Brian Cox, Bloggers and Peer Review

Brian Cox is a professor of physics at Manchester and a member of the ATLAS collaboration. He is very well-known as a television presenter for science, especially in the UK and has been credited with a 40% increase in uptake of maths and science subjects at UK schools. He is clever, funny and very popular. If you are in the UK and missed his appearance on comedy quiz QI last week you should watch it now (4 days left to view).

At the weekend the Guardian published a great question and answers article with Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, who I am less familiar with. The answers all made perfect sense except one:

How do you feel about scientists who blog their research rather than waiting to publish their final results?

BC: The peer review process works and I’m an enormous supporter of it. If you try to circumvent the process, that’s a recipe for disaster. Often, it’s based on a suspicion of the scientific community and the scientific method. They often see themselves as the hero outside of science, cutting through the jungle of bureaucracy. That’s nonsense: science is a very open pursuit, but peer review is there to ensure some kind of minimal standard of professionalism.

JF: I think it’s unfair for people to blog. People have overstepped the mark and leaked results, and that’s just not fair on their collaborators who are working to get the result into a publishable form.

I would be interested to know what Brain Cox was thinking of here. Which bloggers does he think see themselves as “the hero outside of science” and what examples back up the idea that bloggers try to circumvent peer review?

It is not clear to me whether Brian Cox is referring to the internal review process that experimental collaboration go through or the peer review provided by journals as a part of publication. Surely it cannot be the latter because most science research and especially that from CERN is widely circulated long before it reaches  the desk of any journal editor, not by bloggers but by CERN through conferences, press releases, preprints etc. So Cox must be talking about internal review, but that does not really count as peer-review in the usual sense. In any people within a collaboration do not get away with blogging about results before approval.

There have been a few leaks of results from CERN and Fermilab before approval from the collaboration. For example, one plot featured here earlier this year from a talk that turned out to be not intended for the public. However, by time I had passed it on it was already in Google having been “accidentally” released in a form that made it look like any other seminar where new preliminary results are shown. There were a few other examples of leaks but none that fit what Cox is saying that I can think of.

Given his obvious dislike for blogs I can’t hold much optimism that Brian will comment here and elaborate on what he means, but it would be nice if he did. Otherwise perhaps someone else knows some examples that could justify his answer. Please let us know.

86 Responses to Brian Cox, Bloggers and Peer Review

  1. Thus speaks the representative of the establishment who knows nothing or pretends of knowing nothing about the censorship permeating the entire theoretical physics nowadays.

    Blogs and homepages, archives like viXra org, and some journals which still adhere to the principles of research ethics are the only communications tools if you are doomed to be scientific zombie. I can convince that this does not inspire any heroic feelings. Just a desperate attempt to communicate one’s lifework in a hostile environment dominated by power holders completely comparable to those of North African dictatorships.

    I understand quite well the irritation of the hegemony. Without these communication channels working in both directions the control would be complete, and it would be in practice impossible to do science without the blessing of the academic hegemony.

    • Patrice Ayme says:

      Indeed. Thinking anew thanks to one’s peers’ review is a self contradiction which can only seduce the naive. By definition, really creative, superlative thinking is peerless. Always has been, always will be.

    • Kea says:

      A hypocritical sentiment from someone who snubs everyone else’s lifetime work.

  2. Luboš Motl says:

    Well, in general, I surely dislike blogs as a tool of science as well – and any framework whose goal is to get rid of any quality control (viXra?) – however, what Cocks is saying is demagogical:

    “Often, it’s based on a suspicion of the scientific community and the scientific method.”

    Well, these are two completely different things while he combines them in order to discourage the listener from being able to realize the difference and distinguish these two different things. Being suspicious about a group of scientists is extremely far from being suspicious about the scientific method.

    The peer review may improve the quality control if the peers are capable, willing, and motivated of doing that. It is the most rational way how to introduce competition and corresponding positive pressures to the scientific research.

    But at the end, the “peer review” is being done by “peers” and if they suck as scientists when it comes to integrity, knowledge, or intelligence, the peer review will end up correspondingly bad. In many nations, societies, and scientific disciplines, peer review has done a very useful job. In some others, it hasn’t. In certain contexts, scientific progress was helped by the collaboration and interactions between many people; in many other situations, the scientific progress almost completely boiled down to the work of individuals who were dragged down by the rest of the society but they succeeded, anyway.

    In some contexts, e.g. in the case of eugenics, the fight against the continental drift (a whole period in geology that lasted for decades), Lysenkoism (distortion of genetics and agricultural engineering in the whole Soviet Union for a decade), and “dangerous man-made global warming”, peer review associated with the “official” institutions became a political tool to suppress inconvenient yet much more genuine and valid scientific research.

    So if someone supports something just because it uses would-be authoritative words such as “peer review”, then he plays the same role as a cop who mindlessly enforces a law that someone else invented; but the law may be beneficial as well as harmful.

  3. Dilaton says:

    The large collaborations should be happy that so many people are eager to learn about their results instead of complaining about bloggers!

    Most blogs (You know who I mean NOT 😉 …) do a very good job informing a wider circle of interested people about “what is shaking”, passing the enjoyment of science, and offering continuing education to the public.

    So I hope that all serious bloggers keep up their good work and do not get intimidated by the bureaucracy of science 🙂 …

  4. Alex says:

    I can relate to the feeling in collaborations, that the bloggers somehow produce the excitement beforehand, while the person presenting the official result later, gets less attention. However, one should remember that, at the low level at which it is currently, public interest in high energy physics is not a zero sum game.

    In the end the official collaboration result is the arbiter. If a slightly premature announcement by a blogger turns out to be correct, the collaboration gets the glory. If not, the blogger was wrong. At the end of the day, it is the collaboration that is cited by everyone as the originator.

    The only problem I see here is whether there might be an effect of science fatigue in the public from too many exciting announcements that go nowhere, and a loss of perceived trustworthiness that is undeserved. This should be addressed, but saying that “it is unfair” is too general to be a useful comment.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      Alex, these are interesting points. Of course only one person in the collaboration can be the first to announce it out of 3000 or however many scientists so if they are going to be envious there is going to be a lot of envy however it appears.

      Personally I prefer it when the results first appear at a conference or seminar, especially when it is webcast. This is much more dramatic and usually generates more interest and blog hits. If the collaboration wants it to be that way they don’t have to release a conference note in advance. When it does first appear as a conference note I assume that I am free to report what I see. The full details will be revealed at the presentation. I suspect that the speaker will normally get more attention and publicity if something has been said on a blog in advance, not less. The collaboration mostly has control over what they release and when.

  5. Tony Smith says:

    As to why Cox and Forshaw attack blogging in their Guardian interview,
    keep in mind that the interview was to promote their new book “The Quantum Universe” directed at the general public
    that blogs (being up-to-date at a level that books cannot hope to be, and also being free) are serious competitors for books aimed at the general public.

    Since Jeff Forshaw seems to be an insider at the LHC, it may be of interest that he also said in that interview:
    “… If the Higgs particle is relatively light, there’s a range of masses we expect it to have and we should see it very soon, we could even see it before Christmas.
    If it’s heavy or if the alternative to it is heavy, then it could take a few more years before we find it. …”.


  6. Alex says:

    Tony, the latter statement is common knowledge, and BC as member of the ATLAS collaboration,is of course also an “insider”. It would be kind of cheap if that was their reason to shoot against blogs now, but I wouldn’t go that far as they are by far not the only members of CMS or ATLAS who are opposed against particle physics blogging. They are just more visible.

