Existence Demands Resistance
The idea of an all pervading, invisible medium is among the most ancient of ideas coming to us from virtually all the early civilizations. In the western world it was first introduced as the spirit, or "Breath of God". In the Hindu mythology, Brahma breathes the universe out through his nose only to inhale it and thus start the cycle over again; the intermediate manifestation (our physical reality) being Maya, or great illusion. This Hindu mechanism is sometimes called the “causal body”, or Golden Lotus. In the ancient Chinese tradition, there is Chi, which means "vital breath" or ether, the cosmic energy that animates the entire universe.
In science, this idea was first called the aether, then luminiferous aether, quasi-rigid ether, gravitational ether and finally came to be known simply as "the field". This was adopted from Maxwell's electromagnetic field and was less infested with mystical and other unscientific connotations. But whether one calls it spirit, ether or the field, an everywhere-always, invisible medium is a necessary concept in physics because forces, waves and gravitational potentials cannot be imagined to exist without something to propagate through.
Einstein made the statement that “There is no ether wind”, and that the prevailing concept of the ether was no longer needed. And because of this, it has been almost universally accepted that the ether no longer exists. But this is a deliberate misinterpretation and simply untrue. For in 1918 he stated that “We may assume the existence of the ether; only we must give up ascribing a state of motion to it...”1 So why do the textbooks and popular paperbacks continue this misunderstanding? "The special theory of relativity forbids us to assume the ether to consist of particles through time..."2 In other words, the ether is a wave medium; not a transmitter of particles. And the new physics sees everything in terms of particles, even gravity:
Einstein always hated the quantum world. Otherwise, he might have realized that his curved space and time is due to gadzillion's of gravitons sashaying around. As a child jumps out of the jungle gym, gravitons zing back and forth like crazy between the child and the earth.3
To me, this is utter nonsense. Both the graviton and the tachyon (a particle that could travel beyond light speed) or worse, the chronon (a particle of time!), are pure science fiction, neither having been even remotely detected. They exist conceptually because the Copenhagen version of quantum mechanics is forced to conceive of things only by way of the particle.
Ironically, Einstein was very influential in the early development of quantum theory. But to him, particles of matter were not hard little singular points, but "distributed energy" that coalesced into "condensations". And they reflected only half of our dualistic environment:
Since according to our present conceptions the elementary particles of matter are also, in their essence, nothing more than condensations of the electromagnetic field, our present view of the universe presents two realities which are completely separated from each other conceptually, although connected causally, namely, gravitational ether and electromagnetic field, or—as they might also be called—space and matter.
Since nature is most definitely dualistic in all physical aspects, this is what one should expect. He then concludes unequivocally about the ether:
To deny the ether is ultimately to assume that empty space has no physical qualities whatsoever. Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time, nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense.4 (emphasis in bold is added)
I must emphasize the phrase "space without ether is unthinkable." For many authors poke fun at its tattered history while invoking Einstein's authority for its eventual demise.
Einstein's gravitational concept was influenced by Ernst Mach, the famous Austrian physicist who thought that the inertia we perceive is the product of the total system of stars; or that “matter there effects inertia here.” By invoking “Mach's principle” Einstein was led to a new ether “which has to serve as a medium for the effects of inertia... Mach's ether [is different because it] not only conditions the behavior of inert masses, but is also conditioned in its state by them”5 (Hence, a more formal, perhaps original version of “Matter tells space how to curve and space tells matter how to move.”)
But what is it about matter and space that allow them to condition each other? What is it that defies detection, seems to have no measurable qualities whatsoever, yet is able to govern the orbits of massive bodies and in turn be influenced by them? And how in the world can something so barren as space be "endowed with physical qualities."
