A quick how-to user-guide to debunking pseudoscientific claims

Maxim Sukharev
Have you ever wondered why we have never heard of psychics and palm readers winning millions of dollars in state or local lotteries or becoming Wall Street wolfs? Neither have I. Yet we are constantly bombarded by tabloid news on how vaccines cause autism (hint: they do not), or some unknown firm building a mega-drive that defies the laws of physics (nope, that drive does not work either). And the list continues on and on and on. Sometimes it looks quite legit as, say, various natural vitamin supplements that supposedly increase something that cannot be increased, or enhance something else that is most likely impossible to enhance by simply swallowing a few pills. Or constantly evolving diets that sure work giving a false relieve to those who really need to stop eating too much and actually pay frequent visits to a local gym. It is however understandable that most of us fall for such products and news just because we cannot be experts in everything, and we tend to trust various mass-media sources without even a glimpse of skepticism. So how can we distinguish between baloney statements and real exciting scientific discoveries and breakthroughs? In what follows I will try to do my best to provide a simple how-to user guide to debunking pseudoscientific claims.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1906/1906.06165.pdf

Einstein’s biggest mistake?


Gary J. Ferland
What, if any, was Einstein’s biggest mistake, the one most affecting our physics today? There is a perhaps apocryphal story, recounted by George Gamow, that he counted his cosmological constant as his biggest blunder. We now know his hypothesized cosmological constant to be correct. His lifelong rejection of quantum mechanics, an interesting side-story in the evolution of 20th-century physics, is a candidate. None of these introduced difficulties in how our physics is done today. It can be argued that his biggest actual mistake, one that affects many subfields of physics and chemistry and bewilders students today, occurred in his naming of his A and B coefficients…
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1905.09276.pdf

Two Notions of Naturalness

Porter Williams
My aim in this paper is twofold: (i) to distinguish two notions of naturalness employed in BSM physics and (ii) to argue that recognizing this distinction has methodological consequences. One notion of naturalness is an “autonomy of scales” requirement: it prohibits sensitive dependence of an effective field theory’s low-energy observables on precise specification of the theory’s description of cutoff-scale physics. I will argue that considerations from the general structure of effective field theory provide justification for the role this notion of naturalness has played in BSM model construction. A second, distinct notion construes naturalness as a statistical principle requiring that the values of the parameters in an effective field theory be “likely” given some appropriately chosen measure on some appropriately circumscribed space of models. I argue that these two notions are historically and conceptually related but are motivated by distinct theoretical considerations and admit of distinct kinds of solution.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1812.08975.pdf

Relativistic spring-mass system

Rodrigo Andrade e Silva, Andre G. S. Landulfo, George E. A. Matsas, Daniel A. T. Vanzella

The harmonic oscillator plays a central role in physics describing the dynamics of a wide range of systems close to stable equilibrium points. The nonrelativistic one-dimensional spring-mass system is considered a prototype representative of it. It is usually assumed and galvanized in textbooks that the equation of motion of a relativistic harmonic oscillator is given by the same equation as the nonrelativistic one with the mass M at the tip multiplied by the relativistic factor 1/(1−v2/c2)1/2. Although the solution of such an equation may depict some physical systems, it does not describe, in general, one-dimensional relativistic spring-mass oscillators under the influence of elastic forces. In recognition to the importance of such a system to physics, we fill a gap in the literature and offer a full relativistic treatment for a system composed of a spring attached to an inertial wall, holding a mass M at the end.

Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.13365.pdf

Quantum treatment of Verlinde’s entropic force conjecture

A. Plastino, M. C. Rocca, G. L. Ferri
Verlinde conjectured that gravitation is an emergent entropic force. This surprising conjecture was proved in [Physica A 505 (2018) 190] within a purely classical context. Here, we appeal to a quantum environment to deal with the conjecture in the case of bosons and consider also the classical limit of quantum mechanics (QM)….
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1808.01330.pdf