J’en ai marre

Pfft

Yeah, so I’m learning French with Duolingo. For years, actually. And when not doing that, I occasionally have half an eye on the death throes of theoretical physics. As I am presently ill with a nasty cold (covid ruled out), and feel grumpy as hell, I submitted a comment to one of my favorite blogs. It was unfair, curmudgeonly, and …

“Another comment not to publish:

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/out-of-a-magic-math-function-one-solution-to-rule-them-all

“The almost magical nature of the mathematics of lattices in 1,2,8,24 dimensions, and the parallelizable spheres in 1,2 4,8 dimensions – this is the future. Not endless circular discussions on how best to think about QFT, or whether ABC is proven or not. You are complicit in keeping physics stuck in an earlier century.”

Ne’ermind

As has been my habit since retiring, my wife and I have traveled to EU annually (2020 perforce an exception), and then I would write up our experiences and self publish the results with Kindle Direct Publishing. Naturally no one but friends ever bothers to purchase these marvelous travelogues, so I’ve decided to publish the next one here, in installments. And herewith, part 1:

Descending Dystopia

After I retired, my wife (pseudonym, Francesca) and I got in the habit of popping over to the EU for a few weeks each Spring. In the months before – as early as November or December of the prior year – I’d start looking for airline deals that would enable me to travel prone instead of sitting upright. I’m retired = not young. And I am tall, and lanky. Six or more hours in a conventional airplane seat causes every joint in my body to rebel. They burn tires in my arteries in protest, and demonstrate their displeasure in many other unpleasant ways. If you can fix your travel dates early enough, thousands can be saved.

We took these trips in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. We time things so we’re overseas in May/June. Anyway, along comes December 2019, and I start thinking I should check BA or AirFrance for deals for our 2020 trip. But I do not. I cannot tell you why not, but I hesitated. In January I do not again, nor in February. In March it becomes apparent why I hesitated: my spidey senses knew it would be pointless. Well, maybe not spidey senses, but I do wonder why I felt zero urgency. By the end of March, 2020, covid had become an international cause for concern, and people in the EU began dying at alarming rates, and the whole continent began locking doors and closing shops. Foreign visitors were no longer welcome. Quarantined Italians would be singing to each other from windows, and far too many would not survive.

Well, we had no interest in exceptions being made for Francesca and myself, and besides, we had Canada as a fallback alternative. And then we didn’t. Canada closed its borders to nonessential travelers. Frivolous travelers were also excluded, so we would be spending the spring at home; then the summer, and the fall, winter, and yet another spring.

In early March, 2020, just as all this stuff was hitting the fan, Francesca and I spent a couple days in Boston, had lunch at our favorite restaurant with my sister and her husband. And I possibly contracted covid. I’m not sure – I will never be sure. All I know is that by May I had some sort of unpleasant gastrointestinal distress, periodic fever, and this lasted about 3 weeks. Not all covid infections attack the lungs. Some are GI, and as I never felt the need to consult a doctor, no tests were run. Still, I mention this because …

By July I was having more distressing things happening in my nether regions – disturbing things that required action – competent action. I decided to bypass all local GPs and I contacted MGH in Boston directly and made an appointment with a urologist there. Ok, well, yeah, heavy fucking sigh … so two weeks later:

1. I knew I had stage 4 incurable prostate cancer.

2. Hormone therapy was suggested, using a drug to chemically castrate me, as the cancer requires testosterone, and the testes produce the majority of that.

3. However, I was 71 at the time, I was tired of leading my life partly under control of sex hormones, making me a slave of my DNA – a robot. And I had a golf ball sized spermatocele cyst down there that was aggravating as hell. So I told them to skip the drugs and just take the offending organs, and the cyst, and turn me from a puppet to a real boy. I was unaware when making this decision that it was very much cheaper than the chemical route, with none of the chemical side effects.

4. My urologist, when I told him and the oncologist my decision, said, “How about tomorrow?”

5. Well, I had to spend a day having tests run, and the day after that it was done. In short order my PSA (a measure of prostate health; it should be under 4 … I forget the units) dropped from 1550 to 4.87, then shortly after that to a little over 1. Now, that didn’t mean my prostate was healthy – it wasn’t; it still was cancerous, and that cancer had still spread to my bones. At this point the PSA was just a measure of how much under control the cancer was. If you’re interested, look it up. It is related to testosterone, and the cancer can’t grow without that hormone.

6. To further diminish my body’s ability to generate testosterone I will spend my remaining days popping pills daily to suppress the adrenal gland’s testosterone factory. With the help of these my PSA dropped to “undetectable”. And 3 months after that it was still undetectable. I’d really like for it to stay that way. It’s now September, 2021. Next month I’ll find out when I go back to MGH for my periodic blood draw and oncologist meeting. I’m part of a study now, so I’m hoping that there are more people than just myself with a vested interest in the efficacy of my therapy. Yay science.

7. And so we get to early 2021, the year 2020 having proven disappointing in so many ways. No Italy; No France; And a Death Sentence. Fuck fuck fuchsia.

I am a different person now, in some ways – an MCU Watcher. This is a comic character that I first encountered when the Silver Surfer was first introduced. Yeah, and anyway, the big baddie Galactus was about to render the earth uninhabitable, and although The Watcher could have done something about it, I recall he either didn’t interfere … well, I think he didn’t, and his excuse was that he just watches. He is separate from the milieu of organic life’s struggles throughout the universe.
See where I’m going with this? I’m no longer a being whose primary purpose is the production of the materials of procreation. And while I’m still aware that the vast bulk of humanity do have this purpose, and its effects can be seen in nearly everything they do, I am now separate – a Watcher. This experience is weird, fascinating, occasionally very disturbing, and liberating. On forms that require me to specify what gender or sexual orientation I identify with, if there’s no option for “None of the above”, well, I’m at a loss.


I have not lost empathy; most of who I was is still there, and, like feeling a vestigial limb, I have the occasional dream of sexual encounters. I mean, during an actual sex act, specific parts of our brains are activated. Those parts were not excised along with the ignition keys, and it is not surprising that the stray electron or two might run through that portion of my brain from time to time. These dreams are all heterosexual male, so until that changes I guess I’ll keep on selecting “Male” on those forms, with pronouns to suit.


