Friday, March 12, 2010

From normal science to marginal science

Analysis of a bifurcation of scientific trajectory: the case of the theory of scale-relativity

Key words: Laurent Nottale, marginal science, scale-relativity, scientific controversy

A great find by a commenter on FQXi-603. I have fixed typos and inserted links:

About Notale ...etal wrote on Mar. 12, 2010 @ 06:35 GMT
In fact there is a French article, dated back 2007, about Nottale who is one of the associate editors of CSF, and as a by product the article caught the case of El Naschie. (French PDF)

and (French)

The article is a bibliometric study, and you can see how the scientific corruption can take place. There are many people involved in that matter; the study mentioned El Naschie, Sidharth, Agop, Castro and Ord.

Nottale is not a prominent French scientist at all.

I hope that the Great Man El Naschie will sue those people who wrote this article after carefully reading it. I think the Great is a multi-lingual one.

I can't read French well, but I can read it well enough to know this PDF is a devastating find.

Most of the El Naschie material is on pages 24-28. Here is a machine rendering of that part into English, with some cleanup and formatting by hand. It's not good English, but it's understandable:

Other contributors of CSF (Chaos, Solitons and Fractals) not know also that as the inventor of the TSR (Theory of Scale-Relativity): they never mention his work on gravitational lensing.

By stripping the 174 articles mentioning Nottale in CSF between 1991 and 2005 to analyze the context in which the references occur in the TSR, we found that Nottale is cited on average twice per article. The researchers who quote him the most are El Naschie (35), Sidharth (17), Agop (15), Castro (11), and Ord (10). In addition FSTM (Nottale's 1993 book Fractal Space-Time and Microphysics: Towards a Theory of Scale Relativity) and its main sections, are also found, which is more surprising, the popular book The Relativity in all states (15 citations). Most citations refer to the book or article as a whole (131) rather than a particular outcome or a particular equation (43), because the authors refer primarily to Nottale to justify recourse to the concept 'space-time fractal' without necessarily adopting the TSR.

Generally, quotes are more precise, the article meets the theoretical framework of the TSR, although this indicator is absolutely reliable: the citation of a result or an equation is sometimes a sign of timely agreement not to imply that the author adopts in full the TSR and, conversely, a reference wave does not refrain from further use of demonstrations. So that the 174 items, only 31 fit explicitly and exclusively in the research program of the TSR. The authors are Nottale and his students and collaborators (Da Rocha, Pissondes, Cresson, Le Méhauté) but also other independent researchers (as Adda, Khalil, Liu, Neto, and Okninski Jumarie). There are also occasional contributions by Argyris, Castro and Sidharth, who also claim other 'labels': Argyris invokes 'Superchaos' Castro a 'New Relativity', Sidharth and the 'quantized fractal spacetime'. At the thirty articles, must be added the 10 items of Ord, who presents his work under the name 'Random walk' or 'Spiral model' but rarely fails to remind their convergence and compatibility with the TSR. Other articles cite Nottale not claim membership in the TSR and are presented as contributions to the 'Loop quantum theory', the model of Everett, or the 'Quantum Superstring theory'.

However, the label that dominates in CSF is that of 'Cantorian space-time' developed by the editor of the magazine, El Naschie (94 articles are explicitly in the theoretical framework). Why are so many items they refer to the TSR, even though they claim they belong to another research program? Here is an opportunity to highlight the importance of the editor as El Naschie has a strong capital and publishes extensively in the magazine he runs (over 90 per cent of his production is published in CSF). This dual function explains the ease with which El Naschie, building on some achievements of TSR, has developed his own research program and attract many researchers. Initially, according Nottale El Naschie advocates the TSR in CSF:

He proposed that a special issue on space-time fractal, to be organized around the item I was going to give (it's the number published in 94), but in the meantime, he has connected with Prigogine and therefore the project has evolved in the beginning, I received letters referring to 'number on the relativity of scale', and then (I understand it: he wanted to launch his magazine, a Nobel Prize, he does not deny) there has been a shift and blow my article was more an article in the midst of others and not center (logically attributed to Prigogine). As for El Naschie, he does not use my methods. It must be clear on this: the thing he has recovered, the concept of fractal space-time. But he immediately went on a space-time discontinuous, so he called a space-time 'Cantor' (or E-infinity, what I understand so well) and then, having opted for discontinuity, he followed the track of the number theory. While I am a physical continuity, it makes a crucial difference. We had lots of discussions, sometimes animated, because I hold my ground and on his own. I respect what he does, but at the same time I think that we should not confuse the two steps.

Changing references to work in sections Nottale El Naschie is instructive on the confusion sometimes deliberately maintained between the TSR and other theoretical frameworks. In 1994, 'space-time Cantor is, according to El Naschie a 'slight radicalization' of the TSR:

More precisely, we mean the implications to the comprehensive effort of Nottale (4) to give up and assume differentiability micro space-time to be a fractal and our own slightly more radical proposal to give up and continuity even under micro space-time as a multidimensional Cantor set. (El Naschie, 1994a: 177)

In another article (El Naschie 1994b), published the same year in CSF, it underlines some of the results of his own theory away assumptions TRS (and work Ord), but five years later, he opted for a strategy of confusion within the label 'Cantorian-fractal spacetime' supposed to cover his own work along with those of Nottale and Ord: 'the theory of Cantorian-fractal spacetime, developed by Nottale, Ord and the author' (El Naschie, 1999a: 17). In 2004, the double movement of appropriation and demarcation made by El Naschie evolved. He now provides his research as an extension of the TSR at the same time he insists on the originality of his program and its compatibility with the physical theory unstabilized dominant superstrings. If he happens to dilute the importance of the theoretical contribution of Nottale, he persisted in his claim to authority to justify his own theory: 'Nottale has acknowledged the importance of the E-infinity and that it goes much further than his own theory' (El Naschie, 2006: 320).