No point is more central than this. That empty space is not empty. It is the seat of the most violent physics. The electromagnetic field fluctuates. Virtual pairs of positive and negative electrons, in effect, are continually being created and annihilated... All these fluctuations coexist with the quantum fluctuations in the geometry and topology of space.6
Empty space is another visual illusion brought about by common sense. For it certainly looks empty, as does the earth look flat; as does a glass of water look pure; as does the sun look to be rising and setting, etc. But space is a beehive of activity. The sun alone pours out an estimated 4.6 million tons of mass-energy every second! Add to this, that “Thermodynamic considerations suggest that the universe should be filled with neutrino radiation and perhaps gravitational radiation.”7
Andre Sakharov, the famous Russian physicist-turned political activist, saw gravitation as the “elasticity” of space; “a statistical measure of residual energies.”8 This is the point I'm trying to stress here. Because residual energy from all ponderable matter, force fields and all mass-energy radiation could combine, propagate in waveform and come from every direction in space. And wave propagation has some very peculiar properties:
It is as if one dropped a plank into the sea from a height of 100 feet, and found that the spreading ripple was able, after traveling 1000 miles and becoming infinitesimal in comparison with the original amount, to act upon a wooden ship in such a way that a plank of that ship flew out of its place to a height of 100 feet.9
In addition, waves can combine in strength. Also, waves of opposing directions can pass through one another temporarily distorting each other only to emerge again remembering their exact same strength and shape. And these are just observations of material waves in a dense medium. Immaterial waves in the near vacuum of space may have properties not even imaginable. And this brings us to one of Einstein's most controversial subjects.
The pundits of modern science have misinterpreted the concept of the fourth dimension. To them it is visually inconceivable and exists only as a very complex mathematical entity. However, we've seen otherwise. They have ignored the importance and meaning of the principle of equivalence and still teach that inertia offsets gravity. But we've seen that inertia is gravity, thus disallowing the fictional explanation of the falling bodies mystery. They conveniently forgot that gravity is no longer “attraction”, or even a “force”, then continue to teach that it is both. But we’ve seen otherwise. Then they misapprehended the need and the meaning of the ether. They said it doesn't exist because Einstein said so. But he has just said the opposite. And, as if this weren't enough, they have misunderstood the history and overall importance of the most controversial aspect of general relativity, the cosmical or "cosmological constant". Here's how it came about, why it haunts the new physics, and its ultimate significance in the understanding of gravitation and the rest of physical reality.
The gravitational field is in its nature such as if it were produced, not only by the ponderable masses, but also by a mass-density of negative sign, distributed uniformly throughout space. Since this factitious mass-density would have to be enormously small, it could make its presence felt only in gravitating systems of very great extent.10
This “mass-density of negative sign” has evolved into a force of repulsion, which gains strength in proportion to distance (This is the opposite of Newtonian attraction which loses its strength by inverse proportion to distance.).
Einstein introduced the cosmical constant in 1917, a year and a half after the general theory of relativity. It was found that a static universe—as most scientists believed it was—was not possible without it. For the solution of his own equations showed that “there is in the universe a tendency to change its scale.”11 And when Edwin Hubble discovered the galactic “red-shift”, which meant that the universe was expanding spatially, Einstein eventually, under the pressure of his peers, denounced the cosmical term's value calling it his "biggest blunder".
But the term stayed. For it filled a conceptual void. And once the idea took hold it became impossible to get rid of it. As Sir Arthur Eddington tells us:
...based on a fundamental necessity of physical space, the position of the cosmical constant seems to me impregnable; and if ever the theory of relativity falls into disrepute the cosmical constant will be the last stronghold to collapse. To drop the cosmical constant would be to knock the bottom out of space.12
Through the years, the expanding "big bang" universe came to be the standard model in cosmology. It fit snugly into the overall picture of a long, slow, linear evolution (sometimes called the "doctrine of uniformity"). Also, it allied nicely with both Darwinian and quantum randomness. And the big bang explosion, accepted as the most probable explanation for the red-shift expansion, became the mechanism that drove the universe. Consequently, an offsetting repulsive force became a touchy, if not disdainful, subject among the scientific community.
