Think of the universe as a giant information transfer machine. It will help in this section, because:

If it has to, the universe will break every rule , every law, known or unknown, to accomplish its task.

This includes every conservation law we are familiar with. This fundamental truth is so important, that it even regulates, to a point, how the universe looks and functions. Now, what am I talking about?  It all started over two thousand years ago when the idea of the atom was first conceived. If you have a lump of gold, for example, and keep cutting it in half, the ancients thought, how far could you go? Is there a limit where if you made one more cut, you wouldn't have gold anymore? Over the millennia, there have been lulls of many centuries in this debate. And there have been arguments. These arguments did not limit themselves only to gold, or other types of matter. They included light as well.  By Newton's time, the arguments settled down a bit to mainly argue whether things in general were particles, or waves.  At the time, light was about the only thing they had to work with, and there were valid arguments on both the particle and wave sides of the fence. Then came the 20th century, and the devil was out of the bag.

We developed machines that crash opposing beams of sub-atomic particles into each other.  The monumental crashes create showers of particles, which get recorded using sensors placed around the collision point.  We learned that the particles we thought we were familiar with, namely the proton and neutron, stable looking at first, broke up into other particles.  We also found that when we smashed those particle beams into each other at ever higher and higher energy levels, more particles were created to add to our ever growing collection. Humorously, the eminent physicist Enrico Fermi is reported to have said, "If I could remember the names of all these particles, I'd  have been a botanist."

Now, the particles we have managed to create with these huge machines, are unstable, and don't last very long before they revert to the more stable variety once more, but it was already too late. The first generation of machines designed to break up particles  (called particle colliders appropriately enough) were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Today, they are circular machines many kilometers in diameter, with the current generation being the Large Hadron Collider that is basically an underground circular tunnel 16.6 miles in circumference straddling the border of Switzerland and France. There are also plans for even larger, more powerful accelerators on the drawing board,  mainly because as the power levels increase, so do the numbers of different types of particles discovered. Today we have a whole zoology of particles, which fall under 2 different classifications - Bosons, particles such as photons and mesons, with integral spin, Spin 0, 1, 2 etc., and Fermions, particles such as protons, neutrons, and electrons, that have half-integer spin, Spin 0.5, 1.5, etc... The Large Hadron Collider's main contribution to this  particle zoo is the Higgs particle - and if we want to understand nature more thoroughly we are going to need to keep building more and more powerful (and more expensive) machines...

This way of thinking is starting to meet with some resistance amongst the scientific community. Theoretical physicists, such as Sabine Hossenfelder, for example, are starting to question if the money spent on particle colliders is actually being spent wisely. The LHC is reported to have cost around 5 billion dollars to build, and for all its glory, it has only made a single important discovery: The Higgs particle. The next machine on the menu, the Future Circular Collider (FCC),  is designed to be many times larger, more powerful. and more costly than the LHC, weighing in at a conservative cost estimate (as of 2024) of 22 billion US dollars... and that means 22 billion dollars that wont get spent on other science.  The pot is only so big, and for particle physicists to experience a feast, other  sectors of physics must endure famine. Hossenfelder argues this is not going to end well for anyone, and I tend to agree with her.

Here is why I think we are barking up the wrong tree on this one.

No matter how many different particles we discover, although they may seem completely different from one another, they all, and I mean all, do have one thing in common. They all transfer information. Depending on the type of information that needs to be transferred, there exists a particle with the right properties to transfer that information. Photons, neutrinos, electrons, z-particles, Higgs particles, or whatever, they all transfer information. Each particle is suited to transfer its own type of information. If the information transfer doesn't need to be permanent, the particle is unstable and decays into more stable particles when its job is done. If the information meant to be transferred is long term or is permanent, you have a particle that never decays. No matter how hard we bash electrons into each other, nothing happens. No one has ever managed to crack open an electron - I'd say the information electrons transfer is permanent, so the electron is permanent as well. When we use high energy particle accelerators to  'look inside'  a particle such as a proton, yes, the proton is destroyed and yes other particles appear in its wake. Also yes,  physicists can say they have perhaps discovered a new particle which they can then assign a cool sounding name to. That is the human way of looking at things (and it makes some people famous, as well). But, how does the universe look at this event? For a little while, it must create a particle that can handle the new conditions created in the lab - so it makes a particle that can contain the high energy long enough to dissipate it into lower, more stable forms. So, a particle is made to transfer the information we generate. The main purpose of the created particle is simply to transfer information - energy, spin, etc., into a stable state. The created particles made by the collider have short lifetimes because they don't need to exist for very long. Remember, even in the world of quantum physics, there are rules, so another rule is that this particle creation process is not random - if we do the same experiment at different sites, the same process makes the same particles, so we say the experiment is repeatable - this is the hallmark of good science. It is just that we have interpreted the results of those experiments bass ackwards. Those new particles are not 'new', at all. They only exist because the universe needs them for a bit. Particle physics is like a dog chasing it's own tail - we force the universe to re-create the particles  because of our making a small region with such a high energy density, so, we are not really revealing hidden structure at all. Only how the universe handles our manipulations.

This is a bummer for particle physicists. They think the universe is revealing hitherto unknown aspects of itself in the form of new particles, when in fact, all the universe is doing is accommodating the new, unstable,  information the particle physicists are making in those experiments  until that information can be stabilized in the form of familiar, longer lived, more boring particles. Don't get me wrong - the experiments we are doing increase our total knowledge base, but by misinterpreting the results of those experiments, errors are being created in our way of thinking how the universe works, and over time these small errors can amplify into a really big mess. Eventually, we will create a dead end for ourselves, and that will lead to theoreticians making theories that get more and more far removed from reality as time goes on.

This is how the universe works.

 

How does the universe break its own rules? Again, look at the universe as if were a giant information transfer machine. Try entangled states. This is a good example because it involves zero force or energy transfer. It seems, keeping particle spin states balanced is important. So important, in fact, that, if a particle anti-particle pair is created, if the spin state of one of the particles is changed,  the other particles' spin must instantly change for this balance to be maintained - we call this conservation of spin angular momentum. This spin modification happens instantly, even if the two particles are only a meter, or a light year (or ten) apart.  Distance plays no part in this particular process. Why does this happen? Information must be transferred  between the two particles. It has to be immediate, so the universe violates energy conservation, or gets around it by simply not using energy at all. Either way, this is still a causal reaction. It takes a spin flip to make the other spin flip. Yet, nothing carried the information from point A to point B. That's why it happens FTL. We can even do this ourselves in controlled experiments - but the information transferred, though FTL, is random in nature and can't be used to make a FTL radio. Or, maybe, we just don't yet understand the language the universe speaks to itself in, so it sounds like random noise to our ears.

The thing to remember is information is information. Even random information. I can't speak Italian, yet Italians seem to do just fine communicating with each other. If we can't understand the language the universe speaks to itself in, OK. But perhaps we can make use of some of the same techniques... this is where the answer to imaginary forces causing real effects come in, and why imaginary particles are going to be so important, and I guess I need to make another page or two...