By the way, for anyone similarly afflicted, and considering taking the direct root (removal of testes), I would ask yourselves some questions first. It has a psychological effect, and let’s face it, the average heterosexual male spends their lives being motivated by a never ceasing need for sexual release. Our whole civilization is built around this need, and the concomitant female response needs. I am to some extent autistic, and I have an active internal life that is distinct from those around me. It does not involve other people. I was counting on this to help me adapt. Still, at times, I feel at a loss. Replacing hormonal motivations with something internal, it can be tough. The things that used to give me joy – like Francesca, and dogs – they still do, and I use Francesca and dogs and other stuff to provide some solid ground upon which to stand, and, more importantly, move – to overcome inertia. I haven’t a clue how different things would be had I taken the chemical root. Well, it would have been much more expensive, and involved many more side effects … for years. But, I mean, in other respects the end result is the same, isn’t it? I don’t really know. What’s the difference between hiding the ignition keys, and destroying them outright. Still, male egos being what they are, … yeah, so. Enough.


Ok, that is all just context. It’s the Dark Enemy hovering above me for the rest of my life, although at present the hormone therapy is sheltering me fairly well.

(Speaking of empathy, my emotions have always churned whenever I encountered a story about childhood cancer. Now that churning is vastly more personal. I want to reach out and help, and although largely impotent to do so, something prayer-like occurs in my mind each time.


And then there are things like something I encountered on Reddit recently. Some time ago someone posted a picture … of something … with the message: “The cancer won.” Someone else reposted that with the message: “His last post was 9 years ago.” That sort of thing is very unsettling.)

Tango Foxtrot

Weird codger wants kids in his yard

So, as I get older my fear that I may not know what I’m talking about makes me increasingly uneasy. Ameliorating this potentially debilitating Angst is another mental attribute that decreases with age: my willingness to give a shit.

That being said, since the 1950s theoretical particle physics has been dominated by ever more elaborate refinements to QFT, and I would include string theory in that category. As a tool for theoretical advancement, analytical methods of this ilk are metaphorical machetes. Very efficacious at hacking through the jungle, and marginally useful in finding one’s way, for they occasionally smack into an obstruction (anomaly, infinity, prediction at odds with experimental data, rock), and in this way you divine a path through the bush that you hope is leading someplace refulgent, full of treasure and pristine first print comics from the early days of DC and Marvel. Still, at each rocky obstruction debates will inevitably ensue as to which direction from the rock should we continue our hacking. Should we choose the direction with maximal Naturalness (more of a philosophical notion than usefully theoretical), or some direction which has fewer attributes with which we are comfortable? Over the past 40+ years theoretical physics has, with few exceptions, chosen directions from obstructions that reinforced a way of thinking that was responsible for getting them lost in the first place.

Still, given my peculiar way of thinking, and the body of work I created over those same 40+ years, I will go to my grave wondering why these machete wielding theorists don’t just get a map. For example, back in the 1920s Dirac provided theoretical physics with a very powerful map. The mainstream couldn’t help but embrace his ideas, but then came QFT and all the comfortable analytical machete stuff, and back into the jungle we went. To hell with algebraic abstraction. And that’s too bad, for there is definitely a map forward in my own work, and in many ways it’s a vastly expanded version of Dirac’s. It’s pure mathematics – Ur-maths, not concocted – yet it requires neutrinos to be Dirac, with Dirac masses. It requires there be a mirror antimatter universe, linked to ours by … screw it. Read the fuchsia papers and books. And in support of the veracity of these notions, I submit that it may not be coincidental that Dirac and Dixon are both 5 letter family names beginning with “Di”. See? Are you convinced yet?

Anyway, fuck it. You can’t redirect a river that has spent decades digging itself into a mile deep canyon.

From my latest travel memoir (unfinished)

A thing I once found alarming was the Millennial and Zoomer habit of blaming on Boomers the world’s decline into post-apocalyptic yuckiness. And, yes, to be sure, Boomers had their hands on the tiller during this recent, noticeable period of global disintegration, but let’s look less shallowly at this fact before we go dooming a whole generation to hell.

During the 1960s a great many Boomers were hippies, in favor of peace and love and LSD. And they were vehemently against an older generation that seemed hellbent on sending them to their deaths in Southeast Asia for absolutely no good reason, other than it enriched the Military-Industrial Complex. Are these the Boomers at whom the Millennials and Zoomers are so ready to point the gnarly finger of blame. Well, no, not really.

See, most Boomers were not Flower Children. Most were on a spectrum from conventional and straight-laced, all the way up to psychopaths. And in every generation, without exception, it is mostly citizens on the psychopath end of the psychological spectrum who seek and achieve power and influence. So, you Zoomers may think you’re immune to this societal disease, and that voices of reason will gain power when your turn comes, but those voices of reason cannot compete with the psychopaths.

And this is especially true in nations eschewing democracy in favor of more oppressive forms of government. I mean, yes, Putin is a Boomer, but do you think he was ever a Flower Child? He’s more like some guy whose happiest moments were in high school (or, in this case, USSR KGB), and he’s holding on to those times, carousing with his buds, invading and bombing a neighboring country, because, shit, they did have a crazy good time in high school. Remember how Czechoslovakia and Hungary rolled over so easily? Good times; good times.

Please finish The Expanse while I’m still conscious

When I was 16 I remember being resistant to growing up. I wrote poems about being an elf in a tree larking about, doing my own thing, holding the society’s need to absorb me into the body with disdain. I was immature. And I am still immature, 57 years later. It’s not just a pose, in support of which I note that I recently encountered Babymetal videos (which can best be described as a Japanese anime version of the very serious legitimate Heavy Metal musical genre; Babymetal disbanded after 11+ years 4 months ago, and only the Fox God knows if and when they’ll be back … I’m just quoting here – don’t look at me like that), and I immediately thought, “Awesome!”. As to Heavy Metal itself, I have no use for it. It is dead serious and …

Yeah, so I go in for a lot of nerd stuff: games like Skyrim; movies like When Marnie Was There (my present obsession), and of course, the new Dune, over which I swooned each of the 10 (and counting) times I viewed it. But more to the point, a couple of months ago I also swooned over the steampunk animated series Arcane. The story was terrific, but the animation was MOMA worthy in every sense.

Ok, so we’re all familiar with The Expanse (if not, what the fuchsia are you even doing here). My wife and I loved the show, and when it was canceled (the first time) we were willing to give kudos to the billionaire who bought the rights and continued the series.

