Daddy, where did I come from? (Chapter One)

A question in a theoretical physics forum on the web. “Are there any new models of the universe since the standard models arose in the last century?” No one knew of any except for those  that get called get called crackpot in these discussions. But some of them may not be as crazy as others.

Here is a start. First, abandon all presuppositions and start with observations. Einstein’s spacetime was a hypothetical structure setting itself up as a real entity. It led to multiple theoretical offshoots that simply complicated (overly so) all following theories. It was beautiful, and it felt right, but at it’s center was a mathematical assumption, that “spacetime” was a real physical entity that could be distorted, stretched, bent. something no one has still ever seen. And, of course, it didn’t say where all this might have come from.

Then came LeMaitre’s conjecture in 1927, “suppose this all started with a single event, a sudden creative expansion from a single point, maybe? That would explain the notion of an expanding universe, based on Hubble’s idea, and then we maybe could trace it backwards and maybe see when it might have happened.” Fred Hoyle pooh-poohed this and called it “a big bang.” But guess what, the name stuck. And it’s still around today. But there were still questions about it, like, it didn’t explain many of the observations of the astronomers, so a “bump” in the expansion was added, called “inflation.” No one could still suggest what might have started it either, so many ideas popped up, even a rationalization for the idea of something from nothing. Even the philosophers had a problem with that! So let’s set those models aside for a minute, and go back to starting with things we’ve actually observed.

Step 1) In 1964, two Bell Labs radio-astronomers went searching for distant evidence of objects giving of radio waves. Wilson and Penzias detected a background “noise” coming from all directions as they searched the heavens with their big horn. And guess what again, The experts exclaimed, “We must be seeing the echo of “the big bang. That just proves it happened!” And that stuck. They called it the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, CMBR, for short, now shortened further to just CMB.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes it:

The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today.[

Since then that “background” has been confirmed multiple times. It’s a lot like that static you used to hear when you spun the radio dial between stations.. We can safely say we know it’s there. Let’s say that this “snapshot” is actually what they say, “the oldest light in our universe,” but let’s say that it’s not the echo of something like a big explosion, or the ripples from millions of novae exploding through the cosmos, What is everywhere is a field of background radiation, electromagnetic in nature, the original essence of the cosmos, that may have been there forever. Imagine it as an energy field manifesting itself as electromagnetic radiation, at an average temperature of 2.725° K. existing everywhere, unmeasurable, unfathomable, our primal preferred inertial frame of reference. That then generates the real question, “How did we get from there to here, from the shimmering darkness of this primal field to a universe bursting out of its bounds with seemingly solid masses of stars, galaxies, planets, different materials, life!”

Step 2) Then let’s accept that matter, as we call it, is energy transformed by some process or set of processes that we can see happening today in our local world. We know it works the other way, we’ve seen nuclear explosions. Some have felt them. Think E=mc2. What might those assembly processes be? What could encourage these organized, coherent objects, events, phenomena to arise out of that shimmering darkness? Well, one might include the fine scale turbulence, that shimmer in the energy field itself, much like we see in our atmosphere and oceans, our local examples of turbulence, i.e. full of currents, stratifications, concentrations, dispersals. Think chaos theory. And just as in those examples, temporary reinforcements, reverberations and resonances can lead to temporary emergence of stable patterns, like whirlpools in water, typhoons in the atmosphere, sound patterns, music, down to dust devils in the desert. So can temporarily stable entities arise in the cosmos.

At first, these would be tiny and local but because we are talking about concentrations of energy, and we know that the intensity of “hot spots” or disturbances carry with them distortions of the medium around them, we can see that we’ve developed a more intense region surrounding and reinforcing the effect that started it all in the first place. Example: a hurricane starts as a small low pressure local storm, but its effect is to increase in size and intensity as it draws energy in toward it’s heart. And until some disruptive event occurs, like making landfall on a coast, it continues to grow and intensify in a rule-based form.

So now we have at least one, maybe more points of high energy and distortions in the region surrounding them, regions of higher energy that by their presence alone, encourage more energetic activity. And we know our hot spots are surrounded by an unlimited supply of energy, even if it’s only at 2.725° K.

Note that we said “temporarily stable” earlier. In cosmic terms, and at cosmic time scales, temporary can mean from a femtosecond up to billions of years, and we have local, contemporary evidence of both, just as we have local, contemporary evidence of the existence of similar entities.

Step 3) So what have we got to? A) a medium out of which orderly, perceptible entities can arise and become stable, even if only temporarily. B) high energy points of many sizes serving as focal points of high energy regional distortions of the underlying field. Now fit this model into Einstein’s General Relativity. Those regional distortions could easily be seen as the “curves of spacetime” that he imagined caused what we call gravity, except now they are manifestations of a real substance, an energy field, not a mathematical abstraction made up of two non-real hypotheticals. So suddenly we have physics, not just a mathematical abstraction.

And how do we get from gravity to magnetism? Well, we set some of those regions of high energy concentration to spinning. And this spinning further disturbs the field and from that disturbance arises the power of a magnetic field with its axis at its center giving it direction and polarity.

Does this give us a hint at possible explanations for some other mysteries? Well that field, that vast source of energy called in our ignorance “empty space” might just be what the mystical physicists have taken to calling “dark energy.” And those regions of distortions in the field might just be that other new favorite mystery “dark matter.” It’ s worth thinking about. Like, wouldn’t that behave just like gravity?

