April 27, 2015
“… In holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” (President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961).
Dr. Alexander Unzicker is a German theoretical physicist and son of the famous grandmaster chess player Wolfgang Unzicker. He holds degrees in both physics and law and a PhD in neuroscience. His current field of research is Mach’s principle and tests of gravity. Unzicker became known for his popular science book Vom Urknall zum Durchknall published by Springer, a scientific imprint, which was awarded the “Science Book of the Year” by leading science journalists in Germany.
In his book Bankrupting Physics: How Today’s Top Scientists are Gambling Away Their Credibility, Unzicker criticizes modern physics theories, more particularly the standard model of particle physics and string theory, as lacking experimental verifiability and arguing that they are no longer credible because of their complexity. He along with his co-author call for a return to physics’ experimental roots.
His latest book The Higgs Fake: How Particle Physicists Fooled the Nobel Committee is a breath of fresh air and a somber look at the methods and interpretations that have fed the collective hysteria centralized at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN which eventually lead to the so-called discovery of the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Fake is well written and easy to understand. Unzicker is direct and clear in his opinions with statements such as:
- “The news given on the 4 July 2012 CERN Press Conference was at best an abuse of language and at worst a lie.”
- “They declared the discovery of the century and yet did not resolve a single one of the fundamental problems of physics.”
- “… Particle physics, as practiced since the 1930s, is a futile enterprise in its entirety… It has become a high-tech sport that has little to do with the laws of Nature.”
- “It annoys me too much to see another generation of physicists deterred by the dumb messy patchwork called the standard model of particle physics, that hides the basic problems physics ought to deal with.”
- “This book won’t appeal to particle physicists, there is no way to convince an expert that he or she has done nonsense for thirty years.”
- “This book should provide journalists and people responsible for funding decisions with information they need to challenge the omnipresent propaganda.”
The Resonance Project scientific staff strongly recommends reading Dr. Unzicker’s books to get a clear picture of both the challenges in overcoming the tendency to adopt dogmatic views and the significant issues that must be resolved at the root of physics to obtain a clear and unified view of physical law. Dr. Unzicker was gracious enough to grant us a short written interview with a few questions of our scientific staff. We are grateful for his insights and happy to share them our contributing members prior to publications to the public at large.
The Resonance Project: Do you think that many scientists, more specifically particle physicists, feel the way you do about the standard model yet are afraid to discuss it publicly due to the repercussions it will have on their career and the potential support of their peers?
Alexander Unzicker: Particle physicists definitely avoid a public debate about the foundations of their field, because they are concerned about their funding. However, they merely believe their fairy tales. Others in more sane fields such as geophysics or quantum optics often agree with my critical views, but don’t want to speak out. They have nothing to gain.
R.P.: Do you think that the standard model of particle physics has become a dogma similar to a religious order?
A.U.: I wouldn’t call it order, but the parallel to religion is obvious. Science is testable, repeatable, transparent and makes predictions. All this is absent in particle physics. Opinions in the community are formed in the exactly same way, by relying on authority, parroting and belief.
R.P.: Do you think that some of the experimental results of the 1950s and 1960s were misinterpreted? And if so, how would you simply describe where this has taken us.
A.U.: It’s a subtle mechanism, the combination of theoretical wishful thinking and the adjustments of experiments on phenomena, which were consistent with those desires. That led to a series of concepts that probably have nothing to do with reality. All this is brilliantly described by Andrew Pickering in his book Constructing Quarks.
R.P.: What is your opinion of the validity and viability of building larger and larger accelerators to confirm various standard model approaches?
A.U.: Fundamental physics has turned into a high-tech sport that has nothing to do with fundamental questions. For decades, there has been no creative idea in particle physics other than to go to higher energies.
R.P.: In your opinion, is there any way to reinterpret the experimental data from particle accelerators, including the Large Hadron Collider, to expose useful alternative theoretical concepts?
A.U.: The problem is that the results are formulated within the standard model, thus at the present stage they are useless. If we talk about reinterpreting, we should repeat the experiments of the 1950s and 1960s and put the raw data on the Internet.
R.P.: What is your opinion of Dirac’s large number hypothesis?
A.U.: Extremely interesting and significant, though it is usually dismissed as “numerology” by people who never predict measurable numbers. But if quantum mechanics is ever unified with general relativity, Dirac’s observation has to play a key role.
R.P.: Why do you think quantum mechanical spin is “apparently” not represented by physical spin?
A.U.: I think that spin is a consequence of the mathematical properties of rotations in three-dimensional space. We are still far from fully understanding its nature.
R.P.: Do you think that there is a more classical solution to particle physics and that Einstein was right in seeking one?
A.U.: He was right in criticizing that quantum theory did provide the ultimate solution, though I would not agree with all his arguments. An ingenious idea he had was the variable speed of light. I think one should carefully study it, there is even an unknown relation to Dirac’s large numbers.
R.P.: What do you think it will take to overcome the dogma of the Higgs mechanism and the Higgs fake discovery?
A.U.: Well, people may gradually realize that it is nonsense as they are starting to realize it with strings, but the structures in institutionalized science are very resilient. We need to reorganize the method of evaluation and adapt it to the 21st century. The raw data of every experiment has to be public and every single step of the analysis has to be open to scrutiny, testable by an unlimited number of researchers. There are some encouraging examples in astrophysics, such as SDSS.
R.P.: Do you think there is any hope that the mainstream community will accept a simpler solution to particle physics and to quantum gravity?
A.U.: It will always be hard to convince people that they have achieved nothing in their career, even if the correct theory of everything should show up. In that case, as Max Planck said, science advances very slowly, from one funeral to the next…
R.P.: What inspired you to pursue this journey of discovery regarding the standard model and being a vocal point for an alternative pursuit of physics?
A.U.: I really love physics, and it really annoyed me how much baloney is being sold under its name. So I felt I had to speak out. Humanity needs reasonable physics if we want to get the respect of civilizations that might follow.