The Science of Existence – Quantum Mechanics

Quantum Mechanics

I consider the methods of quantum mechanics fundamentally unsatisfactory. ~ Albert Einstein

Nobody understands quantum mechanics. ~ Richard Feynman

Quantum theory cannot be extrapolated to complex systems. ~ Swiss theoretical physicists Daniela Frauchiger & Renato Renner

There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract description. ~ Niels Bohr

The subatomic particle Matryoshka became a babushka when French physicist Louis de Broglie speculated in 1924 that all particles in motion might exhibit wavelike behavior. A fascinated Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger took the idea and ran with it, unknowingly injecting uncertainty into quantum mechanics with his 1926 publication that described an electron as a wave function rather than a particle at a particular point in time. This became known as Schrödinger’s equation.

Schrödinger formed his fundamental equation during an erotic tryst with a lover, on holiday in Arosa Switzerland. In an equal and opposite reaction, Schrödinger’s wife proved that what goes around comes around, by having an amorous relationship with German mathematician and theoretical physicist Hermann Weyl. Or, as Weyl might have said, “it all adds up.”

Schrödinger’s equation had mathematical elegance and accounted for many spectral phenomena that Bohr’s particulate atomic model failed to explain. But Schrödinger’s wave function was difficult to visualize and so faced opposition.

The wave did not waver. Instead, the idea of wavy particles matured into quantum field theory, also known as quantum theory and quantum mechanics.

I do not like it, and I am sorry I ever had anything to do with it. ~ Erwin Schrödinger

In 1925, German physicist and mathematician Max Born formulated a matrix representation of quantum mechanics, based upon interpreting Schrödinger’s equation as a probability function for an electron’s location. Born’s theory formally introduced wave/particle duality: an electron had properties of both a particle and a wave, thus reconciling opposite views.

Einstein had essentially come to the same conclusion in 1905, when he argued that radiant energy consisted of quanta. But Einstein did not appreciate the implications of his discovery. It would not be the last time that Einstein failed to fathom the import his own conclusions.

At the heart of quantum field theory (QFT) is wave/particle duality. QFT stuffs the basic bits of Nature into quanta while acknowledging their wavy properties as paramount.

QFT proposes an umbrella for understanding the fundamental nature of existence with a quantum that defies precise characterization as to position, path, and speed. That makes a quantum amenable to being mathematically sketched simultaneously as both a particle and a wave function.

Subatomic particles are far from solid. They are nothing like matter as we know it. Much of the time they seem more like waves than particles. Whatever matter is, it has little, if any substance. ~ English physicist Peter Russell

A quantum is not a particle, like some itty-bitty billiard ball, but instead a little localized chunk of ripple in a field that deceptively looks like a particle. Understanding a particle is more about wave interactions than about particulate properties. It is a story of field behavior, not characterizing fantastically fleeting fragments.

Particles are epiphenomena arising from fields. Unbounded fields, not bounded particles, are fundamental. ~ American theoretical physicist Art Hobson

A photon, or particle of light, is more essentially a vibratory wave matching the intensity of the fields that surround an electrically-charged object: electromagnetic radiation. This radiation comprises electric and magnetic field components oscillating in phase perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the direction of energy propagation.

The oscillation is a wave which yields a quantum. Photons, and everything else, are interconnected energetic vibrations that appear particulate.

Quantum mechanics at its heart is a statistical theory. It predicts probabilities of outcomes. This probabilistic nature of quantum theory is at odds with the determinism inherent in Newtonian physics and relativity, where outcomes can be exactly predicted given sufficient knowledge of a system. Perhaps quantum systems are controlled by hidden variables that determine the outcomes of measurements. ~ American physicist Lynden Shalm et al


The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense. Take what you have gathered from coincidence. ~ American musician Bob Dylan in the song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (1965)

A most significant consequence of describing electrons as waveforms, as Schrödinger had done, was to make it mathematically impossible to state the position and momentum of an electron at any point in time. This observation was first made by German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1926. It became known as the uncertainty principle: a measurement may be made to get a sense of either a quantum particle’s position or momentum, but not both at the same time.

A quantum system – for instance, a photon – may behave either as a particle or a wave. However, the way in which it behaves depends on the kind of experimental apparatus with which it is measured. Hence, both aspects, particle and wave, which appear to be incompatible, are never observed simultaneously. ~ Italian physicist Alberto Peruzzo et al

Heisenberg’s principle came from a thought experiment: using light to measure the position of an electron (though it applies to any subatomic particle). The necessarily short wavelength that might be used to measure an electron would necessarily give the particle a kick of energy in the process of measurement, thus creating an error by the disturbance.

Trying to get an accurate account is not the core issue, nor even unique to quantum physics. Such measurement disturbances also occur in classical physics.

Quantum particles cannot be described as a point-like object with a well-defined velocity because they inherently behave as a wave. For a wave, momentum and position cannot both be defined accurately at any instant.

Mathematically, uncertainty between position and momentum arises because the expressions of the wave function for these supposedly independent variables are actually Fourier transforms of one another. Position and momentum are conjugate variables, which means they are symplectic: interdependent, not independent.

Neil Bohr interpreted the uncertainty principle holistically: the universe is basically an unanalyzable whole, in which the notion of separation of particle and environment is a vacuous abstraction except as an approximation.

To extract information about a certain wave, interferometry superimposes one wave upon another. Interferometry is also used to measure subatomic particles.

During interferometry, the measurement wave and subatomic target wave become coherently entangled. The measurement itself decoheres the particle to a definite observable outcome which is the local state result.

Meanwhile, entanglement continues. The global measurement state (MS) is the context surrounding the local state. Observation of the measurement state creates uncertainty.

As a consequence of nonlocality, the states we actually observe are the local states. These actually observed local states collapse, whereas the global MS, which can be “observed” only after the fact by collecting coincidence data from both subsystems, continues its unitary evolution. This conclusion implies a refined understanding of the eigenstate principle: following a measurement, the actually observed local state instantly jumps into the observed eigenstate. ~ Art Hobson

An eigenstate is a measured state of an object with quantifiable characteristics, such as position and momentum.

Even if a measurement is attempted, but no result read, entanglement ensues in such a way that the target quantum system is disturbed, and information of the event – as a lingering resonance in the affected quantum field – is retained.

Measurement is immaterial to uncertainty. The quantum level exhibits uncertainty regardless of observation.

Uncertainty is a form of potentiality, which is inherent in the nature of the particle field itself owing to unobservable entanglements. Uncertainty appears phenomenal, not merely mathematical. As existence is emergent and always in flux, quantum uncertainty seems a property of Nature. (The common assumption that Nature is ultimately observer-independent (objective) is a false axiom. See Spokes 8: The Web of Being.)

The uncertainty principle unsettled Bohr’s neat model of clearly defined circular tracks for electron orbits in atoms. Electrons became clouds without definite path or pinpoint.

Existence at the subatomic level became a juggle of Matryoshka dolls, a dice throw that appears as chance in when and where; but by no means random. Uncertainty does not mean disorder; quite the contrary. The greatest beauty of Nature is its spontaneity in what is obviously a deeply nested order.

It’s déjà vu all over again. ~ American baseball player Yogi Berra

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The math leading to uncertainty was elegant. Einstein admired the formula, but hated the idea, revolted by what empirical uncertainty implied. In a 1926 letter to fellow physicist Max Born, Einstein wrote:

Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.

To this sentiment Niels Bohr retorted:

Do not presume to tell God what to do.

Einstein never did reconcile himself with uncertainty.

I still believe in the possibility of a model of reality, that is to say a theory, which shall represent the events in themselves and not merely the probability of their occurrence.

Einstein was ever uncomfortable with a universe that wasn’t predictable or stable, and remained adamant in denying what he had proven: that the cosmos had more dimensions than could be observed.

For all that his physics intimated, Einstein believed in an ethereal presence as a cosmic mystical force. Einstein never reconciled his mysticism with his felt need for determinism and certainty.

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Interpreting wave/particle duality is particularly vexing for a discipline determined to pin things down. Inherent uncertainty is anathema.

Schrödinger first conceived wave/particle duality as a reality. That was cast aside as fantastic in what emerged at the end of the 1920s as the Copenhagen interpretation – a term Heisenberg applied in a 1955 series of lectures. The Copenhagen interpretation considered the wave function a computational tool, giving good results, but not to be taken literally. The Copenhagen interpretation later lost its popularity owing to its intrinsic inconsistency.

The Copenhagen Interpretation is hopelessly incomplete because of its a priori reliance on classical physics as well as a philosophic monstrosity with a “reality” concept for the macroscopic world and denial of the same for the microcosm. ~ American physicist Hugh Everett III in 1957

But then the idea that the wave function reflects what we can know about the world, rather than actuality, came back into vogue with the rise of quantum information theory, which generalizes classical information theory to the quantum level. This arbitrary mix-and-match by physicists of what part of a model is to be considered real and what is not presents a serious problem.

Our present quantum mechanics formalism is not purely epistemological; it is a peculiar mixture describing in part realities of Nature, in part incomplete human information about Nature – all scrambled up by Heisenberg and Bohr into an omelet that nobody has seen how to unscramble. Yet we think that the unscrambling is a prerequisite for any further advance in basic physical theory. For, if we cannot separate the subjective and objective aspects of the formalism, we cannot know what we are talking about; it is just that simple. ~ American physicist E.T. Jaynes

Schrödinger’s first impression was supported by English particle physicists Matthew Pusey, Jonathan Barrett, and Terry Rudolph (PBR) in 2011.

A pure quantum state corresponds directly to reality. Any model in which a quantum state represents mere information about an underlying physical state of the system, and in which systems that are prepared independently have independent physical states, must make predictions that contradict those of quantum theory. ~ PBR

As PBR put it, “the statistical view is not compatible with the predictions of quantum theory.” PRB’s theory derives from a negative proof: if a quantum wave function were merely a computational tool, then even quantum states unconnected across space and time would be able to communicate with each other.

If that is unrealistic, which necessarily is an epistemological assumption, then the wave function must be physically real. Otherwise, as E.T. Jaynes stated, physicists do not know what they are talking about.

Quantum theory is founded upon the premise that so-called particles are actually chunks in fields. Fields are by definition represented as waves. Denying the reality of the wave function, and its inherent uncertainty, eviscerates quantum mechanics by denying the existence of the foundation upon which the theory is built.