  7. Philip Gibbs says:

    My reason for this post is to try to find out why some people in the collaborations don’t like bloggers. I don’t think they can be envious simply because we sometimes say things before the official speaker. That is something they can control.

    Perhaps the real issue is that bloggers outside the collaboration can say anything they like. I can look at a bump and speculate about what kind of particle might produce it if it is for real. I can even take plots and data and do further combinations and show the unofficial results. People in the collaboration are not allowed to do that even after the data has been presented. They have to echo the official line of the collaboration and that is usually something very conservative. As a physicist I would hate to be under that constraint. Could this be the real issue? Is that what BC means when he talks about us circumventing peer-review, and if so, is it something we should stop or do differently?

    • Chris Austin says:

      I hope you won’t stop posting the unofficial Higgs combinations, which I think are very interesting and useful. I also have the impression you must put quite a lot of work into them.

    • carla says:

      JF: I think it’s unfair for people to blog. People have overstepped the mark and leaked results, and that’s just not fair on their collaborators who are working to get the result into a publishable form.

      I don’t think JF is criticizing blogging in itself but rather its misuse as a means for someone within a collaboration to leak a result before it’s in a publishable format. Peter Woit has in the past encouraged leaks to his Not Even Wrong blog as “This weeks leak”, for example. I don’t think it causes that much harm on the whole providing the leaks are genuine.

      Should you be blamed for leaking the CMS Higgs search even though it was in a public place to start with?

      No, but I think it harmed your relationship with the people at CERN if you were asked by officials within the CMS experiment to take it down, but didn’t.

      On the whole though, I think blogging encourages young minds to take up science and to see it as an exciting discipline with its own politics to deal with. But like most things in life, diplomacy is they key.

  8. wl59 says:

    I think it’s rather unnecessary to discus about this point, because currently, with more freedom, automatically the solution is going in the right direction.

    The nature of our real world is realized in the manner, that everything exists how, where, for whom it shows action. That’s alias also a reason, why we can understand simple Events or a simple worldline, and complementary to it the (physical) Action, as an a-priori dimension with its something-producing fundamental interaction or natural force (w.r.t. that all other dimensions and a primary natural force connected with each of them are only secondary). One easily see that the corresponding line element increased by the Action or Event number, 0 = – (dn/1)^2 + (dt/tpl)^2 – (dl/lpl)^2 … or complementary 0 = (dS/h)^2 – (dE/Epl)^2 + (dp/ppl)^2 … where S,E,P anyway are relative, corresponds to a simple discretization of the proper time dtau in microscopic problems (one of the several reason which confirms an additional discrete Event/Action dimension)

    Thus, everything realizes itself out-of-itself, by emission of its action — independent on the question, if it will be observed by someone, perhaps in millions of light-years distance so that you until be observed would be ‘conditionally existing’ only. The observations/measurement may produce new facts and change the state of the object — however, only in the frame of the observer, not in the frame of the object itself. For the object itself, it exists always when itself feels its own action, or is auto-conscient. Schroedinger’s ‘paradoxon’ is only a ‘problem’ for the observer, never for the cat which lives for herself and in its own frame if it feels alive. It’s the free will to live and act a-priori out-from-oneself, autonomeously, independent on the observation, opinion or ‘permission’ by someone else.

    This also creates an proper frame of the Event/Action dimension, in the sense that a-priori all own-created facts are ‘true’ in it. Understanding Events and their Actions as an own dimension, means also that Facts are observer-variant, valid only where reachs their Action, thus limited in all (other) dimensions like causality, time (future facts are not true now), kinematic extension (horizon), space (schwarzschild surfaces). There can happen colisions of frames with diferent facts (for example, one frame or subspace where c is 300.000 km/h with another subspace where c is 500.000 km/h), then there occure effects of adaption and compromisses between facts or ‘truenesses’ of both systems. However, a-priori each subspace or frame effectuates its own facts, what’s the free will or freedom; any colission is an adjustment/agreement or application of force between the subsystems.

    My own existence, inside my own frame, is ‘true’ always — base of my own logics. Also the 1st Fact inside our world was this its existence together with its equivalent/’embedded’ Action as ‘true’, inconditionally – what is the obvious simple logical solution of this hen-egg problem. With this, the permanent question what was first in the world, is reduced to the simple ‘yes’ about its own Existence plus Action.

    I’m living at least a-priori out-from-meself. I’m also manifesting me autonomeously. That’s enough to make publish my manifestation. Each other being/person can recognize it – if and how, that’s his problem, not my problem – and is irrelevant to the question if I ‘published’ my manifestation ‘validly’, what is an unilateral act by me, independently if someone want this. On the other side, Iself have to provide that my manifestation is really published and reachs everybody. If I ‘publish’ it in a comercial journal, with a peep-show filter where my manifestation passes outward only after someone pays, then that’s not public, not ‘published’ in a manner that it would depend only on the free-will of any observer to perceive it or not. Also when I give it in the hands of any censorship, avaliation, ‘peer-review’ then it’s not published.

    It’s not the problem of me but the problem of the potential observer or reader, to filter out what perhaps he want to see or read. That’s live — around you, daily have millions of informations what you see, hear, perceive, and it’s your problem to filter out what you want.

    Thus, the whole ‘peer review’ system is sick and anatural. It can not be by no mean an obligation at the side of the author or ‘publisher’ of his manifestations; they are validly published just if they are manifested unilaterally. Each bird what sings, each animal what cries because it’s bite or eaten by another, published validly. On the other side, any observer/reader who has interest to get pre-selected/-thinked informations, pre-mastigated food, has to pay someone for himself which pre-filters, censors what may be interesting for him. One can argue that exactly for this there may exist jornals which use a peer-review as such a filter, so that their customers get ‘more reliable’ informations in the sense as they feel it good. However, that’s them problem, problem of such brain-limited perhaps-readers, not of the manifestor. In no way, this can’t be used as an argument, that because of this mental junkeys, the manifester and his natural free-will and freedom and any manifestation, or worser even all manifestors, should be conditionated to any censorship. This would be the same, if before you go out on the streat, you have to ask everybody if you have the permission, or not because perhaps someone feels you ugly.

    There can be made an voluntary agreement and consense, like that ‘for be considered as cientifical’, publications have to have a certain ‘standard’. However: Such an agreement continues to be exclusively of interest of the perhaps-reader, not of the publisher, and also would be a violation of all other potential readers which by this get filtered their right of information. And, any agreement between subsystems is possible and can be ratified only if it respects the interests of both, and is impossible within the logics of one or both if it violates the most necessary, indispensable ‘truenesses’, like that each subsystem in its own frame ‘exist’ and acts autonomously; thus, one can agree with any regulating scheme only if it is of good-faith, without politics, abuse, censorship.

    On the other side, each professional have to accept, that he has to have enough qualification, to see without peer-reviews quickly, what’s interesting or ‘serious enough’ for himself. If not, first he isn’t a professional; second it’s his problem to pay someone who pre-filters everything for him.

    Iself published about 20 works in peer-revied journals, and plenty smaller works in at least editor-reviewed periodicals, without problems, and I published one other work as a book, because it was too long for an article and also it has a big philosophical part (each physical review would have demanded to remove the philosophical part, each philosophical review would demand to remove the physical part, so that by symmetry reasons I publshed in neither of them nor removed nothing). However, principally, I’m the opinion, it’s the complete freedom of the manifester how he manifest himself, and it’s problem of any observer to filter out. Nature is like this.

