“Quantum” thoughts

This recent posting on LinkedIn’s Theoretical Physics group led to much meandering discussion to no discernable clarity. Einstein’s admission to bafflement does not deter every Tom, Dick, or Harry from his own interpretation, of course, but maybe some clarification is possible.

With this in mind, I went to Wikipedia for guidance.

from Wikipedia(12/26/18)

In physics, a quantum(plural: quanta) is the minimum amount of any physical entity (physical property) involved in an interaction. The fundamental notion that a physical property may be “quantized” is referred to as “the hypothesis of quantization“.[1]This means that the magnitude of the physical property can take on only discrete values consisting of integer multiples of one quantum. 

For example, a photon is a single quantum of light (or of any other form of electromagnetic radiation). Similarly, the energy of an electron bound within anatom is quantized and can exist only in certain discrete values. (Indeed, atoms and matter in general are stable because electrons can exist only at discrete energy levels within an atom.)

I tried to find experimental evidence for this last assertion, but was unsuccessful. Wikipedia goes on:

Quantization is one of the foundations of the much broader physics of quantum mechanics. Quantization of energy and its influence on how energy and matter interact (quantum electrodynamics) is part of the fundamental framework for understanding and describing nature.

So, what, then, is quantization? The best answer I can seem to find is that it is the arbitrary assignment of a numerical value to some unit of a quantity, or force , or value. And who knows what it means? It seems it can be interpreted at will, by whomever, and may or may not be agreed upon.

Again, from Wikipedia:

The word quantum comes from the Latinquantus, meaning “how great”. “Quanta”, short for “quanta of electricity” (electrons), was used in a 1902 article on the photoelectric effect by Philipp Lenard, who credited Hermann von Helmholtzfor using the word in the area of electricity. However, the word quantum in general was well known before 1900. It was often used by physicians, such as in the term quantum satis. Both Helmholtz and Julius von Mayerwere physicians as well as physicists. Helmholtz used quantum with reference to heat in his article on Mayer’s work, and the word quantum can be found in the formulation of the first law of thermodynamicsby Mayer in his letter dated July 24, 1841 

In 1901,Max Planck used quanta to mean “quanta of matter and electricity”,gas, and heat.In 1905, in response to Planck’s work and the experimental work of Lenard (who explained his results by using the term quanta of electricity),Albert Einstein suggested thatradiation existed in spatially localized packets which he called“quanta of light” (“Lichtquanta”).

The concept of quantization of radiation theory was discovered in 1900 by Max Planck, who had been trying to understand the emission of radiation from heated objects, known as black-body radiation. By assuming that energy can be absorbed or released only in tiny, differential, discrete packets (which he called “bundles”, or “energy elements”), Planck accounted for certain objects changing colour when heated.On December 14, 1900, Planck reported his findings to the German Physical Society, and introduced the idea of quantization for the first time as a part of his research on black-body radiation.[As a result of his experiments, Planck deduced the numerical value of h, known as the Planck constant, and reported more precise values for the unit of electrical charge and the Avogadro–Loschmidt number, the number of real molecules in a mole, to the German Physical Society. After his theory was validated, Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery in 1918.

The original use of the term,quantum satis(the amount which is enough) can easily have meaning in an analog universe, that is, as the quantity, level, intensity, etc., required to achieve detection. This interpretation requires a standard variable to be set and modified, upgraded as methodology improves. In a sine wave, for instance, if detection occurs only when a value achieves a certain positive level, the result can be mistakenly interpreted as a series of separated point values, which have been artificially cut off at their lower values.

Wikipedia’s list of usage examples (in physics) follows, not to speak of “quantum leap”

Elementary particle


Introduction to quantum mechanics

Magneticflux quantum


Photon polarization

Quantization (physics)

Quantum cellular automata

Quantum channel


Quantum chromodynamics


Quantum cryptography

Quantum dot

Quantum electrodynamics

Quantum electronics

Quantum entanglement

Quantum Field Theory

Quantum immortality

Quantum lithography

Quantum Mechanics

Quantum number

Quantum Optics

Quantum sensor

Quantum state

Subatomic particle

Quantum teleportation

(Each of these has a Wikipedia page!)