The linearity of quantum mechanics is intimately connected to the strong coupling between the amplitude and phase of a quantum wave. ~ German theoretical physicist Wolfgang Schleich

Uncertainty at the originating level of existence suggests a deeper reality.

The particles and fields are very, very crude statistical descriptions. Those particles and those fields are not true representatives of what’s really going on. ~ Dutch theoretical physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft

 Pilot Wave Theory

All particles must be transported by a wave into which it is incorporated. ~ Louis de Broglie

The central problem with the conventional interpretation of the uncertainty principle is that it merely provides a statistical convenience, rather than a representation of Nature. As a tool rather than a characterization, the uncertainty principle explains nothing, while leaving the universe inherently nondeterministic.

This is a case of consensus writing history, and in doing so wiping away good sense, including Schrödinger’s first impression of what the uncertainty principle meant.

For Louis de Broglie, wave/particle duality was no abstraction. He assumed a real wave existed that satisfied Schrödinger’s equation, with an attendant particle following a definite trajectory.

de Broglie theorized in 1927 that each particle is guided by a background wave, which he later called a pilot wave. Consistent with thermodynamics, the particle is in a thermal bath provided by a background of vacuum fluctuations.

Phase harmony between a wave and its particle, as well as synchrony between particles, is provided by a periodic process, equivalent to a clock. A pilot wave steers its particle by this nonlinear interaction.

The pilot wave theory provides a deterministic system that characterizes existence with a cynosure and casts off uncertainty. In its developed form, the theory is also consistent with classical physics, quantum mechanics, and relativity.

Despite its ostensible appeal, the pilot wave theory was repudiated by physicists at the 1927 Solvay Conference. Einstein’s failure to speak up for the theory led to its rejection.

Einstein liked the theory’s determinism. His objection was the implication that the entire universe was entangled, affording nonlocal interactions between particles.

The pilot wave theory requires the potential for interaction between any and all particles in a system. Distance does not drive interactivity to zero. The instantaneous state of a particle depends upon its overall environment.

In the long run, only the entire universe can be regarded as self-determinate, while any part may be independent in general only for some limited period of time. The very mode of interaction between constituent parts depends on the whole, in a way that cannot be specified without first specifying the state of the whole. ~ American theoretical physicist David Bohm & British quantum physicist Basil Hiley


The next doll down emanated from particle accelerators and their detectors which were first built in the 1950s. This led to further splitting the protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei into smaller, more “elemental” particles: hadrons.

Particle accelerators proliferated hadrons into such a prodigious variety that it prompted Wolfgang Pauli to remark: Had I foreseen this I would have gone into botany.

By the late 1960s, a “depressingly large number” of hadrons had been found. Hadrons were but a nested doll, not the smallest doll in Matryoshka reality. Hadrons are comprised of quarks.

For decades, hadrons were known to be of only 2 families: baryons, composed of 3 quarks, and mesons, comprising 1 quark and 1 antiquark. In 2014, a new meson family was discovered: a tetraquark, with 2 quarks and 2 antiquarks.

Like hadrons, quarks have their own varieties, called flavors, which are determined by their spin and symmetry.

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Going bottoms-up: quarks combine to form families of hadrons, which join in threesomes to form protons and neutrons (2 types of baryons), which are enslaved by the strong nuclear force to create atomic nuclei, which combine with electrons, bound together by the electromagnetic force, to create atoms. By ionic attraction, atoms congregate into molecules, which make up everyday matter. Bear in mind that all these particles are nothing more than intense interactions of localized coherent energy fields, posing as something solid.

The Standard Model

The Standard Model leaves gaping holes we don’t know how to fill. ~ American astrophysicist Tyce DeYoung

Physicists understand matter and energy in terms of kinematics and the interactions of elementary particles. Kinematics is a classical mechanics construct which characterizes the motions of bodies without consideration of the forces that cause movement. This conceptual bifurcation – between matter and the forces that move matter – would live on in the standard model of quantum physics.

The Standard Model (SM) is a quantum field theory offshoot which addresses the presumed basic building blocks of matter and their subatomic interactions. SM proposes a set of elementary particles which supposedly fabricate Nature at the quantum level.

Embarrassingly, the Standard Model suggests that nothing should exist. ~ German physicist Werner Rodejohann

The Standard Model was formulated in the 1970s. From the early 1980s, experiments verified various facets of SM. But, as numerous observations have often differed from theory, the Standard Model has undergone repeated patchwork: so much so that SM is a set of theorems cobbled together to render an approximate fit to what has been observed.

Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed. ~ Pakistani theoretical physicist Abdus Salam

There are many Standard Model deficiencies. One is a failure to explain how the heaviest chemical elements function. Instead, relativity theory accounts for the behavior of the last 21 elements of the periodic table.

The electrons whirling about berkelium and heavier elements do not organize themselves the way they do with lighter elements. As the nuclei of these heavy atoms are highly charged, their electrons are moving at significant fractions of light speed. Under general relativity theory, the faster anything with mass moves, the heavier it gets. Hence, heavy-element electrons are heavier than ordinary electrons. The SM rules that typically apply to electron behavior break down, replaced by relativistic rules.

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An elementary particle is a particle that supposedly has no constituents; in other words, is not known to be comprised of smaller particles. These fundamental particles are the bottom-up building blocks of existence.

The qualifier elementary is a euphemism. Every SM particle is acknowledged as a conglomeration comprising higher-dimensional (hd) constituents: virtual particles. An electron, for example, is considered fundamental, but is encased in an entourage of virtual particles: hd influences which practically define an electron’s mass and charge.

In quantum field theory, the electron is surrounded by a thin soup of evanescent particles which wink in and out of existence in fractions of a second. ~ English physicist Francis Farley

Slam electrons into positrons (anti-electrons), both supposedly elementary particles, and the resulting annihilation produces streams of quarks, gluons, muons, tau leptons, photons, and neutrinos. Knowing that rather eviscerates the definition of elementary (or fundamental) particle as having integral integrity. Energy decomposes what it has composed by energetic interaction. Which is to say that elementary particles are just a snapshot view of a portion of an energy field that only appears to be a chunky particle.

Nature comprises coherent waves of energy which appear to take particulate form. Hence, painting elementary particles as points in 4d fields results in an unfinished canvas, as every particle is a composite of itself and virtual particles; and even a fundamental particle may be broken up (or down, depending upon one’s perspective).

Virtual particles are acknowledged in SM, but otherwise ignored as ancillary. Therefore, under the Standard Model, an elementary particle is a perspective limited to 4d. That alone renders the SM an incomplete explanation.

The virtuality of existence is largely extra-dimensional (ED). Only a tiny fraction of baryon mass comes from the quarks within. Over 99% comes from being bound into a hadron. The glue that holds hadrons together are a swarming stew of virtual particles: subatomic dark matter. Further, their energetic interactions create the mass that makes up matter.

SM partly explains interactions in the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear forces. These forces mediate the 4d dynamics of known subatomic particles.

SM is but a start; admitted by physicists as incomplete, as it lacks an accounting for gravity and matter’s hegemony over antimatter, among other deficiencies.

 Fermions & Bosons

Under the Standard Model there are 2 elementary particle types: fermions and bosons. Whereas fermions are the particles that comprise matter, bosons are force carriers.

Bosons are termed after Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, best known for his work with Einstein in theorizing Bose-Einstein condensate, which is cold, oddly coherent bosonic gas.

Fermions were named after Italian-born physicist Enrico Fermi, who created the first nuclear reactor in 1942.

The SM particle zoo has 17 main characters: 12 fermions and 5 bosons, complemented by an equivalent set of antiparticles, and at least one hanger-on: the graviton, which is the elusive (nonexistent) particle representing gravity.

There is also an ancillary mob to cover various observed oddities. To conclude the parade are virtual particles, which are assumed to flit in and out of existence to lend their support to the proceedings.

Photons – the quanta of light – are the best-known boson. Photons are never alone; they sense their neighbors and coordinate their travels.

Photons are not just light particles, they are also waves, and waves interact with each other. This creates a link between photons, and photons’ path through material is not independent from the other photons. ~ Spanish physicist Pedro David García

Bosons are more slippery than fermions in their spacetime characteristics. Whereas 2 fermions cannot occupy the same space at the same time, bosons with the same energy can – it’s all in the spin (which is explained shortly).

Quarks, leptons, and their antimatter equivalents are fundamental fermions. As bosons are immaterial, they have no anti-equivalents.

There are 6 flavors (types) of quark: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Quarks do not naturally exist in solitude. They are always found within baryons and mesons, both composite particles (hadrons) which are bound together by the nuclear strong force (the physics interaction which binds particles together).

A baryon is a hadron with 3 quarks. The most stable hadrons are the baryons that comprise the nuclei of atoms.

Up and down quarks interact via the strong force to form protons and neutrons, as well as other baryons. Nominally, a proton has 2 up quarks and 1 down quark, while a neutron contains 1 up and 2 down quarks.

The quark model that developed provided the simple picture that atomic nuclei comprises only up and down quarks. This simple picture has been superseded by one consisting of a range of quarks, antiquarks (the antiparticles of quarks) and gluons (the particles that bind quarks together). In principle, all 6 flavours of quark can be present. ~ Australian physicist Ross Young

Baryons are complex dynamic systems. For example, the size of a proton varies upon its energy state, which depends upon environmental circumstances.

A meson is made of 1 quark and 1 antiquark. Mesons appear in nature only as short-lived products of high-energy interactions between quark-based particles.

A family of 4-quark objects has begun to appear. While the theoretical picture remains to be finalized, more and more clues are suggesting that we are witnessing new forms of matter. ~ American physicist Frederick Harris

Like atoms, quarks may link up to form subatomic molecules. One has been discovered that is a meson-baryon combination. These quark-composite oddities lie outside the Standard Model.

Leptons – electrons and neutrinos – are more ethereal than quarks. The defining quality of leptons is that they are not subject to the strong force, and so never tempted into atomic nuclei.

Electrons are affected by gravity, electromagnetic fields, and the weak force. Neutrinos, lacking charge and largely bereft of heft, are affected only by the weak force, and so subject to decay.

Leptons may be residual particles during radioactive decay. A neutron breaks down into a proton via flavor changing (flipping quark type): a process which emits a virtual W boson, which then converts into an electron and an electron antineutrino. Conversions of fermions into bosons and vice versa lies outside the Standard Model.

Protons are the lightest, and thereby least energetic, baryon. While proton decay is hypothetically possible, there is no experimental evidence that it happens.