There’s more to come, of course. We need to get from little points of energy on up to stars, and galaxies, and ultimately, us. But we’ve got lots of other known mechanisms right here in the local real world that we can see as possibilities. There are phase transitions that work to make more stable forms, there are the mechanisms of rule based processes like Cellular Automata, Self-organizing systems, and Self-organizing Criticality. There’s fractal geometry to suggest some of the rules that the universe might be following, recursive geometries that demonstrate how the same simple rules can apply in both the micro- and macro- worlds. And if we give up on the unresolvable mysteries of relativity and quantum mechanics and substitute continuum mechanics; if, instead of quantum field theory with it’s dozens of interacting fields surrounding every “particle,” we think of one field, distorted locally by the presence of energy “hotspots;” if we think of the primal field as an elastic solid instead of a hornet’s nest of buzzing “particles,” we might find a route of inquiry leading to new insights as to how the real world works, and a real understanding of how the microworld relates to the macroworld. This is, of course, just a start.

There’s more. Chapter 2 is coming.

If you’re still interested, much of this is tied together in my books and the articles on my website. I invite you to take a look at them. And try to imagine the world in a different way.

Charles Scurlock June 10, 2016

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The Languages of Physics

A recent subject (question?) posted on a theoretical Physics forum asks, “What happens when one of a pair of entangled particles crosses an event-horizon?” This presumably simple question assumes agreement on a) what is an entangled particle?, b. what is an event-horizon?, etc., c)do any two physicists agree on those meanings?,  etc.  After first wondering what possible purpose the answer to such a question serves in the happenings of the real world, one realizes that it serves a real purpose in pointing out the problems the obscure languages of modern physics pose for the ordinary reader, you and me.

In talking about the concepts and issues we are concerned with here in the real world, Zone of Middle Dimensions, it is important that we make sure that we are speaking the same language. Language is, of course, a latecomer in the evolution of human thought. Up until about 100,000 years ago with the advent of homo sapiens sapiens the fossil evidence indicates that we did not even have the anatomical structures necessary for the rapid vocal interaction needed for the development of a complex spoken language. Certainly we had some sort of primitive symbolic communication, necessary for a developed social structure, for cooperation in the hunt, for interactive behavior in the cave or tribe, as early as homo erectus some 1.8 million years ago, but not the sophisticated and subtle systems necessary for the communication of concepts and ideas. Written language, a true form of symbolic communication, has only been with us for a very short time, since about 3400 B.C. The marks we see on this page, the way in which the ideas and concepts we are now passing between us, have been available only a very short time.

Now, of course, language governs all communications between individuals and groups. It is transmitter of knowledge between generations. But for language to do its job, even within just one of the many tribal, ethnic, national languages we use, there must be agreement on both its syntax and its meanings. A word used in one science or discipline develops meanings from its context. When used in another, it brings those earlier associations along with it. If we are not very careful, we may use a word to mean something that seems very clear to us but which carries associations that either muddy its meaning in another context or interfere with its carrying concepts or models we wish it to invoke.

In physics, astronomy, and cosmology, there are many such examples, the use of the word “particle” for one. I carried in my head for many years my 11th grade chemistry teacher’s assertion that an electron had no mass. It bothered me that such an important “particle”, one so important in our daily lives could be so insubstantial. We now are told that it presumably has a mass though that mass is very small. But “particle”, meaning “small part” in the language of classical physics, has become for physicists something which occupies a point in space, so small that it can only be detected by the track that it leaves behind, and perhaps by the mathematics that describes its behavior.

Physicists have identified many particles now, with unique and sometimes fanciful names, defined by mass, angle after a collision, spin, and the curvature of their tracks. There are others postulated to exist, not yet identified, but necessary to explain the existence or behavior of “known” ones. We publish papers, books, hold conferences to discuss their most obscure characteristics.

But pick up any book on particle physics, even in its more obscure versions such as “superstring theory” and you will find copious use of the term “discovery”. It is as if there has been the fortuitous opening of an obscure archaic volume, and there, in words of fire, perhaps, is the key to “Relativity”.

We might more appropriately, see these discoveries as “inventions”, for that is what they are. Einstein did not “discover” relativity, he created it as a model, a metaphor, of how the universe and its constituent parts might work. He created it in a true metaphorical language, mathematics, even though he may have seen it in his head as a conceptual model.

The value of such inventions is measured in terms of their level of completeness, and their testable and confirmable predictive power. They live and die based on these tests. But to call them “discoveries” imputes to them the sense that they must be eternal verities, found as if they were jewels pulled from the depths of the earth and destined to live and prevail forever. No true scientist believes that of these “discoveries” so let’s call them what they are. Still we can pick up even a skeptical book, as Peter Woit’s “Not Even Wrong”, with its scathing and convincing dismissal of superstring theory, and find every new equation in cosmological history described as a discovery.

We are also guilty, in many instanced, of what we might call the misuse of metaphor. A couple of examples come to mind. Edwin Hubble the astronomer, looking deeply into the far reaches of the universe in the 1920’s, deduced that distant galaxies were moving away from us. In his now famous red-shift observations, he also noted that the farthest distant ones were moving faster than those nearby. The proof of these observations convinced Einstein that his belief in a “flat” non-expanding geometry was false and led to the abandonment of the controversial cosmological constant in his equations. This observed expansion was accompanied by the observation that this expansion would appear the same from any point in the universe. But this expansion was not considered due to the outward motion of the galaxies themselves away from each other, but, out of deference to the Einsteinian entity of “spacetime”, was attributed to the expansion of space itself. The too simple analogy that was commonly used was that of a balloon on which the galaxies were represented as ink dots, which, as the balloon was blown up, appeared to be moving apart, but remained in place in relation to one another. (We now know from subsequent observations that this is not necessarily true, some irregular galactic motions have been determined.)

The analogy fails in two ways: first, it suggests space as a kind of curved ‘flatland’, when in fact, space as conceived then and now, must be what lies inside the balloon; second, it ignores the simple logical expression that if a equals b, and b equals c, then a must equal c. Movement apart is equal to movement apart.

