Posts Tagged ‘Space’

Is “Spacetime” Important?

November 3, 2015

Revolutions spawn from, and contributes to, the revolutionary mood. It is no coincidence that many revolutionary ideas in science: Chemistry (Lavoisier), Biological Evolution (Lamarck), Lagrangians, Black Holes,, Fourier Analysis, Thermodynamics (Carnot), Wave Optics, (Young, Poisson), Ampere’s Electrodynamics spawned roughly at the same time and place, around the French Revolution.

In the Encyclopedie, under the term dimension Jean le Rond d’Alembert speculated that time might be considered a fourth dimension… if the idea was not too novel. Joseph Louis Lagrange in his ), wrote that: “One may view mechanics as a geometry of four dimensions…” (Theory of Analytic Functions, 1797.) The idea of spacetime is to view reality as a four dimensional manifold, something measured by the “Real Line” going in four directions.

There is, it turns out a huge problem with this: R, the real line, has what is called a separated topology: points have distinct neighborhoods. However, the QUANTUM world is not like that, not at all. Countless experiments, and the most basic logic, show this:

Reality Does Not Care About Speed, & The Relativity It Brings

Reality Does Not Care About Speed, & The Relativity It Brings

Manifolds were defined by Bernhard Riemann in 1866 (shortly before he died, still young, of tuberculosis). A manifold is made of chunks (technically: neighborhoods), each of them diffeomorphic to a neighborhood in R^n (thus a deformed piece of R^n, see tech annex).

Einstein admitted that there was a huge problem with the “now” in physics (even if one confines oneself to his own set-ups in Relativity theories). Worse: the Quantum changes completely the problem of the “now”… Let alone the “here”.

In 1905, Henri Poincaré showed that by taking time to be an imaginary fourth spacetime coordinate (√−1 c t), a Lorentz transformation can be regarded as a rotation of coordinates in a four-dimensional Euclidean space with three real coordinates representing space, and one imaginary coordinate, representing time, as the fourth dimension.

— Hermann Minkowski, 1907, Einstein’s professor in Zurich concluded: “The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”

This remark rests on Lorentz’s work, how to go from coordinates (x, t) to (x’, t’). In the simplest case:

C is the speed of light. Lorentz found one needed such transformations to respect electrodynamics. If v/c is zero (as it is if one suppose the speed v to be negligible  relative to c, the speed of light infinite), one gets:

t = t’

x’ = x – vt

The first equation exhibits universal time: time does not depend upon the frame of reference. But notice that the second equation mixes space and time already. Thus, philosophically speaking, proclaiming “spacetime” could have been done before. Now, in so-called “General Relativity”, there are problems with “time-like” geodesics (but they would surface long after Minkowski’s death).

Another problem with conceptually equating time and space is that time is not space: space dimensions have a plus sign, time a minus sign (something Quantum Field Theory often ignores by putting pluses everywhere in computations)

In any case, I hope this makes clear that, philosophically, just looking at the equations, “spacetime” does not have to be an important concept.

And Quantum Physics seems to say that it is not: the QUANTUM INTERACTION (QI; my neologism) is (apparently, so far) INSTANTANEOUS (like old fashion time).

As we saw precedingly (“Can Space Be Faster Than Light“), the top cosmologists are arguing whether the speed of space can be viewed as faster than light. Call that the Cosmic Inflation Interaction (CII; it has its own hypothesized exchange particle, the “Inflaton”). We see that c, the speed of light is less than CII, and may, or may not be related to QI (standard Quantum Physics implicitly assumes that the speed of the Quantum Interaction QI is infinite).

One thing is sure: we are very far from TOE, the “Theory Of Everything”, which physicists anxious to appear as the world’s smartest organisms, with all the power and wealth to go with it, taunted for decades.

Patrice Ayme’

Tech Annex: R is the real line, RxR = R^2, the plane, RxRxR = R^3 the usual three dimensional space, etc. Spacetime was initially viewed as just RxRxRxR = R^4.]What does diffeomorphic mean? It means a copy which can be shrunk or dilated somewhat in all imaginable ways, perhaps (but without breaks, and so that all points can be tracked; a diffeomorphism does this, and so do all its derivatives).

Can Space Be Faster Than Light?

