There have been some dreadful events in Israel, with terrorists going door to door killing women and children, and more. Meanwhile sections of our media and community refuse to condemn such acts, and call the perpetrators “militants”. Such is the corruption in our society. As I was saying last time, honesty and decency are in short supply, so it’s no small wonder that so many people are suffering. These are troubled times, so much so that the trouble with physics is left in the shade. For example there was a press release on October 3rd 2023 from the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. They announced that they were awarding the Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier. The prize was “for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter”. However it didn’t feature in my daily newspaper, which is The Telegraph. Search the Telegraph for Nobel, and the 2023 Nobel Prize for physics just isn’t there:
Screenshot from a Telegraph search for Nobel
There’s mention of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Nobel Prize in Medicine. But not the Nobel Prize in Physics. Anyway, the press release I referred to was entitled Experiments with light capture the shortest of moments. It gave brief details of the prize winners, a precis of the work, a list of five illustrations, a popular science article, and a scientific article.
© Johan Jarnestad / The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences see NobelPrize.org
The press release also said “the three Nobel Laureates in Physics 2023 are being recognised for their experiments, which have given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules”. In addition it said they had “demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy”. An attosecond is 1×10ˉ¹⁸ seconds. See the Wikipedia article on attosecond physics, where you can read that a light wave with a wavelength of 30 nanometres would have a duration of 100 attoseconds.
We’ve known that antimatter falls down for over sixty years
For myself, I was wondering who the Nobel prize would go to this year. I was hoping it wouldn’t go to particle physics for something useless, such as the “discovery” that antimatter falls down. That featured in Nature on 27th September 2023. It also featured in a number of news reports and popular science articles. See for example Jennifer Oulette’s Ars Technica article Einstein right again: Antimatter falls “down” due to gravity like ordinary matter.
Diagram of the Alpha experiment by CERN
Like I said in Lifters, we’ve known that antimatter falls down for over sixty years. See the Wikipedia antigravity article, which says this: “The issue was considered solved in 1960 with the development of CPT symmetry, which demonstrated that antimatter follows the same laws of physics as “normal” matter, and therefore has positive energy content and also causes (and reacts to) gravity like normal matter”. I wonder if the announcement was timed just before this year’s Nobel prize in order to stake a claim for next year. Clifford Will said it was a cool result, but I think the “discovery” is just an end to a big fat lie-to-children used and abused to promote CERN to a gullible public. Perhaps that’s why it only made one column inch in The Telegraph. When I search online I can find a Telegraph article about it by Joe Pinkstone, but I didn’t see it in the physical newspaper. Maybe I missed it on the day. Either way, what I think would be more worthy, would be solving the mystery of the missing antimatter. However I can’t see the current crop of particle physicists ever conceding that the proton rather than the antiproton is the antimatter. Just as I can’t see them ever admitting that the Standard Model is wrong on multiple counts. When people have peddled mystery and backed the wrong horse for way too long, they don’t like to admit they’re wrong. Instead they defend the mainstream with propaganda and censorship, hampering scientific progress in direct contravention of the scientific method.
They didn’t capture an image, they created an image
I was also hoping the Nobel prize wouldn’t go to anybody from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration. I say that because they try to make people think that their computer-generated images are genuine images. See the article about Katie Bouman and note this: “There’s an infinite number of possible images that could have been created from the sparse measurements that we took”. They didn’t capture an image, they created an image. They created an image “under the assumption that Sgr A* is a Kerr black hole”. It was a retrofit that yielded an image in keeping with the Interstellar image of Gargantua, the Kerr black hole used for time travel:
Credit: Double Negative Visual Effects, Warner Bros CC by 4.0 M87* image by the EHT, see Wikipedia
The Science of Interstellar is one of my pet hates. It’s science fiction dressed up as scientific fact. It’s woo peddled by none other than Kip Thorne, co-author of the famous MTW. It’s said to be the bible of General Relativity, but it’s riddled with nonsense that flatly contradicts Einstein. Such as the hop skippety jump over the end of time on the way into a black hole, or the Kruskal-Szekeres time intervals of infinite duration. This is the Kip Thorne who peddles time travel. The same Kip Thorne who won a Nobel prize for LIGO in 2017. I have serious doubts about LIGO because I know how gravity works. That’s why I sigh when I read about black holes having “such strong gravitational attraction that not even light can escape their grasp”. A gravitational field is a place where the speed of light is “spatially variable”. That’s what Einstein said. Light goes slower when it’s lower. So a gravitational field is a place where the upward light beam speeds up. So a strong gravitational field is a place where the upward light beam speeds up even more. A black hole is black because it’s a place where the speed of light is zero. And that means there’s no gradient in the speed of light, and so no gravitational field. So we have a big problem with those inspiralling black holes.
