Response to the Pope / Osbourne Angular Momentum Synthesis (POAMS)

The POAMS website www.poams.org does a lot of bashing of the standard model pf physics, which is good fun to read, albeit a little inaccurate in places. In my view, they tend to over-do it a bit with their words of condemnation on things like Newton's laws. This would make it very easy for me (and others) to have a bash at their bashing, yet to do so would be missing the point.

Many of the philosophical discussions surround choice of coordinates. POAMS seems to be saying that having any kind of 3D coordinate system at all is a bad idea, since space itself does not exist and everything is in the mind (or back of the retina) of the observer.

They then go on to define the relationship between all things in terms of distance apart and angular momentum only, whilst claiming this solves all sorts of problems, including the Pioneer Anomaly.

Personally, I'm luke warm as to whether the Pioneer anomaly can be explained with standard physics or not. It's certainly a very small effect. Calculations with relativistic corrections etc have already been done by the investigative team and come nowhere near to explaining it, which leaves thermal emission as the best explanation.

I don't buy the POAMS claim that it's purely due to angular momentum. If that were the case, then why hasn't anyone done the Cavendish Experiment with spinning lead balls to prove that G (ie gravitational attraction) increases with spin?.

If I take their general philosophical approach at face value, even by their own admission, it's more of an anti-theory than a theory. For example, if I tried to use pure POAMS to model the Earth in orbit around the Sun, there would be just 2 numbers:

  • Distance apart
  • Magnitude of the angular momentum

I would need recourse to Kepler's Laws to find out that the orbit is actually an ellipse, rather than a circle (ie although they model distance apart, they don't model the change in distance apart, which is one component of velocity).

It's worse than that though, because they model angular momentum as a magnitude only. It has no direction and hence there is no concept of the plane of the orbit. Therefore if I introduced another body (say a Trojan Asteroid), POAMS tells me that it's the same distance from the Sun as the Earth and that it has zero angular momentum relative to the Earth, but that's it. I would need to do my own calculation to determine that the distance relative to the Earth is more-or-less fixed because it's going round the Sun at the same speed in the same orbit.

The real killer here though is that POAMS has no way of telling me which of the Lagrange points the Trojan asteroid is in. From the information they model, it could be at L4 or L5, I have no way of determining which.

They seem to be taking the attitude that this is all a problem for the observer to work out. The trouble is that without some kind of defined transformation into 3D space, I have no way of calculating where anything is and therefore no way of calculating what the view is. So in their attempts to generalise philosophy to work for every observer, they've ended up with a system that mathematically doesn't work for any of them.

Unless I'm missing something here, there is no way to write a computer program to do an n-body simulation based on POAMS. In order to achieve that, I'd have to:

  • Introduce a 3D coordinate system
  • Extend angular momentum as a vector (ie with a direction)
  • Introduce a concept of position (presumably via polar angles)
  • Introduce a concept of velocity (again a vector)

So effectively what they've done is to partially model things in polar rather than cartesian coordinates and it's a well-known result in mathematics that you get the same result either way. Yes, it's easier to solve some things in polar coordinates (and yes it may be easier to express quantisation that way) and the results are the same.

Having done all this, I would find that POAMS is exactly the same as Newtonian mechanics (with relativistic corrections at high speeds), subject to the unproven increase in G due to spin.

Mark Mansfield, 11th July 2013