Renewed internet discussions

Various people in internet discussion groups have given their feedback on the strand conjecture, anonymously. There is a lot of skepticism, there is anger, and there is a tiny bit of interest. The skepticism is due to the simplicity. The anger is due to the lack of new effects and the lack of magic. Some people attach too much importance to unification. The hopes and wishes that some people associate with a complete description cannot be realized; the ensuing disappointment leads to anger. The tiny bit of interest is due to the possibility of unification. Internet discussion groups have become like the extreme fan sections in football stadiums; people go there to act out their most despicable sides.

2016 - Experimental confirmations

GLB: Christoph, what is the status now? CS: The black hole mergers appear to confirm that dark matter is conventional matter plus black holes; it also confirmed that there are no deviations from general relativity. Both aspects were predicted in the text. The CERN results confirmed the lack of supersymmetry and of any deviations from the standard model, again as predicted in the text. In short, the strand model is doing well at present.

2014/2015 - No knots

SF: Christoph, are you sure that knots are needed in the strand model? CS: Thank you for the question and the suggestion. To make a long story short, you are right; knots are not needed.

Winter 2013/14 - Progress

CS: The strand model still seems correct. The Higgs boson's existence follows from the strand model.

CS: The second calculation of the fine structure constant is encouraging: with a crude approximation, the strand model yields a value that is just 40% off the correct value.

SF: Are you sure that a background-free description is not possible? CS: Yes - there is no way to talk and think without space and time.

SF: How can the W and Z knots form at all? CS: At the horizon, where the embedding into time and space does not work any more. Update: Knots are not needed any more.

RS: How can strands have an invariant diameter? CS: strands have no diameter, as they are not observable. The fluctuations give them an effective diameter that turns out to be invariant.

November 2013

AF: Christoph, What will you do now?

CS: Wait a little bit. There are interesting times ahead.

Summer/Fall 2013 - The Higgs boson is official

LAT: What is your take on the status of the strand model? CS: The Higgs boson has been found and its prediction received the Nobel Prize. For the strand model, this implied that an original prediction was wrong. I used to think that a spin 0 particle does not exst in the strand model. Looking at the model again, the mistake became clear. A particles can also have spherical symmetry if it continuously tangles and disentangles itself in various orientations. This allows for spin 0 even though a static tangle does not. So, despite my earlier thoughts, the strand model is still a good candidate - or so it seems!

LAT: Which unification idea is winning? CS: In the world of particle theory, there are no news. There are no new ideas or approaches coming up and no other ideas based on extension were presented. Since string theory is doing so badly, there is a big danger that researchers turn away from extension completely; this would be a big mistake.

LAT: How is supersymmetry doing? CS: It seems that many theorists are still digesting the lack of supersymmetry in experiments. But supersymmetry introduces many new parameters, so it is not really an advance on the road to unification. So at least one can say that people working on supersymmetry are not happy. My strictly personal opinion is that supersymmetry does not contain the idea of extension; and in my view extension is the basic idea to advance towards unification.

End 2012: update

CS: First ideas on how to reconcile spin 0 and the strand model. Will be in volume 6 soon.

Summer 2012: and now?

MT: Christoph, you predicted a lack of the Higgs, and now it has been found. What will you do? (CS: I need to understand the issue. The situation is confused, and a better understanding is needed. I will look through all the arguments.)

MT: What happens with the strand model? (CS: This will result from the investigation. It is better to be wrong once that to be wrong always!)

July 2012 - Higgs boson found?

CS: The 4th of July CERN announced that they probably found a new particle, a boson, which could be the Higgs boson. Much work needs to be done however to check all the data, but it seems they are onto a possible candidate for the Higgs particle.

March 2012 - Higgs boson

CS: It is not yet March 2012. But it seems that the Higgs bosons has been found. A discussion of the implications for the strand model is found in the newest edition of volume 6.

End 2011 update

CS: The are weak hints for a Higgs, but no definite proof. And there is still no physics beyond the standard model. So far, no data contradict the predictions of the strand model.

Mid 2011 update

CS: Recent data confirmed that despite an intense search, no deviation from the standard model has been found up to 1 TeV: no supersymmetry, no black holes, no higher dimensions, no new particles. The strand model is still in the race for the final theory, but many competing models are dropping out.

End 2010 update

CS: Summer 2010 has brought a new experimental result from Tevatron: the possible Higgs mass window has been reduced even further.

CS: Autumn and winter 2010 have brought many papers from the LHC, the Tevatron, and from dark matter searches. There is no hint for the existence of the Higgs, or for any other deviation from the standard model of particle physics (no squarks, no other supersymmetric particles, no W' bosons, no fourth generation, no anomalous events, no unexpected cross sections, etc.). This is precisely what is predicted by the strand model; and so far, the results contradict all other theories on the market.

