How did these guys get the masses from Heim Theory?

I won't even bother to ask about validity as I read the other post on this. So I know how we all feel about that. I hadn't even heard of it till today when I stumbled across it searching for something else. But I'd like to know: How did they get the subatomic particle masses to come out of their equations? Did they just "coach" them in the right directions- meaning are the equations just so vague that you could get any number out of them? I tried to read the papers but just don't get it.

In discussions concerning it's invalidity I've found a lot of arguing over the true accuracy of the mass values. While I've seen tables to compare theoretical and actual values- the sources for such are all a group working on the theory. Has anyone seen the calculations and can answer?

I think this could be informative as it can show how physics/math can be manipulated to show desired results

  • $\begingroup$ So I now read John Baez as saying in the discussion to delete it from Wikipedia that it doesn't give valid mass predictions. The argument gets involved with what's in the paper after that. So......? $\endgroup$ – user1567 Mar 1 '11 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ As undergrads, we used to make a game out of creating funky functions that would generate fundamental constants or particle masses. Throw a sqrt(5) in here, add a factor of pi there... you would be surprized how easy it is. If you go to a relatively "open" conference like APS or DPG, they usually have a "crackpot" session on the last day, and there is always someone presenting a "mass formula". Usually, there is some self-deception involved. A Particle is missing? It's a prediction! Have to put spin=5 for the proton? Intriguing! I fear Heim theory goes into that direction... $\endgroup$ – jdm Aug 23 '11 at 1:16


I have done some googling too on Heim. One problem is just identifying any single formula as "the mass formula". There are various expressions which are often several dozen symbols in length, for subcomponents of the "formula". Therein lies part of the problem.

I have found one link to someone who claimed to have used Mathematica on these formulae, to obtain results which he claimed valid. But this individual could find no reason as to why they were valid. This kind of thing John Baez called "numerology".

From the perspective of "wider lessons" which seems to be part of your question some points:

  1. A scientific theory needs to be able to make predictions too. In the years that these formulae have been around many particles have been predicted by other theories and discovered. So where is the long history of successful predictions in this theory?

  2. This theory is founded on a non-standard mathematics developed by that author. So there is a layer of uncertainty as to what constitutes valid calculations in the formalism. Fortunately (or unfortunately) this characteristic means that the associated theory will not be worked on by anyone else; and if it contains oddities in its physics it will be labeled non-science as has happened here.

It is an old theory though, dating back to the 1950s. Modern scientists have plenty other theories to learn to spend time trying to decipher it all. But do note that there are other such idiosyncratic theories developed over the years in the mathematical sciences connected with a formalism that only their author fully understood. Outsiders might describe these as "crackpot" for understandable reasons.


I googled the subject as I was not familiar with the formula.

I would like to remind you of the Rydberg formula , which fitted the lines of the hydrogen atom long before the Bohr model. In a more recent example I will mention Regge poles, the vector meson exchange model, the eightfold way, all phenomenological formulations that have been absorbed, not discounted, in the standard model for particle physics. The standard model is on the way of being absorbed by string theory modeling.

So the relevant question is if there are as many parameters in their formula as output masses. If the formula works, and from what I checked with a google search there is no proof of such mistakes evident, it is another datum in the search for the TOE. They claim only four parameters.

So if I were a theorist working full time on a string model I would try to see how this formula could come out from my model, in analogy to the way the Rydberg formula came out when the Bohr model was formulated.

Skepticism is good but not to the extent of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and if the formula, as such, works it is a useful datum. Why, with all the new formulations coming up, as the "twistor uprising" , who knows maybe even the relevant part to the formula in their particular spaces will turn out to be some sort of isomorphic subset of the real theory.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And can you at least give as a link to that famous formula we should all learn from? Even so, you should be aware that it's no problem creating such a formula based just on single parameter and numerology (which is probably all there is to this "theory"). Needless to say, this has about the same value as saying $\pi = 22/7$ (which is actually still better than what they use in Indiana). $\endgroup$ – Marek Mar 1 '11 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ I read the wikipedia article. Googling I found there are people evaluating the formula from provided software. I can repeat the Rydberg formula was not useless, even though it is also numerology. I have not found a refutation . I did not say you should all learn from this, just that you should keep it in mind when fitting theories to data. $\endgroup$ – anna v Mar 1 '11 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a write up of the formula: heim-theory.com/downloads/E_Heims_Mass_Formula_1982.pdf . I do not presume to be able to decipher it, but a number of people have. If the theory is a delusion it seems to be on the lines of the epicycles, in the sense of a strange point of view. $\endgroup$ – anna v Mar 1 '11 at 19:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy