagrangian, I never dreamed that someone would come so close to explaining the whole enchilada. I’m assuming you wrote your book before the Higgs discovery. Am I right?

    I think Einstein may have had the last word after all when he quipped that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. Compound interest indeed. I’m now trying to work out the math so that floating circular sea vessels can actually orbit each other in an appropriately energetic virtual waves. At the quantum scale it obviously works, so why not?

    1. Thanks for noting Gravity Explained – I am not impressed by it and it does nothing but embarrasses me for all kinds of reasons – I was surprised you found it as I cannot !. I became obsessed March 2012 after purchasing an antique clock which had a small bronze statue of Newton supporting it ! Then the idea came to me that perhaps gravity is nothing more than an exchange of information typ ‘0’s and ‘1’s. Which includes the paradoxical clock which speeds up when moving away from a larger gravitational field. It having its own gravity but we only think of the surface which it is moving away from.

      Yes the TFT work was an exciting period which lead to so many other research topics I was quite overwhelmed. My partner and I developed a laser metal organic CVD pyrolosis process which enabled the writing of transparent electrical conductors – an opposite approach to acid lithography. My current interest is of course Graphene films alike 1000’s of other people. When we can overcome the technical difficulties of producing this stuff in sheet form I think will cause the next evolution of man as it will open up so many technical applications. Including god forbid a TV you can roll up like a poster off the wall or foldable telephone etc. In medical applications could well be the most staggering as substrate for growing human cells. Then one thinks of the possibility of retinal cells and where that could take us!

      Matt got me onto the idea that radial momentum can cause gravity – which then got me thinking about the dynamics of a black hole and thinking it could simply be a gravity multiplier and void of any solid material in the conventional sense. The lead in to that is the functionality of the Magnetron and Klystron devices for generation of microwave fields. Yes I wrote the essay before the so called Higgs particle was detected – but in it I am technically cynical. When I published it I discovered Prof Erik Verlinke – whereas I used the word Production of space his word was far superior word and referred to it as Emergence of space which is far more appropriate. He published his first paper at the end of 2011. It encouraged me somewhat as I had found another person who could imagine Space as something which is constantly being Produced/Emerging. And in my thinking with the value C hence this is what limits its upper value as you cannot move into a space which does not yet exist. Also a medium in which information may be transmitted from one body to another irrespective to scale.

      I am following as best I can the Higgs work it is not a subject I fully understand as it is extremely detailed. And the interactions of all those infinitesimal particles for me is almost impossible to comprehend. You caught my interest with your “ Compound Interest” quotation I should like to know more what his meaning was. Also your work sounds very interesting relating to circular sea vessels and link with the quantum arena.

      1. You have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about with respect to the gravity explained essay. Scott Adams (Dilbert fame) has submitted a similar idea in one of his books I read. Since no one has a better explanation of what the mysterious Dark Energy might be, production or emergence of space is as valid an idea as any other at this point. Now all we need is someone like Stephan Hawking to make a prediction about what virtual particles near such a process would do, and we’re in business.

        As for the 1’s and 0’s idea: nothing wrong with that either. In fact, Hawking has recently lost TWO bets. The latest was of course betting against the Higgs discovery, which cost him $100. The other bet he lost was an argument over whether black holes completely obliterate all data (1’s and 0’s) that was contained within it when it collapsed. Because in cosmological time black holes eventually evaporate, a small amount of information could theoretically be recovered, most likely in the case of an energy black hole with only a small amount of matter remaining inside of it.

        Fascinating stuff being done with grapheme (and Scotch tape!!) these days. Nobel Prize winning stuff, too. Thin films are not going away any time soon. The graphene movie the researchers eventually produced certainly knocked my socks off. Actual carbon atoms in a graphene lattice are exotic and eerie looking; like it was something no human was supposed to ever see. Yet there they were; several layers, tetravalent bonds and all.

        As for the circular ships on a sea of virtual particles, the idea that the sea is calmer between particles that have mass so as to draw them weakly together, and calmer still between collections of particles with a lot of mass is an idea that for me just refuses to go away. The Casimir effect might be bogus, but there is something going on with part of the explanation that has merit. There isn’t anything like the Higgs mechanism going on with anything immersed in air or water, of course, but a mathematical model should be possible.

        So, Edward, you see, there is really nothing for you to be embarrassed about. Einstein himself revised General Relativity so many times during the eight years it took for him to develop it, his colleagues were beginning to doubt he would ever settle on its final form.

        If you want to read something that is really embarrassing, try Chris Langan’s Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe, or John Doan’s two decade rant about Special Relativity’s Twin Paradox. Chris Langan has a measured IQ over 200, but the education of your basic imbecile. Plenty of cognitive ability, totally gone to waste there. You’re gravity ideas are genius compared to either of those guys.

        1. Once again thanks Daniel I get the impression you are a quality educator a rare form these days. Your supportive comments are very well received but a danger to me: 1. Resurrection of obsession on these subjects, 2. No one has interest in my rantings 3. Such congnition requires a solid math foundation in order for it to be taken with any kind of seriousness – here I fail completely. Having said that I do have a referee for the Xrchiv publication site but until I can present paper/s in the correct form it will not be considered by them for publication. Erick Verlinde succeeded with his as his was correctly presented and is a working Prof at Princeton.

          Being ex RN I noticed the similar phenomena in which your mind is focused. When two ships are on the same track with a short distance between them the sea state was a lot calmer and the navigation problem was overcoming the subsequent suction between them. However, I am sure that on the quantum level such phenomena is a mystery to be solved. AE & SIN have solved the predictive affects of G but what actually causes it and what is responsible for it’s transit is the big apple remaining. I understand that it is still believed to be a fundamental particle of some form or other. However once I thought that space was constantly emerging it may well not be necessary to have such a particle as the carrier is the emergence of space itself is causing its transmission. I realize this is vaguely a 19C outlook but if MM work had not come to a standstill maybe they could have invented a more appropriate experiment? Hence my delight with the NASA planned work. We can see a tree grow and measure it but how could we know if a tree is growing if it is invisible to everything? Other than the Horizon problem, Clock affects, Time dilation, Legnth shortening, Value of C, Dilution of matter in the universe, Gravity, Entangled particles – etc. ( Synchronicity of sun spots ?) Maybe these jointly are the clues.

          Regarding SH black hole thermal entropy how will we ever know that such a theory is correct? And if it is correct why can we not see the slightest glimmer of the lost heat which it is supposed to be losing? If you have the will to indulge me further I would like to present you with a diagram on same subject or it can be viewed via you tube, but alas having created it I can never go back and find it. The title is ‘Black Hole as a gravity Engine’. You having a generous spirit with a lot of specialist knowledge I would like you to take a first glance for amusement purposes only and receive your opinion. Also to receive advice from you how such a proposal could be written up into math form. Not included in my further essay ‘Gravity Explained’.

          I will research your book refs – thanks.

          1. That’s the ticket, Edward.

            Very few people understand that OCD (obsessive-compulsive ‘disorder’) is anything but debilitating for certain occupations. Engineering and science for sure, because for an engineer the risk of not being obsessive about your designs means you forget to consider important details, and the risk for a scientist is that if he or she may overlook small anomalous effects in the everyday drudgery of data collection that are often key to discovering new and important science.

            Even OCD can be focused to good effect. SIN and AE are both cases in point.

            Lee Smolin, whose science writings are misunderstood by a great many on this website and elsewhere) has written extensively on ideas about black hole physics and string theory.

            At least one beautiful thing which Smolin did not write about regarding string theory is the ‘amplitudihedron’. It does for quantum probability calculations what the slide rule did for engineering mathematics. Gone are Feynman’s tortured line integrals (literally) tracking around the all of the moons of Jupiter just to find out the probability that a photon in Young’s double slit experiment is displayed (or not) on a screen. And good riddance to that. Feynman diagrams are great, but that variety of math just sucked.

            The other thing Smolin writes extensively about, a sort of Origin of Species for the evolution of universes with black holes, gets a bad rap mainly because it is rejected out of hand by other astrophysicists and ‘Intelligent Design’ proponents alike. That’s too bad, because even though most hard core scientists (such as myself) are loathe to admit it, the aspiration of our finite minds to grasp just a glimpse of what an infinite mind might know is probably the most important motivation for doing science at all, as piecemeal and ‘trial and error’ prone as the process needs to be for us. Faith should never be thought of as an obstacle to doing good science, unless yours demands a dogmatic approach to the written word, which is one form of idolatry. Gregor Mendel was both a friar and the first true geneticist. Newton’s posthumously discovered writings about the Christian faith being misdirected into polytheism by a simple mistranslation of the Greek (‘holy trinity’) shows that he thought as deeply about his adopted faith as he did about physics, optics, or the form of calculus he invented. My point is, one should never estimate the value of science or a scientist based on his or her motivation for doing it.

            Smolin’s writings about black holes, in particular, have merit. An energy black hole is every bit as possible as a black hole created when a massive star collapses into one. This means all of the mass-energy of the black hole could (eventually) be concentrated at the event horizon. This means it might also be hollow, or contain a residual amount of matter (whole stars, galaxies, or whatever). A mostly energy black hole as viewed from the inside would have an awfully strong pull on matter approaching its event horizon from the inside, but like matter falling into black holes from the outside, the relativistic effects would make falling into the even horizon take quite literally forever. In other words, it would appear to be a perfectly normal infinite universe with increasing acceleration of anything and everything approaching its event horizon from the inside. An event horizon is quite capable of accreting everything and anything that falls into it. Even if the interior were made of a solid mass of neutronium to begin with, eventually the mass of the interior would thin out. I’m not saying (and neither does Smolin) that this is the case in our universe, mind you, but the moment of the Big Bang could just as easily be interpreted as something that happened interior to a black hole, just after it collapsed. Smolin seems to think that the nature of black holes we can observe in our universe is a clue to the creation of a whole hierarchy of such encapsulated universes.

  12. Sunspot activity is mostly random, and likely just correlated with concentrations of different heavier elements present in the corona at any given moment. I was not aware there might be anything like superluminal velocities (or even quantum entanglement?) associated with sunspots.

    There is a marvelously detailed supercomputer model of the inner workings of the sun (the core workings at least), which, like the search for the Higgs, has some interesting history.

    The search for the missing neutrinos is another drama in physics with which I am intimately familiar, and other accounts of it are readily available on the internet. Ray Davis’ detector, based on counting the number of argon atoms produced from solar neutrinos bombarding the chlorine atoms surrounding moelcules of perchlorethane, was only able to count about 1/3 of the expected neutrino flux. This was alarming to the physics community, because either the computer model was wrong, or our sun was a lot older than we thought.

    The SNO Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Ontario, still the deepest such underground detector, resolved the issue some thirty years later using a large tank of heavy water and photomultiplier type detectors. These could count the number of neutrinos (as well as their general direction) by capturing images of the Cherenkov radiation photons they produced when they collided. The mystery was solved, and our computer model of the core of the sun vindicated. And so we finally know the age of our sun to a very high degree of accuracy, and it is about middle-aged.

    Both Jack Ulmann and I are expecting big things to be discovered with AMANDA (Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array) and Ice Cube in the next few years. Much better physics is happening there than anywhere else until 2015 at least.

    1. Sunspot activity is cyclical with well documented frequency. My suggestion is has this data ever been compared with our neighbouring suns such as Cephei,HD 12545 and Draconis etc? If the frequencies are synchronous or near synchronous would cause some scientific interest.

      1. Nikola Tesla wrote about recorded increased sunspot activity being correlated with wars on this planet. Carl Sagan commented on the futility of such activity on so small a speck of real estate.

        If they were correlated, it might just mean they were synchronized in an area of the galaxy subject to similar magnetic fields.

        1. Indeed but do we actually know if they are synchronous with or without martial conflict? A typical sun has a diameter of 1M miles and makes for a significant experimental detection face.

          1. That would be tough (determining synchronicity or coincidence of sunspots on different stars). Depending on which part of the cycle (and magnetic pole polarity), you might have better luck correlating hemispheric numbers of sunspots to start. With our own sun, the whole cycle is 22 years, give or take. With other stars, it depends on masses, composition (which is also a measure of age).

            The surface area of a sphere is: A = 4\pi r^2. A = area of sphere, r = radius of sphere, pi =, well, you know.

            You’d be amazed at how many esoteric bits of statistical data like this astronomers and astrophysicists have amassed over the last few decades. I once wondered, for example, whether there might be a ‘net’ spin to observable spiral galaxies, and whether their angular momenta favored any particular direction in space? Turns out, that study / survey has already been done, and the answer seems to be that it is statistically random and evenly distributed in every direction to a high degree of certainty. The angular momentum of the expansion of the universe at large does not seem to have a preferred direction or orientation, within the parameters of the survey.

            I kind of suspect what you are suggesting would already have been done, if we could actually view the sunspots in nearby stars. Fact is, we can’t, and it’s difficult enough even to determine whether or not there are large planets orbiting them. Kepler was doing that while looking for extrasolar Earth candidates, before its supply of liquid helium ran out. The result was that as many as 20% of the nearby systems it had time to survey have either Earths or super-Earths in the requisite Goldilocks zone to support carbon based life / liquid water at or near its surface. You may have recently read about this.

            How am I doing so far? I noticed, many folks who were previously answering your many questions were running out of steam over here.

            Glad to help out with answering your questions Edward, but if Matt objects to us getting side tracked too far from particle physics (and sunspots is stretching this a little) we may need to take this discussion to some venue other than his blog. I’m assuming he will object or moderate if he sees anything untoward in the discussions also.

            I’m here to learn what I can about the Higgs discovery before going back to answer more questions at a local magnet middle school in the near future. Are you a science educator or related interest?

            1. Thanks – yes I suppose i am rather repetitive and surprised Matt has not already deleted my history on this site. When I was researching sun spots I did turn up some data relating to other suns. A few examples showed vast sun spot activity which encompassed a high percentage of the sun area. I found various graphs showing quite clearly the frequencies etc but nothing relating the activity of one sun to another ( The correlation as you rightly describe). Putting aside the obvious possible causes if a link could be found would raise a lot of interest – why! Thank you for indulging me I appreciate your scientific curiosity has a different centre. We can detect the force of gravity but cannot identify the entity which causes its transmission – if indeed it is an entity in the first place. So if there is communication between objects – suns in this case could provide another insight? Kind regards

            2. My interest is centred around Nature which involves satisfaction at all levels of science. I am not an educator with a prime career in electronic engineering with specialization optoelectronics namely TFT’s and Thin films & material sciences study for low and room temp superconducting films etc. My claim to non fame being involved with the evolution of flat panel display tech which caused the redundancy of CRT tech in the late 80’s. Now living 100kms from the LHC – not that that has any bearing on anything whatsoever. Kind regards

  13. I once replied to a review of a book about the gravity wave experiments performed in the 1970’s at the University of Maryland College Park, where I received my batchelor’s in physics.

    Joe Weber was a Navy engineer turned physicist who set up an array of gravity wave detectors in College Park based on multi-ton solid aluminum cylinders suspended from an ‘acoustically isolated’ ceiling with piano wire. Each gravity wave sensor was surrounded by rings of piezoelectric detectors, which at the time were believed (by Weber) to be the fastest and most sensitive pressure detection instruments available.

    Right idea; wrong detectors. Joe Weber was not well respected in the physics community, and there were many false alarms about gravity waves which were likely the result of Earthquake activity (because the building’s foundation was acoustically coupled to its ceiling, right?), or perhaps trucks rolling up and down nearby US route 1.

    Jack Ulmann, assistant to Ray Davis who won the Nobel prize for his perchloroethane neutrino detector, told me that other ideas of Weber, such as using a single silicon crystal inside an NMR machine to detect neutrinos, was not an original idea, and never worked, just like his gravity wave experiments.

    To date, the most sensitive functional gravity wave detectors in existence are the Earth’s tides, and even they are difficult to analyze for that function, due mostly to weather and geography.

    The problem with using an interferometer in the way that NASA intends relies too heavily on gravity waves affecting an awful lot of empty space between the source and the mirrors (like the empty space between their ears, more like it!). There isn’t very much mass there for them to interact with, is there? Think hard about it. Planets are better gravity wave detectors, and you don’t have to build those. NASA would be better off correlating Marsquakes with Earthquakes or something along those lines. As I said, Joe Webers idea was better (not worth funding, mind you, but “better”) in most ways than an interferometer based experiment. What he lacked as an engineer, at least Joe usually made up for in imagination. A better man than Thomas Edison (or the folks ripping off physics for things like LIGO), he most assuredly was. His only failing in engineering was predicting the expected strength of the effect he was trying to measure. A difference of only a few Angstroms requires much better engineering to detect than, like LIGO, requesting that someone get you a flatter or lighter mirror to bounce your laser beam off of.

    1. Personally I would like to see the outcome of a study which measures the periodicy of sun spot on various suns looking for any evidence of synchronicity. If sun spots are synchronous would infer that some form of common thing is acting between them and possibly at a velocity >C.

  14. To wrap up: No one will ever see a “graviton”. Evidently, they don’t exist. Gravity “waves”, if there is such a thing, can only be detected by tidal interaction (and not interferometry).

    But the Higgs mechanism and quark interactions with the scalar Higgs field evidently provides the necessary energy exchanges for gravitational attraction to exist, albeit indirectly. Tiny virtual particle “waves” or energy in the quantum foam can cause particles with mass/energy in whatever state of motion to be attracted to other particles with mass/energy. Even the paths of photons will bend to this interaction, so it actually does what GR does, even if all of the math to show this unification isn’t quite “ready” yet. And why should it be? The Higgs was only just discovered. Even frame dragging and gravitomagnetics should work out just fine.

  15. L’Album du Marin, Charpentier, Nantes (1836, not 15th century) by P.C Causee is usually cited as support for the “Casimir Effect”, with an explanation that boundary conditions on the ocean by the vessels explain why there is infinite vacuum energy between two ‘perfectly smooth’ idealized metal plates, wormholes, Kip Thorne, and other science fiction. Well, the calming effect of the sea also has to do with the size of the waves and the sizes and masses of the ships (how much water is drawn), and not just parallel lines and boundary conditions. which is why it is a much better analog of Higgs than it is for the associated science fiction of the so-called Casimir effect. Sometimes, a distinction needs to be made between science and science fiction for the sake of advancing science.

    And stop polishing the mirrors on LIGO also, because it was never anything other than a repeat of the Michaelson-Morely experiment.

    1. MME was a very good attempt at bridging the difference between SIN & AE.

      SIN was dead and could not comment upon it- AE was not very interested and sunk it – until some 20 years later when he reinvented SIN. In his own way.

      1. MME = Michaelson Morely Experiment
        SIN = Sir Isaac Newton
        AE – Albert Einstein

        MME (Interferometry) survives as the best tool astrophysics has to detect gravitational lensing. Suggest reading Evalyn Gate’s ‘Einstein’s Telescope’ for details. I’m reading it now, in fact. A little dated since the Higgs discovery, however.

        I often worry that things like Kip Thorne’s ‘wormholes’ and the like are the vestiges of aether theory (because, why should either end of a wormhole have any particular frame of reference?). That would definitely be a giant step backward.

        1. I am awaiting news for the planned NASA experiment to occur approximately 10 years from now. They intend a sort of developed laser based experiment using 3 separated devices over vast distances. The technique is not that far removed from the MME concept. I am sure NASA scientists will gain some valuable information from the data collected. However, from my point of view I am not sure if will be able to detect if space is something which is constantly emerging at the speed of light. Although I hope it may cause people to think about it especially in conjunction with other mysterious phenomenom such as mass increase at values close to C, plus the many other so called paradoxes.

  16. Oh, and as to your question about the speed of light. That derives of the Higgs mechanism simply because any material object or energy going faster than that would be unable to interact with the Higgs field, which is exactly equivalent to saying that it cannot exist. Divide that one by zero and see what you get.

  17. Very good insight, Edward. There still exist 15th century accounts (in a French manual on seamanship) that when two vessels are in close proximity to each other, a turbulent and foamy sea will tend to push the ships together because the sea between them is calmer. Although the manual never quantifies the magnitude of this force, its origin makes perfect sense to anyone who isn’t too caught up in the mathematical machinations of their own manifestly finite minds.

    This effect is indeed a candidate for explaining why the Higgs imparting inertial mass also imparts gravitational mass, despite the public disassociations by members of the CERN team which have made this momentous discovery.

    1. Thanks for giving some validation to the concept. I can’t let it go as it seems to make sense. After all, why does light move at the speed of light. Is the space itself expanding at that rate, are there ripple the light rides on? And if so, what role does mass play on the expansion/ripples. It would seem that a drag might occur similar to the effect of the boats on turbulent water. Although, you and I don’t move at the speed of light, the ripples are sort of like air pressure. Reduce the pressure on one side and what happens, you move in that direction. The greater the reduction, the faster the movement.

      1. Such an effect also would obey the inverse square law and depend on the density (not just mass) of the gravitating bodies. In addition, interaction with the Higgs field explains very nicely where the energy for gravitational interaction actually comes from. Looks like a nautical analog of the Higgs mechanism to me.

        Mathematicians, like anyone else, easily become invested in a particular approach to a problem when they have worked with a system for a while.

        Edward Witten and Michio Kaku both point out that Newton and Einstein’s descriptions of gravity break down as r goes to zero. Einstein eliminated mass in General Relativity by co-opting math formerly used for fluid dynamics to describe space curvature, but General Relativity very much depends on the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass as much as Newton does. General Relativity, for all of its flaws, still remains the most rigorously tested pieces of science ever conceived.

