Why clocks go slower when they’re lower

This is in response to a query from Jonas K. See my post you can lead a horse to water, and take a look at the comments. OK, I’ll start again from the beginning, Jonas, you’re blue:

Textbook optical clocks of the bouncing-photons-kind go slower when lower in a gravitational field, yes. So do Cesium-based atomic clocks, by exactly the same amount. Why is that?

It’s because a Cesium-based atomic clock has an electromagnetic nature. Take a look at the NIST caesium fountain clock:

Image courtesy of NIST

The second is defined as “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom”. Then see the Wikipedia hyperfine structure article,  which says this: “In atoms, hyperfine structure arises from the energy of the nuclear magnetic dipole moment interacting with the magnetic field generated by the electrons and the energy of the nuclear electric quadrupole moment in the electric field gradient due to the distribution of charge within the atom”. So it’s clear enough that the Cesium atomic clock operates via electromagnetism, which I think ought to satisfy you that it’s going to slow down like the idealised bouncing-photon clock.

Why should it be that two so different kinds of clocks, based on entirely different mechanisms, end up slowing down by the same amount? Please provide detail, not references. Thanks.

It’s because gravity has an electromagnetic nature too. A gravitational field is a place where the speed of light is spatially variable, and the speed of light c = 1/√(ε0μ0). The permittivity and/or permeability of space is varying. This affects all electromagnetic phenomena. I talked about the wave nature of matter, how pair production worked, and about the electron being a 511 keV photon in a spin ½ closed-path configuration, but I don’t think you need to know any of that to know that the Cesium clock is going to slow down just like the photon clock.

Thank for replying! I realize now that my request for details in a comment section like this was a bit much to ask for. Perhaps some day you will find the time to give a fuller answer in a separate post; it would be much appreciated. What I’m driving at is this: it seems that your account of the slowing down of optical clocks relies on special properties of photons.

It’s because in a gravitational field the properties of space are “neither homogeneous nor isotropic”. So waves in space go slower when they’re lower. Photons have an E=hf nature, they’re waves in space. Then we make electrons (and positrons) out of photons in gamma-gamma pair production, and their electromagnetic interactions go slower when they’re lower too.

In that case, there is no reason to expect clocks based on other mechanisms to slow down at all, let alone by the exact same amount.

See above re the Cesium clock. That’s going to slow down in line with the photon clock. Because electromagnetism is ubiquitous. I’m pretty sure the nuclear force is electromagnetic too. And take a look at this picture:

Annihilation images from CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility

In low energy proton-antoproton annihilation, we sometimes see two gamma photons. That says to me that the strong force has an underlying electromagnetic nature too.

Now, logically, one of the following is the case:

1) all clocks, whatever their mechanism, when experiencing acceleration/gravity slow down by the same amount; or

I’d say that’s true with the exception of the grandfather clock, or any pendulum clock. The clock rate depends on the force of gravity rather than the depth of potential. Hence a grandfather clock would go faster at a lower elevation.    

2) there are at least two different kinds of clocks that slow down by different amounts (or speed up, or are unaffected) when experiencing acceleration/gravity.

Let’s pretend that pendulum clocks don’t exist. That said, I opt for option 1,

I would like to know which of the alternatives you favour. Moreover, if 1) is the case, I’d like to know by what mechanisms it happens; whereas if 2) is the case, I’d like an example of clocks that would behave differently.

I favour option 1, and would say that all clocks go slower when they’re lower because light goes slower when it’s lower, and because matter is in essence “made of light”.

Either way, I’d like to see your derivations of the quantitative behaviour of the clocks. Thanks!

There’s not much to say about the quantitative behaviour of clocks. They go slower when they’re lower because of the wave nature of matter, and because those waves go slower when they’re lower, because space is affected by a concentration of energy in the guise of a massive star. As for a derivation, l said something about time dilation in the nature of time. I said it’s based on Pythagoras’s theorem. See the simple inference of time dilation due to relative velocity on Wikipedia:

Public domain image by Mdd4696, see Wikipedia

The hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle represents the light path. The base represents my speed v as a fraction of c. The height gives the Lorentz factor, which can be written as √(1 – v²/c²). If I travel at .99c, the Lorentz factor is √(1-.99²/1²) = √(1-.98) = √(.02) = .1414, which is a seventh. So my clock clocks up one year while yours clocks up seven. The Lorentz factor is that simple, and it applies to everything because of the wave nature of matter. Robert Close talked about this in the other meaning of special relativity. We can make electrons out of light in pair production, and we can diffract electrons. Remember what Feynman said about around and around, and think of electron spin as light going round a circular path. Then look at it sideways like this: |. Then set it moving so that the circular path looks like a helical path. Sideways on, it would look like this: /\/\/\/\. It’s just like the light bouncing back and forth between the parallel mirrors, and it’s why time dilation applies to electrons and other particles too, and me, and you.

(Your answer here is obviously incomplete since it makes no reference to the specific functioning of Cesium-based clocks, but again, it was unreasonable of me to demand details in a comment.)

No problem Jonas.

Great, I’m looking forward to it. It sounds like you’re going with alternative 1), in which case you agree with the mainstream physicists who say that “time slows down” in a gravitational field; for all they mean by that phrase is precisely that all processes slow down by the same amount. Of course you might have some other disagreement with them, but I’ll let you explain yourself in a post. Please take your time, I am interested in seeing the quantitative details of your position and I’m happy to wait for them (and I imagine your other readers feel the same).

Yes, I’m going with option 1. However I don’t agree with mainstream physicists who say time slows down in a gravitational field, because that’s not what Einstein said. He said light slows down in a gravitational field. The mainstream physicist flatly contradicts Einstein, and says time slows down instead of light. As a result he doesn’t understand how gravity works.

Formulas are of course necessary if you wish to make clear how your position differs from the mainstream. Again thanks!

I’m afraid formulas just can’t help with all this. My position is this: I’m with Einstein. The mainstream isn’t. But I hope that one day, it will be.

Part 2:  7th March 2020

So your position is that there is really only one mechanism at work, namely the effect of gravity on electromagnetism, and since all processes are electromagnetic, all processes are affected in the same way?

Yes, that’s about it.

Does this cover time dilation due to relative velocity, too?

Yes. I said “think of electron spin as light going round and round”. I think it’s similar for the proton. That has spin too. The proton g factor is circa 5.85.  It’s nearly three times the electron g factor, and it’s there because spin is a real rotation:

 CCASA image by Arpad Horvath see Wikipedia             Public domain image by Jim Belk, see Wikipedia

I think you’re right that formulas are not much help in this particular context unless you are going to get into how electromagnetism accounts for/gives rise to the strong and weak forces too.

I don’t think formulas would help with that either. Mathematics is a vital tool for physics, but it doesn’t help you to understand the physics.

But basically I’m trying to understand what your disagreements with standard physics are, and that requires getting to predictions at some point.

I’d say “standard physics” isn’t really physics any more. It doesn’t offer any understanding. It doesn’t tell you how gravity works, even though Einstein explained most of it. It doesn’t even tell you how a magnet works. even though Ampère explained most of it. As for predictions, I’d say one prediction is gamma ray bursts. If you drop a brick into a black hole it erupts into a gamma-ray burst. Sadly Einstein didn’t predict this. I think he could have done in his 1939 paper on a stationary system with spherical symmetry consisting of many gravitating masses. But in 1939 I guess he had other things on his mind. Funnily enough it was the detection of gamma ray bursts that reawakened interest in general relativity in the 1960s. The USA launched satellites to detect Russian nuclear tests, and they detected gamma ray bursts instead. See Wikipedia: “Kip Thorne identifies the “golden age of general relativity” as the period roughly from 1960 to 1975 during which the study of general relativity,[29] which had previously been regarded as something of a curiosity, entered the mainstream of theoretical physics[30]”. General relativity entered the mainstream in the 1960s. But the version of general relativity that became mainstream flatly contradicted Einstein.

This is why I’m hoping to see some formulas that I could use myself. You tell me (to take just one example) that an electron is a photon moving in a certain configuration, but I’m unable to derive any consequences of this claim.

