Physics is said to be the king of the sciences, and particle physics is said to be the most important branch of physics. As per the Wikipedia particle physics article, it’s the branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter and radiation. The article tells us that elementary particles are excitations of the quantum fields, and says this: “the currently dominant theory explaining these fundamental particles and fields, along with their dynamics, is called the Standard Model”. Glenn Starkman gives a potted history of the Standard Model in his 2018 Conversation article The Standard Model of particle physics: The absolutely amazing theory of almost everything.
The absolutely amazing theory of almost everything
Starkman tells us that by the 1960s, physicists had discovered a long list of particles, but with no organization and no guiding principles. He says “into this breach sidled the Standard Model”. He also says it wasn’t an overnight flash of brilliance, but instead a series of crucial insights by key individuals in the mid-1960s. He says this transformed a quagmire into a simple theory, which was followed by five decades of experimental verification and theoretical elaboration. Starkman talks about the quark model proposed by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig in 1964, and about quantum chromodynamics. He says the latter is a vital piece of the Standard Model, “but mathematically difficult, even posing an unsolved problem of basic mathematics”. He goes on to say the other aspect of the Standard Model is electroweak theory initiated by Steven Weinberg with his 1967 paper a model of leptons. Starkman says electroweak theory incorporated the Higgs mechanism for giving mass to fundamental particles, and that “since then, the Standard Model has predicted the results of experiment after experiment, including the discovery of several varieties of quarks and of the W and Z bosons”. In addition Starkman tells us the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, and finishes off by saying this: “After five decades, far from requiring an upgrade, the Standard Model is worthy of celebration as the Absolutely Amazing Theory of Almost Everything”.
Image from the Conversation article on the Standard Model, © LehdaRi see deviant art, misattributed to Varsha Y S
Only it isn’t. Starkman said the Standard Model answers the question what is everything made of, and how does it hold together? But it doesn’t. Because it “explains” things by referring to other things that are not explained at all. What exactly is a photon? According to the Standard Model, it’s an excitation of the photon field. So what’s the photon field? It’s the quantum field whose quanta are photons. That’s circular. Not only that, there are many such fields. Whilst Maxwell unified the electric field and the magnetic field into the electromagnetic field, the Standard Model introduces a whole plethora of fields. It isn’t pointing towards further unification, it’s pointing the other way.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the photon
The Standard Model makes no attempt to explain what the photon is. It doesn’t even try. So if you want to know what a photon is, you have to go looking. Then you find The Nature of Light: What is a Photon? and realise that this is where it starts. This is the first foundation stone for quantum field theory, and it’s missing. It’s missing even though there’s ample evidence that tells you what the photon is. The photon is a wave in space. It doesn’t disperse, so it’s a soliton. It has a wavelength, hence E=hc/λ. Planck’s constant of action h has the dimensionality of momentum times distance, and it applies to all photons. As for what distance? take a look at some pictures of the electromagnetic spectrum. Note how the wave height is always the same regardless of wavelength? Photons have a shared characteristic that’s something like playing classical guitar with a constant amplitude of pluck. Also note that it’s the electromagnetic spectrum. See the Wikipedia electromagnetic radiation article: “the curl operator on one side of these equations results in first-order spatial derivatives of the wave solution, while the time-derivative on the other side of the equations, which gives the other field, is first order in time”. The orthogonal sinusoidal electric and magnetic waves in the depictions are misleading. The electric wave is the spatial derivative of the electromagnetic wave, the magnetic wave is the time derivative, and there’s only one wave there:
For an analogy, imagine you’re in a canoe at sea and 10m tsunami comes at you. As the wave approaches, your canoe tilts upward. The degree of tilt denotes E, whilst the rate of change of tilt denotes B. And as for what’s waving, google on electromagnetic geometry. Because when Maxwell talked about displacement current, he said “light consists of transverse undulations in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena”. So think on this: when an ocean wave moves through the sea, the sea waves. When a seismic wave moves through the ground, the ground waves. So, what waves when a light wave moves through space? It’s got to be space. William Kingdon Clifford said it in his space theory of matter, but the Standard Model doesn’t.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe how pair production works
