A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws

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A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws

Natalie Wolchover


Quote:At first, the community despaired. “You could feel the pessimism,” said Isabel Garcia Garcia, a particle theorist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was a graduate student at the time. Not only had the $10 billion proton smasher failed to answer a 40-year-old question, but the very beliefs and strategies that had long guided particle physics could no longer be trusted. People wondered more loudly than before whether the universe is simply unnatural, the product of fine-tuned mathematical cancellations. Perhaps there’s a multiverse of universes, all with randomly dialed Higgs masses and other parameters, and we find ourselves here only because our universe’s peculiar properties foster the formation of atoms, stars and planets and therefore life. This “anthropic argument,” though possibly right, is frustratingly untestable.

Some of those who remained set to work scrutinizing decades-old assumptions. They started thinking anew about the striking features of nature that seem unnaturally fine-tuned — both the Higgs boson’s small mass, and a seemingly unrelated case, one that concerns the unnaturally low energy of space itself. “The really fundamental problems are problems of naturalness,” Garcia Garcia said.



Quote:“Just the fact that you lose reductionism when you go to the Planck scale, so that gravity is anti-reductionist,” Dubovsky said, “I think it would be, in some sense, unfortunate if this fact doesn’t have deep implications for things which we observe.”
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2022-03-07, 11:43 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws

Natalie Wolchover

Good reporting, there are any number of interesting points, but I hope our math and physics friends will comment.

Quote:The Higgs mass seems unnaturally dialed down relative to these higher energies, as if huge numbers in the underlying equation that determines its value all miraculously cancel out.

Maybe a Gestalt perspective would help, where there is all the environment in the background, but the "important" emerges from background, to the foreground, as the focus.  There is naturalness in the Gestalt perspective.

Quote:  When the Higgs gives other particles mass, they give it right back; the particle masses shake out together. 

Physicists can write an equation for the Higgs boson’s mass that includes terms from each particle it interacts with. All the massive Standard Model particles contribute terms to the equation, but these aren’t the only contributions. The Higgs should also mathematically mingle with heavier particles, up to and including phenomena at the Planck scale, an energy level associated with the quantum nature of gravity, black holes and the Big Bang. Planck-scale phenomena should contribute terms to the Higgs mass that are huge — roughly a hundred million billion times larger than the actual Higgs mass.
(This post was last modified: 2022-03-08, 01:30 PM by stephenw. Edited 2 times in total.)
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It seems to me that physics should try to answer the question where does this stop? I mean unless matter can be divided into ever smaller fragments indefinitely, there must be an end to the process.

I wouldn't be surprised if we haven't passed that point already. If that claim that 10^12 collisions need to be analysed on the fly by hardware, the Higgs, and maybe some of the other claimed particles may just not exist.
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