Here’s a consequence: if you drop an electron into a black hole, it will erupts into a gamma-ray burst. That means conservation of charge is not absolute. How cool is that? But I think the important thing is understanding. You can actually understand what happens in Compton scattering and why an electron goes round in circles in a uniform magnetic field. You can understand why two electrons repel, why two positrons repel, and why an electron and a positron attract.  You don’t need to invent virtual particles popping into existence, spontaneously, like worms from mud.

I really don’t see how the mainstream physicist disagrees with Einstein if they agree on all predictions. Saying “time slows down” and “light slows down” sounds different, but again, mainstream physics is not committed to any doctrine about time: that claim is just shorthand for “every process slows down by the same amount”.

Mainstream physics is committed to the doctrine that the speed of light is constant. It isn’t. Because of this, mainstream physics doesn’t understand why light curves. It claims that light curves because it follows the curvature of spacetime, which is wrong. It’s all downhill from there, ending up with fantasy physics about the black hole information paradox, and futile dreams of quantum gravity.

So the empirical content is the same.

It isn’t. Einstein said light curves because “the speed of light is spatially variable”. You can test that with optical clocks. And yet mainstream physics will tell you the speed of light is constant, and that an optical clock goes slower because of some magical mysterious unseen thing called time going slower.

Perhaps the question I’m working my way toward when trying to understand your writings is this: do you make any predictions that differ from those of mainstream physics?

Yes. For example Hawking radiation does not exist. You will never see a free quark. You will never see a gluon. But you will see a pentaquark. And the stasis box. And flying cars. There’s more. Lots more. Perhaps I should gather them up and write about them.

NEXT

 

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Andrew Luscombe

    If a pendulum clock behaves differently to other clocks, might that be a reason to say that light is slower rather than time is slower? As Jonas said, people who say time slows down mean that all processes slow down in the same way, so if some processes don’t slow down the same way (or speed up), then that is a different thing to time slowing down. It might also be possible to say that a pendulum clock isn’t actually measuring time, it’s just a process that happens to be regular enough in some places to provide a close approximation to time.

    1. Yes Andrew, I think it is a reason to say that light is slower rather than time is slower. I also think that no clock actually measures time. A clock is a device that features some kind of regular cyclical motion, and shows an accumulated reading of that motion. That’s all it is. A gas meter measures the flow of gas, but there is no time flowing in a clock. It doesn’t really measure the flow of time.

      1. Philip Oakley

        Another perspective is that time is defined by the experimental environment, rather than the object being observed, in the sense that the improvements in the measurement of time are improvements in the experimental apparatus rather than any changes to the observed item.

        For the atomic clocks we have the disentanglement of the atom on one side, with the careful total entanglement of the apparatus on the other. (entanglement is easy, disentanglement (especially partial) is hard).

        Aggregate time (of the apparatus) is what’s being determined. (i.e. the atom doesn’t know what time is, until it interacts, and only then as an ordered sequence of events for itself. For the apparatus it becomes a partial order of the totality of its events).

        Worth a thought anyway.

        1. I think the whole of physics starts with time Philip. Have a look at my article on the nature of time. There’s this chain of logic that takes you from the nature of time to the speed of light and then on to gravity. Well, it did for me. Because the measurement of time isn’t really the measurement of time. You’re typically measuring some regular cyclical motion in your experimental apparatus. In an atomic clock it’s like you find the resonant microwave frequency, then you count 9,192,631,770 microwaves passing you by, and say that’s a second. These waves are light waves in the general sense. So we use the motion of light to define the second, which we then use to measure the motion of light. Duh!

  2. Jonas K

    Awesome! I thought I had you in my RSS reader but for some reason I only noticed this post right now.

    Fair point about the Cesium clocks being in some sense electromagnetic. Also, excellent that you thought of grandfather clocks, I really didn’t think about them at all. They are not discussed in any books that I can think of, but of course they really ought to be. Now I have to do some looking around to see how standard books treat them. (I.e. do they just not count as clocks, or what?)

    So your position is that there is really only one mechanism at work, namely the effect of gravity on electromagnetism, and since all processes are electromagnetic, all processes are affected in the same way? Does this cover time dilation due to relative velocity, too?

    I think you’re right that formulas are not much help in this particular context unless you are going to get into how electromagnetism accounts for/gives rise to the strong and weak forces too. But basically I’m trying to understand what your disagreements with standard physics are, and that requires getting to predictions at some point. This is why I’m hoping to see some formulas that I could use myself. You tell me (to take just one example) that an electron is a photon moving in a certain configuration, but I’m unable to derive any consequences of this claim.