Many writers have criticized Einstein for adding the cosmical term simply to make his theory confirm to his beliefs. It's been referred to as "arbitrary", "cheating", a "fudge-factor" and so on. But again, history gives quite another story. Willem de Sitter, one of the giants in modern cosmology, tells us:
The field equations in their most general form, contain a term multiplied by a constant, which is denoted by the Greek letter λ [lambda], and which is sometimes called the “cosmological constant”... It is put in the equations to give them the greatest degree of mathematical generality... At first, in Einstein's paper of November 1915, in which the theory reached its final form, the term with λ was simply omitted, in other words, λ was to have the special value zero.13
So Einstein didn't arbitrarily invent the constant as he's been so often accused. It was part of his original thoughts and original equations. Even Georges Lamaitre, the “father” of the expanding universe, agrees:
Cosmic repulsion is not a special hypothesis introduced to avoid the difficulties which are presented in the study of the universe. If Einstein re-introduced it in his work on cosmology, it is because he remembered having arbitrarily dropped it when he established the equations of gravitation.14
So to "recapitulate", in 1917 Einstein realized a static solution to his equations was not possible without the term, so he "re-introduced" it in order to give it value. It could have positive or negative value allowing the universe to expand or contract accordingly. When it was found that the universe did in fact expand, he dropped the term since its value must be reduced to zero. And although it represented something that will probably never be directly measurable (at least with any degree of certainty), it fit the conceptual scheme so well that it was continued.
Now we've not resurrected these ideas in order to dispute either the expanding universe or the big bang explosion. For concerning the former, the universe most certainly expands. And concerning the latter, the big bang's necessity as a mechanism completely evaporates into the silly notion it was and still is. Because our universe (“one-verse”) is its own mechanism.
The primary motive in exploring the history of the ether and the cosmological constant is to expose Einstein's original thoughts about gravitation; to remind the reader that these ideas came about through, perhaps, the most gifted and powerful scientific intuition modern man has ever known. For in 1915, there was but scant evidence and natural precedence for a repulsive force: neutrino radiation, cosmic rays and the "violent physics" of the vacuum were unheard of. This is also true of the recently discovered cosmic microwave radiation, which, coincidentally, comes from every direction in space equally. It's also true of the coincidental tendency for space to show a baffling equilibrium; no matter which direction one looks, the behavior is the same, the temperature is the same and the average density seems the same. The gravitational ether and the cosmical constant are not something to be resurrected for they have never died. They are being united, confirmed, nurtured and allowed to grow, as it were, into a newly evolved structure.
It must not be assumed that these ideas are no longer in vogue. For the drama continues to this day. The ether, Mach's principle and the cosmical constant are all subjects involved in many theories and discussions at the frontiers of science. In fact, in quantum field theory (the standard model), the violent physics of the vacuum seem to create an enormous negative-value self-energy that is suspicious indeed, as Richard Morris tells us:
Since energy and mass are equivalent, this energy should have significant gravitational effects. In fact this vacuum energy should create a force precisely like that associated with the cosmological constant.15
(There's that word "precisely" again)
And recently from the internet:
With the recent discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, the so-called cosmological constant - the anti-gravity introduced by Einstein in 1917 to prevent his static massive universe from collapsing - is making a remarkable come-back…….. Einstein may have the last laugh. (Prof.. Michel Janssen,[ sic] U of Minnesota)
Let's consider this negative self-energy for a moment. Just what kind of behavior would a four-dimensional, spreading electron have on its immediate environment? If one could inflate a balloon in a container of water, one would see that the displacement expands the water proportionally. In a similar fashion, a spreading electron must create havoc in the medium surrounding it. And since an electron's charge is entirely negative, then it must necessarily repel itself. That is, a concentrated negative charge should make the electron either disintegrate, dissipate, fly apart, expand or explode!
