November 9, 2008
The Case of M. S. El Naschie
Posted by John Baez
Zoran Škoda recently brought our attention to the case of M. S. El Naschie.
But here’s where things get interesting: this journal also lists 322 papers with El Naschie as an author!
For example, El Naschie has five sole-authored papers in the most recent issue, which will appear in December. Here they are:
M.S. El Naschie,
Fuzzy multi-instanton knots in the fabric of space–time and Dirac’s vacuum fluctuation, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Volume 38, Issue 5, December 2008, Pages 1260-1268.
M.S. El Naschie,
An energy balance Eigenvalue equation for determining super strings dimensional hierarchy and coupling constants,
Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Volume 38, Issue 5, December 2008, Pages 1283-1285.
M.S. El Naschie,
Anomalies free E-infinity from von Neumann’s continuous geometry
Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Volume 38, Issue 5, December 2008, Pages 1318-1322.
M.S. El Naschie,
Eliminating gauge anomalies via a “point-less” fractal Yang–Mills theory,
Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Volume 38, Issue 5, December 2008, Pages 1332-1335.
M.S. El Naschie,
Fuzzy knot theory interpretation of Yang–Mills instantons and Witten’s 5-Brane model,
Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Volume 38, Issue 5, December 2008, Pages 1349-1354.
Together with the rate at which El Naschie is publishing these papers in his own journal, the bizarre blend of fashionable buzzwords in their titles instantly made me suspicious. To see if my suspicions were correct, I examined some.
Let’s look at just one: ‘Anomalies free E-infinity from von Neumann’s continuous geometry’.
This paper consists of undisciplined numerology larded with impressive buzzwords. It starts with a reference to von Neumann’s continuous geometries and the work of Alain Connes, but it makes no use of these ideas. ‘E-infinity’ is apparently the name of Naschie’s ‘theory’, but he doesn’t describe this theory. In short, the title and abstract have little to do with the actual content of the paper.
As for the content, let me quote a bit, so you can see for yourself:
It may be a rather well known fact, at least for all round educated mathematicians, that there are 17 and only 17 distinct types of wallpaper patterns in terms of their symmetry groups. Many of these patterns were known and used by the Arabs in Spain to decorate their palaces, for example the world famous Alhambra in Spain [9,10]. Less well known however is the fact that there are 5 Dirichlet domains corresponding to these 17 groups and that there are exactly 17 two and three Stein spaces with a total sum of dimensions found by the Author to be exactly equal to :
where α˜ 0 is the integer value of the inverse of the fine structure constant of electromagnetism.
In Fig. 1 we show examples of wallpaper patterns corresponding to the said 17 groups while in Fig. 2 we show the corresponding Dirichlet domain .
It is well known that without symmetry groups, in particular SU(3), SU(2) and U(1) Lie groups, we could not formulate a rational standard model for particle physics, but what could be the connection between the wallpaper groups and high energy physics? Part of the answer to this question has already been given implicitly in the identity 
∑ 1 17Stein=(4α˜ 0)+1=685+1
To follow this matter deeper still, we have to recall some topological and mathematical facts. First, the Nash Euclidean embedding of a two dimensional manifold, i.e. an area is given for n=2 by 
Next we think about each area as being a Bi-vector with 17 dimensions attached to them. However this two dimensional tiling should be thought of more as a Penrose fractal tiling which we can divide again into smaller areas with again 17 dimensions attached to them and so on. The remarkable thing is that for two such fractal iterations, one finds
(2)(2)(17)=(2)(34)=68=(α˜ 0/2)−1/2=1/2(α˜ 0=1).
In fact (68)(8) = 544 is short of the four dimensions of classical spacetime to give us the total sum of exceptional Lie symmetry groups hierarchy [11,12].
To me it’s clear that this is total baloney. Let me explain a bit:
I know there are 17 wallpaper groups, and that many of patterns with these symmetry groups appear in the Alhambra. In fact last summer I went to the Alhambra and checked this myself! But I don’t know if there are “exactly 17 two and three Stein spaces’” with total sum of dimensions equal to 686 — I know what a Stein space is, but I don’t know what “two and three Stein spaces” are, or if that even makes sense. The reference he gives here is to one of his own papers in the same journal, ‘Kac–Moody exceptional E12 from simplictic tiling’. I know that ‘simplictic’ is not a word.