The fundamental fermions are grouped into 3 generations, each with 2 leptons and 2 quarks. Only 1st-generation fermions exist at everyday energy levels. Hence, only a few elementary particles are 4d stable: the electron, the proton, and the neutrino.

 Particle Demolition Derby

Subatomic particles are detected using colliders. A focused beam of specific particles, such as electrons or protons, is accelerated via electromagnetic jostle, then aimed to collide into an opposing beam. The heavier the particle, the more energy it takes to accelerate a beam. Then there is the need for speed. The faster the accelerator, the more spectacular the results in generating bits for boffins.

The latest generation of collider is The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located near Geneva Switzerland. The LHC was built to hunt the Higgs boson by smacking protons, at a cost of €7.5 billion (euros) ($9 billion US). Like all human endeavors of significant scale, getting the Collider up and running collided with serious glitches and cost overruns.

Particle collisions create detectable tracks of decay. A hammered hadron decays into its constituent quarks and other lower-energy elementals.

Higher-generation particles, created by high-energy collisions, have greater mass and less stability. They decay into lower-generation particles by means of weak interactions.

Fermion decay can be rather directly observed, as these are chunks of matter. Bashed bosons are more mysterious. Their presence must be inferred from what they decay into.

The W boson may decay in many ways, which it does in less than 1 billion-trillionth of a second. If it dissolves into a puddle of neutrinos, it cannot be detected. If instead a W collapses to an electron or muon, it may be measured.

Computer simulations are run based on the equations that characterize a model; typically, the Standard Model. Transformations and decays at different energy levels are predicted.

Repeatedly matching telltale tracks from collisions with predictions builds confidence that a model is on track. Uncertainty propagates in each analysis. Many repetitive runs with similar results are necessary for validation.


With no electric charge and interacting primarily by the feeble “weak” force, neutrinos are will-o’-the-wisps that can pass through Earth as easily as a bullet through a bank of fog. ~ Frank Close

A neutrino is electrically neutral, with scant mass. The Standard Model predicted that neutrinos had no mass. Having been proven wrong, the Model was revised.

Neutrinos interacts gravitationally with other particles and can travel close to the speed of light through ordinary matter with almost no effect. While neutrinos are nearly massless and faster than lightning, they pack tremendous mystery.

There is a surfeit of neutrinos. On Earth every second, through every square centimeter, there are 65 billion solar neutrinos flashing by. Most of the neutrinos passing through the Earth come from the Sun.

Wolfgang Pauli theorized neutrinos in 1930 to explain an observed gap in radioactive decay, specifically beta decay, which is mediated by weak interactions. To hold to the law of energy conservation, the matter-energy equation must balance between what existed before the decay and after.

Pauli proposed the missing bit being carried off by a hypothetical neutrino. The neutrino was so minuscule and fleeting that Pauli wagered a case of champagne that the little bugger would never be spotted. He lost the bet in 1956.

According to the Standard Model, as neutrinos have mass, there must be 2 varieties, defined by spin. Only the left-handed variety experience beta decay. The right-handed ones may be the Majorana fermion.

Neutrinos come in at least 3 flavors: electron, muon, and tau; all of which can oscillate between flavors spontaneously. That neutrinos can morph into different flavors indicates that they experience change, and thus are subject to time.

Neutrino oscillations in a vacuum are different from those that interact with matter. This matter effect occurs because electron neutrinos interact with electrons, which changes the effective mass of the neutrinos.

More than electrons are affected. Neutrinos colliding into an atomic nucleus ricochet away, leaving the nucleus recoiling in response.

Neutrino interactions are born in the shade of high-energy nuclear decay, such as reactions that occur in stars, in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays slam into atoms. As they are born of decay, neutrinos are mediated (affected) by the weak force.

According to the Standard Model, all fermions have an antithetical twin. By this reckoning, there are equivalent anti-neutrinos. None have been spotted.

Data suggests the existence of additional flavors of neutrinos. Neutrino flavors were determined from measurements of the width of the Z0 boson, which mediates the weak force. Z0 is filled out, so any additional neutrinos that exist would have to be sterile neutrinos: not interacting with the weak force, thereby not affecting the width of Z0.

A non-participant in any 4d particle interactions, sterile neutrinos arise only from non-sterile flavors oscillating into sterile form. 2 sterile neutrino flavors are predicted. There is skepticism about the existence of sterile neutrinos.

You’re trying to prove the existence of something with no interactions. It’s like trying to prove the existence of God.
~ American particle physicist Patrick Huber

Indirect evidence of sterile neutrinos has been found by observing supernovae, and from a nearby dwarf galaxy, as well as in lab experiments.

The sterile neutrino is not something bizarre or exotic. ~ American particle physicist Paul Langacker

Theoretically, sterile neutrino flavors would help explain why the cosmos is dominated by matter rather than a balance of matter and antimatter. Such insignificant particles, hardly interacting with any matter whatsoever, could go a long way in explaining the most fundamental nature of the universe, at least mathematically from a quantum view.

 Higgs Boson

The Higgs gives everything in the universe its mass. ~ physicist David Francis

The Higgs boson is a grainy chunk of the Higgs field, which permeates all space. Via the Higgs mechanism – bathing in the ubiquitous Higgs field – gauge bosons (W & Z) nab mass by absorption of Nambu-Goldstone bosons, which arise from spontaneous symmetry breaking (a mathematical artifice).

The Higgs was hard to find. Along the way, the hunt for it created an extra-dimensional mystery. Some of the particles created by proton collisions synchronize their flight paths, “like flocks of birds,” indicating interconnections that can only be explained by hd coherence.

Finding the Higgs filled in the Standard Model, which remains an incomplete explanation of known quantum particles. The discovery of the Higgs also lent support to supersymmetry, a rival theory to SM.

According to the Standard Model, all fermions get their mass from interacting with the Higgs field by way of interactions with gauge bosons, and by traveling with a cloud of virtual particles. There is no evidence of the Higgs mechanism conveying mass.

99% of the mass of the visible universe isn’t explained by the Higgs. ~ American physicist Peter Steinberg

The mathematical symmetries inherent in SM largely cancel out the influence that virtual particles have on fermion mass, leaving a modest contribution. That same symmetry predicts that the mass of the Higgs itself is infinite. This points out that SM is nothing more than a convenient fiction.

Supersymmetry predicted the Higgs at ~125 GeV, where it duly appeared. That puts the Higgs at 133 times the heft of a proton.

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The Higgs holds the key to explaining why fermions have mass but bosons don’t. The photon and gluon, both bosons, are presumed to be nothing but massless energy.

The photon, lover of light, carries electromagnetism. Yet photons do not interact with one another; at least, not unless terribly excited. Light hitting atoms so potently that they ionize causes participating photons to couple into polarization-entangled pairs.

The gluon puts the strong force to quarks, hardening them into hadrons. Besides their quark interactions, gluons do interact among themselves.

Gluons are mysterious in many ways. How their supposed interactions create the properties of quarks is not understood.

The way the strong force works implies that gluons are massive, and quarks supposedly get most of their mass from interacting with gluons. But gluons are massless; so, how gluons glue remains inscrutable.

The W & Z bosons, which mediate weak interactions, are theoretically massless too, but are actually massive. That discrepancy between theory and observation is explained away in the Standard Model by the mathematical trickery of spontaneous symmetry breaking.

The decay of a Higgs boson births fermions, particularly bottom quarks and tau leptons. This illustrates the intertwining of quantum particles, regardless of pedigree, and that matter is merely energy transposed.


SM’s accounting for gravity has been a tentative positing of a gravity particle: the graviton. The graviton is a boson; massless, to give it unlimited range, with a spin of 2: the highest stress-energy tensor of the particle set, twice as fast as a photon (which travels at the speed of light).

The graviton is generally disregarded as existing, as quantum field theories fall apart at high energies when gravitons are factored into the equations. Gravitons result in ineradicable infinities due to quantum effects. In other words, gravitons don’t mathematically play well with other particles in the Standard Model, and so the graviton is typically ignored.

Since the graviton theory made no testable new predictions, no practical reason could be given to prefer the graviton theory over general relativity. ~ Victor Stenger

Particle Properties

3 properties are typically used to characterize elementary particles: mass, charge, and spin. These properties are not what someone with a knowledge of classical physics would intuitively expect; hence, all 3 terms are homonyms to their classical usage. (Beyond the jiggy math, comprehending the concepts of quantum mechanics is hindered by confusing terminology.)


In the everyday world, mass is considered a measure of an object at rest. Special relativity shows that rest mass and rest energy are essentially equivalent (E = mc2). But rest mass (invariant mass) does not apply to subatomic particles.

For a subatomic particle, which is really an infinitesimal localized field, mass is something of a euphemism. Subatomic particle mass is formally a mathematical outcome, not an actual measurement.

Particle mass is a representation of the isotropy in the Poincaré group that a particle transforms; a nutshell reminder that the constructs of quantum mechanics are entirely mathematical models, and quite complex ones at that.

A practical conception of subatomic particle mass is the threshold energy at which a certain particle may appear; put another way, the energy required for a certain quantum to make an appearance.

Negative mass is possible, in the same sense that an electric charge can be negative or positive. Push something with negative mass and it doesn’t accelerate in the direction it was pushed. Instead, a negative-mass object accelerates backward.

A negative effective mass can be realized in quantum systems by engineering the dispersion relation. ~ American physicist Peter Engels et al

   The Hierarchy Problem

There have been numerous approaches to calculating the observed spectrum of particle masses from theory, but they have not been successful. ~ English theoretical physicist Paul Wesson

The Standard Model having nothing to say about what the mass of the Higgs bosom should be is just one facet of what is called the hierarchy problem. Higgs’ mass is not the only problem. The masses of all fundamental particles are 100 quadrillion times less than they should be.

A hierarchy problem arises when the fundamental value of a physical parameter, such as mass or a coupling constant (such as the cosmological constant) is vastly different from its effective (measured) value. When it has arisen, this problem has repeatedly been whitewashed using a mathematical adjustment technique called renormalization.

All hierarchy problems grapple with relations to matter (such as mass), which is understandable when you consider that all of physics is concerned with explaining how matter behaves. Since matter is all that is observable, it remains the starting and end point of all physics models. All the transformations in between involve energy.

The most poignant hierarchy problem in theoretical physics is the enormous discrepancy between the weak force and gravity. There is no consensus as to why the atomic weak force is 1024 times stronger than gravity.