During this time a brilliant, spectral, former student of my wife, said I should read the books. But … but … there are 9 of them, each of them huge. Eventually I gave in, primarily because I realized I already owned book one, which had been collecting dust on my secondary (or tertiary) to be read shelf for a year or four. So, while still watching the TV series, I plodded into book one. Then I walked – quickly. Then I ran. Crikey, this book is really good, exceeding the show even. Long story short, I read all nine in a row, and am waiting for the additional book of material not incorporated into the original nine. And at the end of book nine, I fell into a deep awestruck coma from which I have not fully recovered. Holy crap, what an ending.

Each season of the show covered roughly a single book, and there were 6 seasons. Ok, let’s pause while you do the math. Got it? Right! The last 3 books have no concomitant TV seasons. The show just ended, and before what I consider the best of the books.

In extenuation, it has to be said that book 7 picks up the story 30 years after the material in books 1 to 6. So, if you’re going to be lazy, or out of money, then it’s a viable point at which to end the show. More so if you haven’t read all the books, 7, 8, and 9, in particular. But if you have, then ending the show with just 6 seasons really sucks.

Interestingly, season 6 includes extensive material from an Expanse novella, Strange Dogs, which is not part of the primary 9 books. This material stands at odds to, and has nothing to do with, the main plot of season 6, and as anyone who has read the last 3 books will tell you, there is only one reason Strange Dogs was incorporated into season 6: the writers assumed, hoped, or just prayed that there would eventually be seasons 7, 8, and 9.

Dixon to the rescue (again)

Animate the final 3 seasons. The animation style in Arcane would do very nicely, but there are a few other animated sci fi series out there with animation styles that would do as well. This solves the problem of aging the entire cast by 30 years. It allows for effects that would be difficult and costly in a CGI/live-action version. And for fuschia’s sake, bring Alex back. Just ignore the fact that they had to kill the character off because the actor let his fame sink to his nether regions. He’s important to the story. Surely there are other actors out there who can do a Martian southern drawl. And cartoon characters can’t sexually misbehave in real life, right? Just bring him back, and we’ll pretend none of that really uncomfortable Alex has a stroke and dies crud ever happened. It was stupid in every possible respect.

So, seasons 7,8,9 with Arcane style animation; the whole Strange Dogs subplot now has meaning; Alex is back; everyone is animated to look 30 years older; and … for fuchsia’s sake! Have you even read book 9? Just do this … and soon. I’m running out of time, and it would make me so happy.

Intellectual Entropy

So, Peter Woit’s blog has regained some of its old spark, albeit likely just temporarily. The efforts of the likes of David Gross (see PW’s link to DG being nasty and dismissive to nice guy, Carlo Rovelli), and Edward Witten, to embrace a picture of theoretical physics that obviates the need of younger generations to seek improvements on their work, or – heaven forfend – supplant that work with something better, is … Well, I sent a comment to PW (comment rejected, but, being a bad boy, I knew it would be):

“Much of this speaks to me of desperate needs to coalesce out of smoke vanishing dreams of leaving a legacy. Denial will work fine until – one by one – senescence renders their voices inaudible.”

Let’s talk about legacy. Well, you just sit there and be quiet; I’m going to talk about legacy.

That word – at least as it pertains to the relatively recent past in TP – conjures up names like: Einstein; Heisenberg; Schrödinger; Feynman. These theorists, and others like them, certainly left legacies, and they are well-deserved. But without exception they benefited greatly from powerful publicity machines extolling their virtues. And their technical achievements, while unintelligible to the laity, at least conjure up mental pictures many muggles can ooh and aah at: ooh, space is curved – cool; aah, there is a level of reality beneath what we can see and touch – awesome. Everybody is onboard.

But none of these theorists are even close to being my favorite. That would be someone with no measurable publicity machine in his lifetime, and who – unlike, for example, Feynman – was averse to self promotion. He was famously taciturn, more than a bit autistic, and his ideas – without which there would be no standard model (at least not as soon) – involve notions that muggles (including the press) found more than incomprehensible. No one – until Farmelo’s wonderful, posthumous, biography, The Strangest Man – thought there was a good story in this fellow. He wasn’t extravagant. His ideas were perplexing; they simply found no space to reside in the typical muggle’s cranium. Where’s the flair? How about some bongos? Or a violin? Are there some pithy quotes? “No.” (That’s an actual quote, and almost as good as it gets.) Anyway, you know who I mean: Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac.

His legacy is undiluted by popular acclaim and adoration. It rests almost completely on work that forms the backbone of modern theoretical physics.

I’ve recently read that much of his work was privately couched in terms of projective geometry, an area of mathematics unfamiliar to his peers, and that prior to presenting his results he would re-express his ideas in more touchy-feely analytical terms. His brain may have worked in a realm unfamiliar to said peers, but he knew how to translate his brain to be non threatening, and more familiar.

So, back to D Gross and E Witten. In surrendering to the multiverse and anthropic gunk, they are basically saying, physics stops with us, and they intend to throw youngsters, and future generations, under the bus, while creating a verisimilitude of legacy for themselves. I’m just guessing, but I suspect many of ces vieux pets would have found Dirac’s work unpalatable, his character uncomfortable, and, had they known how he truly thought, they would have resisted the inclusion of his oeuvre into mainstream thought.

I had another more verbose comment for PW’s blog, but decided against it:

“During my decades postdoc-ing and conferencing, I encountered more than a few instances of elder eminences presenting their latest ideas, assured that these often delusional notions would bring the focus of the klieg lights back to them. And that’s really what this is all about, isn’t it? It’s all about legacy. Gross and his ilk are seeing the possibility of a long lasting legacy turn to dust, and they’re scrambling to pull the dust back together. This is intellectual entropy. And no, 80 years from now their life’s work will not cohere. If anyone is still working on making sense of our universe at that time – and I personally consider that doubtful – they won’t be holding the failed ideas of the last 40 years in reverence. Well, unless of course they’ve become matters of theological faith.”

Dirac and I (shades), and others, at Solvay, 1927. Dream large.

Inexorable

My 40+ years as a starving artist maverick theoretical physicist has been punctuated by synchronicities – three big ones in particular.

As a graduate student I attended a Harvard colloquium, given by a visiting professor from Yale, on the octonion algebra and color SU(3). Feza Gürsey was leading research into this connection at Yale. At the time I was already enamored with the quaternion algebra, and that colloquium sealed my fate.