Nor does it say anything about gamma-gamma pair production. How does that work? How do two photons interact to turn into an electron and a positron? The Standard Model doesn’t say because the second foundation stone is missing, because there’s a hole in the heart of quantum electrodynamics. This is epitomized by the Wikipedia two-photon physics article, which is based on a UCL tutorial. It says this: “From quantum electrodynamics it can be found that photons cannot couple directly to each other, since they carry no charge, but they can interact through higher-order processes: a photon can, within the bounds of the uncertainty principle, fluctuate into a virtual charged fermion–antifermion pair, to either of which the other photon can couple”. That’s wrong. The uncertainty principle is merely a property of wave-like systems, and Pascual Jordan resolved wave-particle duality in 1925. A 511 keV photon does not magically morph into a 511 keV electron and a 511 keV positron. And pair production does not occur because pair production occurred. Instead photons interact with photons. There’s a photon-photon interaction, so gamma rays create matter just by plowing into laser light. When you know that space waves, you know that displacement current does what it says on the tin. When you know that a Möbius strip is said to be reminiscent of a spin ½ particle, then when you’ve seen a depiction of a spinor, you can work out how pair production works:
It helps if you’ve read page 26 of Schrödinger’s quantization as a problem of proper values, part II. Schrödinger said let us think of a wave group “which in some way gets into a small closed ‘path’, whose dimensions are of the order of the wave length”. Each 511 keV photon displaces the other photon into itself, then each ends up continually displacing itself, stuck in a double-loop spin ½ trivial-knot chiral closed path. Hence in atomic orbitals electrons “exist as standing waves”. Hence Frank Wilczek said “the proper quantum mechanical description of electrons involves wave functions, whose oscillation patterns are standing waves”. And as Jeff Lundeen said, wavefunction is real. Standing wave, standing field. The electron’s field is what it is.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the electron
That’s why it’s the wave nature of matter. That’s why we have the Davisson-Germer experiment and the Thomson and Reid diffraction experiment. And yet the Particle Data Group will tell you the electron is definitely smaller than 10-18 meters. It isn’t. That’s a myth that arose because people like Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli saw Schrödinger and other realists as the enemy. Hence in 1926 they ignored Schrödinger’s quantization as a problem of proper values, part II. Then they ignored Charles Galton Darwin’s 1927 paper on the electron as a vector wave, which talked about a spherical harmonic for the two directions of spin. Instead they promoted Yakov Frenkel’s 1926 paper on the electrodynamics of rotating electrons, which said the electron will thus be treated as a point. This was despite the Einstein-de Haas effect which “demonstrates that spin angular momentum is indeed of the same nature as the angular momentum of rotating bodies”. And the discovery of electron spin by Samuel Goudsmit and George Uhlenbeck. And the Stern-Gerlach experiment, which was in retrospect the first direct experimental evidence of electron spin. People still don’t realise just what the Copenhagen school did to quantum electrodynamics in the 1920s. They removed the third foundation stone, the one that describes the electron. Then in the 1930s they ignored Max Born and Leopold Infeld who were trying to put it back. They also ignored Robert Oppenheimer who said the theory was wrong because of the problem of infinities. Along with Lev Landau and Rudolf Peierls who talked of absurd results and said “it would be surprising if the formalism bore any resemblance to reality”. Then came the kludge called renormalization, which was concreted into place by Nobel prizes all round. So much so that physicists nowadays struggle to get their electron papers published:
Images by John Williamson and Martin van der Mark and by Qiu-Hong Hu
That’s because the Standard Model still says the electron is a point-particle, even though all the evidence says it has a wave nature. Even though there’s no evidence at all that it’s pointlikle. People say things like “the observation of a single electron in a Penning trap shows the upper limit of the particle’s radius to be 10-22 meters”. But when you look at Hans Dehmelt’s Nobel lecture you read about an extrapolation from the measured g value, which relies upon “a plausible relation given by Brodsky and Drell (1980) for the simplest composite theoretical model of the electron”. Then when you actually read Brodsky and Drell’s paper on the anomalous magnetic moment and limits on fermion substructure, what you read is this: “If the electron or muon is in fact a composite system, it is very different from the familiar picture of a bound state formed of elementary constituents since it must be simultaneously light in mass and small in spatial extension”. But there’s no evidence that the electron is composite. So there’s no evidence that the electron is small.