 Color Charge

The color charge of a particle is an abstracted indication of a particle’s strong interaction according to quantum chromodynamics theory. Color charge is a property of a subatomic particle’s field interaction with the strong nuclear force.

Though distinct, color charge is analogous to electrical charge. Color charge is not a simple strength measure (such as with electric charge); far from it.

The term color in this context is itself a metaphorical abstraction, related to the nature of additive color, but color as normally thought of (i.e., red, green, blue) has nothing to do with color charge, which is a statement of the state of strong interaction at the subatomic particle scale.

A quark can have 1 of 3 charges (colors): red, green, or blue. An antiquark may be either anti-red (cyan), anti-green (magenta) or anti-blue (yellow).

A gluon has a mixed color charge, such as red and anti-green.


The quantum spin-statistics theorem categorizes particle types by their spin: the direction of internal angular momentum relative to the direction of linear momentum. The theorem characterizes the wave function of particles according to their symmetry.

The 12 flavors of fermions have a half-integer spin, whereas bosons twirl with an integer spin. Spin is the property that distinguishes fermions from bosons.

The boson integer spin versus fermion half-integer spin means that exchanging the positions of 2 bosons does not change their wave functions: they are symmetrical.

Contrastingly, fermions have asymmetric wave functions. Swapping fermions causes a reversal in their spin (wave function) sign, flipping between positive and negative.

The implication is that the amplitude of 2 identical fermions occupying the same space must be zero. Because of this, 2 fermions cannot simultaneously occupy the same quantum state, whereas symmetrical bosons can.

This fermion phenomenon is termed the Pauli exclusion principle, formulated in 1925 by Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was trying to envision all the possible properties that electrons might have. He realized that the data all pointed to each electron occupying only 1 of a fixed number of energy states; what is now called spin. Pauli’s exclusion principle started with electrons and was then applied across the board to all fermions. As all matter is made of fermions, the Pauli exclusion principle requires that atoms take up space; whence existence as a fulsome experience.

Electrons cannot congregate in a cloud at the lowest energy state. Instead, they must space out, into orbital shells, with higher-energy electrons at a distance from a shell of lower energy electrons. The Pauli exclusion principle underpins the fundamental properties of chemistry, including atomic stability and the segregation of atoms according to the periodic table of the elements.

Quantum spin is conceptually different than classical physics’ spin, yet the term stuck.

In classical physics, the spin of a charged particle is associated with a magnetic dipole moment: the potential exertion force of magnetism upon the particle. Because of this, when the property was discovered classically, particles were thought to literally rotate to create the magnetic moment; an unproven assumption. Whether subatomic particles actually spin is unknown.

To be clear, quantum spin is not spin as in a spinning ball. If it were, the surface of electrons would spin at several times the speed of light. That supposedly is not so.

The direction of particle spin can change, but an elementary particle supposedly spins at a speed which cannot be changed, either faster or slower.

The nuclei of atoms also exhibit spin. Nuclear spin affects the strength of atomic interactions. If 2 atoms have identical nuclear spin, they interact weakly. In contrast, atoms with different nuclear spin states interact much more strongly.


A theoretically symmetrical system is one where outcomes are equally likely. The Standard Model presumes a symmetrical system, but the hard facts of existence shatter that pristine symmetry. This incongruity between physical model and actuality is patched with math; a clear indicator that the map is decidedly not the territory.

 Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking

Spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) is ubiquitous in Nature. The examples include magnets, superfluids, phonons, Bose-Einstein condensates, and neutron stars. ~ Japanese physicists Haruki Watanabe & Hitoshi Murayama

Spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) is a simple concept: nothing more than stating that actualization breaks an idealized (mathematical) symmetry. SSB is a way of explaining how a perfectly symmetrical physical model can appear broken in view of physical manifestation, yet, paradoxically, the model still be presumed valid.

SSB smashes mathematical symmetry on the stones of sampling. If a symmetrical system is acted upon, a specific outcome arises out of the wave of possibilities. The symmetry breaks. That does not necessarily discredit the underlying symmetry, which by manifestation appears broken, but is simply a hidden symmetry.

A ball sitting on top of a conic hill is in a symmetric state: it could roll down any which way. When the ball actually moves by some force, the symmetry is broken – SSB in action.

A mathematical ideal is balanced until it actuates. By manifesting, perfection becomes imperfect. Phenomena arise from defects.

Particle physics pilfered the concept of SSB from solid-state physics: a discipline that particle physicist Murray Gell-Mann called “squalid-state physics” (an ironic deprecation: for a Standard-Model man to deride the crutch upon which SM depends). Solid-state physics is the study of the intense atomic interactions in solids.

Modeling solids evinced equations that characterized their lowest energy state. The model results were rotationally symmetric, but the solids were not; hence spontaneous symmetry breaking.

SSB is emblematic of the handedness that occurs throughout Nature. Chirality is essential in the basic molecular interactions of life. That asymmetry is also fundamental to physics is unsurprising.

The strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity all respect symmetry. The weak force, responsible for nuclear decays and neutrino interactions, does not.

The charged W± boson, which mediates weak interactions, is responsible for the broken parity symmetry. By their cross-influences, the troika of W±, Z0, and Higgs0 bosons provide the theoretical patchwork by which the Standard Model is reputedly redeemed despite SSB.

Via the Higgs mechanism hypothesis, W & Z bosons acquire non-vanishing mass through SSB. SSB is invoked to explain the massive mass discrepancy between theory and observed actuality of these bosons.

Supposedly weightless until caught in the act, W & Z manifest with an immense presence. SSB is also the basis upon which the Higgs particle is predicated in the Standard Model.

A sidekick in the Standard Model – Nambu-Goldstone bosons (NGBs) – facilitate coherent collective behavior in a material. NGBs mystically appear whenever symmetry is spontaneously broken.

The nominal case in SSB is that the number of Nambu-Goldstone bosons equals the number of broken symmetries. But in exotic materials, such as neutron stars, Bose-Einstein condensates, and superfluids, the number of NGBs is less than the number of broken symmetries. A deficit of Nambu-Goldstone bosons makes matter go crazy, as it does in these outlandish coherent constructs.

SSB is not ubiquitous in Nature but is instead commonplace in symbolic representations of Nature. Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a necessary artifice for physical models that provide an inadequate approximation of intricacy in Nature that is beyond human mathematical skill to capture.

 Ghost Fields

In the Standard Model (SM), the masses of bosons are modified via interrelations with other bosons and fermions. This creates what are called ghost fields, which are necessary to maintain mathematical consistency in SM.

Boson-fermion interactions are called ghost fields because they are presumed to not exist. They are instead treated as a computational tool.

Then again, ghost fields are hypothesized to create the virtual particles that appear 4d out of the hd ground state that supposedly comprises only vacuum energy. Virtual particles are now taken for granted as existing.

There is a paradox in granting virtual particles existence but considering the originator of virtual particles – ghost fields – to be a fictional construct (i.e., purely mathematical mumbo-jumbo).

Ghost fields play a role in producing a loopy hierarchy of particles in SM, thus creating considerable complexity in the Standard Model construct. This hierarchy problem prompted theoretical physicists to derive a more elegant mathematical solution: supersymmetry.


The necessity for spontaneous breaking of supersymmetry is a disaster. The whole setup is highly baroque and not very plausible. ~ American mathematician Peter Woit

Supersymmetry (SUSY) posits a symmetry between particles by dint of their spin. SUSY brings together all quantum particles as components of a single master superfield.

Mathematically, SUSY is much easier to work with than the Standard Model. Several SM loose ends become exactly solvable in SUSY.

In SUSY, each fermion flavor has a boson shadow and vice versa. Thus, supersymmetry necessitates a “shadow” partner for every elementary particle. This shadow partner is also termed a superpartner or sparticle.

Sparticles are entirely hypothetical. There is no evidence to support their existence, and at least some sparticles should have been spotted by now.

Further, what is known about electrons, which are perfectly round, runs contrary to SUSY, which predicts that electrons have a slightly oval deformation, owing to their having an electric dipole moment which has yet to be found.

Like the Standard Model, unbroken SUSY requires the ruse of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB). That makes SUSY as unlikely as SM to decently represent Nature.

Supersymmetry also features in most versions of string theory.

That’s not science. That’s pathetic. ~ German astrophysicist Sabine Hossenfelder on the frequent tinkering of SUSY precepts


The discovery of antimatter was perhaps the biggest jump of all the big jumps in physics in our century. ~ Werner Heisenberg

Matter theories have long proposed a negative twin. English physicist William Hicks, via the then-popular vortex theory of gravity, proposed negative gravity in the 1880s.

Along the same lines, in 1886 English mathematician Karl Pearson posited that the gyral flow of cosmic aether had sinks and sources (“squirts”). Squirts were normal matter, whereas sinks represented negative matter.

German-born British physicist Arthur Schuster whimsically proposed anti-atoms and antimatter solar systems. Schuster coined the term antimatter in 1898 and hypothesized matter and antimatter as mutual annihilators. Schuster conjectured that antimatter possessed negative gravity.

Paul Dirac formulated quantum electrodynamics (QED) in 1920. A relativistic quantum field theory of electrodynamics, QED modeled how radiation and matter interact. Essentially, QED theorizes perturbation of the ground state, which, instead of being nothing, as the term implies, formulates to have massive latent energy.

QED theory was the first to harmonize between the otherwise incongruous schools of relativity and quantum mechanics. This bridged a huge theoretical gap. But the infinity issue cropped up. Dirac’s early equations led to predictions of infinity, which were considered unacceptable by other physicists. Dirac denied adjustments that washed infinity out of his equations.

This is just not sensible mathematics. Sensible mathematics involves neglecting a quantity when it is small – not neglecting it just because it is infinitely great and you do not want it! ~ Paul Dirac

In 1928 Dirac produced a relativistic quantum mechanical wave equation, now termed the Dirac equation, which characterizes the spin of normal fermions (those with mass and charge). Dirac cast this equation to explain the behavior of a moving electron, thereby allowing an atom’s quantum behaviors to be treated in a manner consistent with special relativity.

Yet the Dirac equation created conditions expanding the natures of both material existence and time. Dirac’s formulations of quantum mechanics led to a perspective that allowed each subatomic particle its own proper time, escaping relativistic coordinate time.

At the time, this created an apparent dichotomy between quantum and relativity equations. But any theory of relativistic kinematics allows a particle to have an energy such that E = –mc2 as a complement to E = +mc2, Einstein’s original equation. Dirac necessarily found that his model gave negative as well as positive energy solutions.

