Sunday, March 16, 2014

More alpha-negatrons!

Pal Sahota apparently found my previous post and may have taken offence at me using the words "crackpot physics" to describe his hypothesis. Over Twitter, he asks:
 I would've replied through the same medium, but I find the character restriction rather, well, restricting.

So, point 1: No, Google hasn't paid me. Presumably this question was prompted by the fact that he claims he invented search-as-you-type and Google stole it from him. My post was purely for the love of making fun of bad physics and there were no venal interests whatsoever. 

Also, if Google wanted to discredit him, I'm sure they could've found someone with a much greater audience than me. My readership is largely non-existent.

Point 2: What does the number of views have to do with anything?

Point 3: Were any of those professors and PhDs physicists? That seems relevant. Also, a retweet is not an endorsement.

Point 4: It could be wrong, yes. Further, it actually is wrong. Of that I have already spoken.

Point 5: I don't have a degree in physics yet, though I'm working towards one. Thus, the only qualification I claim is that I know much more about physics than Pal Sahota.

This is evident by looking at his theory. The very format of his argument is flawed, relying overtly in qualitative verbal arguments rather than quantitative mathematical reasoning. There's exactly one equation in the entirety of the alpha-negatron document, Einstein's famous E=mc2, and his attempt to fit it into his theory is severely flawed (I elaborate on that in my previous post, see the second bullet point)

Anyone actually doing physics would, at the very least, make some rough calculation showing, for example, that the alpha-negatrons actually do mediate an interaction of the same order of magnitude as gravity (or any other of the millions of effects he attributes to his pet particle). That he doesn't means he either can't do it, or he doesn't even know what a physics theory looks like.

Anyone who were to seriously propose a theory in physics would, at the very least, get past the 19th century. His particle is clearly classical in behaviour, ignoring pretty much everything in quantum physics except for occasional lip service.

And that's just the generalities of the thing. I brought up plenty of specific mistakes even a lowly physics student like myself should catch, like claiming light is a longitudinal wave or ignoring that the mass/proton number ratio is not constant in all elements (or between different isotopes of the same element). I even provided references to famous experiments that invalidate his theory, like the Michelson-Morley interferometer or Millikan's oil drop.

Those are my qualifications, Pal Sahota. You're welcome to challenge them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Alpha Negatron

Anyone up for some crackpot physics? No? Just me then.

Pal Sahota has a theory that he claims unifies "gravity, magnetism, electromagnetic radiation and time", which is nice. Someone should probably let him know that magnetism and electromagnetic radiation have been unified for a while now, but still.

I took the liberty of looking over this document up on scribd, and I noticed a few odd things, so I decided to give him a hand with some constructive criticism.

So, Pal's bright idea is that, by studying nature, he noticed " there is a basic pattern like fractal which keeps repeating itself" and therefore space isn't empty. He doesn't say what that pattern is yet, but we'll get to that later. Anyway, space isn't empty, because it's filled with particles he calls "alpha negatrons", which as far as I can tell are like the pre-quantum idea of the electron except a lot smaller and with a proportionally smaller charge. He actually says it's "infinitely smaller", but that would mean it's charge is zero and could not do all the wonderful things it does. I'll assume "infinitely" was figurative and it's simply much smaller, though it sure would be nice to have an order of magnitude.

Anyway, these alpha negatrons are negatively charged (hence the name) and so they repel each other. Pal seems to think these would lead them to arrange themselves in an evenly spaced 3D matrix, which seems odd because all the other negative and positive charges (like protons and electron) would be guaranteed to disrupt that, but sure, whatever. Frankly his argument is irrefutable. I'd guess my first question would be why negative charges much smaller than than of an electron didn't irrevocably screw up Millikan's experiment1, but I'm sure Pal can explain that.

Next, Pal says that the nucleus of the atom and the electron spin around themselves by analogy to the solar system, which is that fractal pattern he mentioned earlier. Of course, there is the minor problem that the planetary model of the atom is wrong and has been obsolete for 90 years or thereabouts2, but it's an understandable mistake. After all, popular images of the atom are still using the planetary model, and you could hardly expect someone to go study physics beyond a pop-sci level when they are so busy developing revolutionary new theories. He's also somewhat liberal in his use of the word "fractal", when referring to a pattern that appears twice (or once) as opposed as to at infinitely many levels of resolution. But other than completely ignoring all of physics after the 1920s there's not much to nitpick here. Oh, right, there's also the fact that we know that the premise being pushed is known to be wrong, also because of that pesky quantum physics3. But that's it, at least until the next few sentences of the paragraph.

There, Pal tells us that the nucleus is "infinitely larger" than the electron (once again being figurative, I'd guess) and that's why it has a much greater influence on the alpha negatrons. I would nitpick and say that being that the interaction with the ANs is electromagnetic, the fundamental property that matters is not "size" (whatever that means in this context) but rather electric charge, and that is in fact very similar in both parts of the atom4. But I'm sure this won't affect his theory greatly.

When the time comes to explain electromagnetic radiation, Pal says that "Similar to sound waves, electromagnetic waves propagate through the alpha-negatron matrix utilizing compression and rarefaction", which is not quite right. First, because we know that electromagnetic waves propagate through the electromagnetic field, and if they had a medium like the AN matrix we would've noticed5. Second, because sound waves are longitudinal but electromagnetic waves are transverse, i.e. they do not propagate through compression and rarefaction of anything. If they did, we would not have polarization of light. But this fundamental misunderstanding of the basic nature of electromagnetic waves should not cause one to doubt the soundness of the theory.

Next in this parade of explanations is gravity, which Pal describes as a fundamentally electromagnetic phenomenon where protons attract alpha negatrons which attract other protons, and thus matter with protons attracts other matter with protons. Also waves. Curiously absent is an analysis of how the electrons in matter with their negative charges would interfere with this, or any order of magnitude calculation to show this would result in the gravitational constant we see, or any math of any other kind for that matter. But this is physics, why would we need to get maths involved?

Pal is clever enough to explain that gravity appears proportional to mass because the number of protons increases with mass, which is almost true. He fails to account for the fact that different elements (or different isotopes of the same element6) have different ratios between charge and mass, so we should observe varying ratios between weight and mass depending on chemical make-up of objects. But this difference would be small and if there's something we know is that precise measurement is kind of a "meh" thing for scientists.

As if all those explainings were not enough, there is a quite extended treatment of magnetism which is so undoubtedly correct it's not even worth detailing, except to mention it's based on "whirlpools" of alpha negatrons and completely disregards electromagnetic theory on what should happen to charges in motion. But then, what has standard electromagnetic theory accomplished, other than being generally considered one of most successful theories in physics and the template all field theories are modelled after? Surely alpha negatron supersedes it in every aspect.

Pal even takes a crack at wave-particle duality in  the photon, explaining it away by saying that it doesn't exist, and boldly asserts that in alpha negatron theory energy travels in wave packets. It seems curious that he borrows this property from quantum theory without bothering to explain why it should be so in alpha negatron theory. It hardly seems worth mentioning that the photoelectric effect cannot be explained through classical waves (such as those in AN theory), which is one of the reasons quantum theory was developed and the idea of the photon came about. I cannot wait to see how he will most definitely account for this.

During his conclusion, Pal takes a tour of all the complex physical phenomena his theory sorts out. These are just a few examples:

  • The speed of light is constant because the separation between alpha negatrons in the matrix is constant (certainly not invalidated by the fact that alpha negatrons could not possibly remain at fixed distances around charged particles)
  • E=mc2. Isn't it just a huge coincidence that the speed of light would show up there? Well, alpha negatrons save the day again, by saying that the transference between energy and mass happens through the AN matrix so the speed of light shows up. I don't see the point in bringing up that the equations for special relativity were in fact trying to explain why electromagnetic waves behave as they do so it's quite natural that the c factor would appear. Much less, that saying that the rate of transference determines the proportionality constant is somewhat like saying that the exchange rate from dollars to euros is determined by how fast the transaction is processed.
  • Relativity and the effects of gravity on time. The rate of passage of time depends on how fast things move through the alpha negatron matrix, which varies because gravity is protons!
  • The quantification of electron orbitals! Because alpha negatrons create forces that balance out exactly at the specified orbitals for no reason given!

Frankly it seems there's nothing alpha negatrons can't explain. I'm sure they could even explain things that aren't actually true, because that's just how great alpha negatrons are.

In summary, I wholeheartedly and without reservations recommend alpha negatron theory be considered an unqualified success as a unified theory of everything, and frankly it's a crime Pal Sohata doesn't already have one or two Nobels in physics.

1 Millikan showed that electric charges always appear as the multiple of a certain charge, which was determined to be the charge of a single electron. If something with a much smaller charge was around, we'd expect to see things a much more continuous range of charges, rather than the discrete separation we observe.