    Currently, in fact, everybody starts to publish without author-side filtering. F.ex. CERN and almost all universities which publish by puting content on their document server. That’s published, anyway. And that makes pressure to all other authors, already for avoid desadvantagem of time, to publish results also immediately. Thus, the peer-review system is dead. Right so, because it’s against the nature.

    What however we have to observe, is, that published means ‘published’. Whom publish as a no-gratis book or jornal, have to put a gratis version free in internet. Nobody should considered as reliably published something what’s not free available, disponible only depending on your own will to recognize it (then it would be your fault if you could but wouldn’t recognize something). We nor should make citations to articles which are not free accessible.

    • Alex says:

      You are very verbose and barely coherent. It would be easier to follow if you would compress the central idea of what you have to say to a few sentences.

      • wl59 says:

        OK, resumed: As is the nature, you manifest youself directly, autonomously. Any filtering, quality control, etc, is of exclusive interest and problem of the potential reader, not of the author. The reader, only because he’s too lazy to think or to filter what he feels ‘qualified’ or ‘not qualified’, cannot demand that any manifestion is legitime only if it has a permission. Thus, there’s nothing to reclaim against blogs, POD publication, or any other kind of communication; nobody has the right to filter other’s manifestation, no author the obligation to submiss himself to that. There can have an agreement of a certain standard, professional auto-control; however, first this has a poor justification because any real professional quickly heself should can see and avaliate which publication he considers ‘professional’ and which not; second the abuses and censorhip of any review system damage not only the author (until to be even inacceptable for him) but also readers interested in an unfiltered information flow. We don’t need however be too worry about this; currently the whole peer-review system is dying (like also the editors and high journal fees); institutes like CERN and universities publish directly on them document servers, individuals by own printing/distribution. What’s manifested publically and generally accessible, is published, independent on the opinion or ‘permission’ of others.

      • anna v says:

        Maybe you are typing too fast, and need an editor :), but yes, you are right. The way it is developing the peer review of journals will be history.

  9. Tony Smith says:

    As to “… People in the collaboration … have to echo the official line of the collaboration and that is usually something very conservative …”

    way back in 1999 Burton Richter said (hep-ex/0001012):
    “… When in graduate school I did both theory and experiment. … Particle physics as practiced has changed enormously. Small experiments of two or three people that were the norm when I started out
    have given way to huge collaborations culminating in the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the LHC, which have 1500 to 2000 collaborators each. … we already have a bureaucratic overlay to
    the science with committees that decide on the trigger, data analysis procedures, error analysis, speakers, paper publications, etc.

    The participating scientists are imprisoned by golden bars of consensus. …”.


    PS – Richter also said “… The theorists tell us … they want us to find … source of electroweak symmetry breaking. … The experiments are difficult and the detectors are complex, expensive devices. Data rates, particularly at proton colliders,
    are enormous and there is no way to digest it all. Complex, multi-tiered trigger systems are needed to reduce the flood of data coming from the machine by a factor of 10 million or more so that our computer systems can handle the load. Those events that do not pass the trigger screen are discarded.
    There is a danger here.
    Will we set up the experiments that can only find what we expect to find? …”.

    PPS – Richter also said “… supersymmetry is a pure “social construct” with no supporting evidence despite many years of effort. It is okay to continue looking for supersymmetry as long as it doesn’t seriously interfere with real work (top, Higgs, neutrinos, etc.). …”.

    • Alex says:

      I am not a true believer in supersymmetry, but I find it a little disturbing that he calls it a “social construct”. What is that supposed to mean anyways.

      Isn’t there also collection of minimum bias events “just in case”? Of course there is only very limited statistics there, but it’s at least something. It’s not like there is an alternative…

    • anna v says:

      My experience with experimental particle physics is similar. When I started two or three people were fighting over building a setup of the experiment: design, electronics, data recording, etc, and the main excitement was to get it working and seeing the data.Very soon this became part of the past, as the lab became a group in a bubble chamber experiment which already had a large part of its apparatus predigested for it.

      15 people in the collaboration. Still that was fine, because a student/researcher had hands on the data, could come up with an interesting analysis, present it to the collaboration and push it to the conferences. The next collaboration had 50 people , the next 300, and by my retirement I was a part of the construction of CMS with over 3000 involved.

      When you get groups of people then sociology and psychology is needed to both understand decisions on all levels and affect them.

      IMO the basic impulse for research is for a single researcher to be hunting for something new/intriguing/interesting, the “eureka” impulse. Most of the young people who are attracted to
      particle physics find themselves in an experimental niche doing repetitive and often thankless work with the goal of building something grand in the end. This is inherent in the human societies. That is how we built cathedrals and pyramids and the Parthenon, except the intellectual level of the laborers was not challenging to the architects.

      Now you have highly motivated smart young people searching for their eureka moment but harnessed to a hard common task; it is inevitable that some will get their moment from leaking exciting information whether it pans out or not, because at the moment they believe it, and want to shout it to the world.

      The blogosphere is ideal for this. The reaction from the rest of the bright and motivated harnessed physicists is also inevitably against the disclosure: a bit of envy, a bit of censoriousness, a bit of group mentality. They feel cheated of their eureka moment if it is not done in a group way that acknowledges their tedious and dedicated contribution.

      So, there should be no leaks of results if the collaboration has not decided on releasing them, in order to keep the group spirit strong for the continuing push of getting results out as soon and as well as possible.

      Public discussions are public, whether conference or open talks within groups, and they are another story. They have the stamp of approval and can be discussed openly, as recently happened with the OPERA results.

  10. Ulla says:

    Afar more important issue than bloggers or not bloggers is the bad custom by all anonymous people commenting. That should be stopped. If someone wants to comment the name should be there. What’s the point with an unknown comment?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      It’s a different topic, but I take the same position as most similar bloggers. If someone wants to post an innocent and helpful comment anonymously I have no problem with it. It they are making personal attacks anonymously they will be deleted or even banned. There are grey areas between.

      • They are scared that you will find at least the non existence of higgs before them, from Peter Woit s blog:

        “At last month’s CERN Council meeting, there was a report submitted to the Council on “The scientific significance of the possible exclusion of the SM Higgs boson in the mass range 114-600 GeV and how it should be best communicated.” The report is based on the summer 2011 data, and it emphasizes excluding the Higgs at not just 95% (2 sigma), but at 5 sigma, something that will require (if the Higgs is not there) combining the 10 inverse femtobarns of data from each of the two Tevatron experiments and a similar amount from each of the two LHC experiments, something that won’t be possible until sometime after mid 2012.”

      • Philip Gibbs says:

        They were right to prepare for that possibility but I think it was done too early to have been driven by results we have not yet seen.

      • wl59 says:

        Perhaps we haven’t yet seen, but they have seen already …

  11. Kea says:

    I guess that when people turn to criticism of a basic fact of life these days, it can only mean that they have already lost.

  12. Janko Kokosar says:

    Despite all successes of scientific approach, it is necessary to be aware that science is made by subjective people, as all of us are. Thus, in the process of development of theories, experiments and acceptance of articles, scientists show their subjective nature. For instance, admittedly, someone who makes research inside a university has larger probability to find something good, because of positive selection inside university, because of more time, money and more help than outside a universities. Let us concoct, for instance that this probability is 10% for university people and 0,1% for people outside of universities, thus 10%:0,1%. But, prejudices at acceptance for publications still much reduce this probability; let us say to 10% : 0,01%. At the same time, some articles inside of universities are estimated as good, although they are not. This is one such of nonlinear phenomena, which reduces objectivity of scientific system. The next nonlinear phenomenon is influence of majority on minority, similarly as big companies swallow small one, ideas of big groups delete ideas of small groups or individuals. Another such example of nonlinearity is threshold at elections. It causes that parties whose have small probability to come to parliament get still less votes, because voters are aware if a voted party does not come to parliament, it is the same as that s/he did not vote, thus a vote is thrown away.