        Mathematical symbology is a wonderful tool if one is not overly dependent on it. Imagining that a finite mind such as ours can capture all of the possible interactions in the universe is as vain as it is almost certainly wrong. It was wrong for Newton and Einstein, and it’s just as wrong for theories of supersymmetry, string theory, or anything else. It’s like thinking you could theoretically derive the Schrodinger wave equation or Pauli’s exclusion principle without ever seeing how quantum mechanics actually works, or ever seeing a periodic table. Good luck with that.

        1. Thanks again Daniel. I understand I am a complete layman in this matter (with the exception of reading popular physics books such as the Hawking’s book, etc. which is of course the highest tip of the iceberg). I’m wondering, though, if anyone has explored the theories I expressed. That is, light could be thought of as standing still while space ripples through the universe at C, and gravity is a result of the drag that mass produces on the rippling. So, objects with mass that are otherwise equalized by this rippling would tend to move towards other masses (similar to how a wing moves up due to air pressure differentials, an object will move towards mass due to the differentials in the rippling that result from the drag). Thanks again for your thoughts.

          1. I like your idea of a stationary photon and everything else is moving passed it ! Sounds a bit off the wall but ajoins my own idea and promotion of a constantly emerging space which provides the transport mechanism by virtue of New Space ! I am a layman and curious about the Higgs. I was ignorant and somewhat lost with all this discussion about particles all the time. I watched an interesting presentation where the presenter simply used the analogy: One’s hand is totally massless until one moves through space ( or higgs field through it) whereupon it shall gain mass. Another bizarre account the mass of space ( converting energy into mass by equivalence e=mc^2 shall cause every cm^3 to weight 1 trillion tones !!! ?

  18. As a complete layman, I have a question. Do massless particles tend to travel at the speed of light? If so, is it possible that they do so because they are essentially standing still (i.e. the speed of light is non-motion and everything else is moving)? And could it be that this is the case because every point in the universe is expanding, or compressing, so to speak, at the speed of light in such a way so that if you were a proton, you would just be standing still riding a wave of expanding space? And possibly, gravity exists because objects with mass disrupt the flow of this spatial expansion so that when one is close to a large object, the uninhibited space in the directions other than where the mass is, exert more expansion on the particles that one is made of, thus pushing them towards the mass?

  19. General Relativity cannot be formulated AT ALL without reference to mass, specifically the principle of equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass. Furthermore, this relationship is tested against reality each and every time someone uses a GPS satellite to find their location on the surface of the Earth. The universe is filled with gravitational lenses, and every one of those bends light in accordance with this theory. This theory (General Relativity) has the highest standard of accuracy of any scientific theory in the history of the human race. It still has plenty of detractors, too, just like flat-earthers and moon landing deniers.

    You have deliberately mislead readers by stating that GR theory makes no explicit mention of mass within its mathematical form. It doesn’t need to; it’s assumed. Those other theories (Standard Model, M-Theory) are all very much works in progress, and the discovery of Higgs has not changed that (yet). But there is still hope.

  20. Just read this entire thread, it was a real eye opener. I must say that my physics knowledge base stems entirely from watching minutephysics on youtube, and now I am going back to my reality with a few less holes in my ideas of how the universe interacts, I still don’t understand it, I’m not going to, I do thank you Professor Strassler for enabling open sourced information such as this to the general public, regardless of whether we fully interpret it.

      1. By saying “exist” you enter the mine-field … eg. ‘exist’ before or after you measure?? The quantum potential of the particle – a unitary gizmo in phase space – clearly must “pre-exist” to get mapped into 3+1 (when it would get its mass). But I’d say that anything more detailed is likely theory-dependent, in that there is really no agreed upon connection between QM and GR.

  21. It seems to me to say gravity “pulls” on anything is inherently misleading as Einsteins idea was that gravity only “pulls” on space and not on objects at all, gravity warps space bending it such that objects appear to be “pulled” but that this is just an illusion. Dark matter and dark energy are meant to account for most of the mass and energy in the universe, Without dark matter to assist in curving space galaxies would fly apart from the momentum of their own observed spin and without dark energy to overcome the universes gravitational curvature of space the observed acceleration of the universes expansion would not be possible. The percentages of dark matter and dark energy required are quite simply the percentage of failure of the current gravitational model to conform to observation, a failure rate of around 90%. This is a massive refutation of the current model. No one knows why the current model fails to be verified by observation of the universe at large. In such a circumstance It strikes me as unscientific to make absolute claims about gravitation, With the 90% failure rate of the current model any and all ideas about gravitation are potentially on the table or on the chopping block and teachers are revealed to actually be 90% students who should be listening more and speaking less.

  22. Dear Mr. Strassler,
    I have heard it said many times that the Higgs field is like treacle in that it provides resistance to the motion of those particles with which it couples. But I was wondering why then doesn’t a particle’s mass increase in proportion with its speed, in the same way that drag on an object moving through a fluid is speed dependent? Surely a particle moving quickly would encounter more of the Higgs field per second and thus experience a greater resistance. Instead it seems that only acceleration is resisted! How is it possible that acceleration can be resisted and speed isn’t?

    1. Is there any such thing as higgs field?

      I thought the LHC had a problem with both field and particle and that is why they are investigating?

      So both are now part of official physics law?

      Now perhaps we can move onto other things.

  23. I’m not the one making up my own theories. My statements and criticisms are supportable by the principles of quantum physics which can be found online by anyone.

    1. You don’t know what you’re talking about. And I won’t have you confusing my readers. So put up, or shut up (or I’ll ban you, as I’ve banned other crackpots.)

        1. It’s also true that every now and then, someone with fixed but wrong ideas gets them set straight here. Essentially, I’m giving Mr. Hillend a chance to learn something from real physicists (and real data).

          But if he refuses to listen and continues to make obviously wrong statements, he’ll be banned, because this site is not the place for him.

          I have quite often allowed people who disagree with me to remain as commenters. There is a difference between (a) people who have a different point of view from me and (b) people who have a point of view that contradicts experiment.

          1. It’s your site – you must manage it and deal with some unusual people. I have visited my similar sites most of which operated by crankies. Let him play for the moment – and give him a chance to substantiate who he is or what his ideas are then say thanks and goodbye – don’t over react Professor. Just keep working.

      1. Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hilland has yet to prove he has any credentials at all. This is not an argument between equals, yet. Mr. Hilland hasn’t demonstrated he has any background in the subject. And he has made multiple statements that would get him laughed out of a particle physics discussion.

          1. The problem isn’t me; it’s other readers. I can’t have random people coming in, claiming to be experts, and making false statements about physics. How is a 17-year-old kid, or a retired engineer, to know who to believe? So I feel I have to fight this kind of fight; it’s to protect the integrity of this website, so that people will have confidence that they get the highest-quality information here.

            1. Of course not – it’s your idea – your site and you must manage it – whoever he is flies in and will fly out again. Some people are more interested in creating warfare in this environment – not very serious they get off with being controversial that’s what they specialize in.

  24. you said: ” the number of quarks is not well defined” and “I say “many, but it is not sensible to say precisely how many.” In some sense, the number is constantly changing (though the average is constant) since quarks and anti-quarks are annihilating into gluons and gluons are annihilating into quarks and antiquarks.” A quantum physicist would not say that. It’s wrong.

    [Editor’s note: since the author is lecturing me on quantum physics, and claiming to know more about than I do, I am not going to publish what he says until he proves he has the experience and background to do it. See below.]

    1. Ok, Mr. Hillend. You’re lecturing me now in my area of expertise. I have a Ph. D. in quantum field theory from Stanford; I was a full professor at Rutgers from 2007-2013, and have done stints at other universities as well; I am often invited to speak at international conferences on particle physics; my research has led to new particle searches at the Tevatron and Large Hadron Collider; my most-cited paper, on the links between quantum field theory and string theory, has over a thousand citations by my quantum physics colleagues, and I have several other papers in the 250-500 range. Now. You say “a quantum physicist would not say that”. Well, I’m a quantum physicist, and I Say That. Note that I’m speaking to the public on this blog, so I often make statements that are not precisely rigorous here; it is true that this statement is not precise, and I would not make precisely this statement to graduate students. However, your objections appear obviously wrong to me. But you obviously believe you know more about quantum physics than I do.

      Please state your credentials and let me check them. You can check mine on-line.

      http://indico.lal.in2p3.fr/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=1747 (Skip to the end)

      1. You also might want to study this plot : http://www.hep.phy.cam.ac.uk/~wjs/partons2008nlo.jpg

        which is taken from the webpage of a leading expert on the proton, Professor James Stirling at Cambridge University. http://www.hep.phy.cam.ac.uk/~wjs/ . I’ve talked to him many times at conferences.

        That plot shows the anti-quarks as well as the quarks inside the proton. Note that professor Stirling helped make this plot; in the MSTW group that made it, the “S” is Stirling.

        And lest you think Professor Stirling is a crackpot, look here https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/LHCPhysics/CrossSectionsCalc

        This is the official webpage used by the Large Hadron Collider experiments in their Higgs particle studies. Look for “MSTW” and you’ll see it appears 14 times on the page.

        So. I’m not the only quantum physicist who “says that”. In fact a whole community does; and this is the community that found the Higgs particle, and appears to know what it is doing.

  25. Quote by Matt Strassler: “Moreover, it is not true that protons have “hundreds” of quarks; what is correct is that the number is not well-defined. This is important, though confusing, because if you try to count the number of quarks you quickly get into paradoxes. I have not written the sophisticated article on this yet. For the general public, I do not attempt to say how many are in there, and when asked, I say “many, but it is not sensible to say precisely how many.” In some sense, the number is constantly changing (though the average is constant) since quarks and anti-quarks are annihilating into gluons and gluons are annihilating into quarks and antiquarks.” This quote is not in any way supported by quantum field theory.
    Baryon number and charge is always conserved. As a result, we do always know how many quarks there are three for baryons and two for hadrons. Also gluons do not turn into quarks and quarks don’t turn into gluons.

    1. You are wasting my time, and that of other readers. How in the world you can claim to know something about quantum field theory is a mystery to me.

      a) baryon number and charge do not change when quark + antiquark –> gluon + gluon, so your first objection is no objection at all. The quark and antiquark have opposite charge, so the total charge is zero before the interaction and zero afterward. The same is true for their baryon number; the quark has baryon number 1/3, the anti-quark has baryon number -1/3, so again the total baryon number is zero beforehand and zero afterward.

      b) “Also gluons do not turn into quarks and quarks don’t turn into gluons.” You do not know what you are talking about. How do you think top quark/antiquark pairs are produced at the Large Hadron Collider?


  26. quote by Kudzu: “Firing a high energy neutrino at a proton is the same as firing a high energy proton at a neutrino.” No way. these are not equivalent maybe low energy proton. I agree with what you say about the energy level though because in neutrino detection in a large tank of water high, if a energy neutrino strikes a water nucleus and it creates a muon of electron.

    1. I am curious as to why you think they are not equivalent. As respects momentum the two cases differ; but otherwise what matters when two particles collide is the total energy available to both particles and not which particles posses it.

      This can be seen in a number of situations. When two objects collide what matters is their difference in speed so that being hit by a car at 100 miles an hour is the same as being fired into a stationary car at 100 miles an hour. In chemistry you ca often create an identical reaction by heating either of the reactants. (A hot iron wire will react with water in the same way as a cold wire with steam.)

  27. The fusion of one element into another only occurs at extremely high energies such as the fusion of hydrogen and helium in stars and in our Sun or a hydrogen bomb which releases large amounts of energy in the form of radiation alpha, beta, gamma, etc. Radioactive decay is based on half life’s where one unstable radioactive element decays into another. We use this for madiometric dating. For example Uranium 235 has a half life of 704 million years and Uranium 238 has a half life of 4.5 billion years, potassium 40 1. 25 billion years etc. These are radioactive elements

  28. quote by Matt Strassler: In this case one typically looks for processes in which the nuetrinos not only delfected but are actually converted to electrons by the weak nuclear force.” The weak nuclear force cannot convert a neutrino into an electron due to the conservation of mass. Weak gauge boson plus a neutrino does not equal the mass of an electron. How can the weak nuclear force convert a neutrino which is very light into and electron which is lighter than any gauge boson? Maybe an up or down quark but an electron?

    1. That’s and interesting point .. so when two atoms fuse they must release mass? In the form of energy is that what a fusion reaction is all about?

    2. That would depend on the energies involved; what matters is the total energy of *all* products vs *all* reactants. Firing a high energy neutrino at a proton is the same as firing a high energy proton at a neutrino. (Since due to relativity you can observe the reaction from two viewpoints, one where each of the particles is not moving.) Such a mechanism caps the energy of cosmic rays; high energy protons interact with microwave radiation to produce an excited proton state (that then decays.)

      In the case of a radioactive or energetic nucleus the conversion of a light particle into a heavier one can occur.

  29. Hi Matt, hope you are still answering this blog.

    You say; “And nuclei are made from protons and neutrons — bags of imprisoned or “confined” quarks, antiquarks and gluons. These quarks, antiquarks and gluons go roaring around inside their little prison at very high speeds, and the masses of the proton and neutron are as much due to those energies, and to the energy that is needed to trap the quarks etc. inside the bag, as it is due to the masses of the quarks and antiquarks contained within the bag.”

    My question is; how do physicists know that these collisions are happening in there when all that can be seen with an electron-microscope is the three dots that we know as quarks? Can gluons be seen?

    1. My ability to keep up with questions comes and goes…

      Your premise is wrong. We ***cannot*** see quarks with an electron microscope, and anyone who told you that this is how we know about the quarks in a proton was mistaken, or was speaking by analogy. The proton is much too small to investigate with an electron microscope.

      We know about the quarks (more than 3!!!) AND THE ANTIQUARKS in the proton by slamming electrons at high energy into a proton (typically hydrogen gas, which has lots of protons in it). The electrons bounce off the quarks and antiquarks. By studying how the electrons come flying out, we can infer something about how likely an electron is to bump into an up quark, up anti-quark, down quark or down anti-quark. To complete the suite of experiments, we also scatter neutrinos off of protons (no mean feat) and electrons off of neutrons (also no mean feat).

      How about the gluons? We can infer that there are gluons inside the proton in a more complicated way. This combines a theory with equations for how quarks, antiquarks, and gluons interact, computer simulations of those equations, and a subtle understanding (through those equations) of the effects of gluons annihilating into quarks and anti-quarks, and vice versa.

      But we can also check that we are correct about the gluons using the Large Hadron Collider and other sorts of experiments. For example, the rate to produce top quark/anti-quark pairs at the LHC depends crucially on the gluons inside the proton. That we get it right confirms we know what we’re doing. See http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/largehadroncolliderfaq/whats-a-proton-anyway/checking-whats-inside-a-proton/

        1. An excellent question, and I realize I may not have answered this anywhere on the site.

          “Bounce off of” is really incorrect, and I should have been more careful in my wording. “Are deflected by” is more accurate. Whenever two electrically charged objects approach each other — and electrons, quarks and anti-quarks are all electrically charged — there will be an electric force between them, and this will deflect them. So we send electrons in a beam toward a target full of hydrogen gas, and we look at how the electrons are deflected. This is the same method used by Rutherford to discover that the nucleus is very small compared to an atom.

          Neutrinos will also scatter off of quarks and anti-quarks because of the weak nuclear force between them. This scattering is very rare, but it can be measured. In this case one typically looks for processes in which the neutrinos not only deflected but are actually converted to electrons by the weak nuclear force.

          1. Got it thanks – and obvious had I recalled that sub quantum have charge characteristics too. But nature manages to squeeze atoms/protons together on a daily basis!

            So does the composition (total sub quantum charge ) of up & down quarks found within an atom determine the number of electrons subtending to a parent atom in some form of natural equilibrium law? And in the case of heavy atoms does the proton still only have the 3 quarks? What is the relationship between atom size and quark number?

            1. Quarks bind into hadrons with integer charges (0 or 1 usually.) A proton will bind an electron to an atom because of the electromagnetic force.

              If you read the article on what protons are you will find that protons (and neutrons) have far more than 3 quarks; they have hundreds. I am not sure what you mean by ‘heavy’ atoms; the proton in hydrogen is ‘heavier’ than a proton in uranium. If you ignore the effects of the nuclear force and structure (Which binds protons and neutrons together and varies from nucleus to nucleus.) then the protons in all atoms are identical, quark-wise.

              1. Now that is surprising! Ref Hyd vs Ur protons, I would have to learn more to understand that. I thought protons had 1xup and 2xdown quarks? So what determines the ratio of Q’s found in various elemental atoms?

                1. Kudzu is confusing you on this one. All protons are identical — period. Always.

                  Kudzu, if that weren’t true, the Pauli principle would not apply in nuclei.

                  Protons contain two up quarks, one down quark, many gluons, and many pairs of quarks and antiquarks (up, down, and strange, mostly). Anyone who told you it was just two up quarks and a down quark was white-lying. See http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/the-structure-of-matter/protons-and-neutrons/ and http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/largehadroncolliderfaq/whats-a-proton-anyway/checking-whats-inside-a-proton/ .

                  What Kudzu was confusingly referring to is that the mass of an atomic nucleus is slightly less than the sum of the masses of what it contains. In fact that’s true of many objects: see http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/mass-energy-matter-etc/the-energy-that-holds-things-together/ and related articles. But this, I believe, has nothing to do with your question.

                  When you’ve read about protons and neutrons you can work your way back up (either order will work) to nuclei and atoms.


                2. “Protons contain two up quarks, one down quark, many gluons, and many pairs of quarks and antiquarks (up, down, and strange, mostly)”

                  So if all protons are exactly the same how does that engineer for the lightest ones vs the heaviest ones – they still have the same internal component?

                3. All protons have exactly the same mass. There are no lighter and heavier ones. They are identical in all respects. The same is true for all electrons. And for all neutrons. And for all photons. All particles of the same type are precisely identical. The Pauli exclusion principle that determines chemistry, and the Bose-Einstein principle that allows for lasers and for Bose-Einstein condensates, depend upon this fact.

                  See for instance: http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/the-structure-of-matter/atoms-building-blocks-of-molecules/atoms-of-an-isotope-are-identical-literally/

                4. From one point of view it is astonishing; but in quantum field theory, the equations that we use to describe the particles of nature, this type of identity is automatic. This is one of the reasons quantum field theory is the cornerstone of particle physics, and why today particle physicists view fields, not particles, as the primary ingredients of nature, with particles being just little ripples (“quanta”) in the fields of nature.

                5. Yes that is very interesting. I suppose it much easier to make sense of it all as fields in the imagination, however if it has a construction we cannot ignore it. Astonishing is a very appropriate word to use. Do you know anything about the NASA plans to launch the laser based detectors – sort of copy of Michelson Morley experiment on the grand scale I think planned in the next 10 years?

                6. Makes me happy to hear you use the Nature word – with so much mathematics and theories and laws one sort of becomes isolated from what it is all about.

                7. Professor if you can tolerate a bit of emotional clap trap for a moment I cannot help but feel that for such organization to occur at the tiny scale which is energy related then there must be some background dynamic which we maybe we missing completley. My easiest explanation is a sand box. Nature does what it does. If we have a solid substrate and couple that with a source of vibrational energy ( as you well know ) the particulates of sand will organize themselves into regular patterns which vary according to the frequency of same. This is not the magic of sand it is a relationship with the surface, where they are and supported,and the energy from the system couple. If nature can do that in such a simple visible experiment why cannot it do the same at the tiny scale?

                8. I don’t know what nature is doing at the tiniest scales. I do know the mathematics of quantum field theory, applied to the particles of the Standard Model, gives predictions that agree with all known experiments. That doesn’t tell me the math of quantum field theory is fundamentally right, but it tells me that it gives me a good way to think about the world. And that’s all I know. Pretty good, if you ask me.

                  As for your specific question — you have to turn feelings like the one you have into equations, before you can do science. Then you have to calculate the implications of those equations, and see if they agree with nature. There is no short-cut.

                  You may want to watch the video of my recent public talk, http://profmattstrassler.com/2013/07/03/my-public-talk-on-the-higgs-now-online/ , if you want to know a bit more about what quantum field theory implies. What I describe in this talk is not “truth”; it’s a way of thinking about nature that agrees with all known experiments. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s incomplete, but certainly it’s useful and powerful.

                9. I will with interest. As for the maths I think that is a wall too high to climb and not sure if one/me could put such a painting into a set of numbers and for it to retain its beauty by its conversion? A monkey jumps from one tree to the next only to get at the nuts before the next monkey ( by sense of time ). It is not aware it exists in 3D but manages to make very good judgments about it’s space and the amount of quantum leap it has to deploy not to end up on the jungle floor. Before I am corrected I now peanuts are not available in trees. Thanks again but we rely on you guys to provide guidance, like a dentist to pull a tooth or a med doctor to live longer.

                  A ‘contradiction theory’ a wild card like Galileo etc someone who has great insight or a better imagination than the ordinary man to give us incisive vision would be more than good? Apologetically I leave out ‘AA’ because although his numbers may be sound they do not describe how things work only what happens when they do, about to or will do. We may well live in a universe where some things simply cannot be put into creditable set of numbers to make sense of it. Other than to exchange ideas logically through the medium of numerical a language.

                  My old friend was ex Oxford (Old School ) and he would never be drawn into my inane rhetoric – he would say only deal with things which are real which I suppose is indisputable numerical & falsifiable physics. He was correct of course but the Vatican was wrong despite their religious dictative dogma. When Newton said “ What is there in Space where matter does not exist” is something which we still seek – a pity to drop his insight for the past 100 years, and follow a course of numbers which doesn’t answer the question.

                10. I think a bigger problem than not being able to ‘put things into numbers’ is our limited ability to understand numbers. It is insanely easy to reduce a four dimensional cube into numbers and equations, but it is an object that the human mind can never grasp. Often I wonder if we’d be able to understand the ‘theory of everything’ even if we discovered it.

