Randell L. Mills is the founder of Brilliant Light Power (previously called BlackLight Power), a company trying to generate useful energy by catalyzing transitions of hydrogen into the “hydrino state”, i.e. an alleged state of hydrogen with a lower energy than the 1s state. The existence of this state is justified by Mills early on in his 1800-page tome, The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics. The book throws out quantum mechanics on the first page, and proceeds to purportedly derive all of physics and chemistry from a classical foundation. TL;DR – everything in the book is nonsense as far as I see. I expect that this is glaringly obvious to physicist readers but I have written this post anyway for the benefit of non-scientists.
(There have been other arguments by other people besides Mills that a “hydrino state” exists. These arguments are also wrong but for more interesting and substantive reasons. See the next post.)
(Brilliant Light Power is not a cold fusion company, but it’s still kinda on-topic for this blog because people sometimes discuss the alleged hydrino state when attempting to explain cold fusion.)
(I also want to repeat something I said in the last post: It’s not impossible to do world-beating invention and technological development despite having a terrible understanding of how the technology works microscopically. Just look at the pharmaceutical industry. This is just a blog post about the book, and I have not looked carefully into Brilliant Light Power or its products or the evidence that its products do or don’t work as advertised. And I’m not planning to. What I’m really trying to say is, please don’t sue me.)
By the way, how much lower-energy is the alleged hydrino state compared to 1s? As far as I understand from Eqs. I.116 & I.124 of Mills’s book, lower by 13.6eV × p where p is an integer between 1 and 137.
General context about quantum mechanics
Although quantum mechanics has a reputation in the popular press (and even occasionally in the technical press) for being paradoxical, mysterious, and controversial, this reputation is entirely undeserved. Quantum mechanics is none of those things, it is merely unintuitive. Being unintuitive is not logically a strike against a theory, but it makes people prejudiced against it, and unable to think straight about it. And once you start down that path, the internet can bring you enough negative misinformation about quantum mechanics to last a lifetime.
Anyway, I personally am one of hundreds of thousands of professionals—physicists, engineers, chemists, molecular biologists, materials scientists, and others—who rely on quantum mechanics every day to do their jobs developing useful technology. Quantum mechanics has been thoroughly understood for almost 100 years now, and with each passing year we can dump millions more observations into the ever-deepening ocean of evidence that quantum mechanics is how the universe really works.
So the idea of throwing out quantum mechanics and starting from scratch with classical mechanics is completely analogous to throwing out the periodic table in favor of earth-water-air-fire, or throwing out molecular biology in favor of vitalism.
Now about that book
That brings us to The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics. I think the book has just as little value as one would expect from the previous paragraph. I try to read things charitably, but I don’t think there is any kernel of truth or insight to be found in this book, at least in the sections I read.
Real physics vs making-it-up-as-you-go-along
Many people experience physics like this: There’s a list of equations that the instructor wrote on the chalkboard, and you try plugging in different numbers into different formulas until, hopefully, you calculate something that matches the answer at the back of the book. Then you (optionally) make up a one-sentence ad hoc justification why that’s the right formula to use. This activity, while very common in poorly-taught intro physics courses, is not physics, and has nothing to do with physics.
When I read this book, it seems to me that Mills is engaging in this activity page after page. It seems like Mills knows the right number or equation for this or that famous physics phenomenon, and he just writes down a formula that more-or-less matches it, and makes up a few sentences qualitatively describing why this formula is what it is.
In proper physics, by contrast, you need to write down an equation that applies in many different situations and stick to it. It’s gotta have variables with specific definitions, it’s gotta have a specific domain of applicability, etc. Everything has to be specific, specific, specific—so specific that in any conceivable situation, there is a right and wrong answer to the questions: “Does the equation apply here? And if so, what exactly do the variables mean in this context?” That’s how you know that you’re not making things up as you go along.
Moreover, once you have that fully-specified equation written down, you need to apply that equation to many different situations, and find that it always gives the right answer. That way you’re getting more out of it than you put in.
Numerology and more
Mills does not do this. It looks like he does, but really he doesn’t. As one random example, Table 34.1 (p1536) is a set of four formulas for the ratio of the masses of the electron, muon, tau, and neutron, in terms of just the fine structure constant. (No such formula is known or believed to exist by mainstream physicists.) It sure looks like he just tried adding and multiplying things randomly until he wound up with a number that matched the experimental mass data. [This activity, ascribing significance to meaningless random relationships between numbers, is dismissively called numerology.] He suggests that it is not numerology, using the word “derived” (“The masses of the leptons, the quarks, and nucleons are derived…”). So where is the more basic equation from which these can be mathematically “derived”? I can’t find it.
Indeed I can’t find a single case in the whole book where a general law is used to derive a more specific law quantitatively (and where the general law is not part of mainstream physics, and where the more specific law is known to be correct). He does plenty of that qualitatively, but not quantitatively. Key concepts like “orbitspheres” used throughout the book are never defined quantitatively as far as I can tell (by which I mean, writing down one or more equations / criteria that allow anyone to figure out what the orbitsphere is in any situation, objectively, uniquely, and completely.)
Obviously this is just my opinion! So please don’t sue me. 😀