    I really don’t see how the mainstream physicist disagrees with Einstein if they agree on all predictions. Saying “time slows down” and “light slows down” sounds different, but again, mainstream physics is not committed to any doctrine about time: that claim is just shorthand for “every process slows down by the same amount”. So the empirical content is the same.

    Perhaps the question I’m working my way toward when trying to understand your writings is this: do you make any predictions that differ from those of mainstream physics?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

    1. the physics detective

      My pleasure Jonas. I’ve put my reply in the post above. See where it says Part 2.

    2. Philip Oakley

      Talking of grandfather clocks, anyone noticed that they say they add pennies to Big Ben (the clock bit;-) to adjust its rate, but that the period of a pendulum should be independent of the pendulums mass?

      In reality, what they are doing is shifting the Center of Gravity (CoG) of the mass up or down just a very little (I’m guessing it’s microns) to tweak the rate. Using a shifting spanner to turn a nut doesn’t get that level of finesse (nor ease of operation).

      Hopefully a nice aside about how the glib public explanations can be misdirected. It was a discussion with my daughter about how news reports need careful interpretation.

      1. Jonas K

        Philip: that’s a really neat fact, thanks for sharing! I haven’t myself heard any claims that the period is mass-independent for a physical pendulum; it sounds like the kind of thing a half-educated elementary school physics teacher would say…

        1. Here’s something else that’s really neat Jonas:
          .
          At the top of its swing, the rest mass of a pendulum is greater than the rest mass of the moving pendulum at the bottom of its swing. However the rest mass energy plus the kinetic energy adds up to the same total energy in both situations.
          .
          Gravity converts rest mass energy, which is internal kinetic energy, into external kinetic energy as the pendulum swings down. Then it does the reverse as the pendulum swings up. Conservation of energy always applies, so the total energy is unchanged.

  3. Eric

    Whether you like it or not, no trained physicist will take any of your ideas seriously until you can formulate them into a theory. Unfortunately what this means for anyone working on reformulating foundational theories, is the burden of proof is much much higher than any extension to current theories.
    Extensions to current theories simply must not contradict the foundational theory, and hold some modicum of explanatory power.
    An idea like yours (an ontological reformulation of quantum theory informed by a certain interpretation of relitivaty) holds enormous burden of proof. You’d have to prove it to be consistent with all current observation, and show reduction in limiting cases to approximations of current theories. This requires derivations, self consistent mathematical frameworks, rigour. Fancy argumentation simply won’t cut it.

    P.S.
    That all being said, I do appreciate your critique of physics. There is definitely a place for such questioning, especially for a field that has enshrined itself in self congratulatory infallibility.

    1. the physics detective

      They’re not really my ideas, Eric. They mostly come from the old papers, and some not-so old papers. For example see what Einstein said about the speed of light in 1920: “Second, this consequence shows that the law of the constancy of the speed of light no longer holds, according to the general theory of relativity, in spaces that have gravitational fields. As a simple geometric consideration shows, the curvature of light rays occurs only in spaces where the speed of light is spatially variable”. I haven’t reformulated the foundational theory. People like Misner Thorne and Wheeler have. And people like Heisenberg and Pauli. They threw away the nascent electron models proposed by the likes of Schrodinger and Charles Galton Darwin. Check out Darwin’s 1927 Nature paper on the electron as a vector wave, which talked about a spherical harmonic for the two directions of spin.
      .
      Much of what I tell you is merely a distillation from the old papers. There’s links to them in my various articles. I’m pretty sure a lot of people haven’t read those old papers. Thank you David Delphenich for the many translations.
      .
      PS: if physicists wait for somebody like me to come up with a fully-developed theory before paying attention, who needs them?

  4. Andy Hall

    Following on from the Burden of Proof comment from Eric, I like the joke “if a man speaks in the forest and there is no woman there to hear him; Is he still wrong?”, by a similar token, if a layperson discusses physics ideas on the internet, rather than peer reviewed in a high impact journal, and no “serious” physicist takes any notice, are those ideas wrong?

