# LOG#057. Naturalness problems.

**Posted:**2012/12/02

**Filed under:**Physmatics, Quantum Gravity, The Standard Model: Basics |

**Tags:**CKM matrix, cosmic coincidence, cosmological constant, cosmological constant problem, critical energy density, curvature, dark energy, dark energy density, Dirac large number hypothesis, electroweak scale, energy, energy density, flatness problem, flavour problem, gauge hierarchy problem, Higgs boson, Higgs mechanism, Hubble constant, inflation, inflationary cosmologies, little hierarchy problem, mass, matter density, naturalness, naturalness problem, neutrino mass hierarchy, neutrino masses, neutrino oscillations, NO, NOSEX, parameter, parameter space, Planck era, Planck scale, PMNS matrix, QCD, QFT, quark-lepton complementarity, SM, Standard Cosmological Model, Standard Model, strong CP problem, theta term, types of naturalness, vacuum, vacuum energy, W boson, Z boson 8 Comments

In this short blog post, I am going to list some of the greatest “naturalness” problems in Physics. It has nothing to do with some delicious natural dishes I like, but there is a natural beauty and sweetness related to naturalness problems in Physics. In fact, they include some hierarchy problems and additional problems related to stunning free values of parameters in our theories.

**Naturalness problems** arise when the “naturally expected” property of some free parameters or fundamental “constants” to appear as quantities of order one is violated, and thus, those paramenters or constants appear to be very large or very small quantities. That is, naturalness problems are problems of untuning “scales” of length, energy, field strength, … A value of 0.99 or 1.1, or even 0.7 and 2.3 are “more natural” than, e.g., Equivalently, imagine that the values of every fundamental and measurable physical quantity lies in the real interval . Then, 1 (or very close to this value) are “natural” values of the parameters while the two extrema or are “unnatural”. As we do know, in Physics, zero values are usually explained by some “fundamental symmetry” while extremely large parameters or even can be shown to be “unphysical” or “unnatural”. In fact, renormalization in QFT was invented to avoid quantities that are “infinite” at first sight and regularization provides some prescriptions to assign “natural numbers” to quantities that are formally ill-defined or infinite. However, naturalness goes beyond those last comments, and it arise in very different scenarios and physical theories. It is quite remarkable that naturalness can be explained as numbers/contants/parameters around 3 of the most important “numbers” in Mathematics:

**REMEMBER: Naturalness** of X is, thus, being 1 or close to it, while values approaching 0 or are unnatural. Therefore, if some day you heard a physicist talking/speaking/lecturing about “naturalness” remember the triple and then assign “some magnitude/constant/parameter” some quantity close to one of those numbers. If they approach 1, the parameter itself is natural and unnatural if it approaches any of the other two numbers, zero or infinity!

I have never seen a systematic classification of naturalness problems into types. I am going to do it here today. We could classify naturalness problems into:

1st.** Hierarchy problems**. They are naturalness problems related to the energy mass or energy spectrum/energy scale of interactions and fundamental particles.

2nd. **Nullity/Smallness problems**. These are naturalness problems related to free parameters which are, surprisingly, close to zero/null value, even when we have no knowledge of a deep reason to understand why it happens.

3rd.** Large number problems (or hypotheses).** This class of problems can be equivalently thought as nullity reciprocal problems but they arise naturally theirselves in cosmological contexts or when we consider a large amount of particles, e.g., in “statistical physics”, or when we face two theories in very different “parameter spaces”. Dirac pioneered these class of hypothesis when realized of some large number coincidences relating quantities appearing in particle physics and cosmology. This Dirac large number hypothesis is also an old example of this kind of naturalness problems.

4th. **Coincidence problems**. This 4th type of problems is related to why some different parameters of the same magnitude are similar in order of magnitude.

