In modern times, all manner of pseudoscience proliferates - from Velikovsky 'colliding worlds' bunkum to the claim that global warming arises from "natural cycles". It is even embraced by people with Ph.D.s who ought to know better. It isn't that difficult, after all, to ferret out the truth if one is committed and diligent enough and doesn't allow ideological bias to overtake judgment.
Often these people emerge in high I.Q. societies like Mensa and Intertel. There is obviously something, some attribute of the brilliant mind, that leans toward oddity, the iconoclastic and embracing elaborate silliness - but which the gifted mind portrays as "logical" and "sensible". Much of their published work, especially in Intertel (the upper 1% IQ society) is published in the journal Integra, but of course it isn't clear to the editors how much of the content is claptrap because they aren't specialists in physics or astrophysics.
Thus, I have often had to rebut the nonsense as in the recent case of Lawrence Bodkin, Sr. , and his attempted refutation of the expansion of the universe e.g.
(Also published in Integra, iss. 2, 2014, iss. 6, 2015 )
Now, the latest malarkey appears in a 19 -page article in the Nov./Dec. 2015 issue of Integra under the fulsome header: 'The Case Against Modern Physics' - by Ronald W. Satz, Ph.D. This interested me, having taught quantum mechanics and special relativity as well as having written a recent book on modern physics ('Modern Physics: Notes, Problems and Solutions') based on notes from my lectures, as well as problems assigned.
What instantly caught my attention was Satz' claim that his "reciprocal system" offered a "viable alternative to modern physics" i.e. as taught and accepted in the formal scientific community. His claim was strange because first, I'd never heard of this reciprocal system before despite decades of involvement in modern physics, and second, nowhere could I find a single, published paper on it in any peer-reviewed scientific journal. To anyone involved in real science this was a blinking red alarm that the material issued out of the realm of crankhood.
And let's be clear there are millions of cranks, many even with the glorious letters of 'Ph.D.' after their names. Most sensible citizens now appreciate that the mere presence of those letters doesn't necessarily confer good judgment or even academic acumen. The affected individuals themselves somehow become obsessed with some intellectual hobby horse and then ride it all the way to their deaths. I've also encountered them from time to time on the 'All Experts' astrophysics and astronomy forums - where they always seem to have "discovered some new theory" or insight that no one (in the establishment) ever thought of before. For example, "earth flares", e.g.
Thus, I was not at all surprised or nonplussed when I beheld Satz' article content, which amounted to poppycock despite being adorned in the veneer of sensible (even scholarly) language. But it was not what it seemed to be when one examined seriously the underlying claims - none of which, by the way - is supported by even one mathematical equation (which is the language of physics, showing the relationship between physical laws and their quantities).
For example, a Rational Wikipedia contribution on the Reciprocal System observes in respect of Dewey Barnard Larson who Satz cites extensively (9 references on p. 31):
"One of the most striking features of Larson's work, and the source of tremendous criticism, is his almost total lack of any mathematics anywhere to be found amongst his books.[ This is particularly galling to most mainstream scientists who view equations as essential for making the numeric predictions required to match theory with experiment - experiments that tend to punch out numbers, such as transition frequencies, absorption coefficients, energy ratings in particle accelerators and so on. Yet Larson avoids doing any rigorous mathematical analysis at all."
True to form, Satz follows suit, as Rational Wiki also notes:
"Satz extended and computerized Larson's "System" and even produced equations that might lead to predictions - none of which Satz seems keen to actually use. While Larson's publications are long text walls, Satz's work often features pages upon pages of badly formatted equations. This usually renders his work completely unreadable because of the ambiguity in what constants he's using and how these equations fit together "
This is critical because it means all his expressed claims can be taken with a grain of salt, lacking any mathematical expressions. As Mark Chu-Carroll of the Good Math/Bad Math blog has put it: "the worst math is no math." When it comes to physics, the lack of a formal mathematical explanation is a huge red flag.
