The Sociodynamics of Science

The title is a bit of an exaggeration as to the importance of this post, nevertheless since I was at what was probably my last scientific conference (NZ Institute of Chemistry, at Christchurch) I could not resist looking around at behaviour as well as the science. I also gave two presentations. Speaking to an audience gives the speaker an opportunity to order the presentation so as to give the most force to the surprising parts of it, not that many took advantage of this. Overall, very few, if any (apart from yours truly) seemed to want to provide their audience with something that might be uncomfortable for their preconceived notions.

First, the general part provided great support for Thomas Kuhn’s analysis. I found most of the invited speakers and keynote speakers to illustrate an interesting aspect: why are they speaking? Very few actually wished to educate or convince anyone of anything in particular, and personally, I found the few that did to be by far the most interesting. Most of the presentations from academics could be summarised as, “I have a huge number of research students and here is what they have done.” What then followed was a very large amount of results, but there was seldom an interesting unifying principle. Chemistry tends to be susceptible to this, as a very common student research program is to try to make a variety of related compounds. This may well have been very useful, but if we do not see why this approach was taken, it tends to feel like filling up some compendium of compounds, or, as Rutherford put it rather acidly, “stamp collecting”. These types of talks are characterised by the speaker trying to get in as many compounds as they can, so they keep talking and use up the allocated question time. I suspect that one of the purposes of these presentations is to say, “Look at what we have done. This has given our graduate students a good number of scientific publications, so if you are thinking of being a grad student, why not come here?” I can readily understand that line of thinking, but its relevance for older scientists is questionable. There were a few presentations where the output would be of more general interest, though. I found the odd presentation that showed how to do something new, where it could have quite wide applications, to be of particular interest.

Now to the personal. My first presentation was a summary of my biogenesis approach. It may have had too much information across too wide a field, but the interesting point was that it generated a discussion at the end relating to my concept of how homochirality was generated. My argument is that reproduction depends on it because the geometry prevents the formation of a second strand if the first strand is not either entirely left-handed or right-handed in its pitch. So the issue then was, it was pure chance that D-ribose containing helices predominated, in part because the chance of getting a long-enough homochiral strand is very remote, and when one arises, then it takes up all the resources and predominates. The legitimate question then is, why doesn’t the other handed helix eventually arise? It may be slower to do so, but it is not necessarily impossible. My partial answer to that is the mer units are also used to bind to some other important units for life to give them solubility, and the wrong sort gets used up and does not build up concentration. Maybe that is so, but there is no evidence.

It was my second presentation that would be controversial, and it was interesting to watch the expressions. Part of the problem for me was it was the last such presentation (there were some closing speakers after me, and after morning tea) and there is something about conferences at the end – everyone is busy thinking about how to get to the airport, etc, so they tend to lose concentration. My first slide put up three propositions: the wave functions everyone uses for atomic orbitals are wrong; because of that, the calculation of the chemical bond requires the use of a hitherto unrecognised quantum effect (which is a very specific expression involving only universally recognised quantum numbers) and finally, the commonly held belief that relativistic effects on the inner electrons make a major effect on the valence electron of the heaviest elements is wrong. 

As you might expect, this was greeted initially with yawns and disinterest: this was going to be wrong. At least that seemed to be written over their faces. I then diverted to explain my guidance wave interpretation, which is essentially the de Broglie pilot wave concept, but with two additions: an application of Euler’s complex number theory that everyone seems to have missed, and secondly, I argued that if the wave really causes diffraction in the two-slit-type experiment, it has to travel at the same speed as the particle. These two points lead to serious simplifications in the calculation of properties of chemical bonds. The next step was to put up a lot of evidence for the different wave functions, with about 70 data points spanning a selection of atoms, of which about twenty supported the absence of any significant relativistic effect. (This does not say relativity is wrong, but merely that its effects on valence electrons are too small to be noticed at this level of analysis.) What this was effectively saying was that most of the current calculations only give agreement with observation when liberal use is made of assignable constants, which conveniently can be adjusted so you get the “right” answer.So, question time. One question surprised me: Does my new approach do anything new? I argued that the fact everyone is using the wrong wave functions, there is a quantum effect that nobody has recognised, and everyone is wrong with those relativistic effects could be considered new. Yes, but have you got a prediction? This was someone difficult to satisfy. Well, if you have access to a good physics lab, I suggested, here is where you can show that, assuming my theory is correct, make an adjustment to the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment (and I outlined the simple change) then you will reach the opposite conclusion. If you don’t agree with me, then you should do the experiment to prove I am wrong. The stunned expressions were worth the cost of going to the conference. Not that anyone will do the experiment. That would show interest in finding the truth, and in fairness, it is more a job for a physicist.