The origin of this sideways shift remains unclear
Something else that featured in Nature on 27th September 2023 was a paper called Precessing jet nozzle connecting to a spinning black hole in M87. It concerns observations from the EAVN, the VLBA, the KaVA and the EATING radio telescope arrays. It wasn’t by the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, but it concerned the same kind of thing. It was to do with M87*, the supermassive black hole in the middle of the supergiant galaxy M87. The abstract said they observed the black hole’s famous 4,900 lightyear-long relativistic jet over 17 years, and plotted a shift in its transverse position. It also said “the origin of this sideways shift remains unclear”. However the associated press release said the relativistic jet was precessing, and this proved that the black hole was rotating fast. You can read more about that in the PhysicsWorld article M87’s precessing jet reveals black hole’s fast spin:
Artist’s impression of the black hole at the centre of M87, showing how the accretion disc and jet are misaligned with the rotational axis of the black hole. (Courtesy: Yuzhu Cui et al. (2023), Intouchable Lab@Openverse and Zhejiang Lab)
The article says “the relativistic jet emanating from the black hole at the heart of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is wobbling as it is dragged around by the spinning black hole, new radio observations have found. This is the first direct evidence that powerful jets from active galaxies are driven by black holes that are rotating rapidly, not slowly”. The article says this even though the jet precesses by only 10 degrees over about 11 years.
The rapidly rotating black hole is an inference, not a fact
Unfortunately somebody hasn’t done his homework. I say that because there’s a related paper on the arXiv called Transverse Oscillations of the M87 Jet Revealed by KaVA Observations. It doesn’t say the transverse observations are evidence of a rapidly rotating black hole. Instead it says this: “We propose possible scenarios of the transverse oscillation, such as the propagation of jet instabilities or magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) waves or perturbed mass injection around magnetically dominated accretion flows”. The rapidly rotating black hole is an inference, not a fact. And if you’re read about the M87* magnetic field or how a magnet works, you’ll be aware that there are other possible inferences. Especially if you also know that electron spin undergoes Larmor precession in a magnetic field.
Public domain image by FbrG, see Wikipedia, caption: dependence of Larmor precession on gyromagnetic ratio
However that doesn’t seem to get any coverage, presumably because many science writers don’t know enough physics. And there was a great deal of coverage for this story. So much so that I’d say this is looking like next year’s Nobel prize. Unless of course the Event Horizon guys say the magnetic field rather than the gravitomagnetic field is more likely to cause the precession. We shall see.
He gave an explanation for gamma ray bursters
What we won’t see is Friedwardt Winterberg getting a Nobel prize for the original firewall. He gave an explanation for gamma ray bursters, which is what rekindled interest in General Relativity. The crucial point is that a gravitational field is a place where the speed of light is “spatially variable”. Hence the horizontal light beam undergoes a gravitational-lensing refraction, and bends downwards. The evidence for the wave nature of matter, pair production, annihilation, and spin tells me the electron is essentially light in a closed path, the horizontal component of which bends downwards. Hence the electron is displaced downwards, and so falls down. The same applies to protons and neutrons. So matter falls towards the event horizon, faster and faster, and all the while the local speed of light is getting slower and slower. The falling matter doesn’t slow down, so there has to be some crossover point where it would end up going faster than the local speed of light. Only that can’t happen, because as per the evidence, matter is in essence “made of light”. So something else has to happen. A gamma ray burst. Which means all the stories about the elephant being in two places at once are fairy stories.