CS: Steven Carlip, in his 2010 preprint arXiv:1009.1136 The Small Scale Structure of Spacetime collects arguments from many research approaches in general relativity and comes to the conclusion that "Space at a fixed time is thus threaded by rapidly fluctuating lines". He thus completely independently confirms the description of the vacuum given by the strand model.


CS: This is an important point. At the border of space, the embedding of strands into a 3d background is not perfectly or uniquely possible. Our usual way of thinking is that 3d background space continues even into the region where there is nothing. But this cannot be correct. There is thus a way that strands can "overcross" there (and only there). Another way to put it: the impenetrability of strands is only definable and correct in regions where a background exists. But at the cosmic horizon, there is no background, and thus impenetrability is not given there.

CS: Yes, crossing appear and disappear all the time. A volume that shows a crossing and later on an opposite one would be called a volume containing a crossing switch.

Comparison with superstring theory

What is the difference between the strand model and superstring theory? (CS: Everything. Not a single idea from superstring theory applies to the strand model: there are no higher dimensions, no supersymmetry, no string tension, no E8 or SO(32) gauge goups, no GUT, no string action(s), no landscape, no moduli, no membranes and no compactifications. Compared to superstrings, strands have different definitions of wave functions, Planck units, and space-time. In the strand model, particles are tangles of several strands in three dimensions; in superstring theory, particles are single oscillating superstrings or membranes in 10 or 11 dimensions. There are no anomaly problems in the strand model, so there is no need to add higher dimensions to get rid of them. Strands are featureless; superstrings have fields, tension, and many additional properties. The vacuum state is also different. In short, the definitions of matter, radiation and the vacuum of the strand model and of superstring theory differ completely. In particular, the fundamental principle of the strand model explicitly contradicts superstring theory. In addition, superstring theory has no known basic principle(s) at all, so that even the logical structure of the two approaches differs. Finally, the strand model makes unique experimental predictions, string theory so far does not.)

What does the strand model say about holography? (CS: holography is a natural part of the strand model.)

What does the strand model say about dualities? (CS: there is a form of space-time duality in the strand model; but those dualities that rely on higher dimensions do not appear.)

Comparison with loop quantum gravity

How does the strand model compare with loop quantum gravity and similar approaches? (CS: the general framework is the same: 3-dimensional space and fluctuating extended constituents. But all the rest is different: LQG has no fundamental principle, has more complex constituents, has different definitions of the Planck units, etc.)

About the fundamental principle and its consequences

Strands and crossings

(N.B. Also in string theory with open strings one could imagine that open strings close in on each other, forming chains of closed strings).

Also all sorts of different knitworks could happen to exist in the strand model, even without the strands themselves ever getting broken, cut and/or reglued, is that kind of stuff violating any principle of strand theory, explicitly forbidden, or just has such low probability that they are ignored? (CS: All this is possible.)

How to calculate the probabilities of such configurations to happen? (for example the simple case of N adjacent strands with a loop and one of the loops at the end interpenetrating all the other loops). (CS: I do not know.)

Determinism and causality

Since the fundamental dynamics of strand theory are random, there is no fundamental determinism or causality. How then does determinism and causality emerge in the macroscopic world? (CS: The emergence follows the description in the text. I see two issues with the first statement. (1) It is not clear to me that the there is *no* fundamental determinism; for example, strands effectively "push" each other. (2) Even if there would be no fundamental determinism, I do not see a problem with the emergence of macroscopic determinism. In domains where time is not well defined, what does "determinism" mean? Since time is not well defined at Planck scales, it is expected that determinism is lost there, and that it is only found at scales for which time is defined.)

Why is interpenetration of strands not allowed? (CS: Quantum theory, spin, and elementary particle stability disappear if interpenetration is allowed. A very special form of interpenetration, "overcrossing" at spatial infinity, characterizes the weak interaction.)

General points

How do the papers of Louis Crane relate to these ideas? (CS: Crane's analysis of the shortcomings of present unification approaches is beautifully clear. He does not go as far as to reject the set concept, though. As a solution, Crane proposes using categories for unification, which are based on sets. The strand model uses ideas more similar to those of Kauffman's "Knot Logic", where knot theory and generalized sets are explored.)

The issue of the background is not well explained. (CS: This is now done in detail in the 6th volume, on pages 147-149.)

My own (favourite) model for unification is not cited in the 6th volume. (CS: Send me the reference.)

There are not enough equations. (CS: The important point is rigor, not equations.)

There is not enough mathematical rigor. (CS: Let me know where you want more.)

This is much too simple/childish/crackpotty to be true. (CS: Maybe yes, maybe no. Truth is not decided by these terms, but by correspondence with facts. So far, the strand model explains the three gauge groups and the three generations, the Dirac equation, the field equations of general relativity, the three dimensions of space, the appearance of Lagrangians and the principle of least action. No other unified model does this.)

