My response to Wolchover’s question: What is a particle?

In her recent Quanta Magazine article titled “What is a Particle?” Natalie Wolchover lists the main categories of answers by the professional physicists as follows:

  • A Particle Is a ‘Collapsed Wave Function’
  • A Particle Is a ‘Quantum Excitation of a Field’
  • A Particle Is an ‘Irreducible Representation of a Group’
  • ‘Particles Have So Many Layers’
  • Particles ‘Might Be Vibrating Strings’
  • A Particle Is a ‘Deformation of the Qubit Ocean’
  • ‘Particles Are What We Measure in Detectors’

She concludes her article with a quotation:

” ‘We don’t know’ is the short answer.’ ” – Netta Engelhardt

Other answers

Chris Quigg: a particle is “a line in a Feynman diagram, freighted with all its quantum implications

Stephen Wolfram: “particles (like electrons) in our models basically correspond to locally stable structures in the hypergraph.

Frank Wilczek: “So, what is an electron? An electron is a particle, and a wave; it is ideally simple, and unimaginably complex; it is precisely understood, and utterly mysterious; it is rigid, and subject to creative disassembly. No single answer does justice to reality.

What about algebraic approaches to particle physics?

Geoffrey Dixon and Cohl Furey followed the footsteps of Feza Gursey and Murat Gunaydin and made progress in terms of algebraic approaches to particle theory. Along these lines, I pointed out that golden biquaternion can represent fermions. I thought this line of research had great promise but my current thinking is that we need a more sophisticated conceptual framework.

Other ideas

There are literally hundreds of other ideas out there. It is impossible for me to investigate all. I paid attention to Richard Gauthier’s models [5] while I was trying to form my own conceptual framework.

Need for a more sophisticated conceptual framework

The viewpoints mentioned above represent a pretty wide spectrum of ideas. We should keep striving for additional perspectives though. We need even a wider spectrum of ideas. We need a conceptual framework that has unifying ideas in it that empowers us to see the connections among varied disciplines.

Formation of intrinsic properties

Some elements of a different perspective can be found in my recent posts [1] [2] [3] [4]. Based on those articles, I would argue that elementary particles are cognitive cores.

For the ‘cognitive core’ approach to add value it has to explain the formation of intrinsic properties of elementary particles without making a category mistake.

There have been attempts by physicists to explain the intrinsic properties of elementary particles by employing extra spatial dimensions and dynamics of strings. Both approaches are problematic because they make a category mistake. Intrinsic properties of elementary particles are independent of space and time. How can we explain things that are space-invariant and time-invariant in terms of space and time?

In [2] I argued that elementary particles are the natural outcomes of the singularity seeking \mathbb{C} (Binding Action or Confinement) principle. I also argued that elementary particles would be total singularities without the singularity-fighting processes of \mathbb{L} (Freedom Seeking, Liberation) principle.

\mathbb{C} and \mathbb{L} are similar to the “operator” concept of Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory. Instead of introducing extra spatial dimensions and string dynamics we are employing \mathbb{C} and \mathbb{L} operating on the primordial fabric which is more fundamental than space and time, more fundamental than quantum vacuum as well. This way, we avoid the category mistake.

A critic might argue: “OK, you are not using extra spatial dimensions but you are introducing 3 new unknowns \mathbb{C} and \mathbb{L} as well as the primordial fabric . By the way, ‘primordial fabric’ sounds suspiciously similar to quantum field. Besides, details are missing. Show me how charge, is formed from the operation of \mathbb{C} acting on the primordial fabric. Also, you argue that the ‘cognitive core’ category includes conservation laws, if so, show me how \mathbb{C} and \mathbb{L} can implement the conservation laws.

Fair criticism! We are searching in the dark. Professional physicists are not willing to take career risks by exploring new avenues. Burden is on us the independent scientists. Small steps…that’s all I can do at my age. We need motivated younger minds to focus on these subjects.

Can we represent cognitive cores as fiber bundles?

Another way to avoid the category mistake is to employ the mathematical concept of fiber bundles. Remember what Roger Penrose says in Chapter 15 of his book “The Road to Reality”. 

“Instead of regarding these internal dimensions as being part of a higher dimensional spacetime, it will be more appropriate to think of them as providing us with what is called a fibre bundle (or simply a bundle) over spacetime. This is an important notion that is central to the modern gauge theories of particle interactions. We imagine that `above’ each point of spacetime is another space, called a fibre. The fibre consists of all the internal dimensions, according to the physical picture referred to above.” – Roger Penrose

The “internal dimensions” of Penrose are the intrinsic properties (various charges, spin magnitude, invariant mass) of elementary particles. My definition of ‘cognitive core’ includes the intrinsic properties. Therefore, the mathematical concept of fiber bundle is a possible candidate for the representation of cognitive cores.

Pro: In the fiber bundle approach there is no attempt to explain the intrinsic properties in terms of space and time. Therefore there is no category mistake.

Con: I don’t know how to represent conservation laws in a fiber bundle. Remember ‘cognitive core’ is more than intrinsic properties, ‘cognitive core’ category also contains the conservation laws.

Con: One could also argue that fiber bundle approach is not so different from the “Standard Model” (group theoretical) approach where we classify elementary particles based on the internal symmetries and show that conservation laws are the natural outcomes of those internal symmetries.

What about the primordial threads?

In my article “Prometheus and Chronos” I showed a rough sketch of a conceptual model based on the flows (primordial threads) in the primordial fabric. When a curvature is formed in a primordial thread due to \mathbb{C}, depending on whether a closed loop or an open loop is formed, various physical effects manifest.

Prometheus and Chronos needs an update but I decided to leave the article as it is. The key point of that article was that the electric charge and the physical time are simultaneous manifestations of a more fundamental process involving twisted primordial threads.

More speculation

There are models that talk about the “hidden sectors” (also known as “hidden valleys“) of elementary particles. There has been discussions of “mirror worlds” as well.

My intuition tells me that each fermion has an “other side”. I am not talking about yet-to-be-discovered particles of the hidden sector. I am not talking about the antiparticle either. Electron’s antiparticle is positron. Positron is not the “other side” of the electron. I have read Lev Okun’s review of the “mirror world” models with the hope of finding something similar, but no, his review is about “hidden sectors”. I think the concept of the other-side-of-a-fermion was not discussed before. Please let me know if you are aware of a paper.

What is the motivation for the other-side-of-a-fermion concept? The spinor nature of fermions begs for an explanation. The spin magnitude of fermions (\frac{1}{2} \hbar) is another mystery. My speculation is that in the case of fermions there is some sort of circulation between the two sides. It is important to point out that the circulation is not through an extra-spatial dimension. Remember the category mistake mentioned above.

Another motivation is the significance of the golden condition mentioned in the fermion as a golden biquaternion paper. Golden biquaternion Q and its inverse 1/Q may be pointing to the “2 sides” of a fermion.

The other-side-of-a-fermion concept is also motivated by the {\mathbb{C}, \mathbb{L}} hypothesis. My gut feeling is that some type of duality will be unavoidable. A type of duality that combines continuous and discrete; individual and collective; arrow of time and cycle of time; particle and wave; and more. A type of duality that lies in the {\mathbb{C}, \mathbb{L}} interplay.

Call this metaphysics! That’s alright with me. I would call it useful metaphysics.


[1] Ignoring Agency is Ignorance

[2] Confinement and Liberation

[3] Individuality and Collectivity

[4] Semiotic Closure


This entry was posted in physics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.