# solitons, cellular automata, quantum mechanics, and disagreeing with scott aaronson

hi all. in this post, a rebuttal to scott aaronson’s recent post over the topic of solitons as a local hidden variable theory for quantum mechanics, based on the Anderson-Brady model.

1st… yikes, tough crowd! poured my heart into my P$\stackrel{?}{=}$NP outline over 10wks ago and two other posts and zilch response. ouch! you guys are sure quiet out there. when starting this blog, didnt imagine it would be so hard to get some comments. c’mon guys! geez! Im not writing this for *myself*!

anyway, have been busy. “being busy is the best revenge”. or something like that.

JF responded quickly and graciously and signed up to the tcs stackexchange where we had a huge, sprawling conversation in chat over more than 6 wks.

[trying to be very diplomatic here…] my verdict-of-the-moment is that he’s quite talented, but also somewhat lost in a cerebral , near-solipsistic labyrinth mostly of his own construction. but hey! things can change, wink

do appreciate him signing up and chatting, and “talk” about beginners luck, his 1st question on tcs stackexchange immediately got more than 10 votes, the kind of instant attention and affirmation that has mostly eluded me over the year on the site, but thats a whole other story/saga for another time.

some good news is that hits to my site spiked one day as people heard about his proof from hackernews [my post] and then someone found my last blog post via google as the [apparently] sole 2ndary mention of his work on the web, wrote about it in the thread, and lots of people clicked on that link. yay!

this followed a great, long conversation with SJ, who has since gone into hiding, ha. it was a real energy boost to talk to him and come up with different ideas on his very interesting, very deep, and very difficult problem relating to ST connectivity on graphs. noticed in the last year on cstheory.se that problem seems to pop up in various diverse contexts. he mentioned ryan williams recent paper on the subject that seems to prove its something like a “complete” problem for $n^3$ algorithms. do hope to chat with him again further in the future sometime but maybe not on such a narrow topic [anything else would be a misdemeanor given his extraordinary encyclopediac nature!].

elsewhere… I think I have a small breakthrough on the collatz conjecture via re-engaging an approach I toyed with many years ago but left mid-experiment at the time. if anyone likes the collatz conjecture & has seriously thought about it (or wants to!), please drop me a comment and that might spur me to write up these *results*. they are not fully cooked yet but they seem like mere millimeters away from an exotic inductive proof unlike anything anyone has seen before. (but this margin is too small to contain it!)

* * *

so, probably what I should do is not write such huge posts, so that I dont feel nearly as bad as when nobody replies to the small ones. which reminds me of pascals semifamous quote which seems to apply also to mathematical writing:

I made this letter very long, because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter.

anyway, do have a bunch of great topics to write about, and its hard to decide which one to write out 1st. however here is an idea Ive had for many years which was recently spurred to my awareness by Scott Aaronson’s blog post[1] where he talks about a remarkable, impressive new paper by Anderson and Brady, “why qm computing is hard and qm crypto is not provably secure”.[2]

now Aaronson is one of the foremost quantum mechanical authorities on the entire planet and has already made amazing contributions at a relatively young age. a TCS researcher published in both NYT[24] and SciAm[25] [the latter complete with darling cartoons] is the closest to a genuine Sagan-like celebrity in the field & makes me supergreen with envy. *just imagine the groupies!* but reading his blog and other writings, its clear [again trying to put this diplomatically] he has a rather huge ego. hey, not really knocking it! that can be an asset in many fields. and one inherently needs a healthy, maybe super-boost of ego to keep up a blog.

anyway these two elite guys at Cambridge argue a hidden variable theory of QM based mostly on soliton theory. astonishing! doesnt david deutsch also work at cambridge? maybe all that contrarian quantum magician dust is in the air over there. (david deutsch wrote papers on QM computing in something like the 1980s, basically nearly singlehandedly launching the field, but he’s now regarded as something of the doddering grandfather with quaint or unorthodox views. oh well, einstein was like that too!)

and aaronson goes on to basically really excoriate the paper at length, and invite all his admiration society on his blog to join in the stampede. didnt see pitchforks yet in the crowd, but there definitely did seem to be some torches.

wow! its not every day I get such a delicious opportunity to *vehemently disagree* with such an elite luminary as aaronson—on the other hand, due to the amazing wonders of cyberspace, its not the 1st time! [26] the iconoclastic, contrarian, Kuhnian paradigm-shifting-shattering[20] Anderson-Brady paper is just *way cool* if you ask me. visionary! gamechanging! these guys have some *serious cojones* as scientists, and thats really rare! Ive been promoting solitons since over a decade ago out in cyberspace. I wrote up some essays and research leads not long after wolfram came out with his massive volume [12], but it was a really lonely time to have many thoughts about them.

