Rule Breaking and Information transfer

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. Included in this would be those cherished, basic pronouncements that we learned in school, such as energy conservation for example.  If the need arises for a particle to just appear for only a bit, and it doesn't need to be a permanent particle, fine. The universe will whip up a virtual particle pair, using probability as the engine of its creation and not energy.  The virtual particle pair, its longevity dictated by Heisenberg's uncertainty relation, is granted reality just long enough to get the job done before it disappears back into the nothing.  If the universe needs a particular particle that is even more shady, like a lone particle having imaginary mass which moves five times the speed of light, 5C,  that is a job for those little rascals the imaginary particles... how far can an imaginary proton traveling at five times the speed of light go before it disappears? I don't know, but my guess would be that it goes as far as it needs to go to transfer some arcane bit of quantum information and no farther.

When the universe breaks its own set of rules, it doesn't do so chaotically. There are still rules to follow,  more fundamental rules. The universe is clever, all right.  It follows the rules whenever it breaks the rules.  The basic truth outlined in the above paragraph is so important, that it even regulates, to a point, how the universe looks and functions.

Now, what am I going on about?  It all started over two thousand years ago, when the idea of the atom was first conceived. The actual concept of the atom had been around a long time, originating in ancient Greece around the 5th century BCE with philosophers like Democritus and  his mentor Leucippus. They proposed that all matter was composed of small, indivisible particles they called "atomos", which translates to 'indivisible'. They imagined atoms as varying in shape depending on the type of atom. They pondered whether a piece of matter like gold could be divided indefinitely or if there was a fundamental limit. This inquiry into the nature of matter laid the groundwork for our understanding of atoms as the indivisible building blocks of all substances.

As scientific knowledge grew over time,  our perception of atoms evolved. We learned that atoms are made up of smaller particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. These subatomic particles combine in specific ways to form atoms.  These atoms then bond together to create a vast array of chemical compounds that constitute everything in the universe. Much like peeling back the layers of an onion, we began to uncover even more complex structures within the atom. 


Atom smashers

To delve deeper into these structures, we engineered machines that collide beams of these sub-atomic particles into each other.  These monumental collisions generate a cascade of particles, which are recorded using sensors positioned around the collision point.  We discovered that the particles we thought we were familiar with, namely protons and neutrons, disintegrated into other particles.  Furthermore, we found that as we collided these particle beams at increasingly higher energy levels, more particles were produced,  adding to our ever expanding collection. The renowned physicist Enrico Fermi humorously remarked, "If I could remember the names of all these particles, I would 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 (LHC) 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... or so the current thinking goes.

This way of thinking is starting to meet with some pushback 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.


it all falls down

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's 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 can be compared to a dog chasing its own tail. What we do is create conditions of extremely high energy density in a small region, which prompts the universe to generate these particles anew. Therefore we aren't necessarily uncovering any hidden structures within the universe.  Instead, we're  only observing how the universe responds to 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. A more somber assessment of the situation is that in performing these kinds of particle accelerator experiments, all we are really doing is looking at how the universe takes out the trash... I am not a particle, yet I do very much the same thing every Tuesday like clockwork. If anyone only observed me on trash Tuesday, the (hopefully false) conclusion would be that my life revolves around garbage. It would take a more serious round of observations, conducted over all the other days of the week to reveal my true nature. So also for the universe. We need experiments in all areas of the universe's life to gain a truer picture of the intricacies of our cosmic habitat.  These experiments wont happen if most of the limited science funding is allocated to build larger and larger colliders.

Don't get me wrong - the experiments we are doing increase our total knowledge base which is a valuable thing, 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 trashy 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.


Breaking the rules makes sense

Why should the universe break its own rules? Again, look at the universe as 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. This is referred to as 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...