The following list of concrete naturalness problems is not going to be complete, but it can serve as a guide of what theoretical physicists are trying to understand better:

1. **The little hierarchy problem**. From the phenomenon called neutrino oscillations (NO) and neutrino oscillation experiments (NOSEX), we can know the difference between the squared masses of neutrinos. Furthermore, cosmological measurements allow us to put tight bounds to the total mass (energy) of light neutrinos in the Universe. The most conservative estimations give or even as an upper bound is quite likely to be true. By the other hand, NOSEX seems to say that there are two mass differences, and . However, we don’t know what kind of spectrum neutrinos have yet ( normal, inverted or quasidegenerated). Taking a neutrino mass about 1 meV as a reference, the little hierarchy problem is the question of why neutrino masses are so light when compared with the remaining leptons, quarks and gauge bosons ( excepting, of course, the gluon and photon, massless due to the gauge invariance).

Why is

We don’t know! Let me quote a wonderful sentence of a very famous short story by Asimov to describe this result and problem:

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

2. **The gauge hierarchy problem.** The electroweak (EW) scale can be generally represented by the Z or W boson mass scale. Interestingly, from this summer results, Higgs boson mass seems to be of the same order of magnitue, more or less, than gauge bosons. Then, the electroweak scale is about . Likely, it is also of the Higgs mass order. By the other hand, the Planck scale where we expect (naively or not, it is another question!) quantum effects of gravity to naturally arise is provided by the Planck mass scale:

or more generally, dropping the factor

Why is the EW mass (energy) scale so small compared to Planck mass, i.e., why are the masses so different? The problem is hard, since we do know that EW masses, e.g., for scalar particles like Higgs particles ( not protected by any SM gauge symmetry), should receive quantum contributions of order

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

3. **The cosmological constant (hierarchy) problem.** The cosmological constant , from the so-called Einstein’s field equations of classical relativistic gravity

is estimated to be about from the cosmological fitting procedures. The Standard Cosmological Model, with the CMB and other parallel measurements like large scale structures or supernovae data, agree with such a cosmological constant value. However, in the framework of Quantum Field Theories, it should receive quantum corrections coming from vacuum energies of the fields. Those contributions are unnaturally big, about or in the framework of supersymmetric field theories, after SUSY symmetry breaking. Then, the problem is:

Why is ? Even with TeV or PeV fundamental SUSY (or higher) we have a serious mismatch here! The mismatch is about 60 orders of magnitude even in the best known theory! And it is about 122-123 orders of magnitude if we compare directly the cosmological constant vacuum energy we observe with the cosmological constant we calculate (naively or not) with out current best theories using QFT or supersymmetric QFT! Then, this problem is a hierarchy problem and a large number problem as well. Again, and sadly, we don’t know why there is such a big gap between mass scales of the same thing! This problem is the biggest problem in theoretical physics and it is one of the worst predictions/failures in the story of Physics. However,

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

4.** The strong CP problem/puzzle. **From neutron electric dipople measurements, theoretical physicists can calculate the so-called -angle of QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics). The theta angle gives an extra contribution to the QCD lagrangian:

The theta angle is not provided by the SM framework and it is a free parameter. Experimentally,

while, from the theoretical aside, it could be any number in the interval . Why is close to the zero/null value? That is the strong CP problem! Once again, we don’t know. Perhaps a new symmetry?

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

5. **The flatness problem/puzzle.** In the Stantard Cosmological Model, also known as the model, the curvature of the Universe is related to the critical density and the Hubble “constant”:

There, is the total energy density contained in the whole Universe and is the so called critical density. The flatness problem arise when we deduce from cosmological data that:

At the Planck scale era, we can even calculate that

This result means that the Universe is “flat”. However, why did the Universe own such a small curvature? Why is the current curvature “small” yet? We don’t know. However, cosmologists working on this problem say that “inflation” and “inflationary” cosmological models can (at least in principle) solve this problem. There are even more radical ( and stranger) theories such as varying speed of light theories trying to explain this, but they are less popular than inflationary cosmologies/theories. Indeed, inflationary theories are popular because they include scalar fields, similar in Nature to the scalar particles that arise in the Higgs mechanism and other beyond the Standard Model theories (BSM). We don’t know if inflation theory is right yet, so