Planck’s defining of (not “discovery of”) energy quanta led to the almost immediate conflation or misinterpretation that energy only existedas quanta, that is, that it could not be considered as a continuous phenomenon. Which is where we got the photon, and the (false) truism of “wave-particle duality,” the subject of millions of words of explanation throughout the literature. But, it was convenient for the math, so it stuck, and bedevils us to this day. Understanding light as a wave phenomenon also explains in simple terms the famous double slit experiment (you can look it up here) as simple diffraction mechanics, not as mysterious particle-jumping-around behavior. Physics does not need made up mystery. There will always be enough to go around without the need to make them up out of thin air.

Who benefits from made-up mysteries? Maybe the academic programs, if you look at how many graduate students are studying string theory. When I ask these questions on the theoretical physics websites, half of what I get back are mathematical equations, which explain nothing.

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The truth is simple

The truth is simple. Finding it is complicated. In January 2017 the physicist Frank Wilczek lectured at Arizona State University on the subject “The Materiality of Vacuum,” in a series introduced by Lawrence Krauss, famous for the theory that “everything comes from nothing.”

“Vacuum is space devoid of matter.” (Wikipedia

Wilczek is a physicist who has not steered  clear of controversial subjects in his career, but is, as are  most modern theorists, deeply steeped in the conventions of quantum mechanics and the various particle theories of modern physics. He has come close, as in his book “The Lightness of Being,” to a field theory of the universe, but sees that field as a grid, a scaffolding, so to speak, on which is built, by some mechanism, the reality with which we daily interact and interpret.

To his credit, he sees, as Einstein and others before him, the need for something material on which to hang the universe with all it’s material “sensible matter,” stars planets, galaxies, clusters, that we study and try to make sense of. In that sense, it is amusing to have him onstage with Krauss, who with a straight face sees nothing.

But my argument is not with his assertion of materiality filling the void. That I applaud. It is with the insistence he and his colleagues have in continuing to call it a void, a vacuum, something “devoid of matter,” when there is a clearer, simpler way of describing it. In Wilczek’s universe, the vacuum is a soup of the smallest of particles, quarks and gluons, but these are virtual particles in that they arise in the soup. exist for billionths of seconds and disappear back into the void. Here is a graphic artist’s conception of this process.

Some, however continue to exist through phase transitions allowing the seeds of new universes to come into being. One of those universes turns out to be the one we inhabit and experience. Others may arise in parallel, but even though these have their beginnings in the same quarks and gluons they may follow different rules, different “laws of nature.” Why should this be? Why, to lend mystery to the process so that its reliance on fictional quarks and gluons can stand on its own, of course.

“Who has seen a quark? Who has seen a gluon?”

I haven’t found a text of Wilczek’s lectures, but have watched it on Youtube. A contemporary account of it describes his thesis this way:

“Wilczek began his lecture by speaking of the profound analogy between materials and vacuum. What our naked senses perceive as empty space turns out to be a riotous environment of virtual particles fluorescing and dying away on extremely small scales of space and time, as well as fog-like fields and condensates, which permeate all space and dictate the properties of elementary particles.

A pregnant emptiness

To give an analogy for this perplexing new picture of reality, Wilczek asks us to imagine intelligent fish in a world surrounded by water. Such creatures would perceive the water surrounding them as their version of empty space or a vacuum. “The big idea I want to convey is simply this: We’re like those fish,” he said. What our senses perceive as empty space is better understood as a substance, a material.

Just as the water-based world of the intelligent fish can change its state to ice or steam, our own vacuum may be capable of similar phase transitions. One such transition may have given birth to our universe, some 13 billion years ago — a concept explored in great detail in Krauss’ primer on the vacuum: “A Universe From Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing” (Atria Books, 2013).”

This turning of “the big bang” into a phase transition warms my heart, since that has been my argument all along, as well as attributing materiality to the void, the vacuum. It is of course, not a “filled” vacuum, but a field. Even Wilczek accepts that energy is material, though not, in the traditional sense matter itself, or, at least, not yet.

My own model, The Simple Universe, is described in detail in my blog posts and my latest book, imagine darkness, in which the void, the vacuum, is replaced by our easily detectable electromagnetic field,  an ever present and everywhere present entity, which is at the same time the only fixed relativistic frame in existence. It doesn’t “fill” the vacuum, it isthe vacuum.

