Dec 31, 2014

“Infinity plus Infinity equals zero”: A logical Error made by the Physics Profession

Posted by in categories: existential risks, particle physics

Everyone can witness it in the scientifically well-researched blockbuster movie “Interstellar”: The protagonist had to travel fairly deep down to the vicinity of the surface of a giant black hole while feeling absolutely normal there. But there he realizes that when he is to come back home soon, decades will have passed by out there owing to his momentarily heavily slowed clocks and aging. Hence he is younger now than his own daughter whom he had so reluctantly left behind. This is the ingenious part of the script. The rest of the movie becomes inconsistent, the viewer realizes: The crew next goes down much deeper to reach the horizon and travel through the wormhole (and so a second time on the way back), but this time around the matching infinitely fast aging rate in the outside world is swept under the rug for the sake of the narrative having a happy end.

My point is that near the horizon itself, the slowdown becomes infinite. Hence “infinity plus infinity equals zero” is the axiom presupposed in the movie’s second part. Therefore we can dismiss that part as crab? Please, do not do so: this part describes exactly what modern physics is teaching. That is, the movie’s inconsistent second part is the current textbook knowledge: a belief in the presence of “equal rights” between the two time scales, the one outside and the one downstairs in gravity. This is the canonical teaching in physics for 75 years – ever since 1939 when J. Robert Oppenheimer unwittingly laid the ground to this logical error in his ingenious paper, written jointly with Hartland Snyder, in which the physical existence of stellar black holes was first predicted. It is highly technical ( ).

Following 1939, only the “Russian school” avoided the mentioned error by speaking of “frozen stars” rather than of “stellar black holes.” Eventually, however, peer pressure from the West caused this view to fall into oblivion following the end of the cold war. The once correctly recognized “freezing of time near a black hole” was forgotten by the profession. Interstellar now brought it to the whole world.

The mentioned emotional scene (a father suffering in his heart because the imperceptible slowing-down of time that holds true for him near a mega black hole implies that his beloved young daughter will no longer be a child on his impending return) is now an eye-opener for the whole planet.

But does physics – the most difficult and most highly esteemed science on earth – really teach that the freezing of time is a mere observational effect without real-life consequences? This, Sir, is the modern gospel. The fact that, in reality, nothing ever reaches the horizon in finite outer time or else comes up from it is denied by the physics community. Now, however, the mentioned scene in the movie makes it clear to everyone endowed with a heart that the two time scales are indeed interlocked.

Does this mean that the perhaps most highly regarded profession on earth cannot think? The answer is: yes, but so only for a particular kind of reasoning. Direct – non-algorithmic – thinking has no niche left to it. Oppenheimer got blessed with the wisdom of hindsight when he said “physics has met sin” but here he hit on a perhaps even more fateful case.

Shall the scientific community go on trying to produce black holes down on earth – now that the profession has learnt from a blockbuster movie that it had believed in falsity regarding black holes for 75 years?

I plead that an almost 7 years old proposal for a “safety conference” ( ) be heeded at long last – before the LHC experiment, designed to build black holes down on earth, gets re-started at twice world record energies with a multiplied chance at producing black holes in a few weeks’ time from today.

There is a good chance for a renewal of the more than six years old safety report at last after Interstellar has translated Oppenheimer’s ingenious insights into a theatrical scene that is intuitive to the eye and the heart of every viewer. After this superhuman feat accomplished by the movie-makers, every person on earth is obliged to them. I reckon it was Kip Thorne who is responsible for the miracle of a clear-sighted grief that revealed the existential dimension of gravity’s temporal effects. How does it feel, dear reader, to jointly with Kip be more intelligent than a whole profession and become a benefactor of humankind if you continue to believe in yourself? I can tell you: it feels awful since most everybody hates you – so as if belief in authority was worth dying-for even if it costs the planet. But then just look in the eyes of the young girl in the movie and you know better. This is the miracle worked by Interstellar: your own honesty towards yourself makes all the difference of the world. Even the best-educated group of people on earth is bound to concede your point if you stick to it: “Infinity plus infinity is infinity, not zero.” The correction changes the face of terrestrial black holes as well.


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  1. Otto E. Rossler says:

    I found it would be nicer if the title of this contrinution was appended a question mark:

    “Infinity plus Infinity equals zero”: A logical Error made by the Physics Profession?”

    Thank you.