    Luboš Motl estimated that this probability is 0%, but this is wrong according to
    Thus Phil Gibbs gave some data for calculation of a number instead of my number 0.01%.

    Thus, it is necessary to be cautious for quick judgments.

  13. Peter Woit says:

    In this context, I think the main problem is a question that makes no sense. Blogger blogging “their” un-published result in order to avoid peer-review is not something that happens in HEP experiment, which is the field at issue here. People blogging from outside like Phil aren’t trying to avoid peer-review either, not their problem. The questioner just managed to confuse things by asking the wrong question.

    • Alex says:

      Thanks, Peter, that was an important observation. The question was terribly loaded, and it is not clear what BC thinks of endeavors like Phil Gibb’s, or even Tommaso Dorigo’s blogs (the latter being on CMS anyhow, so no direct rivalry). Of course Dorigo always has to be very careful what he blogs about (he retracted an early entry about the OPERA result merely because he is part of INFN, for example), and if he were to blog an unpublished ATLAS result, he would probably be killed.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      The question may have been loaded, but BC is smart and quick-witted (you have to see that QI program LOL). I can’t believe he was confused. What he said must have meant something important to him that he had thought about before.

      • Bernhard says:


        are you listening to yourself? You are giving this guy credit for nothing…BC had the courage to go suck on the same leaks he criticizes just to be famous, or whatever was the reason. He was in the headlines of newspapers the minute that April Higgs leak came out. Don´t fool yourself. Blogging is a difficult task, you really have to know what you are talking about and put yourself on the line,reason most of us don ´t do it, including your pal BC.

  14. JollyJoker says:

    For future reference (those of us who can’t see the release on BBC’s website), the episode is s09e07 or Series I, episode 7, “Incomprehensible”.

    It seems they quit releasing on DVD after season 3.

  15. Simplicity says:

    Maybe Brian Cox attack refers to the OPERA results, and the researchers there, that first were circumvented as rumours, then talked about on different blogs, before the researchers finally posted their result in the not-peer-reviewed “blog” arxiv ?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      It was a unique case. The rumour had apparently leaked widely outside the collaboration helped by a delay in the announcement. The press had been primed well in advance, but not the bloggers of course. Dorigo was close enough to the source to hear the rumours but he was not part of the collaboration and had not been told it was a secret, so he blogged it. In my opinion the press office should have seen that coming and told him to keep it quiet earlier. In any case other rumours were already spreading.

      The whole thing happened over the space of a few days and just added to the buzz of the whole event. Only the main stream press should have felt annoyed because they were told to keep quiet while bloggers caught the rumours. The extra pre-publicity from the blogs and finally the press meant that more people watched the seminar.

      As an example of peer-review it is a very unique case in that nothing is being submitted for traditional peer-review as far as I know. Instead physicists are being asked to publicly suggest errors. The blogs can only help spread the word about the key points in this process. Physicists discussing the possibilities openly is exactly what they asked for here.

  16. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    This is a symptom of the technological trajectory which permits events and information to be generated at exponentially faster rates. Even on the normally cool headed NPR in America there are reports about Twitter feeds (the most inane “flash form” of communications invented) with various politicians and celebrities. In the past you most often did not have as many unofficial releases of such information because the conduits for information were down right primitive by today’s standards. It also has to be pointed out that information is connected to thermodynamics, and in a manner similar to heat it is diffusive.

    I have found this video to be quite fascinating:

    for the process here is much the same —- The Quants who mathematize and cybernet the banking investment world. Market trends are now reduced to millisecond time intervals. The cold war saw a similar trend; at first bombers could carry nuclear bombs to targets within a half day, then missiles could do that in less than an hour — and people in the 80s talked about space based nuclear pumped lasers which could do this in seconds. This permits various games of brinksmanship to be driven into higher gear, which requires more computerized infrastructure which runs things out of your direct control. The media is in some ways similar, where we have this info-tainment structure which relays reports or often just fabricated nonsense that is meant to entertain us more than inform, and we demand this in shorter sound bites and “all the time.”.

    The blog world follows anologus trends, and now people who have access to information of any form can release that, often in ways which are anonymous, and where blog-masters can host such information “at the speed of light.” For some economic sectors things now have to move fast enough so that by the time such information is leaked it is less relevant; pushing the system into ever exponentially faster modes of operation. Scientific information was traditionally held close until peer review gave it the “OK.” That is no longer the way things work, and there is no way you can bring back the “good ole days.”

    Can this continue? Remember, nature always works to cut off or attenuate divergent trends. This is the case whether it is a population explosion (something we humans have done a good job of) or the divergence of a field. Something serves to cut off such physical observables below infinity, or to reverse a divergent growth trend. We are no exception to the rule. The end of this trend will probably happen before we are able to work at the speed of light in Planck time intervals.

  17. i came here too late…. but fortunately i am here now

    i am preparing an answer to the scientists that criticize OPERA

    So Dr Cox dont like blogs heh???

    how pity!!!

    he is the profile of the “academic”…”old fashioned academic”

    let me tell something…this thing of the OPERA neutrino…i browsed many blogs… .almost all the theories i dismissed…lack of foundations lack of physics-mathematics etc etc etc

    but one posted here on viXra the guy said “perhaps the OPERA generated a Warp Drive around the neutrino”

    i was aware of the theory of micro warp bubbles etc….but the idea came from a blog

    i would never had the idea to write my papers on the OPERA Superlimnal Neutrinos without ideas from a blog

    BTW another idea from a blog will appear again

  18. Mike says:

    Quality control in science is the equivalent of censorship. Editors and peer reviewers who believe their theories are correct (or that some things are down right impossible) generally censor ideas they don’t agree with. We could go back to the 16th century and implement the quality control procedures that kept Galileo under house arrest in the name of “what we know is right”, or we could go back to writing papers only in Latin to keep the lay folks from understanding or participating in any debate. If we hide and protect our theories well enough we may not even need to do any experiments or use the scientific method. The preprint services and the blogs (including and especially Vixra) are the only reason science is advancing right now. Without the internet we would never hear of the Opera results – who would seriously have published it 30 years ago?

    • Kea says:

      Indeed. The idea that an unemployed and free thinking blogger is subjected to the contractual constraints of The Church is definitely what I would call an inquisitional policy. So, did this dude’s new book draft, pre-OPERA, mention FTL neutrinos? Perhaps this is the problem.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The review process is something necessary and at the same time it can never be perfect. A reviewer may reject some manuscript because it advances something they simply refuse to admit as even possible, even if the analysis is free of direct errors. This can of course be unfortunate. However, there still needs to be a gate keeping process which prevents nonsensical stuff from becoming published as something which appears acceptable.

      I don’t see the process as something at all analogous to the Galileo case. There a theocratic system imposed its power to protect its world view. It also has to be said that Galileo in many ways brought troubles onto himself. In his “Dialogue on the Two World Systems” he portrayed Pope Urban VIII as Simplicio, which drew the ire of the Church and his interdict by the Office into the Doctrine of the Faith, know also as the Inquisition. Cardinal Bellarmine defended Galileo before the Sapienza and it was admitted that the heliocentric model was a viable alternative. Yet Galileo simply made a pain in the ass of himself, which I suppose served to draw more attention to his work. The Church as a result drew its wagons in a circle, irrationally it must be admitted, and put censure against Galileo and the heliocentric theory.