The matter of self effects has always plagued physicists. It occurs, for example, as an inevitable contradiction between the ideas of an elementary particle and the force field it manifests... Why doesn't the electron explode under the action of its own repulsive forces?... Why doesn't the mutual repulsion of all this concentrated negative charge force the electron to fly apart?... Is the electron immune to its own force? How is this possible?16 (Roger S. Jones)
And these questions are answered in the only way science has found to negate the physical existence of infinity:
...the electron should explode!.. We have not found a satisfactory theory for the interior forces of the electron, but now get around the difficulty by assuming the electron has no interior. It is a point charge with no dimensions, and thus cannot repel itself.17 (Barry Parker)
Pretend it doesn't exist and the problem disappears. Or, as Bertrand Russell confesses, shun the responsibility entirely:
The atom may consist entirely of the radiation that comes out of it...[and]...It is useless to argue that radiations cannot come out of nothing... Modern physics, therefore, reduces matter to a set of events which proceed outward from a center. If there is something further in the center itself, we cannot know about it, and it is irrelevant to physics.18
And Born augments this "sweep it under the rug" tendency with a warning:
...quantum theory has shifted the point of view, and at the present the tendency is to circumvent the problem of self-energy rather than solve it. But one day it will return to the center of the scene.19
But it has never returned to "the center of the scene."
The problem of this infinite self-energy is solved conceptually, in the same manner as the matter wave, by assuming it doesn't exist and is of no consequence. The problem is solved mathematically by subtracting an arbitrarily added infinity from the unacceptable infinity that's calculated ( ∞ - ∞ = 0), a process aptly called "renormalization". The problem is solved "physically" by inventing scores of short lived "virtual" particles and fields; a process justified, nay, a consequence of, the uncertainty principle! Now isn't this just a little too much? Wolfgang Pauli thought so:
At the end of this lecture I may express my critical opinion, that a correct theory should neither lead to infinite zero-point energies nor to infinite zero charges, that it should not use mathematical tricks to subtract infinities or singularities, nor should it invent a “hypothetical world” which is only a mathematical fiction before it is able to formulate the correct interpretation of the actual world of physics.20
Pauli was an impressive figure in the production of the new physics, but his disenchantment and scathing criticisms went unheeded. Somehow, success seems to be equated with truth, thus creating its own justification.
It is highly probable that all scientific theories are wrong. Those that we accept are verifiable within our present limits of observation. Truth, then, in science, is a pragmatic affair. Science has adopted the pragmatic criterion of truth, namely success, and as a result science has become successful. (J.W.N. Sullivan)
(I.E., science is successful by definition!)
The reason that the electron doesn't explode is the same reason we find ourselves stuck, so to speak, to this planet. It simply finds its catharsis in expansion, for that would be the most natural tendency for any object with internal self-energy (i.e., the pressure inside of a balloon). Especially, an infinite self-energy. And this 4-d action must necessarily effect its surrounding environment by causing a spatial displacement, a reverberation in waveform that would eventually combine with every atomic event in our universe.
The mystery of the electron's intrinsic self-energy and the fact that it should explode, plus the mystery of gravitational acceleration and the equal “falling” of unequal bodies, plus the origin of inertia and the source of the cosmical constant—not to mention the existence of the fourth dimension—is solved by viewing the explosion as its spreading, extending, growing and radiating existence. For, “Natures source of movement is always from within itself. Indeed, it is itself.”21
Starting with the spatial displacement cause by a spreading electron (negative self-energy), we can begin to see how a force of resistance could be generated. As Paul Davies said, “Negative energy and pressure can arise in quantum processes, and behave in such a way as to gravitate repulsively.”22
Then if we multiply this effect by every atomic and sub-atomic reaction in our universe, we are confronted with ample—if not compelling—justification for a subtle, invisible and immeasurable conditioning factor throughout our universe (indeed, a one-way, mechanical, attractive force, which has been believed for over 300 years, has no justification or natural precedence whatsoever!). Because it's a wave phenomena propagating almost entirely in a friction free medium, it could combine and gather strength over distance. 'Precisely' like the highly coincidental 30K background radiation, it would come from every direction the same (isotropic and homogenous). And being so rarefied and subtle, it must contain the ability to pressurize, pass through, react with—and be acted upon—mass-energy, which is itself mostly empty space.
But a well-justified resistant force still does not give us an explanation of curved space or the many complexities and machinations of gravity and (or) inertia. For this we must only question our long-ingrained, common sense notion of attraction.