It is curious – synchronous – that it should have happened when it did, for the enthusiasm for this idea at Yale was short lived, dying miserably under the onslaught of powerful mainstream voices for whom such abstract thinking was anathema. That colloquium at Harvard occurred at the peak of Yale’s participation in this subject. Not long thereafter, Feza, desperate to salvage his reputation as a respected Ivy League theorist, bowed to mainstream pressure, bitterly, and there would be no more colloquia on the subject stemming from Yale.

Why do I say bitterly? Because some few years thereafter I visited Feza at Yale, told him I had begun researches involving the octonions, and was roundly chewed out for my effrontery. His attitude was to me, of course, disappointing, but it had utterly no effect.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” Or in my case, not fortune, but rather addiction. Still, it has always struck me as curious how exactly “at the flood” I encountered this “tide”. That Harvard colloquium jumpstarted my researches into the Division Algebras, and I was no longer able to be dissuaded.

Meanwhile, and simultaneously, Lie groups had been shown to be not only successful, but unavoidable, and the mainstream began its pretty enthusiasm with GUTs, the first in a long series of post Standard Model attempts to cadge an invite to Stockholm.

The mainstream’s biggest brains poured their energies into this effort (getting an invite to Stockholm, that is; GUTs eventually succumbed to Nature’s intractable unwillingness to bend to the needs of humans) for 40+ years, beginning their efforts just as I was beginning mine. Synchronicity. Naturally, as rank outsider, working on applying abstract algebraic notions to HEP, my efforts languished, nourished only by my pathological obsessiveness. Did this rankle? Does the Pope do cosplay?

Meanwhile, the mainstream went into party mode, gleefully patting each other on their collective backs, replacing GUTs with supersymmetry, and – unable to restrain themselves – promoting string theory as the be-all and end-all … someday. And loops, and some other footnotes.

Meanwhile, after more than 40 years howling from the wilderness, I burned out. Fortunately this occurred not long after I officially retired and started collecting SS. And, as the Russian said in RED, “Time passes. When you get older things seem less important.” Indeed.

Simultaneously – the last synchronicity – the LHC was put on the stand and was unable to confirm or deny that the mainstream’s decades old group think was correct – or even on the right path. So, yes, it was unable to deny, and the diehards immediately began clamoring for more energy. Vindication was just around the corner. That the LHC could not confirm their theories was irrelevant. Who knows? Maybe they’re right.

But the blush was off the peach, and the world at large, who followed such matters, became disillusioned, and not just with noisy string theorists, but elementary particle theory in general. Science media began to drift more and more to quantum everything, and black holes. (A recent New Scientist cover boldly asked, “Does anything exist?” Fucking ‘ell. Maybe their readers were unaware of a century of pointless quantum interpretation debates.)

And the Boston Area Physics Calendar has drifted in a similar direction, dominated by hard physics talks and quantum stuff. Even “String Theory Seminar” series, established by many universities in the misty past to reinforce their bona fides, now use that slot for topics decidedly not stringy.

Still, the point of this screed is this: Is there associated with these synchronicities some semblance of cause and effect? And if so, given the general timeline, as I recollect it, is the fate of mainstream physics tied to mine? Specifically, did mainstream HEP die because I lost interest in promoting my own ideas, and ceased all work in the field?

Well, it pleases me to think this connection exists, for my next big existential event is likely to be my death of cancer, and while the disease is presently being held at bay, DOOM, I am assured, is inevitable. Someday. Thinking that my fortunes are entangled with the HEP mainstream ameliorates this dark mass over my head. Perhaps their DOOM will follow closely on my own. How this will be manifested is unclear, but that it will be … ooh, that’s a pretty cloud.

Sour old hamster says no

There are two broad categories of mathematics: concocted; and fundamental. Concocted mathematics helps with the “how” of physics. Fundamental mathematics can give us the “why”.

Most of fundamental mathematics arises from the two finite series of integers:
1,2,4,8;
1,2,8,24.

The starting point of the first series is the set of parallelizable spheres; the second intersects with modular forms, Fourier transforms, and laminated lattices … at a minimum.

Sour old hamsters would advise you to ignore these quarter baked ideas, if you want a job in academia. And since they are in control, you would be unwise to ignore them. And on your deathbeds you will possibly – at best – be able to say: “I had a job.”

Blog_2021_7

Again with the physics pessimism

So, if science media had a plethora of exciting articles about theories that Bigfoot is alive and well and lives in a cavern 43.14 miles beneath Paris, would you be inclined to read them? If so, well, that puts a damper on the point of this Gedanken experiment. But read on, if you care to.

The point is, do you get excited by vaguely scientific stories the bona fides of which are likely beyond convincing verification now, and for the rest of human history? For example, anything regarding black holes a la Einstein, with maybe a smattering of QM kludged in. And speaking of kludges, almost anything regarding the foundations of QFT, itself a kludge.

For example, I encountered this a few days ago: “An Entire Swarm of Black Holes Has Been Caught Moving Through The Milky Way”. Well, yikes. There is no room for doubt in that title. And yet, I wondered, if true, how could we possibly know that? We have just barely the technology to capture a picture of a reddish area around a black smudge, and claim it is a black hole, all the while having only the vaguest of ideas what that really means. And speaking of means, by what means have we “caught” a swarm of black holes moving through anything? Well, unsurprisingly, we have not. It is yellow journalistic conjecture – blatant clickbait, florid and sensational.

Had the story been about a swarm of Bigfoots I should likely have read past the first sentence, finding entertainment in how the story justified its central premise. But black holes? Much of our work in this area is tantamount to attempting to make a computer chip with a hammer and screwdriver, for we are comfortable with such tools, and are hesitant to admit that these tools, which have got us so far, may not be adequate to get us any further.

Recently PW’s blog informed me that the greatest minds in theoretical physics continue to gather and confabulate about the sorry state of this science. PW quoted LM, who was quoting some bigwig at Princeton:

“…Millennials are a generation that prefers to hide in a herd of stupid sheep and remain at the surface that is increasingly superficial…

“So most of the stuff that is done in ‘quantum information within quantum gravity’ is just the work of mediocre people who want to keep their entitlements but who don’t really have any more profound ambitions.”

Sigh. Swarms of bigwigs, but nary a Bigfoot to be seen. I thought I might comment on that blog, but I could only come up with a single word to describe my thinking: chortle.

As is frequently the case, when I have got most of the way through one of my peevish online screeds, like this one, I am wondering if I am covering old ground. And of course I am, but then, those about whom I write do nothing but that. If only I had the strength to ignore them.

There is a saying, neither a platitude nor profound, just obvious: creativity lives on the border between order and chaos. The manner in which this may apply to what is written above is left as an exercise for the reader.

As for me, it’s nearly vaca time, and I think I’ll turn my writing to another book. To my avid reader: Ciao!

Made in Abyss Spoilers

Obligatory theoretical physics thought

There is a difference – vast actually – between having preconceptions about how physics should work and applying some new mathematical fad to it; and, on the other hand, having some mathematics and following it in hopes it has fuck all to do with reality, doing your best to ignore all preconceptions. One of those paths is pure. (That’s what I tried to do. Succeeded nicely, but, you know, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, and all that.)

Or, alternatively, you could partake in an effort to make QFT mathematically rigorous, or something equally monkish and onanistic. For sure the universe is craving that. But let’s move on to anime.

Spoilers

This is for those who believe all anime not stemming from Studio Ghibli consists of angstvoll youngsters with big eyes and bigger swords battling the forces of darkness while screaming. Indeed, there’s a lot of that, and some isn’t half bad, but then there’s Girls’ Last Tour, about which I’ve written before, and Made in Abyss, which I’ve almost certainly mentioned in the past. But now we’re going to do a deep dive, and if you have uninformed preconceptions (unrelated to theoretical physics), then I hope to rend them into tiny pieces, and take those pieces and subject them to searing heat, rendering the rent whole into plasma which will congeal into something unrecognizable, unless you’re familiar with Venetian gondolas; it may remind you of one of those. So, my plan is to rewatch the series and describe stuff.

Change of plans

So, yeah, no. In the meantime my psyche has become more fragile. Not flower-like, but maybe akin to a sand castle made near the water line at low tide.

The thing is, the artwork in the anime is as good as any I’ve ever seen, including Ghibli. The heroes of the story (Made in Abyss) – as far as I’ve gone – are a girl, a boy (who is actually at least mostly a robot), and another girl (who is part rabbit). She was not born like that, but … just wait. All these children are around 12, hovering on the edge of puberty.

Now, the age of 10 is my ideal age, and I often think that when I surpassed that age my spirit clung on to 10 like a limpet, and it would not let go. It’s the perfect age. Far enough from puberty that its echoes are faint, but old enough to recognize that the world, in the hands of a 10 year old, can be a really fun place, if the environment in which you live does not make soul-crushing demands. So, yeah, … crikey. But the point is, the kids in Made in Abyss are close enough to that age that … You know, I still read the occasional bit of YA literature. Quelle surprise, right?

Where were we? Cute kids; adventurous; all somewhat mysterious; big cute anime eyes, living in a place that oh-my-gods-is-that-ever-hyper-super-mega-cool! You see, it’s a very large city built in a circle that is some kilometers in diameter. The city has no structures inside the circle, because there’s nothing upon which to build them there. There is a hole. And not a dank hole, nor even a hobbit hole, but an entire ecosystem of levels going down down down – no one knows how far, because those that go past some point never come back, although sometimes they send balloons up. And you’re likely wondering, if they can send balloons up, why not themselves in bigger balloons. Just wait.

So, the Abyss is full of plants and animals, many of which – especially the animals – are not found on the surface. It should be added that this Abyss is full of structure: places you can walk and explore and even – should you be so inclined – build a home. There is weather: clouds and such like. And it is also full of relics, and many surface people go down a short ways into the Abyss daily in search of same, for they are sometimes powerful. And all are valuable.

And there I am, when first watching the first two or three episodes of season 1, so thoroughly enthralled by kids like me – just a tad older – exploring an enormous, gigantic, tremendous and mysterious Abyss, even the existence of which is a tremendous mystery … golly. It had just about everything I find most addictive in fiction, or nonfiction (I’ve entered a few enormous caverns in the past; they enthrall me). But this is way way way beyond caverns.

After season 1 of the show, a film was made to continue the story: Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul. I plan(ned) to get it as soon as available in the States. And I still want it, but no longer with bounce up and down in your chair eagerness. Why the hesitation?

The dark

You see, the Abyss looks paradisiacal, but those looks are somewhat deceiving. Some who go into the Abyss get eaten, by large flying snake-wormy things, or spiders (big ones), or this large elegant bird-like thing that while feeding on some hapless child – as witnessed by our heroes – will imitate the voice of that child in a call for help to lure others to feast upon. The artwork at this point is still stunning, but whoa. What the fuck? This is all unsettling. And we haven’t even met the bunny girl yet, and her best friend. Just wait.

So initially it’s just our primary girl heroine, and she discovers the robot boy, who is an extremely powerful relic (maybe; he is extremely powerful, but I’m not sure he’s a relic). He has extendable robot arms, and can emit a beam from his palm that can vaporize (almost?) anything, but conks him out for some time after to allow regeneration. Our heroine’s life is saved early on by this beam, and that is how they meet.

But the biggest danger of the Abyss is in exiting it. Even if you had an elevator, this could ruin your day. It’s kind of like the bends on steroids. Ascend too rapidly and you start vomiting, and your eyes bleed. And if you go beyond a certain depth and then ascend too rapidly, your DNA gets altered. And it’s excruciating. An accumulation of such environmental maleficence overcame our heroine at one point, and robo-boy, overcome with grief and fear, began crying and wailing in a deeply chilling way.

Bunny girl

Bunny girl was bunny girl because her DNA had been restructured, but not because she ascended too quickly. Nay nay. A character who dominates the film sequel had captured bunny girl and her best friend, and performed an experiment on them. I suppose this experiment simulated a rapid ascent – you know, it’s been a while since I watched season 1. The bunny girl got bunnified – a kind of cute result, and I guess she became immune to further changes. I’m not sure. But her best friend in the whole world was turned into a living gelatinous mass with eyes and a sort of mouth. During the transformation process – awful to watch – before she lost the ability to speak, she looks at her friend and begs, “Please kill me.” Pretty horrific, actually.

