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Cosmological Constant email to Nima Arkani-Hamed

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posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 11:14 AM
Dear Dr. Arkani-Hamed,

I am writing concerning a different approach to fundamental physics that may be of use in understanding the cosmological constant problem. Of course, the largest portion of the cosmological constant problem can be eliminated if we simply make the assumption that the zero-point energies associated with quantum field theory (QFT) do not exist. However, such a proposal leads to a need to replace or substantially alter QFT, since zero-point energies are a fundamental aspect of that theory. In the attached paper I follow the one obvious road to a high velocity quantum mechanics (HVQM) that has not yet been travelled, which is to use a fully non-local approach. Since it is non-local it is not relativistic. However, a non-local HVQM also makes tests of Bell's Inequalities easier to understand as well, and so I believe we should consider it. Additionally, the equation for HVQM in the attached paper is linear in the time derivative, which allows for a ready understanding of particle density without resorting to the necessity of a field. Without a field, the vacuum is a quiet place and does not have the self energy proposed by QFT, going a long way toward understanding the dilemma posed by the cosmological constant.

However, making such a radical change brings in further issues.

A non-local HVQM brings with it concerns about special relativity. On that issue please refer to InfoGalactic - Absolute_theory. That link contains my paper proposing a theory similar to that of Lorentz, except that I assume that no length contraction exists. I then compare the theories of Einstein, Lorentz and myself against the experimental record. I am equivocal about whether or not there is a length contraction - my point is that we haven't really proven a length contraction exists. The important point vis-a-vis the cosmological constant is that either my theory or the Lorentz theory will allow for a non-local HVQM, while Einstein's special theory will not, at least not without fundamental contortion of his ideas.

And once we admit the possibility that Lorentz (or my alternative) may be correct, we then of course are returned to the idea of a luminiferous aether. For that, I refer you to InfoGalactic - Two Component Aether. That link shows something that Maxwell tried and failed to do: it contains a rigorous derivation of Maxwell's Equations from simple postulates of an underlying luminiferous aether. (The ability to derive Maxwell's Equations in this way is significant additional support for the concept of a luminiferous aether.)

Another important consideration involves the Standard Model, which is itself formulated on a plethora of assumed fields. For an alternative to the Standard Model, I believe we should again consider preons:InfoGalactic - ABC Preon Model. As can be seen in that linked article, the ABC Preon Model represents a great philosophical simplification of what makes up our world. Three preons, three anti-preons, the photon and the neutrino can be seen as all one needs to predict experimental results. With just three free parameters (the preon masses) 18 quantitative predictions are made for high energy events, and about half of those have already been verified.

Note that all of the above take us back to a classical philosophy predicated on underlying physical models of our world. This is in opposition to the work of Mach (who followed Hume). Einstein followed Mach - using fundamental principles and math to derive equations which could be tested. Einstein taught us that we could set physical models (such as the aether) aside, while Mach's positivism (following Hume) insisted that all we can really know is based on empirical observation. While I won't argue with the philosophical point about actually knowing something beyond observation, I do wish to make the point that there indeed may still be something beyond that which we observe. We can of course theorize about what that something is, and postulate its characteristics. We can then develop the math based on those characteristics and see if that leads to our empirical observations. That is the classical approach followed in the works mentioned above. And it is an approach I believe is fruitful in helping to make progress toward a resolution of the cosmological constant problem, since without the zero-point energies of QFT the problem is no longer so intractable. Of course, returning to classical philosophy is a very radical step - but it is an approach I believe we should at least consider.

Let me close with a bit about myself. I have a Ph.D. in accelerator physics from the University of Wisconsin. I've worked at several leading universities and national labs during my career, successfully designing and building accelerators, one of which (a 3 MeV electron beam system) was fully high velocity. I have published three sole-author Physical Review Letters. I have served as a reviewer for Physics Essays for two decades, predominantly reviewing works on special relativity and particle physics.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Dr. Delbert Larson

posted on Sep, 16 2017 @ 11:16 AM
Hi ATS. I have posted the above here for three reasons. First, I hope to get comments from you for improvement. Second, it serves as a decent high level summary and overview of the other theoretical threads I have posted here, and it shows how each piece combines into a consistent, classical, worldview. Third, it might get picked up by Google under "Nima Arkani-Hamed" and "Cosmological Constant", which in turn would give me a better chance that Dr. Arkani-Hamed will pay it some attention.