A many-body reinterpretation by Dirac of his basic 1928 equation founded quantum field theory (QFT). Many-body problems attempt to characterize a physical system comprising a stupendous number of interacting particles.

Dirac’s many-body interpretation involved quadratic equations, which often have 2 solutions: 1 positive and 1 negative. These quadratics predicted antimatter: every particle of matter having a mirror antimatter particle.

There was no evidence for the existence of antimatter at the time Dirac constructed his QFT model, but the concept of antimatter was less objectionable to theoretical physicists than infinity.

American physicist Carl Anderson liked to play with cosmic rays. In doing so, in 1932, 4 years after Dirac equation formulation, Anderson discovered antimatter. His discovery was the positron, the antimatter equivalent of the electron. The term positron is a contraction of “positive electron” (electrons carry a negative electrical charge).

Interpretation of the solutions presented by the Dirac equation has always been controversial. Dirac’s own idea was that all the negative energy levels are physically filled in the ground state, while the positive energy states are empty. This is the physics equivalent of double-entry accounting: matter only appears 4d if balanced by energetic opposites extra-dimensionally; existence as a conjuring trick.

This Dirac sea idea contradicts the common-sense view of vacuum as a state in which matter is absent. But the ground state has been found to be unimaginably energetic, with substantive material contributions.

Condensed matter physics sails on the Dirac sea as reality. And QFT – which has substantial evidentiary backing – is scuppered if the Dirac sea does not exist.

Another phenomenon depends on the Dirac sea: chirality, which has been observed experimentally in the decay of subatomic particles. Chirality is the handedness (left or right) of a particle’s spin.

In 1949, American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman mused that positrons were not like holes in a negative energy sea of electrons, like the holes in semiconductors. Instead, Feynman proposed positrons as electrons moving backward in time. An electron moving backward in time would be indistinguishable from a positron puttering forward in time; a negative charge bouncing backward equivalent to a positive charge flying forward.

Though the Dirac equation, and indeed any relativistic theory, requires negative energies and time in reverse, the convention of time vectored in a forward direction was too formidable for Feynman’s flaunting of time to be acceptable. Antimatter became treated as a raft of temporally progressive particles; mirrors of matter.

 Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry

On the big Bang theory: For every 1 billion particles of antimatter there were 1 billion and 1 particles of matter. And when the mutual annihilation was complete, one billionth remained – and that’s our present universe. ~ Albert Einstein

It was long held that matter and antimatter comprised mirror-perfect particles that acted as energetic opposites, in an antagonistic relationship of matter-antimatter mutual annihilation whenever opposing particles encountered one another. Einstein’s view, that matter crowded out antimatter, was mainstream.

That presumption has been shown wrong. There is a belt of antiprotons around Earth.

Antineutrons are generated when energetic cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere. The antineutrons escape the atmosphere, decaying into antiprotons at higher altitudes.

Antiprotons congregate from several hundred to 2,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Ordinary matter is so scarce there that they seldom meet their particle counterparts – protons – and annihilate each other on contact.

The antimatter is trapped by Earth’s magnetic field, forming a thin belt of particles gyrating around magnetic field lines: bouncing back and forth between the planet’s north and south magnetic poles.

Lightning storms generate positrons. Solar flares sprout positrons.

Matter and antimatter coexist 4d because they are not mirror-perfect opposites. An asymmetry exists in their behaviors.

For one, mesons go from their antimatter state to their matter state more quickly than going the other way; an asymmetry indicative of why there is more matter than antimatter.

There is one known particle that is also its own antiparticle: the photon. But then, a photon is a boson, which is no matter at all; only a trick of light.

The Standard Model offers no accounting for antimatter; one of the more obvious indications that SM is merely a stopgap story.

 CP Violation

QFT physical models create mathematically symmetrical relationships. As with particle symmetry and its breaking (SSB), Dirac’s model for matter-antimatter is broken.

CP is an acronym for 2 supposed symmetries: charge conjugation (C) and parity (P). Charge conjugation transforms a quantum particle into its antiparticle. Parity creates a mirror image of a physical system. Both C & P posit mathematically symmetrical relationships.

C symmetry relates to physical forces: that replacing an interaction with its negative would result in an equivalent dynamic. While the strong interaction, electromagnetism, and gravity obey C symmetry, the weak force violates C symmetry.

Parity transformation is an inversion of a spatial coordinate system, hence also termed parity inversion. Parity transformation hypothetically flips between space (x, y, z coordinates) and anti-space (–x, –y, –z coordinates).

Under parity inversion, a particle in the matter realm turns into an antiparticle in the antimatter realm. Charge (C) transpires within a system defined by parity (P), as the interactions of a charged particle are within the context of the physical system (parity). Hence CP is a natural combinatorial construct.

The mirror implicit in parity means that the equations of particle physics are invariant: a mirror reaction occurs at the same rate as the original reaction. Under parity symmetry, reaction type doesn’t matter, whether chemical or of radioactive decay.

The one consistency in all QFT models has been that Nature is messier than the math readily allows. Hence the necessity of symmetry breaking as a bandage.

From the dawn of quantum theory, parity symmetry was held as one of the fundamental geometric conservation laws, along with conservation of energy and conservation of momentum (which are merely mathematical edicts). Parity symmetry seems to hold for electromagnetic and strong interactions. But weak interactions, those responsible for radiation, violate P symmetry (as with C symmetry).

A 1928 experiment showed P symmetry violation, but its results were ignored, as the concepts necessary to understand the experiment’s significance were undeveloped. One simply cannot understand what is beyond one’s worldview.

In 1956, parity as asymmetric was cracked by observing the beta decay of Cobalt-60. Some reactions did not occur as frequently as their mirror image.

With theory in hand, but upon staring at undeniable proof, CP symmetry became something of a polite fiction. Physicists simply accept their models as imperfect approximations of inscrutably intricate Nature. But the theoretical cloud has a silver lining. Behavioral differences from CP violation explain certain incongruities in the Standard Model, and excuse matter and antimatter from mutual annihilation in every instance.


We have to remember that what we observe is not Nature in itself, but Nature exposed to our method of questioning. ~ Werner Heisenberg

A force is an effect on an object resulting from an interaction. Forces only manifest as a result of an interaction.

Force is a quantity measured in the standard metric unit known as the newton. A 1-newton push accelerates a 1-kg mass 1 meter per second per second.

1 newton = 1 kg x m/s2

There are 4 observable fundamental physics forces in the universe: strong & weak nuclear, electromagnetism, and gravity. As these forces are now interpreted to be impositions of bosons upon fermions, the term interactions has become more common. Interactions vary by strength and scale: the distance in which a force may apply.

The nuclear forces are quantum interactions which manifest. Electromagnetism defines the ambient world. While gravity keeps planetary inhabitants grounded, it exerts its real power cosmologically.

Forces are commonly characterized as either by contact or at a distance. Normal forces, such as friction, are considered contact forces. In contrast, electricity, magnetism, and gravity exert their influence at a distance.

Space always exists between interactions of matter, even among atomic nucleons. While proximity is readily comprehended by our everyday experience, quantum nonlocality shows that distance involves a perceptual reference frame.

In physics, every observation is made with respect to a frame of reference. The state of a physical system constitutes a reference frame. ~ Italian quantum physicist Flaminia Giacomini

Per the Standard Model, 3 of the 4 forces represent fundamental interactions accompanying emission or absorption of gauge bosons. But gravity isn’t really a force at all; only a spacetime distortion caused by material mass.

 Nuclear Forces

There are agents in Nature able to make the particles of bodies stick together by very strong attractions. ~ Isaac Newton

The strong force binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. It is by far the strongest force: 100 times the tug of the electromagnetic force, 106 times that of the weak force, and 1039 times that of gravity. But then, the strong force applies only to irascible atomic nuclei, whereas gravity affects entire galaxies. The strength numeric is therefore an apples-and-oranges comparison, as the scales involved, while mathematically figurable, are practically incomparable.

Within the context of the Standard Model, the strong force is a gluon shotgun: forcing quarks to marry each other, and so form nucleons: the protons and neutrons which comprise atoms.

The strong force is overwhelming at distances the size of a nucleon (10–15 m): squeezing quarks together to form hadrons. It rapidly weakens beyond that range.

Protons are the only hadrons that are stable. All other hadrons, of which there are many, are ready prey to particle decay under sway of the weak force. Neutrons are stable only when inside atomic nuclei.

Protons nominally comprise 2 up quarks and 1 down quark, all different colors. Neutrons are 1 up quark and 2 down quarks, also different colors.

The weak force causes particle (beta) decay, a form of radioactivity, and initiates hydrogen fusion in stars. Under the Standard Model, the weak force is invoked by interaction between W± and Z0 bosons.

Weak interaction forces quarks to change flavor. Changing flavor means changing into a different type of quark.

As up and down quarks have the lowest mass, they are the most stable. Heavier quarks (strange, charm, bottom, and top) decay by weak interaction into a less energetic (massive) flavor.

The weak force also breaks the symmetry between matter and antimatter. While the strong force is about marriage, the weak force is about divorce.

A typical atomic nucleus has a spherical or watermelon profile, depending upon the nucleons within. But at high energies, nuclei become pear-shaped, as protons are pushed away from the center by an unknown force.

We’ve found these pear-shaped nuclei literally point toward a direction in space. This relates to a direction in time, proving there’s a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present.

Further, the protons enrich in the bump of the pear and create a specific charge distribution in the nucleus. This violates the theory of mirror symmetry and relates to the violation shown in the distribution of matter and antimatter in our universe. ~ Scottish nuclear physicist Marcus Scheck

Such asymmetry shows that there is yet another nuclear force besides strong and weak; one about which the Standard Model has nothing to say.


Electricity and magnetism were long thought distinct. Then, in 1831, Michael Faraday discovered a magnetic field about a wire conducting DC current. Faraday also established that light is affected by magnetism.

In 1865, James Clerk Maxwell published equations that equated electricity, magnetism, and light as manifestations of the same phenomenon; that electric and magnetic fields were waves that traveled at the speed of light, and that light was also wavy.

Maxwell’s unified model of electromagnetism was a milestone in physics. The theoretical implications of electromagnetism inspired Einstein to formulate special relativity.

Electromagnetism acts between electrically charged particles. Via attraction of negatively charged electrons to positively charged protons, electromagnetism creates atoms.

The vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field have clearly visible consequences, and, among other things, are responsible for the fact that an atom can spontaneously emit light. ~ Swiss physicist Ileana-Cristina Benea-Chelmus

Electricity and magnetism are dual manifestations of a single interactive force. A changing electric field generates a magnetic field and vice versa. This electromagnetic induction is the basis for electric generators, transformers, and induction motors.

Anyone who uses electricity is experiencing the effects of relativity. ~ American physicist Thomas Moore

Electromagnetism involves relativistic effects. Moving a loop of wire through a magnetic field generates an electric current. The charged particles in the wire – electrons and protons – are affected by the changing magnetic field: forcing some of them to harmonically sway, thereby creating an electrical current.

Imagine the wire at rest with the magnet moving. In this instance, the wire’s charged particles aren’t moving, so the magnetic field should not affect them. But it does. Current still flows. This shows that there is no privileged frame of reference; exactly the point that Einstein was making with special relativity: that all frames of reference are relative, and that their relations exhibit phenomenal effect.

Without relativity, neither magnetism nor light would exist, because relativity requires that changes in an electromagnetic field move at a finite speed instead of instantaneously. If relativity did not enforce this requirement, changes in electric fields would be communicated instantaneously instead of through electromagnetic waves, and both magnetism and light would be unnecessary. ~ Thomas Moore

◊ ◊ ◊

Besides being the source of light by dint of energetic glow, photons are the force carrier of electromagnetism. This is unobvious, as photons do not nominally interact with matter.

Magnets attract each other because they exchange virtual photons. Each virtual photon has its own frame of reference. In their supposed interaction, photons exchange momentum, thereby producing attraction or repulsion, depending upon relative energetic orientation of the object which they encounter. This is a relativistic effect.

◊ ◊ ◊

At an energy level of 246 GeV, the electromagnetic and weak forces unite into electroweak interaction. 246 GeV is estimated upon the calculated value of the Higgs field in a vacuum. Room temperature has a thermal energy of 0.025 eV.


Magnetism is a powerful force that causes certain items to be attracted to refrigerators. ~ American writer Dave Barry

Magnetism is a field of attraction between particles. Most materials are influenced to some extent by magnetic fields.

The magnetic behavior of crystalline materials is highly sensitive to the lattice constant. (The lattice constant characterizes the physical dimensions of unit cells in crystal.) ~ Japanese physicist Hideaki Sakai

There are 3 known magnetic states. All appear in crystals. Ferromagnetism – the magnetism of magnets and compass needles – has been known for over a millennium.

The 2nd state of magnetism is antiferromagnetism: where the ionic magnetic fields of metals cancel each other out, owing to complementary electron spins. Antiferromagnetism was discovered in the 1950s. It is the basis for read-heads in computer hard-disk drives.

Having no fondness for heat, both ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism exhibit their talents only when cooled below a critical temperature.

The 3rd state of magnetism is in quantum spin liquids (QSL), discovered in 2012. QSL is the liquid-like magnetism of quantum entanglement. The state is called liquid because it is disordered compared to the spin state of crystalline ferromagnetism. QSL and ferromagnetism are analogous to the states of water and ice.

Quantum spin liquids cannot be described by the broken symmetries associated with conventional ground states. In fact, the interacting magnetic moments in these systems do not order but are highly entangled with one another over long ranges.

A key feature of spin liquids is that they support exotic spin excitations carrying fractional quantum numbers. In a spin liquid, the atomic magnetic moments are strongly correlated, but do not order or freeze even as the temperature goes to zero. ~ Chinese American physicist Tian-Heng Han et al

 Lorentz Symmetry

Now we know that time and space are not the vessel for the universe but could not exist at all if there were no contents, namely, no Sun, Earth, and other celestial bodies. ~ Hendrik Lorentz

The idea of Nature having laws is inherent in science; especially physics, which more intently scrutinizes the nature of existence than other disciplines, which generally take materiality for granted (that is, assume naïve realism).

The essence of such laws is consistency. After all, a law is not a law if Nature violates it. In physics, this concept is embodied in symmetry: that physical laws are invariable.

In 1895 Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz derived the transformation equations which formed the basis of Einstein’s special relativity theory. Behind these equations, and special relativity, is the idea of an inertial reference frame, which is inviolable. That the laws of physics are the same for all observers is termed Lorentz symmetry.

Paradoxically, symmetry breaking is as important in physics as symmetry. To generate mass in subatomic particles, the Standard Model relies upon breaking electroweak symmetry.


3 distinct classes of fermions have been identified: Dirac (with mass and charge), Weyl (massless, charged), and Majorana (massless, chargeless). Dirac fermions are the stuff of ordinary matter. Majorana fermions were mathematically conjectured in 1937 but were experimentally elusive until the mid-2010s.

Also long shy were Weyl fermions. In 2015, they made an appearance in certain crystalline semimetals made of tantalum and arsenic (TaAs). Sort of. Weyl fermions were discerned via physical effects which can be inferred through the collective excitation of their quasiparticles.

A Weyl fermion can emerge as a quasiparticle in certain crystals: Weyl fermion semimetals. ~ Chinese physicist Su-Yang Xu et al

Another sort of Weyl fermion (type 2) showed up in a crystalline solid in 2017. This Weyl fermion broke Lorentz symmetry with an astonishing display of asymmetrical magnetism.

Put a normal material in a magnetic field and its resistance to electrical conduction grows. But in a solid larded with type-1 Weyl fermions, a magnetic field enhances electrical current flow.

In violating Lorentz symmetry, type-2 Weyl fermions are even stranger. In a material with these particles, a magnetic field in one direction increases conductivity; but when magnetized in another direction, electrical flow drops.

Symmetry breaking shows that our supposed ‘laws’ of Nature are nothing more than conditional codicils to something more fundamental. Nature keeps secrets.


Before Newton, gravity was considered related to the motions of celestial objects; a theoretical construct along the lines of an Aristotelian view of things, with some modification. Aristotle believed that heavier objects fell faster.

Galileo reputedly dropped balls from the Tower of Pisa to conclude that all objects obey gravity’s tug at the same rate, but that’s a tall tale. What Galileo actually did was roll differently weighted balls down an incline.

Newton’s 1687 publication of Principia formulated the gravitational attraction of planets as following a universal inverse-square law: the gravitational attraction between 2 bodies is directly proportional to the product of their masses, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Under Newton’s law, gravity is a force. More massive objects create more gravity. Gravity weakens with distance.

Einstein’s 1917 theory of general relativity gravitated gravity away from being a fundamental force and into a curvature of spacetime. Einstein’s conception taught away from Newton’s construct and headed back to Galileo: that gravitation gives the appearance of acceleration independent of the mass perceived to be accelerating in free-fall.

Einstein began his theory of gravity with the equivalence principle: there is no way to distinguish the effects of acceleration (inertial mass) from the effects of gravity (gravitational mass). The key to the equivalence principle is the idea of a reference frame. In a proverbial nutshell, within a spacetime reference frame, you couldn’t tell the difference between going to hell in a bucket under constant acceleration and merely sitting in the bucket under the influence of a hellish gravitational field.

The equivalence principle can be also got to via the precepts posited by Galileo and Newton. No force but gravity depends on mass. Galileo showed that acceleration is independent of the mass of the object being accelerated.

Newton’s 2nd law of motion (acceleration) and his gravitational force law depend on mass in the same way. Newton’s laws were consistent. Which is to say that mass cancels out when calculating acceleration. Hence, acceleration doesn’t depend on mass.

While the equivalence principle can be deduced from classical physics, it fails to explain how or why the principle works.

Einstein deduced that free-fall is actually inertial motion. Free-falling objects do not really accelerate, but rather, the closer they get to the gravitationally attractive object, the more time stretches due to spacetime distortion around the massive object. This spacetime distortion is gravity.

While gravity may be perceived as a force, that is a statement from a limited reference frame. Gravity is a relation between objects according to their relative masses.

Gravity is not a force, but instead an entropic distortion, an emanating consequence of mass. Gravity warps the spacetime reference frame we call existence. Unsurprisingly, gravity manifests in waveform.

Gravity remains an ontological enigma. The beauty and success of general relativity seems to imply a reality of a curved spacetime framework to the universe. On the other hand, this curved framework is not at all required, and is indeed a hindrance, for the rest of physics. Furthermore, general relativity is not a quantum theory, and so it must break down at some level. ~ Victor Stenger

 Quantum Gravity

The fundamental laws necessary for the mathematical treatment of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty lies only in the fact that application of these laws leads to equations that are too complex to be solved. ~ Paul Dirac

Quantum gravity is the label for the search to create a conceptual and mathematical reality continuum, ranging from the vast expanses of space to the ineffably small.

Quantum gravity represents a strained effort to marry general relativity and quantum mechanics; specifically, explaining how the gravity of general relativity works in the realm of the infinitesimal. What’s missing are the wedding rings. Meshing the two theories flounders over fundamental assumptions of how the universe works.

These assumptions are encompassed in equations that don’t fit together, as they result in useless infinities. This mathematical quandary led to applying renormalization.

Renormalization boils down to addressing the resultant infinities that leap out of a physical model addressing how existence is structured. Renormalization scrubs the infinities out, providing usable approximations.

It is difficult to describe Nature when the most elegant equations object with obscenities of unusable infinities. That is an inescapable problem in trying to model the universe in 4d when there are more than 3 spatial dimensions.

Renormalization was first developed for quantum electrodynamics (QED), to get a grip on the infinite integrals that arose in perturbation theory. Perturbation theory involves mathematical techniques to squeeze an approximate answer from equations that refuse to resolve to an exact solution. In other words, perturbation theory is a mathematical fudge.

The lack of understanding of time seems to be one of the chief impediments to developing a quantum theory of gravity. ~ Canadian physicist William Unruh

In 1986, Indian theoretical physicist Abhay Ashtekar reformulated Einstein’s general relativity to have it more closely correspond with the rest of physics. Follow-on work led to loop quantum gravity (LQG): a theory solely aimed at explaining quantum gravity as a way to marry quantum mechanics to relativity without resorting to renormalization. Unlike string theory, LQG requires no additional dimensions.

The dimensional modesty of loop quantum gravity belies its radical assumption that space itself is quantized at Planck scale as loops. Under LQG, loops of space are linked, forming a network of relations (a tensor network).

Once again, the world seems to be less about objects than about interactive relationships. ~ Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli

One consequence of loop quantum gravity is the dispensation of time. LQG equations have no need of temporality. Instead, time’s passage is internal to the world, born in the relationships between the quantum events that define existence and are themselves the source of time.

Loop quantum gravity theory has something to say about the origin of the universe. LQG finds that a severely compressed cosmos generates a repulsive force. Thus, LQG supports cyclic cosmology.

Whether gravity at the quantum level is a modeling problem or a misapprehension of spacetime appears to leave the nature of quantum gravity up in the air. But the problem with quantum gravity may be much simpler.

Gravity may not even exist at the quantum level. ~ Vlatko Vedral

Recall that subatomic particle mass is not classical, which would be a measure of an object at rest. Instead, quantum particle mass is a euphemism for an energy measurement.

Gravity is an entropic distortion caused by mass. At the quantum level, mass is so insignificant as to render gravity negligible. General relativity doesn’t break down at the quantum level so much as evaporate for lack of heft.

Quantum Superposition

The ability to live in coherent superpositions is a signature trait of quantum systems. ~ Brazilian physicist Isabela Silva

Quantum superposition assumes that the uncertainty principle is real. At every moment, any physical quantum, such as an electron, exists in all possible states simultaneously until it manifests, whereupon its result is only 1 configuration.

While single particle superpositions can be fairly stable, macroscopic objects never are. The formation of macroscopic superpositions, in which numerous quantum components must maintain a precise relationship with each other, are disrupted by continual environmental influences.

Gravity as an environment induces the rapid decoherence of stationary matter superposition states when the energy differences in the superposition exceed the Planck energy scale. ~ English physicist Miles Blencowe

A disruption of superposition decoheres a system into a specific state. Gravity is a spacetime disturbance that pushes the quantum components of a system out of sync as they travel across a superposition.

Quantum particles are largely beyond the reach of gravity. An atom is touched by it. A molecule feels gravity, however slightly.

Decoherence rate rises by the square of the energy difference between 2 states in a superposition. The more there is to a physical system, such as a proton versus an electron, the greater the energy differences in superposition states.

Gravitational waves are pervasive and inescapable. They are part of the cosmic background, an echo of inception, and a cousin to the electromagnetic radiation which also pervades. Superposition loses its grip on the macroscopic world via gravity, giving rise to the predictable realm described by classical physics.

Various experiments have lent credence to quantum superposition.


The statistical predictions of quantum mechanics are incompatible with separable predetermination. ~ John Stewart Bell

Quantum mechanics has an obvious deficiency: its mechanics. Quantifying quantum phenomena is the elephant in the room of interpreting quantum theory.

Measuring fundamental particles is an existential oxymoron. Watching a wave function collapse is a probabilistic event. The math itself is nontrivial, and the appropriateness of the bandied equations contentious.

Nonetheless, some quantum field phenomena have been seen. The most inexplicable is nonlocality; what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”

The principle of locality states that an object can be influenced directly only by its immediate surroundings. Nonlocality is the notion that distance is ultimately an illusion. Nonlocality and entanglement are synonyms.

A 1935 paper by Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen (EPR) posited a paradox over quantum uncertainty, called the EPR paradox: either locality or uncertainty must be true. EPR opted for locality, thereby concluding that the wave function must be an incomplete description of actuality.

In response, Irish physicist John Stewart Bell tackled the quantum measurement problem in 1964; whence Bell’s theorem.

Science in general, and physics in particular, long assumed that locality and objectivity were both true. Locality means that distance affects the probability of interactions. Locality is colloquially codified in everyday cause and effect. Locality is an embrace of naïve realism: the idea that actuality is reality, independent of observation, but observable; what is commonly called objectivity.

Bell’s theorem stated that either locality or objectivity was not true. In opting for the uniformity of objective reality, Bell pitched locality.

Einstein struggled to the end of his days for a theory to uphold causality and objectivity. While Einstein had a woolly spirituality, he was a naïve realist.

Bell’s theorem went the other way, stating that some quantum effects travel faster than light ever can, thus violating locality. Bell’s theorem painted special relativity into a corner; applicable only at the macro scale; irrelevant at the quantum level.

Regarding causality, counterfactual definiteness (CFD) goes to measurement repeatability: whether what has happened in the past is a statistical indicator of the future. Adhering to causality, locality considers events predictable, and thereby certain.

At the quantum level, CFD butts heads with locality by stating that past probability as indicative of the future is a chimera. Instead, uncertainty always reigns.

In accepting objectivity, certainty and uncertainty are mutually exclusive.

Bell’s theorem insisted that quantum uncertainty was a certain reality. The principle of locality breaks down at the quantum level.

Nothing can travel faster than light speed. ~ American theoretical physicist Brian Greene

A lot of things travel faster than the speed of light. Nonlocality has been repeatedly confirmed at both quantum and macroscopic scales. Oddly, the larger the system, the greater the odds of nonlocality. At a threshold of about 200 subatomic particles, entanglement becomes the norm rather than the exception. Smaller particle groups are less likely to demonstrate nonlocality.

Entanglement is hard to create from a small system, but much easier in a large system. ~ Indian physicist Harsh Mathur

With spooky-action-at-a-distance a reality, superluminal (faster than light) effects exist. Bell’s theorem of nonlocality/entanglement is considered a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics, having been supported by a substantial body of evidence.

Nonlocality is so fundamental and so important for our worldview of quantum mechanics. ~ Swiss quantum physicist Nicolas Gisin

The supposed tradeoff between locality and objectivity is a false one. While the restriction of quantum locality has been lifted, there is no proof that existence is objective. It just appears that way by social consensus, and so is taken as an axiomatic assumption, just as locality was for so long.

What is taken for objectivity is instead showtivity: shared subjectivity via consciousnesses within the same enveloping reference frame (consciousness relativity). Each individual consciousnesses exists within a universal field of Ĉonsciousness.

 Bose-Einstein Condensate

In 1924, Indian polymath Satyendra Bose sent Albert Einstein one of his papers. Einstein was impressed. He translated the article from English for publication in a German physics journal, adding material which expanded upon Bose’s ideas.

The upshot: supercooled bosons become a new form of coherent matter, a gas that coalesces into a single super-particle with overlapping wave functions. Such behavioral singularity owes to the uncertainty principle, which counterintuitively holds, among other things, that particle positions become increasingly uncertain as their velocity slows, which happens when they are chilled to the core.

Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) was first demonstrated in 1995. bec exhibits extraordinary quantum mechanical properties at a macroscopic scale. Further, entanglement between 2 nonlocal BEC clouds was observed in 2011.

The irony is that BEC, named after Einstein, demonstrates nonlocality, an extra-dimensional property which Einstein expressly disbelieved.


A soliton is a self-reinforcing solitary wave that maintains its shape as it travels through a medium at a constant speed. Solitons arise via cancellation of nonlinear and dispersive effects in a gas or fluid.

In 1834, Scottish engineer John Scott Russell saw a solitary wave in a canal travel for over 8 miles without changing shape or amplitude. He then managed to reproduce solitons in a wave tank.

Solitons exhibit startling robustness in their coherence. Solitons can encounter each other and still maintain their integrity. Soliton dynamics vary depending upon the medium in which they appear.

A dark soliton is a standing dip in the density distribution of a medium; the opposite of a light soliton, which creates a wave of greater density than the surrounding medium.

Superfluidity – frictionless flow – arises in a Bose-Einstein condensate. Dark solitons can arise in a BEC.

Unlike bosons, fermions follow the Pauli exclusion principle, and so cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously.

To condense and form a superfluid, fermions must turn into bosons. They can do so by forming entangled pairs that have the requisite integer spin (each fermion has a half spin).

The size of an entangled fermion pair critically depends upon the interaction between pair members. An entangled pair may be tightly bound (a Cooper pair) or be at some distance. This determines the underlying physics of the condensate. Entangled pairs at a distance are relatively weakly bound, and yet more readily given to superfluidity.

A condensate may transition from close-knit to a greater inter-particle spacing or vice versa. In a condensate progressing to greater pair spacing, a dark soliton becomes more filled with non-condensed-gas atoms, making it heavier, and slowing it down.

This wave change occurs because quantum fluctuations have a more pronounced effect on the dark soliton. Solitons, which arise from coherence, are heavily influenced by the degree of fluctuations in the ground state.

The Ground State

The idea that nothing can exist has been controversial throughout history. Ancient Greek philosophers debated the possibility of a void in the context of atomism.

Plato found the idea inconceivable. Following Plato, a featureless void faced skepticism – how could something exist that could not be perceived? Aristotle considered vacuum impossible: nothing could not be something. In the 1st century bce, Lucretius thought that a vacuum was possible, but his argument went nowhere.

Medieval Christians held the idea of a void to be heretical. The absence of anything implied the absence of God; harking back to the void prior to creation, as described in the book Genesis in the The Bible. This led to the commonly held view that Nature abhorred a vacuum (horror vacui); an axiom carried forward during the Scientific Revolution. The concept of a cosmic aether reflected this belief in substance even when nothing was manifest.

◊ ◊ ◊

The ground state is the lowest energy state of a quantum mechanical system, with supposedly zero-point energy. In quantum field theory, the ground state is called the vacuum state, or simply vacuum.

Vacuum is not empty. Particles appear out of nothing. ~ Russian quantum physicist Andrey Moskalenko & Australian quantum physicist Timothy Ralph

In the first iteration of general relativity, the ground state appeared as the cosmological constant: a construct Einstein coined to create a stationary universe. He then abandoned the constant as a bad idea, as the universe appeared to be not as stationary as he first supposed.

The 1998 faux discovery of an accelerating expansion of the universe renewed interest in a cosmological constant that characterizes the ground state. (Accelerating cosmic expansion has been discounted by observations since its 1998 false discovery. The paradox of enormous vacuum energy remains.) That interest hit a cosmological conundrum when calculating the vacuum energy that signifies the ground state, which came out as 10120 times too much.

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) calculates that vacuum energy is 10113 joules per cubic meter; unimaginably enormous power. Yet this is a comedown from the early universe, when the ground state was even more energetic. Some of the earliest proto-hadrons formed with strange quarks, with a greater mass than the baryons that now comprise ordinary matter.

It seems the boundary between 4D and ED shifted and settled as the cosmos diffused and average temperature lowered. But then, as the energy of the ground state demonstrates, dimensionality is something of an artifice.