    It seems to me that acceptance of an idea by the mainstream physics community is entirely optional with respect to its inherent appeal and practical usefulness. These are the qualities are think are most important in physics; concepts that help me make sense of the world rather than attempting to put understanding of the world in such complicated and obtuse forms that people can claim to be doing me a service by understanding it for me. I don’t need that and I don’t want it. I also think it is a shame that my taxes are wasted on supporting people with that aim.

    Hence, I appreciate the Physics Detectives meticulous historical research and work to demystify the subject and point out where people have produced models or interpretations of models that help to simply and aid understanding of a subject that is complicated enough in itself. As Einstein is misquoted as saying “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler!”

    1. The ideas aren’t wrong, Andy. Because they’re Einstein’s ideas, or de Broglie’s ideas, or Schrodinger’s ideas, et cetera, all backed by the hard scientific evidence. But acceptance of those ideas by the mainstream physics community isn’t optional. It’s forbidden. Propaganda and censorship is employed to maintain the status quo, and it is endemic.
      .
      The bottom line is that the mainstream community will not willingly accept any idea that demonstrates that the mainstream community is wrong. For example QED requires renormalization because it employs Frenkel’s point-particle electron, despite everything de Broglie and Schrodinger (and Dalton and Born and Infeld and Bohm) said about a wave in a closed path. Despite all the evidence for the wave nature of matter and the reality of electron spin. But the mainstream physicists cannot admit a wave-in-a-closed-path electron model because that means renormalization is wrong, so QED is wrong, so QCD is wrong, and so is the Standard Model. Despite all the Nobel prizes. Oh the irony, Alfred Nobel’s prizes have done more harm than his dynamite, because they have set bad science in stone.
      .
      It’s like they’ve painted themselves into a corner and can’t get out. That’s why progress in physics has been stalled for circa 50 years. And the real shame of it is that your taxes are being spent on the very people who are standing four square in the way of that progress.
      .
      I only hope I do my bit to make a difference and encourage younger physicists to challenge their elders and to break the dam. That’s what Einstein did, when he was 26. That’s how progress usually occurs.

  5. Bud Rapanault

    It’s like they’ve painted themselves into a corner and can’t get out.

    I tend to think of it as, they calculated themselves into a corner they could easily get out of if they knew how to think, but…

    1. I think the situation is grim, Bud. Did you read Oliver Consa’s paper?
      .
      https://vixra.org/pdf/2002.0011v1.pdf
      .
      There are major issues with QED. Which means there are major issues with electroweak theory, and QCD. But there have been decades of discoveries and Nobel prizes. The Standard Model is portrayed as a major success. Even though just about every aspect of it is wrong.

  6. Bud Rapanault

    You can say exactly the same about LCDM. It’s touted a great success but it describes a cosmos that bears no resemblance to the one we observe.

    1. I think the big issue for cosmology, Bud, is that cosmologists don’t understand how gravity works. As a result they believe in things like the cannonball universe, and other fairy tales. Like inflation. My favourite is in the FLRW metric. It says this: “The FLRW metric starts with the assumption of homogeneity and isotropy of space”. Big mistake! Because a gravitational field is a place where space is “neither homogeneous nor isotropic”. OK you said you thought the invocation of “space” is superfluous, but I think of it like some kind of gin-clear ghostly elastic jelly. Here we go:
      .
      The shear stress term on the right tells you we’re dealing with something that could be modelled like some kind of elastic solid. The energy-pressure diagonal tells you it’s an elastic solid subject to pressure. For an analogy, imagine you have a block of gin-clear ghostly elastic jelly, with grid lines in it so you can see what’s going on. You slide a hypodermic needle into the centre of the block, and inject more jelly. This represents a concentration of energy bound up as the matter of a massive star. It creates a pressure gradient in the surrounding jelly. Stress is directional pressure, the pressure is outwards, and Einstein’s equation Gμν = 8πTμν is modelling the way gin-clear ghostly elastic space is conditioned by the energy you added. But don’t forget that you added jelly to represent energy, and that the jelly also represents space. Space doesn’t just have some kind of innate intrinsic vacuum energy. At some deep fundamental level, space and energy are the same thing.

