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Saturday 25 August 2012

Has anybody seen the God Particle?

Prof. Carlo Fonseka published an article on 23rd July 2012 in “The Island” on “The God Particle” describing an answer he had given to “a very clever arts woman”. In that article he mentioned among other things the following: “To begin at the beginning, I told her that there are three ways in which we acquire scientific knowledge. The first is by direct observation through our five senses, that is to say by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. The second is by indirect observation through our senses using instruments such as telescopes, microscopes and spectroscopes. The third method is by using our brains to build models in our imagination of what we think might be true about something we cannot directly or indirectly observe through our senses.” He also said that “there is only one way that scientists use to test a model. They make testable predictions based on the model and checkout the accuracy of the predictions experimentally.” As an example of a model he referred to the atom at the end of the nineteenth century: “At that stage the standard model of the atom was a structure with a center called the nucleus (consisting of protons and neutrons) and electrons orbiting round the nucleus. This is like the popular model of the solar system with the sun at the center and the planets orbiting round it.” Referring to the Big Bang he said “In the 20th century scientists came to believe that about 14 billion years ago there was an explosion of pre-existing energy. This explosion is called the Big Bang. At that point, matter as we know it came into existence.” Finally on the Higgs Boson this is what he said. “Though its existence was predicted by Higgs in 1964, its existence was finally confirmed only this year.”

I was puzzled by all these and on 25th July, I asked Prof. Fonseka whether he believed that the God Particle exists, and mentioned that “What the western Physicists at CERN have done is to interpret certain photographs they had obtained in their big collider to claim that the photos show some characteristics of a particle that Peter Higgs thought gives mass to the other particles. It is only a story and is not different from Newtonian gravitation that “explained” how the earth moves round the sun. Does Prof. Fonseka believe that Newtonian gravitation exists? The model of an atom with particles going round the nucleus is Rutherford’s old hat as according to the new model the quantum particles do not travel along paths or trajectories.” From his reply on 7th August it is clear that Prof. Fonseka has not seen the God Particle but he goes by some of his “Vinnus” (roughly people who are knowledgeable) the western scientists at CERN. This is somewhat in accordance with what I call the second part of Kalama Sutta and I am happy about it though I have problems with the “Vinnus” of Prof. Fonseka. It has to be stated that even the “Vinnus” have not seen the “God Particle” through direct or indirect observations, the way we mortals see desks and chairs through our senses. As I have said in my previous article the “Vinnus” have observed certain tracks on photographic plates, which they interpret as the Higgs Boson. These tracks are interpreted to exhibit certain characteristics of the Higgs Boson as predicted theoretically. What has to be emphasized is that there are no sacred facts and the facts are theory laden. No perception is independent of conception and we see the world the way construct it. Can somebody think of a perception or so called fact independent of conception? All theories are models or stories that have been constructed in order to “explain” what are called “facts”. As long as the stories and observations taken as a whole are consistent they are believed by the western scientists. This is in contrast to “prathyaksha” which should not be translated as sensory perceptions. It is funny to see the western scientists who do not consider observations as reality, constructing models to explain reality and test them with nothing but observations that do not constitute reality.

On Gravitation, Prof. Fonseka exhibiting his knowledge says: “His (Einstein’s) theory of Special Relativity published in 1905 established the equivalence mass and energy in the famous equation E = mc2. In 1915, by incorporating gravity into his Special Relativity, he revolutionized our view of space and time. If I have understood it correctly, the theory of general relativity can explain everything that Newtonian gravitation can explain plus such things as how rays of light from a star are bent when they go past a massive body like the sun. The current standard model postulates four fundamental forces, of which one is gravity.” Einstein did not incorporate gravity into the theory of special relativity though Prof. Fonseka seems to believe so. Former discarded Newton’s story of gravitation, contradicting “facts”, and constructed a new story of space - time that is determined by matter and radiation. This theory talks of an abstract concept called space -time curvature that cannot be observed directly or indirectly, and apples fall or take certain paths due to this curvature and not due to a gravitational force. The approximations of the deductions of Einstein’s theory incorporate deductions of Newtonian Gravitation Theory but that does not imply that General Theory of Relativity constructed using Manifolds, Differential Geometry, Tensor analysis etc., incorporates Newton’s Theory of Gravitation. The two theories are worlds apart so to say conceptually. For example in Newtonian Theory space and time are independent entities that could exist without matter and radiation, while in General Relativity space –time is determined by what is known as the energy – momentum tensor. Similarly, as I have mentioned the current model of the atom is conceptually very much different from Rutherford atom.

The current standard model does not postulate four forces including Gravity contrary to what Prof. Fonseka seems to believe. The standard model which is a Quantum Field Theory tries to explain the interactions among “particles” and has failed to incorporate General Relativity. It does not predict Dark energy or Dark Matter and is weak in many other areas. Western Physicists are toying with other theories, models or stories such as string theorywith extra dimensions, super symmetries etc. Prof. Fonseka says that “Big Bang theory is the nearest thing science has to offer by way of a theory of everything.” Oh no, the western Physicists have other ideas when they talk of theory of everything (ToE). It is not based on Big Bang, and they are interested in a theory that is an improvement of the standard model. However my question was “Could he explain how a theory of everything tallies with Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, assuming of course that western Physics incorporates Arithmetic?”, which Prof. Fonseka has completely ignored. It must also be pointed out that the Big Bang is a singularity in space –time that has no explanation and that contrary to the statement “This explosion is called the Big Bang. At that point, matter as we know it came into existence” in Prof. Fonseka’s article of 23rd July at least some matter as we “know” today took some time, however minute it may be, to come into existence. He says referring to Big Bang mistakenly as a ToE and to a statement by Prof. Green that it seems to him that humankind’s quest for a ToE is still a dream. For him “it is a dream that will surely come true”. The self proclaimed materialist is an idealist dreamer. Incidentally does he include Sinhala Buddhists who are not interested in a ToE also in the “humankind” referred to? Prof. Fonseka quotes the following in his last article. “Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.” Prof. Fonseka has failed to answer my questions, but it does not make him a wise man though I am certainly a fool for continuing to ask him fundamental questions in Physics and Philosophy.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva