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Tam Hunt

Santa Barbara CA

Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 26

Concepts of energy vis a vis NKS

A possible paradox in the Standard Model of particle physics arises when we consider a powerful lighthouse shining its beam on a far off planet. As the beam moves, the circle of light at the end of the beam moves much faster than the rotation of the lighthouse itself, as a function of distance from the lighthouse. If we imagine the beam striking a planet millions of light years away, the circle of light may move far faster than the speed of light.

The "motion of effects" argument is asserted to preserve the theory of relativity's dictate that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Under this argument, no information is actually traveling faster than the speed of light, as the circle of light that appears to be moving very rapidly is actually an artifact.

We may assume this to be true, but a paradox remains nonetheless when we consider the photon theory of light, under the Standard Model. Under this theory, it seems that actual photons can move transversely at faster than the speed of light - again as a function of distance from the lighthouse itself. The more distant the planet from the lighthouse, the faster the photons will move transversely as the lighthouse rotates.

So under the Standard Model's notion of light as comprised of photons, the speed of light appears to be broken in this thought experiment.

It also seems, then, that a better conception of light is as the transfer of information through some medium - let's call it the ether. The ether is not a physical medium. Rather, it may be conceived as a non-physical (non-actual) network that underlies all of actuality (matter and space). The light beam is then actually merely the transfer of information through this medium between the lighthouse and the far off planet. Light, and all electromagnetic radiation, is better conceived as the set of rules for how electromagnetically charged particles move in relation to each other. The way in which this information occurs may be modeled through an NKS methodology. This conception of the ether has been fleshed out in some regards in Reg Cahill's process physics.

Thoughts?

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Old Post 10-27-2008 03:29 AM
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Jason Cawley
Wolfram Science Group
Phoenix, AZ USA

Registered: Aug 2003
Posts: 712

Just a misunderstanding, it seems to me.

You can change what you point a lighthouse at as fast as you please, but nobody at the other end will notice until however long later it takes for photons to get there. Say the lighthouse is 1000 LY from the planet, and they are at rest with respect to each other throughout. Turn the beam on for the first time, and set the beam directly on the planet and leave it there for 500 years. Has anyone on the planet seen anything yet? No, and won't for 500 years more. Now move the beam off the planet in one second and leave it on its new bearing for 100 years, then return it for 100, and repeat. Does anyone on the planet see anything yet? No, and won't for 400 more years. Then they will see a constant steady light for 500 years, then nothing for 100 years. Then a steady light for 100 years, etc.

The illusion consists in imagining that the beam is a rigid body 1000 LY long and moves instantaneously when the source changes direction. It isn't and it doesn't. It is a continuous stream of (in effect) separated particles (OK, field quanta, close enough in this context), and any change at the source only propagates along the new direction at the same speed as the older particles.

Now, put a shutter in front of the beam and open and close it many millions of times a second, thereby generating a stream of intelligible bits for anyone receiving the beam, like a megabyte modem. Does each opening or closing of the shutter need to take 1000 years? No, not remotely. But nothing will be seen at the other end until 1000 years have passed on the clocks at either location. After that 1000 years of link-up time has past, the signal will arrive at megabytes per second. But it will reflect a physical state (and an information set available) at the sending source that is 1000 years old, not one that is current.

There is no connection whatever between the rates of state switches internal to the signal and its origination-age. The latter appears simply as a lag at the front of the sequence. That is all special relativity requires, and all it means by the light speed communication limit.

Next there is the apparent motion version of the misunderstanding. Imagine a sequence of receivors spread out in a circular arc 1000 LY from the source, over 100 LY of arc-length. Now sweep the beam back and forth from one end of that receivor arc to the other. Clearly, you can do this millions of times per second too, if you like, same as the modem example. There will still be the same 1000 year lag before any of them see anything. Then each will receive the sweeping beam as a series of pulses, when the beam is over that receivor instead of one of the others.

Are the receivors communicating with the source faster than light? No, not remotely - it took 1000 years for them to see anything and each is in the same situation as the modem case above. Are the receivors somehow communicating with *each other* faster than light? No, they aren't communicating with each other at all, they are just all receiving from aka watching the same external source.

The last is what is actually occurring in the SPR experiments using actual QM effects and entangled photons, which will arrive at one receivor or the other but not at both. Although there are people who would dispute that, I am well aware, that is my own considered view of the matter.

There is nothing wrong with viewing electromagnetism as laws for the interaction of charged bodies at a distance, nor with e.g. thinking of the distant star being seen here by a human eye as reflecting an electron in the star "bumping" an electron in the eye, as the event "a photon was exchanged". The natural norm distance along a geodesic of light is 0, so it should not surprise that they can bump each other. But that distance is composed of offsetting space-like and time-like components, and both of those being equal but separately non-zero is not the same as both of them being 0. There is nothing wrong with thinking of this as a causal network among charged bodies in interaction with one another across space-time distances.

