Back to Reality: a Pilgrimage

The two most discussed scientific theories of the last 100 years, that is, the “standard models” of physics and cosmology, have their roots, even their foundations, in the belief in the existence of billions of tiny entities for which there is no believable nor demonstrable physical evidence. These “particles” cannot be seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted. Their existence is premised totally on observations of their presumed effects or the mathematically predicted probability of existence. The proofs of all other phenomena in the observable universe are then explained by reference to this first set of unproved entities, giving rise to the predicted existence of even more “particles,” things like WIMP’s and “neutralinos,” supposedly explaining “dark matter” which is also something no one has yet found. Still we spend millions of man-hours, and untold intellectual capital in the search for these dark mysteries. And new ones are being invented every day.

The theory of the simple universe, on the other hand, is based on the presence of a single, demonstrable entity, the fundamental and universal electromagnetic field we call the ether. This non-particulate field extends indefinitely in all directions from every point in the universe. It’s existence is easily and directly confirmed by the presence of multiple phenomena with which we are all familiar, primarily by the ubiquitous presence of electromagnetic radiation of all frequencies, including light, solar energy, and wireless communications and all of its devices, particularly those most of us now carry in our pockets and purses, our wireless cellular telephones. the simple universe is the theory of physics and cosmology first sketched out in my book, the picnic at the edge of the universe (2011), and described in more complete detail in my second book, imagine darkness: the making of the simple universe (2015).

The ease with which the first set of unprovable theories is accepted and the difficulty in accepting the second is a puzzle to me. In any case, this is a lead in to what I really set out to say.

The two “standard models” face many hurdles, in that they are not only impossible to demonstrate without multiple unsupported assumptions, they are, in many parts, either irreconcilable with one another, or internally inconsistent, or, in several instances in direct contradiction. One example: the currently accepted and promoted model of the origin of the universe requires a brief but huge expansion of all of the mass and energy created at the instant of the big bang followed by a slower but still accelerating expansion after that time. This theory is offered as an explanation of two things: one is that the universe is basically uniform in all directions, the so-called cosmological constant, and two, it is presumed that in this initial period, many of the lighter elements, hydrogen, helium, and lithium, were created and distributed evenly throughout the universe. First, there is either something wrong with the cosmological constant or with our observations, because from our vantage point, presumed to be exactly like all other vantage points, the universe has vast gaps and concentrations of matter, not an even distribution. The second gap is in the observed abundance of lithium in contrast to what the big bang—inflation—light elements—expansion—stars and galaxies—heavy elements— the model predicts. The big bang theory also requires certain fields to exist around the tiniest particles created in its initiation, leading up to the latest to be presumed to be found, the Higgs boson, but if the Higgs is what it seems to be, the inflation—expansion theory has some explaining to do or some abandonment to consider, since its characteristics contradict some the big bang/inflation predictions.

This is only a sample of the problems, not to speak of the ones that have plagued the various quantum theories since their inception, not the least of which is understanding where gravity fits in the scheme of things.

Now the vast preponderance of current research in these areas is being carried out by mathematicians, I don’t say this loosely even though most of them call themselves physicists. They are mathematical physicists, toiling in the wilderness of untestable notions like string theory and multiverses, two of the more fanciful approaches for young PhD candidates, to judge from a scan of current publications and journals. I liken this to the man found searching for his lost keys under a street lamp because the light is brighter there than across the street where he dropped them.

Not many thinkers are wandering away from the warm campfires of accepted thought, unfortunately, and those who do often find themselves branded as apostates at best, cranks and crackpots at worst, and permanently barred from many standard journals and other venues, like grants and research funding.

As a result, getting a hearing in the temples of the blest is not easy, and the flood of publications from within the hearts of our institutions powerfully dims the light from any new models that might appear. I think it was Max Planck who suggested that the best hope for a new theory creeping out of the establishment tent is that the establishment ultimately dies off, leaving room for new minds.

A few of us are giving it a try, however. I’ve cited several in these pages in the past, serious astronomers like Halton Arp, some voices from academia or the scientific press, like Alexander Unzicker and Jim Baggott, among others, who have expressed their frustration and challenged the established norms. However, places like The Perimeter Institute and other centers of research are still places where string theorists and other cosmological speculators find welcoming hearths, 33 of them on staff at TPI, at my last count. There are other theorists out there, of course, but a careful look at their proposals reveals what to me seem fatal flaws. Most are in the mental grip of particle theories, or are heavily engaged in controversies over the proper language to use to describe this force or that spin. or is there perhaps a new name we can give an old idea. I myself suffer from a determined commitment to the idea that the truth must be sought out in the real world, not in a new hypothetical particle to make the math work out (gravitons, anyone?) or a new constant in the equation (hidden as something called renormalization, perhaps).

I’m convinced that we have fallen into the trap of saying, “Well, this is almost right, so if we tweak it here or maybe here and there, the pieces may fall into place.” Or, “If a thousand graduate students haven’t figured it out yet, maybe ten thousand might” (the old Navy way). A hundred years of tinkering should have taught us a lesson, wouldn’t you think?

I’d like to encourage as many as possible to join me out here on this limb and see if we can get far enough away to once again see the whole tree instead of just staring at a single branch. My contribution to date is my short book, the picnic at the edge of the universe, and the more detailed and longer work, imagine darkness, now available here and on Amazon, and soon, hopefully, in your local bookstore or library. They are in book distributor’s inventories, so bookstores can order them. They are my own product, built from my own, probably incomplete, scholarly research and imagination, so I solicit your comments, arguments, criticism, even (reasoned) rejection. I’m hoping to start a new discussion, you see, and would like to see it flower. And if there’s an adventurous mathematician out there who’d like to join in, let me hear from you.


About Charles Scurlock

Charles is a recently retired architect/planner and generalist problem-solver with a lifelong interest in science, physics, and cosmology, and the workings of the human mind. He has started this blog in the interest of sharing his ideas with others of like-(or not so like) minds.
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