its easy to see why aaronson was offended. qm computing is his sacred cow, and he’s all about that its going to be extremely viable and rolling out in real computers in just a fortnight. except that he hates DWave with years of unadulterated zeal. right. people can be complicated in their aspirations I guess. he’s a fervent believer, one of those presumable scientific atheists who has found a different kind of scientific religion. halleluja! frankly at times, wrt qm computing, he reminds me a little of ray kurzweil wrt the singularity!

* * *

now, I can remember over a decade ago when qm computing was on the horizon and very few people were studying it, and it was almost not at all being worked on by experimenters. and yeah, I was trying to figure out if it could happen, or if it was just a dream. it did remind me a little of fusion technology. “fusion technology is about 20years away. but then again, its *always* been about 20 years away”. (does anyone know who originated that quote? couldnt find it on the web.)

my personal view at this point is that someday “qm cpus” will become a reality, but its turning out to be much harder than expected and there are now some highly credible, influential, and persuasive naysayers.[18] practical qm computing is stuck at “just a few qbits”, basically exactly where it was a decade ago. it does seem to be inherently harder to control than electricity in chips. so far, there is no moores-law like improvement on the horizon, but that could change. it would seem we are at the point in qm computing “pre transistor”. if someone can create a sort of “qm transistor” then maybe we’re on our way, but not so far.

on the other hand the *theoretical* study of qm computing has exploded. its extraordinary how many qm centers there are around the world. there is intense national competition in this area. nations understand that the 1st country to harness this capability could reap an astonishing multidecade gargantuan goldmine-bonanza. something similar fueled silicon valley for decades, and its the envy of the world for good reason.

anyway Anderson and Brady seem to me to be very much on the right track. hidden variable theory is the black sheep of physics, but its also the sparkling underdog. now I dont expect this to happen soon, but someday there may be new physical evidence for a hidden variable theory. it maybe might even be hiding out right under our noses right now interpreted, and brushed under the rug, as some kind of “anomaly”. if you ask me, quantum mechanics is just too darn mathematically elegant to be exactly correct. Im sure nature is far more unruly beneath it, far more fractal.

solitons[3] point the way. there are already sophisticated models for the atom[4][11] and other particles [10]. also nobel winning physicist ‘t Hooft has been working on something like it and getting huge skepticism and pushback from other physicists for his efforts.[5][16][17] he works on something like 3d cellular automata (CA).[27] it hasnt been shown that well in theory yet, but it appears to me that solitons are just something like very complex 4-d CA “gliders”. am hoping that ‘t Hooft unifies his CAs with solitons sooner-than-later.

however, I believe the soliton research agenda[19] is one that will play out for decades. the literature right now is very scattered, checkered, isolated, disconnected. if soliton theory were a theory of reality, it would be like quantum mechanics before einstein. the field needs its own einstein to tie it together. it hasnt been unified yet, or isnt recognized to be.[13][15][23] there is no galvanizing, killer experiment to demonstrate their possible reality. although there is a article in the Atlantic from 1988 about fredkin![14]

on the other hand there are some radical, exciting new indications of a “digital” universe which imho would support the idea of a cellular-automata based reality with particles equivalent to soliton patterns.[6][7][8][9] but not everyone has made the connections yet.

oh and just remember that once again, as always, those hindu mystics had it all figured out ages ago in their sophisticated analysis and philosophy of the duality between *purusha and prakriti*[21]. purusha is said to be the “skein” or the outline that the prakriti, the thread, is woven on. to me, it sounds like the matrix and the soliton gliders on it. mind expanding! and maybe that—mind expansion!—is something aaronson and I can agree on will be necessary to eventually reach QM Computing nirvana.

what does all this have to do with TCS and TMs anyway? well I think the universe is just a giant algorithm, and we’re gonna have to build some supercomputers that run CA-soliton-simulations to prove it. we’re not there yet, but hey, the supercollider in Europe discovered the higgs boson, surely we can build something that can prove the existence of soliton model of matter and particles, right? us CS guys have *way* more superpowers than the lowly physicists. the verdict is in, in the fight of bits versus atoms, bits win![22]

hope to hear from you in the comments! dont be shy!