When our two heroes first encounter bunny girl, she takes them to her home – a really cool eco-friendly sphere – where they meet gelatinous girl. But here’s the thing. Bunny girl made this home to be a place where she could care for her best friend, but bunny girl is mortal. She will die someday, but by some perverse Abyss logic, her friend will not. Gelatinous girl is immortal, and almost impossible to kill by ordinary homicidal means. And this fact hovers over bunny girl like a cauldron of molten awfulness, for when she is gone, gelatinous girl – bunny girl’s bestest friend in the whole world – will spend eternity alone, and … the mind boggles.

Anyway, long story short, bunny girl convinces our heroine and robo-boy that this situation is horrifically untenable, and the solution is to have robo-boy vaporize her best friend with his beam. This done, bunny girl experiences profoundly deep grief, and she wails in a manner that was far too like the sound of real grief. Ma femme freaked at the sound, which resonated with her grief when her mother passed, and could watch no more.

The killing of gelatinous girl was necessary, and even wanted by gelatinous girl herself. Everyone recognized this, and after some time our heroine and robo-boy need to carry on their journey. Bunny girl, having nothing but memories of heartbreak in her home, and no further obligations, decides to leave it and travel with our duo as they descend ever deeper into the Abyss. The goal is to find our heroine’s mother, who descended very very deep some years before.

So, now we have this hyper-cute trio exploring the depths of this awesome mystery, and it’s all fun and … But fucking hell? Does anyone even remember the unceasingly traumatic journey that got them to this point?!

Qualms

So, season 1 ends with the cuteness trio traipsing down into the Abyss, and everything looks great; the artwork is still stunning; the mysteries no less compelling; which is just as well, as my PTSD couldn’t take much more at the time.

Meanwhile, having become aware that there was a film that followed the story from the end of season 1, I began googling like crazy, and failed to determine when it would be available over here. Very frustrating and all, but my googling eventually led me to uncover some plot points of the film, and that the film revolves around the character who did the experiment that resulted in bunny girl and gelatinous girl. I read some comments by some lucky viewers. The gist of these is that the film is even more traumatic than the series. What? Upon discovering that I immediately became a lot more patient. I’ll see it when I see it, and if I die first, well, I can live with that.

And if by some miracle of inanity you’re still thinking this is a kid-friendly chunk of entertainment, let me just add that robo-boy can – and does at one point at least – get an erection. Maybe the Japanese are more ok with this than your typical red or blue state American. I’m neither red nor blue, and, so, anyway.

I think in my next blog, as an antidote to this disturbing and unnecessary pile of mind seepage, I’ll discuss my favorite Jean Paul Belmondo film. But I needed to discuss Made in Abyss, a stunning work of anime, and by far the most nontrivial I’ve ever watched. Maybe it’s just me.

Fate and Madness

Pay attention

So, yeah, David Hume wrote something that I discovered many years ago and have more than once quoted in my own rambling prose. In particular:

“Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.”

I haven’t a clue who he was writing about, but I’m guessing his circle of acquaintances included many contemporary intellectuals, and many of these would have been young and driven; firebrands. Their eager neediness to have their groundbreaking discoveries recognized by a viscously entrenched body of mainstream luminaries would have driven many close to or beyond madness. Hume evidently found such behavior annoying, and in response wrote what he wrote. The tl;dr version is: “Cut it out.”

We’ll never know the names of the majority of such roadkill, and it isn’t only failing to achieve recognition that drives these individuals to the brink and beyond. The “abstruse thought and profound researches” alone can, even if recognized, eat at the soul and leave the mind gasping for air (I do love my metaphors).

The really good – if rather too dramatic – BBC series, Dangerous Knowledge, focuses on four well-known researchers in mathematics and physics: Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing. All ended their lives deeply disturbed. Cantor and Boltzmann confronted the dual foes of deep obsessive thinking, and a resistant mainstream. Turing’s case is somewhat unique, and his inclusion doubtless had much to do with his British nationality, a nationality that contributed greatly to his downfall. Gödel, on the other hand, was showered with acclaim throughout most of his life, but in the end he starved himself to death, subject to profound paranoia.

PW recently linked to an excellent article about the life and work of Alexander Grothendieck. Who?

In the early 1970s, as a graduate student in mathematics, I had heard his name, but knew very little about him. A fellow graduate student, who I remember meeting at least once, would eventually become his nth wife, but I was – and am – largely clueless as to what he did to achieve international acclaim. But I am including him in this blog because of his life, and how it ended. The essay begins:

“Alexander Grothendieck started out as the greatest mathematician of the Twentieth Century, and ended up as a destitute hermit, lost in a labyrinth of ideas, dreams and maybe delusions that we still haven’t been able to decipher.”

And near the end:

“In June of 1990, Grothendieck stopped eating for 45 days. He was found by one of his children in a semicomatose state and subject to violent hallucinations, afraid for his life. Miraculously Grothendieck, who was 62 years old, survived without any physical consequences.”

Shortly after that he disappeared.

“The great mathematician, who had let his beard grow long and almost always wore a strange arab-style caftan, had taken refuge in a tiny village at the foot of the Pyrenees, where no one knew him. He lived there for 23 years, in a shabby abandoned farm, in total isolation. The village’s 200 inhabitants, who didn’t know who he was, soon got used to his presence, respecting his privacy. He received very few visits, all of them from the few people who knew about his new residence, and soon not even from them.”

Because of his parents, his life was far from uneventful; it was fraught. The weight of that life, on top of the heavier weight of his immersion into extremely abstruse thought, where no one had gone before, well, yeah, so there it is.

I’m not done, so listen up

My favorite book on 20th century theoretical physics, is The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition, and Science, by Sheilla Jones. If you’re suffering from the delusion that the founders of quantum mechanics lived happy adventurous lives – a kind of nerd Ibiza – and not prone to suicidal thoughts, when not actually committing suicide, or being institutionalized due to mental and emotional burnout, then this is the book for you.

Still, they had each other, and Solvay was not Ibiza, but it was not nothing. People like Grothendieck, Cantor and Gödel – or such is my impression – produced their groundbreaking work alone. They interacted with others, even teaching, but their intellectual labors were solitary. That kind of thing takes its toll.

