Legacy Physics


All theoretical entities of Larson’s Reciprocal System Theory (RSt), like radiation and matter, result from a combination of scalar motion. The development of the RSt starts with the photon of radiation as the simplest combination of motion and then proceeds by adding more and more units of motion to this initial entity, which transforms it into the successive theoretical entities that comprise all of the subatoms and atoms of matter in the system.

Newton’s Research Program of Physics
Certainly, this logical synthesis of theoretical entities, that is made possible by the knowledge that everything in the universe of motion must be a motion (either a motion, a combination of motions, or a relation between motions), contrasts sharply with the parallel development of the theory of radiation and matter in established, mainstream physics. In fact, it constitutes the inauguration of a completely new program of physics that is destined to replace the current program. For this reason, those working with the RST refer to the current program of physics as the legacy program, or legacy physics. To understand why we would make this bold assertion, it is necessary to recognize that it was none other than Newton who inaugurated the current program of physics. As David Hestenes explains it in his book New Foundations for Classical Mechanics

Isaac Newton is rightly regarded as the founder of the science called mechanics. Of course, he was neither the first nor the last to make important contributions to the subject. He deserves the title of “founder” because he integrated the insights of his predecessors into a comprehensive theory. Furthermore, he inaugurated a program to refine and extend that theory by systematically investigating and classifying the properties of all physical objects. Newtonian mechanics is, therefore, more than a particular scientific theory; it’s a well defined program of research into the structure of the physical world.

However, when the quantum, or discrete, nature of light was discovered and shown by Planck and Einstein to explain some of the puzzling characteristics of radiation that had been established by observation, it marked the beginning of understanding new limits to Newton’s theory of mechanics, as is now well known. Nevertheless, what is not so well known is that it also marked the beginning of the end of his program of science as well.

From Macrocosmic to Microcosmic

Chief among the new discoveries bringing about this change was the dual nature of the characteristics of light that indicates that it somehow travels and behaves as a wave, while at the same time it clearly is emitted and absorbed by matter in discrete quantities of energy, or quanta. Subsequently, because it was found that classical equations of physics were unable to correctly calculate, and thus predict, the quantities of motion and energy involved in interactions of radiation and matter, a new mechanics, called quantum mechanics (QM) was developed with different and much more complex methods of calculating these values, not in terms of the position and velocity of a particle, as formerly done, but in terms of something called a wave equation, which could be used to calculate a correct value of the motion and energy of a particle without specifying its motion in terms of a changing location over time.

Eventually, however, these QM methods evolved into theories in their own right, due, in part at least, to an effort to reduce the complexity of the mathematics required to deal with the many particles of the emerging atomic model and their interactions with radiation. These evolving theories are based on the idea of “fields,” which were declared by Einstein to be as real to physicists as “the chair they’re sitting on.” Consequently, as the dual nature of light was soon ascribed to particles of matter as well, the nature of the duality soon evolved from quanta and waves into quanta and fields described by Quantum Field Theory (QFT).

Specific QFT theories such as Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), and Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), incorporated the concepts of QM and special relativity to explain the constituents of the universe of matter in terms of fields. In fact, even the notion of particles was soon incorporated into the notion of quantum fields such that, according to Stephen Weinberg, in a talk he gave at Boston University in 1996:

In its mature form, the idea of quantum field theory is that quantum fields are the basic ingredients of the universe, and particles are just bundles of energy and momentum of the fields. In a relativistic theory the wave function is a functional of these fields, not a function of particle coordinates. Quantum field theory hence [leads] to a more unified view of nature than the old dualistic interpretation in terms of both fields and particles.

Executing the Program

From this we can clearly understand that the tactics for dealing with the particles in the theory of matter changed dramatically and fundamentally with the advent of field theory, but what about the strategy, or Newton’s program, for “researching the structure of the physical world?” What impact did the discovery of the quantum nature of radiation and matter have on the program of physics? Did it change the program in some significant way? According to Hestenes, “The grand goal of Newton’s program is to describe and to explain all properties of all physical objects.” He goes on to explain how this was to be accomplished:

The approach of the program is determined by two general assumptions: first, that every physical object can be represented as a composite of particles; second, that the behavior of a particle is governed by interactions with other particles. The properties of a physical object then are determined by the properties of its parts. The program of mechanics [its strategy] is to explain the diverse properties of objects in our experience in terms of a few kinds of interactions among a few kinds of particles.