I have great difficulties in envisioning how large scale objects with complex rotational motions could exist based on the strand model, since all parts of these macroscopic objects (for instance a large rotating disk, a wheel) would cause the tails (which go on in every direction to the horizon) to become twisted. Wouldn't that cause large scale observable effects, which for all purposes, doesn't seem to exist? (CS: no, read about the belt trick!)

Issues on the predictions

The predictions are few. (CS: No, there are many! However, the strand model turns out to be extremely conservative, and predicts no new particles, groups and phenomena, in contrast to most theories that were popular in the last 40 years. Several predictions are contrary to what is generally suggested, such as the lack of a Higgs boson, the lack of supersymmetry, and the lack of unknown dark matter. Instead, the strand model predicts that the standard model of particle physics is valid (with some details) for all measurable energies. So experimental tests are clearly possible. The correct statement is: the strand model makes many quantitative predictions, but predicts no new effects or phenomena.)

Nothing is calculated. (CS: Wrong. The number of forces, their gauge groups, the number of generations and the quantum numbers of particles are predicted. Mass sequences and mass ratios are predicted. And the masses, mixings and coupling constants will follow soon.)

Issues on the derivation of quantum theory

The explanation of wave functions should be clarified. (CS: well, the definition of a wave function as "blurred crossing density" is the simplest possible.)

The addition of quantum states should be explained in more detail. (CS: there is much more in volume 6 now, where addition is defined with help of a process that is marked with green regions in the illustrations.)

The strand model defines wave functions as blurred tangles. That is a hidden variable theory. (CS: no; either look up the definition of hidden variable, or read the relevant discussion in the 6th volume.)

Particle motion

It seems knots have a preferred directions of motion, along the strand. (CS: No. Leptons are made of three strands and there is no preferred direction; the same for quarks, which are made of two strands. Bosons are made of one strand and can move along the strand or "hop" from one strand to the next.)

If the effective volume of strands cause photon interactions, that would mean trying to move not along the strand, would require dragging it along which would create a wake of photons everywhere? (CS: No. Photon interactions are due to electric charge, i.e. tangle chirality, not due to effective volumes. Effective volume is mass, not charge.)

I can't get two knots, such as two overhand knots of different chiralities, to annihilate. (CS: Of course not; a theorem from knot theory forbids annihilation of knots and "antiknots". Note however, that simple overhand knots are only one option for the W boson; as told in the text, in over 99,9% of the time, W bosons are unnknotted and then they can annihilate.)

I can't get two particles to move past each other on a strand. (CS: Four-year old children can do it... :-)

Issues on the derivation of general relativity

If the hypothesis that the graviton is a pair of photons is true, would the graviton exhibit the same self-scattering properties as the single photon? (CS: well, first, the graviton is *not* a pair of photons; it only looks somewhat like such a pair. Related to this is the second point: the scattering behaviour is very different, as gravitons get scattered in the vacuum all the time, whereas photons don't.)

This resembles Kleinert's "world crystal"! (CS: Indeed, it does; though the strand model was developed independently.)

The Schwarzschild radius for a given mass scales linear with M. Therefore simple scaling, (even with no black hole involved), allows the force/power limit to be exceeded. If we can transfer a finite M dispersed evenly at speed v across a hemispherical surface of radius R, without it becoming a black hole when it crosses the surface, there is nothing in GR that would prevent this from being scaled up (double R, double M, keep v the same) until the limit is exceeded. No black hole will form when it crosses the surface, so "observers" can easily observe from that location. (CS: Find the error!)

The strand model claims that all horizons must be curved. But a Rindler horizon is flat and infinite in size. (CS: Find the error!)

Dark matter and the Bullet cluster

How can the strand model explain the bullet cluster without dark matter? (CS: The strand model does not say that dark matter does not exist; it just says that dark matter is normal matter plus black holes. Experiments have not yet disproven this prediction.)

Issues on the derivation of QED

There are no derivations of the deviations from Maxwell's equations. (CS: correct; there do not seem to be any such deviations.)

In regard to the maintenance of photon shape after propagation: (CS: indeed, experimentally the light pulse shape is conserved; the issue is to check that this is also the case in the strand model.)

The derivation of Coulomb's law is done in words only. (CS: yes; the electric field is an effect that results from averaging, analogous to pressure. Any source that emits randomly in all directions leads to a 1/r^2 dependence. No calculations are needed for this result.)

The derivations of Maxwell's equations are done with words only. (CS: yes; but the derivations are correct nevertheless. They follow in the usual textbook way from the 1/r^2 result for static sources when boosts are applied.)

Do photons that "split" while passing double slits give the wrong behaviour when detected? (CS: No, a detector will still detect only whole photons, and the detection behaviour that comes up is the measured one. Interference of photons and fermions is reproduced by strands. An illustration is now in the sixth volume.)