The Standard Model doesn’t explain mass and charge
All the evidence points the other way, as do the historic papers. I mentioned Born and Infeld. In the 1930s they wrote a series of papers about the electron. They said the inner angular momentum had a real physical meaning, and the rest-mass depended on the rotation and internal motion of the parts of the system. They even talked about the Poynting vector, which Feynman thought was absurd. Hans Ohanian also talked about the electron in his 1984 paper what is spin? He said “the means for filling the gap have been at hand since 1939, when Belinfante established that the spin could be regarded as due to a circulating flow of energy”. Frederik Belinfante’s paper was on the spin angular momentum of mesons. When you understand all this, you appreciate that the standing-wave electron explains mass and charge, whilst the Standard Model doesn’t. Photon energy and momentum are measures of resistance to change-in-motion for a wave moving linearly at c. Electron mass is a measure of resistance to change-in-motion for a wave going around and around at c. It’s as simple as that. That’s why E=mc². That’s why the inertia of a body depends upon its energy-content. That’s why the mystery of mass is a myth. As for what charge is, it’s topological. When you wrap a sinusoidal electromagnetic field variation into a double-loop spin ½ trivial-knot chiral closed path, the minimum and maximum field variation combine, along with all points in between, to leave you with a phase-invariant all-round standing-field standing-wave spinor. Ditto if you wrap it with the opposite chirality to make a positron. Topological quantum field theory aka TQFT hints at this, but the Standard Model doesn’t.
The Standard Model doesn’t explain electron motion
The Standard Model doesn’t explain electron motion either. That’s the fourth foundation stone, and again it’s missing. When you understand the electron, you understand why it moves the way that it does. See the Wikipedia spinor article: “In the 1920s physicists discovered that spinors are essential to describe the intrinsic angular momentum, or ‘spin’, of the electron and other subatomic particles”. The electron is “spinor” because its intrinsic spin makes it what it is, just as the intrinsic spin of a tornado makes it what it is. That spin is real, and that’s why the electron goes round in circles in a uniform magnetic field. It’s subject to Larmor precession. The spin angular momentum of an electron “precesses counter-clockwise about the direction of the magnetic field”. The electron goes round in circles rather like a boomerang goes round in circles due to gyroscopic precession. Not because photons are flitting back and forth. See the MRI article by Allen D Elster: “two particles with positive and negative gyromagnetic ratios precess in opposite directions”. The positron goes round the other way, like a left-handed boomerang.
Bubble chamber picture from CERN
Unfortunately particle physicists don’t know about this. They don’t understand how electromagnetic field interactions result in linear electric force and/or rotational magnetic force. It’s because of the screw nature of electromagnetism, which is something which both Maxwell and Minkowski referred to. Maxwell’s 1862 paper was On Physical Lines of Force, but his subheading was the theory of molecular vortices. It was way ahead of its time, as was Sir William Thomson’s 1867 vortex atom. As was Peter Guthrie Tait’s knot table, and Thomson and Tait’s 1867 spherical harmonics. As was Gustav Mie’s 1913 Foundations of a theory of matter, which talked about four-potential embodying the state of the ether and knot singularities in the field. As was Oliver Heaviside’s gravitomagnetism. Because electrons and positrons have a spinor nature, and they move towards one another and around one another because they’re counter-rotating optical vortices in frame-dragged space:
CCASA positronium image by Manticorp, spinor motion image by me
Counter-rotating vortices attract, co-rotating vortices repel. It’s nothing to do with gauge theory, which as David Gross said, played no role in QED. The linear and rotational motion doesn’t occur because the electron and positron are throwing photons back and forth. Positronium atoms don’t twinkle. Despite what people say, virtual particles are virtual. They aren’t short-lived real particles that pop in and out of existence. They aren’t the same thing as vacuum fluctuations. Vacuum fluctuations are very weak, the Coulomb force is not. And see the peculiar notion of exchange forces part I and part II by Cathryn Carson. The exchange-particle idea worked its way into QED from the mid-1930s, even though Heisenberg used a neutron model that was later retracted. Now it’s stuck, so the Standard Model can’t tell you how a magnet works. Nor could Feynman. But when you understand the electron, understanding how a magnet works is easy. The linear electric forces cancel but the rotational magnetic forces don’t. But the resultant magnetic field isn’t uniform, so the rotational forces are asymmetrical, so there’s a net linear force. There’s also a net linear force in Compton scattering too. The frequency of the incident photon is reduced because the interaction effectively takes a slice off that photon and slaps it onto the electron, making it asymmetrical. As a result, the electron moves.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the proton
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the proton, which is why Matt Strassler struggled with what’s a proton anyway? However once you understand the electron, you can understand the proton. It’s nothing to do with Yang Mills theory and the mass gap. Because like the electron, the proton is a spin ½ particle. It goes round in circles in a magnetic field too. And when you perform low energy proton-antiproton annihilation, what you see is gamma photons. Not quarks. You never see quarks. You might see pions, but not for long. Charged pions decay to muons and neutrinos, then muons decay to electrons and neutrinos. Neutral pions decay to gamma photons. You don’t see six quarks, and nor do you see a whole mess of quarks and gluons spilling out like beans from a bag. Which is no surprise, seeing as the gluons in ordinary hadrons are virtual. That’s virtual as in not real. The same applies to the so-called sea quarks. So it’s easy to work out what the proton is not. And once you know about Thomson and Tait and the knot table and tying light in knots, it’s easy to work out what the proton is. Especially when you know about TQFT. Especially when you know about the wave nature of matter. Hence like Martin van der Mark said in on the nature of stuff and the hierarchy of the forces, you can’t fit a longer-wavelength 2.3 MeV quark inside a smaller-wavelength 938.27 MeV proton. But you can take a look at the magnetic moments. The electron magnetic moment is −9284.764 × 10−27 J⋅T−1. The proton magnetic moment is a mere 14.10606 × 10−27 J⋅T−1. That tells us the spin is going the other way around a much smaller radius. Moreover the electron g-factor of -2.002 describes a Möbius-style spin ½ rotation of 720°, twice around a twisted loop. The proton g factor of 5.585 is nearly threefold. Now why might that be?