In sum, changing references to the TSR in the articles of El Naschie seems to obey two conflicting trends: a legitimate strategy training, which requires reference to the work of Nottale work as foundational and decisive, and a strategy of distinction of introducing the 'Cantorian spacetime' as the most successful theory in relation to which other research programs, both the TSR that the work of Ord, are required for the preparatory stages, less radical. This ambivalence has a symbolic effect on other researchers publishing in CSF. Out of 174 articles mentioning Nottale in CSF, 154 also mention El Naschie, creating a strong association between these two authors in CSF. The association Nottale systematic development of a theory that differs profoundly from the theoretical framework of the TSR, produces an effect of 'halo' that masks its singularity theory. Mimicry (perhaps through complacency vis-à-vis the publisher), many researchers cite Nottale as they develop their research in the theoretical framework of space-time Cantor. By way of comparison: the work of Ord cited there are only 92 times. The label 'Cantorian-fractal spacetime' is indeed, sometimes detached from Nottale in some articles, but the reference to the TSR remains there. The concept of solidarity with the TSR this work seems, moreover, weak and ambiguous: they have in common to postulate the existence of a 'fractal space-time', but that of the TSR is continuous and results from the abandonment of differentiation, while space-time Cantor is discontinuous. The objective alliance between these heterodox theories is worked by internal rivalries, and the label that seeks to add symbolic forces barely concealed attempting hegemonic El Naschie.

Another indication of the influence of El Naschie on other researchers, we delivered by the references to relativity in all its forms, which multiply in CSF after he himself appreciatively mentioned the book: 'An excellent account of the popular theory of fractal space by Nottale has just Appeared in French translation Français year and may not be too far away in the future' (El Naschie, 1999b: 579). Surprisingly, this book is designed for the general public is often considered a primary source of information on the TSR, and one can assume that the majority of positive or negative judgments expressed about the theory based solely on reading this book. We find in all scientific articles mentioning Nottale, 24 references to relativity in all its forms (including 16 in CSF). Carlos Castro refers to it 15 times, El Naschie 5 times. However, researchers entering explicitly in the theoretical framework of the TSR will almost never refer to extension (single quote). Students and staff do not maintain Nottale not confusion between the TSR and the space-time Cantor, they cite El Naschie in two thirds of cases when publishing in CSF, they never do when they published elsewhere (Nottale cites El Naschie once in A & A). While giving pledges and tokens of esteem to their 'host', their positioning is done according to the TSR and not within the community 'fractalo-Cantor'.

Between these two poles, the strict inclusion in the TSR and dissolution within the 'Cantorism', some swing, like Castro, who now claims the TSR, El Naschie sometimes, sometimes his own 'New Relativity' and this research in connection with the theory of Superstrings: 'Nottale's special scale-relativity principle was proposed earlier by the author as a plausible geometrical origin to string theory and extended objects. Scale Relativity is to scales what motion is relativity to velocities' (Castro, 1999: 295). Castro uses the TSR in particle physics. His main reference after FSTM is the relativity in all its forms (cited 9 times in 11 articles), and he also cites trees evolution (Nottale, Chaline and Grou, 2000) on the log-law Journals: 'we will show that complex dimension is not just a mathematical artifact but that it is deeply related to the log-periodic laws in Nature amply discussed by Nottale et al. in their theories of the fractal tree of life and evolution fractal' (Castro, 2002: 1343). Instead of references, these citations are an extension of the popularization within the scientific field.

There are also articles on Castro's references to specific points epistemological: 'Nottale has argued in numerous occasions that there is a deep link between the renormalization group process, that is based in scaling arguments, and scale relativity' (Castro, 2000 : 1668), and is rare enough to be said, a reference to results such as predictions of preferential orbits by generalized Schrödinger equation: 'As the years pass by, more and more planets have been found confirming Nottale's predictions within his framework of Scale-Relativity' (Castro and Granik, 2000: 2169).

Ultimately, the researchers cite Nottale in CSF always do so even if it is laudatory to abandon the instant after the TSR, the blend the Cantor, or expand their work in another theoretical framework. References to FSTM Cantorians to play the role of a justification for abandoning the differentiability and continuity. Quotations of more precise equations or results under-lines more often a convergence of theoretical interest to break with orthodoxy, or one-off agreement, an adoption of the theory as a whole. The names of Ord and Nottale are frequently associated with the El Naschie in the genealogies of the concept 'of space-time fractal', and are experiencing significant changes in the order of priorities theoretical. All items referring to Nottale in CSF finally produced a halo effect, through the concept of 'Cantorian fractal space-time', which does not help the perception of the specific context theoretical TSR.

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