9 thoughts on “The Sociodynamics of Science

  1. Hmmmm, Ian, very interesting…. My own SQPR (Sub Quantum Physical Reality) predicts Dark Matter. I have long been wondering what else it could predict. SQPR is related to the two De Broglie theories… The Guided Wave and the Double Solution. In the Guided Wave, the particle still exists. The theory is compatible with what should be called Einstein Particle Localization Principle (EPLP). Einstein took for granted that the particle kept existing during what I call the Quantum Evolution Process (QEP) or “Fundamental Process” (FP) as Feynman put it. I don’t believe that.

    Why? First delocalization effects have been experimentally demonstrated (EPR + Bell + Aspect+others…) Second, the theory has NON local effect, as the Quantum Wave of the basic Quantum Formalism is intrinsically, being a wave, nonlocal.
    So delocalization is normal. Actually the 2-slit is the simplest case. Trying to explain it by the De Broglie Guiding Wave is at first sight feasible (particle goes through one slit, Guiding Wave, through both). However, it doesn’t seem to work for the basic EPR set-up, at large distances.
    Or for the Bohm set-up, with spin (EPR Spin).
    Moreover, we have no proof that a particle doesn’t delocalize.
    Worse: how would the relationship between Guiding Wave and Particle work? What’s the basic picture?
    We know of (super or not) string theory: little strings, or more exactly little compact geometries (Calabi-Yau manifolds).
    In SQPR, the Quantum Wave W is real, and it’s highly unstable, although it has linear tails. W either disperse, with a periphery made of a linear wave train, expanding at a speed to be determined… Or W singularizes (blows up): that’s the “Particle” effect. Now this dispersion-blowing up, is typical of nonlinear waves. Solitons establish a balance between both effects.

    At least, this way one gets just one concept W, a nonlinear wave, instead of two, a Particle and a separated “Guiding Wave”, tied up by a third, unexplained, undescribed mechanism. Also W may end up being described by just one equation, a sort of pulsating soliton.
    Singularization consists into a linear blowing up at an enormous speed (10^23 C +). “Enormous speed” has an intrinsic meaning in the manifold the General Relativity manifold sits in… And also the Hilbert space H attached to the Fundamental Process. (So all of Relativity, although correct, is only correct as a second order effect.)

    When W takes cosmic proportions, the blowing-up leaves debris: Dark Matter (most of the energy-momentum survives with all the Quantum numbers in the blown-up core: this gives an immediate picture of why Dark Matter is so little interactive, and why it happens in particular places).

    One can play with the parameters, and it’s imaginable tabletop effects would appear: then probably the blowing up speed, in some circumstances, would be slower than expected, or some Dark Matter like effect would happen in the small.

    So what did you observe exactly? Actually I was going to write down a review of the Delayed 2 slit experiment in light of SQPR (it’s similar to De Broglie Guiding Wave… the only twist is that I don’t believe in the localization, so say in the Mach-Zehnder interferometer, the W acts like a sea until localization, with energy spread around the M-Z sea…)

  2. I don’t pretend to understand the substance of this post, but it appears presenting at this conference was a worthwhile effort for you. Question: does your final sentence suggest physicists are more interested in finding the truth than chemists?

    • No, I think both are much the same, although it is likely that a very small number of physicists are genuinely seeking the truth. As for comprehension, next week may be difficult – see the other comment to this post. I shall try to make it comprehensible.

      • The rise of “shut up & calculate” then superstrings, and denial that foundations were the essence, amply demonstrate that most research physicists, post 1950, were NOT interest by the truth. They were PINOs: Physicists In Name Only…

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