I was pleased to read about the launch of the James Webb space telescope on Christmas Day. I do hope everything goes smoothly. It will take about a month to get on station, about three months before it’s cold enough to function, and about six months before it’s commissioned. Unlike Hubble, which was in a low Earth orbit, Webb will be in a “halo” orbit around the L2 Lagrange point a million miles from Earth. Along the way there are 3 burns and 50 deployments with 178 release mechanisms. If anything goes wrong with those burns or deployments, or with the subsequent operation, it won’t be an easy fix. In fact, it probably won’t be a fix at all. So, fingers crossed, touch wood, and here’s hoping. Hubble was a great success, it opened our eyes to the awe-inspiring wonderful universe in which we live. I hope that Webb, with six times the mirror area, will be a great success too:
I was particularly pleased about the James Webb space telescope because 2021 hasn’t been a great year for physics and cosmology. The Nobel Prize in physics was a huge disappointment. Half went to Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”. The other half went Giorgio Parisi “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems”. I’m not a fan of the Nobel Prize at the best of times, because I think it sets science in stone and so impedes scientific progress. Heck, I think Alfred Nobel did a lot less harm with his god damn dynamite. But this year’s Nobel Prize in physics wasn’t even physics. It was climate change.
But I’m not a fan of climate change
I don’t know if you know, but I’m something of a green. I used to do all-day Sunday nature tasks with the Chief Keeper of the New Forest and the Curator of Poole Aquarium. My front garden is a garden, not a car park. My back garden includes a 6ft by 8ft pond which I dug myself. Then I put in the liner, then built the stone walls and laid the flagstones. I wish I’d made it bigger, but it is what it is. The newts love it, and it’s nice to hear the high-pitched croak of toads in the morning. As you can see, I have palms and ferns and other exotica. I’m going for the Jurassic look:
My pond, with 9-year-old human boy for scale
I grow vegetables of course. And of course, I’m concerned about deforestation and desertification and habitat loss, and about overfishing and whaling and bush meat. But I’m not a fan of climate change. I don’t doubt that the works of man can change the climate. I just dislike the way “climate change” legitimises the clear-felling of primal forests to feed Drax B, and the destruction of Indonesian jungle for palm oil plantations. I dislike the greenwash that says climate change is responsible for the reduction in the Kilimanjaro icecap, the demise of the puffin, desertification, and mass migration. That’s because I know that the real causes are deforestation, overfishing, overgrazing, and overpopulation. I also dislike the way they say “there is a scientific consensus”, then use this to silence all evidential challenge. If I don’t agree that last year was the warmest ever on account of my melons, then too bad, the scientific consensus says I’m wrong. I particularly dislike the use of the word denier. There’s no place in science for that, it’s the modern version of heretic. And more than anything else, I dislike the way climate change has been sucking up physics funding for years now. Like a parasite carried by the unwitting. Despite the climategate scandal that showed academics behaving very badly indeed. I am now a cynic. I now think climate change is a corrupted reverse-Robin racket which has just put your gas bill up by 70% and counting. I think of climate change as something that’s peddled and promoted by all those COP26 ZiL-lane billionaires who never mention China, plus the pampered princes of hypocrisy. You know, those condescending types who tell you that you shouldn’t own a car, even though they fly 200,000 miles a year in a private jet.
It just isn’t physics
Back on topic, I was similarly disappointed by the Physics World finalists for the 2021 Breakthrough of the Year. Whilst restoring speech to a paralysed man is a worthy achievement, it just isn’t physics, it’s medicine and computing. Making 30 lasers emit as one just isn’t physics either, it’s engineering. Meanwhile quantifying wave-particle duality is just hogwash, because particles are waves, and because Pascual Jordan solved the mystery of wave-particle duality way back in 1926. Hence I sighed when I saw the picture of the double slit experiment and read all the quantum bullshіt about complementarity:
Complementarity: A new twist on the double-slit experiment. (Courtesy: Shutterstock/Andrey VP)
I also sighed when I saw that the winner was Quantum entanglement of two macroscopic objects. Surely Joy Christian knocked all that on the head way back in 2007? He featured in Mark Buchanan’s New Scientist article Quantum Entanglement: Is Spookiness Under Threat? But no, what we have instead is “quantum technology has made great strides over the past two decades” when it absolutely has not. What we have is tiny resonating drums which are allegedly entangled, and where this so-called entanglement somehow “resembled a two-qubit gate”. That’s not physics either. That’s the jam-tomorrow two-bit quantum computing that’s also been sucking up physics funding for years now. The quantum computing that has almost killed off optical computing, and will never deliver anything useful at all. If you don’t believe me, read the Physics World article Quantum science & technology: Highlights of 2021. There are no highlights.
It just isn’t physics
There are no highlights in physics either. Take a look at the APS Highlights of the Year. What have we got? A Solar Rendezvous, about NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which was launched in 2018. Without the fundamental gravitational experiment that was going to measure the fine structure constant near the surface of the Sun. Then we’ve got the Muon’s Escalating Challenge to the Standard Model which includes the usual lies-to-children about virtual particles:
Muon cartoon images from the Muon The Muon g–2 Anomaly Explained
I am reminded of something Peter Woit said: “this nonsense continues to be heavily promoted in our most prominent and respected mass media”. As it happens he was talking about String Theory, but make no mistake, Standard Model physicists promote nonsense too. Anyway, the other APS “highlights” concern quantum primacy, more women physicists, green materials, time crystals, climate change fingerprints, MOND, neutron stars, and a spinning top. Quantum primacy, my arse. Green materials, green wash. Time crystals, FFS. It really is a poor show.
Relive 2021 at CERN
It’s a similar poor show in Relive 2021 at CERN. That’s a 6-minute video that tells you about things like the 13 gigapixel tracker for ALICE, how ATLAS detected three W-bosons, how CMS is homing in on the lifetime of the Higgs boson, and how LHCb has found hints of a violation in lepton flavour universality. Oh, they also “discovered” the odderon, but as ever the “discovery” was inferred, so you’ll just have to take their word for it. The video is great, the music is great, but the physics isn’t. Even though you can clearly see in that video that CERN have massive amounts of money to spend:
Screenshot from Relive 2021 at CERN
This is Big Science, no expense spared, but these are the guys who won’t tell you what an electron is. All they do say is that it’s a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. But hey, they have environmentally friendly beam lines, they’ve set out how they’re going to reduce their environmental footprint, and they’ve released a new version of their WebEnergy tool to better forecast energy consumption on site. This is CERN, the Centre European for Research Nuclear, who last mentioned Thorium: an energy source for the world of tomorrow in 2014. They aren’t doing the job they were set up to do, and they aren’t doing the job they decided to do instead. The inconvenient truth is that they get in the way of scientific progress because they’ve painted themselves into a corner with their “discoveries”. Hence they peddle myths like does antimatter fall up? even though everybody who knows anything about general relativity knows that it doesn’t. They won’t admit that an electron is a wave in a closed path, like Schrödinger said on page 26 of quantization as a problem of proper values, part II. If they did, you’d know that electron mass is just resistance to change-in-motion for a wave going around and around at c. Then you’d know that the lifetime of the fabulous Higgs boson is zero. It’s been nearly ten years since CERN “discovered” the Higgs boson. Fundamental physics did not advance then, and it hasn’t advanced since.
Timeline of fundamental physics discoveries
What have we had since 2012? The Wikipedia article on the Timeline of fundamental physics discoveries gives three items. The first was LIGO’s 2015 announcement that they’d observed gravitational waves. The trouble with that is that there’s an issue with black hole mergers. A gravitational field is a place where there’s a gradient in the speed of light. However a black hole is a place where this is zero. Hence the mechanism by which a body falls down just isn’t there. Hence something’s wrong. The second item was the 2019 announcement of the first image of a black hole. See Katie Bouman ‘hardly knew what a black hole was.’ Her algorithm helped us see one. They didn’t capture an image, they captured data which was used to create an image:
Note this: “There’s an infinite number of possible images that could have been created from the sparse measurements that we took”. Also note this in the Wikipedia Event Horizon Telescope article: “the observed image is consistent with expectations for the shadow of a spinning Kerr black hole”. The trouble with that is that Kerr black holes are associated with time travel, wormholes, and other universes, which are science fiction concepts rather than science fact. In addition Kerr black holes are said to spin at nearly the speed of light. However a black hole is a place where this is zero. Hence it can’t be spinning at nearly the speed of light. Hence something’s wrong again. Especially since there are no gamma ray bursts. The third item is the 2020 discovery of the room-temperature superconductor, but that was at a pressure of 2.6 million atmospheres, so it doesn’t count.