Johnston called it right
There are other Nobel candidates of course. Hamish Johnston of Physicsworld talked about some of them in his article Who will win the Nobel Prize for Physics? Our predictions for 2023. He said Physicsworld had made plenty of predictions that didn’t come true in the year the prediction was made, but did come true in a later year. He referred to an “infographic” that charts the prizes by discipline, saying the Nobel committee tries to spread prizes around the various fields. He also said in three out of the past six years the prizes have gone to astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. Hence the 2023 winner will be in a different field, which rules out the James Webb Space Telescope. After some speculation about quantum computing, the Aharanov-Bohm effect, the Berry phase, photonics, and twisted graphene, Johnston said this: “one place to look for potential winners of the Nobel prize, is the list of winners of the Wolf Prize in Physics. The most recent winners were Paul Corkum, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier”. So while Paul Corkum missed out, I’d say Johnston called it right. At least this time – I’m sure the Nobel prize committee won’t take too kindly to the notion that they trot obediently behind the Wolf prize like some little lap dog.
Attosecond light pulses, produced from overtone interference, play the part of the strobe lighting
So, the Nobel prize winners were Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier. As for what for, the Nobel press release gives the following potted history saying: “In 1987, Anne L’Huillier discovered that many different overtones of light arose when she transmitted infrared laser light through a noble gas”. It also says “In 2001, Pierre Agostini succeeded in producing and investigating a series of consecutive light pulses, in which each pulse lasted just 250 attoseconds. At the same time, Ferenc Krausz was working with another type of experiment, one that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds”. It also says this in the a popular science explanation: “high-speed photography and strobe lighting make it possible to capture detailed images of fleeting phenomena”. It gives a hummingbird example, saying “a highly focused photograph of a hummingbird in flight requires an exposure time that is much shorter than a single wingbeat”. It then says this is similar to the motion of electrons within atoms, where attosecond laser light pulses, produced from overtone interference, play the part of the strobe lighting. Here’s the illustration:
Image from the Nobel prize press release popular science explanation
The press release also included this: “We can now open the door to the world of electrons. Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons. The next step will be utilising them,” says Eva Olsson, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. But note how the electron is depicted as being smaller than the protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Even though it’s the wave nature of matter, and the electron’s Compton wavelength is 1837 times that of the proton.
The electron is depicted as being smaller than the protons and neutrons
It’s the same sort of depiction in the YouTube video Attosecond Lasers (2023 Nobel Prize in Physics) – Sixty Symbols. The electron is depicted as being smaller than the protons and neutrons. So one thing is for certain: nobody has been photographing an electron like they photograph a humming bird:
There’s no understanding of the physical processes at work here. It’s obvious that you can make an electron out of light in gamma-gamma pair production, then move it with say Compton scattering. Since the latter leaves you with a lower-wavelength photon and a moving electron, it’s blindingly obvious that a portion of the photon has morphed with the electron in an asymmetrical fashion. That’s why the electron changes energy and moves. Then an Inverse Compton does the opposite. An electron in an atom is similar, but it tends to be bound tetherball style, and ends up giving up the photon energy and ending up back in the atom. However this just doesn’t feature in attosecond physics aka attophysics. It’s the hole in the heart of quantum electrodynamics, and attophysics, “the branch of physics that deals with light-matter interaction phenomena”, doesn’t address it at all. It isn’t opening the door to the world of electrons. It’s flying blind.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel
It wouldn’t be if John G Williamson and the late Martin van der Mark hadn’t been studiously ignored all these years. They wrote a paper about the toroidal electron, but Nature wouldn’t print it. They deserved a trip to Stockholm for that paper, but it never happened. It didn’t happen for Qiu Hong Hu either. So all in all, I’m not impressed. I think the Nobel committee are scraping the bottom of the barrel here. This is thin gruel. That’s why The Telegraph didn’t cover it, and why the Express only gave it a brief mention. As I speak neither Peter Woit nor Sean Carroll have covered it either. Presumably because it’s totally underwhelming. Surely the Nobel Committee could have found something else more worthy? To hell with the Buggins turn approach, why didn’t they give it to the James Webb Space Telescope? But at least it wasn’t a prize for scientific fraud again. No doubt normal service will be resumed next year, provided World War III doesn’t get in the way. Because as anybody who has studied the science and the history knows full well, Alfred Nobel has caused far more harm with his prizes than he ever did with his dynamite.