                11. If sound energy can organize sand particulates into regular patterns, why cannot the universe do the same with energy, Or Quarks?

                12. I didn’t say it couldn’t. But lots and lots and lots of things are possible in principle. I can make a million speculations, but that won’t move science forward an inch.

                  The problem is that you’re only giving me words. I can’t test words. I have to test predictions. That’s what science is about. We have to take your words and make a very precise version of them, make precise equations based on them, and use them to make precise, concrete predictions based on your words, ones that we can check or falsify it. Until then, it’s just cocktail party conversation, not science.

                13. Naturally the way to learn how is to study how it’s been done in the past. In this case, one would want to study the math behind the sand example, and see if you can make something analogous for particles that’s consistent with what we already know about nature. This isn’t easy; most speculations are dead on arrival once one starts writing equations down… they violate some well-known experiment, or have internal inconsistencies.

                14. Yes and yes agreed. I am sure without knowing that the dynamics prevailing in a sand box/vibration exp is pretty much over exhausted with historic content conclusions. But on face value there is a cause and action. Speculatively how one jumps from the sand scenario to the universe having a similar resonant affect on sub quantum materials? Then as you comment dead before birth.

                15. The mathematics of sand in a box is still throwing up incredible things and novel surprises. For a good example of this see Sixty Symbols video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uWps9LczH8 In physics you never know when one thing will be connected with another or where the math might lead.

                16. Thanks for the link. Yes very good point a monkey is attracted to eat bananas but does not know how they grow or why they grow. Even if you gave him a book to explain it or put him in front of a pc monitor with easy to follow images.

                17. Watched the sand box video with great interest – thankyou. I am not sure why they fixed on 60Hz for the test – one normally executes a range of frequencies but very happy for them that they have an argument for surface tension in this environment – including cows ! I hope they find an application. My thinking is that this idea is not entirely dissimilar to the external affect of the cosmos on the tiny scale. Doing something similar that is why the particles are so good at organizing themselves not by magic but by a background dynamic. Which I prefer to think of as the Primary dimension.

                18. Thanks for your responses I appreciate it. I may well look into the dynamics of the sand box experiment to see what I can dig up – now out of curiosity. It does not create particles but it creates an order of particles or at least one which can think of as order?

              2. Kudzu — Your statement is wrong; even if you account for the effects of nuclear force and structure, all protons are identical. If you were correct, the Pauli exclusion principle would not apply in nuclei.

                Moreover, it is not true that protons have “hundreds” of quarks; what is correct is that the number is not well-defined. This is important, though confusing, because if you try to count the number of quarks you quickly get into paradoxes. I have not written the sophisticated article on this yet. For the general public, I do not attempt to say how many are in there, and when asked, I say “many, but it is not sensible to say precisely how many.” In some sense, the number is constantly changing (though the average is constant) since quarks and anti-quarks are annihilating into gluons and gluons are annihilating into quarks and antiquarks.

          2. I am curious, does not the exclusion principle ensure that protons in an atomic nucleus are distinguishable, being in different quantum states? If they were all truly identical wouldn’t they all be in the same state?

            1. Absolutely not. You’re confusing what things are doing with what they are.

              The issue is: if I switched two of the protons, could you tell the difference?

              Take a Lithium atom; it has three electrons, two in the 1S state, one with spin up and one with spin down, and a second in the 2S state. If the electrons were distinguishable, then if I took the one in the 2S state and switched it with one of the ones in the 1S state, I’d get a different atom. But I don’t.

              Similarly, if you switch two of the protons in a nucleus, you get exactly the same nucleus you started with.

          3. Aaah, then that is why my confusion lies. In future I shall have to word tihngs more precisely. Many thanks.

      1. Thanks. Yes, I’ve read the suggested article and obviously have to do some updating of my text-books. I am amazed about the number of quarks in a proton and that gluons can turn into quarks. My greatest obstacle is being skeptical about theories in general and the person who told me about electron microscope was not a physicist but my professor of chemistry. I’ll do some more reading before I pop another question that is already festering in my head. Deeply grateful for you time and effort. Thanks again.

  30. excuse my dyslexia here, The graviton is 126 Gev. It is energy not mass? The photon has no mass but there still can be photons with very high energy. For example all waves in the electromagnetic spectrum are conveyed by quanta or particles called photons. We can have high energy gamma ray photons, x-ray photons, ultra-violet photons etc. Consequently the graviton can have zero mass just like the photon but it’s quanta still must be expressed in energy as electron volts. When we collide particles with high enough energy we make a particle in the higgs field; the decay of particles such as quarks and gluons which decay into gravitons which can decay into photons, W and Z bozons, bottom quarks which immediately decay into hadrons such as pions.

  31. According to Wikipedia the graviton has a spin of 2 and zero mass. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graviton I have to agree with this since the only particle of zero mass can be exchanged long range, yet the graviton has a mass of 216 GeV. The reason for this discrepancy is the quantized general relativity is not renormalizable unlike quantum electrodynamics. The gravity is exchanged through virtual particles which have no mass. It is only their quanta which have mass.

  32. Quantum field theory is a gauge theory; gauge means that we have vectors or motion. General relativity is also a classical gauge theory. They all measure through 4 dimensions. 3 of space and one of time.

  33. 1. The graviton has no spin which allows it to act differently in the Langrangian. 2. The graviton does move from one point to another. 3. The field does not emanate from only one point to another. It produces virtual particles at every point so it is spontaneous at every point. Only a particle with detectable energy moves from one point to another. The field is only indirectly detectable. When you make a graviton in LCH you also make a wave in the higgs field. The higgs field is coupled to the other fields e. I. electromagnetic field, strong and weak fields or other forces through symmetry breaking.
    My point is there higgs fields is always there; it represents the potential energy of the zero point energy or vacuum energy which is not really zero but always has a certain energy conveyed by virtual particles. All particles with mass are dependent on the higgs field to give them mass.
    It seems to me the Higgs particle does have sense of direction but the higgs field does not since it is a scalar field. It has not spin but that does not mean it does not have a sense of direction? It must have a sense of direction otherwise there can’t be any gravity waves. A particle is simply the localization of the wave function to a small area, a wave packet, or one quanta of energy, The wave function is low so we see only one crest but not a train of crests with troughs when the wave function is high; With a high wave function and the velocity is known but the position becomes uncertain and vice versa. A low wave function and the velocity becomes very uncertain but the position becomes certain.

  34. On the question of the nature of a graviton, one question that I’ve had for a long time is, How formalism- or theory-dependent is the thing? For example, over the years I’ve seen both spin 2 and spin 3/2 attached to gravitons.

    My main point though is that this whole discussion of a field-borne ‘particle’ tacitly assumes that the field emanates from some point A and the graviton ‘carries’ the effect to point B. This is the way it’s usually viewed, eg. “It would take 8 minutes for us to discover that the sun has disappeared”.

    However, my (computer scientist’s) analysis of causality (using geometric algebra over Zed3 = {0,1,-1}) shows that, unlike weak, strong, and electromagnetic processes, gravitational processes – being *mutual* or “two-sided” – *cannot* possess this kind of ‘from-here-to-there’ particle. [It looks this way, though, because we’re *inside* 3+1 space-time, and “from A to B” is how everything seems to work here.]

    The culprit here is that in the algebra, the possibility of gravity first emerges with 4-vectors like abcd, which commutes with everything (and squares to +1), whereas ab and abc both square to -1, thus forming the basis for all sorts of +- polarities (spin up/down, charge plus/minus, etc.).

    There *is* a nilpotent something connecting A and B, but in this view it’s the (dissipative) space itself, which commutes/communes with itself, so to speak. I was as surprised by this result as anyone, but it makes very good sense, and the mathematics speaks very clearly here. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to calculate spin – the usual “square it and see if you get -1” method seems to fail.

    Anyway, I just wanted to interject the fact of the above-mentioned tacit assumption.

    1. A question on your question. In a hydrogen atom is not the electromagnetic interaction between the proton and electron also mutual or two sided? They should both exert the same force on each other yes? How does this differ from gravitational force?

    2. Interesting thinking.. How does your notion fit in if the very space which the particles considered are located is renewing itself constantly ( emerging )? Where this emergence of primary space is then responsible and performing a carrier task of information across gaps? A to B etc.

  35. The higgs field does not have a sense of direction like the idea that space appears the same in all directions. Reference: The article A unified physics by 2050, The Edge of Physics, Scientific American special addition, 2003. The electro-magnetic field does have a sense of direction. The graviton has a sense of direction only when we add matter or energy into the field like the Earth, a Star, because you have collided two particles in LCH adding energy to the Higgs fields which produce a graviton.. Gravity waves come from the star and have a sense of direction. We know this because the travel time the light from pulsars take to reach our Earth have been off according to classical physics but predicted by Einsteins general relativity which predict that gravity waves are ripples in space-time which have changed the travel time the light from the pulsar takes to reach our Earth.

    1. Einstein’s interpretation of gravity is nothing more than a mathematical and philosophical model of its affect – so how can you use this a yardstick to construct a new idea?

      1. In the end all theories are ‘mathematical and philosophical models’ We base new ideas on theories all the time.

        1. Hi Kudzu – I was having 5 mins of being obtuse! My meaning below was a math model of its affect is not the same as a math model of its cause. Of course the predictions may still hold good but it does not get us any closer to understanding the cuase.

  36. You said, wrongly, that “a scalar particle has only or speed”. A scalar particle has only magnitude, as eg temperature field. Speed has obviously a sense of direction, it is a vector field, so has spin 1.
    All you say is non sense.

    1. Why do you call the Higgs a graviton ? It’s not the same thing. What is commonly referred as the graviton is the quanta of the gravitionnal field (in a quantum theory of gravitation), and it has a spin 2.
      To paraphrase what you said previously, it is common knowledge.. See for example :

      The graviton must have a zero mass, as the gravtionnal force has an infinite range. The higgs particle is the quanta of the higgs field, is spin 0, and has mass (between 125 and 126 Gev/c² if the recently discovered scalar meson at LHC is indeed the standard Higgs).

  37. The Higgs particle of graviton has no spin, and no charge. “All fields have a property called spin which is an intrinsic property of the angular momentum of particles.” The Mystery of Mass, p. 42, Scientific American, July, 2005. Since the graviton has no spin because the Higgs field is a scalar field. A scalar field has only magnitude or speed but no spin which is why the graviton has no spin. Also the graviton must have mass because it is part of the same force which gives mass to particles, the HIggs field which produces gravitons and interacts strongly with the heavy particles such as W and Z bosons etc and is responsible for spontaneous symmetry breaking; The graviton’s mass is 125 Gev and it does decay into other particles quickly. Same source, P 42, 43, 44 and also Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson

    1. Who says there is such a thing as a graviton. This is a fantasy philosophy same as string theory so lets not get too carried away. We can all imagine our own concepts – which may be more appropriate. Kind regards

      1. The existence of a graviton follows logically from the existence of particles in other fields. It is similar to it having rained over and your neighbor’s houses. You may not have seen it rain over all of the houses on your block but you can make a good guess that it did. If not, something quite strange has happened.

        1. So we call it a shower just so we can comprehend what is going on? But as you go on to say something else strange ( may be ) happening. Referring it to rain affect is a convenient cognitive model for our imagination and may not actually describe its true nature? Similarly Einstein’s thoughts on gravity. Which caused Newton’s ideas to be abandoned! Which I think is a pity as it could have opened further doors for us if pursued.

          1. We call it a shower because that makes logical sense. In science there is generally the principle that it is best not to use a complex explanation when a simple one will do. Gravity fits nicely as being mediated via particles in a field. It is possible it works completely differently but on the whole we have no indication that the ‘graviton method’ need be abandoned.

            However take heart in that if there is one field where a concept is never truly abandoned it is physics. While the ‘mainstream’ may pursue its own theories and ideas you can bet that somewhere there is a dedicated cabal of serious (and not so serious) physicists out there working on wild and unusual alternatives. A good example is the big bang; the (temporally) infinite cyclic universe is much out of favor and has been for decades yet theoretical work on various models has never stopped, merely been pushed to the sidelines.

            1. Thanks for your further insight. The shower theory infers movement which is not such a bad thing I suppose particularly if such a shower is a homogenous isometric ( like a fruit jelly constantly emerging from its source – a particle free wave ) we always have to find a particle fulfilling a particular function, but if I am not incorrect this doctrine is heavy going especially at the microscopic scales and never be able to see any of them first hand and just measure the affect they are having upon the macroscopic scales.

              We are not obliged to think this way even though popular physics does. Why not have a particle free field?

              Regards the cyclical universe. A juvenile one is currently in existence much like today’s newspaper, but tomorrow a new edition will be printed. How could we possibly know whether universes are not cyclical? And what is occurring, when does not?

              1. The problem with a particle free field is that it is hard to crate a model where the field itself acts that does not produce particles. In a way this is what relativity does. It can be thought of as a distortion of spacetime but also simply as a field that directly acts on particles in it. (We can even envisage other forces in this way, though it tends to break down.)

                In regards to the cyclic universe there are two main ways its existence can be inferred. The first is if the physics of the (entire, non-3D) universe suggests it is possible. For example if we come across a working theory that matches experiment and suggests that the universe has more dimensions than we see that would support the idea that our universe is a 3D brane in a higher dimensional space.

                The other way is to look for ‘imprints’ of past universes on our own. In the past this was actually a hindrance to the theory since every preceding universe changed the balance of radiation and matter in the succeeding one, leading to infinitely long cycles. Current theories may look for asymmetries or unexpected statistical effects in our universe.

                1. I think information fields are – could be particle free zones – inc gravity! For example I have to refer back to my earlier reference that being communication between non genetically coupled species. i.e. the floral entomological mimics separated by some 130 million years of evolutionary gap, Despite the impossibility of copy it happened.

                  I cannot vote for a multi interleaved universe otherwise there would be some tangible evidence of it other than a mathematical conundrum, without hope of any verification. Clever that it is.

                  Despite the fact that particle less fields may be difficult to model does that make them permanent outlaws for consideration?

                2. Nothing is ever ‘outlawed from consideration’ in physics. There are people pushing a creationist view where the universe as it is formed from a giant sphere of water. Fields without particles are small fry by comparison.

                  The problem though, as I should have explained a little more deeply, is that a field without particles is very ‘smooth’

                  Think of the photon. The classical view that comes to mind when ‘field and particle’ is mentioned is a sold ball of something being ‘pushed about’ by the field or other solid balls of stuff.

                  In reality our current description of particles and fields is more like waves on the ocean. particles aren’t separate from fields, they’re built *from* them. A photon is a wave in the electromagnetic field. At the very base of it you have something analogous to that guy looking at the computer screen in The Matrix; particles are just numbers in a field of numbers.

                  A theory then that involves fields with no particles is hard to construct. The first question is what particles *are* if they are not waves in a field. We know we can make particles by adding energy to a field or ‘wiggling’ it in the right way. This lends a great deal of evidence tot he two being linked. Particles without fields are difficult to envisage too, we know they are waves, but then what medium are they traveling through?

                  About the only case where it is possible to view particles responding to a ‘smooth’ field is gravity. Since gravity is so weak compared to other forces its field changes smoothly and on large scales. (It is also very hard to detect its particles.) So we can view say, a proton falling to earth as being smoothly influenced by the gravitational field (or curved space.) rather than ‘jiggling about’ as it’s hit by individual gravitons.

                  With all other forces however it is more or less difficult to make the analogy break down. Two magnets act very similar to two masses interacting gravitationally and a proton ‘falling’ towards a negative charge looks very similar to one falling towards a mass, but individual particles often show much more quantized behavior. Especially in the area of ‘virtual particles’ and things like particle decays.

                  If gravity were in any way of comparable strength to the other four forces then relativity or QM would break down, possibly both. Stars would form black holes if they grew larger than cars, objects orbiting each other would decay via gravitational radiation in weeks rather than millions of years and so on.

                  Given all this anyone who wants to build a theory of particle-less fields (whatever they may be.) has their work cut out for them. I am open to anything that’s self-consistent and testable but I have no idea where you’d even start on such an exercise.

                3. Then the nature of space I suppose is key to everything! Particles make the space? or space provides a place for them to exist in?

                4. That is a very interesting question indeed. Certainly in our current preferred understanding fields make a place for particles to exist in. (If ever there was some place where things like the electromagnetic field ‘ended’ many particles would not be able to exist in that area of space.)

                  But fields are thought to fill all of the space there is. Are THEY space? DO they make up space? Are they just something that happens IN space? Those are deep questions indeed.

                5. Then on this stepping stone of reasoning I have to revert back to my earlier position and just think of it as constantly emerging . After all it is expanding and matter getting thinner – our beloved particles separated by an increasing virtual flat dimension

                6. The current thinking illustrates the incompatibility between relativity and QM. From a ‘relativistic’ perspective space is ‘smooth’ on all scales; no matter how closely you examine it there is no structure, no ‘graininess’ It is the backdrop on which things occur.

                  From a ‘quantum’ perspective there comes a point where space can no longer be thought of as smooth but instead as a ‘grainy’ or foam-like set of constantly fluctuating fields. This has consequences even at the scale of things like protons and neutrons.

                  The fact that two theories give two different descriptions of the same thing (space, gravity.) tells us that both are incomplete and that we need another theory that encompasses them both. The search for a theory that unites the ‘very big’ and ‘very small’ is one of the hottest topics in physics today.

                7. One must also return to the idea of what exists in quantum gaps? Other than any local field caused by their existence. Do the gaps exist because of the quantum behaviour or does it gap space exist it in absence of them anyways?

                8. I am not entirely sure of what you mean by ‘quantum gap’; could you give a reference to something explaining this, or possibly just try to re-word it?

        2. Referring to the Gravity probe B measurement of frame dragging/twisting: I see that in a different light – to me it measured historic gravitation as the measuring device was at some distance from the surface – and if the gravity field moves at C the detected information was historic not real time hence the Earth has moved and appears twisted?

  38. The vacuum energy includes the energy of all fields, the electromagnetic field, gauge fields, hermionic fields, and the Higgs field. As a wrote here before, it does not have zero energy because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle due to the wave particle duality and the wave nature of all fields. The best way to see this is unlike the electromagnetic field which has a ground energy of zero, the Higgs fields lowest state is less than zero; It can have particles with negative energy. Wikipedia, Zero point energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy

  39. If we go by the name graviton, it is a particle with zero mass and a spin of two. According to general relativity, the graviton must have a spin of 2 because its vector potential, spin 2 is a symmetric tensor potential which is required by general relativity. I suggest you check out Feynman’s Lectures on Gravitation. Also the angular momentum is conserved in quantum field theory which also shows that the graviton must have a spin of two otherwise it could not decay into two photons, each with a spin of one.

    1. You don’t have to “suggest” I “check out Feynman’s lectures on gravitation”; one does not get a Ph.D. in this field without knowing these things, and I got mine 20 years ago. In your previous comment you said the graviton *does* have a mass [which is wrong] so I’m glad you’ve corrected yourself in this comment.

      However, your statement about angular momentum is wrong. The Higgs particle (with a spin of zero) decays into two photons, each with a spin of one. The Z boson, with a spin of one, can decay (though the rate is too small to measure) into three photons, each with a spin of 1. Angular momentum addition is not linear, and what is conserved is not spin but total angular momentum, which involves orbital motion as well as spin.

      In addition one should note that a massless particle like the graviton doesn’t decay.

      1. Do you have a good resource on this? I must admit particle decays such as those you mention have given me trouble. I seem to have it stuck in my mind somewhere that spin should be conserved like charge or mass\energy.

  40. I stand corrected. You are correct the Higgs particle does have mass. It is the photon that has no mass. I am still right about the Higgs field though. It gives mass to all particles. The Higgs field and the zero point energy are the same and that was my point. At one time the Higgs was thought to be a massless particle with a spin of 2. My book The Quantum World, by kenneth w. Ford shows a table of force carrier particles on page 256 and it show the graviton has zero mass but that it wrong today of course. I should have known that because according to quantum theory a particle with heavier mass must always decay into lighter particles which have a sum that adds up to the original heavier particles mass. One particle can’t decay into a single particle but only into two or more particles. We see this in the LCH where protons with 7,000 times their rest mass collide to produce heavy particles because E= mc squared so the kinetic energy, the energy of motion of such a proton is represented by many extra virtual quarks and gluons as well as it’s original own three quarks. These quarks and gluons collide together and produce W bosons, Z bosons which emit a Higgs. The Higgs then decays into lighter particles such as two photons, W bosons, Z bosons, quarks etc.

    1. 1) The Higgs field is a field that is charged under isospin and under hypercharge; see http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/the-known-apparently-elementary-particles/the-known-particles-if-the-higgs-field-were-zero/ . If this were not the case, the Higgs field could not give masses to the W and Z particles and to the fermions of the Standard Model without contradicting a wide variety of experimental results. Zero-point energy, by the nature of energy, is not charged under isospin or hypercharge, or indeed under any gauge interaction. The Higgs and zero-point energy are clearly not the same.

      2) The Higgs particle was *never* thought to be a particle of spin 2. Just read Higgs’s original papers for yourself! They’re in the literature.

      Higgs, P. W. (1964). “Broken symmetries, massless particles and gauge fields”. Physics Letters 12 (2): 132–201. doi:10.1016/0031-9163(64)91136-9.

      Higgs, P. (1964). “Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons”. Physical Review Letters 13 (16): 508. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.13.508

      3) Electromagnetism is a long-range force because the photon is massless; gravity is a long-range force because the graviton is massless.

      4) You may want to work on your kinematics, and might find this helpful: http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/mass-energy-matter-etc/mass-and-energy/

  41. The Higgs particle has zero mass. This is common knowledge. It has energy but energy equals mass E=MC squared. The Higgs field is a scalar field; it does not have a sense of direction. It is everywhere.

    1. No, the Higgs particle most certainly has mass. A massless particle can be produced with any energy greater than zero. Everything in the universe made of normal matter glows with photons. Even in liquid nitrogen objects emit a small amount of very low energy radio waves.

      The Higgs particle cannot contain less energy than about 125 Gev. This also makes it incredibly hard to produce and give sit a short lifetime like the W and Z bosons.

      Whether or not the Higgs field is scalar does not affect the fact that its particle has mass. If you have a reputable reference that says this I would be most interested indeed.

    2. The Higgs particle has just been discovered, and its mass has been measured as 125-126 GeV/c2. Last time I checked, the equation 125 = 0 was not true. So what you call “common knowlege” is common only to you.

  42. The HIggs fields is an energy field and if you collide particles with enough energy you make a wave or particle in that field. Particles with a lot of mass are deflected by that field.

  43. Excuse me, because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, we can’t know both the position and velocity of a particle simultaneously. When we measure the velocity accurately, the position becomes uncertain and when we measure the position, the velocity becomes uncertain.

  44. According to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, we know both the velocity and position of a particle simultaneously. We can’t have a particle with zero velocity or zero position because they would both position and velocity be would known for certainty; A particle with zero position and zero momentum, the momentum is mass time velocity. Consequently, empty space is seething with a foam of virtual particles which are created and destroyed in a very small fraction of a second; matter and anti-matter particles are created come together and annihilate in a very small fraction of time. Detectible photons are produced as a result of these collisions of quantum virtual effects.

  45. The rest state, the ground state or lowest energy state of all fermions or matter particles, the particle which have mass come from the zero point energy or quantum vacuum energy of empty space. All the mass of matter particles are calculated from the from the kinetic energy of quarks and gluons which protons and neutrons, etc are made. The rest is the ground state energy of the atom. A process of renormalization is used to calculate the mass of particles. “The sum of the negative infinite values and the positive infinite values almost cancel out leaving a small remainder, the finite observed values of mass and charge.” p. 107, 108, The Grand Design, Hawking. These are the infinites of quantum field theory which should be considered a quantum object where virtual particles can appear and be destroyed at any point in space. The Quantum Man, Krauss.
    2. The Higgs field does give mass to all fermions which has now been proven by the LCH through particle decay. Heavier particles like quarks can collide and decay into a W boson and graviton etc.
    3. The HIggs particle has no mass because only particles with zero mass can go long range like photons. W bosons have mass to they can only be exchanged short range. Hawking, A Brief History in Time, pages 90-91. Particles are also waves according to the wave particle duality. Moreover, Energy equals mass time the velocity of light squared E = MC squared.

    1. The Higgs particle most certainly has mass. This restricts the Higgs force to a very short range and it why we don’t observe it. It is also why it is so hard to create Higgs particles.

      The Higgs field is what gives particles mass.

    2. “3. The HIggs particle has no mass because only particles with zero mass can go long range like photons.”

      As I described in my post of 5/31/13, the Higgs particle, unlike a photon, does not go long range. If it did, we would have discovered the Higgs force many decades ago, because the apparent gravitational force between different materials would have been different. So in fact, your own statement actually proves that the Higgs particle DOES have mass; if it did not have mass, then its long-range force would have been observed long ago.

  46. “since two particles may be on a course where they should classically miss, yet, due to their quantum nature, interact”.

    Yes exactly I am trying to think that one through hence my student take on it’s available and non normal energy condition in the collider. I am assuming that the proton in this case has its mass somewhat multiplied by it’s velocity? Under what other condition in nature ( cosmological etc) can we expect to see similar conditions of free proton? or proton only dynamics. Thanks again for not recoiling at every nonsensical idea.

    1. The mass of a proton moving at speed v is equal to p/v * root (1 – v^2/c^2) which at low speeds simplifies to m = p/v but heads to infinity as v approaches c.

      I am not entirely sure what you mean by ‘free proton’, but if you are referring to a proton not bound to an electron then it doesn’t take much energy at all. The solar wind is full of naked protons and they bombard our atmosphere constantly. Hydrogen will ionize if given barely 14 eV of energy (That’s plain electron volts, not the billions of electron volts needed to make a Higgs.) Though they don’t last long on earth due to quickly meeting electrons from other atoms, the universe if filled with them. (For one things stars are made mostly of them.)

  47. Various observations on this exchange, hoping that I haven’t grossly misunderstood:

    * In an expanding universe, where does the “new space” come from?

    Having had to probe this in my own work [, see preceding top-level post], I decided that this is buried in the “connection” criterion, which says (loosely) that if little (well-defined ‘local’) bits of space-time are to be connected together to “tile” and therewith *form* 3+1 space, the complexity of the result cannot exceed the sum of the complexities of the components being joined.

    More specifically, suppose bi-vectors ab+cd and ef+gh, which pairs are ‘dimensional atoms’ of 3+1d, each with complexity 2+2=4, are to be connected. This can be done by forming (eg) ab+ef and cd+gh, which also have complexity 2+2=4. [All these are the precursors of actual 3+1d spacetime.]

    The increase is an increase in dimensionality (since all such pairs are orthogonal to each other) which increases the number of distinctions, which increases the information potential, which encourages entropy creation, which means expansion.

    But maybe the connection criterion is the wrong place to look for this.

    * Is there a timeline of sorts that ‘clocks’ the expansion itself? Gravitons?

    Here I’ve come to differ from the received wisdom, due to my computational/process mind-set. The idea of a bosonic “graviton” particle that carries the gravitational influence from place to place (so to speak) is, for me, very “sequential”, in that it implicitly supposes a linear view of causality: [gravitational] event Y is caused by [gravitational] event X, with the “graviton particle” being the connecting causal link, ie. analogous to photons linking electromagnetic events.

    My analysis surprised me by showing that gravity can’t be like this. Rather, gravity’s causation came out as a non-local “distributed causality”, the reason being grounded in the fact that gravity is non-polar and indifferent to polar attributes like charge. In a nutshell, whereas a standard causal sequence YX cannot just be rewritten XY because this trashes its very meaning, this *can* be done with gravitation because gravity is a *mutual* relationship (“they commute”). So for me, “gravitons” are mythical, and an implicitly misleading concept.

    Popping the stack to the starting question, the timeline of the expansion itself is measured by entropy creation, and this “time” is thus only very indirectly connected to the sequential (ie. time-like) reference frames of relativity theory.

    * Novel theories *must* be accompanied by good mathematics to be credible!

    Oh so true. But, alas, it’s not enough, cf. . The math there is very clean and straightforward, and pretty too. But the referees of physics journals – like all referees – have a very hard time with true novelty. They’re *experts*, after all, and can easily evaluate standard stuff. But the genuinely new gets a different treatment – it takes a lot of time and effort to read unfamiliar mathematics, and what happens is that the expert usually concludes that – lacking familiar signposts – there must be *something* wrong with it somewhere, else some other expert would have found this approach already. But finding that ‘somewhere’ will take a lot of effort, so the referee just lists some complaints about various details here and there, and recommends against publication. After all, it’s probably wrong, right?

    And this is why *I* am so grateful for this site. Hopefully, here I can get some meaningful critique.

    1. You are correct in your description of physics journals, and publishing anywhere is often not easy, even for ‘professionals’; the best bet for a totally new theory it to attempt publication in one of the smaller journals while avoiding those with a poor reputation (Like the Journal of Cosmology.) Knowing a physicist will also help as, as you note, they can offer critique on your theory and its presentation as well as helpful links.

      On the ‘origin’ of new space this is a topic which I am poorly prepared to comment. In the consensual view, where space is smooth things are much simpler since there are no discrete creation events. Models such as the one you propose that also use expansion of space tend to have discrete creation of new ‘nodes’ which must be handled in a logical manner. Sadly I do not know enough on such theories to comment.

      I am curious as to how you would ‘rewrite’ an event X->Y as Y->X; If I have two bodies with opposite electrical charge I cannot say one attracts the other, they are both attracted to each other, each one exerting a force on the other. Similarly two bodies with energy attract each other gravitationally, exerting equal and opposite forces on each other.

      The only way I can think of where you would have a cause and effect relationship would be if a gravitational signal (A gravitational wave.) were sent from one body to affect another in the same way a pulse of light or changing magnetic filed initiated by one object affects another. And I am not entirely sure how this could be ‘rewritten’ so that the affected object was the cause.

      1. Kudzu – I was wondering could we exchange information via private email so my Roman rhetoric does not constantly clutter Matt’s good site ? I have contact in Maine USA who is preparing some geometrics for me. Hopefully this will develop into a moving computer graphic. Would this be possible I would like you to take a look at them and criticize accordingly? thanks

        1. That should be no problem; simply send whatever you want to my gmail at gareth.l.dean (I am sure you can figure out the rest.)

          1. Noted thanks – will be a little while as I want to send developed images centered around my roman rhetoric for opinion thanks again.

          2. PP collision:

            How do we know? for instance the particles produced ( whatever classification in the SM ) are more to do with the Swiss Electricity Board and less to do with the actual composition of a proton? The proton is pumped up to a high velocity it has an artificial and substantial new energy state ( virtue of near C velocity ) thanks to the SEB above.

            So what we detect is the conversion of the SEB energy into particles and separate from what the proton could show us in the classical world if was at rest ( relative ) on the table?

            So in a sense are we are demonstrating that we ‘can’ create matter from energy, rather than expose the units of composition of an existing state of matter? i.e. The LHC or any collider is detecting new matter not exposing it?

            1. Now this is an interesting question.

              The function of the LHC and similar particle accelerators is NOT to fragment ordinary matter to look at its ‘bits, but to create new particles out of energy.

              However these accelerators CAN tell us about the structure of matter because the result of particle collisions is VERY sensitive to what the structure of those particles is.

              Imagine colliding two balls at high speed, say bullet speed. If they are billiard balls, the same all the way through they will either bounce off each other, or shatter into pieces. But if they are instead hollow and filled with small metal pellets, looking, feeling and weighing exactly the same as a billiard ball, the collision will produce a scattering of metal fragments. Many may even pass right by each other.

              Likewise, while quarks were once just a nice mathematical idea the past few decades have given us an incredible amount of data supporting the quark model. (And not the initial ‘3 quarks per hadron’ model, but the more complex one illustrated on this site. You will notice for example that the mass of the up and down quark has been changed downwards in recent physics books compared to older publications.)

              What it pays to remember is that it is not protons that are being collided, but the quarks and gluons within them, and we have overwhelming evidence for this, given on this site. We know there are particles, or something very like them inside protons. We know they contain only a small part of the proton’s mass. We know that they come in several kinds of different properties and energy and that the gluon-like particles are the most common by far.

              We know protons do NOT contain things like electrons and that the particles we’ve ‘seen’ are very, very quarklike. If they were not then the products of literally trillions of experiments would be very different.

              1. “The function of the LHC and similar particle accelerators is NOT to fragment ordinary matter to look at its ‘bits, but to create new particles out of energy.”

                Thanks again that helps to continue to build the picture. I need to return to the energy question: Can I assume that the energy provided by the LHC to accelerate the proton is also part of the conversion into matter in isolation of what is happening to the internal content of the proton?

                1. Well… yes and no.

                  A large amount of the matter produced in a p-p collision will not be the original proton itself, nor will it be anything contained within a proton. In that respect you could neglect the proton entirely and just view it as a carrier of energy that is converted into a wide variety of particles.

                  However the internal structure of the proton greatly influences what the collision will produce; only a small fraction of the energy of the proton will be carried by any one quark\gluon for a start, and the expanding jets of hadrons is seeded by the remaining fragments of the proton. A collision between to equally energetic electrons would look much different.

                  In this way it’s much like growing a tree. All trees are nearly entirely mass drawn out of the air (from carbon dioxide.) with only a little bit being the seed, but that initial seed determines a lot about waht the final tree will look like.

                2. “In that respect you could neglect the proton entirely and just view it as a carrier of energy that is converted into a wide variety of particles.”

                  Great that helps.

                  Ref: P-P vs mass energy equivalence:

                  The proton has it’s mass substantially increased by virtue of its externally applied energy – resultant velocity ).

                  Q: So the LHC enquiry is to determine what is the construct of this increase in mass? ( in isolation for the moment ).

                  Where such additional mass experienced is short lived because as soon as the collision occurs its velocity will be substantially reduced and cause extinction of the mass so created? Hence their rapid decay from being mass into heat?

                3. The LHC was constructed for a number of reasons, notably to detect the properties of the Higgs boson, but also to test the standard model at higher energies, look for signs of supersymmetry, new particles, test the mass of particles like the top quark and more.

                  It was not constructed to determine why velocity increases the ‘mass’ of a particle, since we already know this.

                  The increase in a particle’s ‘mass’ with speed is a direct result of the equivalence of mass and energy. Anything made to move has been given energy, which is equivalent to it gaining mass by a number of measures. Thus anything moving will seem naively to be getting more massive.

                  This means that it will take MORE energy to increase he speed an equal amount increasing the ‘mass’ by more and so on. It is not hard to prove that this will set a limit on how fast an object can go when its energy is infinite. (That depends on the precise relation between ‘mass’ and energy.)

                  The long and short of it is that we know why ‘mass’ increases with speed and why it does so exponentially. It is a basic part of how our universe works. (Though more fundamental questions such as why inertial mass and gravitational mass are the same, meaning all objects fall at the same speed are not clear.)

                  Such increased mass can be quite stable, cosmic rays can spend millions, even billions of years with masses trillions of times their ‘rest mass’ The short life of speedy particles on earth is merely due to the fact that everything moving here quickly bumps into something else.

                4. Yes understood, but in the case of LHC a temporary mass increase is sustained by the uniformity of the external energy applied to the particle. Is this the reason why they degrade ( mass reduction ) on and immediately post collision? They are rapidly de accelerating? ( instantaneous de acceleration ? ). Like the opposite timing of a bomb detonation.

                5. Incorrect. The increased ‘mass’, that is the high velocity is NOT being sustained by anything. The LHC *increases* the particles’ velocity by clever manipulation of magnetic fields, but if all the power were to suddenly fail the particle wouldn’t slow down, it would keep going at its high velocity until it hit something. (Probably the LHC’s wall.)

                  The loss of speed in the particles involved is not as quick as you would think; the two colliding particles are destroyed, but (many of) their fragments are still moving a >0.5c. These energetic particles decay and hit things themselves producing more fragments with velocities around 0.1c and so on.

                  Were the LHC’s detectors not solid matter it would take several seconds to slow things down to sub-sonic speeds. However solid matter is an excellent shield for particles like hadrons so we see them stop ‘quickly’ in the same way a car stops quickly when it hits a solid brick wall.

                6. So the particles once at 9.999…% the LHC can be technically switched off without change to the particles velocity ? What is the energy consumption when they are at max velocity? Is the power reduced?

                  If the fragments are at 0.5c post collision a substantial difference than the above figure. Would or does this not account for their reduction of mass as this lower figure? Just in considering the numbers in the Mass vs energy equivalence?

                7. The LHC consumes power in doing two things to the particles inside it. The first is to keep them magnetically contained, that is, to keep their path circular, instead of straight. This doesn’t give the particle any more energy, but it does require that the particle be constantly accelerated towards the center of the LHC. (Equivalent to how a planet stays in orbit by constantly falling towards its star.)

                  This is why the magnets have to be so powerful; since the particles are moving so fast (And have so much inertia.) a strong magnetic field is required to change their direction. This power consumption *increases* with particle speed.

                  The second thing is to increase the particles’ speed, which is done by tweaking the magnetic fields so that the particles feel a pull forwards or a push from behind. The proportion of power consumed this way depends on how fast you want to accelerate the particles to their top speed; the faster you do so the greater proportion (Since you will spend less time using ‘containment energy’) This power consumption can be kept the same, but in the LHC is increased as particle speed increases so particles build up enough energy quickly.

                  If the LHC were simply to keep a stream of particles at maximum speed then it would require significantly less power (but still a substantial amount since the magnets there are not permanent and need a great deal of power to run and keep cool.) However its purpose is not containment, but acceleration and collision. Therefore as soon as particles are at peak velocity they are used and a new set accelerated. This results in rising energy use, a sudden drop, a rise… in a series of peaks and troughs for each burst. (Though the actual situation is much, much more complex.)

                  The reduced speed of fragments produced in a particle collision is due to a number of factors. Firstly, it is not easy to divide up fragments into ‘generations’; two colliding protons are like two colliding water balloons, more a splash than a clean collision.

                  The initial result of two colliding protons will (mostly) be a series of particle ‘jets’ as the two protons mingle and are torn apart, the color force between their quarks and gluons trying to hold them together, converting kinetic energy into more particles.

                  After the jets have condensed and stabilized into definite particles moving away from the collision in all directions their velocity is reduced simply because the energy is now dispersed over a lot more particles in many different directions and a good portion of it has been converted to mass. These particles of course are still moving fast enough to produce their own messy collisions with anything they collide with.

                8. Don’t worry I don’t seek the rationalization of the earlier question. I have assembled the ideas and concluding the 15 page paper. Respectfully would like you to have a look at it [criticize]. It is very simple, it promotes and reinforces in simple language the validity of the primary dimension and brings argument between Newton and Einstein. Both are relevant but each separated by their vision confined by their ideas of the Absolute vs 3D+temporal of Einstein + Minkowski. I think I have unwrapped a mathematical way of legally presenting this case and cause the opportunity of doubt regards the singularity of 3D in isolation. We have 2 schools, we can believe in both. However, one does not take us forward the other does [ in my view ]. This is not outside the limitations of Matt’s site as it invokes opportunity of detection and measurement over and above the super microscopic scale, and more importantly provides for a fundamental mechanism for gravity – not just the equations of its effect. Please send me an email so I can copy to you in confidence. The acronym of the theory is TONS! By total coincidence. Kind regards

                9. Actually a man of your deep knowledge physics who makes a comment that he thinks that time does not exist, I find rather encouraging. It would be good to get the meaning of time and separated ( if it can be separated in the mind of science ) how it actually participates, or control in my vision of things.

                10. If I have a regular solid spherical which is constantly enlarging/dispersing its volume at value C. is the following expression correct, where I need to illustrate the intensity at any particular R.

                  4/3π r³C x 1/R² ( distance from centre )

                  I seek a simple expression for the entire solid spherical not a quadrant of it. Can I change the inverse ² into a ³ ?? or does it remain as a ², and is C in the right position – which I have doubts about. Is there a simple ideal way to express this dynamic?

                  I tried rotating your email address and using .com but I failed to send an image? I am obviously doing something wrong?


          3. PP collisions: Following my absurd notion for one further step.

            Could it be, that because it is ‘not’ at actual value C ( albeit close ) all we are seeing is the inability of energy to complete its transformation into a persistent form of matter ( particle’s )? And if, we could achieve C using the proton as a conveyor of that energy, do you think that following a collision that the energy is then able complete its transformation and we see a persistent form of matter produced? E.g all we are detecting at the moment is an indication of what that quantum of energy is trying to do and cannot complete the process because it is too low?

            If that could possibly be true then have we evolved the concept of relativity, which illustrates that matter can only be formed providing (energy transmission ) is at energetic value equivalence to C. Or something in the background is, which sustains its persistence once formed? E.g. Light is persistent in the form of photon once transmitted from incandescence. It can be slowed down artificially but remains persistent as an identifiable particle. So are we missing something?

            When the LHC powers up and more quantum energy available and assuming it cannot improve upon its 99.999’s… % then would it still fall short of the above ability? And see the same particles – but much more of them as there is more energy available to be converted. And when we see Higgs P is there any possibility that it is a result of a specific and rare collision?

            1. This would present some problems; recall that cosmic rays are bombarding earth with particles millions of times more energetic than the LHC produces and the big bang itself should surely have had a large enough energy. If we assume that the energy level required is on the scale of the ‘Oh God’ particle then the universe would have billions of times less particles each with the mass of a baseball.

              Of course particles moving faster than light, unable to slow down to light speed can theoretically exist, so called ‘tachyons’, but they seem at present to be unlikely.

              1. Yes the notion of tachyons is not new to me. However, if they did exist then my notion of a constantly populating manifold of space at value C would be destroyed ( assuming it could not be destroyed before that ! ). If a super light speed particle existed in our local universe would upset all kinds of things. E.g a Cosmic particle reacts with our relatively static material atmosphere. Likewise I assume that a tachyon would react with our relatively static manifold and unable to penetrate it, or very quickly degrade into something else? And if that was happening presumably we would have some evidence of it? E.g. Our ionosphere provides the ability of an accidental shield – likewise the construct of the universe protects us against rogue material such as a Tachy??

                1. One of the big things for me would bet he fact that tachyons would be traveling backwards in time; the future could send a signal to the past, which raises all sorts of questions.

                  A tachyon itself could be very low energy, indeed as low energy as you wanted, which would take care of stability issues and shielding. Fortunately we have yet to see any of these, which suggests they are either totally absent, unreactive or very high energy. I thus don’t bother myself with them much.

                2. Yes! You caught me on that one but a subject which is outside the law of this site. Although I have to respond. If we live in a background of constant time then everything referenced to it all happens at the same time! ( In my thinking ) as far as the background ‘0’ is concerned.

                  My understanding is that these imagined particles move at >C this is what makes them different? And if so, how can they have low energy if I am thinking of velocity. Or can something have super C velocity and have low energy? Now I am struggling with the two?? But we live in the HZ where C has an upper fixed value so how could it transit our space?

