RE: Baez's -- Open Questions in Physics
Open Questions in Physics
Thanks Steve, my comments below.
"What I cannot create. I do not understand." Richard Feynman
“To advance scientific knowledge, pick a man of genius, give him money, and let him alone.” James B. Conant, cited in “Tuxedo Park” by Jennet Conant
"For no man can write anything who does not think that what he writes is for the time the history of the world; or do anything well who does not esteem his work to be of importance ... there is throughout nature something mocking, something that leads us on and on, but arrives nowhere;… All promise outruns the performance. We live in a system of approximations."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essay on Nature (1844)
From: steve wolff [mailto:swolff@...]
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 8:13 PM
To: Jack Sarfatti
Subject: Baez's -- Open Questions in Physics
updated 4-Jun-1997 by JCB
updated 11-JAN-1997 by PEG
updated 01-JUN-1993 by SIC
original by John Baez
Open Questions in Physics
While for the most part a FAQ covers the answers to frequently asked questions whose answers are known, in physics there are also plenty of simple and interesting questions whose answers are not known. Before you set about answering these questions on your own, it's worth noting that while nobody knows what the answers are, there has been at least a little, and sometimes a great deal, of work already done on these subjects. People have said a lot of very intelligent things about many of these questions. So do plenty of research and ask around before you try to cook up a theory that'll answer one of these and win you the Nobel prize! You can expect to really know physics inside and out before you make any progress on these.
The following partial list of "open" questions is divided into three groups; Condensed Matter and Non-linear Dynamics, Cosmology and Astrophysics, and Particle and Quantum Physics. However, given the implications of particle physics and non-linear dynamics on cosmology, and other connections between the groups, the division is somewhat artificial, and, consequently, the categorization is somewhat arbitrary.
There are many other interesting and fundamental questions in other fields and many more in these fields than those listed here. Their omission is not a judgement about importance, but merely a decision about the scope of this article.
Condensed Matter and Non-linear Dynamics
1. What causes sonoluminescence? Sonoluminescence is the generation of small light bursts in liquids caused by sound. Bubbles form in the liquid at low pressure points of the sound wave, then collapse again as a high pressure wave passes. At the point of collapse a small flash of light is produced. The exact cause has been the subject of intense speculation and research.
Jack: Good question. I don’t know. I have Julian Schwinger’s papers and one day I will look at them on this.
2. How can turbulence be understood and its effects calculated? One of the oldest problems of them all.
Jack: Not even God knows that? I think Lev Landau said something to that effect?
3. What causes high temperature superconductivty? Is it possible to make a material which is a superconductor at room temperature? Superconductivity at very low temperatures has been understood since 1957 in terms of the BCS theory, but high temperature superconductors discovered in 1986 are still unexplained.
Jack: Good question. I don’t know.
Cosmology and Astrophysics
1. What happened at or before the Big Bang? Was there really an initial singularity? Of course, this question might not make sense, but it might. Does the history of the Universe go back in time forever, or only a finite amount?
2. Will the future of the universe go on forever or not? Will there be a "big crunch" in the future? Is the Universe infinite in spatial extent?
Jack: Empirical question.
3. Why is there an arrow of time; that is, why is the future so much different from the past? If the universe is finite and it recollapses, will the thermodynamic arrow of time be reversed during the collapse towards the big crunch?
Jack: Yes, like Lenny Susskind, I am thinking about that problem and I think I have the answer. We will see.
The early universe after inflating is approximately /\ = 0 zero entropy 100% virtual superfluid vacuum because of the instability of the Fermi-Dirac micro-quantum electron vacuum to the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate BEC of virtual bound state positronium. The coherent phase modulation of this BEC is guv and its amplitude modulation determines the effective residual micro-quantum random noise zero point /\ - field.
4. Is spacetime really four-dimensional? If so, why - or is that just a silly question? Or is spacetime not really a manifold at all if examined on a short enough distance scale?
Jack: Again mainly an empirical question.
5. Do black holes really exist? (It sure seems like it.) Do they really radiate energy and evaporate the way Hawking predicts? If so, what happens when, after a finite amount of time, they radiate completely away? What's left? Do black holes really violate all conservation laws except conservation of energy, momentum, angular momentum and electric charge? What happens to the information contained in an object that falls into a black hole? Is it lost when the black hole evaporates? Does this require a modification of quantum mechanics?
Jack: This is also a main problem for Lenny Susskind in his debate with Stephen Hawking. I am also thinking about it but I do not have any good answers except to say that what Hal Puthoff says about this problem is wrong.
6. Is the Cosmic Censorship Hypothesis true? Roughly, for generic collapsing isolated gravitational systems are the singularities that might develop guaranteed to be hidden beyond a smooth event horizon? If Cosmic Censorship fails, what are these naked singularities like? That is, what weird physical consequences would they have?
Jack: Good question. I don’t know.
7. Why are the galaxies distributed in clumps and filaments? Is most of the matter in the universe baryonic? Is this a matter to be resolved by new physics?
Jack: I think I have the answer to 7. It’s the /\ field configuration that determines all this. Most of the matter in the universe is not baryonic, it is /\ < 0 gravitating macro-quantum vacuum.
8. Why does it seem like the gravitational mass of galaxies exceeds the mass of all the stuff we can see, even taking into account our best bets about invisible stuff like brown dwarfs, "Jupiters", and so on? Is there some missing "Dark Matter"? If so, is it baryonic, neutrinos, or something more exotic? If not, is there some problem with our understanding of gravity, or what?
Jack: Same as 7. Piece of cake. /\ < 0 in
Guv(x) + /\(x)guv(x) = 8pi(G/c^4)Tuv(x)
With constitutive Landau-Ginzburg equations that determine /\ in a loop with guv.
9. What is the origin of the Cosmic Gamma Ray bursts? There are literally hundreds of theories for these mysterious bursts which are thought to originate from some cataclysmic astronomical events.
Jack: I think I have answer to that one also. Piece of cake, virtual boson dominated antigravitating micro-quantum zero point /\ > 0 causes a blue shift just virtual fermion-anti-fermion PV pair dominated gravitating micro-quantum zero point /\ < 0 causes a redshift for detector in normal non-gravitating /\ = 0 macro-quantum vacuum. Note the micro-quantum zero point noise is zero in the large-scale structure of the universe ON THE AVERAGE.
10. What is the origin and nature of the highest energy Cosmic rays? The record is an event detected by the Fly's eye detector in the US which recorded a shower from a cosmic ray of about 300 EeV. A similar event was detected by the Japanese scintillation array AGASA. When first detected these events were far higher than what had been expected. So far only a few very speculative theories have been proposed.
The Big Question (TM)
This last question sits on the fence between the last two categories above:
How do you merge Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity to create a quantum theory of gravity? Is Einstein's theory of gravity (classical GR) also correct in the microscopic limit, or are there modifications possible/required which coincide in the observed limit(s)? Is gravity really curvature, or what else -- and why does it then look like curvature? An answer to this question will necessarily rely upon, and at the same time likely be a large part of, the answers to many of the other questions above.
Jack: Yes, as indicated above, I think I have solved this one in the vein of Andre Sakharov and PW Anderson’s “More Is Different”. Gravity is a macro-quantum coupled amplitude-phase modulation of the virtual electron positronium macro-quantum vacuum coherence parameter with a wee bit of random zero point noise of all gauge forces and sources to tweak the galaxy formation et-al. That is, no direct quantization of guv(x). Spacetime curvature is a ripple in the coherent phase field of the virtual positronium vacuum superfluid.