This simple truth does not need imaginary quarks and gluons. It does not need alternative universes with different “laws of nature.” It doesn’t need complex systems of particles, each with its own field and the inevitable multitude of field interactions. It does not need mysterious forces to explain electrical fields and magnetic fields, or gravity. There are simpler mechanisms for the resolution of energy into the palpable stuff we call matter. Just remember “reverberation, reinforcement, resonance, phase transition.” It explains how light is bent in so-called dark matter” regions. It offers a simpler explanation of “dark energy.” And at last we can understand why light has a speed limit.

(By the way, I am not an intelligent fish).

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The errors of our ways

One of the small pleasures of the mind is the discovery, in an unexpected place, in another discipline, even, of support for a concept that you might have thought original, but, it turns out had been anticipated 500 years before. That was my recent pleasure in the pages of Walter Isaacson’s monumental biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo, of course, is the epitome of what we have come to call a Renaissance Man, a true generalist who excelled in whatever he set his mind to. In his world renowned paintings, in the science he developed for that work, in his keen observations of nature in all its particulars, he still challenges us to be clear and articulate. Here, in this quote from Isaacson, is his insight into physics, particularly into the question of what is real and what is perception, a standard to which all physics thinking should be held, clearly articulated 500 years ago.

Shapes without lines* (p. 268)

 Leonardo’s reliance [as a painter] on shadows rather than contour lines to define the shape of most objects stemmed from a radical insight, one that he derived from both observation and mathematics: there was no such thing in nature as a precisely visible outline or border to an object. It was not just our way of perceiving objects that made their borders blurred. He realized [as a scientist] that nature itself, independent of how our eyes perceive it, does not have precise lines.

 In his mathematical studies he made a distinction between numerical qualities which involve discrete and individual units and continuous quantities of the sort found in geometry which involve measurements and gradations that are infinitely divisible. Shadows are in the latter category; they come in continuous seamless gradations rather than in discrete units that can be delineated. “Between light and darkness there is infinite variation because their quantity is continuous,” he wrote.

 That was not a radical proposition. But Leonardo then took it a further step. Nothing in nature he realized, has precise mathematical lines or boundaries or borders. “Lines are not part of any quantity of an objects surface nor are they part of the air which surrounds the surface,” he wrote. He realized that points and lines are mathematical constructs. They do not have a physical presence. They are infinitely small. “The line has in itself neither matter nor substance and may be rather be called an imaginary idea then a real object; and this being its nature it occupies no space.”

*Walter Isaacson, “Leonardo da Vinci,” 2017

You, faithful readers of these pages, will, I’m sure, recognize the parallels to many of my prior assertions. There is a real world out there, separate from our perceptions and frequent misinterpretations of those perceptions. We see an apparent edge and interpret it as a line. We assume, because Democritus, Lucretius, et al, said so that everything is made of particles. We invent a measurement and, suddenly, say it exists as an object. The separation between object and description disappears, and then, and then, a whole discipline grows up about this new “object.” The classic, for me, is the quantum. Can anybody tell me what a quantum is? Invented by Max Planck and popularized by Einstein, the best I can tell is that Planck needed a measurement unit to plug into his equations about black body radiation, so he invented (not “discovered!”) a unit that became a monument used to reify every mysterious phenomenon hypothesized by scientists for the next century. Other questions: What is a quantum computer? a quantum leap? a quantum theory? Calling something a “quantum” something makes it less mysterious? or just beyond questioning or explanation. What about “relativity”? A close reading of the conceptual notion of relativity reveals that neither Galileo or Einstein were describing real physical things or events. In both instances, they were describing theories of perception. I am convinced that we will find, eventually, that the world is rough and analog and that only mathematics is precise and, perhaps, digital. Who said that first? Plato, of course.

A second pleasure from Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo is the reminder of how many scientific insights he had, years, even centuries, before they were rediscovered and published. His failure was that he never published them, but there they were in his notebooks, in his drawings, and his backward script.

Enough of my ranting. Suffice it to say: We will never have a real physics, that is, a physics untainted by extraneous verbal or philosophical meanderings until we become rigorous about the separation between the real world and our mostly defective perceptions of it. “Orders of abstraction” (Korzybski) and “logical types” (Russell) need to be clear and clearly stated if we are to make it out of this jungle and make real progress.

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The Accidental Universe (Apologies to Alan Lightman°)

*Alan Lightman’s book with this title, a collection of thoughtful essays on the universe was published in 2013. In it he lays out an assortment of ways of looking at and interpreting the universe, some according to the standard models of physics and cosmology, some in more philosophically, even poetic ways. My concern, and my use of the title here, is more in the sense of the real, physical basis of how this universe that we perceive, and of which we are a part, may have actually come into existence as a real accident, one that may have occurred only once, or perhaps many times, something we may never really know.

The current, accepted by most in the field, standard model of the origin and growth of the universe is the Big Bang, inflationary model is that originally proposed by Alan Guth, now at MIT. Lightman describes Guth’s revision of the previously accepted big bang model in this way. “We now have a great deal of evidence suggesting that our universe began as a nugget of extremely high density and temperature about fourteen billion years ago and has been expanding, thinning out, and cooling ever since. The (Guth’s) theory of inflation proposes that when the universe was only about a trillioth of a trillionth of a trillionth of second old, a peculiar type of energy caused the cosmos to expand very rapidly. A tiny fraction of a second later, the universe returned to the more leisurely rate of expansion of the standard Big Bang model.” Guth’s modification of the standard model, it seemed, cleared up some serious gaps in the standard model, like the perceived homogeneity of the observed universe today.

If looked at with a truly critical eye, however, a number of unanswered questions arise, like:

“Whence cometh that original nugget?”

“If such a thing actually existed, what caused it to explode?”

“What was the nature of that ‘peculiar type of energy’ that caused the “expansion?”

“Why did the expansion then stop after a fraction of a second?”

There are more questions than we can count as to the verification of the “Big Bang” and its “inflation” modification, but it answers many questions researchers have expounded on for many years. But here is my main question. What if the logic underlying those “questions” has itself been based on faulty assumptions? For example, the principal evidence assumed to confirm the Big Bang theory was the discovery. by Wilson and Penzias in 1964, of the so-called CMBR, the cosmic microwave background radiation, that could be interpreted, if you assume, without evidence, as the echo of a great explosion, some 13.8 billion years ago, the “aha” of the Big Bang theorists. But that discovery itself ignited inconsistencies in the original theory that required Guth’s “expansion” insight to explain away.

But let’s imagine that Georges LeMaitre had not, in 1927, speculated that the apparently expanding universe could, if one traced that expansion back in time, be led to an imaginary beginning? What then would the discovery of a cosmos filled, the same in all apparent directions, with an almost but not quite uniform level of energy, be attributed to? Is there another theory, another model of the universe in there somewhere? One in which such an energy field might fit and where it might answer some other questions that physicists and cosmologists have long been seeking answers for? Like, for instance, what is the explanation for the constancy of the maximum speed of light? Why is that also a constant for all forms of electromagnetic radiation? How is it that we are detecting the effects of something that for want of a better term we are calling “dark energy”? Dark matter? If those exist, what are they made of?

Le Maitre’s scheme needed an assumption, one that, of necessity, could not be proved. I have a friend who, whenever I explain the origin of some aspect of physics or cosmology, invariably responds with, “But where does that come from? What preceded that?” I have finally given up and tend to respond with, “Well, of course, it’s turtles all the way down,”after the apocryphal story quoted by Steven Hawking in “A Brief History of Time”. The real answer is that in any model there must have been a state or condition of origin , perhaps, at a scale such as that of the origin of the universe, must be an assumption. For example, in the Big Bang theory, there was something called spacetime, an invention by Einstein out of the three required spatial dimensions which are the minimum needed to describe an object, an event, or a phenomenon, along with a fourth, that of the time or duration of such an entity. (see “How many dimensions make a universe”, ) However, the problem with these is that none of them, taken by themselves, is actually a real object, event, or phenomenon, and are only invented tools for the description of such values. So the Big Bang has its origin in a non entity. Then it begins as this “nugget” of intense mass and energy with no known predecessor. It is described variously as a quantum fluctuation in “spacetime” (that again), as a “singularity” (meaning which, I suppose, as something which happened once and will never happen again), another assumption unsupported by any antecedent, that explodes or expands or both, together or in sequence, all by means unexplained or unexplainable by reference to any of what we know as the laws of physics. This is explained by saying “Oh, those did not exist before this.” But what did?

