In the beginning was energy

“….during the 1820s, when explaining magnetism, Michael Faraday inferred a field filling space and transmitting that force. Faraday conjectured that ultimately, all forces unified into one.

In the early 1870s, James Clerk Maxwell unified electricity and magnetism as effects of an electromagnetic field whose third consequence was light, travelling at constant speed in a vacuum. The electromagnetic field theory contradicted predictions of Newton’s theory of motion, unless physical states of the luminiferous aether—presumed to fill all space whether within matter or in a vacuum and to manifest the electromagnetic field—aligned all phenomena and thereby held valid the Newtonian principle relativity or invariance.” (Wikipedia, Fundamental interaction)

In contrast, today’s physicists look at nature, the universe, the cosmos in a fundamentally more complex way. For them the world behaves very differently. It is made up of a large number of distinct and different entities or substances, at last count at least 61 “particles,” of what substance no one claims to know, along with multiple hypothetical others that have not been actually discovered but which must exist to explain the behavior left unexplained by the first sixty-one. These “fundamental particles” of some substance interact as the result of four “fundamental” forces in the classical, Newtonian, sense, expressed as “interactions” in the more modern terminology. The interactions operate differently depending on the scale of the investigation, that is, whether we are referring to the submicroscopic world of particles or the macroscopic world of cosmology and the interactions of stars, galaxies and the other unreachable entities.

Wikipedia has a chart of these interactions, reproduced below:


As one can see from the chart these have been precisely defined, their strength and basic connections measured or calculated, so someone, or many someones, have agreed that this is the way the world works, and that the missing parts and relationships just remain to be discovered. And there are missing and contradictory parts. For example, the greatest question of the whole of modern physics is how the first of the four, gravitation, relates to the others. And what is the origin, the causation of these four, that is, where did they come from? and why are there just four? and how is it that some work concurrently on more than one particle and some are only tied to a single one? And, my most important question, how, exactly have these forces’ existence, strength, behavior been determined at this level, where no one has actually seen a particle? How are these entities described? Well, there is a great deal of redundancy involved here. Let’s look at one or two. A proton, for example, is described as being made up of three quarks. A quark is described as being one of three constituent parts that make up a proton. That’s neat, but—what does it tell us about what a quark is, or a proton?

Basically, it appears that as soon as a “particle’ has been discovered, its place in the pantheon of particles is determined by the energy required to generate its appearance. It is then assigned a value based on that energy level and how it is deemed to fit in the “standard model” of the universe of small things, the hadrons and fermions of existence. If there appears to be no particle to explain a certain phenomenon, a new one is hypothesized to be the one that provides the explanation. Then enormous sums are allocated to “find” this imagined entity and a great hullabaloo arises if a new one appears, or is even thought to have appeared.

I have a colleague who is, to my mind, a strict reductionist, whose favorite question at this point is, “And where did that one come from?” or , “What came before that?” Fundamental questions, to be sure. Modern physics, in its “standard model” incarnation has no answers to these questions. OK, matter is made up of particles, 61 of them, count ’em. But what are the particles made of ? Well, “we don’t know yet,” or, “they just are, accept it.” And those little babies are held together by forces, four of them. And what causes there to be forces? Again, “we don’t know.” Still, whenever I have suggested that there might be gaps or contradictions in the standard models, a great outcry arises, “These are the most tested and confirmed models in scientific history! How can you question this?”

Is there a way out of this conflict? Is there a way to simplify these models? How can we give rest to William of Ockham, the first ambassador of parsimony, whose dictum is that the more simple model of science is more likely to be the most correct, who must be spinning in his grave even as we speak? I think there is. And we can start by setting the “standard models” aside for a moment and going back to Einstein’s first theory and linking it to Faraday’s and Maxwell’s insights.

When we link those together, it seems likely that before there was matter, there must have been energy. In no creation model is there ordinary matter without a source, with the exception, of course, of the various creation myths that preceded the advent of scientific enquiry. (and, of course, the big bang) The step following then becomes simple: we must assume that:

The basic, fundamental stuff of the universe is energy.

