Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beyond quantum physics? Needed, a new Einstein

I've been thinking about consciousness and quantum reality for some years now.  Come to a few conclusions that have flowed into these ruminations:

First, seems to me that consciousness is primordial, i.e., to originate from the same source as the material universe that is the subject of modern physics.  Or to put it differently, to be unexplainable as a mere manifestation of some complex process of matter.  Consciousness is a property of the universe just as material existence appears to be.  Indeed, it may be that consciousness is prior to matter, that the ghost in the machine came before the machine.

Second, that the universe must be understood as something both eternal - the speed of light to itself is instantaneous - and immersed in time via our individual consciousness of it.  The universe is something that exists all at once in time and space.  It is we that travel through it at a speed - the flow of time - that leads us to measure light at 186,000 miles per second.  Individual consciousness seems to be attached to material processes that result from the Higgs field having given certain particles mass, that is, that slows them down from the instantaneous propagation of light and other mass-less particles.  Connected to these "slow particles," we experience time.

And now a third thought, too preliminary to call a conclusion.  That modern quantum physics while powerful and beautiful, is somehow fundamentally wrong.  Quantum physics is essentially a quantitative, numerical understanding of reality.  It offers probabilities and predictions flowing from a mathematical model of reality.  It has been amazingly accurate, predicting particles and properties then confirmed through experiment.  But more recently it seems that reality conforms too accurately to the standard model of physics.  The Higgs mass so far is exactly as predicted and now it seems the electron is perfectly spherical rather than dipole.  Both results appear to rule out the simplest models of super-symmetry (which already proposes more dimensions than the four we experience).   Super-symmetry is the effort to extend quantum physics into a theory of everything, accounting for all particles as well as gravity, dark mass and dark energy.

The latest news on the Higgs seems quite revealing.  Its mass (125 GeV) seems to be exactly where it should be for the universe as we know it to exist.  If it was much stronger, nothing much would form beyond hydrogen and helium because the particles that make them up would be so tightly bound that heavier elements - and us - couldn't form.  If it was much weaker, nothing could hang together and yet again, nothing much - including us - would form.  The Higgs - like Goldilock's porridge - is just right for us.  This is enough of a conundrum, why should it be just right for us?  But there also seems no reason - absent a super-symmetry explanation - for the exact value that the Higgs does have.  It seems to be a "given."

Quantum physicists still have hope.  There are more elaborate models for super-symmetry, less simple, less beautiful, more dimensions.  And some suggest that the Higgs has different values in the many multi-verses of which our universe may just be one.  So we happen to live in one with just the right value because in most of the others we could not exist.

Quantum physics is already a bit Rube-Goldberg.  The multi-verse proposal is more so.  Occam's Razor suggests there must be a simpler way.  It might be useful to again consider Einstein's dictum that "God does not play dice."  His theory of relativity did not flow from math but from a profound insight into how time and space relate.  Yes, math flows from it but relativity is an understanding of time and space as one thing and gravity as resulting from its curvature.  Quantum physics and relativity remain trains running on different tracks.  We may need a new Einstein to put everything on one.  Someone who can provide a deeper insight into why the universe is the way it is rather than look to mathematics to explain everything.