Space, in all literature using relativistic terms, is always given the attributes of a substance. The literature gives it a structure, but only a mathematical structure. When reduced to diagrams or illustrations as having a flat, positively curved, or negatively curved nature, it is represented as a plane, a sphere, or a saddle, with the planets, stars, galaxies arrayed on its two-dimensional surface. It is no wonder that ordinary minds have trouble understanding its essence.

A similar problem occurs in explanations or representations of what is called the “big bang”, the supposed moment when everything began–from nothing. In attempts to make it either clearer or perhaps more dramatic we are asked to imagine that the universe has reached its limit and has begun to contract. Imagine, you are instructed, all of those planets, stars, galaxies headed back to their starting point, rushing ever faster, colliding, being crushed, subsumed, giving off enormous volumes of energy, ultimately grinding together in the true mother of all explosions, and then returning to nothing. It is reminiscent of the comedy routine of a few years ago of the two Las Vegas casinos competing furiously with each other with ever more extravagant entertainments until one advertises, “This Week; The Hydrogen Bomb; One performance only!”

What is left out of this metaphor is that, if there were such a beginning explosion, none of those massive constructs, those planets, stars, galaxies, would have already existed.

Let us now, here declare the First Law of Metaphor: “Metaphors of reality must obey the laws of reality!” (but within limits: nothing in this law shall be construed as to constrain poets).

Perhaps the most confounding element of our use of language is our confusion of levels of meaning. People, particularly politicians, sometimes married couples, find themselves at odds because they seem to be “talking past each other”. Alfred Korzybski, in Science and Sanity, lays out a system of “orders of abstraction” close adherence to which helps to avoid this difficulty. In Korzybski’s system a point-event constitutes a first-order abstraction, that is, the observation, the sensory perception. A statement about that point-event, its initial description, even an exclamation of pain if the point-event was touching a hot stove, constitutes a second-order abstraction; a statement about that exclamation, a third-order abstraction, and so on. It is easy to see how a dialogue where one party is discussing the event while the other is discussing the reaction(s) to the event can lead to a significant loss in the communication. Bertrand Russell and A. N. Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica, uses the term “logical type” in laying out a similar theory. Strict adherence to these principals is often lost both in scientific literature and in popular accounts of scientific breakthroughs and leads to more controversy and confusion than we normally expect from scientists.

(This post, with minor modifications, was first published in 2011, as Appendix B of my book, “the picnic at the edge of the universe.“)


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A fundamental fallacy in modern physics

In an article on the website, (The site is subtitled, “The open questions at the boundary between physics and metaphysics”) regarding Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, the following section stirred up a serious reaction. The article is by the science writer, Nola Taylor Redd, a contributor. Here is an excerpt:

 “As he worked out the equations for his general theory of relativity, Einstein realized that massive objects caused a distortion in space-time. Imagine setting a large body in the center of a trampoline. The body would press down into the fabric, causing it to dimple. A marble rolled around the edge would spiral inward toward the body, pulled in much the same way that the gravity of a planet pulls at rocks in space.

Although instruments can neither see nor measure space-time, several of the phenomena predicted by its warping have been confirmed.”

 (Note: Here follow several so-called confirmations of the theory, notably: Gravitational lensing, Changes in the orbit of Mercury, Gravitational redshifting of the spectrum of light, and others. Here is how one of those “confirmations” is described:

 “Frame-dragging of space-time around rotating bodies: The spin of a heavy object, such as Earth, should twist and distort the space-time around it. In 2004, NASA launched the Gravity Probe B (GP-B). The precisely calibrated satellite caused the axes of gyroscopes inside to drift very slightly over time, a result that coincided with Einstein’s theory.

“Imagine the Earth as if it were immersed in honey,” Gravity Probe-B principal investigator Francis Everitt, of Stanford University, said in a statement.

“As the planet rotates, the honey around it would swirl, and it’s the same with space and time. GP-B confirmed two of the most profound predictions of Einstein’s universe, having far-reaching implications across astrophysics research.”

The problem with this analogy is, like all of the “spacetime” mythology, is that honey has substance, a characteristic that no one, not even Einstein, could effectively ascribe to space or time, neither of which is a real, physical entity, and hence could not have real physical attributes. The same problem exists with the now general two-dimensional analogy of spacetime as an elastic sheet, or trampoline. What is the force that draws down the ball to stretch (distort) the sheet? It is all word games that distract the innocent from the fact that that the entity called “spacetime” is non-existent, and must be replaced in all theories with a medium that can be shown to have substance, measurable and detectable, and not least, distortable, for any of these theories to have any logical truth.

The beauty of such a replacement, that is, of something real for something imaginary, is that it would automatically explain other mysterious phenomena with a factual basis, for example, the reality of the observed and confirmed limit on the velocity of electromagnetic radiation, in particular, that of visible light, designated as “c,” along with the other “confirmations” of relativity cited above.

In spite of the logical barriers to its factuality, it is difficult to find a physicist or scientist of any stripe who does not automatically accept the reality of “spacetime.” Whole books and thousands of papers and articles have been devoted to it. It is just assumed to be something real, in spite of the total absence of any confirmative evidence. No one has captured a sample of space for examination in the laboratory. As the article quoted above says, “Although instruments can neither see nor measure space-time,” its existence is considered as real as the keyboard I am typing on at this moment. This is the fundamental fallacy that is at the heart of the paralysis that modern physics finds itself in today. And since this aspect of “the standard model” is based on a fallacious assumption, everything that follows is tainted with its faults. When a serious physicist is asked from what did the universe arise, the answers run from “a quantum singularity,” to “nothing.” When asked what “space” is if not an empty container, the answers are all over the map, from “a quantum vacuum” to “nobody knows.” While we understand that everyone loves a mystery, these ideas have given rise to the most wild and wooly inventions and speculations imaginable. It is no wonder that there exists a website to explore the links between physics and metaphysics.