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

6. **The flavour problem/puzzle.** The ratios of successive SM fermion mass eigenvalues ( the electron, muon, and tau), as well as the angles appearing in one gadget called the CKM (Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa) matrix, are roughly of the same order of magnitude. The issue is harder to know ( but it is likely to be as well) for constituent quark masses. However, why do they follow this particular pattern/spectrum and structure? Even more, there is a mysterious lepton-quark complementarity. The analague matrix in the leptonic sector of such a CKM matrix is called the PMNS matrix (Pontecorvo-Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix) and it describes the neutrino oscillation phenomenology. It shows that the angles of PMNS matrix are roughly complementary to those in the CKM matrix ( remember that two angles are said to be complementary when they add up to 90 sexagesimal degrees). What is the origin of this lepton(neutrino)-quark(constituent) complementarity? In fact, the two questions are related since, being rough, the mixing angles are related to the ratios of masses (quarks and neutrinos). Therefore, this problem, if solved, could shed light to the issue of the particle spectrum or at least it could help to understand the relationship between quark masses and neutrino masses. Of course, we don’t know how to solve this puzzle at current time. And once again:

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

7. **Cosmic matter-dark energy coincidence.** At current time, the densities of matter and vacuum energy are roughly of the same order of magnitude, i.e, . Why now? We do not know!

*“THERE* IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT *DATA* FOR A MEANINGFUL *ANSWER*.”

And my weblog is only just beginning! See you soon in my next post! 🙂

# LOG#056. Gravitational alpha(s).

**Posted:**2012/11/29

**Filed under:**Cosmology, Physmatics, Quantum Gravity, Relativity |

**Tags:**alpha, alpha strong, asymptotic freedom, atomic physics, confinement, cosmological constant, cosmological constant problem, cosmological gravitational alpha, cosmological parameter fitting, cosmological parameters, Cosmology, coupling constant, de Sitter radius, Einstein's field equations, energy density, energy density ratios, energy ratios, fine structure constant, gravitational alpha, gravitational constant, gravitational fine structure constant, Hubble parameter, Hubble's length, length ratios, naturalness problem, Planck's energy, Planck's length, QCD, QFT, quantum field theory, quantum theory, ratios, Relativity Leave a comment

The topic today is to review a beautiful paper and to discuss its relevance for theoretical physics. The paper is: **Comment on the cosmological constant and a gravitational alpha **by R.J.Adler. You can read it here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.3358

One of the most intriguing and mysterious numbers in Physics is the electromagnetic fine structure constant . Its value is given by

or equivalenty

Of course, I am assuming that the coupling constant is measured at ordinary energies, since we know that the coupling constants are not really constant but they vary slowly with energy. However, I am not going to talk about the renormalization (semi)group in this post.

Why is the fine structure constant important? Well, we can undertand it if we insert the values of the constants that made the electromagnetic alpha constant:

with being the electron elemental charge, the Planck’s constant divided by two pi, c is the speed of light and where we are using units with . Here is the Coulomb constant, generally with a value , but we rescale units in order it has a value equal to the unit. We will discuss more about frequently used system of units soon.

As the electromagnetic alpha constant depends on the electric charge, the Coulomb’s electromagnetic constant ( rescaled to one in some “clever” units), the Planck’s constant ( rationalized by since ) and the speed of light, it codes some deep information of the Universe inside of it. The electromagnetic alpha is quantum and relativistic itself, and it also is related to elemental charges. Why alpha has the value it has is a complete mystery. Many people has tried to elucidate why it has the value it has today, but there is no reason of why it should have the value it has. Of course, it happens as well with some other constants but this one is particularly important since it is involved in some important numbers in atomic physics and the most elemental atom, the hydrogen atom.

In atomic physics, there are two common and “natural” scales of length. The first scale of length is given by the Compton’s wavelength of electrons. Usint the de Broglie equation, we get that the Compton’s wavelength is the wavelength of a photon whose energy is the same as the rest mass of the particle, or mathematically speaking:

Usually, physicists employ the “reduced” or “rationalized” Compton’s wavelength. Plugging the electron mass, we get the electron reduced Compton’s wavelength:

The second natural scale of length in atomic physics is the so-called Böhr radius. It is given by the formula:

Therefore, there is a natural mass ratio between those two length scales, and it shows that it is precisely the electromagnetic fine structure constant alpha :