I became interested in this whole genre when, after 40 years of solitary work in mathematics and physics, I realized I was teetering very close to the edge of what my mind could endure. And I had no interest in adding myself to the many famous, and much more numerous nameless, theorists who teetered off their edges. So I quit. I briefly went back to it, at Cohl Furey’s urging, but this did not end well:

“And anyway, I can’t do the work anymore. I mentioned somewhere–possibly in another book–that I told Cohl I found it psychologically difficult to work on my ideas in mathematical physics. She expressed doubts, and suggested that that would be too bad. Prodded by her reaction, I started thinking about a way of combining some ideas I’d had in pure mathematics with notions I’d had in physics. Very quickly I had a result I found rather exciting. I pursued it rabidly for a couple of weeks, and quit finally when I realized I was getting close to a mental breakdown. Such work seldom gives your brain any rest, even when asleep. I simply could not do it. I am used up.”

The great mass of conventional theorists are to all extents and purposes a book club, meeting periodically over tea to discuss arcana. I approve. But there will always be some few who look too deeply into the abyss. My advice to them: if you notice the abyss looking back into you, avert your gaze. This advice will not be heeded.

Right Ho

The Watcher

So, what’s going on? I still have cancer. Well, since I’ll have it for the rest of my life, that’s hardly a surprise. It may kill me some day, or something else may, like giant mutant angry frogs intent on punishing me for my mistreatment of their normal sized brethren when I was 9 years old. And I’d deserve it. And truth be told, I’d rather go out via frogs – big ones, and angry. As they came rushing at me, I would relax in the knowledge that weirdness does exist, and not everything is dominated by gaslighting world leaders, and – closer to home – gaslighting pop sci proponents like Kaku and Greene in their desperate attempts to stay relevant and admired by a world of fuzzy, quadrupedal, ruminant muggles. Oh, well, it’s a living. And theoretical particle physics is dead now anyway. (Ignore all pop sci articles that look like this: “Blah blah blah LHC blah blah fifth force blah blah new physics blah dee blah muon blah?” Well, ignore them until they appear in reputable places without the question mark, or words like “may”, “could”, “might”, “god”, or “cwazy wabbit”.)

You know, I’ve never been part of the human race. It took me a long time to realize this, that people with whom I associated viewed me as an amusing oddity, but always something separate. True, I spent nearly 6 decades with annoying hormones – the gundam pilots I wrote about earlier – attempting to turn me into a biological puppet, periodically wresting control of my life and will to serve their own selfish ends. But, yeah, once told I had an incurable disease, and presented with a series options for how to confront and control it, using the advice of my oncologist, and lots of googling, a therapy was devised – and very quickly implemented – that has left me pilotless, a gundam with free will. I’d always wondered what it would be like, and here, in the final years of my life, I am finding the experience fascinating. It has definitely removed me still further from humanity, the collective. Age gave me a change of perspective, but this change was more profound. At times I feel like one of MCU’s Watchers, and the odds are slim that you know what this means, but I look upon humanity, and all the fucked up crap they get up to, as an analytical cosmic intelligence might. Whoa! WHOA! Where are you going with this, Geoffrey? Take a chill pill and let’s get back to what you’d planned to do with this blog. Fuck’s sake. You’re just this guy writing on an iPad. (No, I’m not.) What? What did you say? You had better behave yourself, young man. (Pfft. [Gestures rudely.])

Great equations in physics … fuck

Before I carry on, I have to rectify a misapprehension you almost certainly harbor regarding the Dirac equation. As noted recently by PW, this is pretty much universally acknowledged to be one of the great equations of theoretical physics. Sure, and of course it is, but what makes it great – even revolutionary? There are lots of such equations that involve derivatives, ultimately integration, and a slew of analytical methods. Theoretical physicists are addicted to analysis, occasionally sniffing topology, and many harbor a conviction that more and deeper applications of analytical methods will cause unification to be born Athena-like from the forehead of analysis. But the Dirac equation is not great for the ways in which it is similar to everything else, but the manner in which it is different, and that difference is algebraic. It is architectural. This algebraic/architectural aspect of the Dirac equation is generally minimized by mainstream analytical TPers; it is an embarrassment. “And that is why you fail.”

The Wooster

As I have mentioned elsewhere once or thrice, upon retiring I wondered how I would take it, being set adrift after an adult lifetime of something resembling labor. Within little more than 24 hours I realized I had become Bertie Wooster, whose independent and labor-less lifestyle I had always found so attractive in the many works of P.G. Wodehouse revolving around this character. I began to write books that no one would ever read, but which brought me joy in their creation. Then I shifted to blogging when covid shut down foreign sources of memoir inspiration.

Wodehouse’s oeuvre is light on deep philosophical musings, and of horror and science fiction there is none. Still, in my technical writing I have droned on frequently on mathematical resonance; Wodehouse’s writing, in my cranium, creates a literary resonance that comes close to simulating an almost chemical addiction. So, for example:

“His whole attitude recalled irresistibly to the mind that of some assiduous hound who will persist in laying a dead rat on the drawing-room carpet, though repeatedly apprised by word and gesture that the market for same is sluggish or even non-existent.”

I mean, see? If you don’t, that’s ok. For many people, especially in theoretical physics, I am, to all intents and purposes, that hound, and the dead rat is my collected works in maths and physics. Cornell tried to shoo me out of the arXiv, and, failing that, shunted me into gen-phys, basically the doghouse out back. Still, I will persist in laying the dead rat on their drawing-room carpet in hopes they will see its superiority to their dead mouse, which is looking considerably more oogy than my rat.

I’ll finish with more Wodehouse, to lighten the mood of those deserving of mood lightening. You will know who you are by whether or not your mood is lightened.

“When I entered the establishment, he was leaning over the counter, his gaze riveted on some sort of merchandise which was being shown him by the gentlemanly assistant. To prod him in the hindquarters with my umbrella was with me the work of an instant.

“‘Ahoy, there, Stilton!’ I cried.

“He spun around with a sort of guilty bound, like an adagio surprised while watering the cat’s milk.

“‘Oh, hullo,’ he said.

“There was a pause. At a moment like this, with old boyhood friends meeting again after long separation, I mean to say, you might have expected a good deal of animated what-ho-ing and an immediate picking up of the threads. Of this, however, there was a marked absence. The Auld Lang Syne was strong in me, but not, or I was mistaken, equally strong in G. D’Arcy Cheesewright. I have met so many people in my time who have wished Bertram was elsewhere that I have come to recognize the signs. And it was these signs that this former playmate was now exhibiting.