But Satz appears to believe his simple statements of extreme claims, cloaked in questionable logic and divorced from formalism can stand on their own. Some examples:
1) "The Reciprocal System utilizes the traditional scientific method and Aristotelian logic"
This is a contradiction in itself for a number of reasons. First, there is no "traditional scientific method" that has any relation to "Aristotelian logic" because Aristotle never performed proper experiments. Aristotle wrote that heavy objects fall more rapidly than lighter weight ones and Europeans believed him for two thousand years. But anyone today can perform a properly constructed experiment (based on Galileo's original one) showing ALL objects fall at the same rate once one accounts for air resistance. Thus, Aristotle's very logic led to his false finding which was not disproven until Galileo did the experiment by dropping a bullet and a heavy cannonball from a tower. Aristotle's observations had been incomplete, his interpretation a vast oversimplification.
WHAT exactly is this "reciprocal system" anyway? It is actually based on taking a simple kinematic equation learned by high school physics students, i.e. v = x / t (= space/ time) and generalizing it to an entire theory of everything. Hence, the wizards behind the reciprocal system saw that space and time in this simple equation are in reciprocal relation to v, e.g.
v ~ x, v ~ 1/t
So everything in the whole cosmos must be. Thereby one arrives at Dewey Larson's original balderdash, viz.
"Space and time are the two reciprocal aspects of this motion, and cannot exist independently. They have no significance except to establish a common reference in describing phenomena. Velocity is a relation of space per unit time; with energy being the inverse relation of time per unit space. We observe space as being 3-dimensional, but space does not exist without time, therefore time must be 3-dimensional as well. It is this discovery that opened the door to the quantum world, and the configuration space inside the atom, as a direct result of the basic postulates of the Reciprocal System of theory:
- The physical universe is composed of one component, motion, existing in three dimensions, in discrete units, and with two reciprocal aspects, space and time.
- The physical universe conforms to the relations of ordinary commutative mathematics, its primary magnitudes are absolute, and its geometry is Euclidean.
But we will explode several more of Satz' claims below, enough to show his entire article is based on patent pseudoscientific claptrap. So let us move on:
2) "the space-time progression is a linear or translational motion. Photons are linear vibrations moving as waves. Rotational motion applied to a photon creates a subatom"
This is derived from Dewey Larson's central thesis that the universe is not a universe of matter, but a universe of motion, one in which the basic reality is motion, and all entities—photons, particles, atoms, fields, forces, and all forms of energy—are merely manifestations of motion
All of which is gibberish. The theory is wrong in every detail, and is trivially proven so with simple and obvious experiments. For example, the photon is easily detected in the classic photo-electric experiment, e.g.
The effect was first observed by Heinrich Hertz in 1887, but it was left for Einstein to explain (and for which he won the Nobel Prize) in 1905. Hertz demonstrated the effect using an apparatus such as shown above. Here, an evacuated tube contained two electrodes connected to an external circuit with the anode being the metal plate on which the radiation was incident. The photo-electrons emerging from the surface thus had sufficient kinetic energy to reach the cathode despite its negative potential. These electrons formed the current (photo-current) measured by the ammeter.
None of this has to do with the contrived nonsense Satz describes. In addition, "rotating photons" do not exist except in terms of the circular polarization which we associate with the E-vector of electromagnetic waves or radiation - but which existence Satz rejects (see "Other daft statements made by Satz' below) and they certainly do not "create sub atoms". "Sub atoms" (subatomic particles) are created by nuclear fission processes. Thus, one uses a neutron to bombard an unstable (compound) nucleus, say U 235, which then yields two “daughter nuclei” : La 139 and Mo 95, with two additional neutrons released. These released neutrons are subatoms - just like the neutrons used to bombard the U 235. The diagram below encapsulates the process:
(3) "Quantum mechanics and Relativity do not work well together - therefore either one or both must be wrong: contradictions do not exist in a logical universe."
Here, Satz clearly confuses contradiction with complementarity. The fact is one (QM) deals with the micro-level of electrons and atomic behavior at the Planck length scale, while special relativity generally deals with the properties of exceptionally fast moving objects at macroscopic scales.(Though it has also been used to show the path of cosmic ray muons are shortened in our atmosphere)
We know quantum mechanics can't be wrong, because the very existence of all our electronic devices - from solid state HDTVs to smart phones to Ipads make use of quantum properties (e.g. quantum tunneling )so otherwise would not exist. But they do! Hence, either these devices are figments of our imagination OR quantum mechanics is a valid theory.
The same goes for special and general relativity. We know relativity is valid because we have the experiments which prove it. For example, Einstein, in his paper: ‘On the Influence of Gravitation on the Propagation of Light’ derived the advance of Mercury's perihelion e= 43 seconds per century using:
e = [24 (p)3 a2]/ T2 c2 [1 - e2]
where e is the advance (or rotation) in seconds of arc, T is the period of revolution in seconds, c the velocity of light and e the eccentricity of the orbit. Repeated measurements show little deviation and also that Newton's theory of gravitation can't be valid, showing wide divergence from the observed measurement.
(4) Atoms and atomic bonding: In conventional theory electrons somehow cause atoms to bond....etc.
Satz then goes off into a half-baked speculation concerning a "space -time progression" as an "outward force moving atoms away from each other."
While not belaboring or repeating all of his many misconstrued and distorted claims (in his subsections (6) and (7)) let me simply say his nonsense is refuted on its face by the fact that we've actually been able to obtain electron microscope images of atoms, e.g.
This is possible because electron microscopes use a beam of electrons rather than photons, as you’d find in a regular optical microscope. Since electrons have a much shorter wavelength than photons, you can get much greater magnification and better resolution. If Satz' speculations rendered in his parts 6 and 7 were really correct, we'd not be able to: 1) see the atoms as displayed, 2) obtain them using electron microscopes in the first place!
(5) General relativity and similar theories posit that gravitation is caused by a deformation or "warping of space'. But all the sky surveys have shown space is Euclidean"
The problem for Satz here is twofold: 1) He confuses local deformation of space- time with large scale or cosmic curvature, and 2) He doesn't process that there is what we call Euclidian space-time at the large scale.
As to the deformation or warping of space-time this was first demonstrated by way of the deflection of star light during solar eclipse in 1919, and was actually described by Sir Arthur Eddington in detail in his book, 'Space, Time and Gravitation'. A rough illustration of the effect is shown below:
In the diagram the light from the star at actual position S2 is seen to deflect by some angle a, thereby altering the image position to that seen at S1. This is a direct result of the effect of the gravitational field of the Sun on the light rays. The true direction is thus alone the ray ES2 while the deflected position is along the ray ES1.
Then we obtain using the more refined diagram:
So the deflection angle, a: a = - 4 GM/ b or (in cgs units):
a = - 4 GM/ b c2
The phenomenon of gravitational lensing also shows the local deformations of space time, analogous to what happens in the gravitational bending of star light, such that we are enabled to observe cosmic objects (e.g. quasars) because of space curvature that would otherwise remain hidden from view.
It's also clear Satz doesn't know the difference between 4D Euclidean ("flat") space-time and 2D Euclidiean space. But since he doesn't do math he was likely never introduced to the Einstein interval equation with the tensor g mn :
(g 21 - g 22 g 23 g 24)
(g 31 g 32 g 33 g 34 )
(g 41 g 42 g 43 g 44)
g 22 g 23 g 24
g 33 g 34
Now, for flat space-time the values are all 0 except for those along the diagonal for which:
(6) "O and B (spectral) class stars are supposed to be "young" but if they exist within galaxies or galactic clusters they must really be old."
This is taken off his subsection 12 for 'Stellar Energy Generation' which is as replete with errors as his previous sections. It is clear from reading his section that he doesn't even grasp basic astronomy that a first year astronomy student would know, i.e. the formation of stars and galaxies (as well as star clusters, he calls them "galactic clusters" which means something different, i.e. clusters of galaxies) occur on different time scales. Hence, it is perfectly plausible for a "young" O or B class star to exist in a galaxy ten to 100 times older.
Stars, bear in mind, form continuously from the background plasma and interstellar dust clouds (nebulae)occurring in galaxies. If these clouds attain sufficient mass they will form highly luminous O or B spectral class stars that burn their hydrogen fuel much more rapidly and hence end their stellar lives more quickly. By contrast, stars of much less mass, say like Alpha Centauri or the Sun, will burn their mass much less rapidly and hence last longer. Both outcomes are determined by the mass-luminosity relation. From this relation we have:
L’/L = (M’/M)3.5
Or Log (L’/L) = 3.5 Log (M’/M)
where L, M refer to solar values and L', M' to (other) stellar values.
For the upper limit of a B-type star, (16 times the solar value) we'd have: M'/M = 16
The luminosity ratio (rate at which energy is generated) would then be: (16)3.5 = 16384
or over 16,300 time the solar output. Clearly such a B star would consume its energy much faster.
(7) "The output of stars on the main sequence is quite steady and controlled contrary to what we observe in the known fusion process, the hydrogen bomb"
Here, it's almost too much to have to spell out to Satz that his analogy is absurd. Of course, stars like the Sun are "controlled" i.e. fusion reactors. Why is this? It's because of something every third year astrophysics student learns: pressure -gravity balance! Ultimately, the principle can be used to arrive at the total energy of a star- which must be negative - if it is to remain bound - and not "blow up".
The binding or total energy ET of a star then is:
Which must hold at every stellar layer.
(8) "The Reciprocal theory says 'NO!' to all the conventional theory. There was no Big Bang. The matter was not originally concentrated. It was widely dispersed. There is a gravitational limit of matter...outside of the gravitational limit matter moves apart due to the space-tiume progression"
Which he then ties to the behavior of clusters, e.g. globular. In fact, he does have hold of a correct physical principle but it has nothing to do with his Reciprocal system. He has merely appropriated the virial theorem which I applied above. According to the virial theorem:
2K + W = 0
for any spherical system in equilibrium, where K is the gas kinetic energy (K = 3/2(g -1)U) and W is the gravitational potential energy, and g is the ratio of specific heats and U is the internal energy. From this one can obtain the binding (or total) energy of a star OR star cluster, or larger aggregation, as: E(S)= K + W.
All Satz is doing then is applying his own version of the viral theorem to the Big Bang to claim some "gravitational limit" i.e. such that the binding energy of the system is no longer negative but positive- so effectively the cosmos can't be gravitationally bound and dense but "moves apart".
The problem is that actual observations totally refute his nonsense. Let's apply the basic physics principle embodied in the conservation of energy first, as applied to the cosmos and cosmic expansion. We can write the equation for the total energy of the expanding universe as:
Satz also is oblivious to the evidence for the Big Bang related to the 2.7 K cosmic microwave background radiation. In his brilliant appendix (First Three Minutes) Stephen Weinberg brilliantly shows how one can use this and thermodynamics to extrapolate backward in time to a superhot, super dense state.
Other daft statements made by Satz:
"Type 1 supernova occur when a hot star reaches a certain temperature or mass limit"
In fact, Type 1 supernovae need to occur in binary systems, where two stars (one a compact, hyper-dense white dwarf, the other usually a giant star) revolve about a common mass center. The much denser white dwarf then accretes mass from the giant star ultimately gaining mass and undergoing a runaway reaction releasing up to 2×1044 J to unbind the star in a supernova explosion.