 The Dance of Spacetime

In 2017, Chinese physicist Qingdi Wang and colleagues investigated “the gravitational property of the quantum vacuum by treating its large energy density predicted by quantum field theory seriously, and assuming that it does gravitate to obey the equivalence principle of general relativity.” What they found was that “spacetime itself is constantly moving.”

It’s similar to the waves we see on the ocean. They are not affected by the intense dance of the individual atoms that make up the water on which those waves ride. ~ William Unruh

From a fluctuating m of spacetime emerges the illusion of a stable cosmos.


According to the 3rd law of thermodynamics, the ground state is supposed to be at absolute zero temperature (0 K). That is a theoretical fiction, as the ground state is not a void, or empty space.

According to a QED hypothesis, the ground state is continually perturbed by ghost fields of tremendous vacuum energy, making matter radiate over it, in what has been termed quantum foam.

The conventional comprehension is that fleeting virtual particles and electromagnetic waves pop in and out of “existence” from the ground state.

The notion of matter/energy popping in and out of existence is ridiculous. The popping is between the perceivable 4d and ed; a dimensional phase shift. Our experience of actuality may be largely 4d, but the dimensionality of existence is more expansive (hd).

Virtual particles are an hd phenomenon with 4d cameo appearances. The ground state is simply a limit boundary to phenomenal space.

You can expect what you inspect. ~ American statistician Edwards Deming

Deming’s comment to “expect what you inspect” was a statement referring to quantitative quality control in manufacturing, but it also applies to biased conception in a realm requiring open inquiry. In the case of dimensions, physicists expect only 4 because they can only inspect 4, even though their physical models tell them there are more.


These particles are just smoke and mirrors, handy mathematical tricks and nothing more. Or are they? ~ English physicist Andrea Taroni

Quasiparticles are emergent phenomena that behave as quantum particles but are not considered legitimate in the sense of being a fermion or boson. Quasiparticles are to quantum mechanics what epigenetics is to genetics: potent, but not quite kosher. Both illustrate the deep, entangled intricacy that characterizes Nature.

Emergent quanta of momentum and charge, called quasiparticles, govern many properties of materials. ~ Dutch physicist Dirk van der Marel

Formally, whereas a quasiparticle is related to a fermion, a collective excitation is related to a boson. Both types of emergent energies are casually referred to as quasiparticles.

In solids, many-body correlations lead to characteristic resonances – quasiparticles. ~ German physicist Fabian Langer

 Ettore Majorana

Italian physicist Ettore Majorana first proposed the existence of neutrons. Enrico Fermi urged him to write an article on it. Majorana demurred, considering his own work banal. The credit was instead given to James Chadwick, who won a Nobel prize for it.

In 1937, Majorana discovered a hitherto unknown solution to the equations from which quantum particles are deduced. Out of it came a prediction for an exotic fermion, initially thought as perhaps a type of neutrino: the Majorana.

On 27 March 1938, Majorana took a boat trip from Palermo to Naples. He disappeared. His body was never found.

Majorana had emptied his bank account prior to the trip. 2 days before he left, Majorana wrote a note to the Director of the Naples Physics Institute, apologizing for the inconvenience that his disappearance would cause.

 Majorana Fermions

The Majorana fermion is a charge-neutral, zero-energy quasiparticle. The Majorana is unique in being its own antiparticle, hence existing on the shadowy border between matter and antimatter; hence its designation as quasiparticle. That may not make the Majorana novel.

The nature of neutrinos is unsettled. As neutrinos have no charge, they too may be Majorana fermions, rather than Dirac fermions, where a particle has a mirror image antimatter partner.

Mathematically, neutral spin 1/2 particles, such as neutrinos and the Majorana fermion, can be characterized by a real wave equation (the Majorana equation), instead of the more typical wave function that predicts a particle and antiparticle via complex conjugation.

A complex conjugate is a complex-number pair, where the real components are identical, but the imaginary parts, though of equal magnitude, have opposite signs. 1 + 2i and 1–2i are exemplary complex conjugates.

The Majorana is not included in the Standard Model particle clique even though its existence is certain. Majoranas do not comfortably fit within SM owing to their uniqueness, especially the mathematics that characterize them.

Whereas Majoranas have no charge, and do not interact very strongly with light or other electromagnetic radiation, they can be detected by electrical measurements, and are affected by the electrical environment. Majorana fermions facilitate superconductivity.

When 2 Majoranas are repositioned relative to each other in a superconducting region, they essentially remember their previous position. This property has been suggested as valuable in constructing a quantum computer, with Majoranas as a memory mechanism.

The oddity of Majoranas as chargeless, and yet subtlety interacting electromagnetically, may be explained by Majoranas having a magnetic anapole moment. An anapole is a toroidal dipole: a solenoid field bent into a torus.

Particles with electrical and magnetic dipole moments interact with electromagnetic fields regardless of their momentum. In contrast, electromagnetic interaction with an anapole particle strengthens with speed. The Majorana having an anapole moment fits well with its mass, speed, and electromagnetic properties.

Neutrinos travel near light speed because they are theoretically nearly massless. An accurate measurement of neutrino mass has eluded experimental physicists. Majoranas are assumed to be like neutrinos, albeit slower moving.


A plasmon is a quasiparticle quantum of plasma oscillation. Plasmons appear as an oscillation in conducting electrons, and so are an exhibition of electromagnetism. The visual effect of a plasmonic object can be different colors, depending on how light strikes the object.

The 4th century Lycurgus Cup was made of dichroic glass. It displays a different color depending upon the direction of light passing through it. The cup appears red when lit from behind, and green when lit from the front. The Lycurgus light show is an example of quasiparticle plasmons at work.

Plasmons can be produced in a metal, whereupon they dance along its surface. If the piece of metal is less than 10 nanometers (nm) thick, quantum effects emerge, changing a plasmon’s oscillation frequency and 4d lifetime.

Plasmons at one scale behave differently than at another scale. The optical absorption of plasmons is proportional to their volume.

In particles larger than 10 nm, plasmons respond to electromagnetic fields as a classical electron gas. This is done by adhering to the uncertainty principle.

Smaller than 10 nm, and a plasmonic field defies its supposed basic nature by interacting only weakly with light. There are so few conduction electrons participating in the plasmons (~250 electrons in a 2-nm particle) that the electrons appear at a discrete set of energy levels, which are increasingly separated from one another as particle size shrinks.

This produces individual electron jumps between occupied and unoccupied electron energy levels. The separation and jumpiness increase uncertainty and reduce plasmon 4D life.

This is exemplary of quantum effects, which are essentially a breaking down of the reality construct by surging uncertainty into events. Nonlocality can also occur with plasmons at this small scale. Distant individual electrons within the plasma become entangled in an HD dance.


A phonon is a collective excitation that shuttles heat around solids, and herds electrons into the coherence that affords superconductivity. Just as plasmons are quantized plasma oscillations, phonons are quanta of mechanical vibrations.

Phonons are not actually real. They are really just a way of simplifying a very complicated problem. ~ English physicist Jon Goff

As sound is a mechanical vibration, it quantizes as phonons. Sound waves have negative effective gravitational mass.

A sound wave not only is affected by gravity but also generates a tiny gravitational field. ~ Italian physicist Alberto Nicolis


A magnon is a collective excitation that quantizes the spin wave which characterizes the spin property of all quanta. Magnons emerge from waves of flipping spin. They explain electron behavior in a crystal lattice. Swiss physicist Felix Bloch introduced magnons in 1930 to elucidate abrupt, spontaneous changes in magnetism at low temperatures; whence their name.


Electrical conductivity is more than merely the flow of negatively charged electrons. Positively charged atomic protons play a critical part in cooperating with or countering electrons on their merry way.

Atoms are more than the gatekeepers of electricity. The relation between electrons and nucleons is entangled. The movement of electrons has a direct effect on atomic arrangements.

Water conducts electricity. In doing so, flowing electrons tug on water molecules’ hydrogen atoms, moving protons. This process, known as the Grotthuss mechanism, also occurs in vision, when light hits the eye’s retina.

A polaron is a quasiparticle that characterizes electron mobility. Polarons were proposed by Lev Landau in 1933.

Polaron transport, in which electron motion is strongly coupled to the underlying lattice deformation or phonons, is crucial for understanding electrical and optical conductivities in many solids. ~ Chinese physicist Junjie Li et al

When an electron cloud (polaron) enters an atomic lattice, the two try to accommodate one another by modifying their shapes.

Lattice vibrations are interacting with the electrons; proof that polarons exist. ~ Chinese quantum physicist Weiguo Yin


Quasiparticles exist even when nothing is there. American physicist William Shockley Jr. was working with semiconductors when he had an epiphany that permitted the perfection of the transistor in 1947.

It had been known for a decade that electrons moving through semiconductors left gaps of nothingness. But no one thought of these “holes” as anything more than an electron’s absence.

Shockley proposed to treat holes as particles in their own right: like an electron but with a positive charge. This crucial paradigm shift led to better understanding the flow of energy in semiconductors, and so fashion the junctures and switches that characterize transistors.

Since then physicists have conceived that electrons and holes can combine, yielding a whole new quasiparticle: the exciton. Plants were way ahead of us on this. The light-harvesting proteins responsible for photosynthesis use electrons to absorb photons of sunlight. The resultant energy kick knocks an electron out of position, creating a hole.

The electron and hole link up to form an exciton, which is shuttled about the photosynthetic machinery. When the exciton gets to where it’s needed to do its bit, the electron and hole recombine, releasing energy employed to split water into constituent hydrogen and oxygen; a key step in making sugar from sunlight, air, and water.

 Quasiparticles Forever

Quantum states of matter typically exhibit collective excitations. These involve the motion of many particles in the system, yet, remarkably, act like a single emergent entity – a quasiparticle. Known to be long lived at the lowest energies, quasiparticles are expected to become unstable when encountering the inevitable continuum of many-particle excited states at high energies, where decay is kinematically allowed. Although this is correct for weak interactions, strong interactions generically stabilize quasiparticles by pushing them out of the continuum. ~ German quantum physicist Ruben Verresen et al

Decay reigns in the ambient domain. The quantum world is something else.

The assumption was that quasiparticles in interacting quantum systems decay after a certain time. The opposite can be the case: strong interactions can even stop decay entirely. ~ German physicist Frank Polimann

Quasiparticles may decay and then reorganize themselves, becoming virtually immortal.

Quasiparticles do decay, but new, identical particle entities emerge from the debris. This process can recur endlessly. A sustained oscillation between decay and rebirth emerges. ~ Ruben Verresen