My answer to this question on whether the fine structure constant can be calculated has been deleted by a moderator on the basis that the linked article is to a "non-mainstream publication."

However, the article is:

  1. On the Arxiv, a very well known repository for theoretical physics. Notice it was only published there in 2021.

  2. The author is Tejinder Singh, a professor at a very well respected and distinguished research facility - The Tata Institute of Fundamental Physics.

On that basis, I would like the post reinstated as the justification given does not stand up to scrutiny.

Otherwise I have no option than to think that this particular moderator is prejudiced.


1 Answer 1


That was me. Out of concern that I might be prejudiced, I did some research before I removed your answer.

Our policy about mainstream physics says, in part,

What defines mainstream physics?

Mainstream physics is physics which has been accepted by a significant portion of the physics community. In the case of modern physics, if a theory has not been published in a reputable journal, it is not considered mainstream.

It is in fact true that the paper you mention has been deposited at arXiv (though it would have been polite for you to link it there). However, the arXiv is explicitly not a peer-reviewed publication. The bar for submitting to arXiv is quite low.

This particular paper has furthermore appeared in a journal with an impressive-sounding title, where its abstract has the footnote

This essay received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Essay Competition of the Gravity Research Foundation.

In fact, the foreword to that issue of the journal explains that the entire issue is a special publication related to the essay contest. There is a confusing sentence in that foreword which makes it unclear whether the papers involved went through the journal’s normal review process, or whether the contest board served as the reviewers. It is sometimes the case that “reviewed conference proceedings” go through a less rigorous review process than papers submitted to a journal through its normal channels. I have published such papers myself (with mixed feelings). I’ve also had the experience of hunting down a promising but obscure reference, only to discover that it is a low-quality paper that was slapped together after a conference.

Since I have doubts about the provenance of the paper, I applied the first part of our policy:

Mainstream physics is physics which has been accepted by a significant portion of the physics community.

Here we have a paper which has been freely available on arXiv for half a year, which was published in a journal with a fancy name and a multi-decade publication history at the same time, and which claims to have solved one of the most famous questions in the history of physics. This paper has, according to its impact-factor-conscious publisher, zero citations.

It is in no way the case that “a significant portion of the physics community” has “accepted” this calculation. Your answer gives no hint of this, stating simply that “the fine structure constant is calculated in a paper,” and give no hint to the casual reader that any of this context exists. That’s why I hid your answer.

  • $\begingroup$ I think it would have been polite to highlight your concerns first before deleting it - no? I referenced his position and his institute - that goes someway to establishing the credentials for the paper. Alain Connes geometrisation of the standard model passes virtually without comment in the physics world - so what does that prove? The point is, my reference passes all the bars that Phys.SE expects. It should be reinstated. If people want to criticise it - fine. But it should be there to criticise. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Can you tell me why 'International Journal of Modern Physics D' published by World Scientific is a 'fancy' title for a journal? And why it is 'non-mainstream'? $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ I would also say that a physics paper that mentions Octonions in the title is likely to be 'non-mainstream' amd tgat shpuld be clue enough for a mainstream or non-mainstream physicist. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 1:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You have asked why your answer was deleted, and I have answered. If a community consensus emerges here that your answer should in fact be restored, I won’t stand in the way. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 9, 2022 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ You deleted it and so its your responsibility. My post passed all Phys.SE requirements. At best, a polite request to include a cautionary note about it being non-mainstream physics might have been in order. Certainly not a deletion. I should add, I don't believe your first sentence that you 'some research' out of concern that you might be 'prejudiced'. Let me ask you again, is the International Journal of Modern Physics D, published by World Scientific, a non-mainstream publication? Because this is what you branded it as for all to see. Amd its that inconsistency that leads me to ... $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ ... believe it was done from prejudice rather than "some research." $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ Our policy says that unpublished theories are not mainstream. You seem to want it to say the inverse, that a theory published somewhere is appropriate to refer to as a mainstream theory. I think that would be a different policy —— which I would be happy to apply, if that were the community consensus. I don’t think the editorial board of the IJMP is worried that I have anonymously wondered about their review process for special issues. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 9, 2022 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's been published in the International Journal of Physics D by World Scientific. This is not Snazzy Jazzy Physics Z published by Space Oddity in Timbuctoo. You don't have a leg to stand on. Simply reinstate the post and we can move on. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ The correct title of the journal is International Journal of Modern Physics D and it is in the 2nd quartile of journals on the topic: so a respected journal although not top tier. This does not make the paper “mainstream” of course. @MoziburUllah your answer doesn’t do a very good job of explaining the paper (or, if you are a fan, doesn’t do much justice) as you are merely quoting. I would be willing to vote to reopen if the answer was more subtantive. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2022 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MoziburUllah I think it's fair to say that this is not a mainstream idea at present. Whether it gains acceptence over time is beyond the scope of discussion here, but anyone claiming to predict the value of a fundamental constant has a pretty high bar to achieve acceptance and as such caution is deserved on this site. As it's an essay we perhaps should be cautious as claims can be made in an essay that would not be acceptable in the context of a peer-reviewed paper. Not having seen your answer I wonder if rephrashing it to reflect more caution on the result might help ? $\endgroup$ May 11, 2022 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero: It was a quote because I'm not in a position to evaluate the claims made. But it seemed to me worthy of notice as it made by a respected mathematical physicist. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2022 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Stephen G - Help Ukraine: I agree it is not mainstream physics, after all how many pgysicists even know of Octonions? Nevertheless I think it is worthy of note. A polite request by a moderator to outline caution would have been fine and I would have responded to that. That I did not at the time was simply I was a bit rushed for time. I do not think it deserved to be deleted. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2022 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ You've had some comments from the community. They more or less support my position. So can you please reinstate my post? Thank you. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2022 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @MoziburUllah The other commentary has suggested ways to improve your post. They didn't say it should be undeleted as it currently stands. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2022 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @MoziburUllah To be clear, the main criticism, and the only one necessary, is that the paper is non-mainstream. You've even stated that yourself a couple times now. Our long-held mainstream physics policy is to delete non-mainstream answers. As you can see yourself- you're not the first or even the second to have an answer removed from that question under this policy. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    May 13, 2022 at 2:56

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