  19. I agree with Lawrence about is observations concerning information (or what is often information only in the sense that one can measure it in bits). Drowning into pseudo-information and computerized nonsense activities (like automatic speculation with shares) is the basic problem of economy and science. One can say that 99 per cent of both has transformed to jobbery.

    In science nowadays everything is about getting funding. New fashions are created continually. A critical mass of researchers working with the idea and referring to each other’s work helps to gain critical impact factors. If this is achieved, the contents does not matter anymore: if you have received funding, you will receive a further funding.

    There are however no free lunches. In research groups one must pay a high prize for the monthly salary: one simply cannot do anything as an individual, and can safely forget the romantic visions about scientist as an Explorer of the Unknown. Maybe the attitude of Cox towards bloggers involves an aroma of jealousy.

    Already this is a good reason for why frontier science will necessarily be done by individuals working outside the academic institutions. They can communicate only through blogs, home pages, and some journals (unfortunately read by no-one with a monthly salary). This is the only option but it is enough and the blessed net makes it possible. The cavalry arrives just when everything seems to be lost! Our civilization is extremely capable of inventing manners of survival.

    I hope the recent discussion could pre-indicate something analogous to “Occupy Wall street” movement in science. Not leftists against those at right or vice versa but people without formal power against the peers above them wanting to dictate what they can do.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The world of blogs and the rest can of course play a positive role. The problem which can arise with the vast array of communications is that it becomes easy for anything to become presented as truth. The shear volume of communications is so enormous that it is difficult to weigh truth from falsehood if you have to screen out piles of stuff before hand.

      A scientific theory is a system of postulates (axioms) which have some system of rules (algorithms) which are able to reduce lots of measured input into its postulates. As a result the complexity of the world can be reduced to something relatively simple. So this shares some features similar to an algorithmic structure, or Turing machines that execute certain processes. It is then subject to the openness of the halting problem, and so theories are never complete.

      An ideology does something similar, but in a pernicious manner. Largely ideology exists as a framework by which a host of falsehoods or lies can be made credible or understandable by the upholder of the ideology. Religion shares a similar feature to this as well. It may even have a degree of reasoning or logic to it, but where the premises of the system may in fact be hopelessly wrong or divorced from reality. Ideology can assume a range of forms, it does not necessarily have to be overtly political, but it can be a world view which is advanced or upheld on the basis of things which are illegitimate or even fraudulent. In the case of politics it is usually the far extremes which most share this feature, and have their propaganda systems (Faux News) meant to reinforce the ideological system in the minds of its adherents. In a psychological sense an ideology can serve a function remarkably similar to a scientific theory, but it suffers from some fallacy or error in either its reasoning or with its “axioms.” This is particular pernicious if the ideological system is promoted fraudulently. As a result an ideological framework of error or nonsense can be easily advanced as a scientific theory. Of course we have big show cases for this in creation-biology, intelligent design and so forth.

      So there does need to be some form of rational judgment that is imposed on manuscripts intended for publication. This of course is not infallible, for bad science can become published and the good can be excluded. However, without something of this form everything would turn into complete noise.

  20. To Lawrence,

    one form of online rational judgement in online journals could be following.

    If the article is not complete trash (probably easy to decide using formal criteria), a couple of referees write criticism of the article- not as anonymous but with their own signature- and the author can decide whether to publish the article online together with criticisms.

    If the author later thinks that the publication was not a good idea, he/she can delete the article from the archive. The reader can read the criticisms by just clicking the appropriate link and decide whether to read the article

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      I tend to think that author and reviewer should both remain anonymous. This includes institutions etc as well. Name and organization placement on a paper can be a huge bias for or against something.

  21. Mike says:

    To Lawrence,

    “The problem which can arise with the vast array of communications is that it becomes easy for anything to become presented as truth…So there does need to be some form of rational judgment that is imposed on manuscripts intended for publication… However, without something of this form everything would turn into complete noise.”

    And what is truth? Who defines what is truth and what is trash? Is it the “experts” who are self-defined by their credentials and canonize theories before there is any evidence (Higgs, gravity waves and 11-dimensional theories that are architecturally similar to epicycles of the Ptolemaic model?). I would prefer complete noise to falsehoods – even some useful information can be extracted from noise but canonized fairy tales are hard to undo, muddying the fountain of truth.The “experts” in our day are the equivalent of the overseers of the ancient oligarchy and their job is to communicate the “correct” knowledge to the masses, thus we will all be safe from misinformation. Has anybody noticed the similarities to the last dark age (the closed universe of the 16th century?). It’s all about bureaucratic control of philosophical thought, and I am beginning to think it’s a basic instinct that cycles through generations. Kuhn’s work on the Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a good read on this subject.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      For starters science is concerned with a contingent form of truth. If you want to study something which addresses a purer form of truth then mathematics is the place to go. Even there the notion of truth is strange due to Godel’s theorem. Science is concerned with measurements and observations which may support the predictions of a theory, or maybe falsify that theory. Newtonian mechanics is correct (a better word than true) within some domain of observation or experience, but it does fail outside that domain where relativity or quantum mechanics “take over.”

      With regards to the points which are compared to epicycles, some of these are not so crazy. In the case of gravity waves they really must exist. The Taylor-Hulst measurement of pulsar orbital frequency was perfectly in line energy loss by the system due to the emission of gravity waves as predicted by general relativity. Gravity waves must exist for much the same reason electromagnetic waves exist. In the case of EM waves it is easy to see how they come about. A particle with electric charge has a radial electric field in all directions. If that charge is moved to another point by some force acting on it, the radial electric field lines do not instantaneously shift everywhere. Instead the field lines “wiggle” into place along a wave that propagates outwards. The changing electric field is associated with a changing magnetic field as well, where the two changing fields propagate outwards as an EM wave. Gravity waves are similar to this, and in the third order post Newtonian expansion of general relativity you recover a form of the Maxwell equations. A configuration of gravitating masses which change their mutual spatial configurations in certain ways will emit field waves of gravity (spacetime curvature). Given that general relativity has passed a range of experimental tests (gravity redshift, perihelion advance, gravitational lensing, Lense-Thirring effect etc) and the Taylor-Hulst observation it is perfectly reasonable to think gravity waves exist.

      The Higgs field is not unreasonable either. The Z and W^{+/-} gauge bosons are massive. This means they have longitudinal modes. This is somewhat troubling. A massless vector particle has only transverse components, such as with the photon. A massive boson with a longitudinal component moves at less than the speed of light and an observer can in principle boost themselves to a frame where the particle is stationary, or boost themselves to a faster frame where the momentum of the particle is opposite to the direction of that longitudinal component. The problem arises at high energy where the longitudinal component leads to problems with causality. The quantum field theory goes bad. So the Higgs field in the elementary standard model version consists of two doublets (H^+, H) and (H^-, H’). The Z and W vectors are then thought to be massless at very high energy. At low energy the W^+ and W^- particles absorb the H^+ or H^- particles respectively and the Z absorbs the H. The loss of the scalar degree of freedom in these Higgs components goes into the longitudinal mode. There is then the left over H’ component, and this should appear in the TeV range of energy at around 140GeV. The LHC is giving controversy over this, where this particle appears so far to be AWOL.

      The symmetry breaking process must occur, and it should have some generic features of the Higgs field. We may as it turns out have something wrong. It might be that condensates of quarks perform this role (technicolor anyone?) or some such thing. However, this is not about epicycles.