"The Reciprocal System explanation for stellar energy generation is fission"
Here, Satz appears to not be aware of multiple experiments that show that the energy release for given mass of nuclear 'fuel' is far larger for fusion (at about 7 MeV/amu) than for fission (at about 1 MeV/amu)
Indeed, Indeed, using the nuclear fusion premise one can work out the mass of the Sun given off per second in order to generate its observed luminosity of 3.9 x 10 26 W. Since this is equal to:
E/ t = 3.9 x 10 26 J/ sec then the energy is: 3.9 x 10 26 J
Using Einstein's mass-energy equation: E = m c2 we can find for the mass of the Sun converted to radiant energy per second via fusion::
m = E/c2 = 3.9 x 10 26 J/ (9 x 10 16 m/ s2 ) = 4.3 x 10 9 kg
Exhaustive investigations in this regard, eventually led to the realization that fusion was the only practical energy by which stars could be sustained. Unlike fission it also needs to be born in mind that fusion as occurring in the Sun, for example, is cyclical - thus writing out the reactions for the proton-proton cycle:
1H + 1H + e- ® 2 H + n + 1.44 MeV
And noting that the two ending product protons commence the cycle anew, so that the generation of nuclear energy is ongoing.
"Experiments designed to detect neutrinos have found far fewer than detected."
This has since been resolved given the discrepancy required a new understanding of neutrino physics, requiring a modification of the Standard Model of particle physics – specifically, neutrino oscillation. Essentially, as neutrinos have mass, they can change from the type that had been expected to be produced in the Sun's interior into two types that would not be caught by the detectors in use at the time.
"The stars in globular clusters are actually relatively new"
In fact, the globular clusters contain two populations of differing mean age related to the metallicity ratio (the mean metallicity of globular clusters decreases with increasing Galactocentric distance). Thus, one has a "metal poor" ([Fe/ H] < -1.00) component associated with the galactic "halo" and a "metal rich"([Fe/ H] > -1.00) component associated with the disk - with the latter of older age given the higher metal proportions. (Van den Bergh, S.: The Galaxies of the Local Group', pp. 88-89).
Contrary to Satz’ take, the Heisenberg Principle is genuine and not “vague”. Indeed, any system of modern physics which lacks this principle – as he claims his RST does (p. 17) - is a bogus system. Indeed, as one critic aptly noted: "He did not recognize that essentially the entirety of electronic devices would simply not function if he were correct."
- None of Dewey Larson's work (on which Satz' article is based) has ever been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal. The only evaluations of Larson's work were performed by known supporters of the Reciprocal System, and have an alarming tendency to use the word "published" when they really mean "uploaded to Satz' WordPress blog.
- One enterprising member of the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today forum actually tested Satz' 'Two Capacitor Problem' writing in the last forum post:
"Simply put, RST is a failed theory. Satz introduced fundamental errors based on a misunderstanding of Correct Theory. Now scientists make mistakes all the time, but Satz absurdly never bothered to test the predictions of his Wrong Theory, despite having worked on RST for approximately three decades. He did not recognize that essentially the entirety of electronic devices would simply not function if he were correct. The able functioning of multiple billions of computers, cellphones, radios, televisions, clocks and the like show us that Satz and RST are not only wrong, but overwhelmingly so."
Rational Wiki adds that evidently Satz doesn't believe in abiding by experimental outcomes, e.g
"By June 2012, Satz had finally got around to doing some experiments that showed RS theory to be wrong, though despite his mentor Larson constantly insisting throughout his books that you should abandon ideas if they don't match experiments, Satz didn't give up on RS theory, and seemed more intent than ever to hammer it into reality in any way possible."
- Because Larson was nothing more than a lone crank, his Wikipedia page was deleted for the non-notability of the subject.[The article in question was entirely a piece of fancruft, based largely on a biography of Larson hosted by his supporters. (Rational Wikipedia)
Finally, Isaac Asimov- who once praised Reciprocal System as an example of iconoclastic challenge, later withdrew that support and noted it wasn't really science and ought to be eschewed. As Asimov wrote (in Chemical & Engineering News, July 29, 1963):
"If no electrons exist within the atom, as Larson suggests, I do not see how the photoelectric effect can be explained. From this I conclude that however stimulating Larson’s book might be as an intellectual exercise, it need not be taken seriously as anything more than that."