My response to this and the other contradictions and empty spaces of modern physics has been to lay out a new model that attempts to base all of its conclusions on objects, events, and phenomena that make up what we know as the real world, not on descriptions or mathematical formulae that most now assume to be real in and of themselves. Along with fallacious facts, we now have conflation between real objects and their verbal or mathematical descriptions. In one of its premises, General Relativity is correct. The presence of massive objects creates distortions, not in “spacetime, however, but in the field of which the so-called massive object is a highly concentrated locus of energy. These high energy-density distortions, what our mystico-physicists call “dark matter,” are the source of many of the so-called “confirmations” of relativity, as easily understood as the energy distortions we perceive around a simple magnet, itself a high energy concentration.

My own model is called the simple universe. It is simple in that it is, as stated, based on observable reality. It has no 60-plus “particles. It has one field, not one for each of those 60-plus particles. It covers the range of phenomena from the microcosm, the unseeable part, to the macrocosm, the unreachable part, along with our local, observable part, the “zone of middle dimensions.” In the simple universe, the mythical entity “spacetime” is replaced by a universal electromagnetic energy field, with an observable energy density measurable at about 2.7° Kelvin. It is a field that is unmeasurable in its extent and unfathomable in its depth, turbulent, of course, as all fields must be, but forming the single and only fixed relativistic reference frame for the universe, and as an unlimited source of energy, is the source and basis for all entities observable or otherwise detectable within it. I commend it to you as described and detailed on my website (here) and in my books, the picnic at the edge of the universe, and imagine darkness.

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How “thick” is a wave?

“How “thick” are the “vibration planes” of electromagnetic waves (The electric field is in a vertical plane and the magnetic field in a horizontal plane).”

This question was posed recently on the forum of a LinkedIn group discussion of theoretical physics. On the face of it, it seems a serious question from someone who is seriously interested in in understanding the structure of EM fields. I take it up here because in its essence it exemplifies the problem I have with most of the current discussions in modern physics, the conflation between the description or conceptualization of an entity and the entity itself. If we take the question apart into its components, several things need to be asked at the outset. These include:

What does “thickness” mean in the study of a field?

Why is a wave typified as having a “plane”?

Assuming there are planes, in relation to what reference system can they be said to be “vertical” or “horizontal”?

How did it come to be that electric and magnetic waves are presumed to be at right angles to one another when combined in an EM field?

Wave phenomena are detectable in nature in multiple forms:

There are waves in strings, i.e. waves in one-dimensional objects. These are usually illustrated as sinusoidal forms in two dimensions, on paper or computer screen, although when viewed using slow-motion photography, they may also exhibit rotations, precession, or random disturbance in a third dimension.

There are waves we perceive in two dimensional objects, as in films or surfaces, that sometimes proceed in unidirectional form as in ocean waves before strong wind or current phenomena, radial procession, as out from point like disturbances, or multiple combinations of these, all typified by displacement from the presumed otherwise level surface of the originating medium.

And there are waves in three-dimensional media, as in sound waves in the atmosphere where the periodic variations detected are in the form of pressure or intensity differences in the medium, from strong to weak, from loud to soft, from high to low, etc.

What is common to all types of waves, of course, is that none of them consist of independent entities in and of themselves, but only as more or less coherent forms, disturbances, displacements in some medium, string like, plane like, or volume like.

Premise 1. A wave is nothing more than a perceived disturbance of its medium!

While it is true that from the first attempts, by Gauss, Faraday, Maxwell, to describe what an electromagnetic wave might be, the graphic techniques used were pen and paper, now computer graphics, but still planar. Occasional more three-dimensional techniques were employed as in isometric drawings. The result of this communication limitation was, as has also happened in the use of mathematics to describe physical phenomena, that the representation has taken the place of the phenomenon itself in the minds of the practitioners of physics.

Hence the question that prompted this discussion, and my response.

The NASA article referenced in the question makes an assertion unsupported by any information other the current assumption among scientists that empty space contains nothing. They make a distinction between the “mechanical” waves of water strings and air and “electromagnetic energy waves” that require no medium. Here is what they say:

“Electromagnetic waves differ from mechanical waves in that they do not require a medium to propagate. This means that electromagnetic waves can travel not only through air and solid materials, but also through the vacuum of space.

How this occurs is left unexplained. The implication here is that “space” is truly a vacuum, not a medium. Hence, electromagnetic waves obviously don’t need a medium. But, of course, General Relativity strongly implies that “space” is a medium. It must be, since it is capable of being distorted. So two different realities are used to support two different assumptions. I am frequently reminded however, by experts, so to speak, that there are no contradictions in modern physics.

We are now, and were, in the time of the original wave theorists, able to detect the presence of magnetic or electric fields, which, though not discernible to our eyes or other human senses, we identified by the impact of their presence on other objects, events, or phenomena. In spite of our determination to define them as separate entities, in nature it is difficult to maintain that conceptual separation between electric and magnetic because they easily transform from one to another or into a combination that we call an EM field. Because of that combination, they are most commonly shown in the familiar form of a linear vertical-horizontal sine wave.

Waves 2.jpeg

But remember, an electromagnetic field is a three-dimensional medium, despite its common depiction as a plane (with magnetic lines of force or currents). And waves in a three-dimensional medium must be more like the compression waves in the atmosphere that we call sound. So waves in an electromagnetic field must be disturbances in the pressure levels of that field, as in its inherent intensity, or charge. Let’s call these differences in energy density. Now this is hard to depict in a video or on a textbook page. This may be as close as we come in two dimensions.

Waves 1.jpeg

If we are to explain how it is that light, microwaves, FM radio (even AM radio), the wireless access to what has become known as “the cloud”—all of these invisible wavelike phenomena we enjoy the fruits of are electromagnetic waves, then what could the medium be that they are “waves” of but an electromagnetic field itself?