But the mere redirection of a beam of light has nothing paradoxical about it, in SR or otherwise, and does not require any of those additional perspectives or ideas to understand it.

I hope this helps.

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Old Post 10-27-2008 04:53 PM
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Tam Hunt

Santa Barbara CA

Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 26

More difficulties with relativity

Thanks Jason, this is helpful in clarifying my thinking on this.

A related issue for you to gnaw on:

Einstein’s special and general relativity theories hold that time and space are malleable, as a result of the postulate that the speed of light is constant for any observer. However, the conclusion that time and space are malleable arises from Einstein’s definitions of time and simultaneity in relation to the speed of light. He describes, in his 1916 book, a person trying to determine if two lightning flashes are simultaneous, in the following scenario: a length of rail track is chosen and a mirror is placed at each end (points A and B). The physicist sits on the track exactly at the mid-point of the two mirrors (point M). If the lightning flashes, which in this hypothetical situation fall exactly on both mirrors, are reflected by the mirrors to the observer at the mid-point, the lightning flashes are, by definition, simultaneous.

The interesting conclusion in the theory of special relativity arises when we consider the same events occurring from the perspective of an observer on a train traveling on the same length of track. The observer on the train will not perceive the two flashes of lightning simultaneously. This is the case because the observer on the moving train is moving toward one of the lightning flashes, reducing the time it takes for light from the lightning flash to arrive at the observer’s location, and away from the other lightning flash. Due to this definition of simultaneity, simultaneity is, for Einstein, different for different observers.

Einstein writes:

"There is only one demand to be made of the definition of simultaneity, namely, that in every real case it must supply us with an empirical decision as to whether or not the conception that has to be defined is fulfilled. That my definition satisfies this demand is indisputable. That light requires the same time to traverse the path A to M as for the path B to M is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own free will in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity."

In other words, to arrive at a way of empirically determining simultaneity, Einstein stipulates (postulates) that the speed of light is constant for any observer and thus arrives at a definition of simultaneity that ultimately leads to an ontological statement about the nature of time, space and motion. This is a stunning passage when we consider that much of the last hundred of years of physics has shoehorned itself into the special and general theories of relativity. If a theory conflicts with relativity theory, it is by default considered invalid by almost all physicists. Yet Einstein’s entire theoretical structure is built on nothing more than an attempt to allow for measurement of simultaneity – in a rather arbitrary manner that contradicts our most closely held intuitions about the nature of space, time and free will.

Epistemological limitations should not, however, be converted into an ontological strait jacket. There is of course more than “one demand to be made of the definition of simultaneity,” as Einstein discusses. Another demand that cannot be ignored is that such a definition not lead to paradox. (Perhaps foreseeing the potential for paradox in his theory, Einstein stated in his 1905 paper: “We assume that this definition of synchronism is free from contradictions …”).

Einstein goes even further, suggesting that time itself – not just simultaneity – depends entirely on the observer’s vantage point: “We are thus led also to a definition of ‘time’ in physics. … [W]e understand by the ‘time’ of an event the reading … of one of these clocks which is in the immediate vicinity (in space) of the [lightning flash]. In this manner a time-value is associated with every event which is essentially capable of observation.” Einstein has in these passages defined time and simultaneity in such a way that allows for an empirical determination of simultaneity. This theoretical structure, however, did not take into account the actual nature of time, the actual speed of light or its constancy (or lack thereof, which is a debated topic now with the various "variable speed of light" theories recently developed), or other consequences flowing from such a conception of time and simultaneity. Nor did Einstein consider fully other alternatives that would equally well allow for an empirical determination of simultaneity.

Einstein concludes: “Now before the advent of the theory of relativity it had always tacitly been assumed in physics that the statement of time had an absolute significance, i.e., that it is independent of the state of motion of the body of reference. But we have just seen that this assumption is incompatible with the most natural definition of simultaneity….” Einstein quickly dismissed alternatives to his hypothetical method for measuring simultaneity (he discussed only one other possibility in his original 1905 paper), so it is not clear what he means by “the most natural definition” of simultaneity and time. The physicist Hans Ohanian supports this view with his statement in 2008 book, Einstein’s Mistakes:

"Einstein failed to consider all possible variants of the use of light signals and clocks for measurements of the speed of light. Einstein was very inventive, but he had a one-track mind, and after he was stuck by his mystical inspiration about clock synchronization by light signals he ceased to think about alternatives. If he had thought about it a bit longer, maybe he would have come up with a dozen alternative methods for measuring the one-way speed of light."

A more natural method for measuring simultaneity would seem to be to synchronize accurate clocks and place such clocks at A and B. The clocks would have to be capable of registering when a flash of lighting occurs. If the clocks show the exact same time (to the desired level of precision) for lightning flashes at A and B, the lightning flashes are, in this alternative formulation, considered simultaneous. Such a method was theoretically possible at the turn of the 20th Century, even if clocks were not particularly accurate at that time. In this alternative method for establishing simultaneity, no postulate about the speed of light, in a vacuum or in our atmosphere, constant or not, is necessary. And an observed simultaneity will hold true for any observer capable of reading the clocks at any point after the events have occurred, remotely or at the actual site, no matter what the observers’ motion is relative to the other.

