Cosmology Fine tuning Intelligent Design

Hossenfelder: Now they are marketing non-discoveries as discoveries

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Lost in Math

The author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, thinks that the new discovery touted by some fellow particle physicists really doesn’t amount to much:

Meanwhile it must have dawned on particle physicists that the non-discovery of fundamentally new particles besides the Higgs is a problem for their field, and especially for the prospects of financing that bigger collider which they want. For two decades they told the public that the LHC would help answering some “big questions,” for example by finding dark matter or supersymmetric particles…

First, mass-produce empty predictions to raise the impression that a costly experiment will answer some big questions. Then, if the experiment fails to answer those questions, proclaim how exciting it is that your predictions were wrong. Finally, explain that you need money for a larger experiment to answer those big questions. The most remarkable thing about this is that they actually seem to think this will work. Sabine Hossenfelder, “Particle physicists excited over discovery of nothing in particular” at BackRe(Action)

If Hossenfelder means that it won’t work scientifically, she is correct. But “won’t work” can be construed in other ways. In the age of the multiverse and “ET’s gotta be out there,” it is quite possible for something that is entirely without evidence to retain a place as science. Thus, it should easily be possible for non-discoveries to be marketed as discoveries.

We didn’t order this dish. We’re just sitting here, thinking there must be a better way.

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Before you go: Sabine Hossenfelder: Cosmic inflation is overblown. The author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, makes clear that cosmic inflation was intended to deal with evidence for fine-tuning, which she considers a “waste of time.” But, as she shows, the cosmology has gone nowhere.

Hugh Ross: The fine-tuning that enabled our life-friendly moon creates discomfort Was it yesterday that we noted particle physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s view that fine-tuning is “a waste of time”? Not so fast. If the evidence points to fine-tuning and the only alternative is the crackpot cosmology she deplores, it’s not so much a waste of time as a philosophically unacceptable conclusion. Put another way, it comes down to fine-tuning, nonsense, or nothing.

6 Replies to “Hossenfelder: Now they are marketing non-discoveries as discoveries

  1. 1
    Brother Brian says:

    I think one of the biggest weaknesses of science is not having a means of readily disseminating the results of failed experiments. Peer review journals seldom accept papers that describe failed experiments. In many instances, we can learn more from the failures than we can by the successes.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Naturalism and methodological naturalism are the biggest weaknesses of science.

    Just sayin’…

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to “the impression that a costly experiment will answer some big questions”,,, the following is of interest,

    Step aside CERN: There’s a cheaper way to break open physics – 10 JANUARY 2018
    How tabletop experiments could find evidence of new particles, offering a glimpse beyond the standard model.
    Excerpt: The standard model predicts a tiny squashing (for the electron) — so small, Gabrielse says, that “there’s essentially no hope to measure it in my lifetime”. But some theories posit as-yet-undetected particles that could make the electron’s EDM roughly one billion times larger. Many of those theories fall into a class called supersymmetry, an extension of the standard model that could explain why the Higgs boson’s mass is smaller than expected, and that could unify the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces in the early Universe. It might also reveal the nature of dark matter.
    In early 2014, the researchers reported4 that they had not seen evidence for an EDM in their set-up, which was sensitive to an angular difference of about 100-millionths of a degree. That drove the upper limit of the electron EDM down by more than a factor of 10, to 8.7?×?10^?29 in units of centimetres multiplied by electron charge. If an electron were the size of Earth — and Earth a perfect sphere — the limit would correspond to moving a patch of material roughly 20 nanometres thick from one pole to the other.
    The ACME team argued that the result has big implications for theories beyond the standard model, nixing many hypothetical supersymmetric particles that would exist in an energy range probed by the LHC. But some theorists counter that plenty of remaining theories — supersymmetric and otherwise — predict an electron EDM smaller than those ruled out by the ACME team. Gabrielse finds the surviving theories more and more contrived. “Theorists are wily,” he says. “Every time we exclude something, they try to wiggle out.”,,,
    Now, researchers are closing in on new EDM results. The ACME physicists have increased the number of molecules they can send into their experimental apparatus by a factor of 400. They expect this and other improvements to sharpen the experiment’s precision by a factor of ten — allowing them to hunt for effects beyond the energy range of the LHC. The JILA team is also gearing up for experiments set to push beyond the LHC’s reach. And researchers at Imperial College London who held a former electron-EDM measurement record6 have plans for experiments with laser-cooled ytterbium monofluoride molecules; they hope their test will be 1,000 times more precise than ACME’s first run.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00106-5

