While checking out the latest New York Times story on the fairy field, I found an anti-establishment physics blog that’s way more interesting than Not Even Wrong: check out this blog by R. Mirman, complete with links to error messages for the cosmological constant. This old guy is angry.
Clifford seemed a little bothered by my continued vocal disbelief in the existence of fairy fields, and he said, “Hi Kea! I see you’re still ahead of us fools who wait for experiments before concluding what we believe about Nature.”
Well, actually, as it happens, I was, and still am, of the opinion that theoretical science is at least partly about trying to understand the outcomes of experiments before they are performed. It is therefore my duty, as a professional (albeit unpaid) quantum gravity theorist, to make sensible predictions about events at the LHC, and elsewhere. And then there is the not so minor issue of all the previous experiments that were supposed to see certain fairy particles, but didn’t. What are all those experimentalists doing, anyway?
Meanwhile Amanda, at Tommaso Dorigo’s blog, said (in disparagement as usual), “Almost as bad: Famous Physicist says: Here is a really interesting idea: let’s all use category theory/twistors/moonshine/-fill in badly motivated or frankly unphysical idea which is clearly going nowhere HERE-.”
Wow! Isn’t that cool! Category Theory and Twistors and Moonshine are getting mocked all in one breath! Most of the physicists I know still haven’t thought about these things. Maybe physics is progressing as it should, after all.
So why does the Higgs not exist? For starters, there never was any reason to think it should. As everyone knows, QFT likes particles to be massless. QFT does not solve mass generation: it includes masses as parameters. Secondly, our best bets for observables in a theory which does actually describe mass, doesn’t include in any obvious way a Higgs particle. In other words, it doesn’t exist. Other stuff probably exists, but it’s different stuff. Now many people keep insisting on telling me that physical observables are about symmetry, and this friendly advice is usually accompanied by much hand-waving about Lagrangians and representation theory and other mathematics from QFT, which never had anything to do with gravity, as it is observed.
By the way, those infernal twistors also say interesting things about massless particles, like about how they might be viewed in a unified setting using cohomology. And like how higher non-Abelian cohomology is needed to understand mass. Now I realise that QFT doesn’t usually deal with twistors, but Nature (the bitch) isn’t going to let QFT reign supreme forever, folks, especially when it comes to the issue of mass generation.
It seems obvious that the fairy field is unlikely to exist, even without formally extending the notion of observable into the language of motivic cohomology and moonshine (but that sounds like fun). Maybe I’m just stupid and I never understood QFT and there really is a Higgs, which Fermilab will find any day now. I guess we’ll wait and see, just like we’ll keep waiting for protons to decay, or gravitational waves to magically appear in the M31 GRB event.
Update: Tony Smith just posted an article on moonshine monsters, Jordan octonions, and the Standard Model here. Enjoy.