October 30, 2015

Is space faster than light? The question may sound weird, like comparing apples and red herrings. Yet, it is being asked by serious cosmologists.

Here is Sean Carrol, a famous professional cosmologist from Caltech in his essay: “The Universe Never Expands Faster Than the Speed of Light”: That is intriguing, because it was alleged, long ago that so-called Cosmic Inflation, precisely, allowed the Universe to “expand faster than light”. Carrol:

…”here to get a little nitpick off my chest: the claim that during inflation, the universe “expanded faster than the speed of light.” It’s extraordinarily common, if utterly and hopelessly incorrect. (I just noticed it in this otherwise generally excellent post by Fraser Cain.) A Google search for “inflation superluminal expansion” reveals over 100,000 hits, although happily a few of the first ones are brave attempts to squelch the misconception. I can recommend this nice article by Tamara Davis and Charlie Lineweaver, which tries to address this and several other cosmological misconceptions.”

Notice How Big Bang Expansion Accelerates, Slows Down, Then Re-Accelerate. Twist & Turn?

Notice How Big Bang Expansion Accelerates, Slows Down, Then Re-Accelerate. Twist & Turn?

Well. The varying speed of light model was proposed by Jean-Pierre Petit in 1988 (and copied by John Moffat in 1992, Albrecht and João Magueijo in 1999). Instead of superluminal expansion of space, the speed of light was proposed to be 60 orders of magnitude faster than its current value solving the horizon and homogeneity problems in the early universe…

Even for those who are not interested by cosmological physics and relativity, this is fascinating, because it means that most cosmologists had no idea of what they are talking about, or what other cosmologists are talking about…. Over the last few decades, that their collective cosmological wisdom got sold in tenths of millions of books on the subject.

This means that the making of “science” is considerably less obvious and appealing than the making of sausage. It also means that we have no idea what space, time, and even light, mean.

The reason many of these physicists do not understand, what they are talking about, is that they did not use the more advanced mathematics I will introduce later in an essay.

In “Expanding Confusion: common misconceptions of cosmological horizons and the superluminal expansion of the Universe”, Tamara and Charlie claim that:

“We use standard general relativity to illustrate and clarify several common misconceptions about the expansion of the Universe. To show the abundance of these misconceptions we cite numerous misleading, or easily misinterpreted, statements in the literature. In the context of the new standard Lambda-CDM cosmology we point out confusions regarding the particle horizon, the event horizon, the “observable universe” and the Hubble sphere (distance at which recession velocity = c). We show that we can observe galaxies that have, and always have had, recession velocities greater than the speed of light. We explain why this does not violate special relativity and we link these concepts to observational tests. Attempts to restrict recession velocities to less than the speed of light require a special relativistic interpretation of cosmological redshifts. We analyze apparent magnitudes of supernovae and observationally rule out the special relativistic Doppler interpretation of cosmological redshifts at a confidence level of 23 sigma.”

Before I expose my more advanced mathematics, let me point out this: the Big Bang created this problem, Cosmological Inflation. Cosmological Inflation, if admitted is a huge problem: why did it start? Why did it stop? (Guth himself views the lack of even a glimpse of an explanation here as a problem.) Why is it all over the place? (Physicists such as Linde, an ex-Russian at Stanford, believe in “chaotic inflation”, with inflation all over the place: completely silly? Well maybe not: I have a re-interpretation with Quantum Entanglement!)

A solution to solve the Cosmic Inflation problem is to decapitate the Big Bang. That’s what I do with my proposal of Eternal Dark Energy, the “100 billion years old universe”.

On the face of it, it’s obvious: why to imagine one which makes no sense, when we already have one, for sure, which makes no sense either?

Some things are obvious. Some car makers claimed that their “hybrid” cars went one hundred kilometers on 1.2 liters. A French magazine went out, and measured. It was found hybrid car fuel usage was three times higher than officially announced.

Surprising? No.

Obvious.

Why would a hybrid car going in a straight line at uniform speed use less fuel? Witchcraft? In uniform motion, only the gasoline engine works. The electric engine(s) get dragged along. In truth, the hybrid machinery is heavy and, if anything, the car should use more fuel, no less. As found.

Simple: basic logic is a killer, if no obvious evidence to the contrary.

Patrice Ayme’  

Juicy Planets

August 15, 2015

This is the one thousandth essay on this site. Let’s celebrate with a whiff of optimism. We found, for sure, three habitable planets. Close-by. And maybe four. Or five. Europa, Callisto, Ganymede, and Enceladus. They are all in the Solar System. Why habitable? Because they all have liquid water.

And massive quantities of it. Europa’s ocean seems greater in volume than Earth’s… by a long shot. Ganymede’s ocean maybe 800 kilometers deep… This is astronomy, in full, with its proverbial astronomical numbers.

Juicy Planets In The Habitable Zone

Juicy Planets In The Habitable Zone

The total land area of Earth’s continents is 148,647,000 square kilometers (57,393,000 sq mi), or 29.1% of Earth’s surface. This is just a tiny bit larger than Mars’ total area (145 million square kilometers). Mars has lots of water. However, except for (rock covered) glaciers and ice caps, most of it is ice mixed with the soil.

It is welcome news that planetary bodies close-by have plenty of water, and land. Europa’s land area is 30 million square kilometers. Ganymede is 87, and Callisto 73 million square kilometers. Thus the total land area of water loaded Jupiter satellites is 190 million square kilometers, much larger than the grand total of Earth’s continents. That’s plenty of room for human civilization to expand into.

As I related, civilizations come and go, and one of the main mechanisms, if not the main mechanism, has to do with the entangled exhaustion of increasingly impotent technology and waning resources. This is fully in evidence now in our case: although not all resources are exhausted, yet, others are exhausting: the CO2 pollution, and similar, entangled crises, have reached the stage of a mass extinction.

A race is engaged between the deployment of more renewable energy and multiple singularities from pollution and resource exhaustion.

Once, when still a child, I met a poet and philosopher from a family of poets and philosophers. He read some poems. I was impressed. The conversation, though, turned to space exploration. My youthful enthusiasm was quickly dashed. The poet told me that space would not help humanity’s problems. Actually throwing money at space prevented to feed children, he opined. Walking on the Moon was mostly a folly darkly connected to imperialism, colonialism, materialism, nihilism.

As a teen, but a teen experienced from having lived in Africa most of my life, who had endured through wars and coups d’état, I doubted the wisdom of the poet. (When I was 11 years old, I made a sing-song about a coup d’état enfolding in the African country in which I lived. Retrospectively strange…)

I knew very well that there are monsters out there. But then, again, I also knew monsters, properly handled, could learn to behave properly. A leopard entered an open hut I was sleeping in, and walked out (don’t ask me about what I view as my parents’ irresponsibility: there was just another child in that hut, smack dab in the center of a national park, full of panthers). I once walked around a bend on a dirt road, in the same national park, to find a lion spread all across said road, looking at me calmly. I did not panic, and respected away.  

Differently from the European poet, I knew the world was richer than just a zero sum (where what you put in is what you get out). I knew starvation was entirely due to war. If you don’t want children to starve, the first thing needed is a strong stater, with a constitution centered on human rights (instead of the Catholic or Islamist creeds).

As it turned out, in its rush to the Moon, and Mars, as ordered by its Guide (USA president JFK), NASA and its Nazi engineers, helped develop plenty of new technologies, from fuel cells to solar panels. Now Photo Voltaic Solar energy is, with wind turbines, the cheapest, safest form of energy (fossil fuels get more than 5 trillion dollars of subsidies, each year). In a way PV solar energy is feeding the world, and saving it too, being non polluting. Solar PV arose in space, to feed satellites with electricity.

To this day PV energy panels used in space are much more efficient than any used on the ground (but also much more expensive, as they use different very expensive materials). The research goes on: the requirements of space did not just bring Teflon.  The technological push impelled by space exploration keeps on going. The giant infrared telescope NASA wants to launch (with an Ariane V rocket!) has been delayed for years by setbacks while developing new technology to make it possible. Engineers have perfected the efficiency of space probes and solar PV, to do away with plutonium to energize them.

Far from being weird and unusual, expanding human civilization throughout the Solar System is the most conservative behavior to behold.

It’s revolutionary in the sense of evolving again, as we used to.

Indeed, how did our species arise? Our family, hominidae, arose from a separation from chimpanzee like ancestors. Basically, our distant ancestors were motivated enough to come down from the trees and imitate baboons (giant or not), and conquer the savanna. Giant baboons, who could weigh up to 200 kilograms, and stand two meter tall, besides being extremely dangerous, were probably an inspiration, as they dominated the savanna-park.

Conquering new land, and new environments, is what our species does. Our species shipped to Australia in prehistoric times, and conquered the Americas, and the Arctic, also in prehistoric times.

Now the juicy planets of Jupiter beckon. This summer, Europe attributed to Airbus the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE), to launch in 2022, and NASA announced that its “Europa Clipper” mission was feasible. It will “clip” Europa’s atmosphere 45 times, to analyze it for organic materials.

Some may object that, before we conquer space, we could conquer the oceans. It seems an obvious extension from swimming. However, going to space means a difference of one atmosphere of pressure, just as going down ten meters in water. Going down in the ocean at its average depth, 6,000 meters, means 600 atmospheres of pressure, a much greater challenge than the one and only one of pressure difference space requires.

With present technology, extrapolated a bit, Earth’s life could be implanted in these icy moons of Jupiter, one way, or another. It’s imaginable that present day life, recently discovered 850 kilometers from the lighted ocean, under Antarctica’s ice shelves, could survive in Europa’s ocean.

And it will need to. It’s not just a question of our nature, and respecting it. Or of our tradition, Charles Quint’s “Plus Oultre”, and respecting them. It’s a precaution. We are using Earth far beyond sustainability. Yet, out there, in proximal space, lays in waiting another 230% worth of the entire land area of Earth, complete with abundant water.

After 1,000 essays on this site (and more on Tyranosopher.com), what’s the obvious verdict?

If you want to be popular, write about simple things, for simple people, in the most simple fashion. Cats, witchcraft, celebrities, flowers, home remedies, and logic for the mentally underperforming. People want to forget about their condition: those who are going to die do not salute me.

Another dismal conclusion is that censorship is strong, out there: the New York Times boast of having censored hundreds of my comments (they sent me an email about that). It’s more like thousands. The Guardian, a British daily supposedly on the left, just informed me I my comments were censored, because I am culprit of “blogging the Qur’an“. So the Guardian has decreed that Patrice Ayme, is a well-known… Jihadist? Complain about something will get you accused of it: one of the logics of the vicious.

The New York ran a long article on Islam Rape Kit, but systematically censored any direct quote from the Qur’an supporting that criminal habit. To blare as a subtitle that:

“ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape. Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool.” is alright. Claiming that ISIS claims the “Quran’s support” is fine. Demonstrating it is presumably “Islamophobia” (thus racism, thus censored).

Meanwhile, pretty much unfazed, I have been trying to think, as honestly as I can, precisely, and beyond (“plus oultre“) what has been said, on the most difficult problems, trying to find possible issues to them. Escapism, if you will, the hard way. As Montaigne caustically preempted, in the introduction to his “Essays”, paraphrasing:”Passant passes ton chemin, there is nothing for you here, Adieu.” (Amusingly, Montaigne, who was familiar with the most powerful, such as the future king Henri IV, was actually seriously manipulative in his essays, as demonstrated by the fact that he spent lots of pages crawling on his belly, singing the praises of most plutocrats… This is not the case here, as witness the evidence that I should have antagonized everybody by now.) 

Ultimately, I write just for my little girl, who has called me (with a slight twinge of irony perceptible) “the One Who Knows Everything”. That’s good enough, it’s the greatest honor, and all the meaning one needs in the world. Camus claimed one must find a meaning to rock and roll. Silly. Those who love a child do not need to impose meaning onto themselves. They have found it already.

One day, human children will bathe on Europa.

Patrice Ayme’

Stuck On Earth, Earth Stuck With Us

June 24, 2014

Two Pluto sized planets have been found beyond Pluto, Eris and Sedna (Note 1). They have highly eccentric orbits. That means they don’t go around in circles. Now, in the fullness of time, one expects all orbits to become round (See Note 2).

Thus if said orbits are not round, it’s that something disturbs them. And it’s not Neptune, because Pluto, which is disturbed by Neptune, and closer to it, is disturbed less.

Conclusion: there is apparently at least one large planet out there, beyond the known Solar System. Morality? Little do we know.

Even More Was Found In That Zoo Out There Since 2012

Even More Was Found In That Zoo Out There Since 2012

All human beings going to Earth orbit are awed in the same way. As a twice Space Shuttle commander Rominger puts it: “The most incredible thing I’ve ever seen is the color looking out into space—and that color is black—a black so dark, so stark, so vast, I’d never seen anything like it before,” he recalls.

“And then it dawned on me, well, it is not the color, it is not the black that is so captivating. What I was really appreciating was the vastness of space. Without the atmosphere, I could tell I was looking trillions and trillions of miles into the depths of space, and it really struck me.”

That’s one important fact: there is absolutely nothing out there. Another, more prosaic fact: The last human space launch—Expedition 40 to the ISS—used the same Baikonur launch complex that sent Yuri Gagarin on the first human spaceflight on April 12, 1961. And it was basically the same rocket, certainly the same technology, of which the Russians have launched around 2,000, using the same old technology, as if they couldn’t develop another trick than the one of Nazi German engineers.

Morality? We did not progress much in propulsion technology in 70 years, ever since the Nazis invented reliable fuel powered rockets. We are not using a Space Elevator, the civilized way to go to space. In fact we are going to space just as the first human who tried to use rockets to fly. This bold Chinese inventor, nine centuries ago, fixed lots of chemical rockets to a large kite, and became the first flier to go with a bang.

Speaking of bang, for a bigger bang, we have to go nuclear:

Nerva Nuclear Engine: The Future Was In The 1950s

Nerva Nuclear Engine: The Future Was In The 1950s

Larger Nuclear Engines were made, and are, by far the most powerful engines ever made, except now for French made (Thales) lasers. A laser can have enormous power, for a fleeting instant. The largest nuclear engine was deliberately exploded, to see if that was a problem! Answer: no!

ISS expedition 40, launched an American, a Russian and a German from that same Gagarin pad in Kazakhstan for the International Space Station. So, clearly, space exploration is a factor of peace: Kazakhstan, USA, Germany and Russia united. Maxim Suraev, Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman reached the ISS 6 hours later. At about an altitude of 400 kilometers, the ISS is zooming around the planet. Periodically a Russian or European Space Agency spaceship pushes the ISS back up, because it orbits so low, that the atmosphere dissipates, through friction, its potential energy, and it loses altitude, while gaining speed. Basically the ISS streaks through the very high atmosphere.

400 kms up is as deep into space as humans have ventured (except for visiting thrice the Hubble Space Telescope,) ever since Apollo 17 returned from the Moon on Dec. 14, 1972.

There is no nice oasis to go to out there in space. It’s not the Sahara. It’s a hard vacuum, whatever pointed head physicists believe Quantum Field Theory is telling them, in their colossal naivety. The ISS is refining our collective skill at operating in vacuum, in zero gravity. Zero gravity presents problems: bones and muscles lose substance, the heart thickens, and shrinks. The world’s space agencies do not agree on what we should do next. The Europeans, long determined explorers, have given up. The Americans have preferred to spend 6 trillion dollars enriching their plutocrats under the pretext of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While spending only 8 billion a year on human space exploration (so basically the USA spent 100 times a year on bombing Iraq than gaining space expertise).

So we still use Nazi technology.

Mars, is as far as humankind can practicably expect to go. That’s too bad: there are bodies, such as Enceladus, and various satellites of Jupiter, with considerable quantities of water.

“Based on limitations to human physiology, based on reasonable technical limitations to the ability to shield humans during long voyages in interplanetary space, the horizon goal for human space exploration is Mars,” says Jonathan Lunine, a top planetary scientist at Cornell University, who co-chaired the recent U.S. National Research Council (NRC) human-spaceflight study. “Now, horizon in this case essentially means the farthest goal. It is not the only goal.”

A problem is radiation. Space is full of radiation. Some, the solar wind, consists of protons zooming by at 400kms/second. So fast they are, that they rob planets of their atmosphere’s water. This happened to Venus and Mars.

Earth is protected by her magnetic shield (the energy of which, I claim is nuclear fission generated).

Another type of radiation is of the cosmic type, galactic or not. Some of these rays have much higher energy, by many orders of magnitude, than the Large Hadron Collider in France-Switzerland. That’s why smart cookies such as yours truly, knew that the LHC was not going to create Black Holes that would swallow the Earth (as some lunatics thought, in their chaotic misunderstanding).

When astronauts are in orbit, they see stars. With their eyes closed, deep inside their spaceships. Why? Because there, even protected by the Earth Magnetic Shield, cosmic rays scream through astronauts’ brains like tiny meteors.

Earth, we have a problem. Our brains are streaked with fireworks.

Going to Mars, with foreseeable technology, will not be cheap. Ultimately, the NRC panel said, a human reconnaissance to Mars will take “decades” of work, and cost “hundreds of billions” of dollars.

No one has a motivation to spend that kind of money, considering there is no dramatic reason to go to Mars. Or so many in the Commons believe, erroneously.

“I would not want to indulge in specious precision to say whether it was $300 billion or $500 billion, but it is a lot of money,” says John C. Sommerer, a retired Applied Physics Laboratory engineer who headed the subcommittee that drafted the technical portion of the NRC report. “Given that we currently spend on the order of $8 billion [annually in the U.S.] on human spaceflight, you immediately understand why it is a long-term program.”

NASA administrator Charles Bolden says it will take only “a modest increase” in funding to land humans on Mars in 20 years or so, since the Obama administration ordered a different course five years ago.

Ironically, that has since been amended to funding “consistent with economic growth.” But Bolden—who commanded the shuttle mission that put the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit says Congress will not give the space program 4% of the federal budget, as it did for the race to the Moon.

What did that bring, aside from Moon rocks? Well, magnificent pictures of humanity’s loneliness, and Earth as the most object in the universe. A warning from heavens.

That warning, by itself, was worth it. The race to the Moon also brought a tremendous technological push. Not just Teflon. Not just personal computer power. Even Velcro (Vel(ours) Cro(chet)) was helped, as it got free advertising from NASA.

Earlier on the race to develop rockets was military. The Mongols got it started, and the weapon became ubiquitous, as its efficiency was spectacular. The next step up was during World War Two as the Panzerfaust, and all sorts of Nazi rocket tech (some ballistic, some cruise, some anti-aircraft) played a spectacular role. (It was not a decisive role, as it happened a tad too late!)

But now we have a tremendous civilian fall-out: weather satellites, GPS, etc. Even greater was the indirect fall-out of the technologies that had to be developed to make rocketry work.

To make space into an affordable new habitat, we need completely new technologies. For LEO, right away, only air breathing rockets will do, to make launches economical enough.

Further on, only space elevators will allow to go to space cheaply. The great fall-out of a space elevator, before it allows us to conquer the Solar System, though, will be the technology itself. It will allow to produce materials ten times lighter than steel, and stronger.

To ferry people and large loads between spatial real estate, only nuclear energy will do. Either fission, or fusion.  Developing those, in turn, will have tremendous fall-out (no pun intended). Why? Nuclear energy has a million times, per mass, more energy than any other energy that we can tap (although I proposed a vacuum energy machine, on this site, that’s still in the sci-fi future.)

The requirement of developing completely new technology is actually, at this point, not an impediment, but the best argument for going to space.

Indeed, only drastically new tech will save the biosphere as we know it.

Patrice Aymé

Note1: I call planet anything that’s big enough to become round under its own gravity.  That has the merit of clarity. Pluto is round, has five satellites and an atmosphere, so it’s a (“dwarf“) planet.

Note 2: Now, in the fullness of time, one expects all orbits to become round. Why? Because when a planet goes far from a sun, it’s climbing, converting kinetic energy into potential energy. Under a gravitational perturbation, it’s easier to lose the latter, because at that point speeds are lower, so the influence has more time to be felt (who said we need equations all the time?)

 

QUANTUM TRUMPS SPACETIME

August 8, 2013

Abstract: simple considerations of a philosophical, non computational, nature, on Space, Time and the Quantum show that the former two are not basic (and that some apparently most baffling traits of the Quantum are intuitive!). Progress in knowledge of the interdependence of things should not be hampered by traditional prejudices. (Not an easy essay: readers are encouraged to jump around it like kangaroos!)

***

What is time? Today’s physics does not answer that question, it just computes with the notion as if it were obvious. To find out what time could be, a little bout of metaphysics different from the tentative one in today’s understanding of nature, is needed.

Einstein amplified the notion that the universe is about spacetime (x,t) in a reference frame F. He, and his friends Hilbert and Besso used the mathematical, and physical ideas, created by Riemann (and his Italian successors: Ricci, Levi-Civita, etc.)

"Solitary and Uncomprehended Genius"

Riemann: “Solitary and Uncomprehended Genius” (Poincaré said)

Lorentz discovered one had to assume that (x’,t’) in a moving frame F’ cruising by at a steady speed v is related to (x,t) in frame F according to the Lorentz transformations.

Lorentz got the Nobel Prize, for finding these (thanks to the recommendation of the towering Henri Poincaré); I am not pointing this out to compare the relative merits of celebrities, but to establish the hierarchy of the discoveries they made, and thus the logic therein. (Poincaré’s 1904“Principe de Relativite’” was firmly established before Einstein showed up on the scene, and the latter’s contributions, although enlightening, have been vastly overestimated.)

Not that the initial logic of a discovery always perdures, but sometimes it’s important. The Einstein cult has been obscuring reality; Einstein would have been the first one to decry it (Einstein basically ran away with the idea of Poincaré that the constancy of the speed of light, c, being always observed, was thus a fundamental law of physics, and made it the foundation of what Poincare’ called “Relativite'”).

Only by using the Lorentz transformations are the equations of electrodynamics preserved. In other words: only thus is the speed of light measured to be c in both F, using (x,t) and F’, using (x’,t’).

So what is time t?

According to the scheme in Relativity, it’s simple: given the sanctity of the speed of light, c, and space x, time can be measured by having a photon of light going between two perfect mirrors, and counting the impacts (that’s what is called a light clock; it’s very useful to derive most equations of Relativity).

Indeed space is measured by the time it takes light to go back and forth. This sounds like a circular logic: time is needed to measure space and space is needed, to measure time.

Does that mean one of the two, say, time, is derivative?

I used to think so (propped by the lack of time in Quantum Theory, see below). But, actually, no.

Indeed, time can be localized down to the proton scale.

One can measure time at that scale with how long it takes some elementary particle to decay. Or because to any particle is associated its De Broglie wave, hence a frequency (and that particle can be confined in as small a space as a proton).

Basically time can be measured at a point.

However, space, by definition is… non local (space is always an extent, all the more if time is used to measure it, thanks to c; technically my idea is that space depends upon the holonomy group, time does not; thus Minkowsky’s “spacetime” belongs to the dustbin!).

Thus the conceptual universe in which bask electromagnetism makes it look as if, somehow, time was more fundamental.

The situation is the exact opposite in Quantum Theory. Quantum Theory is full of entangled situations. Measure such a situation somewhere, and it changes all over. “Measure such a situation somewhere, and it changes all over” means that a Quantum Process is all over it. Whatever “it” is. Einstein called that “spooky interaction at a distance”. I call it the QUANTUM INTERACTION.

Einstein tried to escape the spookiness. Instead, I claim it should be embraced. After all, Quantum spookiness makes life possible.

We indeed know now that this spooky Quantum interaction is fundamental to life. It allows life to be more efficient than any understanding from classical mechanics could have it. Vision and the chlorophyll molecule use Quantum spookiness at a distance. This recent discovery did not surprise me at all. I fully expected it, just as I fully expect that consciousness will be revealed to be a Quantum effect (an easy prediction, at this point, in this Quantum universe!)

A computer using the Quantum Theory would be more efficient, for the same reason: the Quantum computer computes all over, in a non local way. (The computers we have now are just sleek electron-using versions of the classical computers the ancient Greeks had, with their little teethed wheels; the Quantum computer is founded on a completely different process.)

This “spooky” non locality has alarmed many a thinker. But notice this simple fact: space itself, even the classical space used in electromagnetism, is non local (as one uses light travel, plus time, to determine space).

So it’s only natural that space in Quantum Theory be non local too.