Accepting this notion begins to explain things like the constancy of the velocity of light and other radiation currents, the capability of these to penetrate or be damped or absorbed by other entities, the presence of strong electromagnetic fields as concentrations of the general field and not as separate entities themselves.

Back to the original questions. What does “thickness” mean in a wave like this “compression-like” phenomenon we see in the second illustration? Where is the reference point or frame from which we can denote something as “horizontal” or “vertical? Do you see any right angles in the second illustration? And what part of this wave is the electrical part and which the magnetic? The assumptions underlying the original question are assumptions about a flawed graphic representation an electromagnetic wave, not about the “real” entity itself, so at its heart the question is meaningless.

And finally, why are our perceptions of reality so constrained by centuries-old graphic limitations that we cannot conceive of a three dimensional entity that we live in, are permeated by, and are an integral part of? Isn’t it time we shook off the conceptual constraints that have paralyzed our thought processes for the last two or three hundred years?


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Starting fresh, from an earlier time

The Wikipedia entry for Maxwell’s Equations, after explaining that these are only close approximations (very close!), goes on to make the following point.

 Since the mid-20th century, it has been understood that Maxwell’s equations are not exact but are a classical field theory approximation to the more accurate and fundamental theory of quantum electrodynamics. In many situations, though, deviations from Maxwell’s equations are immeasurably small. Exceptions include nonclassical light, photon-photon scattering, quantum optics, and many other phenomena related to photons or virtual photons.”

There seems to be a bias here, in the sense that the “discovery” of quantum electrodynamics has overtaken Maxwell and that we should now interpret his equations in an entirely different way, that QED is now the preferred explanation and while Maxwell is still appropriate, it should now be seen as less than complete.

My question is, “Could it be that the original form of Maxwell’s Equations, describing field interactions without the need for “particle behavior” is actually closer to the truth and there is no need for the so-called “clarification” of QED?” Nor for that matter, its introduction of unique fields for each of 60-plus particles.

This is what set me to thinking again about the absolute conflict between “quantum” thinking and reality. When Max Planck invented the quantum, (that’s right, invented) he had neither a clue or an inclination to make it into a “thing.” For him it was a quantitative descriptor, a way of identifying a “unit” that would enable him to quantify his studies of black box radiation. It worked! By being able to put a number, a size, into the equations they suddenly became solvable, not fuzzy. And guess who jumped on this idea and sent us suddenly down a different kind of blind alley? Why the master himself, Albert Einstein. What if Newton was right, he thought, and light was actually made up of corpuscles? What if we divided it up into little packets ? Let’s call them photons, with a value of one “quantum” each. That worked for Max, why not for me? And so was launched a whole new discipline, that has haunted physics now for more than a hundred years. Oh, we know that light sometimes seems to behave like a wave phenomenon, but so what. (“I know I lost my car keys over there, but I’m looking here because the light is better!”). Let’s just say that particles (photons? sometimes look like waves. Nobody will notice. After all, we make the rules, not nature.

Near the end of his recent book (Bankrupting Physics, Unzicker/Jones), Alexander Unzicker offers this summary of what is happening in modern physics and cosmology.

“…if despite all efforts, new contradictions show up, the reaction is as follows:

If physicists do not understand the what of their theories they will introduce a new particle. If they don’t understand the when, then it must’ve happened right after the big bang. If they don’t understand the where, then of course it took place in an extra dimension. And if they don’t understand the how, they will postulate a new interaction. if they don’t understand how much, a symmetry breaking will soon appear. If they don’t understand anything they will propose strings and branes. And if they lose interest in understanding, there is always the strong anthropic principle. Things have come to a pretty pass.”

So far the number of new and presumed new particles is in excess of 60, not counting theso-called “antiparticles” which must exist or this new Platonic structure’s presumed symmetry will be broken. And we have “expansion” to explain the inconsistencies between the big bang and current observations, and new interactions and unsupportable theories galore.

There exist simpler models, but most of the searchers for it are so stuck in the “particle” world they can’t let go of it, and some, like the new model being offered under the heading “Gravity=Dark Energy” on the LinkedIn Theoretical Physics forum, are so full of neoplatonic symbolism and what seems almost like numerology, that one wonders where they come from.

I am convinced that this search needs to go back, first, to a time before Einstein’s probably involuntary corruption of Plank’s “quantum,” back to the field theorists, Gauss, Maxwell, Lorentz; and then forward, looking at the last 200 years of observations and experiments and seeing them in a fresh way. By this I mean bypassing the misinterpretations and misattributions made in the effort to make them fit into particle theories, and seeing if they might actually be seen as waves in a medium, not as clouds of dust.

When we do this, we begin to see a new, simpler model, one that is continuous, not “quantized,” that demands a different math and a different logic, and suddenly becomes a clearer route to both reality and to the truth. The new logic is to see the perceivable entities of the universe as made up of coherent, organized distortions in the medium, a field, just as sound or music consists of organized coherent distortions of its medium, the atmosphere. The new math, then would probably be that of continuum mechanics, not quantum mechanics. The new conceptual logic would be to see these entities, from what we now call “particles” to the distant galaxies, not to mention we humans who contemplate them, as something like topological defects in an elastic solid, that being the electromagnetic field that makes up the extended cosmos we arose out of and inhabit with all of the other objects, events and phenomena we perceive “out there.”

That model is sketched out in my books and this blog. I am still of the hope that some of you will take it seriously enough to offer questions, comments, or even criticisms I can apply to it. Thank you.