      As for 10 and 11 dimensions with superstring theory, that is rather speculative. It is not completely out of line though. There are physical motivations for these ideas which come from hadron physics.

      As a final note, Thomas Kuhn’s thesis is in some ways interesting. However, his idea about the social aspects of scientific work is all too often taken as some paradigm for how science in its entirety is performed. This could not be further from the truth. Resistance to alternatives to established scientific theories is more often due to the fact these alternatives are weaker or fail on various accounts.

  22. dbundy says:

    Why do labor unions hate scabs? For the same reason collaborators hate leakers: It robs them of the power to negotiate.

    Of course, in the case of scientific negotiations, things are much more complicated, or maybe just more sophisticated.

    I think of the Podkletnov case. His case was not unlike a member of one union, breaking ranks with the cause of another. He was intimidated enough by those outside his field that he withdrew his initial article for publication, and he was persuaded to publish it on a pre-print server, but then that relegated him to the realm of pseudoscience in short order.

    The question is, after he published his results, and he admitted that he didn’t understand them and invited the scientific community to scrutinize his work, why didn’t they?

    I’ll tell you my answer: Because not only were the results iconoclastic, theoretically speaking, but they were potentially dominating militarily speaking. Hence, this was not a quarrel to be left to society’s naivete.

    The bottom line: It’s not always a matter of wiser policies or new realities, affecting the dynamics of labor. Sometimes it’s still just a matter of plain old fashioned control from the corporations. When their vested interests are at stake, the thinking is over.

    But now, the high public visibility and the unprecedented scope of the LHC experiments affects the dynamics of everything, even those of the corporations. An individual investigator like Podkletnov can easily be dismissed and ignored, but how is a controlled consensus, even a loose one, maintained in light of a project as big and as visible as the LHC?

    The possibility that the consensus around Newton’s program of research is breaking up is now looming before us. It may be that the effort to describe nature in terms of a fundamental set of interactions among a fundamental set of particles, is not possible and there is no going back, unless it’s back to the dark ages.

    Given this situation, who can expect bloggers to cease and desist?

  23. Mike says:

    “The Taylor-Hulst measurement of pulsar orbital frequency was perfectly in line energy loss by the system due to the emission of gravity waves as predicted by general relativity.”

    It’s amazing to me that one pulsar that looses just enough energy (through what could be many processes) which also happens to correlate with the quadrapole radiation of GRT wave theory is considered substantial evidence that the waves must exist. This is bad science at best (as even my high school physics teacher would say, “get better evidence than just energy loss”) and the lack of ANY results from LIGO (even after it’s upgrade) when the papers justfiying its funding predicted many on-axis sources through 2/3 of the galaxy within the first few years. I can’t wait for the funding to dry up on this speculative nonsense (I don’t think LISA is getting funded).

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The pulsar Taylor and Hulst identified are not the only ones which support the existence of gravity waves within parameterized post Newtonian parameters. A fair range of them have had their ephemeris catalogued to great accuracy in general relativity, including support for gravity waves. The change in energy or the perodicity of orbits is indirect evidence for gravity waves, which is why more direct evidence is being sought.

      If you really thought that gravity waves did not exist would you not want the measurements to support your null hypothesis? To applaud the possible collapse of an experimental program meant to test these things is a terribly anti-scientific attitude to have.

      • Kea says:

        As I have been forced to note one billion billion times amongst professionals, the effectiveness of a continuum GR in describing energy loss does NOT a spin-2 particle make.

  24. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    If you take the metric g_{ab} = η_{ab} + h_{ab} and work out a linearized weak field theory for gravity waves (easy to do) it is not hard to show there are two directions of polarization and helicity = 2. It is also not hard to take this weak field to compute an abelian linear form of graviton, and the spin = 2. This is probably a fair to decent weak field limit that reflects the underlying theory of gravitons.

    • Kea says:

      And this mental construct equates with Reality, how exactly?

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        Take the Einstein field equation in the weak or abelian limit with g_{ab} = η_{ab} + h_{ab}. I think there is something about reality here. Then perform canonical quantization on the field elements h_{ab} ~ φ_aφ_b. It is fairly straight forwards.

      • Kea says:

        We didn’t ask for a constant line of kindergarten lessons from someone entirely unable to get a very, very basic point.

  25. Mike says:

    “To applaud the possible collapse of an experimental program meant to test these things is a terribly anti-scientific attitude to have.”

    No – it’s just that after the experiment has produced the null results (LIGO = no gravity waves after more than a decade of millions $$ and doing upgrades), I use the scientific method and say, “the current theory has been invalidated by experiment” and then move on to be more productive in testing other theories instead of stubbornly refusing to give up on one that clearly has no evidence. Even the indirect evidence – lots of things dissipate energy and the periodicity changes that come from them can easily match any process you are trying to model – just find the right pulsars and you can prove that they loose energy by dipole, quadrapole, whatever you want). The lack of ANY direct evidence from LIGO and its continued financial support in light of this failure is evidence of the smoke screens professionals use to avoid the embarrassment of admitting they were wrong and having to pull the plug on an expensive project.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The energetic decay of pulsars is a pretty good signature for gravity waves. They are very weak, with coupling constant 16πG/c^4 that is extremely small, which means sensitivities are extreme for direct detection.

  26. The physics as we know it is based on the notion of continuous space-time in turn emerging almost automatically if the notion of classical number field is accepted. This is a concept transcending our human limitations: we have always finite resolution of measurement and our thoughts are fuzzy but we have been able to discover that the reality is more than we are able to perceive. To my opinion this is one of the greatest discoveries of our civilization. We cannot prove the existence or non-existence of continuum but without it we cannot describe the world around us.

    One problem is to mathematically describe this finite measurement resolution by extending physics to a genuine theory of consciousness. Discrete structures would relate naturally to what we can perceive and cognize.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The problem with consciousness is that we don’t really have a terribly good idea of exactly what that is. Maybe consciousness is just those annoying periods between sleep. There is I think reason to think the role of the observer can be generalized in some ways. With black holes or quantum black holes an observer who remains outside the black hole may witness the same physics as an observer who enters the black hole, but where the geometric content of a quantum event is now observer dependent. The two observers record the same event, but in different forms of the S-matrix (different regions of support etc) which are related to each other by a topological index. That index is due to the event horizon. In a setting similar to this physics probably requires an expanded role for observership

      The problem of consciousness is that it amounts to the brain trying to codify something about itself. This has aspects which are similar to universal Turing machines or Godel’s theorem. Language is likely something which evolved from the brain which has an underlying formal structure. Chomsky’s hierarchy:

      Regular grammar — > context independent — > context sensitive — > Lambda calculus

      suggests that the brain organizes this communication system in some algorithmic sense. In our inner thoughts we are also most often using linguistic structures (talking to one’s self). It also occurs in some way so this has an “internal arrow of direction” which points to itself. By some manner that we are no conscious of this or something like it is involved with our subjective experience. However, to try to make this process understood it requires that we bring it into our conscious sphere — a consciousness of consciousness so to speak. I think this is a part of what befuddles us on the question of consciousness.