The “spookiness” is easily understood thus: spacetime physics a la Einstein and company singles out a particular interaction, electromagnetism, and the sanctity of c, to measure the universe with. Why this one, and not another of the fundamental interactions we know?

Quantum Theory (QT) gets out of this would-be choice by choosing none of the traditional forces to measure space with!

As QT has it, as it stands, QT does not need to measure the universe. (I believe it does, using the Quantum Interaction, and I can support that with impossible simultaneous measurements at great distances, but that’s another, more advanced set of considerations.)

Those who think thinking is reduced to computing will object that it is not the same type of non locality (the one I claim to see in classical space and the “spooky” one of Quantum space). Whatever: the non locality in quantum Theory does not depend upon light speed. That’s the important point.

There, the lesson cannot be emphasized enough: on the face of it, the basic set-up of Quantum Theory tells us that light, and, in particular light speed, is NOT fundamental.

This few observations above should they prove to be as deep and correct as I believe they are, show the power of the philosophical method, even in today’s physics. Some will scoff, but not consider carefully all the philosophy behind spacetime a la Einstein.

A warning for those who scoff about the importance of meta-physics: the founding paper of differential geometry in mathematics, and physics, was a lecture by Bernhard Riemann. It’s full of metaphysics and metamathematics, for the best.

The paper had just one equation (and it is a definition!)

That lecture was entitled “Über die Hypothesen welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen (“On The Hypotheses Which Underlie Geometry“). (Call these “hypotheses” meta-geometrical, metamathematical, or metaphysical.)

The lecture was published in 1868, two years after his author’s death (and 14 years after he gave it). Riemann’s main idea was to define manifolds and curvature. (Riemannian) manifolds were defined by a metric. Curvature ought to be a tensor, Riemann said, not just a simple number (scalar; as Gaussian curvature).

From top to bottom: positive, negative and no curvature.

From top to bottom: positive, negative and no curvature.

Riemann generalized the notion of curvature to any dimension, thanks to the Riemann Curvature Tensor (the simplified Ricci form of which appears in Einstein’s gravitational field equation).

Here is for some meta-physics; Riemann: “It is quite conceivable that the geometry of space in the very small does not satisfy the axioms of [Euclidean] geometry… The properties which distinguish space from other conceivable triply-extended magnitudes are only to be deduced from experience.

Gauss, Riemann’s teacher, knew this so well that he had tried to measure the curvature of space, if any, using a triangle of tall peaks. Gauss found no curvature, but now we know that gravitation is best described as curved spacetime.

(This lack of Gaussian curvature shows that it’s not because situation is not found under some conditions that it is not there under other conditions; in biology the proof by Medawar that Lamarckism was false, using mice, for which he got the Nobel (being British, ;-)) comes to mind: no Lamarckism in Medawar experiments did not prove that there would be no Lamarckism in other experiments; now four Lamarckist mechanisms are known!)

Twentieth Century physics, in particular the theory of gravitation, exploits the following fact, understood by Riemann as he laid, dying from tuberculosis in Italy. Force is a tautology for geodesics coming closer (or not). Thus curvature is force.

Einstein remarkably said: “Only the genius of Riemann, solitary and uncomprehended, had already won its way by the middle of the last century to a new conception of space, in which space was deprived of its rigidity, and in which its power to take part in physical events was recognized as possible.”

(I find this statement all the more remarkable and prophetic in that it is not in Einstein’s physics, and could not be, but rather in the one I would like to have, where fundamental dynamic processes literally create space…)

The fact that a tautology is at the heart of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity means that it explains nothing much! (Relativity fanatics are going to hate that statement!…although it describes very well what happens to objects evolving in spacetime, especially GPS, let it be said in passing.)

“Only to be deduced from experience”, said mathematician Riemann. What’s the ultimate experience we have? Quantum Theory. And what did we find QT said? You can’t measure with space, you can’t measure with time (although clearly the Quantum depends upon the differential topology of the situation, see the Bohm-Aharanov effect! where, by the way, the space metric is made fun of once again!)

Last splendid idea from Riemann (1854-1866):

“Researches starting from general notions, like the investigation we have just made, can only be useful in preventing this work from being hampered by too narrow views, and progress in knowledge of the interdependence of things from being checked by traditional prejudices.”

Amen.

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Patrice Ayme