Furthermore, we can show that the electromagnetic alpha also is related to the mass ration between the electron energy in the fundamental orbit of the hydrogen atom and the electron rest energy. These two scales of energy are given by:

1)** Rydberg’s energy** ( electron ground minimal energy in the fundamental orbit/orbital for the hydrogen atom):

2) **Electron rest energy**:

Then, the ratio of those two “natural” energies in atomic physics reads:

or equivalently

R.J.Adler’s paper remarks that there is a cosmological/microscopic analogue of the above two ratios, and they involve the infamous Einstein’s cosmological constant. In Cosmology, we have two natural (ultimate?) length scales:

1st. The (ultra)microscopic and ultrahigh energy (“ultraviolet” UV regulator) relevant **Planck’s length** , or equivalently the squared value . Its value is given by:

This natural length can NOT be related to any “classical” theory of gravity since it involves and uses the Planck’s constant .

2nd. The (ultra)macroscopic and ultra-low-energy (“infrared” IR regulator) relevant **cosmological constant/deSitter radius. **They are usualy represented/denoted by and respectively, and they are related to each other in a simple way. The dimensions of the cosmological constant are given by

The de Sitter radius and the cosmological constant are related through a simple equation:

The de Sitter radius is obtained from cosmological measurements thanks to the so called Hubble’s parameter ( or Hubble’s “constant”, although we do know that Hubble’s “constant” is not such a “constant”, but sometimes it is heard as a language abuse) H. From cosmological data we obtain ( we use the paper’s value without loss of generality):

This measured value allows us to derive the Hubble’s length paremeter

Moreover, the data also imply some density energy associated to the cosmological “constant”, and it is generally called Dark Energy. This density energy from data is written as:

and from this, it can be also proved that

where we have introduced the experimentally deduced value from the cosmological parameter global fits. In fact, the cosmological constant helps us to define the beautiful and elegant formula that we can call the **gravitational alpha/gravitational cosmological fine structure constant **:

or equivalently, defining the cosmological length associated to the cosmological constant as

If we introduce the numbers of the constants, we easily obtaint the gravitational cosmological alpha value and its inverse:

They are really small and large numbers! Following the the atomic analogy, we can also create a ratio between two cosmologically relevant density energies:

1st. **The Planck’s density energy.**

Planck’s energy is defined as

The Planck energy density is defined as the energy density of Planck’s energy inside a Planck’s cube or side , i.e., it is the energy density of Planck’s energy concentrated inside a cube with volume . Mathematically speaking, it is

It is an huge density energy!

**Remark:** Energy density is equivalent to **pressure** in special relativity hydrodynamics. That is,

wiht Pa denoting pascals () and where represents here matter (not energy) density ( with units in ). Of course, turning matter density into energy density requires a multiplication by . This equivalence between vacuum pressure and energy density is one of the reasons because some astrophysicists, cosmologists and theoretical physicists call “vacuum pressure” to the “dark energy/cosmological constant” term in the study of the cosmic components derived from the total energy density .

2nd. **The cosmological constant density energy.**

Using the Einstein’s field equations, it can be shown that the cosmological constant gives a contribution to the stress-energy-momentum tensor. The component is related to the dark energy ( a.k.a. the cosmological constant) and allow us to define the energy density

Using the previous equations for G as a function of Planck’s length, the Planck’s constant and the speed of light, and the definitions of Planck’s energy and de Sitter radius, we can rewrite the above energy density as follows:

Thus, we can evaluate the ration between these two energy densities! It provides

and the inverse ratio will be

So, we have obtained two additional really tiny and huge values for and its inverse, respectively. Note that the power appearing in the ratios of cosmological lengths and cosmological energy densities match the same scaling property that the atomic case with the electromagnetic alpha! In the electromagnetic case, we obtained and . The gravitational/cosmological analogue ratios follow the same rule and but the surprise comes from the values of the gravitational alpha values and ratios. Some comments are straightforward:

1) Understanding atomic physics involved the discovery of Planck’s constant and the quantities associated to it at fundamental quantum level ( Böhr radius, the Rydberg’s constant,…). Understanding the Cosmological Constant value and the mismatch or stunning ratios between the equivalent relevant quantities, likely, require that can be viewed as a new “fundamental constant” or/and it can play a dynamical role somehow ( e.g., varying in some unknown way with energy or local position).