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Gustav Mie and the simple universe

The second decade of the 20th century, 1909 to 1919, was a remarkable period in the development of physics and cosmology. In particular, three intellectual giants emerged and published works that would result in profound changes in how we view the world, the universe, and the cosmos. Today we remember one in particular, Albert Einstein, who between 1913 and 1916 published extensive work on his model of the cosmos culminating in his Theory of General Relativity in 1916. Einstein’s theory offered a major update of the Galilean idea of relativity along with a generalization that would effectively replace Newton’s theory of gravity. Einstein’s theory came complete with a set of field equations that described the universe in a seemingly complete fashion.

David Hilbert, until about 1912 known mostly as a brilliant mathematician, turned his attention to physics and on the publication of GR, was able to offer more complete and extensive solutions to Einstein’s field equations. He followed with an almost complete generalization of a theory of everything, his “axiomatic derivation of the basic equations of physics.”

The third of these intellectual giants was Gustav Mie, who was to challenge Einstein on his conclusions and to offer a plausible alternative to his theory, but someone which has been mostly forgotten until recent years. Mie was about ten years older than Einstein and was known to have challenged him on his assumptions and on his conclusions in several of their interactions. Einstein’s view of the universe ultimately prevailed and became a large part of the standard model of cosmology we adhere to today. Mie’s theories were to become an important influence on Hilbert’s later expansion of Einstein’s work, primarily on the mathematical side. Mie’s theories, however, lay unrefuted, but obscure in the wake of Einstein’s success.

I find it personally remarkable that my own researches in the history and development of models of the cosmos somehow skipped right over and past that of Mie, but I think that may have been the result of his major works never having been translated into English and my own lack of comfort with German originals. In any case I have recently been made aware of Mie’s theory of an electromagnetic basis for cosmology because of it’s strong similarities to my own rudimentary model, the simple universe. It all begins with the “discovery” of something very tiny.

What would turn out to be one the most significant discoveries of the later years of the 19th century would turn out to be that of that thing called the “electron.” In 1869, the German physicist Johann Wilhelm Hittorf, while engaged in the study of electrical conductivity in rarefied gases. . .

“. . .discovered a glow emitted from the cathode that increased in size with decrease in gas pressure. In 1876, the German physicist Eugen Goldstein showed that the rays from this glow cast a shadow, and he dubbed the rays cathode rays. During the 1870s, the English chemist and physicist Sir William Crookes developed the first cathode ray tube to have a high vacuum inside.[28] He then showed that the luminescence rays appearing within the tube carried energy and moved from the cathode to the anode. Furthermore, by applying a magnetic field, he was able to deflect the rays, thereby demonstrating that the beam behaved as though it were negatively charged.[29][30] In 1879, he proposed that these properties could be explained by what he termed ‘radiant matter’. He suggested that this was a fourth state of matter, consisting of negatively charged molecules that were being projected with high velocity from the cathode. In 1892 Hendrik Lorentz suggested that the mass of these particles (electrons) could be a consequence of their electric charge.

In 1896, the British physicist J. J. Thomson, with his colleagues John S. Townsend and H. A. Wilson, performed experiments indicating that cathode rays really were unique particles, rather than waves, atoms or molecules as was believed earlier.[5] Thomson made good estimates of both the charge e and the mass m, finding that cathode ray particles, which he called “corpuscles,” had perhaps one thousandth of the mass of the least massive ion known: hydrogen.[5][14] He showed that their charge to mass ratio, e/m, was independent of cathode material. He further showed that the negatively charged particles produced by radioactive materials, by heated materials and by illuminated materials were universal.[5][34] The name electron was again proposed for these particles by the Irish physicist George F. Fitzgerald, and the name has since gained universal acceptance.” (from Wikipedia “the electron”)

So. it would appear, the question of “What is an electron?, of what does it consist?” was a hot topic among experimental physicists.

For most of these researchers, it was sufficient to accept an electron as a fundamental particle, of whatever shape or size as long as it was extremely tiny (no one has actually seen one yet). But Mie took a slightly different track. What must have remained on his mind was the question, “What is an electron, exactly?” He wasn’t ready to offer an answer until about 1910 and 1911. Before that he devoted his efforts and research to the phenomenon that still bears his name, the issue of what causes the red and yellow colors and patterns in the atmosphere when illuminated by light at sunset and in rainbows and the like. His studies of the scattering of light by suspended microscopic particles in the atmosphere is what he is remembered most for today, called “Mie scattering.”

What he is not remembered so much for is his studies and concepts of where that mysterious thing called an electron comes from. During this time, Mie was Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Greifswald.

“During his Greifswald years Mie worked on the computation of scattering of an electromagnetic wave by a homogeneous dielectric sphere, which was published in 1908 under the title of “Contributions to the optics of turbid media, particularly of colloidal metal solutions” in “Annalen der Physik“. The term Mie scattering is still related to his name. Using Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory applied to spherical gold particles Mie provided a theoretical treatment of plasmon resonance absorption of gold colloids. The sharp absorption bands depend on the particle size and explain the change in colour that occurs as the size of the colloid nanoparticles is increased from 20 to 1600 nm. He wrote further important contributions to electromagnetism and also to relativity theory. In addition he was employed on measurements units and finally developed his Mie system of units in 1910 with the basic units Volt, Ampere, Coulomb and Second (VACS-system).” (from Wikipedia, “Gustav Mie”)

But the question of “What is an electron, exactly?” must have been still on his mind.