                3. The behavior of tachyons is what I like to think of as ‘negative normal’ and is a common occurrence in physics. A normal particle has minimum energy at zero speed and a maximum energy at speed c. A tachyon however has minimum energy at infinite speed and maximum energy at c.

                  It can be tempting to think of some things as ‘beyond infinity’, which shouldn’t be possible, but these usually have a ‘mirrored’ behavior (Such as negative temperatures.)

                4. “One of the big things for me would bet he fact that tachyons would be traveling backwards in time”

                  But the time passing in this case would be ‘our 3D experience’ of time. This is going to get me into trouble, if we have a background of zero the future already exists, as does the present and past. ( at the same time reference). There is no going backwards or forwards, it’s just constant ‘0’. In trying to give birth to an idea existing as 2 entities of it! If the background could run into ( –0), then I suppose we could meter our experience ?

                  One further step if time did run at (-0) would change everything including Gravity, on the basis that my concept is that gravity as is light is totally dependent upon it. In as much it may not have a graviton construct but is nothing more than the manifold of space creating new 1D space point for point ( is not moving but getting bigger = more of it. – I am aware of the contradiction) . All it is doing is conveying information at ‘C’ in 3D everywhere – especially the current and variable energy states of bodies hence gravity ( and our meaning of going backwards and forwards in ‘our observed time’ ). For example our milky way may not have a black hole, but as far as ‘gravity’ of the suns concerned it still does. Because the ‘0’ time population between them is still being received from a historic event.

                5. I personally dislike the idea of the entire universe existing all at ‘once’, past and future. Firstly it makes me wonder about random processes, either they would have only one possible result that already existed, or the entire multiverse with all possible results exists. It also makes ‘time travel’ possible if the universe is set up correctly. (Though this ‘time travel’ will not change the way things are, it will always have been.)

                  Indeed I do not believe that ‘time’ exists at all myself, but this is likely something we shouldn’t be discussing here.

                6. Yes fascinating subject. Maybe in some universes ( time-0, 0, 0+), where matter also appears and disappears?)). Varying like a tide? On my original manubo site I put up an image of a cut cauliflower. It just seemed like a good natural candidate shape for a potential multiverse, daft as this first appears. Next time you have one cut it in half and look at the bundle of complex but uniform shapes in profile. It has a central flow which branches out into a complicated internal and external florets each one could be a different universe with its unique conditions. Where the rate at which it is developing is at variance to its neighbor. All the same but all different! The only thing which remains constant is the colour. Then structurally one returns to fractal ideas such as Julia and Mendelbrot sets. Nature is full of these another example being species of fern patterns.

                7. Dear Matt and Kudzu, I am pretty damn sure that I understand the process which causes a clock to increase time as it moves away from a gravitational field, our field or any other field. Would you both like to receive a pdf which describes this and the process involved? I have published a treatise which, will naturally have a very low global profile. However, if you are sufficiently curious I would be happy to send over an email with description. If you can agree the good news is that that you are both implicated in its validity, 1.because I am dedicated to your site and 2. Because kudzu has put up with my endless questioning. Regards.

      2. Proton vs proton collision:

        When two of these items collide how do we know if they share precisely the same axis?, and not slightly offset. E.g on a game of billiards if two of the balls interact exactly head to head their reactive motion will be exactly opposite and the ball will return to the cue. Then if slightly offset the balls will go of at a random angle determined by the collision offset. Under those conditions would It quantify the force in the collision? The proton is tiny to us but relative to each other they are huge. So is the resultant energy of the collision subject to a trigonometric value? If so, would this affect in any way the combination ratio of particles released and observed? And could it be that when we see a Higgs like the protons have experience a 100% head to head contact?

        1. This is an interesting question indeed.

          The first thing to note is that protons are not what is colliding, in the sense of two particles hitting each other, in these ‘p-p collisions’; What is colliding is a quark or gluon *inside* the protons. This does not however change the argument that you bring forward.

          The primary difference between this case and that of billiards is that a classical ball has a solid surface. They cannot pass through each other or hit and miss at the same time or do any of the wonderful things that subatomic particles can.

          Now imagine two particle moving towards each other at a given speed. They are, as you know disturbances in their respective fields, as well as other fields they interact with. These particles are always interacting, even if weakly due to the infinite reach of forces like gravity ad electromagnetism. At some point these interactions will result in the two particles changing their direction of motion.

          Saying two particles ‘collide’ is not the same as saying two classical object collide; there is no definite solid surface involved and position can be a bit iffy. Calling these events ‘interactions’ is, in my opinion more accurate, since two particles may be on a course where they should classically miss, yet, due to their quantum nature, interact.

          Then there is the fact that interactions can well change what particles are, especially at high energies. In this case what emerges from the interaction is not two particles that have ‘bounced off’ each other, but a slew of particles whose total properties are equivalent to those that went into the interaction.

          So when two particles collide, their properties, including their momentum do matter, but it would be misleading to think of them as small solid balls bouncing classically off each other.

    2. “I’m sorry, but this website is NOT where you will get meaningful critique on novel ideas. If I had to provide novel critique on every novel idea that gets thrown at this website, I’d spend all my days critiquing.” …

      Hi Matt yes we understand these terms and conditions and just not practical for you to involve yourself in technically road blocked concepts.

      “Learn to talk with physicists; then you’ll make progress”

      Personally that is why I am here, as your site is a creditable one without all the claptrap of other parallel sites on a similar subject. I have tried to open a meaningful dialogue with many respected physicists around the world. In some instances succeeded to a minor degree. The reluctance always come down to the same reason ‘ time’ and lack of it. E.g “ Even if your intuition is correct I am sorry I cannot involve my time with it” We are all in the same boat, and fully understand. However, I take this opportunity to publically present my sincere gratitude to Kudzu in involving his time to respond to my many questions.

    3. I’m very sorry that I misunderstood your intentions, Dr. Strassler, though upon re-reading you made them clear enough. So please accept my apologies for this. And, since I am committed to a discrete and (unboundedly) finite view, I agree that my posts are “speculative” relative to the main stream. So I expect that I won’t try to contribute again.

      I would though like to address Kudzu’s questions.

      “I am curious as to how you would ‘rewrite’ an event X->Y as Y->X; If I have two bodies with opposite electrical charge I cannot say one attracts the other, they are both attracted to each other, each one exerting a force on the other. Similarly two bodies with energy attract each other gravitationally, exerting equal and opposite forces on each other.”

      The quick reply is we express causal processes as products of idempotents, and so changing the order implicitly changes the causal relationship (which is ultimately thermodynamically governed). Being computer scientists, we’re not used to thinking in terms of ‘fields’; on the other hand, the *role* fields play is taken over by the quantum/causal potential (cf. Parseval’s Identity below) and its evolution.

      The difference (that we found) between electro-magnetic and gravitational attractions arises from the fact that what we experience as gravity in 3+1d rests (in our formulation) upon quantum entanglement. The quaternion isomorphs (“tauquernions”) forming ‘space’ are namely *also* the Bell and Magic entanglement operators (and e-bit states as well). [This doesn’t mean though that gravity propagates instantaneously.]

      So entities are already in pairwise association *before* they are projected (thru the tauquernion frame) into 3+1d. In contrast, electromagnetic influences are woven *into* this framework, ie. “in it” and not “of it”. So the bosonic connection (photon vs ‘graviton’) has a different tone for this reason. Your question is framed from a 3+1 pov, and as if gravity must be understood solely in that frame’s terms. We have more context to work with and can therefore be more detailed.

      “In the consensual view, where space is smooth things are much simpler since there are no discrete creation events.”

      The paradox of discrete vs. continuous has long presented a puzzle. I have found what I believe is a resolution, based on a generalization of the Pythagorean theorem called Parseval’s Identity:

      Theorem (Parseval, 1799). The projection of a function F onto an orthogonal inner-product space *is* the Fourier decomposition of F.

      The space is usually an ordinary vector space, and the basis for the theorem becomes clear when one recalls that the sides of a right triangle can be expressed in terms of sine and cosine, which then easily generalizes to n dimensions, yielding F in terms of a big pile of sines and cosines. Assuming that a Fourier decomposition is unique, however it be calculated, then completes the argument.

      Thus the discreteness of our model is in terms of *dimensions* and not really *numbers*. On the other hand, a Fourier decomposition lives in continuous space and maps the real line. While such matters are very much the province of the the mathematicians, it nevertheless seems that the transition between the two realms is in this way well-defined and sound. At a minumum it shows that every expression in our algebra is a wave operator. [I note that applying the identity to geometric algebra’s graded space means that Pontryagin Duality – a further generalization of the Pythagorean relationship – must undergird the continuity argument.]

  48. For Prof Matt:
    “And if gravity were instantaneous, rather than delayed as in Einstein’s theory,”

    Yes; but why delayed?

    I know ( understand ) that if the sun were to magically disappear in <1 sec. We as a body ( earth ) would continue to rotate as if nothing had happened for 8 minutes following ( approx ). What is your explanation for that ( other than the speed of light )? I would appreciate your insight which does not hang on value C – thanks

    1. The primary reason is that relativity is true; there is a maximum speed that anything can travel through space. Gravity is no exception to this, if it were instantaneous we would need an explanation, as to why it was the exception, as things stand it is behaving normally, just like everything else.

      The view of gravity being mediated by massless particles traveling at light speed is the most conductive to this, since using that model gravity travels at light speed as a matter of course and your question becomes ‘Why can’t gravitons travel indefinitely fast’?

      1. Thanks, yes gravity ( imagined gravitons ) are limited to value C. Hence the action following the action has a value C hysteresis. Sun vanishes, its gravity vanishes, information is transmitted via the manifold – currently preferred gravitons ( spacetime takes temporal time to vary its depression, it flattens ( missing coupled energy in this case ) and the earth flies of at a tangent from its historic orbit.

        Which returns me to my earlier notion, that bodies may be connected through constant time. Where information – has to be transmitted from one body to the next in 3D temporal spacetime in this case. ( Information in both directions simultaneously – like the arm example ) But the above underlying phenomena may have more to do with an upper influence which is determining the above hysteresis, and value C is evidence of its behavior.

        E.g. We have to await for more primary manifold space to be produced in order that the information can be communicated. On the basis that no information can be transmitted through primary space which is static.

        For example.

        1 primary Space frame is contiguous with a body. Something happens to that body and the next frame which is produced records that packet if information. In the next moment another frame is produced so on and so forth. Until eventually sufficient frames of information have been produced in order to pass that information onto the remote body, across the gap of 3D spacetime. Maybe you could find a link with this thinking with the behavior of light in GTR.

        If anything like this is realistic we can forget about 3D spacetime deformation as a visualisation. And Gravity Probe B is only detecting information from the surface which is historic.

        i.e if the satellite moved closer to the earth the twisting affect of spacetime diminishes ( shortening of time relative = less new frames of information ) – and as it approaches closer to the earth surface there would be no twisting detected at all. The Probe is detecting a historic event not the current one.

        i.e. If the earth stopped spinning it would continue to see spacetime with a twist, which would not be true, as this is historic information. The update can only be possible by the production of New Primary Space conveying the information not a graviton? Possibly?

  49. “The problem there is that the main force allowing matter to escape a supernova is not centrifugal, but radiation pressure. (Basically the massive particles are given enough velocity that they can just fly away.)
    Massless particles have no need of this energy boost since they always move at light speed. All that keeps them bounded is interactions with massive particles. (Photons in the star’s core for example are constantly colliding with, being absorbed and being reflected by atomic nuclei and electrons.)”…..

    Sorry I missed this reply in my email and did not look at PMS web comments – I just found it. Thank you for your advice fascinating reply…….

    You have a lot of detailed knowledge. O K so I can discount simplistic centrifugal. I suppose it may participate in a very minor role. But the Rad’P is far more powerful. However, the RP is acting in its own was as a separator – getting rid of the big stuff! As you comment the massive particles. This is obviously extremely important part in the success of the next phase. Defensively’ centrifugal or RP as description is lesser import the main thing is that the new system in order to pass into this next phase presumably must get rid of them? Otherwise it does not inititate?

  50. Dear Prof. Strassler –

    Like so many of your readers, I say many many thanks for this initiative. You certainly nailed me with this posting! I hope we all don’t wear you out with our tortured inquiries.

    I’m a computer scientist, and look at “processes” from the point of view of an operating system: it does not, it *cannot*, matter what the various processes are doing – that’s their business. From the os point of view they all look the same. Just anonymous abstract discrete processes, doing what processes do: Wait and Signal to the outside, maintain stable (often concurrent) state inside.

    These being *discrete* processes, one can imagine doing some combinatorics both along and across various event sequences, and hopefully find some structure. And that’s what we did, starting with processes with one bit of state, and building up from there. We report the results at TauQuernions.org.

    This is where your post about the Higgs and gravity comes in. One would expect that a purely combinatorial approach like ours would produce results unbiased by any other criteria – prior knowledge, theoretical constructions, biases, what-have-you. One pattern that pops out is

    H = (ab-cd) + (ac+bd) + (ad-bc) = Tx + Ty + Tz

    which is nilpotent. In fact, the three pairs are isomorphic to the quaternions except that they are irreversible, and as well, each is an entanglement operator. Quaternions being the very definition of 3d space, we MAYBE made the mistake you describe, of confounding the Higgs, mass creation, and gravity.

    But I don’t *think* so, because we stop at the point where we dot Tx+Ty+Tz with whatever X is to manifest in 3+1d tauquernion space. Ie. we simply punt, not knowing the necessary physics to take it any further. I agree that if this projection disagrees with well-established theory, then we’ve likely figured wrong. But it’s not obvious to me this will be so. Eg. our measure of heft is bits, which translate to energy, not to mass.

    In addition, we found a number of patterns that I don’t really find echoed in the expert discussions. One wonders. Finally, we suggest that it follows that the mechanism underlying gravity is entanglement, and this seems to collide with your argument. Yet our approach, being purely combinatorial, is supposedly theory-neutral.

    So, if our approach *is* truly flawed, I’d sure like to know just where it goes off the rails.

  51. Some comments here :
    – The gravity force your body exerts on the earth is the same as the force the earth exerts on you : F = GMm/r^2. Reaction = action. It is the first newton law. What is different is inertia. With its mass, Earth has much more inertia than you. So the movement of the Earth is very small, your movement is much larger, you fall. My explanation is here within the newtonian dynamic theory framework.
    – Second : Black holes are much better described within the framework of general relativity. The presence of energy and matter bends space-time curvature. The light follows geodesics in space-time (lines of smallest length). In the case of a black hole, these geodesics are closed lines. The light remains confined inside black hole.
    In the case of the sun, the light travelling near the sun surface is deflected. This was famoulsly measured by the british astrnomer Eddington in 1919 duringa a sun eclipse, confirming Einstein gravitation theory.

    [A little correction, as I can’t edit my previous answer : Reation = action is the third newtonian law of motion, not the first.
    The first states that if no force exrts on a body, it will remains at rest or continues at the same speed in the same direction.
    The second states that : F =ma. Acceleration is proportional to the force exerted but inversely proportional to its mass. So Earth with his very big Mass will a have a very low acceleration, while you are falling…]

  52. If matter is made of photons within higgs field, why cant matter escape a black hole then if gravity is not stronger than higgs boson?

    1. I don’t understand your question. Matter is not made of photons (to the contrary, photon is energy, E= h f, whether matter has mass), and higgs boson is not related to gravity, as explained in this article !

    2. I assume that your question would be better worded as ‘If matter particles are all massless without the Higgs field, why can’t matter escape black holes, since the Higgs field interacts so much more with matter than gravity does?’

      The first thing to realize is that while the force of gravity has a certain strength (It is in fact exceedingly weak compared to say, the strong force.) this is a ‘per unit’ strength, an electron say produces a far stronger electromagnetic field than a gravitational one. But this is different from the strength of a gravitational field in a given situation.

      Black holes are objects where enough energy is in a small enough space that and object nearby needs to move faster than light to escape. I am stronger than my dog, but if 50 of them were to jump on me at once, there is no way I can win. Likewise the earth holds me down with its gravity because there is just so much Earth there to gravitate. Gravity’s strength lies in its ubiquity and its cumulative action.

      Secondly, when it comes to gravity what matters is energy, not mass, so photons are in the same situation as anything else when it comes to black holes or gravity in general. This is why black holes are black, not even light can escape their gravity. If we had no Higgs field black holes would still be possible.

      And finally, the Higgs field is not fighting anything. It does not oppose gravity so how strong it is isn’t really an issue here.

  53. Thank you, Alain and Kudzu. Electrons are subject to gravity, are gravity related. May I conclude that the Higgs being gravity unrelated means not directly gravity related? Is this Higgs the Higgs with a mass/energy of 1,25 Gev?

    1. The boson discovered this summer at CERN at about 125 GeV is very likely at least one Higgs boson (some theories as supersymmtery postulate several Higgs). This boson is only the particle associated with the Higgs field. The Higgs boson does not gives mass to other particles (also W, Z…), it is the Higgs field, interacting with these particles, that gives them mass.

      But as you probably know from General Relativity, Gravity is the the result of the bending of spave-time curvature due to to the presence of mass AND energy. Even if the Higgs gives mass to some particles (and not protons, neutrons…), it is not responsible for the gravity due to the preence of different kinds of energies. So, yes, Higgs is not directly related to Gravity, as it is described by General Relativity (and not Newton Law).

      Nevertheless, the Higgs field pervades all space and has a mean vacuum energy (vev) of 246 GeV, so possesses himself potentially a lot of energy that could contributes to Gravity (the problem of “Dark Energy” and cosmological constant).

    1. The idea is that Higgs field gives mass to some particles (electron, muon…), but not all, for example neutron and protons. The latter are composed of quarks, but their mass is not directly related to the masses of quakss. It is difficult to calculate, but a large part is due to interactions between partcles, virtual partcles, and the so called chiral condensate.
      So, the argument of Matt, is that, as neutron and proton are the major part of the mass of atoms, Higgs is not responsible for their mass, so to the gravity of matter…

    2. The Higgs and mass are related. Mass (Or energy) and gravity are related. We can reduce this to something like A -> B and C-> B, does A -> B?

      And in this case, no. This Higgs is responsible for giving some things mass and mass is what gravity acts on, but if there were no Higgs field at all gravity would be unaffected; it would still pull in the same way on mass and energy. And likewise a world without gravity would still see the Higgs field become nonzero and give particles mass i just the same way as it does in this universe.

      1. Kudzu — ONLY Newtonian gravity acts on Mass. In Einstein’s theory, the theory that is widely tested in experiments and widely accepted as much more accurate than Newton’s, gravity acts on energy and momentum. It only acts on mass for slow moving objects because mass is associated with energy; stationary objects carry E = m c^2. I’ve made this point very strongly on this website — please do not confuse my readers by restating this error.

        1. I apologize, I attempted to make a brief reference to it with my bracketed comment on energy, without having to type the full explanation in the reply itself, as I was afraid that it might bloat the reply and make it less readable. However it seems the wording is confusing and should be changed.

            1. Feel free to do so yourself and remove my reply, you have a way with words and concepts that exceeds my own, likely because of all the thought you put into this entire online edifice.

  54. ‘Dark Matter Core Defies Explanation in NASA Hubble Image’

    “This technique revealed the dark matter in Abell 520 had collected into a “dark core,” containing far fewer galaxies than would be expected if the dark matter and galaxies were anchored together. Most of the galaxies apparently have sailed far away from the collision. “This result is a puzzle,” said astronomer James Jee of the University of California in Davis, lead author of paper about the results available online in The Astrophysical Journal. “Dark matter is not behaving as predicted, and it’s not obviously clear what is going on. It is difficult to explain this Hubble observation with the current theories of galaxy formation and dark matter.””

    The dark matter core does not defy explanation. The dark matter core is not a puzzle. The dark matter core is not difficult to explain. It is obviously clear what is going on.

    Non-baryonic dark matter and galaxies are not anchored together. There is no such thing as non-baryonic dark matter. Matter moves through and displaces the aether.

    Aether has mass.

    An objects resistance to acceleration is the force of the displaced aether pushing back and exerting inward pressure toward the object.

    Inertial mass is the mass of an object as it is accelerated with respect to the state of the aether in which it exists. The object displaces the aether as it moves through the aether. Since it is accelerating the force exerted by the displaced aether toward and throughout the object is not equally applied to the object.

    Gravitational mass is the force exerted by the displaced aether toward and throughout an object. When you are standing on the surface of the Earth the aether displaced by the Earth is pushing down and exerting inward pressure toward you.

    Both are the same phenomenon. Both are discussing the displaced aether pushing back and exerting inward pressure toward an object.

    Relativistic mass is the mass of the object and the mass of the aether connected to and neighboring the object which is displaced by the object. The faster an object is moving with respect to the state of the aether in which it exists the more the object displaces the aether the greater the relativistic mass of the object.

  55. If gravity is universal and so the graviton couples to the Higgs field, then why does the graviton not have a mass ?

    1. I suppose thinking about it perhaps it is because the Higgs condensate can only give mass via the Higgs mechanism to particles that carry weak hypercharge. Also the Higgs condensate has zero energy so no interaction with gravitons.

      1. I do notice from one of the previous posts on this blog (The known (apprently) elemntary particles, if the Higgs field were zero) he says:

        “What about the force carriers? The Higgs does not affect the gluons, but it rearranges the isospin and hypercharge forces, making the photon out of a mixture of the W3 and X, the Z0 out of a different mixture of the W3 and X and the Higgs particle called the A0, and the W+ and W- out of mixtures of the W1, W2, the H+ and H-.”