In addition to the four works linked to in the OP, I have a fifth that is not mentioned, which concerns quantum philosophy. For completeness in this thread, note that the quantum philosophy discussion can be found here. The five works constitute the bulk of my theoretical physics efforts. I do have some future threads planned, but they will begin to depart from theoretical physics and get into matters of more practical importance.

Let me know of any ideas for improvement in the OP. I hope to send the email in a week.

posted on Sep, 18 2017 @ 02:25 PM
a reply to: delbertlarson
The Casimir effect is sometimes cited as "proof" of vacuum energy, however even those who make such a claim have admitted it's controversial:

Quantum Fluctuations and Their Energy

Next obvious question: are you sure the quantum fluctuations really have energy, or is it possible they don’t, thereby eliminating the cosmological constant problem? Answer: Yes, I’m sure quantum fluctuations do have energy; it’s what’s called zero-point energy, and it’s completely fundamental to quantum mechanics, and due yet again to the uncertainty principle. And this can be checked: n a clever experiment, the energy in a small region can be made to have a measurable impact called the “Casimir effect”, which was predicted in the 1940s, first observed in the 1970s and tested more carefully in the 1990s. [There is some controversy about whether this is really relevant to the question, however.]

Some physicists like Bianchi and Rovelli take a bolder stance:
Why all these prejudices against a constant?

Let us come back to physics and to the simplest reading of the vacuum energy. ...

Does this large energy exist for real? That is, does it have observable effects? In particular: does it act as a source for the gravitational field, as all forms of energy are known to do? Does it have a gravitational mass (and therefore an inertial mass)?

An effect commonly put forward to support the “reality” of such a vacuum energy is the Casimir effect. But the Casimir effect does not reveal the existence of a vacuum energy: it reveals the effect of a “change” in vacuum energy, and it says nothing about where the zero point value of this energy is. In fact, simple physical arguments indicate that the vacuum energy, by itself, cannot be “real” in the sense of gravitating: if it did, any empty box containing a quantum field would have a huge mass, and we could not move it with a force, since gravitational mass is also inertial mass.
They are on the other side of the controversy, challenging the claim about the Casimir effect and while they claim that QFT has some problems even they don't seem ready to "throw it out" but think it needs to be fixed:

A shift in vacuum energy does gravitate....

Why standard QFT has so much trouble adjusting to this straightforward physical fact? We do not know the answer...
Then they suggest some different ways of looking at QFT. They conclude:

...we do not yet fully understand interacting quantum field theory, its renormalization and its interaction with gravity when spacetime is not Minkowski (that is, in our real universe). But these QFT difficulties have little bearing on the existence of a non vanishing cosmological constant in low-energy physics, because it is a mistake to identify the cosmological constant with the vacuum energy density.

So throwing out QFT might seem a little radical even to those such as Bianchi and Rovelli who might agree with you that the Casimir effect isn't a good proof of the energy of the vacuum.

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but in addition to throwing out QFT, throwing other modern foundations of physics like relativity and the standard model to replace them with your models which he probably never heard of before won't be an easy sell.

Quite a few people have proposed solutions to the cosmological constant problem, so it's not that there's a lack of people offering solutions, it's that the solutions thus far haven't been accepted by the consensus view because they all seem to have problems. Here are a couple examples but I'm sure I could find more, I posted another one for you in another thread I think. This one is probably still too new to have been thoroughly evaluated but you might have heard of one of the authors Unruh before:

How the huge energy of quantum vacuum gravitates to drive the slow accelerating expansion of the Universe
Their paper suggests the large energy density suggested by QFT is to be taken seriously, and proposes a solution to the problem without throwing out QFT.

Here's a paper from 2013:
CosMIn: The Solution to the Cosmological Constant Problem
They make a simple postulate which does something your explanation fails to do (if I understand it correctly), which is to actually predict the observed value:

This single postulate leads us to the correct, observed numerical value of the cosmological constant!

Cosmological constant problems and their solutions

Lawrence Krauss was one of the authors on a paper suggesting the observed cosmological constant might have something to do with the Higgs field but it lacked any proof so I couldn't take it too seriously though I wouldn't outright reject the concept either. Krauss even admitted it remains to be seen if math can support the idea.

Have you read Arkani-Hamed's papers on the Cosmological constant problem? You might want to do that, though keep in mind he said in a lecture I heard that he wasn't happy with them and didn't think he even came close to solving the problem. He didn't mention them by name but I think these are the papers he was referring to:

From 2000 by Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Nemanja Kaloper, Raman Sundrum
A Small Cosmological Constant from a Large Extra Dimension

From 2002 by Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Gia Dvali, Gregory Gabadadze
Non-Local Modification of Gravity and the Cosmological Constant Problem

edit on 2017918 by Arbitrageur because: clarification

posted on Sep, 20 2017 @ 07:42 AM
a reply to: Arbitrageur

Thanks for your most excellent response. I hope to make some time to read much or all of the papers you suggested. I got a new job recently that leaves very little time during the week, but it is my intent to get to this.

Part of my plan worked - albeit briefly. A bit after I posted the OP it was number three on a Google search for "cosmological constant nima arkani hamed"; two days later is was number one! It is hard to get to number one on Google - I tried for six months on a money-making keyword string and only got to page 6. But I checked again today and couldn't find the "cosmological constant nima arkani hamed" link anywhere in the first ten Google pages. The algorithm must be that new stuff on high ranking sites such as ATS get put up for a while, but as it gets dated it fades pretty fast.

As for:

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but in addition to throwing out QFT, throwing other modern foundations of physics like relativity and the standard model to replace them with your models which he probably never heard of before won't be an easy sell.

Yes, I am aware that is an enormous challenge. It is one I've faced ever since I would speak about my theories in grad school. It greatly impacted my career in a highly negative fashion, and led to the point where I decided I would be better off "leaving science". (I have earned a living in IT for 17 years now.) My whole story is quite lengthy, and I may put up a thread about it, since of everything I have been writing about that topic would best fit on a conspiracy website. I don't think it is a conspiracy though - not at all. Yet it might be an interesting tale about what happens when you truly think out of the box.

posted on Sep, 23 2017 @ 09:11 AM
I've gone to the links you provided. Here are comments from the first two. (I'll get to the rest next. They don't all fit in one reply.)

1. Review of Conversations About Science with Theoretical Physicist Matt Strassle

You can’t know a field’s value, and how it’s changing, at exactly the same time; your knowledge of at least one, and typically both, must inevitably be imperfect.

My view is that the uncertainty is always in both, not just one. We can have a very well defined momentum and a very ill defined spatial spread, but we will always have at least some uncertainty in the momentum too. This gets back to the essential notion of points versus finite objects.

Another example: the response of an electron to a magnetic field can be measured to about one part in a trillion;

No way. As mentioned by ErosA433, it is a struggle to do better than a part in a million. Thermal effects on the measuring apparatus are extremely hard to deal with at such levels, among other things. Now what you can likely do is make some assumptions and measure some differences between things and infer one part in a trillion, but a raw measurement - no way.

That means the energy density of quantum fluctuations of the electric field is roughly a million million million times more than ordinary matter, and so the mass-energy in fluctuations of the electric field inside a cube one meter on a side is about a million million million times larger than the mass-energy stored in a cube of solid brick, one meter on each side. How much energy is that? Easily enough to blow up a planet, or even a star!

The above statement is one of those things that usually cause me to stop reading. It is insane. I am sure it logically follows from the present field theory, but c'mon, man! This all comes from the insistence that things are a point, and yes, you do get to infinities when you go to a point. It makes far more sense to consider things at some level to be solid uniform bodies, and hence all this nonsense disappears. He then takes this to the Planck scale and blows it up far more.

These statements must really seem bizarre to you. They are bizarre, but hey — quantum physics is bizarre in many ways. Moreover, neither quantum mechanics in general, nor quantum field theory in particular, have previously led us astray.

The above is highly misleading. While QM has been proven correct under all experiments so far, this does not mean that an extrapolation to the Planck scale will inherit the success by default. We are a long way from verifying the correctness of QFT at the Planck scale.

2. Review of Bianchi and Rovelli

Equation 5 is an expression for the action. While commonplace, I still maintain it is less appealing to me than are physical models.

In gravitational physics there is nothing mysterious in the cosmological constant. At least nothing more mysterious than the Maxwell equations, the Yang-Mills equations, the Dirac equation, or the Standard Model equations. These equations contain constants whose values we are not able to compute from first principles. The cosmological constant is in no sense more of a “mystery” than any other among the numerous constants in our fundamental theories.

