“I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics” — Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1967

As a child I read many astronomy books.  When I first started this physics study project, almost 10 years ago, I naively assumed that scientists had by now worked out most of the details re how nature works,  and that I would be able to learn them just simply by finding and reading a few library books re this challenging and interesting subject of study.

I quickly learned that this is not so,  and that, in fact, there are dozens, (perhaps hundreds), of competing theories and/or models out there,  and that nobody knows for sure if any of them are correct.

The main purpose of this series of essays is to publicize and promote the work of two almost unknown theorists, who are almost unknown —(not because they are “crack-pots” — which they are not,  but … )— because of how difficult it is to get one’s paper published in a “reputable” physics journal if it differs too radically from the officially approved model, the so-called “standard model”.

Please  note that, as a young man, Sternglass’s papers were published in some of the most reputable journals, such as the Physical Review (1961) [Ref.#1a] and the Bulletin of the American Physical Society (1963, 1965) [Ref.#42b] and the International Journal of Theoretical Physics (1978) [Ref.#42e].

It was only as specific details of his theory [i.e., his “model”] began to differ from the standard model’s details, that he had trouble trying to get papers published, as he tells about in his book, Before the Big Bang (1997, 2001), [Ref.#1].  Evidently there is a kind of “catch-22” in physics:  a “peer review” system in which an “old guard” of well respected “authorities” and “referees” try to prevent the publication of papers which offer alternatives to the standard model.  This automatic rejection of alternatives is similar to what Galileo Galilei famously experienced during the 1600s, when the authorities at that time threatened to excommunicate him if he refused to disavow his “radical” ideas.

The Standard Model Is, to Say It Politely, “NOT QUITE RIGHT” 

But what gives to me, a mere amateur physics enthusiast, the capability to say that parts of the standard model might be wrong ??

Just this:  for almost 10 years I’ve studied physics very intensely, and have read from some PhD-holders that the standard model might be a bit weak in some of the areas where it purports to explain the truth.  So here are some quotes from PhD-holders, re these several weaknesses:

“The standard model is like an aging movie star, whose best work is decades old, whose flaws once seemed slight, but are now becoming glaring.”  That’s from Dr. Chris Impey, on page 298 of his book How It Began (2012) [Ref.#12] … 

In his book The Quantum Zoo (2006), Marcus Chown notes that:  “Eighty-odd years after the birth of quantum theory, physicists are still waiting for the fog to lift so that they can see what it is trying to tell us about fundamental reality … Feynman himself said:  ‘I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.’”

Jim Baggott, who wrote the book Farewell to Reality (2013), says on p.131:  “We … are … immensely proud of [standard-model theories] … but these theories are riddled with problems, paradoxes, conundrums, contradictions, and incompatibilities … in one sense, they don’t make sense at all”.

Plus:  on p.137 in this same book:  “What kind of fundamental theory … can’t predict the masses of its constituent elementary particles ?  Answer:  one that is not very satisfying.”  And on p.259:  “Clearly, the notion that the entire universe is a hologram projected from information encoded on its boundary belongs firmly in the bucket labelled ‘fairy-tale physics’ ”. 

{ While the idea in the previous paragraph is not actually a part of the standard model, I’ve seen it in more than one book, and even as naive as I was, I reckoned that it must surely be nonsense !! }

Robert Laughlin, who won a Nobel prize in physics in 1998, wrote in his book:  “A large portion of the accepted knowledge-base of modern science is untrue … obligating us to look at it more skeptically … and to value consensus less” [p.213, A Different Universe (2005)].

Plus:  on p.50, Laughlin says that  “Scientists have ideological positions just like everyone else … sometimes the consequences are bizarre … the Schroedinger cat has … become a symbol of transcendence, a meaning exactly opposite to the one Schroedinger himself intended … often viewed by students as a step on the path to enlightenment … It is not … In science one becomes enlightened not by discovering ways to believe things that make no sense  but by identifying things that one does not understand and doing experiments to clarify them.”

And on p.216:  “Large experimental laboratories cannot get the continuous funding they need without defending their work … which they typically do by forming self-refereeing monopolies that define certain ideas and bodies of thought to be important, whether they actually are or not … in extreme cases, one gets a complex web of sophisticated measurements that serve no purpose other than to expand journals and fatten frequent-flyer accounts.”

Gerard ‘t Hooft says in a Youtube-video that  “the LHC [large hadron collider] found exactly one Higgs particle” — meaning that the Higgs was the only “particle” which they found.  This is despite the fact that  “people suspected many more kinds of particles … superparticles, technicolor particles, particles due to the existence of extra dimensions … all that has not been found in the LHC.”  Dr. ‘t Hooft adds that this is “a warning that our theories are not as clean as we thought they were, because these extra particles that many people predict are not there.”  To view this video, go to and input into the search-box “Nobel Laureate Lecture Prof. Girard ‘t Hooft.”

In his book Facts and Mysteries In Elementary Particle Physics (2003), 1999-Nobel-prize winner Martin Veltman did not even wish to acknowledge “supersymmetry”:  “The fact is … this is a book about physics, and this implies that the theoretical ideas discussed must be supported by experimental facts … neither supersymmetry nor string theory satisfy this criterion … they’re figments of the theoretical mind.”

Finally, from Richard Feynman, one of the heaviest of 20th century “heavy-hitters” in physics.  In a letter to his wife, he wrote that:  “I am not getting anything out of this meeting … There are hosts (126) of dopes here — such inane things are said and seriously discussed  — and I get into arguments outside of the formal sessions … Whenever anyone asks me a question, or starts to tell me about his ‘work’ … it is always either — (1) completely un-understandable, or (2) vague and indefinite, or (3) something correct that is obvious and self-evident worked out by a long and difficult analysis and presented as an important discovery, or (4) a claim, based on the stupidity of the author that some obvious and correct thing accepted and checked for years is, in fact, false (those are the worst — no argument will convince the idiot), (5) an attempt to do something probably impossible, but certainly of no utility, which, it is finally revealed, at the end, fails, or (6) just plain wrong … Remind me not to come to any more gravity conferences.”  That’s on page 245 in a book titled Quantum Man (2011) by Lawrence Krauss [Ref.#39].

These examples should be enough to show that there is, in fact, some skepticism regarding some of the explanations which the so-called standard model of particle physics gives.

################# << END OF CHAPTER 13 >> #################



  1. Pingback: book-title: VISUALIZE-ING “QUARKs” — sub-title: Essays re the Work of DR. ERNEST STERNGLASS + DR. MENAHEM SIMHONY | markcreekwater

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