        So we know the photon, also massless is affected. (Actually, now I’m curious as to why photons do not have mass when it is a mixture of two particles.)

        1. I think the photon is massless because the Higgs condensate is neutral with respect to electric charge.

          1. Interesting, can you expand on this? If it were not, would all charged particles (but not neutral ones) be heavier?

  56. Prof. Strassler: I noticed that your expression E_1*E_2 = M_1*M_2*c^4 has the wrong operator. You use an equality sign (approximately equal) but when you refer to that expression you read it as E_1*E_2 “is proportional to” M_1*M_2*c^4. Is this an error? If not why are your reading an equality as a proportionality? Since equality and proportionality are not the same thing, please correct the expression to read E_1*E_2 :: M_1*M_2*c^4 or if the equality sign is correct then read it as an equality.

  57. Prof. Strassler writes that, the gravitational force F_grav between two slow moving objects separated by a distance R is proportional to the product of their energies

    F_grav :: E_1 * E_2

    But this is not true for Newtonian gravity

    F_Newton :: 1/R^2

    and it is not true for Einstein’s gravity because a concept of force acting between particles does not exist in Einstein.

    So where did you get this idea that gravitational force between two objects is proportional to the product of their energies?

    1. There is a slight difference between the two expressions. Newton’s classic 1/r^2 equation is for the gravity felt by one object at various distances from another object. Thus if the moon moves twice as far from earth the gravity it feels is 1/2^2 or 1/4 what it feels at its usual distance.

      This tells you how the gravity changes with distance, but not what the actual value is at any distance. *that* is proportional to the energies of the two objects involved. (If I am orbiting the earth at the same distance as the moon the gravity between me and earth is much less than that between the earth and the moon because E(moon) * E(earth) >> (E(me) * E(earth)

      So one tells you how gravity changes with distance, the other how it changes with energy (including mass.)

      In the case of Einstein, gravity as a force and gravity as a curvature of spacetime are equivalent (exactly equivalent); I can model an electric field as curvature in space if I want to. The fact that relativity does not model gravity as a force is a big problem with it and good evidence for relativity being incomplete. This is why we still look out for gravitons despite relativity not mentioning them.

    2. In Newtonian gravity: F_grav = G M1 M2 / R^2 so therefore F_grav :: M1 * M2 and F_grav :: 1/R^2.

      In Einstein’s gravity you are correct that the discussion is much more complicated; but I am trying to explain what I can without going into the details of Einstein’s equations. The points are correctly stated in the text; that the reason Einstein’s more complex equations still give Newton’s law of gravity is that Einstein’s gravity involves pulls on energy and momentum, not on mass, and that we know that E &approx; M c^2 for slow moving objects.

      1. Prof. Strassler writes: “In Newtonian gravity: F_grav = G M1 M2 / R^2 so therefore F_grav :: M1 * M2 and F_grav :: 1/R^2.”

        I don’t agree that F::mM for several reasons.

        (1) F::mM is not an operational relationship. We cannot compute orbits using F::mM alone, a discussion of mM is nothing more than a meaningless academic exercise;

        (2) Orbits are independent of the mass m of the orbiting body; m cancels out. Operational formulas do not contain m therefore mM is a meaningless decorative term;

        (3) multiplication of two masses has no physical meaning; there is no operational formula where two masses are multiplied;

        (4) terms written on both sides of an equation as in ma=GmM/r^2 are decorative and ideological placeholders that have no relevance or effect in computations — they cancel. If you look at 19th century physics textbooks, you will see that physicists wrote Newton’s gravity simply as a=M/r^2. There was no reason to write m on both sides and then cancel it;

        (5) when you state F::mM you secretly assume that M is not part of the proportionality constant in F=GMm/r^2. As I am sure you agree, the statement F::G has no meaning because G is the proportionality constant. But your assumption that M is not a part of the proportionality constant in F=GmM/r^2 is not correct. The effective proportionality constant is GM, because neither G nor M appears on its own in practical astronomy. So, F::mM is equivalent to F::GM and it is as absurd as F::G. GM is probably unique in scientific literature, it appears to be G*M but it is a single quantity; M exists in GM as a decoration to assert Newton’s authority.

        Therefore, neither m nor M exists as active quantities in operational formulas used in orbit computations and F::mM is not a physically meaningful statement and therefore F is not proportional to the product of m and M.

        The important question is why are physicists lowering their scientific prestige to such low levels and corrupt physics with advanced mathematical sophistry to save Newtonian doctrines every physicist admits was superseded by Einstein’s regime? If Newtonian gravity is proved to be wrong then it must be discarded once and for all. But, physicists have chosen the scholastic way and try to save a wrong theory with mathematical sophistry only because it is the sacred theory named after their founder.

        1. Wow! I have received few comments made with such confidence that are so spectacularly wrong in every detail.

          If you have two objects that have both mass and electric charge, then in computing their motion in response to one another, every single statement you have made (about the mass m canceling out) is wrong. Or for instance if you have an object that has a mass and a charge and you subject it to both a gravitational field and an electric field, the mass does not cancel. In fact that is how the electron’s charge and mass were measured [read about Millikan’s experiment.]

          If you were taking freshman physics and made such statements on an exam, I would flunk you and tell you to retake the course.

          As for masses never appearing multiplied, please take a beginning quantum field theory course and learn why in fact they do appear multiplied. It’s a simple consequence of semi-classical field theory, and it is the same reason why charges appear multiplied in Coulomb’s law.

      2. Prof. Strassler wrote on October 26, 2012 at 10:03 AM: “I have received few comments made with such confidence that are so spectacularly wrong in every detail.”

        I am puzzled with your reply. It reads like you are replying to another comment. Just to make sure I understand this correctly, we are talking, as you mention in your post, about “slow-moving objects obeying Newton’s laws”. To me this means that ma=GmM/r^2 is the applicable equation. No electricity or quantum mechanics, string theory or any other department of physics are relevant in this argument. Do you still believe that I am categorically wrong when I said that physicists write m in both sides of ma=GmM/r^2 and then cancel m but they keep discussing mM, as you do in your post, even though they just canceled m?

    1. Dear Arnab R, are you referring to my article or someone else’s? Sorry I find it a bit difficult to track who is commenting on who’s commentary in this site. If mine yes I cant help but feel we exist in 4D the primary unity dimension being the universe expansion where New Space ( void is being produced second for second around us ) where time is homogenous & across it’s entire non ( cartesian & Euclid ) distance. This is providing the space for matter & ( our experience and measured existence of the universe centered around STR & GTR + temporal time ). This New Space is providing ( fundamental space – not spacetime ) in which ‘anything’ can move – and a mechanism which puts an upper limit on the velocity of light! Some experiments have been conducted to determine if this absolute does exist. The problem with these experiments is that they were based around GTR & STR – cartesian space! I don’t think valid actually.

      1. Sir, I commented on the article ‘WHY THE HIGGS AND GRAVITY ARE UNRELATED’..

        And Sir, isn’t that an accepted notion that we live in 4D with one Temporal dimension included ??..And it sounded that You don’t think that existence of Cartesian space is true..and why’s that ??..

  58. Thanks Alain, for your kind consideration but I don’t think we are really touching base here.

    “I did not read entirely your post, because it was too long, but I notice this affirmation : “this particular model considers the universe to exist in 2 dimensions!”
    I don’t know where you read this, but it is simply false. ”

    Forgive me but if you knew the ins and out of the De Sitter example you would have known about the 2D notion. This is not a criticism as I know you were trying to be helpful – and I really appreciate that. Thanks

    The De Sitter model does not satisfy my questions. It is a historic notion, along with other historic notions. The idea I am presenting is at variance to these – a different thought conduit – in which that tunnel offers a different light at the end of it. Hence my first question – would STR and GTR be lawful in a zero mass universe. Of course – I don’t think anybody really knows. But on the basis that STR and GTR are based on the existence of mass in order for them to work I guess the answer is no. Remove the mass and remove STR, GTR, Euclids 3D, Minkowski’s time, Hubble Zone and all the components which we depend on to make any sense of the universe. But we as physicists should be prepared to expect a fresh wave from time to time. Then be prepared to find a way of responding to it. In my thinking we exist in 4 spatial D. We can (ignore) time in the primary dimension as it is homogenous. It becomes non homogenous in the Euclid zone ( where mass exists ). Time is always a problem – but a lesser problem if one can think of a scenario where two philosophies of time exist: 1 temporal in the Euclid zone where mass must be present. 2. In the primary dimension where it is homogenous. Thats all. If anyone is prepared to consider this for a moment some exciting ideas are possible. Thanks.

  59. Prof. Strassler cancels the velocity term describing the motion of a “slow moving” object but still assumes that the object has motion: “For slow moving object p=Mv (where v is the object’s velocity) and pc=Mvc is must smaller than Mc^2. And therefore E=mc^2.”

    How can this be? The object is moving with velocity v, its energy is proportional to its v, then you remove the v from the equation by a linguistic argument but you still keep talking about slow moving object.

    When you remove v, the velocity of the object no longer exists but its energy remains. How can this be?

    In your expression E=mc^2 the object is not moving, slowly or otherwise, so this equation will be true only if the planets were to be stationary. This is an unrealistic, supernatural and unphysical case which is not worth discussing in a physics blog.

    Your argument amounts to setting v=0: E^2=m^2c^2(v^2+c^2) and set v=0 and you end up with E=mc^2.

    A slow moving object is not a stationary object and in fact, from its point of view, slow moving object must have a finite v. You cannot set v=0 and eliminate it as you move from one scale to another. If you want to talk about the velocity of a moving object you must include its velocity in the equation. If you are talking about a moving object and the equation describing the motion of that object does not have the term v, then you are talking metaphysics not physics. In physics, there are no invisible virtues that do not exist in the equation but move objects from outside the equation from the supernatural realm. I hope that you agree with this statement.

    1. Again the argument here is that the object is *approximately* stationary.

      If we take a marshmallow (25grams) then the E = Mc^2 is 2.247 e+15 joules. If I fire that marshmallow out of a cannon in space so it is whizzing around at a hundred thousand kilometers per hour (Quite fast would you not agree?) then its energy due to motion is 9.65 e+6 joules. This is a difference of 4.3 E-7% (0.00000043%)

      We can surely ignore this for the sake of making things simple in a blog dedicated to keeping things simple so laymen can get a grasp of things.

      And I find it humbling to think, no matter how fast I go, by plane, car or rocket, from light’s perspective, I’m nearly standing still.

      1. Dear Kudzu, could you do me a great favour and do the same calc to approximate an imaginary energy of a black hole: For example give this black hole a very high invariant mass the ( say based on the approximate mass of our sun 1.9891 × 10^30 kilograms and it has equatorial velocity of 1. @ 2kms ( actual ), and 2. @ 200,000kms. Is the difference remain so small as in your marshmallow example? Thank you for your time to consider this example.

        1. It’s more extreme, but still negligible.

          A solar mass black hoe will have an energy content of 1.7877e+47 joules, a truly astronomical number. At 2km/s equatorial velocity (Assuming the black hole is a sphere of mass of radius of the event horizon.) the Kinetic Energy of Rotation is truly tiny, on the scale of a quadrillionth of a percent. (Ok, worse than that.) For 200,000kms things improve, getting into the 1% area, soy you can’t neglect it.

          Of course these are rough estimates since I ignored relativistic effects (and I don’t know at all how the mass of a black hole is distributed.)

          1. SO!. even at 200,000kms a large mass has a trivial increase in variant mass! ( Hence Einstein’s advice to ignore it ), Seems unbelievable where the dynamics are so huge and at 2/3 of light speed! Particularly when a proton enjoys a larger mass increase in mass if I am not mistaken – please advise? What happens to the imagined sun mass rotating at 95% of value ‘C’? The same trivial outcome? I realise that the proton is being excited by an external force to make it move faster and is unable to for reasons which are commonly not understood. Off kilter – I can’t help but feel it is acting in some kind of torque with an invisible entity which we don’t yet know about.

            Simplistically, the motion and mass of a car we can recover some of that energy as heat when we apply the brakes!

            Referring to your much earlier comment relating to a ‘massless void’. How can such an occurrence be a Euclidian/Cartesian zone if no mass exists to provide reference frames – hence providing the above x, z, z coordinates? I will look forward to your advice. thanks

            1. Well at a third of c you can’t *really* ignore it, it’s becoming quite significant. If we have an equatorial rotational speed of 95% of c the effect cannot be ignored by even the roughest approximations, here is where the kinetic energy begins to approach and then exceed the ‘rest mass’ energy (and I believe that spacetime itself is dragged about by a large rotating mass.)

              Regarding your second question, this is something that initially confused me. Such a universe can exist as a thought experiment; as such we can apply math to it without mass and reference frames much as we can imagine working on the physics on unicorns.

              1. I had to laugh regarding physics of unicorns – lovely expression!

                Actually, The bit I am trying to fathom in this train of messages is regarding black holes ( this entity is somewhat a visible unicorn ) We currently understand it is comprised of super condensed matter of a collapsed old star. If the quantum of gravity hence generated is more relevant to Joules/sec than it’s mass. Do you think it possible that a black hole may not be as dense as we surmise – for the following account: The originating star may for instance have had a diameter of say typ 3 million km. Should this diameter be obliged to shrink to a new diameter of 5 km – a huge dimensional transition! In doing so it’s original starting momentum would have to be conserved if I am not mistaken? – in it’s new 5km diameter? If that is correct then surely it’s new equatorial rotation would be enormous? Hence the black hole is not as dense as we think and only producing a virtual gravity drain because of the kinetics involved and spinning so fast? Except at the poles of course where the kinetics are lower and the converted mass it consumes is permitted to escape as gamma radiation? And thought of as a mass to energy converter? Likewise a proton at 95% C in the LHC an energy to mass converter ? Very interested to hear your reply…thanks

                1. Well this is a tricky question to answer indeed.

                  What 8are* black holes made of? It can’t be any kind of matter we know of, are they some novel form of matter? A distortion of spacetime? Or something more exotic?

                  You are correct in noting that the angular velocity of a black hole is likely to be enormous, remember that neutron stars often spin thousands of times a second for the exact reasons you note. But what black holes are, beyond their event horizon is poorly understood, and maybe within them the definition between mass energy and kinetic energy breaks down completely.

                2. Thanks – so could they be just kinetic engines because their fixed mass it huge and their diameter is tiny and they rotation is massive

                  ? could they have the mathematical ability in these circumstances to generate all this energy? And create a gravity well light 100 light years in dia?

                3. Well I assumed that the black hole was incredibly dense mass, which it isn’t and to be frank I don’t know what it is. Some say it is an infinitely tiny point, which would thus be spinning infinitely fast, yet still have the star’s finite rotational energy.

                  So I would say until we figure out what black holes are, you can imagine them to be anything. As the professor has stated, they can be made of photons, and maybe they’re just a giant tangle of gravitons, a fold in space or who knows what.

                  But if an object is made of matter, it cannot have significant rotational energy compared to its mass. The reason is, if something spins too fast, mass gets thrown off it. Jupiter does this, it bulges at its equator significantly due to the centripetal force of its half-day spin. A star is similar, so it can only have a certain maximum rotational speed, which is not a significant contribution to its total energy.

                  Even neutron stars with their massive gravity will crack if spun too fast, so if a black hole follows these rules (But why should it?) then most of its energy will be due to the mass that formed it, whatever it turns into.

                4. Brilliant thanks…” They can be whatever you imagine them to be” yes I can understand that. And thanks yes a massive rotation would cause it to sheer itself – that’s obvious.

                  But they cannot be that mysterious as they are a part of regular nature. Mind you it is mysterious how a flower can mimic shape and pheromone of an insect bearing in mind it does not have any ability for feedback of information – to even know that the insect facsimilie it is mimicking- exists in the first place ( I don’t uphold accidental evolutionary accident – that’s an easy get out ). So there must be an information feedback somewhere along the line to cause it to deform its flower to resemble and insect which doesn’t exist in its world of supposed no information.

                  A black hole can be what we want it to be? So do you think that whatever it is – is not in isolation of another force ( not just being a black hole in 3D Cartesian space )? Returning to the concept of 4 spatial realities if the primary 1 is a framework which has a stretch velocity of 300,000kms then whatever it is and doing could be actually experiencing some form of torque against it? The velocity of 300,000kms is constant and hence it enjoys its equilibrium as the primary spatial is steady – also too reason why the suns output is regular in the case of E=mc^2?

                5. Lots of things in this comment are wrong, but I don’t have time to answer now. But black holes are *much* better understood than this comment indicates, and they most certainly are not made from novel forms of matter or something more exotic. They’re made from whatever was used to form them, combined with gravitational fields.

                6. Furthermore it must be in a wonderful state of dynamic ( kinetic ) equilibrium – so whatever they are doing they are stable to keep doing it for so long – and far more stable than any sun?? Help me out please ( no one seems to answer my questions fully )– After a sun goes supernova and is obliged to collapse under its own gravity with the possibility of forming such a black hole.

                  It is further obliged to reduce its diameter and conserve its original momentum. If the diameter is obliged to keep reducing the angular momentum is also obliged to keep increasing. So can we think that its subsequent angular rotation could reach ¾ or more velocity ‘C’? And as it starts to feed will become heavier which means its gravity increases which means it must shrink further? However, there must a point where it achieves an equilibrium somewhere along the way.


                  This link advises the fastest star rotates at 1,000,000 mph 447.04 kilometers / second. If you shrink this down to 100 kms diameter what will its rotational velocity be?

                  In fact do you think there is a case that the black hole is not a solid at all? On the basis that the mass it is ingesting appears to undergo a phase change just before it disappears into the mystery? Could it be just a very rapidly rotating ball of energy? And can only get to this condition if the original starting sun’s momentum was high enough in the first place – making it a black hole future candidate? ANY comments please…thanks

                7. It seems then I have missed much. It is unfortunate that is is unlikely you will do a post on black holes as I honestly have so many questions that I can find only fragmentary on unhelpful answers on.

                  Can a black hole made of photons decay via Hawking radiation only to photons? What mechanism determines this? How dense is a black hole and in what form is what formed it contained? An so much more. Is there a resource like this site that may shed some light on these questions> If what I know about black holes is like what I knew about particles, there’s a revelation and complete revision of my thinking and worldview in order.

                8. Maybe do you think there is a case for a further transition here: Sun>supernova>white dwarf> ( black hole ) which if the background conditions are right then it actually converts its mass into something else in order for it to survive as a black hole? If a candidate for a black hole has the background qualifications then to complete the transition from its historic existence is obliged to undergo this mysterious transition? Maybe it is just a ball of energy?

                  How much rest mass would we require to create a gravity large enough to influence things 50 light years radial distant? Surely that sum has been done. How many kgs of sun mass can create such gravity? We know our suns kgs and we know its gravity range approximately.

                9. Black holes/ Lightening fireballs & vortices

                  HMS Montague ( Experiences of Lightning fire ball at sea )

                  One particularly large example was reported “on the authority of Dr. Gregory” in 1749:

                  Admiral Chambers on board the Montague, 4 November 1749, was taking an observation just before noon…he observed a large ball of blue fire about three miles distant from them. They immediately lowered their topsails, but it came up so fast upon them, that, before they could raise the main tack, they observed the ball rise almost perpendicularly, and not above forty or fifty yards from the main chains when it went off with an explosion, as great as if a hundred cannons had been discharged at the same time, leaving behind it a strong sulphurous smell. By this explosion the main top-mast was shattered into pieces and the main mast went down to the keel. Five men were knocked down and one of them much bruised. Just before the explosion, the ball seemed to be the size of a large mill-stone. [9]

                  The strong smell presumably was Ozone? Please consider the note and illustration below:


                  Numerous incidents of lightning balls suggest that maybe they could exist in the above form?? Then do you think this type

                  of condition could be created within the centre of the Black Hole? As with smoke ring dynamics the velocity of rotation

                  appears to make the ring ( tighter – smaller ) in its cross section. Then loses its small dimension as it loses energy. If this

                  phenomena is apparent to the mass converted to energy in a post supernova black hole centre – the faster it rotates the smaller it becomes if I am not mistaken? It has poles which would fit the ejection of Gamma, and the radial perpendicular kinetic’s could they not be producing the necessary extreme gravity effects? To reach across radial 50 light years? ‘A super compressed energy field vortex”? Anyone here know the math to calculate this – starting with what are the energy conditions necessary to obtain the above gravity ? – then work back to the vortex – Any thoughts please?

                10. Ah, but the professor states otherwise, so it is likely that things have moved on and that things like gravastars and dark-energy-stars are now dismissed as nonsense or outdated models. This is why I am very interested in finding out more, no matter what I imagine, the universe always finds something better to come up with.

                11. Black Hole Construction

                  ‘Large Amalgam Atom’

                  Could we consider this? Nothing more than a large atom! Where all the atomic components in the sacrificial sun are separated in the closing dynamic moments of the supernova collapse. The nuclei’s simply form the large real mass amalgam and the electrons like bees simply have no choice but to remain captive? Once separated the space the mass amalgam will require will be tiny. I have copyrighted this just in case this has not been considered historically. IF, such a scenario is in the realms of possibility what are you comments regarding the quantum of resultant gravity. Fission has not occurred because the individual nuclei’s have remained intact they have just been separated from their electrons. Nuclei fusion has occurred – hence a White Dwarf??> black hole….

                  The chemical state of this condition similar to an oxidizing gas. But unfortunately is unable to become stable in the chemical sense.

                  If you are not too busy I would be most grateful for the shortest reply. Respectfully ewj.

                12. I am not sure that would work; when density becomes high enough, and far before a black hole forms (Think neutron stars.) any electrons in the mass become so high energy that combination with protons becomes favorable and the mass is reduced to neutrons. (With perhaps a smattering of unconverted protons and suchlike hiding away.) I have heard neutron stars described as giant atomic nuclei, but I am not sure how accurate that comment is.

