My work involves rewriting the foundations of both relativity and quantum mechanics. I began by rewriting special relativity so that it would make de Broglie's quantum waves more natural. It turns out that special relativity is the "third rail" of amateurs working on physics theories. If you touch it, all interest by professionals in your papers dies instantly.

I took a MS in physics at the University of California, Irvine when I passed the PhD qualifying exams. I know physicists well. I know how their minds work. I knew that relativity was the third rail. Despite this, I persevered with my version of relativity and applied a type of Clifford algebra called the Geometric Algebra to the problem of representing the quarks and leptons. The resulting paper The Geometry of Fermions gave a beautiful (but wrong) geometric model of the fermions that allowed one to count the number of hidden dimensions needed to classify the fermions as primitive idempotents.

The "Geometry of Fermions" included the new version of special relativity so I knew it wasn't likely to go anywhere. But a Portugese professor of physics, Jose Almeida came upon it, liked it, and asked that I submit it to arXiv so that he could reference it in a paper he was writing. The paper was rejected at arXiv, possibly because the references were screwed up, or possibly because it touched that third rail. In any case, I continued on with my studies of the implications of the theory.

I found out that it is possible for amateurs to join the American Physical Society (APS) and that one of the benefits of membership is that one can attend APS meetings and give presentations. The money required is small, so I signed up for membership in early 2005.

If I recall correctly, the first meeting that it was convenient for me to attend wasn't actually an APS meeting, but was instead a phenomenology meeting, PHENO2005. In particle physics, phenomenology means the study of particle interactions in a way that cannot be derived exactly from theory, but in a way that is consistent with a theory.

My understanding of the fermions implied that the quarks and leptons are composites made up of a sort of "preons". The theory gives a description of those preons, so you can compare the resulting behavior with unexplained behavior in particle physics. Now the energies of these preons would have to be tremendous, and the highest energy particles ever detected come from cosmic rays so it was natural for me to look through the research to see if there was anything matching my preons in odd behavior.

Sure enough I found that there is a type of cosmic ray called a "centauro" that had odd behavior just what I expected. I wrote up a paper, and signed up to give it at the PHENO2005 meeting May 2-4, 2005 in Madison Wisconsin. Of course anything that touches the third rail is avoided by physicists so my paper was ignored. Since then I've talked with only one physicist (whose name I will insert here if the theory ever gets any recognition) who thought that I may be on to something.

On April 23, 2005, just a few days before the PHENO2005 meeting, a Spanish physicist, Alejandro Rivero, posted a short note (post #111) on Physics Forums describing a strange formula for the masses of the charged leptons found by a Japanese professor of physics, Yoshio Koide in 1982 and published in Phys Rev D. in 1983.

Koide's strange formula predicted the mass of the tau long before it was known accurately. At this date, August 2006, Koide's formula still gives a mass for the tau close to the center of the error bars. Such an accurate formula, with no clear theoretical explanation, was exactly the kind of thing I had been looking for. Since the fermions are "point" particles, there is no need to worry about space and time, and so I could apply my theories to the problem without touching the third rail.

Physics conferences are exciting and busy affairs, but I found time to work on Koide's formula and by the last day of the conference I had rewritten it so that the masses were eigenvalues for a 3x3 matrix. The reason that this was important was because I thought that the leptons were composed of 3 particles, and that those three subparticles should freely convert into each other. And by writing Koide's formula in eigenvector form, I found that an angle suspiciously close to the Cabibbo angle appeared.

But without a theory to put behind it, an observation such as this is not of much interest to the physics community. It's very difficult for amateurs to get published, or even to post papers onto arXiv, so instead of publishing the result in the literature, I posted it on May 17, 2005 to the same Physics Forums thread in which Koide's formula had been shown to me: (post #112).

Since my theory united the quarks and leptons, it was only natural to see if I could apply my formula to the quarks. I worked on this for a few months, but nothing seemed to come from it. Eventually I decided that the problem was that the quarks were bound particles and that the figures for their masses given in the literature depended on models for mass that were incompatible with my own. That left me the neutrinos to work on.

The experimental measurements of neutrino masses are rather nebulous. Instead of measuring the neutrino masses directly, the differences between the squares of masses are measured instead, and only two of those. Thus there is an unspecified degree of freedom and one would expect that the Koide formula could be applied to get the masses. But it turns out that Koide's formula, as written in 1983, is incompatible with the measured neutrino masses. This fact has been observed in three papers that I found, Nan Li and Bo-Qiang Ma in Phys. Lett B 609, 309 (2005), J. M. Gerard, F. Goffinet, and M. Herquet in Phys. Lett. B 633, 563 (2006), and R. N. Mohapatra and A. V. Smirnov in Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science Vol. 56, to be published in November 2006 .

However, with my version of Koide's formula, the neutrino masses could be fitted. The difference amounted to the fact that the other physicists assumed only the positive square root. I knew that Koide would be interested in this, and so I wrote him a short letter I think in mid March, 2006. Of course Dr. Koide responded enthusiastically.

The next APS meeting that I was scheduled to attend was the big APS06 meeting in Dallas on April 22-25, 2006. Earlier in the year, I'd figured that I would be able to solve the neutrino problem and signed up to give a talk on the lepton masses. Fortunately, I'd solved the problem in time to let "lepton" include neutrinos. My paper was ready on April 7, and I submitted it to arXiv soon after, well in time to get it up before the meeting.

Because of the problem of too many people putting too many weak papers up on arXiv, they have instituted some controls to restrict which papers are published there. Even though Dr. Koide endorsed my paper (twice if I recall), the quality control people at arXiv refused to allow it. It's bad enough that the paper was written by someone with no university affiliation. But for it to predict the neutrino masses to 6 decimal places was probably too much.

The organizers of APS have probably long discussed what to do with the amateurs (&c.) that shower them with papers at these meetings. At the 2006 meeting, what they did was to put us all in one session. The audience mostly consisted of each other. At smaller meetings, where there are not enough amateurs, one is more likely to have good attendance at one's presentation. But there was an odd thing that happened at this meeting. One of the other amateur presenters, a mathematician named Richard Gauthier, gave a model of electron spin that was based on a sort of zitterbewegung and Bohmian mechanical ideas. He concluded that the electron travelled on a helical path and the formula he gave for the path matched the formula I gave for the masses. He concluded that this motion was superluminal, a violation of Lorentz invariance identical to my own. I think that this is a clue on how to get a Bohmian mechanical version of my theory and will eventually explore it. I knew another amateur poster at the meeting, Douglas Sweetser. He presented a talk on the unification of gravitation and electricity and magnetism. There are attributes of his unification that seem to me like they are compatible with my model of the forces and eventually I will study this more deeply. Douglas and I attended several of the events together and generally had a good time. (No one was arrested.) And my father dropped in to see my short talk.

Soon after the APS meeting, Dr. Koide finished a paper that considered how it would be possible to get my neutrino mass formula with Yukawa couplings and a Higgs interaction. The paper is not yet published but I have little doubt that Dr. Koide is working on it. Every now and then I feel slightly guilty for not spending more time trying to get papers published in the peer reviewed literature, but the barriers are high, the effort is vexing, and I don't see any real reason why I should do this at the moment, as I still don't think that I understand "mass".

A few days before the APS meeting, I came upon Sundance Bilson-Thompson's paper giving a braid model of preons. Lee Smolin had written papers citing his. The preons involved seemed similar to mine, and so I wrote letters to Smolin and Bilson-Thompson suggesting that there was a connection. I got back interested replies. But there didn't seem to be any way that I could get their version.