  7. Bud Rapanault

    You say “space and energy are the same thing.” If they are the same thing, then why use two terms for “the same thing”? That’s what I mean by space being a superfluous concept. This is especially so since energy, in the form of electromagnetic radiation is an observable, whereas your “gin-clear ghostly elastic jelly” is not. What lies between material objects is at minimum, always and everywhere, EMR. I’m not positing some hypothetical entity here, this is simply what we observe.

    At root, I’m an empiricist of necessity. It strikes me that one of the fundamental errors of modern physics has been to reify the human relational concepts of space, time and universe into real physical phenomena. This has been done despite the complete absence of scientific evidence for their physical (empirically verifiable) existence.

    Even worse, theoretical physics has adopted an operating paradigm, that essentially assumes mathematical models, contrived by the human imagination, determine the nature of physical reality. To be scientifically viable, both quantitative and qualitative models of physical reality have to be constructed on the basis of observed phenomena not atavistic cultural conceits and a ridiculously over-blown sense of the infallibility of the human mathematical imagination.

    You cite the FLRW metric’s explicit assumption of homogeneity and isotropy as being unrealistic and it is. But there is also an implicit assumption, that the cosmos can be modeled with that metric. That in turn imposes on the vast cosmos we observe, a universal frame. Friedmann and LRW then solved the field equations of GR for that metric, essentially giving us our modern conception of an expanding “universe”. However, a universal frame is antithetical to General Relativity, so modern cosmology is oxymoronic from its historical point of origin onward. The situation is absurd. Theoretical physics is an unscientific mess.

    1. Why use two terms for the same thing? Because everybody else does. And because those people are usually uncomfortable with people who make up new terms. Yes, electromagnetic radiation is an observable, but what actually is it? People say it’s a field waving, but what’s a field? Something fundamental that you can’t define in terms of anything else? Only there’s supposedly 30 different types of fields, such as electromagnetic fields, electric fields, magnetic fields, gravitational fields, strong force fields, and so on? No Bud, I prefer what Einstein said: a field is a state of space. Light doesn’t curve for nothing. It doesn’t curve because of some mystical curvature in some higher dimension. It doesn’t curve because gravitons are flying around. It curves because space is “neither homogeneous nor isotropic”, like Einstein said. And like Maxwell said, V =√(m/ρ), where “m is the coefficient of transverse elasticity, and ρ is the density”. Only now we say c = 1/√(εₒμₒ). The speed of light depends on the permittivity and permeability of space. We can see that the speed of light varies because optical clocks go slower when they’re lower. Einstein and the evidence says space is real. And Maxwell, and Newton, see query 20. That’s good enough for me. It’s not my “gin-clear ghostly elastic jelly”, it’s theirs. Make sure you read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_theories#General_relativity plus the next paragraph.
      .
      I agree that theoretical physics has adopted a paradigm wherein mathematical models are thought to determine the nature of physical reality. They don’t pay enough attention to the hard scientific evidence because they’re distracted by abstraction. So they come out with absurdities like the speed of light is constant even though those optical clocks say it isn’t. Even though Einstein said it isn’t year after year.
      .
      Friedmann didn’t understand gravity. He didn’t understand that a gravitational field is a place where space is not homogeneous. So he didn’t understand that in a universe where space was homogeneous on the largest scale, there is no gravity. So he didn’t understand that his cannonball universe was flat-out wrong. See John Peacocks’s cosmological physics: “the dynamics of the entire universe are the same as those of a cannonball fired vertically against the Earth’s gravity. Just as the Earth’s gravity defines an escape velocity for projectiles, so a universe that expands sufficiently fast will continue to expand forever. Conversely, for a given rate of expansion there is a critical density that will bring the expansion asymptotically to a halt”. This is just wrong. Space doesn’t fall down where a gravitational field is. The universe was never going to collapse.
      .
      I don’t have an issue with a universal frame because of the CMB reference frame, and because the universe is as absolute as it gets. I’m a relativity guy, but I think people take the frame-invariant thing too far. We don’t have gamma ray bursters for nothing. But yes, theoretical physics is an unscientific mess.
      .
      PS: I took a look at your website, and liked your list of points up until number 13. I think matter as energy in a closed path, that’s all. I think it was de Broglie who said it first, then Schrodinger, then Darwin, then Born and Infeld, then Bohm. Then others like Williamson and van der Mark and Hu. But for some strange reason nobody seems to know about it.