More importantly, even if some calculation leads to the number 686, he gives no indication of why it might be interesting that
where 137 is the nearest integer to the reciprocal of the fine structure constant (which is actually closer to 137.035999).
Instead of attempting to explain this numerical coincidence, he moves on. First he claims that
but let us hope this is a typo.
Then he hints that the Nash embedding theorem says that any n-dimensional Riemannian manifold can be embedded in a Euclidean space of dimension
The Nash embedding theorem does give a bound of roughly this sort, but I don’t know if this particular formula is correct. Regardless of that, he then applies the formula to the case of a surface (n=2) and gets the number 17. I have no reason to believe that 17 is the optimal bound in this special case, or of any special significance, but anyway: he seems to be claiming the reappearance of the number 17 is important here — but without saying how.
Then he really goes wild:
Next we think about each area as being a Bi-vector with 17 dimensions attached to them. However this two dimensional tiling should be thought of more as a Penrose fractal tiling which we can divide again into smaller areas with again 17 dimensions attached to them and so on.
This is vague, dreamlike imagery. A bivector is a mathematical structure related to area, but imagining a 2d surface as a bivector with “17 dimensions attached to it” means nothing, nor does the idea of iterating this to get a “Penrose fractal tiling”.
He then suggests quitting at the second stage of this iteration and getting
of something — but it’s not clear what, nor why the number 2×2×17 should show up.
But never mind! He then notes that 68 is
1/2(137−1), where again 137 is a rough approximation to the reciprocal of the fine structure constant. Of course, can always find some formula linking any two numbers, and the possible meaning of this formula linking the numbers 137 and 68 is not discussed.
He then takes the number 68, multiplies it by 8 for some undisclosed reason, and getting 544, which is “four short” of some other number: the “total sum of exceptional Lie symmetry groups hierarchy”, whatever that means. Presumably he calculated some number for each of the 5 exceptional Lie groups, added them up, and got 548: he cites two of his own papers published in the same journal for this calculation!
Coming up with a number “four short” of another number might not seen very impressive, but he ‘saves the day’ by pointing out that 4 is the number of dimensions of spacetime. And if it were 3 short, doubtless that would be the number of dimensions of space.
In short: this paper is even less sophisticated than what the Bogdanoff brothers wrote. And all the other papers I’ve read by El Naschie are of a similar quality.
Now, I get crud like this in my email every day. I delete it without comment. What makes this case different is that El Naschie gets to publish these papers in a superficially respectable journal that he actually edits.
The fact that Elsevier would let Naschie edit this journal and publish large numbers of papers like this in it shows that their system for monitoring the quality of their journals is broken.
The fact that this journal costs $4520 per year would be hilarious, except that libraries are actually buying it — at a reduced rate, bundled in with other Elsevier journals, but still!
This case raises plenty of other questions:
- Why did Elsevier let El Naschie become the editor in chief of this journal?
- Who is El Naschie? What’s his connection with getCited?
Why does he have such adoring fans? -people who say things like:
“Our Chinese Scientists on Nonlinear Dynamics are in infinite love and admiration to both the man and his science. El Naschie actually built a bridge between high-energy particle physics on the one side and nonlinear dynamics, complex theory, chaos, and fractals on the other, and he benefits tremendously from cross-fertilization. Treading the path of El Naschie, we gather together to celebrate the century’s greatest scientist after Newton and Einstein, and share his greatest achievement.”
- Why is he also an editor for International Journal of Nonlinear Sciences and Numerical Simulation, and why does this journal flaunt its high ‘impact factor’?
If you want a different angle on Naschie’s ideas, try his video on Youtube.
Posted at November 9, 2008 4:43 AM UTC
Taken from http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/category/2008/11/the_case_of_m_s_el_naschie.html