“Four definitions to ponder:
1. Space has no substance hence no reality in and of itself. What is called space is an absence of substance. If it is designated as having limits, it can be denoted as a container or enclosure of some other substance or activity, but it has in and of itself no physical attributes.
2. Time has no substance hence no reality in and of itself. What we call time is a system of measurement used to describe the persistence or duration of objects, events, or phenomena. It exists only in units of measurement such as seconds, days, eons, conveniently derived from our observations and parsing out of regular, predictable events and durations in our world.
3. A dimension has no substance hence no reality in and of itself. What we call a dimension is a quality, a description, a measurement, a characteristic of an object, an event, or a phenomenon that enables us to describe or quantify characteristics of those entities and to communicate those qualities to others in terms such as microns, meters, light-years.
4. A wave has no substance hence no reality in and of itself. A wave is a form, a characteristic, a quality, a description of some substance. Waves can be generated and detected in fluids, as in air or water; and in electromagnetic fields, but they cannot physically exist independent of a carrier medium.
Each of these four words are constructs we use in language to describe and communicate descriptions of real substantive objects, events, and phenomena. They are critical to our understanding of concepts used in physics, the science of real objects, events, and phenomena. But they are not in themselves the real, substantive objects, events or phenomena. They are merely the words we use to describe the qualities, characteristics, forms, of real entities.
So when Einstein describes a hypothetical entity he calls spacetime, a four-dimensional substance that can be bent, curved, distorted, to induce or influence real events, objects, or phenomena, his concept is nothing more than a word game, using descriptors as substitutes for real entities, giving hypothetical substance to what are only words, hence creating a fiction substituting for reality. When a modern physicist like Lawrence Krauss postulates “A Universe from Nothing“, the title of his 2011 book, he bases his conceptual model on hypothetical entities without substance outside of mathematical models. Other authors and theorists are equally guilty of conflating descriptions, second- or third-order abstractions, substituted for real point-events or objects. Of course, conceptual models have value, but they also carry a burden of having some direct relationship to the real world.
Physicists of today continue to use expressions such as “the vacuum”, :”the field”, “space”, freely, sometimes interchangeably, without qualification, to describe some entity they use in their conceptual models of the universe, or for submicroscopic physical entities like the profusion of “particles” in the various versions of what is called quantum theory. When pressed for an explanation, they often qualify their assertions with expressions like, ‘well, the vacuum is not really empty’, or ‘empty space is filled with something’, or ‘it’s a quantum vacuum’, intended to mean that it is actually filled with something called quanta, which is another word originally invented as a descriptor, but which has been miraculously converted to an entity. And they say that perhaps these entities do not really exist, they may be “virtual” or only “probabilities” that something might exist.
What has happened here is that we have invented systems of measurement and description so that we could accurately and consistently discuss, describe, and communicate those descriptions to each other, first in words of a language, then in mathematics, another language that became a useful shorthand for words.
Then, in the absence of evidence, we have been seduced into substituting the language, the descriptions, for the missing reality. And have made a huge intellectual industry from that substitution.”
I originally posted these paragraphs over a year ago, in July of 2011, as an introduction to a review of Milo Wolff’s book, “Schrödinger’s Universe,” which I found wanting in several areas, particularly in unwarranted assumptions, and serious incompleteness. I re-emphasize these thoughts here becauseI have now read, only recently, another author’s observations which are far closer to my own in regard to the relationship of modern physics to reality. Jim Baggotts’s 2013 book, “Farewell to Reality, How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth” (US version. In the British version the subtitle is “..How Fairy-tale Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth”). I commend it to any and all of professional and amateur physicists who are as concerned as I am for the future of scientific enquiry.
This will not be a full review of the book, but I’d like to give you a preview of Baggott’s arguments in the four key areas of modern physics and cosmology and how he elucidates the mass of unsupported assumptions on which the currently accepted models are based, as well as how these continue to build a fantastic structure of assumptions begetting further assumptions until the entire structure of scientific enquiry finds itself in danger of collapse.
Part I, “The Authorized Version” lays out in detail a full and fair description of what constitutes physicists’ accepted (Authorized) versions of scientific truth, in chapters covering:
• Light, Quantum Theory, and the Nature of Reality
• Matter, Force and the Standard Model of Particle Physics
• Space, Time and the Special and General Theories of Relativity
• The Universe According to the Standard Model of Big Bang Cosmology
Part I concludes with a discussion titled “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” in which the author previews the detailed arguments of Part II, titled “The Grand Delusion.” In this section he systematically demolishes the fairy-tale, that is, the totally evidence-free nature of the arguments favoring the authorized (accepted) models and their ill-begotten offspring: SUSY, String theory, Multiverses, ‘branes, multiple dimensions, and the like
Baggott introduces each chapter with appropriate quotations from the writings and speeches of Albert Einstein of which I will append here only a few.
• From a letter to Heinrich Zanger, 20 May, 1912:“The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks. How non-physicists would scoff if they able to follow the odd course of developments!”
• From Albert Einstein, “Autobiographical Notes,” 33 (1946): “A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended its area of applicability.”
• From a letter to Hans Reichenbach, 30 June 1920: “Concepts are simply empty when they stop being firmly linked to experiences. They resemble social climbers who are ashamed of their origins.”
• From a letter to Heinrich Zanger, 27 February, 1927: “I’m still working passionately, though most of my intellectual offspring are ending up prematurely in the cemetery of disappointed hopes.”
Jim Baggott has done us all a great service in producing this authoritative debunking of the made up substitute for science that modern (say, “fairy-tale”) physics has become. I commend it to you highly, as a guide to finding our way out of that cemetery before we waste another hundred years of wandering in the wilderness.