“He drew me away from the counter, shielding it from my gaze with his person, like someone trying to hide the body.

“‘I wish you wouldn’t go spiking people in the backside with your beastly umbrella,’ he said, and one sensed the querulous note. ‘Gave me a nasty shock.’

“I apologized gracefully, explaining that if you have an umbrella and are fortunate enough to catch an old acquaintance bending, you naturally do not let the opportunity slip, and endeavored to set him at ease with genial chit-chat. From the embarrassment he was displaying, I might have been some high official in the police force interrupting him in the middle of a smash and grab raid. His demeanour perplexed me.”

Aaah. It’s like reading a good book while lounging in a hammock in the dappled shade of a palm tree that bends to and fro in a light tropical breeze off an azure sea. A refreshing drink, perhaps sporting a miniature umbrella, is sitting within reach at a nearby table. Bliss.

C for Cute

Helpful extraterrestrials need not apply

My brain, as is its wont, has latched onto an old idea, ignored the multiple times in the past I’ve presented it as new, and, well, you get the idea (pull my finger). So, this highly original reboot is to (re)imagine some cluster of nattily attired super intelligent aliens – or, if you want to get picky, some other sort of nattily attired entities inhabiting some other sort of unassailable intellectual pinnacle – although to be politically correct in the strictest sense, it should be stressed that they needn’t physically inhabit an actual pinnacle; I mean, they might be Mole People, or practically any kind of entity that isn’t human (totally out of the running; sorry) …

Where was I? Right. They pop to the nearest internet cafe and submit to the arXiv an actual correct TOE. The arXiv gatekeepers give it a gander, observe that it varies significantly from 99% of the ideas arising from the mainstream, and even 95% of fringe ideas, and they reject it. Of course they fucking would. What does the community of theoretical physicists have to gain? A negative amount of good things.

It should be added – although it ought to go without saying (but doesn’t) – this TOE exudes inevitability; it could not be other than it is. And no part of it could be left out without threatening the entire edifice. That’s not to say all questions are answered by this work of overarching genius, but all questions that are answerable are answered. And there would be mathematical explanations – or proofs – of why there are limits to what is knowable, and, as much as is possible, what those limits are. So, cool.

Having personally seen only a small bit of this masterpiece – written in Québécois – I decided I could use it to grade various notions floating around Middle Earth (human lands; not homes to Space Entities or Mole People) that promote themselves as efforts to find a human TOE. Peter W has been blogging about the Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem, and all things Langlands, which I give a grade of C for Cute, but that’s unfair. These things brush up against theoretical physics, but they are really pure mathematics, and cutting edge at that. They may be part of the TOE, but I’m not qualified to judge.

However, I give Category Theory a D for Dewey Decimal System, and because as a mathematics graduate student the subject made me sleepy every time I encountered it.

String Theory, of course, gets an F for Failing to give up the ghost.

And finally, Division Algebras and Parallelizable Spheres get an A for Apotheosis. And, of course, although strictly speaking I’m not supposed to share this, these bits of mathematics are integral to … but I’ve said too much.

Meanwhile on the fringe: a rambling discourse full of holes

I am widely (?) regarded as an exemplar of the scientific maverick carrying on a Sisyphean struggle to blah blah blah. LM suggested that Tony Smith (now passed) and I are/were founding fathers of what he views as an uncomfortably large pool of abhorrent crackpots unwilling to adhere to accepted dogma. But Tony and I approached theorizing rather differently. I had a small idea that was pure mathematics. It was a doorway (Speak friend, and enter); and I did enter, and I followed its mathematical path deep into Moria. There were obvious connections to physics, but – and here’s the nub – not all of physics; the connections are strongest to the groups and fields of the Standard Model. There were many side tunnels that would have led to deeper Truths, but I did not – and do not – feel competent to follow them. If the mathematics, as I understood it, did not explain some aspect of physics, I tried assiduously not to push it where it didn’t want to go. It’s a pretty little mathematical gem. It seems to me it has profound things to say about physics, but that’s just me.

And why is it just me?

Consider Tony. Unimaginably bright, he also had an abiding need to explain everything. During the years that I knew him I can’t think of any theoretical physics mystery that he did not try to encompass in his ever expanding model building. He would sometimes exhort me to expand my ideas to encompass a bigger picture. He seemed to admire my devotion to my little gem, and he wanted it expanded, merged with his own ideas. I never outright refused, but also never came close to acceding. Not my thing. Quantum gravity? Uh, yeah, hmm. Dark matter? Uh, yeah, soooo mysterious (although Tony had an explanation).

Tony was an exemplar of something that seems quite common today: a theorist intent on building models that explain everything. This may be just because such theorists’ works are those I most frequently encounter on Researchgate, so my view of what’s going on in the fringe is quite narrow.

Still, throughout the history of Middle Earth, great thinkers have convinced themselves, and occasionally many others, that all that was knowable was known. That presupposes that all mathematical ideas originating in the future may at best fine tune what is already known. And so, just to be entirely clear, because the idea is eternally resisted, the Middle Earth we are presently inhabiting is part of this long history of self-delusion. The odds that we know everything we need to know to duplicate the Mole People TOE in any but a small part are vanishingly small.

I early on internalized this notion, and it helps explain why, as a graduate student of theoretical physics in the late 1970s, I resisted efforts to get me involved in supersymmetry and QFT. The former I felt from the outset was a goofy idea. Immersion into the latter would have made me better able to judge the massive amount of work arising since QFT’s inception, but I’d have become a technician, carrying around a useful bag of tools with which to test …

Sigh. What I did instead was to follow my intuition. And when that landed me on the Dixon algebra, T, I settled down for years and studied that one thing (and a few other things that were similarly mathematically resonant). Any piece of theoretical physics that the mathematics of T did not encompass, I mostly ignored. I assiduously tried to avoid incorporating notions I felt didn’t belong in order to expand T’s explanatory power, although I was often exhorted to do so. Working with T was clear. The jungle of stuff outside of T was not clear, and my intuition said little about it. I’d be guessing – and given what I see coming out of big explainers – guessing again, and then again.

Yeah, so the Mole People could tell you why T is inevitable, that it is forced by field theoretic ideas we do not presently employ. I’d like to be around when they do, but, you know, the odds are not in my favor. And the Mole People have nothing to gain in pointing out the failings and fallacies of narrow-minded Middle Earth dogma. Au contraire …