      For this reason I hesitate to think that consciousness should become a cornerstone of physics, at least for now. That might change of course, but I think in ways that I would prefer not to experience. In other words I think (and hope) I will be dead before it becomes something mandatory or necessary. Communication technology is starting to absorb us. I suspect in another decade smart phones will couple into our senses, such as contact lenses with nano-lasers that raster scan the retina, ear implants and so forth. I suspect that by 2040 to 2050 the full neural implant will become available and become more common from then. As a result humanity will in time meld into a “mass mind.” At this stage it might be that we come to an understanding of consciousness through the ability to experience or witness other conscious minds and with having one’s own mind observed. This would remove the current objective-subjective barrier which exists that prevents us from understanding what consciousness is.

      I would just assume be worm food before I might have to hook into that sort of world. Yet I think it is coming fairly soon.

  27. The empirical fact is that Taylor Hurst pulsar loses energy with a rate predicted by GRT. Gravitational radiation, whatever it is, would be the explanation.

    *If one goes to the days of Dirac and accepts QED as a guide line, one ends up with the idea that gravitons are quanta of gravitational radiation. Gravitons emerge naturally if one accepts quantization in Minkowski space as background. This is however questionable. Poincare symmetry is used but this is lost in GRT.

    *One could however go back to the days of Bohr and take hydrogen atom as a guide line. Now IR catastrophe would be collapse of the entire system to a blackhole. Could it be avoided by Bohr quantization. Nottale’s findings encourage this approach and one ends of with the quantization of hbar and eventual identification of dark energy as a phase with extremely large hbar: magnetic flux tubes/quanta carrying magnetic energy as dark energy and negative pressure identifiable as magnetic tension.

    This would lead to the notion of dark graviton and the detection of gravitational radiation would be different: dark gravitons -large hbar quanta of gravitational field- would decay to bunches of ordinary gravitons and instead of continuos stream of gravitons bunches would be observed and probably interpreted as noise.

    *If one accepts Poincare invariance (not actually true in general relativity), it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that graviton is spin 2-particle. The challenge is to find a theory fusing special and geometric description of gravitation in internally consistent manner. In every popular representation about strings the big challenge is identified as the fusion of general relativity and quantum theory. Two paths to follow. Maybe we should try also the other path since latter one did not lead anywhere;-).

  28. Mike says:

    From LIGO’s site:

    “During the intense blast of gamma rays, known as GRB070201, the 4-km and 2-km gravitational-wave interferometers at the Hanford facility were in science mode and collecting data. They did not, however, measure any gravitational waves in the aftermath of the burst.

    That non-detection was itself significant.

    The burst had occurred along a line of sight that was consistent with it originating from one of Andromeda’s spiral arms, and a binary coalescence event–the merger of two neutron stars or black holes, for example–was considered among the most likely explanations. Such a monumental cosmic event occurring in a nearby galaxy should have generated gravitational waves that would be easily measured by the ultrasensitive LIGO detectors. The absence of a gravitational-wave signal meant GRB070201 could not have originated in this way in Andromeda. Other causes for the event, such as a soft gamma-ray repeater or a binary merger from a much further distance, are now the most likely contenders.”

    Translated: Because we can’t confirm our theories – we will change other established theories to prop up this expensive project.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      Gamma ray bursts are unknown sources. We do not know what they are. If they are the coalescence of neutron stars the gravity waves produced would be much weaker than with black hole coalescence. So in effect you are claiming that a currently unobserved phenomenon is “falsified” by an event that is not understood.

      If we lived in a world of 2 space plus time then of course there would be no gravity waves, for there is no Weyl curvature. In four dimensions the Riemann curvature in general is

      Riem = Ricci + Weyl

      In a Ricci flat region there can be Weyl curvature without sources. Physically this is similar to the existence of electromagnetic fields in the absence of sources (charges). Gravity without gravity waves is similar to the inconsistency Maxwell noted which was fixed with a displacement current. That gave rise to EM waves. If gravity waves do not exist then the universe simply fails to make sense.

      There is a reasonably high confidence level in general relativity. In a debate between cranky deniers of relativity and Einstein I think I will stick with Einstein.

  29. Mike says:

    The debate isn’t about Einstein, GRT or cranks (such as those that continue to support dying theories with no evidence) – it’s about whether we should continue to fund a gravity wave observatory for many decades that has not observed a SINGLE gravity wave but should have seen one by now. This is according to the PIs who wrote the papers predicting such events as being numerous and observable – they don’t have to be gamma ray bursts but there are many other events that SHOULD have generated gravity waves that have shown no evidence.

    • Kea says:

      Nuh, Mike. If you’re one of those Washington lurkers, can LISA, I say.

      • Kea says:

        Sorry, that was a little too colloquial for non English speakers: I mean get rid of the LISA project. Or is already cut?

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The issue is about general relativity. If you accept GR as the best description of classical gravitation then gravitational radiation is a direct result. This is so for reasons similar to why if one accepts Maxwell’s equations as the operating classical description of electric and magnetic fields then EM waves are a direct result. The absolute failure to detect G-waves is then a possible falsification of general relativity. I must say that I find this somewhat implausible

      The current LIGO systems are on the boundary of what is expected to be detectable. Further upgrades and more sensitive versions are in the works. This is a work in progress, and as we plumb the deeper depths of the structure of the universe the apparatus required become more complex, larger and more expensive. The cost of these programs is in a broad context rather small compared to many other things in this world. The costs for LIGO are equal to about two months of US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        I meant two weeks of operations! This is “big science,” but it is not that large compared to other things.

      • Kea says:

        It is NOT a falsification of GR, since GR, like all theories, has its domain of applicability and just does not work outside that, even if it is perfectly correct in describing, quantitatively, the energy loss from pulsars.

        Gravity is not electromagnetism. Wave-particle duality is a conundrum that quantum gravity solves. GR is not quantum gravity. Perturbative (quantum) gravity is probably mediated by neutrinos, which we observe already to have interesting BSM behaviour, and which happen to be the only particles whose rest masses are small enough, as thermal equivalents, to sit inside the surface of last scattering. But you won’t get that, because it’s not mainstream.

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        General relativity probably does fail outside some domain of applicability. However, as with robust theories I think it does so “gracefully.” If you say that GR breaks down in some quantum limit or on the scale of the Planck length, I have no trouble with that hypothesis. I would have only slight problems with the conjecture that GR breaks down on some cosmological or grand scale. Either of these would be cases of where GR might break down in some aesthetically or physically reasonable way. On the other hand, if you say that it fails in this manner, then things become simply ugly. It would be as if electromagnetism admitted the “field gap” seen in the Faraday equation when applied to a capacitor, which was fixed by Maxwell.

        I think the hypothesis that neutrinos act as gravitons is probably wrong. For one thing neutrinos are not gauge particles, and they interact by neutral and charged currents (eg from Z and W^{+/-}) . The graviton is dual to a CFT or QCD-like theory in a holographic setting. So the AdS_4 graviton is equivalent to a gluon-ball in one dimension less. So our universe is on the boundary of an AdS spacetime, where this region is conformally flat. Local gravity fields are perturbations, where graviton physics in the AdS bulk manifests itself on the AdS boundary. The quantum physics of these gravitons may have some internal dual gauge-like description.

        In the string description a graviton is with proper level matching

        G^{μν} ~ (a^μ)^†_{n} (a^ν)^†_{-n}.

        If the spacetime indices μ and ν range over some extra dimenion then the graviton has spin 1 gauge bosonic content. Assume we set ν = 5 for an extra dimension and we restrict μ to 0, 1, 2, 3 spacetime. Then

        G^{μ5} ~ (a^μ)^†_{n} (a^5)^†_{-n},

        And since (a^5)^†_{-n} is restricted to this extra dimension that appears “internal” this is then a vector potential A^μ. This is a fairly straight forwards Kaluza-Klein type of theory.