 Without energy, nothing would exist. This truism is manifested by the concepts of entropy, “heat death, ” and a multitude of similar physical “laws.” Einstein expressed this in his most brilliant conception as E= mc2. In this equation, “E” is the measurable entity we call energy. “m” is the measurable entity we call matter. And “c” is the measured constant we call the speed of light. This equivalence of matter and energy is an accepted standard throughout most of the scientific world. Particle physicists express this principle in describing the “mass” of their tiny entities in the values of energy, in electron volts. Again, without a basic level of energy, nothing could exist. That energy, that basic stuff, is manifested to us as a turbulent but generally consistent electromagnetic field, its energy level hovering around a temperature of 2.72 degrees Kelvin (2.7° K.). To the professionals in the field, that number looks suspiciously like the measured temperature of the current “evidence” of the big bang, the CMBR. That is no coincidence. If there were no big bang, an idea that is slowly taking hold throughout the world of cosmology, then that observed value must belong to some other phenomenon. This is my candidate.

Are there other evidences of the existence of that field? Here are a few. 1) The limit on the velocity of light, c, and other EM radiation, from gamma rays up to long wave radio transmission, all requiring some medium in order to exist (The standard answer to this is simple denial “Electromagnetic radiation does not require a medium for its propagation.”; 2) The fact of the transmission of those phenomena through what is otherwise perceived as “the vacuum,” or “empty space.” 3) the observable fact of gravitational and magnetic attraction, and, in the case of magnetism, repulsion, invisible but clearly observable phenomena. I could cite others, like the curvature of light by gravitation, or by magnetic fields, called “gravitational lensing.” All of these , in the presently accepted models of physics and cosmology, the so-called “standard models,” have exceedingly complex, even contradictory explanations. The existence and universal presence of a field make all of these phenomena more simple and easy to explain.

A second justification for the presence of the field is that it makes clear that whatever was present at the beginning of what we see as our present universe is still here and observable today in and all around us. No hypothetical big bang, expansion, acceleration, element creation, even divine purpose, is needed to describe how it came to be and is in continuous creation as we speak. The evidence is all around (and in) us. All of the “standard models” require “singularities,” events that happened once but can never happen again, making them conveniently unavailable to observe or test, like the “virtual particles” modern physicists seem fond of, that must be there but don’t exist long enough to observe. Or entities that must be there but cannot be actually seen like black holes, neutron stars, Higgs bosons, waveforms.

The universe is simpler than we have been made to think. All of the 61+ “particles” and their anti- cousins are really just misperceived phantoms, “wrinkles in a mist.” Instead of 61+ fields, there is one, turbulent, subject to distortions and disruption, things we are familiar with in our oceans, our atmosphere, in the behavior of nearly all observed phenomena.

This model is also simpler in that its description does not require different, “extra” dimensions. These phantom entities are the result of the fantastic illusion that if something shows up in a mathematical equation, it must be a real, physical entity. A “dimension” is not a first-order point event but a second (or higher) order abstract descriptor. dimensions are conceptual entities we use to describe the things we observe in the real world. We use them to locate one thing in relation to another or to a reference point in “space.” And we use them to describe the size and form of things we have so located. “How many dimensions are there?” As many as we need for any particular descriptive task, but they are not mysterious forms out there in the mist demanding that we conform to their rules or laws.

Richard Feynman was correct. We have wrestled for close to 100 years with incomplete models of the structure and origin of the universe. Because there has been no way to resolve of their contradictions, we have begun to see it as an intractable problem. Several modern physicists have drifted off into poetry and philosophy, where the rigor of scientific investigation need not be applied. Speculations and hypotheticals have taken the place of logic and realism. A step back and a new look has become essential.


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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2 Responses to In the beginning was energy

  1. Guy Burneko says:

    Each time I read your thinking on this it is more clear. Thanks again

  2. Doran Deckar says:

    The Standard Model of particle physics is a model that describes particles and their interactions. It never claims to try and describe gravity as the author incorrectly asserts.

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