Monday, November 05, 2007

Particle physics, bad thoughts and fairies

Just for a change, we are discussing particle physics

Am I right in thinking that nothing can escape from the event horizon of a black hole except gravity? If so, gravitons either have no mass, or are capable of infinite speed. In either case, they are imaginary, in the first case on account of having no mass, and in the second case, on account of their mass being a function of the square root of minus one, which is an imaginary number.

If they are imaginary, that surely must mean they do not exist?

(Although it must be said that even the concept of one squared is a bit dubious, because for a number to be multiplied, it has got to change, and anything multiplied by one does not change).

So, physical naif that I am, I dare to question whether every force has to have its associated particle? It reminds me of every god had their attribute, Zeus his thunderbolt, Shiva his conch &c.

Do we have to have gravitons, messy and dubious as they are? What is wrong with the idea of mutual attraction? If we have to think in terms of particles, why not call them Loveons, or Loveins rather than Gravitons? Maybe the larger body emits Gravitons and the smaller body in the system responds with Loveins.

All of which reminds me of Guy Dauncey, another non-physicist, who has a critique of the mystery of the Heienburger principle. He holds that is is all perfectly obvious:

"...if something is moving, it NEVER has any position, and so any
attempt to locate its position is doomed to failure. Imagine something
extremely small, and imagine it moving. Now take a tiny moment
of time, and consider where the particle is. The 'moment 'of time
must have a dimension, to be meaningful - ie it must be 1/10th
of a second, or 1/1000th of a second. However small you make the
'moment' of time, it will always have dimension, and during that
dimension, the particle will always be moving. You can take the
moment of time and shrink it a billionfold, but it will still
have dimension, and a moving particle will always cross a certain
amount of space during that time. However small the space, you
can always magnify it a billionfold to look at it more closely,
to observe that it is a distance, and not a 'point'.

if you want the particle to have position at a certain 'point'
which you can identify, that point too will always have dimension,
and the particle will therefore need time to cross it. To prove
this, you only have to take the smallest possible point you can
ever imagine, and then magnify it a billionfold to discover that
it is not a point at all, but a distance, which has dimension.

My interpretation of this (which may be wrong) tells me there is nothing "new" in this at all : the fact that you can never know both the position
and the momentum of a particle at the same time is not an enigma,
or anything to do with uncertainty at all : it is simply a fact
of nature, which needs no explaining."

In other words, the paradox arises from reducing movement to increments of space. An illusion that would come easily to someone who is used to using the calculus.

Guy is not combative about this; his physicist friends tell him why he is wrong in mathematical terms that he cannot understand, and he is quite happy to bow to their greater expertise, but ...

Sometimes I wonder if particles appear in cloud chambers just because the observing physicist believes they must be there somewhere.

Like fairies.

I know it is very wrong and bad of me to think these thoughts.

1 comment:

Stratified Charge Engine said...

Square root of minus one already defines some particles which are proven to exist, or so I have told. It is no more 'imaginary' than the whole of mathematics!

The uncertainty principle actually has a more crude explanation. The fact is that when you observe something you are interfering with it. The thing you are observing has to impart some energy/momentum/etc in order to convey its existence to us, and thus we are uncertain as to what its original energy/momentum was.