A  1999 paper gives the background of Mie’s study, going on to elaborate on it’s influence on the work of Hilbert’s mathematical extensions of General Relativity. Leo Corry of Tel Aviv University describes his contributions this way:

“In 1910 Mie published a textbook on electromagnetism that soon became a classic and saw two additional editions in 1941 and 1948 (Mie 1910). Mie believed that this was the first textbook in which Maxwell’s conclusions were arrived at in a completely inductive way starting from the experimental, factual material. When the first edition was published, Mie took special pride on having been able to “present the Maxwell equations in a complete and exact fashion, expressing himself in plain words, and without having to introduce any mathematical symbols.”. . . Mie sent the first installment of his electromagnetic theory of matter to the Annelen der Physik in January 1912. At the center of Mie’s theory was an articulate attempt to support the main tenets of the so-called “electromagnetic worldview,” and more specifically to develop the idea that the electrons cannot be ascribed physical existence independently of the ether. . .. . . Mie based his theory on three explicitly formulated basic assumptions. The first one is that the electric and the magnetic field are present both outside and inside the electron as well. This means that the electrons are in fact an organic part of the ether, rather than foreign elements added to the ether, as was common belief among certain physicists at the time (e.g. Einstein in 1909). The electron is thus conceived as a non-sharply delimited, highly dense nucleus in the ether that extends continually and independently into an atmosphere of electrical charge. An atom is a concentration of electrons, and the high intensity of the electric field around it is what should ultimately explain the phenomenon of gravitation.”

(“From Mie’s Electromagnetic Theory of Matter to Hilbert’s Unified Foundations of Physics“, by Leo Corry) Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30(2): 159-183 (1999).

In 1916, Albert Einstein, unwittingly, I think, enshrined in the minds of physicists and most inhabitants of the civilized world, the notion that empty space was a substantive entity that could be warped, stretched, deformed in subtle ways, and that these distortions of a non-existent substance could explain motion, gravity, and a thousand other phenomena that occurred in the real world. It was a wonderful, mathematically beautiful myth, and it overwhelmed otherwise intelligent scientists world wide. Gustav Mie challenged Einstein, saying in his own way that there was another, more complete and consistent explanation. But Mie’s way required an ether, an electromagnetic one, but by this time the age of particles had taken over physics and a field theory of the scope and extent of this one had no chance.

Let’s just summarize what Mie proposed. The electron, the most fundamental entity of the time, was not a solid, spherical entity, but was rather an excitation, a disturbance, a concentration in the ether, not something passing through it but a disturbance in and part of it. As a concentration of energy, it’s influence radiated from its core outward in all directions, causing a diminishing sphere of energy in the medium, and these disturbances might well be the generator of gravity. The ether not only surrounded and penetrated what we called an electron but existed in and through it. They were of the same substance. Further, what we call matter consists of higher level aggregations of these fundamentals. “Both electric and gravitational actions could be shown as a direct manifestations of the forces that account for the very existence of matter.” He further asserted that the rules that governed these actions could be found not in some new particle theory, but right there in Maxwell’s equations, which he then set out to recreate directly out of empirical observations. In short: “The electron is thus conceived as a non-sharply delimited, highly dense nucleus in the ether that extends continually and independently into an atmosphere of electrical charge. An atom is a concentration of electrons, and the high intensity of the electric field around it is what should ultimately explain the phenomenon of gravitation.”

Here is the foundation of “the simple universe,” my own model, a non-particle, electromagnetic-ether based theory that encompasses all of the phenomena of the universe, from the tiniest excitation of the ether, call it an electron or more likely, something very much smaller, out to the stars, galaxies and clusters of the most distant and unreachable objects we are aware of.

My discovery of Gustav Mie and his model has come late, but strongly solidifies my confidence that my own model has intrinsic value and is worthy of testing, a path I continue to follow. The details, as far as they been taken so far, can be found described in first, “the picnic at the edge of the universe,” published in early 2015, followed by “imagine darkness,” released just a month later, both available from bookstores and Amazon. Other confirmations can be found in the series of over 50 articles on the same subject in my blog at (this page). I commend them to you.

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Son et lumière

The first two principal axioms of my model, the simple universe are these:

Axiom 1

“The cosmos, what we call the ether, is made up of an electromagnetic energy field extending in all directions an indefinite distance from all points in the universe.”

(What physicists refer to as space is neither void nor vacuum but consists of energy in the form of a continuous electromagnetic ether, extending indefinitely, without limit, without edges or borders farther than the eye can see, even with the most powerful instruments. The field is fixed and is, in the relativistic sense, a privileged prime reference frame. It is, however, fluid, elastic, and subject to the same internal movements, currents, turbulence, and topological defects as any elastic medium. This ether pervades all of space, as evidenced by its carriage of all electromagnetic phenomena to and from its farthest limits as well as by the constant velocity of that radiation.)

 Axiom 2

“All perceptible entities in the universe, that is, all objects, events, and phenomena, at whatever scale, consist of organized, coherent concentrations and distortions of that energy field, in patterns governed by a simple set of rules.”

 (There are no particles, no “uncutable” first beginnings, no atoms, no protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, neutrinos, bosons, gluons; again, no “particles.” There is only energy, flowing through and within the cosmos. Its formation into concentrations of various size, intensity, and complexity gives rise to imaginings of entities of a particulate nature.)

 The arguments for the truth of these axioms are offered in detail in my book “imagine darkness,’ but a condensed, and, I believe, convincing argument, can be made as follows.

(the following quote is from physicist and author Alexander Unzicker)

“For the entire 19th-century continuum mechanics was believed to be a valuable description of electrodynamics. Physicists imagined electromagnetic waves as propagating oscillations of an elastic medium called the ether which was believed to permeate all of space.”

The ether theories vanished after 1905, because Einstein’s theory of relativity didn’t need ether and the experimenters at that time couldn’t find it. In fact the idea of masses gliding through the ether as fish do through water leads to contradictions.