                13. If such a thing be possible the end mass presumably would be the same as the precursor sacrificial sun? – just that all the mass carrying particles be pressed together as a uniform homogenous lump? Regarding the kinetic energy and potential energy of this end state ( energy of the body ) could such a monster ‘by ratio comparison’ have more energy than a happy little single hydrogen or helium atom?

                  Yes I follow your insight, but are neutron stars becoming black holes? Are black holes in the process of slow development or do they just occur when the precursor conditions are right. Hence some suns will make one due their starting mass and spin etc? Also these sacrificial mass materials where presumably of hydrogen or helium which in their own right have their own atomic characteristics. But should this imagined monster be possible then, presumably it would add to the periodic table as a new atom in its own table – with its own unique qualities ( apart from incredible size )?

                  If the unimaginable compression does occur ( scientific original thinking ), energetic as the electrons maybe but simple not able to recombine with a proton – as there is no single proton to recombine with – just one big one?…

                14. Electrons would be able to combine even with a mass of proton like you suggest. (I believe that such matter, composed of rotons and neutrons squashed so tightly together is called ‘Quark–gluon plasma’, and is only theoretical.) The electrons would vanish, but the quark–gluon plasma would remain.

                  All neutron stars could in theory be isotopes of ‘element 0’, the neutron, which is included (usually by physicists rather than chemists) in some periodic tables, but since it is a far different phase of matter from ordinary atoms and may be better called neutronium or neutron-degenerate matter.

                15. This isn’t entirely right.

                  First of all, quark-gluon plasma has been observed and studied for about a decade, at RHIC and at the LHC. It’s not theoretical.

                  Second, you should not think of a quark-(antiquark)-gluon plasma as protons and neutrons squashed together. It’s what you get when you squash the protons and neutrons together so tightly, and heat them up so hot, that the protons and neutrons cease to exist. You can create such a plasma in collision of two very-fast-moving nuclei of atoms that are far up the periodic table.

                  If you squash the protons and neutrons sufficiently but you keep them cold, you will perhaps get something else — a superconductor-like material made of quarks, perhaps.

                16. Many thanks for your many replies correcting these issues; I am amazed you have the patience to sift through everything here and provide accurate information. It is a true mark of dedication.

                17. When a star collapses in a supernova, it may form a neutron star. If the original star is sufficiently heavy, that neutron star may be itself unstable to collapsing further, and nothing then stops it from shrinking down until gravitational fields are so strong that they form a black hole. A black hole is not made out of matter (though matter may be used to create it); it is best thought of as created by matter but made predominantly from gravitational fields.

                  Black holes are really not like ordinary particles, and really not like ordinary atoms, though they share (and not in a shallow way) some basic characteristics of both. You can’t put them in any existing table of particles or the periodic table and have that make any sense. They really deserve, and require, their own discussion.

                18. Yes thanks – I thought my imaginings where a bit simplistic. So we can think of it as some form of spherical plasma? Made up of its special materials and hence characteristics. However, the external information it behaves typically with known phenomena?

                19. You have to understand black holes in stages. One of the trickiest things about black holes is that time is warped there. So to say what it “IS” requires you state who is trying to figure this out: someone who is falling in to the black hole will have a completely different experience to someone who is outside and maintaining a fixed distance from it (either by being in orbit or by firing a rocket to keep from falling in.) And you also have to think about what experiments you can actually do to find out what this thing “IS”.

                  There is no “IS” without a measurement. You have to talk about what you can measure. And that then gets complicated. There have been plenty of discussions going on about the right way to think about black holes during the four decades since Hawking showed that, left to their own devices, they evaporate away. And improvements in how to think about them are still likely to occur.

                  But they are not ordinary things that you can think of as made from materials. That’s just the wrong intuition. The problem is that the right intuition is quite difficult to convey — it’s a bit of a Hydra, too, because different observers see things differently, so you need to have multiple intuitions and an understanding of how they are related — and I am not sure I’m expert enough to be the one to teach you. Maybe Susskind (who was one of my main teachers on the subject) is the best for this; I’m sure he’s thought about how to convey these ideas to the public much more than I have.

                20. The Greek historian Herodotus made a fundamental observation about Egypt when he said, “Egypt is the gift of the Nile”.

                  In fact, the Nile not only shaped the land, but it also shaped the mind of the Ancient Egyptians.

                  -They considered the Nile as a force that could both create life and destroy it. During the inundation period all the cultivable land was under water, but at the same time inundation brings with it the potential for a new life: a fertilized irrigated soil ready for the sowing of corps.! Therefore, the coexistence of opposites was a core belief in the ancient Egyptians mindset. They were not that stupid as we have Euclid of Alexandra and Pythagoras to rely on –just to mention 2 – blending Greece with Egypt here – Euclid born in Greece as you know. Understanding things, is evolutionary small steps and we cannot forget these guys minds – as they had Great Ideas and Vision.

                  In modern terms, this is called the ‘Law of Duality’. It simply states that, “There Are Two Sides to Everything”.

                  In reality, everything exists in duality ( now we are discussing entanglement !!!). Understanding a black hole ( trying ) may mean not being tied to one concept of time and search and a solution to fit it? If a duality of time exists they cannot exist in the same place ( presumably) otherwise they would cause unimaginable physical confusion.

                  So let them exist in their own respective dimensions ( disliking that work – also spacetime ). But as you rightly say physics is based on tangiable measurement. So one must ask what is the tangiable measurement of string theory? ‘With non’ but maintains theoretical credence?

                  I was very impressed that you had Susskind as a tutor – and I follow his ongoing discord with Hawking. I would love to spend just 5 minutes with him and ask him the same question. If only I could find a way of presenting it to him. “ Can a duality of time exist?” and if so in a separate dimension where time is symmetrical. Which keeps both Newton and Einstein the best of friends. Respectfully

                21. Could he be persuaded to perhaps pen something on the subject? The entire area sounds incredibly enlightening and informative.

                22. “One of the trickiest things about black holes is that time is warped there”.

                  Presumably in the sense that both parties have different relative velocities? The one who is half in it could be near the speed of light and cannot see his legs even if they were still attached to his body – or substantially longer than they were historically thanks to gravity – or actually noticeably shorter according to ‘R’ rules. So one of the observers would have longer legs than normal whilst the other had alarmingly shorter ones. There’s a paradox! In reality the observer going in his legs are actually longer but the other observer is reporting they are shorter! comically

                  Kudzu commented: “Could he be persuaded to perhaps pen something on the subject? The entire area sounds incredibly enlightening and informative.”

                23. One of the problems is gravity warps time as well as space. If I throw something into a black hole, from its point of view it falls in, but from my point of view as it approaches the black hole it seems to slow down (and redshift) Indeed the light it emits at the event horizon should be ‘stuck there’; forever not far in enough to fall into the black hole, but not far out enough to escape. So what is actually happening to the object? it can be tricky to tell.

                24. “but from my point of view as it approaches the black hole it seems to slow down (and redshift)”

                  Could it be that this red shift is not a reflection of its slowing down – but only that the light is slowing down. So the action conflicts the occurance?

                25. For a long time I thought that too, that the object merely *appears* to be slowing down. However we know gravity warps time, that time on the ground here in earth’s gravitational field passes differently from someone floating far away in space. So the object’s time does slow down from an outside viewpoint. This is ‘gravitational time dilation’ and it has been measured here on earth. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_time_dilation for a layman’s overview.

                26. Interesting, which means you have PULLED me into thinking about gravity! So we have to think about Velocity & Gravity?……thanks for the link.

                27. Hi Matt – Happy New Year – i hope you had good one and enlightening time in Edinburgh.

                  Back to black holes – Question: can you imagine a black hole mechanism which exist as a poloid where the moving items are photons. The centre of the poloid the photons have a zero relative velocity ( in phase with each other ). In doing so the centre will have a substantial hypothetical density ( the energy and velocity locally compressed in that zone ). The outer ring the photons become rarified and separated. The substantial gravity caused by the centre puts the entire system under stress because it want to every shorten the outer diameter. It unable to reduce the diameter because the photons are already at value ‘C’ and to move closer to the centre they would have to move faster! This effect would cause the tension. This tension is then shed by way of producing huge gravity. In the same law as a proton generates mass to dump the additional energy which we impart to make it go faster. Does this make any sense?? I can send a pic or you can view this idea on you tube where i have presented although not very professionally. regards edward

                28. What you have described is a very interesting situation. If a photon was stably orbiting a large mass, what would happen to it? objects with a ‘rest mass’ emit gravitational waves, losing energy, moving closer to the center of mass and speeding up. But a photon is a massless particle with a fixed speed.

                  It would seem then that it would simply be unable to lose energy and fall towards the massive object; it would be in its lowest energy state. (But something tells me that this is likely very wrong.)

                  Of course a photon that gains energy becomes higher frequency; and if the photons in your hypothetical object became energetic enough they would start randomly forming particle-antiparticle pairs (I believe this would start to become a factor when the total energy was enough to produce positron-antipositron pairs.) These particles would then fall towards the massive object.

                  I think this would make your supposed object unstable. Do you have the link to your youtube video? It sounds fascinating.

                29. http: // http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD6pRrz80Wo

                  Hi Kudzu – here it is the Gravity Engine! Really sorry about its quality – first time i used movie maker and actually damages my pc and almost ceases to operate! Then almost impossible to edit it hence the failed proof reading and spelling mistakes ( so embarrassingly amateur ). Also rather patronising in its style which makes me recoil with further embarrassment.

                  I am going to rework it on another pc which can cope with this simple task unlike my 19C model!

                  In essence all I am proposing: It is a potential poloid ( like a smoke ring ). The gravity at the epicentre must cause the outer ring to contract towards it’s own epicentre. But if this was to work the particles would have to rotate faster in order to reduce its outer ring diameter. They cannot do that as they are already at value ‘c’. The entire mechanism experiences a constant internal tension. This tension achieves constant equilibrium by ridding that tension by shedding it as gravity.

                  Similarly, a proton becomes more massive ( even, if not is size ) if we impart more energy on it to move faster. It cannot, so one ( me ) thinks that the proton is under pressure. The pressure of the external energy imparted on it obliges it under the rules of nature to convert ‘get rid’ of that energy by the conversion into additional mass.

                  In the case of this hypothetical intuitive gravity engine ( black hole ). It dumps the tension by producing a massive gravity. The gravity is evidence and reflects the internal stress. Not just getting denser and denser like a super form of electron-less lead like material. It is an electrical device not far removed from a Klystron for example, which transmits microwave – but in the case of a gravity engine it is transmitting gravity.

                  And similar to a diode at ‘switch on’ where the currently flow is momentarily infinite. Only in this case the ‘gravity’ produced in virtually infinite.

                  Idiotically, one can think of it as a bird in a cage. Very often they shake and flutter to remove their stress. In doing so they become heavier momentarily during that activity! Our black hole is doing this constantly. I hope i have explained myself adequately. I eagerly anticipate your advice and critique -if for one moment you think this is technically feasible then perhaps we can turn our minds to the participation of Time in this engine – thanks.

                30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD6pRrz80Wo

                  Hi Kudzu – here it is the Gravity Engine! Really sorry about its quality – first time i used movie maker and actually damages my pc and almost ceases to operate! Then almost impossible to edit it hence the failed proof reading and spelling mistakes ( so embarrassingly amateur ). Also rather patronising in its style which makes me recoil with further embarrassment.

                  I am going to rework it on another pc which can cope with this simple task unlike my 19C model!

                  In essence all I am proposing: It is a potential poloid ( like a smoke ring ). The gravity at the epicenter must cause the outer ring to contract towards it’s own epicentre. But if this was to work the particles would have to rotate faster in order to reduce its outer ring diameter. They cannot do that as they are already at value ‘c’. The entire mechanism experiences a constant internal tension. This tension achieves constant equilibrium by ridding that tension by shedding it as gravity.

                  Similarly, a proton becomes more massive ( even, if not in size ) if we impart more energy on it to move faster. It cannot, so one ( me ) thinks that the proton is under pressure. The pressure of the external energy imparted on it obliges it under the rules of nature to convert ‘get rid’ of that energy by the conversion into additional mass.

                  In the case of this hypothetical intuitive gravity engine ( black hole ). It dumps the tension by producing a massive gravity. The gravity is evidence and reflects the internal stress. Not just getting denser and denser like a super form of electron-less lead like material. It is an electrical device not far removed from a Klystron for example, which transmits microwave – but in the case of a gravity engine it is transmitting gravity.

                  And similar to a diode at ‘switch on’ where the currently flow is momentarily infinite. Only in this case the ‘gravity’ produced is virtually infinite – constantly.

                  Idiotically, one can think of it as a bird in a cage. Very often they shake and flutter to remove their stress. In doing so they become heavier momentarily during that activity! Our black hole is doing this constantly. I hope i have explained myself adequately. I eagerly anticipate your advice and critique -if for one moment you think this is technically feasible then perhaps we can turn our minds to the participation of Time in this engine – thanks.

                31. The video was both interesting and informative. I have the following issues with your model:

                  Formation: One of the useful attributes of black holes as conventionally understood is that it’s (relatively) easy to understand how they form; being a singularity simply letting gravity bring things to a point ‘works’ (This is a simplification, but still.) Black holes can be produced in violent circumstances and the existing model is quite robust, how does a ring of massless particles form as a dense ball of matter collapses?

                  Stability: A number of points arise here; the first is your photon poloid; the particles within it are treading a very fine line, if they were slightly further in they would fall into the hole, further out they would escape. Just doing a bit of back of the envelope scribbling, your torus would be more like a very, very thin ring.

                  A ring (or poloid) of particles is not a stable situation except in very rare circumstances. This is why matter falls into black holes, it collides with itself, loses energy and falls inwards (Rather than relying on losing gravitational energy.) In our own solar system the asteroid belt is very sparse because if it were any denser, asteroids would collide and be removed. It is like the viscosity of a fliud when you stir it.

                  Photons don’t suffer from this, but have other effects that also make me question their ability to do this, notably they can scatter off each other. If the photons in the ring were all in phase, like a laser beam shot around the hole things are better, but this raises another question of how this ring formed.

                  Properties and interactions of black holes: This is somewhat related to stability. Black holes have a number of properties, they can have electric or color charge, velocity and can rotate among other thing. (especially rotation, it is likely that at their formation black holes will be rotating massively fast.)

                  The question would be how your model handles these properties, where they are stored. (This is not straightforward to explain with traditional black holes of course.) Since your hole has ‘moving parts’ as it were and an internal structure this raises questions.

                  Black holes can also merge, and of course they absorb mass and energy. Most black holes will be continuously absorbing energy from the CMB. Your model seems only to be stable while the black hole is of a fixed mass, matter falling in would alter the ‘primary gravity’ and cause the ring to collapse would it not? And I am not sure what would happen when two holes merged.

                  The biggest issue I see is that the gravitational field produced by the torus would not be spherical, but toroidal. From a distance it would appear relatively spherical, but this would become less accurate as an observer approached, or the hole was larger. At the very center of the hole there is only the ‘primary gravity’ since the torus will be pulling anything there towards it in all directions, cancelling itself out (Like how you would be weightless at the earth’s center.) It should be possible to shoot through the poles of the hole, pass through the center and emerge out the other side.

                  There is also the question of what keeps the ‘primary gravity’ in place; if the torus is producing more gravity than G1 (That is it has more energy.) then the situation of G1’s mass becomes unstable. Imagine a planet with two moons, on opposite sides of it, in the same orbit. If the planet is large, (o O o ) this is quite stable, they will both orbit roughly around the planet. But as the planet’s mass increases this istuation becomes increasingly unstable. A small moon between two large planets (O o O) is stable, but the slightest deviation in position causes it to move towards one or the other planets. It is like a pencil balanced on its tip. (See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point where it is noted some points are unstable while others are stable.)

                  G1 would find itself at the mercy of G2, the slightest perturbation would knock it towards part of the torus, and it would then merge with it. Your model will need some way of preventing this.

                  All in all an interesting theory that will hopefully gain a sound mathematical foundation.

                32. Hi Kudzu – i hope you have had chance to look at my ‘you tube toy’! The particles ( whatever name ) are not orbiting in the normal sense of an atom. ( although i suppose they could be ). My engine is a separate system of unity particles ( meaning same specie ) – but unable to orbit a mass ( even if there is one ) in the conventional sense.

                  This toy system could just comprise of particles – and the dense bit ( where the mass should be ) is constructed from themselves in the epicentre – creating a virtual mass. So they think there is mass but not! It is just themselves causing a dense centre whilst they visit it – and for the very short period of time – meaning value ‘c’.

                  In the short time they visit the epicentre they are all at the same velocity and time relative the same = 0.

                  So they all contribute to forming ( construction of a mass! of the same particle type. e.g. A huge massless photon?? Then exit the centre – then they revert back to being tiny things again ( unitary photons – or whatever ) in the conventional sense.( Or other candidate particle ).

                  Or it could be a be a pure energy flux ( definition here ) which is rotating & momentarily forms ( so called dense matter – whilst in the centre. They exit – the matter still exists because behind them is a constant stream of indian particles. Then moments later they find themselves back in the centre again which maintains the status of the virtual matter ( mass ) which is not stable. ( But is because of the feed & return rate of particles causing it in the first place.

                  Any new introduction of material ( matter, mass, energy, whatever ) causes a momentary loss of equilibrium to the entire toy system ).

                  It cannot tolerate this so it dumps what is can by conversion into another state of matter/energy ( e.g. x ray/gamma etc ). But the balance of matter ingested is another issue. If it consumed endlessly it must become endlessly bigger! – which on the face of it simply does not happen. ( And not thinking of Sir Hawkings version because any loss of energy would be visible to us ). Even an invisible glimmer! (so called thermal entropy )

                  So where does the degenerate matter go?

                  One can think of the 1922 accelerator function to come up with that answer?

                  The LHC shows us great images of particles spinning off after the collision but what happens to them? They cease to be particles? – and their energy absorbed by the detector and increase in the charge on the equipment? If that is the case then I assume they are measuring it?

                  What happens to a lonely supposed Higgs particle once it has been separated from the proton? If it has so much energy potential should we not encounter some other event ?

                  If there is no background increase in the charge of the detector = too small to detect or no increase in charge? ( i hope i have used the word charge correctly? ( 125 gev^2 increase in the earth leakages of mass converted into electrical energy? i imagine would be detectable on such an elaborate piece of equipment.

                  and so on…….i look forward to your reply with interest – thanks & v. kind regards.

                33. Right. Your response answers a number of questions, and poses new ones.

                  If I understand you correctly, the particles in the torus are not orbiting it in the traditional sense, they are more delocalized, alike an electron around a hydrogen atom, which, though it spends a lot of time in a spherical shell, also spends some of its time deeper inside the atom, even inside the nucleus. When these particles are in the center of the hole they generate an effect like a mass, this produces G1, which then starts a feedback loop affecting the particles when they are in the torus.

                  The biggest objection I have tot his is I cannot think of how this situation would arise and what particles would be involved. The second biggest would be that the uncertainty principle does not allow something to have a precise velocity of 0, especially when it’s in a small area.

                  I still cannot see how this situation would arise as a mass collapses under its own gravity, at some point the particles making up that mass would have to convert into the kind you describe making up the hole, while preserving those particles information. (The particles you describe making up the hole would have to be able to store electric and color charge as well as the velocity and angular momentum of the mass and other properties.)

                  Your argument for the conversion of infalling matter is interesting, but raises some serious problems. In this case a black hole will always emit energy as it absorbs mass. That is, it would not strictly be black or be a black body. Classical black holes do not, the energy they ‘release’ is actually released by matter that has not yet fallen into the black hole, but is orbiting outside it, colliding with itself and losing energy. This is much like friction, the black hole is forcing mass together, squeezing it and making it rub against itself. It is a very rough particle accelerator. Close to the hole the mass is so hot it emits X and gamma rays. The jets emitted by many holes are also not emitted by the hole itself, but are matter that cannot enter the hole as there is already too much matter there. (Though precisely how they work is debatable.)

                  By contrast if I am understanding you correctly, your holes convert a percentage of any mass that falls into them directly into X rays and gamma rays. This means that a black hole sitting alone in space in the CMB will be absorbing that energy and converting it from high entropy microwave photons to low entropy and gamma rays. Indeed it should be possible to fire a beam of arbitrarily low energy at a hole and create a beam of high energy (but lower density) from the poles of the hole.

                  According to the laws of thermodynamics this imposes some constraints. The simplest solution would be for the black hole’s entropy to increase to balance this, but as it would eventually evaporate, this imposes some constraints on just how it can do this.

                  I am also not sure what keeps the poloid stable; the particles can migrate to the center, but then return to the poloid, but what prevents them from forming another poloid at right angles to the original? Shouldn’t they be able to form a spherical shell around the center? (Of course this would depend on the exact behavior of the particles, involved, do you have a quantitative description of this?)

                  The particles produced in collisions in the LHC decay and lose energy, eventually transforming into ‘stable’ particles, photons, neutrinos electrons, protons and the like, as well as energy to the equipment (heat.) This is a well understood process. There are indeed multiple events, this is why particles produce jets and why it can be so hard to detect the particle you want.

                  This is exemplified by cosmic rays, you will want to read this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_shower_%28physics%29 A single cosmic ray, a highly accelerated particle hits a detector (our atmosphere) unleashing not one simple collision, but a cascade of particles which hit more particles and so on until all the energy is spent. The LHC detector is far more dense than the air, so the cascade is somewhat smaller and more contained, but the principle is the same. (Though cosmic ray particles can be very much more energetic than LHC ones.)