Good point made by the authors. It is really rather political and "consensus" based what we choose to view favorably or disfavorably.

I also agree with a debunking of the "coincidence argument" in section III, i.e., that it is just too small of a probability that things are the way they are. I've always thought such statements rather silly. We should instead evaluate the world around us and simply ask why it is so, while keeping our assumptions to a minimum. Adding some specific constant (G, or c, or h-bar) is just something to be measured, not to say what a coincidence is needed to arrive at a particular value.

A given QFT with a finite cut-off M can be interpreted as an effective theory, valid at energy scales well below M, obtained from a more complete, high-energy theory, by integrating away the high-energy modes.

Here we go again - renormalization. Why not just say things have a finite size? (Oh yeah - relativity won't allow it!)

We think that the origin of the confusion is that there are two distinct ways of viewing the cosmological term in the action. The first is to assume that this term is nothing else than the effect of the quantum fluctuations of the vacuum. Namely that lamda = 0 in (21) and the observed acceleration is entirely due to the radiative corrections lamda (in the above notation). The second view is that there is a term lamda in the bare gravitational lagrangian, which might (or might not) be renormalized by radiative corrections. The two points of view are physically different. We think that the common emphasis on the first point of view is wrong.

Really it seems to me that you can't exclude the first point from the second - specifically, it seems that you must include vacuum fluctuations (if they exist) in any discussion of the cosmological constant. There may indeed be a term in the bare gravitational Lagrangian, but if quantum fluctuations exist they surely affect the situation! However, next they say:

In other words, it is a mistake to identify the cosmological constant lamda with the zero point energy lamda of a QFT, for the same reason one should not a priori identify the charge of the electron with its radiative corrections.

So here we get back to where we are in physics today. If we have anything not understood - just sweep everything under the rug called renormalization and all is well! (I call BS.)

The authors do make a good point that QFT in a flat space might not be applicable to a curved space. However their comments about QFT being valid locally, yet the cosmological constant problem being something only relevant to very large distances doesn't really address the main problem. Either QFT or GRT must be significantly changed to resolve the problem.

posted on Sep, 23 2017 @ 09:38 AM
a reply to: Arbitrageur

Here are comments on the remaining items you linked me to:

3. Review of Qingdi Want, Zhen Zhu, and William G. Unruh

the spacetime sourced by the vacuum oscillates alternatively between expansion and contraction, and the phases of the oscillations at neighboring points are different. In this manner of vacuum gravitation, although the gravitational effect produced by the vacuum energy is still huge at sufficiently small scales (Planck scale), its effect at macroscopic scales is largely canceled. Moreover, due to the weak parametric resonance of those oscillations, the expansion outweighs contraction a little bit during each oscillation.

I do not see how oscillations help if the gravitational force is large. It should always add - never subtract. Are they proposing negative gravity in some way? If so, this needs to be mentioned, and mentioned up front.

Right away though, I realize I cannot provide a good review. I do not yet know GR well enough. Indeed this may be the critical observation here. I believe I have an excellent grasp of quantum mechanics, and upon first learning it I believed that QFT with its renormalizations and running couplings was just a kluge. But on GRT I am just not up to speed. My contribution then to the cosmological constant problem can only be that I have provided sound alternatives to high speed quantum mechanics, a special absolute theory, and an alternative to the standard model. Since my contribution on high speed quantum mechanics negates the need for zero-point energies of fields I believe that may help a lot with the cosmological constant problem, but I can't delve into the details of alternative GRT theories when I don't yet know GRT.

4. Review of Hamsa Padmanabhan and T. Padmanabhan

In this paper the authors state that they have achieved an exact solution to the measured data. On all such papers I am always immediately very suspect. I never obtain exact matches to the data in my own work and I further assume that the data isn't exactly known either. The only time things are known exactly is when they are defined to be so. With that prejudice in mind, I found this:

We obtain lamda*L_P^2 = C*beta^2*exp(-24pi*2*mu), where C depends on n_gamma/n_m, the ratio between the number densities of photons and matter. This leads to the correct observed value of the cosmological constant for a GUTs scale inflation and the range of C permitted by cosmological observations.