The empirical evidence in favor of special and general relativity is a matter for another post/forum, but even if we accept the empirical evidence we may still challenge the unreasonable foundations of relativity theory on the way to finding a better theory that explains the evidence just as well.

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Old Post 10-29-2008 04:36 AM
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Jason Cawley
Wolfram Science Group
Phoenix, AZ USA

Registered: Aug 2003
Posts: 712

Sorry, I really don't expect any holes to be poked in special relativity, philosophical or otherwise. It is an everyday technical reality in particle accelerators (and lots more). Nature simply doesn't play by Galileo, it plays by Lorentz. It is entirely possible the heroic extension of those ideas to general relativity (accelerated, not just inertial frames) as a theory of gravity equaling pure spatial distortion, may prove only approximately correct, for various reasons - although it remains our best theory of gravity to date. GR may fail in the small (it can't be quantized, therefore doesn't fit our best physical theories) or in the large (dark everything can be viewed as fudge factors for it on large enough scales). But I sincerely doubt anyone is going to throw away Lorentz invariance for inertial frames, or anything that goes with it.

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Old Post 10-29-2008 03:27 PM
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Tam Hunt

Santa Barbara CA

Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 26

More on SR and GR

Jason, it is perhaps strange to be questioning the foundations of SR and GR a century after they became widely accepted as valid. However, there are a number of new books that are indeed challenging or questioning the foundations in various ways, including John Moffat's Reinventing Gravity and Lee Smolin's The Trouble With Physics (a less frontal critique). This is the case because it's become clear that, as you write, GR at least is incomplete. The dark matter and dark energy patches offered to explain anomalies in cosmological evidence are unconvincing and, as you also write, at very small scales GR and QM disagree. And all the efforts to date to create a valid theory of quantum gravity have failed.

So I think it's fair to go back and really examine the foundations of SR and GR. This is what I've done in the previous post (which is actually an excerpt from a book I'm writing). I would appreciate your further comment if you're so inclined because I have not heard a rebuttal from anyone re my specific criticism of Einstein's epistemological > ontological leap. This is a hugely important distinction, as you know, and yet it seems to have been accepted by just about everyone as somehow valid.

Reading Isaacson's recent biography of Einstein is revealing. It's very well done and is certainly no hagiography. It reveals how Einstein's unique personality, with his grace and wit, and his obvious "mad scientist" persona, was able to sway people to his views. Interestingly, his Nobel Prize was not for his work on relativity, but for his work on the photoelectric effect. The Nobel Prize committee pointedly rejected his work on relativity, saying it was unfounded.

Anyway, I would appreciate your thoughts on the key step that Einstein makes in defining simultaneity and time through resolution of an epistemological problem that existed at his time (a peculiarly Swiss problem that preoccupied many thinkers at the time due to difficulties in synchronizing Swiss public clocks).

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Old Post 10-30-2008 03:01 PM
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Tam Hunt

Santa Barbara CA

Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 26

PS

In my working theory, modeled fairly closely on Reg Cahill's process physics, Lorentzian relativity is in fact the preferred theory. Lorentz's relativity theory (as well as Fitzgerald's) held that length contraction does indeed occur at very high speeds, but this contraction is due to electromagnetic interaction with the ether. Time dilation was a result of the Lorentz transformations (which are used in both Lorentzian relativity and Einsteinian relativity), but Lorentz viewed time dilation as a mathematical result that did not reflect the real universe.

Einsteinian relativity holds that space and time are in fact malleable, so length contraction at high speeds results not from EM interaction with the ether but from the contraction of space itself (and thus contraction of matter in that space). Similarly, he believed that time dilation was ontologically real, as evidenced by his famous quote about time being a stubbornly persistent illusion.

So Lorentzian relativity can in fact explain the observed phenomena quite well, but it requires reconsidering the reality of the "ether." Interestingly, Einstein's early work (particularly his famous 1905 paper on SR) suggested the ether was a superfluous entity. However, in his later work Einstein actually argued in favor of the ether, not as the "luminiferous ether," an actual substance that filled space, but rather as the properties of space itself. Lorentz and Cahill argue along the same lines that the ether should be considered the precursor to space itself. Lorentz, while accepting parts of Einsteinian relativity, held to his death that the ether was a real entity and never fully accepted Einsteinian relativity.

Accordingly, it seems that a different genius - Lorentz - may have come up wth the better theory about relativistic effects resulting from high speeds.

NKS is now implicated in terms of modeling how the ether behaves. The ether may be conceptualized as a cellular automaton grid that pervades the entire universe. Again, Cahill's work on "gebits" pursues these ideas in great detail.

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Old Post 10-30-2008 03:11 PM
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