2) Currently, the cosmological parameters and fits suggest that is “constant”, but we can not be totally sure it has not varied slowly with time. And there is a related idea called quintessence, in which the cosmological “constant” is related to some dynamical field and/or to inflation. However, present data say that the cosmological constant IS truly constant. How can it be so? We are not sure, since our physical theories can hardly explain the cosmological constant, its value, and why it is current density energy is radically different from the vacuum energy estimates coming from Quantum Field Theories.

3) The mysterious value

is an equivalent way to express the biggest issue in theoretical physics. A **naturalness problem** called the** cosmological constant problem**.

In the literature, there have been alternative definitions of “gravitational fine structure constants”, unrelated with the above gravitational (cosmological) fine structure constant or gravitational alpha. Let me write some of these alternative gravitational alphas:

1) **Gravitational alpha prime**. It is defined as the ratio between the electron rest mass and the Planck’s mass squared:

Note that . Since , we can also use the proton rest mass instead of the electron mass to get a new gravitational alpha.

2) **Gravitational alpha double prime.** It is defined as the ratio between the proton rest mass and the Planck’s mass squared:

and the inverse value

Finally, we could guess an intermediate gravitational alpha, mixing the electron and proton mass.

3) **Gravitational alpha triple prime**. It is defined as the ration between the product of the electron and proton rest masses with the Planck’s mass squared:

and the inverse value

We can compare the 4 gravitational alphas and their inverse values, and additionally compare them with . We get

These inequations mean that the electromagnetic fine structure constant is (at ordinary energies) 42 orders of magnitude bigger than , 39 orders of magnitude bigger than , 36 orders of magnitude bigger than and, of course, 58 orders of magnitude bigger than . Indeed, we could extend this analysis to include the “fine structure constant” of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) as well. It would be given by:

since generally we define . We note that by 3 orders of magnitude. However, as strong nuclear forces are short range interactions, they only matter in the atomic nuclei, where confinement, and color forces dominate on every other fundamental interaction. Interestingly, at high energies, QCD coupling constant has a property called asymptotic freedom. But it is another story not to be discussed here! If we take the alpha strong coupling into account the full hierarchy of alphas is given by:

**Fascinating!** Isn’t it?** Stay tuned!!!**

*ADDENDUM:* After I finished this post, I discovered a striking (and interesting itself) connection between and . The relation or coincidence is the following relationship

Is this relationship fundamental or accidental? The answer is unknown. However, since the electric charge (via electromagnetic alpha) is not related a priori with the gravitational constant or Planck mass ( or the cosmological constant via the above gravitational alpha) in any known way I find particularly stunning such a coincidence up to 5 significant digits! Any way, there are many unexplained numerical coincidences that are completely accidental and meaningless, and then, it is not clear why this numeral result should be relevant for the connection between electromagnetism and gravity/cosmology, but it is interesting at least as a curiosity and “joke” of Nature.

*ADDENDUM (II):
*

Some quotes about the electromagnetic alpha from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-structure_constant

“(…)There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the observed coupling constant, e – the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close to 0.08542455. (My physicist friends won’t recognize this number, because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about 137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed his pencil.” We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don’t know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly! (…)”. R.P.Feynman, *QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter*, Princeton University Press, p.129.

“(…) If alpha [the fine-structure constant] were bigger than it really is, we should not be able to distinguish matter from ether [the vacuum, nothingness], and our task to disentangle the natural laws would be hopelessly difficult. The fact however that alpha has just its value 1/137 is certainly no chance but itself a law of nature. It is clear that the explanation of this number must be the central problem of natural philosophy.(…)” Max Born, in A.I. Miller’s book *Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. *p. 253. Publisher W.W. Norton & Co.(2009).

“(…)The mystery about *α* is actually a double mystery. The first mystery – the origin of its numerical value *α* ≈ 1/137 has been recognized and discussed for decades. The second mystery – the range of its domain – is generally unrecognized.(…)” Malcolm H. Mac Gregor, M.H. MacGregor (2007). *The Power of Alpha.*