Ruminations on Cosmology and Time
I think it’s important to appreciate why time travel, wormholes, and other universes are science fiction, not science. You know how I mentioned Peter Woit? In October he referred to Fields Medallist David Mumford. Woit said Mumford “moved into physics this month with a wonderful article about cosmology in the Notices”. Unfortunately Mumford is a total beginner when it comes to physics, and the article isn’t wonderful at all. He doesn’t understand time, and he didn’t even know about Philip Gibbs’s relativistic rocket. His article includes a depiction of Kip Thorne’s Interstellar black hole:
Black hole depiction from David Mumford’s Ruminations on Cosmology and Time
That’s Kip Thorne of MTW fame, who used Interstellar to try to pass off time travel as bona-fide physics. Only it isn’t, because time is a cumulative measure of motion. It’s only a dimension in the sense of measure, not freedom of motion. Hence I can hop forward a metre, but you can’t forward a second. You can travel fast in space or descend near a black hole such that you’re subject to time dilation. But time dilation is merely a slowdown in your local motion. You can’t actually travel forward in time, so you can’t travel backward in time either. Mumford doesn’t know this. Instead he talks about the FLRW metric which “starts with the assumption of homogeneity and isotropy of space”. He doesn’t know that Einstein described a gravitational field as a place where space is neither homogeneous nor isotropic. In similar vein Mumford doesn’t know that the speed of light is spatially variable. Instead he thinks the point singularities predicted by Hawking and Penrose are “pretty much inevitable in general relativity”. Does he know that Einstein didn’t share this view? I don’t think so, because he thinks the infalling observer falls through the event horizon in his own proper time, but never ever does according to outside observers. He even says “the seeming conundrum of the geodesic continuing in this way is clarified, following Eddington and Finkelstein, by changing the time coordinate in the Schwarzschild metric”.
The Kerr model is one whose geodesic completion allows time travel into the past
Unfortunately you can’t use seconds of infinite length to airbrush over the end of time. Mumford doesn’t realise this, and instead says the Kerr model is “one whose geodesic completion allows time travel into the past”. He also says “At this point, physicists throw up their hands and say enough is enough. But mathematicians do not and, in fact, there is an infinite chain of new universes connected by similar coordinate changes”. He’s talking about an infinite chain of new universes connected by wormholes. Sadly Mumford got lost in maths. Sadly he is not alone. Only last month in the news we had Black hole breakthrough as portal ‘wormholes’ could be shortcuts across universe. It concerned a Live Science article Wormholes may be stable after all, new theory suggests. This in turn referred to a paper in the International Journal of Modern Physics D. Amazingly, there are people who call themselves physicists who actually believe in this, and journals that actually print it. What must Joe Public think?
Joe Public now has a very low opinion of physics
Sadly, I don’t think Joe Public cares any more. Sadly, I think Joe Public now has a very low opinion of physics. I think he has a low opinion of science in general. Covid hasn’t helped. I have the Boxing Day Telegraph in front of me. The headline says ‘Dodgy data’ used in push for tighter restrictions. The letters page is headed up with Apocalyptic Covid projections have harmed the public’s faith in science. Joe Public has the wisdom of crowds. He knows that “with Covid” is not the same as “of Covid”. He knows that the original lockdown was to stop the NHS being overwhelmed. He also knows that Omicron is usually mild, and that the NHS isn’t going to get overwhelmed now. So he knows that another lockdown is not necessary. Ditto for Covid passports. Ditto for vaccine mandates. Ditto for masks, which were said to be useless a year ago. A mask will cut down airborne droplets from somebody who’s coughing and spluttering, but if they’re ill they should be staying at home. Joe Public knows that. He also knows that questioning the diktats doesn’t make him an anti-vaxxer:
Citizen Cattle image by Ben Garrison, see Citizen Cattle 2021 – Grrr Graphics
He knows about the government scientists going off-piste with alarmist BBC interviews. He knows about Jeremy Nelson’s revelation on the overly-pessimistic Covid modelling. He knows that the apocalyptic omicron claims by scientists at Imperial deliberately omitted B and T cell memory. He knows that two-thirds of new Covid hospital patients in England only tested positive AFTER being admitted. He knows that the unvaccinated do not comprise the majority of Covid patients*. He knows that Doctors of Philosophy are posing as Doctors of Medicine to prophesy doom, and calling for restrictions which they’re now trying to rebadge as “protections”.
That cuts no ice with Joe Public
Aha, I hear you say. But Covid is the reason why it’s been a bad year for physics. That cuts no ice with Joe Public. He’s had to continue doing his job, driving a van or a truck or a forklift, or stacking the shelves or manning the till. He hasn’t been able to “work from home” like some of the better-paid people in society. Like those scientists who are forever banging the drum saying the unvaccinated are a danger. Joe Public knows that if he’s been vaccinated, he has little to fear from the unvaccinated. He knows full well that his children don’t get measles mumps or rubella when they’ve had their two MMR jabs. Besides, if the unvaccinated are a danger, does that mean Pfizer is ineffective? Is that why people are saying the AstraZeneca jab is behind the UK’s lower death rate? Then why has the AstraZeneca jab been dropped? It’s a mess. Things are getting ugly. The finger is getting pointed. Not just at politicians, but at scientists.
In 2021 campus cancel culture took an ugly turn
Scientists who are mostly academics. Academics who have been living their comfortable lives of ease whilst being utterly brazen about censorship. Joe Public knows full well that in 2021, campus cancel culture took an ugly turn. He takes a dim view of the censorship that “protects” those who pretend to be offended. He knows full well that “emotional safety” extends only to those who share the same set of woke values. He knows that others will be silenced and excluded by any means necessary. Joe Public knows that government measures to enforce freedom of speech were announced in May, but that universities are resisting it.
Joe Public doesn’t trust scientists any more
The bottom line is this: in 2021 Joe Public has seen that the mask has well and truly slipped, that too many scientists care nothing about honesty and fair play and deliver nothing of value. Joe Public doesn’t trust scientists any more. He doesn’t believe them any more. He knows he’s been lied to. To Joe, science is dead. Physics is dead. What he took for signs of life were just the minor movements of parasites feeding off the corpse. But this is not the end, because physics is the king of the sciences. A king might die, but he is replaced. Hence we say the king is dead, long live the king. And so it goes. When Joe Public gets to know about the real physics, as he will, he’ll believe in it again. Then it will be physics is dead, long live physics. Personally, I can’t wait. Long live physics!
* Addendum 19th February 2022: I was rather disturbed to see a reply by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to a Freedom of Information request (FOI). The title is Deaths from COVID-19 with no other underlying causes. It said this: “Please see below for death registrations for 2020 and 2021 (provisional) that were due to COVID-19 and were recorded without any pre-existing conditions, England and Wales.
2020: 9432 (0-64: 1557 / 65 and over: 7875)
2021 Q1: 6483 (0-64: 1560/ 65 and over: 4923)
2021 Q2: 346 (0-64: 153/ 65 and over: 193)
2021 Q3: 1142 (0-64: 512/ 65 and over: 630)”
So 9,432 deaths were caused by Covid alone in 2020, and only about 17,000 people died of Covid alone in the UK in nearly two years. There’s something of a rebuttal here: To say only 17,000 people have died from COVID-19 is highly misleading.. However it doesn’t actually counter how many people died of Covid alone. In addition, the article is dishonest, because it says this: “For those people dying from COVID-19, the most common pre-existing condition was diabetes”. It’s dishonest because it doesn’t tell you that people with type-2 diabetes are usually obese, or that obese people usually have breathing problems. See Diabetes and Obesity and Impact of obesity on respiratory function. So if you’re young and fit and not obese, the chances of you dying from Covid are far lower than you dying of some other cause. As for the excess deaths, I shudder to think. See Total deaths in the UK in 2020 and deaths from heart attacks, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s and dementia, 2016 to 2020. There were about 150,000 cancer deaths in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. In 2020 they’ve broken down the cancer deaths by type, and said there were 69,101 COVID-19 deaths. Hence Covid is given as the leading cause of death. I’ve heard of lies, damn lies, and statistics, but that is appalling. Cancer is the leading cause of death, but they’re hiding the fact, as well as the fact that only 9,432 deaths were caused by Covid alone. I for one have had quite enough of all the dishonesty surrounding Covid. I’ve also had enough of all the Covid control-freaks and petty tyrants. Doubtless the same applies to the good people of Canada.