3 There is a quantum mechanics thing called spin, which people thought at one point had something to do with  the nucleus or the electron spinning around themselves, but was later shown to be fundamentally different.

4 Depending on the element, the charge of the nucleus can be identical (Hydrogen) or about a hundred times greater (elements at the end of the table) than that of one electron. And electrons usually don't show up alone, but rather atoms tend to have enough electrons to balance out their nucleus. 

5 Here I refer to the Michelson-Morley experiment, which attempted to detect what was then called the luminiferous aether, a proposed medium for electromagnetic waves that was disproved and led to the development of special relativity by this fellow named Albert Einstein. If the AN matrix was a medium for electromagnetic waves, Michelson would've detected it in his experiment.

6 An isotope is an atom which has the same number of protons but different number of neutrons as another atom. For example, a regular hydrogen nucleus is just one proton, but in a deuterium nucleus there's also a neutron. If those neutrons didn't matter gravity-wise, all isotopes should weigh the same and, for example, heavy water (where the regular hydrogen is replaced by deuterium) should not be heavier than regular water. Someone might want to look into that, see if we'll have to change the name.

Friday, February 14, 2014

How not to fix the problems with science

Once again, people have said something on the internet, and driven me to say others things in reply. Today's something is How the Scientific Method Silences All Ways of Knowing That Are Not White and Male, by Taeha Condon. If you know me at all*, you know this won't be a glowing review.

One would assume the article is about how they are some ways of knowing that are not White and Male, and the scientific method silences them. One would be wrong. It is in fact about how the author doesn't quite understand what the scientific method is but likes to blame it for everything anyway.

Problem the first: the author confuses quantification with the scientific method. Or at least I think she does, because otherwise I cannot explain why she continually rages against modern society's tendency to measure and quantify and considers that a criticism of the scientific method.

The core of the scientific method is "test your hypotheses", not "put a number to it". Numbers can be precise and amenable to statistical analysis and a lot of other nice things that make them useful for scientific research, but they are not what science is about. So when your title talks about problems with the scientific method and your primary argument is "we're using too many numbers", I'm gonna be somewhat disappointed.

Could one blame the scientific revolution for the abundance of quantifiable measures in today's world? Yeah, definitely. Partly because people use numbers to lend an air of sciencyness, and therefore legitimacy to their nonsense, but mostly because numbers work and science showed us that most conclusively. The author claims that "[w]e have relied on numbers and quantifiable solutions for too long, and clearly, they are not working", but then again quantifiable solutions have taken us to a world with vaccines and the Internet, so they are doing pretty fucking good, if you ask me. If "We've been doing this for a long time and the world is not perfect yet" is an argument against quantifiable solutions, then it's also an argument against agriculture, writing and democracy.

So problem the first is actually two-pronged: Quantifiability is not some sort evil demon, and it's not the same thing as the scientific method

Problem the second: You know those titular "all ways of knowing"? I am struggling to find any way of knowing in the text other than the scientific method**. Sure, the author alludes to "Aboriginal [...] ways of knowing that account for the interconnectivity of land, spirituality, country and kin", but doesn't actually say what they are or describe how they work. But they must be better than science, since they account for all that stuff! And science doesn't! For some reason.

Why would there be some ineffable, science-proof quality to interconnectivity of land et al.? I have no idea. Can you not formulate testable hypotheses about it? Or is it just that it doesn't look like the sort of thing you find in a lab with microscopes and test tubes?

Problem the third: The author consistently asserts that science is a white male way of knowing. And I'll grant that science has a gender problem; it's mostly a male dominated field, women's contributions are under-appreciated and boys are encouraged to pursue STEM careers much more than women. This has been said a thousand times before. You know how you don't go about solving that problem? By claiming that empirical thinking is a male thing and women are made for intuition and feeling. In fact, that strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that caused the problem in the first place.

Telling women that they cannot be scientists? That the single most successful way of knowing humankind has found is not their thing? That they are not built for logic and analytical thinking? That's one of the most unfeminist memes our society has. When you spread that meme, you are part of the problem.

So, in summary:
1) Learn what science actually is.
2) If you're gonna talk about how science stifles other ways of knwoing, kindly provide an example of one that has been successful to a level at least comparable to the scientific method
3) And for the love of all the nonexistent gods, there are enough sexist assholes telling women science is not for them. We don't need more.

*Which of course you do not.

**I am strongly reminded of learning about Feyerabend in my Introduction to Scientific Thought class in college.