CCASA image by Arpad Horvath see Wikipedia Public domain image by Jim Belk, see Wikipedia
See the picture of the trefoil knot above right. Imagine it’s elastic, like a fat rubber band. It’s elastic so if you throw rocks at it, the rocks bounce back right in your face. It’s elastic so if you could grab hold of two of the loops and try to pull them apart, it would be more and more difficult, like the bag model. Then for the cherry on top, you can trace around that trefoil anticlockwise from the bottom left calling out the crossing-over directions: up down up.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the neutrino
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the neutrino either. But once you understand the electron, you come to appreciate something important about the neutrino: it’s more like the photon than the electron. Nobody has ever seen a neutrino travelling at any speed other than c. And because it travels at c, it can have no charge, and no mass either. Neutrino oscillations do not mean the neutrino has mass. That’s a non-sequitur. You know this when you understand mass and charge. They go hand in hand. If it’s got no charge it’s got no mass, end of story. And since we can make electrons and positrons out of photons, and because it’s the wave nature of matter as well as the wave nature of light, it’s clear that the neutrino has a wave nature too. But it clearly isn’t a transverse wave like the photon. The neutrino has spin. It’s a rotational wave. A spin wave in space. Like a travelling breather. If a photon is akin to plucking your guitar string, a neutrino is akin to twisting your guitar string with a pair of pliers, then letting go.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the neutron
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the neutron in any satisfactory fashion. Two down quarks and an up quark just doesn’t cut it. Especially when you know something about the electron, the proton, and the neutrino, along with nuclear magnetic resonance. Particularly when you know that back in 1920 the great Ernie Rutherford thought of the neutron as a close-coupled proton-electron combination. I think the key fact is that a neutron can be created via electron capture, where a nucleus absorbs an inner electron. A neutrino is cast off to balance the spin. The opposite process is where the free neutron undergoes beta decay, resulting in a proton, an electron, and an antineutrino. There no sign of any other particles in these processes. That’s as you might expect, since the neutron mass-energy is 939.565 MeV, the proton mass-energy is 938.272 MeV, and the electron mass-energy is 0.511 MeV. The balance of 0.782 MeV is split between the electron kinetic energy and the antineutrino, which is all kinetic energy. It seems clear enough that in electron capture an electron get wound into the proton, like it was caught in a mangle, with the neutrino emission conserving angular momentum. The result is stable inside the nucleus, like a slip knot kept under tension. But not when the neutron is free. The neutrino is the twist in the tale, but I think Rutherford was essentially right, and beta decay is the jumping popper of particle physics.
The Standard Model doesn’t describe the weak interaction
However it is said that when a 939.565 MeV free neutron decays, it’s because a W boson, which is said to have a mass-energy of 80.379 GeV, pops out of a down quark with a mass-energy of circa 4.8 MeV, converting it into an up quark with a mass-energy of circa 2.3 MeV. Then this W boson decays into an electron and an antineutrino with a combined mass-energy of circa 1 MeV. So quickly that you can’t actually see the W boson. Just like you’ve never seen a quark. Or the angels on the head of a pin. It just doesn’t fly. When you have an understanding of the electron, the proton, the neutrino, and the neutron, you know that the Standard Model doesn’t describe the weak interaction. Especially when you know that virtual particles are virtual, and that there are no messenger particles flying around inside a hydrogen atom. So why should there be any in a uranium nucleus? Or when a neutron flies apart? Especially when Fermi based his intuition on electromagnetism. Yes, if you also know about the weak interaction and electroweak theory you’ll know about Steven Weinberg’s famous 1967 paper a model of leptons. However if you know about the electron you’ll know that this three page paper is nothing of the sort. And that Weinberg fell at the first hurdle by saying “Leptons interact only with photons, and with the intermediate bosons that presumably mediate weak interactions”.