  8. Bud Rapanault

    “…Einstein said: a field is a state of space.”

    Einstein also said: There is no such thing as an empty space, i.e. a space without field. Space-time does not claim existence on its own, but only as a structural quality of the field. (Relativity The Special And General Theory, 15th edition, Appendix 5)

    This came late in life, 1952, so I think of it as pretty much his last words on the subject. I interpret this as meaning that space and time are relational descriptions of the field, not the other way around. Like you, I seek to ground my understanding of Relativity Theory on Einstein’s clear and logical commentaries, compared to which the modern account of GR and its physical meaning seems nothing more than unscientific gibberish.

    Here is what I see as the crux of our disagreement re space:

    The speed of light depends on the permittivity and permeability of space.

    Instead of space, I would substitute the omnidirectionally-sourced electromagnetic field that permeates the cosmos. The difference between the two is that the latter is an observable and the former is not. Which means that the latter can and should be observed, measured and experimented on. Doing so, would provide a solid observational basis for formulating a realistic theoretical model of the cosmos. It may even be, that a great deal of valuable evidence is currently available about the cosmic electromagnetic field. It just needs to be put together in a coherent qualitative model. Good luck trying to get any of our “professional physicists” to try that.

    The CMB data is an obvious component, but only a component, of any account, but it does not support the standard model as you seem to think. There are numerous anomalies, not the least of which is “…alignment of the lowest multipole moments with one another and with the motion and geometry of the Solar System”. See here.

    Also, the CMB was not accurately predicted by the big bang model as often claimed. Right up until the 1965 detection BB predictions ranged over an order of magnitude: See here.

    Modern physics may believe there are 30 fields but only one is observed – the electromagnetic field. The rest are the modern day equivalent of epicycles. Theoretical physicists are reality challenged. They sees things that aren’t there and can’t see what is there.

    I like your picture of matter as an energy knot but it seems overly reductive to say matter is a form of energy. You can just as easily say that energy is a form of matter. If I define matter as any 3-dimensionally localized object with rest mass and energy as 4-dimensional, non-local, electromagnetic radiation, then I have the two fundamental, reciprocating states of the cosmos that are the basis of all of the observed matter-energy systems of the cosmos. That’s what’s there. Energy comes from matter and matter is formed from energy, everything else arises as a derivative of those two states in the context of hybrid matter-energy systems.

    A quick caveat about my site. It’s a ramshackle affair that is neither a proper website nor a blog. I use it as a kind of bulletin board/repository. The home page is usually something I’m working on at the moment. As is the case now, it’s seldom a finished product.

    1. Sorry I haven’t got back to you before now Bud. Work has been a bitch. We’ve got people off sick and I’ve had to cover for them, and then when I knock off I’m not in the mood for more time on this pissy little laptop that’s making my eyes water.
      .
      I’m happy with what Einstein said about there is no such thing as empty space. Space is not nothing. It exists, and it is something fundamental. You like to call this thing field, I like to call it space. That’s because I think of the electromagnetic field as twisted space, the gravitational field as inhomogeneous space, and so on. This makes it difficult for me to use the name “field” for this fundamental thing. While you think of it is some electromagnetic field that permeates the cosmos, I think it is the cosmos. The funny thing about light is that it isn’t always observable. Look up to the clear night sky. I did that last night, and I looked at the big full Moon. I could see the light from the Moon that entered my eye, so I could see the Moon. But I couldn’t see the light that went past the Moon. The light that was travelling through space. Everybody else calls it space, so that’s what I prefer. I expect we’ll just have to agree to differ on the name of it.
      .
      All points noted re the CMB. I’m not confident the Big Bang model is right, I’m confident there’s lots wrong with the Standard Model of Cosmology, and I just hate inflation. These are some of my thoughts: https://physicsdetective.com/the-big-bang/
      .
      ”They sees things that aren’t there and can’t see what is there”. So true. People go on and on about abstract things that do not exist, and cannot see the bleedin’ obvious things that do.
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      Yes, you could say energy is a form of matter, because the “distinction between space and matter shall fade away”. That’s something Einstein said, and I like it. I also like See does matter differ from vacuum? by Christoph Schiller. The answer is no. Yes, energy comes from matter and matter is formed from energy, but I also say energy and space are the same thing. Noted re your site. Keep on truckin’ Bud. It’s good to talk.