                  Your use of charge is not correct however. Energy is not electric charge, which is what we often associate with electricity. When energy dissipates it usually does so as motion, or heat as noted above. Think of rubbing your hands together, stopping your fast moving hands, releasing heat energy.

                  Also though 125Gev sounds like a lot of energy and it is, for a particle, compared to our scale, it is tiny. It is about 0.00000002 Joules. For comparison you walking down the street have kinetic energy of about 35 Joules (70Kg at 1 m/s) On the atomic scale the Higgs energy is mighty, on ours, hardly noticeable.

                34. Fantastic reply – thanks very much. I get the impression this toy black hole is part functional from your reply on the basis ( unless you are just being generous of spirit ) not to dismiss it 100% outright. You have picked up the scheme and obviously understand my thinking on its proposed operation. Maybe I could redraw more accurately the proposed flow and we just revisit ideas relating to its stability?

                  All the other refs you presented are most useful thanks – and thanks too for such a detailed reply – which I will revert back to later today – inc the LHC and loss/absorption of energy. Kind regards

                35. “The biggest objection I have to his is I cannot think of how this situation would arise and what particles would be involved. The second biggest would be that the uncertainty principle does not allow something to have a precise velocity of 0, especially when it’s in a small area.”

                  I am sure you are correct, however, sometimes laws get changed or better defined e.g. Newton vs Einstein. Also, they actually do not have to have the 0 velocity as I stated ( although I prefer it ). The zero velocity is only relative to each other. E.g. they may be moving at 300,000kms or <C = ‘all of them’ and in parallel which of course will mean that relative to each other they have no velocity.

                  So if under this condition they are all squeezed up ( for a very short temporal time – or could be forever if time is zero ). It would be necessary to think of a further and new paradox here. How can something be “moving and undergo no changes”.

                  Anyway…if they are all squeezed up to form a dense mass which rests there constantly, but is constantly being refreshed with new particles ( ones which were there a second ago for instance…) then such a mass is both constant and variable. Are we obliged to think of particles in this construct? Why not just an energy flux without having to be defined as a particle? E.g. The entire system is a field which structurally looks like a poloid and the energy is being manipulated in a way I have described but in reality nothing is actually moving!

                  “Your argument for the conversion of infalling matter is interesting, but raises some serious problems. In this case a black hole will always emit energy as it absorbs mass. That is, it would not strictly be black or be a black body. Classical black holes do not, the energy they ‘release’ is actually released by matter that has not yet fallen into the black hole, but is orbiting outside it, colliding with itself and losing energy. This is much like friction, the black hole is forcing mass together, squeezing it and making it rub against itself. It is a very rough particle accelerator. Close to the hole the mass is so hot it emits X and gamma rays. The jets emitted by many holes are also not emitted by the hole itself, but are matter that cannot enter the hole as there is already too much matter there. (Though precisely how they work is debatable.)”

                  Yes I understand this. I am a bit confused on this point though. I know that the X and G are emitted from exterior material and activities, so what actually enters the BH? Just Heat? and nothing solid ( particle )?

                  “I am also not sure what keeps the poloid stable; the particles can migrate to the center, but then return to the poloid, but what prevents them from forming another poloid at right angles to the original? Shouldn’t they be able to form a spherical shell around the center? (Of course this would depend on the exact behavior of the particles, involved, do you have a quantitative description of this?)”

                  In my mind it creates its own stability by particles ( energy ) not being able to transit faster than C ( this in a way is what maintains the pendulum swing ) . They want to – but cannot and hence resists change or decomposition.

                  “I still cannot see how this situation would arise as a mass collapses under its own gravity, at some point the particles making up that mass would have to convert into the kind you describe making up the hole, while preserving those particles information. (The particles you describe making up the hole would have to be able to store electric and color charge as well as the velocity and angular momentum of the mass and other properties.)”

                  I don’t know how to respond this insight, other than to say in brief, that if a solid sphere was collapsing at huge velocity, albeit somewhat rarified with a very thin dispersed volumetric density – I suppose a much cleverer person than I with a math imaging modeling resource may be able to find such a mechanism. To create a smoke ring has to start with an aperture of some kind is my understanding.

                36. When it comes to matter entering a black hole, you can think of it like a meteor hitting the earth. As it gets closer to earth it moves faster and starts to heat up in our atmosphere. The light escapes earth, but the meteor itself is absorbed. The situation with black holes is similar, but more severe.

                  A large amount of energy escapes the black hole, but remember the C^2 term in the energy-mass equation. Only a small portion of the energy falling into the hole (The gravitational potential energy.) has a chance of escaping as photons and not all of this manages to escape, but this is more than enough to make active black holes exceedingly bright objects.

                  I can understand the stability of the poloid if it were a perfectly still and symmetric object, but this is like a pencil balanced on its point, hard to achieve and not something you’d expect to see in nature.

                  for one thing, black holes can spin, quite fast. A poloid like this cannot have any spin since that would mean changing the speed of the particles within it, which as you note cannot be done. And there are also asymmetries; if another mass approached the black hole it would distort the gravitational landscape (as all mass (Well, energy) does.) I think this would mean the poloid would have to distort, but I do not know enough of the relevant physics to be able to say for sure.

                  The formation of smoke rings is shown here: http://tealco.net/blasterphysics.gif.jpg Basically a fluid moves through an aperture and is disturbed, curling around on itself. This happens all the time, but if the aperture is nice and symmetrical you get not a less stable ‘smoke sausage’ or more random eddy, but a ring.

                  It differes in two important respects from your poloid. Firstly the particles are moving not around the larger diameter of the ring but around the smaller diameter. (In your video not left-right but up-down.) Secondly, the production of said ring is a definitely asymmetric process; the flow is in one direction only.

                  However now I wonder, if the angular momentum of the infalling mass was conserved, could it be converted entirely to your particles? In this case a nonrotating black hole could not exist; as a star collapsed it would spin faster and faster, converting into massless particles that rotate at the speed of light. I am not at all confident in this model however, especially since I believe it predicts that objects without the correct angular momentum would collapse into something else.

                37. “but what prevents them from forming another poloid at right angles to the original?”

                  I can only surmise that it is because the poloid is organized and stable, the unidirectional flow of the material/energy cannot be easily shifted once initiated. The G1 gravity has a pattern of behavior with no other force or influence on it to vary it.

                  You also mentioned collisions of black holes – that indeed would throw up some interesting ideas! The 2 poloids are stable and at equilibrium. We introduce another one – so how could they possible combine? And after the collision have only 1 without mutual destruction? The poloids may in fact be tiny things the size of a tea cup! Until someone very clever and experience with modeling tools how could we put a size to such a thing and realize how to quantize gravity it is producing an scale it. It may the size of an atom, or even smaller, or the size of a massive sun? Surely someone who has in depth knowledge of photonic behavior for instance could create a mathematical hypothetical case. In this case determine how much gravity it is producing. Then with that information put a scale on it.

                  Maybe when 2 BH collide there is only one winner and the smaller one has its equilibrium upset and ripped apart and the 1D window closes?

                38. Well, on the size issue, the poloid, being made of light speed particles would have to be exactly as big as the event horizon, any smaller and it would collapse into a singularity. This is why I wonder about what would stop a ‘poloid’ forming like a spherical shell. However, angular momentum would stop a stable poloid from changing, I was foolish not to have noticed this. (The poloid would not be able to change the direction it spins any more than the earth would be able to suddenly start spinning north-south instead of east-west.)

                  I do not think it is possible to have ‘one winner’ when black holes merge, since if they are constructed the same, they will both affect each other. (And there’s always the case of two identical black holes meeting.) The challenge would be how the ordered poloids would combine to produce a third, larger, ordered poloid. (Traditional black holes can merge like drops of water roughly speaking, lacking any complex internal structure.)

                39. Manubo: 1. If we are currently becoming flatter, surely a good mathematician can calculate 2. When we will be flat. 3. He will also be able to inform us when that state would occur. 4 Based on our current rate of change. 5. Then with that number we would know how far we are away from the manubo centre 6. Then all other kinds of information would be possible such as, the manubo diameter, and with that information how flat the 2D ribbons are going to be?? – We may be only a few atoms thick! – or less!

                40. Two objections arise then to this. A flat universe is one with no energy in it to warp spacetime. (The energy of space itself doesn’t count, and I believe it could also contain as much energy as you want, provided that energy was perfectly evenly distributed.)

                  This means our universe, which has energy in it as particles, would have to be infinitely large to achieve this state. So no matter how fast it expands, no finite, or even increasing expansion rate will ever achieve this (Though it will get close.)

                  We know the universe’s rate of expansion is increasing and that, if nothing changes, it will become immense, tearing apart even atoms in a ‘big rip’ I don’t think this will give us a flat universe but it’s an interesting way to go.

                41. “We know the universe’s rate of expansion is increasing and that, if nothing changes, it will become immense, tearing apart even atoms in a ‘big rip’ I don’t think this will give us a flat universe but it’s an interesting way to go.”

                  You stated earlier that the matter is becoming diluted – can you explain this again please……..

                42. The universe, as far as we are aware, contains a finite amount of energy. (This is at least true for the observable universe.) We can call this quantity x. Energy is what causes the curvature of spacetime, which means that to find the average curvature of spacetime in the universe we can just divide the total amount of energy in the universe by the total volume of the universe.

                  If the universe were static then this ratio would be constant. (And the universe would be unstable, with gravity pulling everything together.) However space is expanding, this doesn’t mean just that an existing volume of space is stretching, but that the universe is getting ‘new’ space; (If a given unit of space were just stretching either we wouldn’t notice or things would get very weird.)

                  This means that in any given volume of space there is less and less matter as time passes. Galaxies are all (mostly) moving away from each other, you need a bigger and bigger volume of space to contain them all. Thus the average energy density of the universe is falling, the universe is becoming more empty, more dilute.

                  If we run time backwards we see a universe where energy density increases, where there is less and less space, until eventually we end up with a universe of no space and infinite density, the big bang. (Of course something may happen early on in the universe so it didn’t start out like that, it just appears to, but the model works rather well up to very close to the universe’s birth.)

                43. “If we run time backwards we see a universe where energy density increases, where there is less and less space, until eventually we end up with a universe of no space and infinite density, the big bang. (Of course something may happen early on in the universe so it didn’t start out like that, it just appears to, but the model works rather well up to very close to the universe’s birth.)”

                  Yes but in my thinking we run temporal time backwards – the event & historic temporal time. Maybe we have 2 conditions of enlargement: the natural and original separation of the material + the production of a space which existed before hand which was already expanding rather rapidly using our ‘c’ yardstick. And maybe because we only consider the regular spacetime where material ( energy ) exists as a visible volume.

                  Thanks – I lost track on this for a moment. Your use of the term New Space directs me back to my original intuitive meaning it difficult to be separated from this idea and function of the primary framework as I referenced in the book. I am going to try and make contact with some people at CEA fundamental research and see if I can get some opinion regards the output field dynamics ( assuming there will be some ) , ref the 2 fields of a TBH + central densificaton. To see if any of this makes any sense.

                  Is the notion of ‘New Space production’ a regular scientific realization or is it ignored as being hypothetical – or not even thought of? I know Newton thought of it as the absolute space – which Einstein discredited. Thanks

                  Yes I agree with your comments ref the prof experiment – however from his arm muscles point of view there is less gravity ( although I totally agree with your statement ). His arms are fooled into thinking there is less gravity. The same value of gravity exists but they have to do less work = less energy required. So if one ( presumably ) was to ignore the ability of the dynamic forces in this experiment and consider only the change in condition from his arm point of view the gravity has diminished. I also understand that in order to experience this so called virtual loss of gravity his arm has to remain part of the dynamic system and hold the end of the rod.

                44. The creation of new space is a well accepted scientific fact, though not usually worded in that manner. Most of the time you will hear of the expansion of space because this is nice an intuitive idea. But if a given unit of space were getting larger, stretching outwards in all directions as it were you would expect the universe to become more ‘grainy’ like a picture when you zoom in too far.

                  Of course my wording could be taken to mean that there are totally new ‘cubes’ of space are popping into existence, which is also a misleading way of looking at things. (Possibly it would be best to think of space growing like a shoot, getting longer without increasing in discrete steps.)

                45. “The creation of new space is a well accepted scientific fact, though not usually worded in that manner. Most of the time you will hear of the expansion of space because this is nice an intuitive idea. But if a given unit of space were getting larger, stretching outwards in all directions as it were you would expect the universe to become more ‘grainy’ like a picture when you zoom in too far.

                  Of course my wording could be taken to mean that there are totally new ‘cubes’ of space are popping into existence, which is also a misleading way of looking at things. (Possibly it would be best to think of space growing like a shoot, getting longer without increasing in discrete steps.)”

                  New Space = Expansion – I am sorry I don’t see this as the same engine. I take your point about grainyness – but does space have a resolution that we can currently see? ( if no New Space is being added then voids will occur between the pixels, or the grains get very rarified and what affect would this have upon Plank length ) ? My proposed intuition New Space is built upon the notion that it is being constantly added to – like a universal invisible expansive foam. ( each frame ‘pixel’ is being duplicated – by 1D quadruplication of itself. It is literally getting bigger structurally, not just the existing space occupying a greater volume and getting thinner. This may be the cause for the matter being diluted as it is not being quadruplicated dimensionally in 3D and is subject to the thinning process, which is a separate space system ( 3D spacetime is not being built it is just getting thinner).

                  I was considering a tube presentation with Graham Green where he explained that if you could remove all matter. His space presentation in this case was represented by a matrix of static cubes. In my mind this is not correct. Sure it can be represented by cubes but they don’t just sit in space doing nothing ( other than vibrating and twisting and expanding etc ).

                  According to my intuition more box frames are constantly being added second for second ( like the expansive foam above ). The feed rate of new cubes are at the value C. ( So in each direction movement is possible ), Hence light has the ability to move. It is cannot transmit through 1 frame it can only move if new frames are being produced. If no new frames where being produced ‘nothing’ could move. We can only move into a space which is already moving. In this case where new frames are being added to constantly which provides any ability of movement. Photon, a common earth slug or flicker of a candle flame. I hope I have explained this notion clearly? I sent an email today to Prof Dijkgraaft secretary at Princeton but nobody will be drawn into this idea. Science is no different than the other professions it is a closed shop with rigid politics, and a rigid way of doing things. The accountant must produce a profit and loss and balance sheet these are his rules and confinement. Over hundreds of years this is the way of conducting accountancy – but there other ways to determine and weigh the current financial situation.

                46. Things get tricky here.

                  Some have postulated that the universe does have a graininess to it, that it is made out of discrete blocks of space or some sort of network of nodes or similar. At any rate this would be at scales far too small for us to currently detect. In the main space is treated as being infinitely divisible; no smallest unit or shortest distance.

                  However as scale gets smaller the random nature of… well everything becomes more and more evident. The smooth expansion of space becomes more choppy, fluctuations in various fields become more extreme and our picture of the universe begins to break down. Eventually you reach a scale where our notions of space and distance are unreliable. At this scale we don’t really know what happens since we have no good models to describe it. It is possible that ‘blocks’ of space appear ‘instantly’ between other ‘blocks’ but I think the default view would be that the expansion of space at that scale would be very jittery and random, but still smooth. We will have to wait for evidence and theory to provide some insight on such things.

                47. So can I fantasize regards my personal view and not be shot down in flames? In absence of a good accountants practice? And primary space is ( may ) be duplicating itself internally everywhere at the value C infinitesimal frame by infinitesimal frame, each one with an individual time value 0? Into which our matter and subsequent 3D is home?

                  I have no problem with being considered a crackpot or fringe scientist – I am too old to be bothered by such critique.

                48. Your can be pretty sure you won’t be ‘shot down’ as long as you don’t overstep your boundaries and stat claiming you are right and others are wrong without any evidence. As I have said before though, having a sound mathematical basis for your ideas will go a long way to you being taken seriously.

                49. Thanks very much Kudzu – I appreciate your wisdom. When describing things I must also refrain from pulling down existing ideas to promote my own view, which would only promote the idea that I am in the crackpot community! You are completely correct.

                50. I think the biggest problem you face with your ideas is the lack of a mathematical basis. While science can be bound by tradition and method, scientists are usually the first to question everything and usually on the lookout for a new theory.

                  The problem is that it is easy to invent a concept but much harder to craft a theory. No scientist will investigate an idea unless it comes with some solid conditions where it is right or wrong. There are literally millions of way in which your theory could be utterly incorrect on the most basic level, but unless you are quite specific there is no way of telling which ones do or don’t apply.

                  It is like inventing, you can make all the drawings and advertisements you want, but nobody will take you seriously until you have a basic model that proves that your device works in reality. People will only invest as much energy into your ideas as they think they are worth, and if they have no proof that your theory won’t collapse as soon as you try and write it up then they are simply not going to value it.

                  There’s also the problem that for every email from you they get quite literally hundreds along the lines of timecube: http://www.timecube.com/ ; poorly worded nonsense that confidently states that they are wrong about everything and that obvious things (Like gravity) are wrong or made up. Your ideas can easily be confused with such things, and of course they are not going to want to respond.

                51. YES! You are absolutely spot on correct – especially using the invention parallel – years of my life experience has determined that. Simply telling people that you have invented the best ever washing machine with words is not worth a penny. In this case though I cannot see how I could invent a prototype!

                  Then I have to think how to covert in into tangiable mathematics. And even then will the mathematics be believed? As it is based on intuitive assumptions and difficult to substantiate naturally. Unless I reference things like Time dilation, atomic clocks Horizon problem etc etc. Unlike String Theory which seems to be going along quite nicely on an intuition and putting mathematics before the science, and inventing nature to fit it? That is the acrimony.

                  My notions will never be taken seriously – I realize that. Then even if they were it would just be another person’s view of the universe which competes with all the million others. And who at the end of the day will be correct will never know as most likely we will never understand the universe – just live out our lives and go mad discussing how this clock works!

                  The people with telescopes, satellites and colliders they are in the front line ( although I have serious doubts about the latter, the rest is conjecture – including in my mind String Theory.

                52. Ref time cube – yes I see what you mean a form of obsession and madness! The main purpose for me to visit this site was to receive feedback for these notions. Feedback from people who are specialists, you have helped a great deal and I thank you for that. Taking your advise further if I am to take myself seriously then as you say I have to find a way to convert them into a tangiable theory. Which I suppose is where I should direct my energy, and make a self searching decision regards am I a candidate for the time cube community, having spent all that time on the so called theory?

                  Not wanting to waste life time, I think I will just pen them in a clearest style I can find and simply post like the rest of the lay global public onto the internet, maybe the lower class of physics journals. Then get on with the next obsession!

                53. I wish you the best of luck with your efforts; it’s rare but science is littered with stories of those who built an idea from nothing that proved to be brilliantly correct. (Most recently a 15 year old’s programming work ended up on the cover of Nature.)

                54. Yes that was incredible – fate seems to favour some people – and there are many of them – including Bill Gates, and the French/American man who invented Ebay in a garage, and be born a king and not hungry in Ethiopia. Yes, Ideas are very powerful things in the realm of mankind & Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot justify in every case.

                55. Thankyou, I am aware of this paper, having kept a lazy eye on negative temperatures since I first heard of them several years ago. What always interested me was that though these atoms are incredibly cold in the way we usually think of temperature, they will heat up any normal matter they touch, and in doing so reach absolute zero. And we’ve known about this for decades. Incredible.

                56. “they will heat up any normal matter they touch, and in doing so reach absolute zero. And we’ve known about this for decades. Incredible.”

                  Why? What is the process? Is this another physical mystery?

                57. As I explained in another reply, it’s just the way things with negative temperature work. Something at +1K is very low energy, it ‘wants’ to take in energy from other things and cool them down, make itself ‘hotter’ (higher energy). Something at -1K is the total opposite; very *high* energy it ‘wants’ to give energy from other things and warm them up, make itself ‘cooler’ (lower energy.) This page gives a basic overview of the concepts and equations involved: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_temperature

                58. That depends on the density and state of the matter involved. You may recall for example that the cosmic background radiation was constantly absorbed and re-emitted by the plasma in the early universe until the temperature dropped enough for atoms to form. Matter in stars will severely impede all photons while that in gas and dust clouds presents less of an obstacle (But still a significant one.)

                59. “constantly absorbed and re-emitted by the plasma”

                  ?? Interesting , so plasma shows lowest impedance to a transiting material? As for everything else to cold and solid?

                60. Then maybe there is no opportunity for anything solid in a black hole. It would simply act as a limiter/moderator, and seriously limit its potential. Like a lump of cold stuff in the Tokomak reactor? That would seem rather absurd and cause it to fail rather quickly>?

                61. I would have to agree. I am not aware of any common model of black holes that involve an internal structure in a black hole, let alone some form of matter. (Some have postulated ‘quark stars’, more compact than neutron stars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_star )

                  The problem arises with ‘degeneracy pressure’; basically how much gravity degenerate matter can withstand. Each time one degeneracy pressure is overcome matter becomes unstable and is forced to assume a more compact (And in practice simpler) form. White dwarfs are made of nuclei and electrons, when electron degeneracy pressure fails they collapse to neutron stars which are mostly neutrons. When neutron degeneracy pressure fails they may become quark stars, made of quarks (and if preons exist as constituents of quarks, we may have preon stars.)

                  A black hole would be far beyond these and it’s likely that such matter would have ‘run out of options’ (A mass made purely of electrons that exceeds electron degeneracy pressure would not be able to form a neutron star and would collapse to a black hole having no other degeneracy pressure to utilize, ignoring of course the massive electric charge and other such quibbles.)