The authors state that mu is approximately 1. But here is the critical observation - the authors must make some assumptions when counting photons and matter particles. If we have some total energy of the EM radiation, then we'd have far more IR photons to achieve that than if we have UV photons. Now you can perhaps have some assumed distribution as a function of energy to set things, but you do need something. And then you need cutoffs. And then you need to do similar things with regard to number densities of matter. (Do quarks count? or just hadrons? etc., etc.) And all you need is one assumption to arrive at any specific number. With so many things available to set it is no wonder that an exact value can be obtained.

5. The fifth link was unavailable.

6. Review of Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Nemanja Kaloper, Raman Sundrum

I don't see how appealing to higher dimensions helps. The problem pits GRT against QFT and both are defined in four-space. If you must go to higher dimensions that still must mean that either GRT or QFT will need radical alteration back in four-space. So how does it help to add another dimension? My proposal throws out QFT, but then you need a new high speed quantum mechanics and standard model (which I have provided) a result of which is that SRT must be replaced by an absolute theory. I don't think the cosmological constant problem can be fixed unless there is some major overhaul somewhere. Now, higher dimensions might lead to such an overhaul. But then the paper should address the overhaul itself, and explore how that overhaul affects the other known successes of the theories it is changing. (And there are a lot of successes that need to go untouched, or very minimally touched as far as the experimental data is concerned) by such an overhaul.

7. Review of Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Gia Dvali, Gregory Gabadadze

Here we get into a real possibility, since it is proposed that things change at very large spatial distances that are not known by us locally. This could work, since it is finally a proposal of changing one of the two things (GRT or QFT) that have a conflict with one another. However, it still has the main problem. Even if we envision that (quoting from the abstract of the paper):

inflation may “self-terminate” naturally by its own action of stretching wavelengths to enormous sizes.

we still have the essential problem of infinities. Again, it is almost certainly the insistence of relativity that we have point-like particles that is the cause of the infinities. Even if we stretch it by a factor of 10^120, a point is still a point. Zero times anything is still zero.

The paper itself gets into things I am again not expert on, so I will leave things with the above observation.


All of this does indicate though that my email should also address my lack of knowledge of GRT. I am essentially proposing a replacement to QFT, which in turn requires addressing the Standard Model and SRT, which I have done. Yet I must leave it to others to evaluate how such changes affect the cosmological constant problem.

posted on Sep, 30 2017 @ 07:28 PM
a reply to: Arbitrageur

I just sent the email. I of course will let everyone know if I get a reply. Thanks for the helpful comments.

posted on Sep, 30 2017 @ 08:32 PM
a reply to: delbertlarson
Good luck, I look forward to hearing about any feedback you might receive.

posted on Sep, 30 2017 @ 09:10 PM
I have yet to read your paper, an endeavor I plan to embark upon next, but your OP is such a breath of fresh air with respect to how political ATS has become. Thank you for sharing and I think it was a smart move to use ATS to 'up your hit count' so to speak. I did read your commentary and found myself nodding more often than not. A couple yeps:

I also agree with a debunking of the "coincidence argument" in section III, i.e., that it is just too small of a probability that things are the way they are.

Yep. I may be screwed up backwards, but this is the "anthropic principle" in action. If such a coincidence hadn't occurred then we wouldn't be here to pontificate upon it. I won't pretend that I fully understand the context, but these sort of arguments usually end up in my confirmation bias bin.

We can have a very well defined momentum and a very ill defined spatial spread, but we will always have at least some uncertainty in the momentum too.

Yep. Every measurement has an error margin, especially considering the state of the art. The uncertainty principle has always struck me as inadequate instrumentation rather than a fundamental, immutable truth. It could be my lack of imagination though. It seems to me that if we can passively measure voltage with a potentiometer then we should be able to measure anything without affecting the outcome.

The Casimir effect is sometimes cited as "proof" of vacuum energy, however even those who make such a claim have admitted it's controversial:

Yeah. Cold welding sort of dispels the mysticism of this for me. It makes sense that gasses and even wavelengths would be excluded from a region too small for them to fit in. Also, energy isn't much good for anything useful. Energy over time is required to do work.

And once we admit the possibility that Lorentz (or my alternative) may be correct, we then of course are returned to the idea of a luminiferous aether.

Big yep. We cannot have waves without a medium. I will likely never understand how we got where we are now. How do we casually accept terms such as space time and geodesics, but refuse to acknowledge that we're really talking about some sort of aether? Something that seems to swirl around along with a rotating mass such as the Earth.

I'm really sorry if i'm way off base. Really I just wanted to express that I like your ideas and I'm looking forward to reading more.

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