Fair use excerpt from Steven Weinberg’s A Model of Leptons
It isn’t true. Electrons also interact with electrons, and with positrons and protons and neutrinos too. Don’t forget that Fermi’s interaction “posits four fermions directly interacting with one another”. Furthermore, there’s a huge presumption that intermediate vector bosons mediate weak interactions in the same way that photons mediate electromagnetic interactions. Only photons don’t mediate electromagnetic interactions. That’s a myth that grew out of the point-particle electron. So when Weinberg said “What could be more natural than to unite these spin-one bosons into a multiplet of gauge fields”, the answer is understanding what you’re dealing with. Understand mass and charge and the electron and the proton and the neutrino and the neutron. Then you won’t feel the need to indulge in mathematical handwaving and wallow in fiction such as Goldstone bosons, isospin, and hypercharge. Or tout symmetry as a great virtue. Then introduce a kludge because your short-range force demands massive gauge bosons, which means it’s not a gauge theory. Then claim they get their mass from a broken symmetry, then tout broken symmetry as a great virtue. This was Weinberg’s toilet. In his Nobel lecture he said many thought what had been done was “to sweep the real problems under the rug”. Quite. In Weinberg’s model, the mass of the Z-boson is not a measure of its energy-content. Instead it gets its mass from “the spontaneous breaking of the symmetry”. Weinberg trashed E=mc² and paved the way for the fabulous Higgs boson, because he didn’t understand mass. Or the neutron. Or electromagnetism. So he didn’t understand beta decay. He didn’t understand the nuclear force either.
The Standard Model still doesn’t explain the nuclear force
Nor did anybody else. Hence the early attempts to model it ended with disaster. This was the nuclear disaster. The Standard Model still doesn’t explain the nuclear force. That’s the force that keeps the protons and the neutrons together in the nucleus. People often say the nuclear force is due to a pion exchange as proposed by Hideki Yukawa in 1935. However when you know that electrons and positrons don’t exchange photons, you know that protons and neutrons don’t exchange pions. When you read the Yukawa interaction paper on the interaction of elementary particles you can tell it lacks foundation. Yukawa said this: “the transition of a heavy particle from neutron state to proton state is not always accompanied by the emission of light particles, i.e. a neutrino and an electron, but the energy liberated by the transition is taken up sometimes by another heavy particle, which in turn will be transformed from proton state into neutron state”. There’s no understanding of the neutron here. Or the electron or the proton or the neutrino. Yukawa was clutching at straws in 1935, and nothing has changed since. Even though the nuclear force plot matches the neutron charge distribution:
Nuclear force plot from Dux college HSC physics course, neutron charge distribution image by Dru Renner inverted by me
Even though the neutron magnetic moment says there’s a Poynting vector wherein energy is circulating around and around. Even though as per the Wikipedia neutron article, the neutron magnetic moment “can be reconciled classically with a neutral neutron composed of a charge distribution in which the negative sub-parts of the neutron have a larger average radius of distribution”. The neutron has more negative charge on the outside, and more positive charge on the inside. Opposite charges attract and like charges repel because charged particles are spinors. It’s like the way counter-rotating vortices attract and co-rotating vortices repel. If you were a proton and you were close to that neutron, you’d feel an attraction towards it. If however you got too close to the more-positive core, you’d feel a repulsion. Alternatively if you were to move away, the neutron’s positive and negative charges would tend to cancel and you wouldn’t feel anything. The force would therefore be short range. It’s crystal clear the nuclear force is electromagnetic. But the Standard Model doesn’t include it.
The Standard Model doesn’t explain how gravity works
The Standard Model doesn’t include gravity either, even though it’s straightforward. A gravitational field is a place where a concentration of energy in the guise of a massive star conditions the surrounding space, this effect diminishing with distance. As a result the speed of light is spatially variable, so light waves curve downwards like sonar waves curve downwards in the sea. When you then apply the wave nature of matter and electron spin, you can think of an electron as light going around and around. The horizontal component curves downwards, so the electron is displaced downwards. It falls down. That’s how gravity works. Gravity is that simple. It’s so simple it’s low-hanging fruit. Like the photon, pair production, the electron, electron motion, and all those other things including the nuclear force. As to why all this low-hanging fruit isn’t already part of contemporary physics, well, that’s another story. It’s a fairy story, and a horror story, all rolled into one.