    What the electron’s near-perfect roundness means for new physics
    The particle’s most precise measurement yet suggests the LHC isn’t large enough
    BY LISA GROSSMAN 1:00PM, OCTOBER 17, 2018
    Excerpt: The electron gets its shape from the way that positive and negative charges are distributed inside the particle. The best theory for how particles behave, called the standard model of particle physics, holds that the electron should keep its rotund figure almost perfectly.
    But some theories suggest that an entourage of hypothetical subatomic particles outside the electron could create a slight separation between the positive and negative charges, giving the electron a pear shape. That charge separation is called an electric dipole moment, or EDM. Searching for an electron EDM can reveal if particles that don’t exist in the standard model are hanging around the electron undetected.
    Now, the Advanced Cold Molecule Electron Electric Dipole Moment, or ACME, search, based at Harvard University, has probed the electron’s EDM with the most precision ever — and still found no sign of smooshing, the team reports online October 17 in Nature.
    The finding improves the team’s last best measurement (SN Online: 12/19/13) by a factor of 10 to find an EDM of 10-29 electron charge centimeters. That’s as round as if the electron were a sphere the size of the Earth, and you shaved less than two nanometers off the North Pole and pasted it onto the South Pole, says Yale University physicist David DeMille, a member of the ACME team.
    That result could make it harder for the Large Hadron Collider, located at the laboratory CERN near Geneva, to find signs of new physics beyond the standard model….
    The new measurement suggests that any extra particles that exist may be permanently beyond the LHC’s reach.,,,
    The proposed successor to the LHC, the Future Circular Collider, could reach such high energies if it is ever built. But smaller and cheaper EDM experiments may beat them to the punch, says physicist Brent Graner at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the new study.
    “The real virtue in doing EDM experiments at all is, if you do see something at the level of what we can detect at the moment, it’s a real, unambiguous sign of new physics,” Graner says.
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/electron-shape-round-standard-model-physics?tgt=nr

    Also of related note to experiments that are more precise, and much cheaper, than the LHC

    Absence of gravitational-wave signal extends limit on knowable universe – April 10, 2015
    Excerpt: Imagine an instrument that can measure motions a billion times smaller than an atom that last a millionth of a second. Fermilab’s Holometer is currently the only machine with the ability to take these very precise measurements of space and time, and recently collected data has improved the limits on theories about exotic objects from the early universe.,,,
    According to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, anything that accelerates creates gravitational waves, which are disturbances in the fabric of space and time that travel at the speed of light,,,
    “It’s a huge advance in sensitivity compared to what anyone had done before,” ,,,
    The Holometer is composed of two Michelson interferometers that each split a laser beam down two 40-meter arms. The beams reflect off the mirrors at the ends of the arms and travel back to reunite. Passing gravitational waves alter the lengths of the beams’ paths, causing fluctuations in the laser light’s brightness, which physicists can detect.
    The Holometer team spent five years building the apparatus and minimizing noise sources to prepare for experimentation. Now the Holometer is taking data continuously, and with an hour’s worth of data, physicists were able to confirm that there are no high-frequency gravitational waves at the magnitude where they were searching.,,
    “It means that if there are primordial cosmic string loops or tiny black hole binaries, they have to be far away,” Hogan said. “It puts a limit on how much of that stuff can be out there.”
    Detecting these high-frequency gravitational waves is a secondary goal of the Holometer. Its main purpose is to determine whether our universe acts like a 2-D hologram, where information is coded into two-dimensional bits at the Planck scale, a length around ten trillion trillion times smaller than an atom. That investigation is still in progress.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2015-04-a.....verse.html

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    I assume that Hossenfelder is not implying she’s the only one to have spotted the failure to discover predicted phenomena is a problem for the theory that predicted their existence. That would indicate a certain amount of chutzpah on her part.

    And the failure to discover what a theory predicts should be there is still a discovery. It may not be what proponents of the theory were hoping for but we still now know something we didn’t know before Besides, science is often about finding the boundaries of a theories domain of application. We learn from finding out where it fails. As we know, the development of relativity theory, for example, was driven by an understanding of where Newtonian mechanics failed. In fact, crowing over such failures indicates a profound misunderstanding of how science works.

  5. 5
    math guy says:

    S @ 4 writes
    “And the failure to discover what a theory predicts should be there is still a discovery. It may not be what proponents of the theory were hoping for but we still now know something we didn’t know before Besides, science is often about finding the boundaries of a theories (sic) domain of application. We learn from finding out where it fails.”

    The irony here is delicious. The dominant “theory” discussed on this website is darwinian evolution (with the odd bit of neutral theory, RNA world, and other hopeful fantasies thrown in). Cornelius Hunter’s website has a an entire book’s worth of failed predictions made by darwinian proponents. What have we learned about the boundary of the theory of evolution from those refuted predictions?

    That was a rhetorical question. What we have learned is that darwinian evolution is not a theory, but rather an unfalsifiable philosophy.

  6. 6
    OLV says:

    “If Hossenfelder means that it won’t work scientifically, she is correct. But “won’t work” can be construed in other ways. In the age of the multiverse and “ET’s gotta be out there,” it is quite possible for something that is entirely without evidence to retain a place as science. Thus, it should easily be possible for non-discoveries to be marketed as discoveries.“

    I like it. Well said.

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