  9. Bud Rapanault

    John, we certainly agree pretty much on the big picture so the, is it space or energy, question is just semantics I guess. I do, however see the matter/energy duality as an irreducible minimum. Saying it’s just one or the other obliterates the dynamics that underlie all of physics. Regards, it’s always a pleasure.

    1. I agree with that Bud. Sorry if I said something that suggested otherwise. I think energy is the thing that’s fundamental. That’s the thing we can neither create nor destroy. We can destroy matter in electron-positron annihilation. Heck, we can even destroy a very small percentage of matter in something as simple as a fire. Because matter is just energy in a closed path. I really like Hans Ohanian’s 1984 paper what is spin? He said “the means for filling the gap have been at hand since 1939, when Belinfante established that the spin could be regarded as due to a circulating flow of energy”.

  10. Bud Rapanault

    The problem I have with “…energy is the thing that’s fundamental” or “…matter is just energy in a closed path”, is that energy becomes a vague, ill-defined, and abstract concept without a clear and precise empirical correlate. For an illustration of this just consider the wiki entry for energy. The closest thing to a concrete definition is, “In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object.” So energy is a quantitative property, but a property of what exactly? Whatever happens to have a property that can be used to perform work on or to heat something else?? And what specifically is that property?
    By contrast, if you define fundamental energy as electromagnetic radiation, you have said something concrete and it is straightforward to suggest that all other types of energy are derivative forms that arise in hybrid matter-energy systems. So I guess I’m arguing for definitional clarity as necessary to the scientific project.

    1. Me too. I’m also arguing for definitional clarity. Einstein said the mass of a body is a measure of its energy-content, and I think he was right. Energy is not just “the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object”. That object is made of energy. The simplest example is the electron. Annihilate it with a positron and you typically see two 511keV photons departing at the speed of light. Each has an E=hf wave nature. Each is electromagnetic radiation. As per Einstein’s E=mc² paper, a photon conveys energy from the emitting body to the absorbing bodies. The emitting body loses mass as a result, and the absorbing body gains it.
      .
      Our difference is that I think of the photon as one form of energy, the neutrino as another, a black hole as another, and so on. In the end I see space itself as a form of energy. I think of the photon as a pulse of space propagating through space. I think of a gravitational field as a region of space where space is denser. That’s why “the energy of the gravitational field shall act gravitatively in the same way as any other kind of energy”. IMHO another name for a region of denser space, is dark matter.

  11. Bud Rapanault

    Space remains for me a human concept that has no empirically observable correlate. It is useful as a relational concept like temperature but lacks any evidence for its substantival existence. With regard to the energy question it is unclear to me what your definition of energy is. In other words in the context of a “photon as one form of energy”, what does that energy consist of?

    1. the physics detective

      Sorry, I thought I’d answered this comment. IMHO the energy consists of space. The photon is a pulse of space propagating through space. Around it is a spatial displacement, a distortion, and there is no edge to it. I think it’s like the pictures I drew here. I say this because of what James Clerk Maxwell’s said in On Physical Lines of Force. He talked about displacement current, and said light consists of “transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena”. Think about it: when an ocean wave moves through the sea, the sea waves. When a seismic wave moves through the ground, the ground waves. So, what waves when a light wave moves through space? The answer has just got to be space.
      .
      Apologies for repeating myself. But imagine you have some block of gin-clear ghostly elastic jelly, with grid lines in it. You slide a hypodermic needle into the centre of the block, and inject more jelly. It creates a displacement, a distortion in the surrounding jelly. Stress is directional pressure, the pressure is outwards, and Einstein’s equation Gμν = 8πTμν is modelling the way gin-clear ghostly elastic space is conditioned by the energy in space. But don’t forget that you added jelly to represent energy, and that the jelly also represents space.
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      That’s how I see it Bud. It’s “pure marble” geometry, and nothing else. Clifford was the first to come up with it, I think. OK you don’t see it like I do, so let’s just agree to differ on that.

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