Following the reaction to the recent paper:
and the corresponding article:
Thank you so much for all of your interest in this new exciting toy model. I’ve been incredibly taken aback by all the positive messages and emails of support that I have received over the last few days, and it is a privilege to get to engage with everyone as much as possible. I thought I would provide some additional balanced discussion about aspects of this theory – both the positive and the negative of course, as that’s the way I like it!
Firstly, I emphasise that this new toy model is in a peer-reviewed academic paper, which is the standard and conventional way to share research ideas. I believe that The Conversation is professionally complementary to academic writing, as it allows for a more high-level, less mathematical overview of the idea. Although a lot of this particular work was done in my spare time alongside my main research duties, I remain committed to making science and research accessible to everyone, which I think is also my duty given that I am ultimately funded by the tax payer.
Such research would not be possible without interdisciplinary world-class institutes, as some research institutes would simply have strong interests in maintaining the status quo, rather than trying to develop breakthroughs. As the author of the study, I of course have my own opinion, which is scientific and evidence-based, but I also strongly encourage everybody to read independent perspectives from cosmologists and particle physicists on this idea:
I note that there have been some misrepresentations of the work due to scientists not having had the time to properly read the paper. In particular, one repeated criticism of the work is that it suffers due to a ‘vacuum instability’. However, this is clearly expressed in the paper itself as not a bug, but rather a feature of the proposed model. The included creation tensor moderates the rate of negative mass particle production in the toy model, so as to avoid a catastrophic vacuum decay. Again, this is all clearly stated in the paper.
I have never claimed that this toy model solves all of existing physics or is without flaws. The outcome of this paper can be well summarised as “huge, if true”. While the claims are admittedly “huge”, as the scientist who produced this research I cannot overemphasise the “if true” part of that statement. It will likely take years before we can validate or refute this theory. As a professional astrophysicist with 10 years of research experience, I myself am the first to admit that I have not incorporated particle physics into my theory at all. It would require the collaborative efforts of many people including particle physicists to rigorously test this. So clearly, I, as a single astrophysicist, am not able to do that with one paper (that would be a “theory of everything”).
Please remember that scientists all famously have their biases – please forgive us, we are humans after all – and I don’t blame some of my fellow scientists for having a kneejerk reaction to research such as this, which contradicts one hundred years of conventional scientific thinking and which I am happy to agree is pretty unconventional. However, most new ideas are unconventional – that’s what makes them new, and I would hope that we, as a scientific community, don’t just dismiss them, but just engage in unemotional and scientific debate. The best scientists will not try to confirm or rule out a theory such as this one overnight, as they will understand that the Universe requires extremely careful thought and consideration.
Perhaps this will be the last of Einstein’s predictions to be proven true, or maybe his idea of adding negative mass to his equations will be a mere blunder. If true, I am sorry to say that the negative masses in this theory are still most likely just a mathematical tool, so this means hoverboards and spaceships will remain as science fiction. I am sorry to ruin everyone’s fun!
Solutions with a sense of naturalness and intuition clearly captivate people’s imagination. While I am keen to share my side of the story, I also encourage you all to please keep listening to other scientists! As the hype passes, world-class scientists in the community will calmly reflect. Good scientists may be able to provide intuitive answers – in communicable terms that everyone can understand – as to why this theory does or does not match with reality. However, I fully agree that if any scientific or journalistic source presents research in terms of absolutes – i.e. “this issue is completely solved” or “no way, this theory is wrong”, please always ask for specifics. Otherwise you are, unfortunately, likely being led astray.
For now, I will no longer engage with this debate while it remains at the level of arguments about wording and personalities. Those who wish to attack the theory on the basis of the way that some external media outlets have presented it, have clearly forgotten the passion which drove them towards science in the first place. While this persists, I will be quietly working to try and further our understanding as much as I can.
There will always be positive and negative reports towards fresh approaches such as these: remember that even the entire Universe is – possibly – polarised! However, remember that it will not be me, and it will not be other scientists that get to decide how the Universe works. That is a matter for the Cosmos, and for our data, to decide.
All the best,