Oh! One other thing. This was all created out of nothing! This seems to violate one of the earliest laws of physics. Think Democritus, Lucretius, Aristotle.

So let’s back up and start over. If we assume (easily checked, based on what can observe all around us) that the universe was made from something, what could that something be? It’s another reasonable assumption that whatever it was made from must be still around. Well, there are one or two constants of modern physics that we have learned to rely on. One is the speed of light in a vacuum. We’ve observed and tested for generations and that one seems safe. The second is what may turn out to be Einstein’s greatest single contribution, E= mc2. That may not be as certain but seems reliable enough. The second of these tells us that matter, that is, what makes up what we perceive as solid, physical stuff, is, in some form, equivalent to energy. They can be converted, one into the other. And what is here now, in sufficient quantity, and that might have been here at the beginning of this, our universe? What exists in all directions as far as we can detect both from here on earth and from satellites that we have sent out to detect it? Why that CMBR, of course. Energy, as far as the detector can see, in every direction. At low levels, of course, about 2.7° Kelvin, but unlimited in extent. And once we get past the notion that it is just the echo of a hypothetical big bang, we can see it as a source. It was here at the beginning, is here now and will probably be here as long as we can imagine.

How, then do we get from here to an accidental universe? That sea of energy, of course, is its source. Limitless in extent, turbulent as any sea, constantly tossing up orderly events in the midst of its chaos, orderly events that sometimes reverberate, reinforce and resonate. Each time creating higher energy foci that become points of stability causing higher energy density distortions in the field. Finally, we see order arising in the field, and ultimately what we call matter and masses, planets, stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies as far as light can travel and the eye can see.

And, in at least one case, in a remarkable, real, unimaginably vast, rich, beautiful , dreamlike instance, an accidental universe.



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New eBook publication notice

After avoiding the challenge for almost a year, I’m happy to announce that both of my 2016 books, “the picnic at the edge of the universe,” and “imagine darkness,” have now been published as epub documents and are now available on Apple’s iBookstore and via iTunes. They can be accessed here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1191698375 (the picnic at the edge of the universe), and here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1192508382 (imagine darkness)

They are now available through Apple (iBook), Amazon (both paperback and Kindle versions), and directly through Createspace (Paperback)

The new ebook versions feature full color graphics not possible in the print editions but are otherwise identical as far as text and content.

the picnic at the edge of the universe” was my first attempt to lay out a new way of looking at how the cosmos, the universal electromagnetic field, the “ether,” was the likely source of all that we now perceive as “ponderable matter,” as well as what the mystical wing of modern physicists like to refer to as “dark energy” and “dark matter.” My continuing (and still ongoing) researches led me to the more complete and detailed work documented in “imagine darkness” which built on (and sometimes corrected) assertions of the first book. It is all a work in progress, that despite all my attempts to falsify it, continues to surprise with its logic and consistency, and its ability to explain more and more of the “mysteries” that still plague the so-called “standard models’ of modern physics. I will continue to document this work here in this blog.

I hope you will look at them and challenge my assumptions and conclusions as time goes on. Thank you for your comments and support.

cs 1/6/2017

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What we’ve learned, so far

The first two paragraphs of post number 1 of this blog, in June of 2011, laid out a set of goals for this publication.

“The aim of this blog is to be the home of enquiries of a particular type, those that take something we think we know,  some subject on which there may be a lot of information and many findings, studies, conclusions, questions that seem almost fully answered but still not quite complete, not quite satisfying, a little vague; that perhaps, by employing a different point of view, a different perspective, a new look, may yield different results. As Will Rogers is supposed to have said, (or Mark Twain or Groucho Marx, who knows for sure?) “It ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you know that jes’ ain’t so.”

Our history is full of insights, unique new views of previously accepted ‘knowledge’, or ‘facts’, that after being examined in a new light, turn out to be so obvious that people say, “Why didn’t we see that before?” And as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “How many centers have we fondly found, which proved soon to be circumferential points!””