The given estimation of the fine structure constant is based on the assumption that only part of the virtual photons emitted by a charge reach a second charge. This is wrong: in quantum electrodynamics, as in the extended entity model, all virtual photons reach the other charge. (CS: manuscript 4 corrects and avoids this issue; more about this is explained in volume 6.)

Can photons disappear spontaneously? (CS: No, a fluctuation that makes the photon disappear will make a photon appear in another strand nearby.)

A photon disappearing in vacuum, without it being created elsewhere, is a move of strands that does not cause them to interpenetrate. (CS: true, detailed answer will follow. Short answer: a photon still cannot disappear, because it displaces vacuum strands around it a bit, so that the full description of a photon must take this into account; together with the definition of the vacuum state, this leads to the stability of the photon.)

Since all strand fluctuations are possible, a photon can move in any direction along a strand. Then momentum cannot be conserved due to the "all strand fluctuations are possible" rule. (CS: detailed answer will follow; momentum is conserved. This is related to the previous point, especially to the definition of the vacuum state.)

Since only crossing switches are observable, and switches require rotation, then a photon translation will not cause any crossing switches. (CS: not correct, it will cause a huge number of crossing switches; the wavelength of the photon is much larger than the Planck length.) A logical deduction from "all strand fluctuations are possible" statement is that photons can move at unbounded velocity. (CS: yes, they indeed can. This is already the case in QED, as any book in QED will tell. It just happens that such very rapid photons are very unlikely, and that on average, photons move with c, with a sharp drop for the probability for other speeds.)

If the only rules for allowed strand fluctuations are "All strand fluctuations are possible, as long as the strands do not interpenetrate. In particular, there is no speed limit for strands", then the following fluctuations are allowed:

Issues on the derivation of the strong and the weak force, and on the Higgs boson

SR: Is the fourth paper being released soon? (Asked June 4 2008) (CS: it is released. The three gauge interactions are related to the three Reidemeister moves.)

SR: The nonexistence of free quarks is not well explained. (CS: The explanation has been improved.)

SR: No Higgs boson? That makes the theory crazy/wrong/unrenormalizable/without predictive power at high energy. (CS: None of all this, as explained in the 6th volume.)

SR: The strand model's predictions follow directly from the fundamental principle and therefore cannot be changed. But when discussing the Higgs boson, you contemplate how the model could be changed to consider a Higgs as well. Does this mean you might not scrap the model if a Higgs is found in the following years? (CS: I am stricter now; I would scrap the model if the Higgs is found (and shown to be elementary (OUCH!)) or if it is found and shown to be composite, but due to a new interaction (such as technicolor).) Can't we already rule out the option that a Higgs is composite and is described by the standard particles and interactions? (CS: No, see any review on the topic.)

SR: In the strand model, the fluctuations are invariant under parity transformation, and thus all derived dynamics must be invariant under parity transformation. (CS: Everything in this sentence is wrong.)

SR: In the strand model, the fluctuations are invariant under time reversal, and thus all derived dynamics must be invariant under time reversal. (CS: Everything in this sentence is wrong.)

Falsifying the strand model

RR: One requirement of a final theory is that it cannot be modified. But a strand model could be defined in 4+1 dimensions ... it would have different features, but the mathematical theory would still exist. (CS: No, the strand model would not exist, because there are no stable tangles or knots in 4+1 dimensions. The fundamental principle makes no sense in 4+1 dimensions. In other words, by `cannot be modified' I mean the strictest possible option: that it is impossible at all to generalize or modify the model.)

RR: We could also propose a theory with the modification that strand fluctuations have a speed bound v in background space-time (with the strand model being the special case of the limit v->infinity). (CS: that is impossible, think about it.) There are many other ways to modify the theory. (CS: This is an empty and incorrect claim.)

RR: If additional elementary particles are found, what will you do with this work? (CS: Falsified models are worthless.)

Energy and momentum limit for elementary particles

OP: Consider an inertial frame where one elementary particle has slightly less than the momentum limit in the +x direction, and another particle has slightly less than the momentum limit in the -x direction.

OP: But elementary particles with energy/momentum above the Planck values must exist. (CS: Nobody serious ever made this claim. Such elementary particles would contradict either quantum theory or general relativity - or both. You are free to believe that such elementary particles exist, of course, as much as you are free to believe that flying pink elephants exist. In any case, all experiments in the universe are made with elementary particles below Planck energy, since other elementary particles are not observed. Using the observation of low energy elementary particles to claim that elementary particles above Planck energy must exist is like using the observation of low speed to deduce that speeds larger than that of light should exist. Such discussions are a waste of time.)

Fake photon radiation

TP: (Not on the 6th volume, but fun) Is it possible:

CS: Eyes are antennas for photons! There is no way to do anything that gives different results for the two cases.