The Bogdanov Affair

Nov. 5, 2002: Statement by Arkadiusz Jadczyk

Several web sites and publications have "discovered" and "pointed out" one of the "evident errors" of the Bogdanovs:

"And it looks like they managed to match Sokal's trick of inserting at least one obviously false claim into their mix, when they claim that Foucault's pendulum can't be explained by classical or relativistic Physics," notes our valued correspondent (...)."

This is not quite accurate.

The classical textbook " Gravitation" by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler discusses the problem of Foucault's pendulum and the related problem of the origin of inertia (also known as Mach's principle) in Ch. 21.12. The authors write:

"Einstein's theory of Mach's principle exhibits a satisfying degree of consistency."

Do they say "is consistent?" No. They say it "exhibits a satisfying degree of consistency."

Now, what is "satisfying" for one scientist is not necessarily satisfying to another. The origin of inertia is still being considered as a mystery that is not completely understood today. Implying that 'Foucault's pendulum can be explained by classical or relativistic Physics,' without pointing to the unfinished business of the origin of inertia - still discussed at conferences and research papers - is, to say the least, misleading.

In "Relational Mechanics" by A.K.T. Assis we have a separate chapter on Foucault's pendulum. Assis proposes a new approach to the problem of inertia. The chapter ends with:

"We then acquire a new comprehension of Foucault's pendulum. [...] If all the matter in the universe were annihilated except the pendulum and the earth, then according to relational mechanics the plane of oscillation of the pendulum would be fixed relative to earth."

In other words: the problem of inertia (as exemplified by the Foucault's pendulum) is an open scientific problem, and is being actively discussed. Whether Bogdanovs add anything new to the discussion is an open question. But to state that they are making an error by bringing the problem in as not explained by classical physics - that is misleading!

Let's make another comment about "false claims" in physics. Many famous papers by famous physicists contain false claims and errors. That is what publishing papers is about: to let other physicists find and discuss possible faults. To give an example: in a paper by Blanchard and Jadczyk Time of Arrival in Event Enhanced Quantum Theory the authors state:

Wigner (cf. Eq. (5), p. 240 of Ref.[wigner72] has assumed, completely ad hoc, that the formula (...) is a solution of the Schrodinger equation. Footnote{This formula is evidently wrong as it leads, for a Gaussian wave packet, to $P(\infty)=\infty$.}

The error in Wigner's paper (Eugene Wigner, Princeton, Nobel Prize 1963) was pointed out also in sci.physics.research newsgroup. Nobody was paying particular attention to this matter or calling it a "hoax." And yet, we see so much negative attention being generated against the Bogdanovs....

Strange indeed is this world. In fact, it is so strange that I (Ark) decided to consult with one of the world's experts on gravity about the above mentioned "Inertia" problem. He must remain anonymous and you will understand why from his response as follows:

Well, [your comments on inertia] sound OK for me, although I would not have written it publicly myself, just because I do not understand what the problem of inertia has to do with the topological field theory the brothers are considering, nor with a possible signature change of the metric.

Updated: November 8:

I used to work as a referee for Classical and Quantum Gravity, for Journal of Physics, for Foundations of Physics, Foundations of Physics Letters, and also I am on the Editorial Board of Reports on Mathematical Physics. I must confess that I was rejecting 90% of the papers that I was asked to be a referee for.

Most often the authors did not know enough about the already published papers, or they were unable to spell-out or justify their claims. Quite often they were resubmitting again and again the same paper, with little changes, counting on, reasonably I would say, the idea that the referees would finally will get tired. I must confess that onece or twice I really got tired, and I wrote to the Editor "go" - even when I should have written "put the guy on a blacK list!" That is how it works.

Referees do not get paid. Referees have to invest a lot of their valuable time - to check all the data, to check in the library all available previous publications on the subject, to try to be constructive.

What is the gain?

The abstract term tells it all: "For the benefits of all of Human Kind".

Some papers are very easy to qualify. You just read, you understand everything, you follow the line, you see the point. You realize that the authors took care in quoting and analyzing the papers that you know are relevant. You know that they are sincere. In less than one hour you happily write "Referee Report", and you are satisfied that you are among the first who knows the new result.

But sometimes its is a real pain. Like recently. I saw a "hole" in the argument of the author. I pointed out the hole. The author added a page. I spotted another hole. The author added two pages. The hole moved to some other place.

What to do?

I simply did not respond for two months. I hoped the Editor, whom I really like, would decide to choose another referee, so that I could use my time doing something constructive.

What it has to do with Igor and Grichka?

Well, I believe, they had to rely on referees similar to me. Some of them were just busy, some of them were trying to be helpful, some of them were just ignorant. If you are not in the business you do not know the inside scoop. You believe science is "an all objective process."

The truth is: it is not. The truth is: it is getting worse and worse, and harder and harder to distinguish between a hoax (intended or not) and "real effort".

The truth is there are government agencies that plant hoaxes - that is their job! And they are professionals, no less skilled than physicists are in their jobs. That is a formidable obstacle. Is that a "conspiracy theory?" I can only say this: any scientist who thinks that this is not the case will NEVER do anything worthwhile. Besides which, it's poor science.

What to do?

The only way I can see out of the trap is to always "work with your own brain." Never believe a word of what has been published - unless you are able to check it yourself. Never follow a fashion. Never expect to be praised or even understood - for what you have produced as a scientist. Never expect that your own papers will be accepted for publication in peer reviewed jornals. In fact, the more original your paper is, the less likely it is that it will be accepted!

Do not waste time on trying to understand papers that make no sense - UNLESS you have very good reasons to believe that "there is a SOMETHING in it - like it was with Tomita's theory.



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