However, there is an intriguing analogy. Wave structures and other irregularities in an elastic continuum (defects) surprisingly behave like particles. Being nothing but the nucleus of a disturbance it cannot move faster than the disturbance itself, and (in the atmosphere, for example) the motion of the disturbance is limited by the speed of sound. The analogy to electron motion which is limited by the speed of light is obvious. Moreover the formulas for charged particles in the special theory of relativity are identical to those describing the motion of defects in elastic solids. This is exciting because it could mean that the ether was abandoned prematurely since people didn’t know about the possibility of modeling particles as defects in such an elastic solid.”      —Alexander Unzicker, Bankrupting Physics, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Pangrave Macmillan, New York (2013)

So, if matter is not made up of particles, what might it be made up of? Could it be energy?

It is an easy step from the generalization that “particles” are nothing more than Einstein’s condensations in the ether” to the notion that a perceived “particle” might be portion of such a defect, or condensation, or ether modification, one that goes in and out of our boundaries of perception, giving the appearance of a series of separate entities, not the continuous wave that is the phenomenon’s actual nature. Or it might be simply that what we perceive as particles are coherent, organized (temporarily stable) foci of energy, but still part of the ether, the medium we see as the source of everything. “Temporary” on a cosmic scale might, of course, be billions of years.

Let’s look again at Unzicker’s comment. “Wave structures and other irregularities (defects) in an elastic continuum surprisingly behave like particles.” He suggests a direct analogy might be that of sound traveling in an elastic medium such as air or water. If one considers a normal atmosphere like ours, sound waves, which are, in fact, compression waves in the medium of the air, travel at a constant velocity as long as the medium is of uniform pressure and density. Generating a sound creates a sequence of higher and lower pressure vibrations in the medium. Note here that sound waves are not made up of some esoteric material or bundles of particles (sonitons, anyone?) passing through the medium. Rather they are actually structural distortions of the medium itself. The velocity of a sound wave, about 1100 fps at sea level, is not determined by the energy (loudness) or the frequency (a particular pitch), but are inherent in the (relatively) constant medium of which they are an integral part.. A low pitched, soft note travels at the same velocity as a loud, high pitched one.

And most sounds are not pure. Even a single tone from say, a flute, contains not just one set of vibrations, but many. These can be attributed to the material of the instrument, wood or metal, sometimes called tone color; as well as overtones, that is, a mix of a fundamental pitches and resonant higher frequencies produced by sympathetic vibrations in the materials of the instrument. If one examines the wave forms emitted by the instrument, one finds a mix of complex, overlapping patterns that can make the sound from a particular flute unique and identifiable to a person with a well-trained ear.

Now multiply the sources of the sound:    To make this example even more complex, our flautist sits in the third row of an ensemble of 100 musicians. There are 3 more flutes, of course, each slightly different from the others, so that the sound carries slightly more complexity, but the ninety-six other players are creating related sounds on different instruments, each of which disturbs the atmosphere in a different way. So, if you attempted to analyze the makeup of the many hundreds of soundwaves reaching you in the third row of the second balcony, you would find it extremely difficult. On the other hand, as a whole, the sounds and tone colors and resonances and harmonies reaching your ears comprise a whole, powerful experience as only a performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony can do.

If we start to analyze the individual parts of the experience what we find is that each tone and its set of overtones from each flute, violin, horn in the ensemble has generated its sound on the basis of some simple rules. The vibration of a bow drawn across a string of metal or gut; the vibration of the lips of the trumpet player passing through and absorbing the sympathetic vibrations of the horn; a reed vibrating in the lips of the bassoonist. Each combination, say the output of 3 bass violins, is made up of several patterns of frequencies and amplitudes of the complex compression waves in the atmosphere of the auditorium. And each of these in their sonorous relation with other instruments, interacts with and modifies the output that reaches your ears.

All depends on the temperature, pressure and density of the medium and the way it behaves when vibrated. All of the different sounds reached you simultaneously, because for the most part they emanated from a single somewhat diffuse point on the stage, implying that the velocity of sound from the string bass was exactly the same as that from the piccolo or the percussionist’s triangle. And you will understand that this magnificent, rich, complex experience resulted from a small set of simple rules, inherent in the medium, and manipulated by the players. The rules will have to do with what we know about phenomena like reverberation, reinforcement, resonance, which, if in opposition, damps sounds almost to silence, but which in concert magnifies the sound almost to too great an intensity.

So, what is sound? It is a distortion of its medium such that a perceptible difference is sensed. What is music? Also a distortion in the medium, but an ordered, coherent one that conveys distinct patterns to the listener. The first is noise, the second transmits information. But note that this information is at the next level of abstraction from the complex set of vibrations reaching your ears.

In our universe, “the simple universe” as I have chosen to call it, our atmosphere is the electromagnetic cosmos, high energy, high entropy, unlimited in depth and extent, but still turbulent, as we can see from images recorded and proposed as the cosmic background radiation, which fills the cosmos in all directions at an average (measured) temperature of 2.7° Kelvin. This, our ‘electromagnetic atmosphere,” is the medium for all that we perceive within it, all organized, coherent disturbances in it. It is perceptible to our senses as magnetic and gravitational fields, as the medium for all electromagnetic radiation from the highest frequencies through the visible spectrum to long waves used for communications and the like. Evidence for its existence is ubiquitous, but particularly in the recognized and depended upon constancy of that radiation’s limiting velocity, what we know as “c.” In an interesting recursive sense, the gaseous atmosphere that carries Mahler’s Ninth to our ears is itself one of those entities that arise from and is part of the cosmos.

Remember, these “fields” are not separate and independent entities traveling through the medium, but are part and parcel of it. just as the chorus from the Ninth Symphony is not separate from the air that carries it but part and parcel of that medium, an organized, coherent entity, arising out of its medium by the application of simple rules and patterns, small, even tiny, but in uncountable numbers.

(a substantial part of this post is taken directly from “imagine darkness, the making of the simple universe,” by Charles Scurlock, published February, 2015, available from Amazon and other booksellers.)


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