In his book, Investigations, Stuart Kauffman relates a probably apocryphal, possibly plausible assertion that when the Conquistadores first arrived off the shores of the new world, their galleons were not seen, were invisible to the native populations, because those peoples had never seen any such, had no conceptual basis for what had appeared before their eyes. I have had a similar experience while sailing in these northern waters when suddenly, with no sound, a massive mound, the dorsal form of a gray whale arose out of the water on my port side and just as silently disappeared again, leaving no trace of its passing. “Did I see what I just saw?” I asked myself before the associative regions of my cerebrum kicked in and I knew what I had just seen. A similar thing occurs when one puts on a pair of colored glasses, or polarized sunglasses. Different things in the environment appear, or common impressions are suppressed, letting new images, impressions, enter our consciousness.

In the universe of scientific model building or theorizing the same thing can occur. Replacement of a prior paradigm or model is sometimes generated by new data or experiments, or by the failure of some important element by new information or test result. The accepted scientific method is observe , correlate, postulate, test, accept or reject, but continue testing But sometimes a new theory can arise out of looking at previous observations and test results through new filters, different colored glasses, so to speak, and suddenly seeing the possibility of a new model for the same, old data. I’m not sure if there is a current word for this kind of process, but it happens.

In Cosmosapiens, John Hands’ book on the origins of first, the universe, and then, of sentient life on this part of it, he defines science as:

The attempt to understand and explain natural phenomena by using systematic, preferably measurable, observation or experiment, and apply reason to the knowledge thereby obtained in order to infer testable laws and to make predictions or retrodictions.

He then defines retrodiction as:

A result that has occurred in the past and is deduced or predicted from a later scientific law or theory.

 Hands uses these definitions, for the most part throughout his book, to point out the deficiencies and incompletenesses of currently accepted theories, but offers no replacements or additions that might improve their completeness or consistency with current observations or results. Retrodiction comes close but seems too passive a term to allow for the notion that such a new look at old data or results might lead to actual abandonment of an old model and its replacement with one that more completely covers both the old data and the new observations. Suggestions would be welcome.

Anyhow, as I look back, I sense that this is what I have been led to, in the 5+ years of thinking and writing. In some instances, I have asked the question directly, “Is this something we thought we knew and are only now wondering if we were correct? Do we know enough now to change what we thought? or is there more work to be done? On the other hand, these explorations have led to the notion that a new model actually exists and have laid out, first in sketch form and then more completely in two books a more complete description of that replacement model. So far, I have, in my own mind, successfully abandoned some old terminology that either once or still permeates scientific discourse. Forces have already been replaced by the word interactions, a more general but also more ambiguous description of what hold the parts together. A new word or concept seems necessary. The old concept of cause and effect, as in Newton’s F=MA now seems to apply only here in the zone of middle dimensions. At the submicroscopic level of the beginnings of universes and their continuous growth into complete entities with, in one at least, a working biosystem, “cause and effect” should be replaced with the concept within which structure and rules “enable” the development of order out of chaos rather than “cause” it. Old notions (as in quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics) with their multiplicity of particles and associated fields, need to be replaced with a simpler, single universal field, turbulent but generative, of what the ancients called “ponderable matter”.

Diligent readers, perhaps even casual ones may have noted that I have also abandoned the term “laws of nature.” This use of “laws” has always seemed to me to carry excessive overtones of intention, perhaps brought over before the enlightenment started the trend away from divine, god-like notions about nature itself. What science has done is to uncover, not laws, but patterns, correspondences, that have led to some, but not all, predictabilities. All of this is because I believe, strongly, that for clarity of communication, a writer must consider not just a simple meaning of a term but also its related, sometimes ambiguous associated meanings in the minds of his readers. This is not all, but represents some of my current thinking. I will continue down this path. I am currently rereading at the suggestion of a friend, the work of Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute about the origins of complex systems. Kauffman is exploring complexity in the origins of life here on earth and possibly in other parts of the universe as well, in search of a new “general” biology. Parts of his quest parallel my own, and parts diverge, as in his acceptance of the big bang, but as he says repeatedly, he is not a physicist, so I forgive hime for this deviation.

Thanks to all who read these meditations and observations. I hope they sometimes stir up some new lines of thought.

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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.


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