## 11 thoughts on “solitons, cellular automata, quantum mechanics, and disagreeing with scott aaronson”

1. John

While a quantum mechanical model based on solitons would be cool and probably closer to actuality it wouldn’t be a model for quantum gravity (which is of course what we’re all looking for [or at least hoping someone finds one soon that makes verifiable predictions]) . In my opinion I think that particles can be thought of as knots in the fabric of space-time and all forces between them are the results of their geometries (the only problem for me is I don’t have the mathematical knowledge to describe such a theory though I did find a site that seems very similar to what I was thinking —> http://knotphysics.net/ ) So basically everything can be thought of as space which simplifies the universe and makes the big ban, everlasting inflation, and a multiverse (I know.. but so many theories predict one that it just seems like there is one now) easier to understand. (Since the properties of space would be determined at that moment and these properties of space may change in each inflationary space and these properties are the only thing that would determine each universe) I’m interested to hear what you think.

Btw nice blog post, more people should be commenting lol. but keep up the posts anyways, someone’s bound to read them.

2. Daniel M.

It is refreshing seen someone appreciate it as much as I did. I felt very inspired, so much that it was part of the reason I started my own blog on Fluid Dynamics Quantum models.
http://classicalfluidparticlephysics.tumblr.com/
Reading you comment on not getting enough participants is and describing exactly what I feel is hilarious.
I am not a professional physicist, nor mathematician nor engineer, but I dabble in these subjects more than the top 1 percent amateurs.
Robert Brady’s work is actually a sort of vindication of many years of research. Since I started to read about Quantum Mechanics and Relativity I knew there had to be a Fluid Dynamics approach that would explain both simultaneously.
Then I found Milo Wolf and his Wave Structure of Matter. Right after that, Gabriel LaFrenière and the “Theory of Absolute”. This one got most of my attention. It is based on a inviscid compressible fluid extended wave structure that models quantum mechanics and relativity. It surprised me that it also modeled Electromagnetism and Gravity. It made me convinced such approach is not only viable, but desirable and worth the effort.
I wrote my article on Robert Brady’s sonons (with illustrations and videos!):
http://classicalfluidparticlephysics.tumblr.com/post/50079617935/fluid-dynamics-mechanics
I tried having some online discussions online but it always boils down to those self-assured pesky comments you saw in scotts blog. I felt deep down that was coming from people with huge egos. You actually points to the source of it. I suspected academia was it, but I don’t have the inside point-of-view you do. Thank you so much.

1. vznvzn Post author

hi. thx for interesting response. hit your blog, it looks great, great work, & am adding the link to my blog links, and thx for the tips on some researcher(s) I hadnt heard of. re response, theres apparently long been a “long tail” effect going on with blogs where some top blogs get massive attn and others barely get any! but it is probably an intrinsic aspect of the attention economy

1. Daniel M.

Thanks for the link. I am sure going to add yours too.
I loved the Mad Scientists Profiles section! Mead Carver went full neuromorphic computing paradigm in 1999! What a visionary.
I never heard of either “long tail” effect or attention economy, but I will sure read more about that.
One of my objectives with the Blog now is to put out a little work by myself and see if I can contact Brady on it. I am not interested in Quantum Computing and even find it annoying all the interest people give it. My interest is on applying a Classical Fluid Mechanics model like the sonon to some high energy particle physics and make models of nucleons or quarks. I am far away from anything on that scale but a guy can dream.
Make sure to check the links in my article. The Walkingdroplet blog and Gabriel LaFrenière’s “Matter is made of waves” website. Both are worth to check out too.
Peace
Daniel

3. Ashton

Partly I think the hardest problem is the fact how do you design a simple experiment to demonstrate to validate one hypothesis or another? I mean, Einstein’s ability to do such simple verifications are at least as important as his ideas.

Anyways, although this is very late, what’s the word on your collatz conjecture venture?

1. vznvzn Post author

hi ashton what is striking about solitons is how much of the experimental evidence they already agree with, they reproduce so many fundamental aspects of particle physics that it cant be mere coincidence. its an idea “where theres smoke, there could be fire”. so at this point its more of a speculative, “build/grow a prototype” type project by adjusting parameters on the model until it comes closer and closer to reality and fits all of its phenomena/quirks. a big misconception, even among scientists, is that massive scientific theories do (not) show up all tidy/ wrapped up/ polished.

re collatz see code/collatz section & reply there if possible

4. aviti

so if iamalmost zero on the knowledge board of solitons, can i juts start on your article and work backwards to text books, lectures etc?