  30. I do not see any reason to get rid of LISA project. The negative results is much more valuable than a positive result. Same about the search for Higgs and SUSY at LHC.

  31. Mike says:


    Good call! It looks like LISA is already on the chopping block (at least for US funding):

    LIGO is up to $365 million (largest NSF-funded project) for a tax bill. As for LISA: “April 2011 NASA announced that it would be unlikely to continue its LISA partnership with the ESA, due to funding limitations. The ESA is planning to begin a full revision of the mission’s concept commencing in February 2012”

    I guess Europe can fund it (as long as it doesn’t come from bailout money). Not a single gravity wave in over a decade and we must be approaching (or have reached) 95% confidence level of at least a few on-axis events by now. Maybe the Taylor-Hulse pulsar looses energy because of a nearby source of dark matter or dark energy? You can get any gravitational profile you want with either of these dark entities in your backyard!

  32. Ervin Goldfain says:

    Kea, you say:

    “Perturbative (quantum) gravity is probably mediated by neutrinos, which we observe already to have interesting BSM behaviour…”

    I must say that this is a very intriguing proposition. It falls along the same lines with my own research, although I see things from a different perspective.

    Here are my comments:

    1) neutrinos take part in charged current (CC) and neutral current (NC) weak interactions. If what you are saying is true, perturbative quantum gravity must be somehow linked to the EW model, the mechanism of EWSB and mass generation (and in fact to the entire structure of SM).

    2) neutrino oscillations and mixing, CP violation in the lepton sector must be somehow rooted in perturbative quantum gravity.

    2) perturbative quantum gravity is carried through Majorana spinors rather than spin one gauge bosons. Does this mean that local gauge invariance in quantum gravity can be in fact reinforced without massive bosons?

    Your thoughts?


    • Kea says:

      1) and 2) yes, of course.
      3) Gauge invariance, as symmetry, is an emergent feature, since spacetime itself must be. Thus it does not need to be reinforced within the most fundamental level of quantum gravity. But for the EW theory, there must be an effective Higgs mechanism, which for us arises as an enforced commutativsation of the geometry. Since this involves quantum mass operators, it is still the case that massive EW bosons take part in perturbative QG. The W bosons are ‘Fourier susy’ dual to the left handed electron/positron, while the left handed neutrino is dual to the photon. In this sense, the photon itself represents a massless gauge invariance for gravity.

    • Kea says:

      McElrath’s early paper on this subject:
      (I’m not advocating these theoretical methods)

  33. I bet his response was largely in part due to my blog which I documented many instances where I was nearly killed by “UFOs” which were actually manifesting as electromagnetic chaos far far away from the machine. Since I am self-taught there was the massive presence of ego not wanting to believe that what I had discovered was a real effect which could jeopardize the future of “the project”. I’ve since taken the blog offline since I realized it was only brining me more pain and no one was going to quit doing what they were doing to cause this stuff. I’ve since taken precautions to protect myself but unfortunately there is only so much shielding one can create.

  34. Brian Cox perhaps have some reason when criticize blogs

    i proposed a theory based upon General Relativity and Einstein Field Equations to explain OPERA Neutrno

    a guy appeared to say the the theory is crazy

    he apparently lacks knowledge on General Relativiy

    ottjerwise his post would be different


    here is my answer to him

    the theory is not mine….

    .it belongs to Gauthier-Gravel and Melanson..and the theory is not crazy..,,,

    but the blog is a tool of internet

    the quality of the posts is perrhaps the critical issue

    anyone with background to follow the math will understand it

    but in blogs perhaps is more easy to criticize….than to analyze..

    the background of General Relativity and Einstein Field Equations,that can explain what happened in OPERA

    ,this mathematical background of course requires Differential Geometry and Geometry of Curved Spaces….Riemann Geometry

    this background is different than the trigonometric demonstration of the Lorentz Transformations etc etc etc is different than the one required to demonstrate that e=mc2 in textbooks of Special Relativity for undergraduante students….eg the Feynmann Lectures on Physics etc etc etc

    the theory of Gauthier-Gravel and Melanson

    and for the guys that are not familiarized with the Warp Drive i would recommend

    bur first a course in General Relativity

    what happened in OPERA is not a particular feature of the neutrino

    with energy enough it would happen with neutrons

    if ICARUS or APOLLO or POSEIDON or whatever cannot confirm the results of OPERA is due to the fact that these do not have the machinery power of OPERA

    the FTL of the neutrino is generated by the machinery of OPERA….it is not a property of the neutrino… would happen with neutrons with energy enough

    in arXiv:1109.6562 Glashow dont know how to explain a FTL neutrino with 17 Gev without desintegrations

    i finished the math calculations that will explain it under the framework of GR

    i will not even cite Glashow he was Nobel Prize in 1979 good…..i have respect for him…..because in 1979…i was a teenager

    and OPERA seems that they are not bothered with Glashow

    he appealed Kamiokande and Ice Cube…to counter argument OPERA… the abstract

    Kamiokande i know but Ice Cube for me is the guy of “rap” or the “hip-hop”

    i do care only on the opinions of Dario Authiero(FRANCE) or Antonio Ereditato(ITALY) the heads of OPERA

  35. ervin goldfain says:

    @ Lawrence,

    “I think the hypothesis that neutrinos act as gravitons is probably wrong.”

    The main issue with spinor gravity and EW gravity theories is that they are manifestly at odds with Special Relativity. Until there is undeniable proof that neutrino physics violates Lorentz invariance, these theories will remain what they are, that is, intriguing speculations.
    It is however worth mentioning that the numerical value of the cosmological constant matches well the currently measured value of neutrino mass scale. From this standpoint, it appears plausible that classical gravitation may be linked with neutrino oscillations in a very subtle way.

  36. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    I have some calculations which leads to something which might play into what you are talking about. It is in connection with the “twistor revolution” that Witten wrote. The build up of fields which obey ∇^{AA’}ψ_{AB…C} = φ^{A’}_{B … C} with the composition of Weyl type spinors which obey

    ∇^{AA’}ψ_A = sqrt{m/2}ψ^{A’}

    and where

    ψ_{AB…C} = ψ_A⊗ψ_B⊗…⊗ψ_C,

    where this product goes from helicity s = ½ to 2. This is something I have an interest in with respect to Thirring theory of fermions and hyperbolic dynamics.
    AWeyl fermion forms a condensate according to the Lorentz spin group representation as ( 1/2 , 0)⊗( 1/2 , 0) = (0, 0)⊕(1, 0).
    The symmetry (Lorentz symmetry) may be broken by the condensate, but the underlying theory may still be invariant. Further, if the theory is in 4 + n dimensions, n = 6 or 7 then the broken symmetry can be within those extra-dimensions and this is a breaking of a gauge symmetry where spacetime Lorentz symmetry is intact.

    I would prefer not going into details here, but if you want to dialogue about this we can do that more privately.

  37. BC and JF seems unaware that above the 90% of Nobel winning works were rejected by peer-review as some studies show.

    Journals as nature said the “mea culpa” for rejecting relevant works after showed to be fundamental and have been researching and experimenting about new ways to improve peer-review.

  38. […] role of open discussion on the web is surprisingly controversial. In a recent post I queried a response to a question put to Brian Cox and Jeff Foreshaw in the Guardian. They were […]

  39. Ooh she's a killing machine says:

    “Which bloggers does he think see themselves as “the hero outside of science”?”

    For a hero you can Google Nassim Haramein for a laugh unless you’re aware of The New Einstein already.

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