Clearly this has not changed, it remains the goal of modern particle physics. Although “the diverse properties of objects” has now been supplanted by the diverse properties of fields, the goal is still to explain these properties in terms of a few kinds of interactions among a few kinds of fields. However, “the devil is in the details,” as they say. Historically, the great power of Newton’s program proceeded from the precise definition of the key concepts, particle and interaction,Hestenes says. “A particle is understood to be an object with a definite orbit in space and time,” he explains. In other words, the precise physical description of a particle is found in its motion, which, in turn, is defined in terms of the particle’s change in location over time, as it interacts or doesn’t interact with other particles. “The centralhypothesis of Newtonian mechanics,” says Hestenes, “is that variations in the motion of a particle are completely determined by its interactions with other particles.” Therefore, since the motion of a particle is mathematically expressed in terms of force, Hestenes concludes:

The thrust of Newton’s program can be summarized by the dictum: focus on the forces. This should be interpreted as the admonition to study the motions of physical objects and find forces of interaction sufficient to determine those motions. The aim is to classify the kinds of forces and so develop a classification of particles according to the kinds of interactions in which they participate.

While this program had been spectacularly successful for most of three centuries, problems arose when it was extended into the realm of radiation and atomic motions, as discussed above. Again, though, the nature of the problem seemed to be overcome for a while by the tactical expedient of treating the motion of particles not as particles, but as the relativistic motion of fields, and studying the properties of these fields to “find forces of interaction sufficient to determine those motions.” Nevertheless, the result of this research in the microcosmic realm of the subatomic and atomic world, which has been pursued now for nearly a century, has not enjoyed the same degree of success as it did previously in the macrocosmic world of mass aggregates.

The Standard Model

Today, the culmination of Newton’s program is found in the so-called standard model (SM) of particle physics. However, the SM is by no means complete. In fact, Stephen Hawking, in a lecture he gave entitled “Godel and the End of Physics,” calls it “ugly and ad hoc,” and there are other problems with it as well. The reason Hawking is so disparaging of the SM is because, while it manages to classify fundamental “particles” according to the “kinds of interactions in which they participate,” it doesn’t do it from first principles. Hawking observes:

The real reason we are seeking a complete theory, is that we want to understand the universe, and feel we are not just the victims of dark and mysterious forces. If we understand the universe, then we control it, in a sense. The standard model is clearly unsatisfactory in this respect. First of all, it is ugly and ad hoc. The particles are grouped in an apparently arbitrary way, and the standard model depends on 24 numbers, whose values can not be deduced from first principles, but which have to be chosen to fit the observations. What understanding is there in that?

Not only is the SM unsatisfactory in this regard, but its classification of forces does not include the force of gravity, a major deficiency to say the least. Hawking observes:

Constructing a quantum theory of gravity, has been the outstanding problem in theoretical physics, for the last 30 years. It is much, much more difficult than the quantum theories of the strong and electroweak forces. These propagate in a fixed background of space and time. One can define the wave function, and use the Schroedinger equation to evolve it in time. But according to general relativity, gravity isspace and time. So how can the wave function for gravity, evolve in time? And anyway, what does one mean by the wave function for gravity? It turns out that, in a formal sense, one can define a wave function, and a Schroedinger like equation for gravity, but that they are of little use in actual calculations.

In short, Newton’s program of researching “the structure of the physical world,” by following its dictum to focus on the forces, is not working as well today, in the study of the microcosmic realm of radiation and matter, as it did in the study of the larger macrocosmic realm of aggregates of matter, in previous eras. This is true in spite of the tactical move in redefining the motion of a particle in terms of a wave function in order to evade the difficulty of its prior definition in terms of position and velocity, and the concurrent use of the concept of fields to ease the difficulty of the mathematics required to describe the multitude of wave functions and their interactions in multi-particle systems.

Something is Wrong

The unavoidable conclusion one faces in light of this situation, however, is that perhaps something is wrong with the strategy itself or at least with its execution; that is, the decision to interpret Newton’s program “as the admonition to study the motions of physical objects and find forces of interaction sufficient to determine those motions,” may be at the root of the problem. We should ask ourselves, why do we think, as Hestenes puts it, that “the aim is to classify the kinds of forces [that act on particles], and so develop a classification of particles according to the kinds of interactions in which they participate,” while the classification of the motions themselves is not even mentioned? Clearly, this is a good question to ask since nearly a hundred years of effort, by the best minds mankind can produce, has failed to find the requisite forces; Indeed, it has failed rather conspicuously in that effort, according to the view of Dr. Hawking, who today sits in Newton’s chair.

Perhaps, in the final analysis, Newton’s program has been misunderstood. It is interesting to note that, while the form of his second law of motion, stating that force is the product of mass and acceleration (force actually being a quantity of acceleration), closely resembles his universal law of gravitation, stating that force is a product of two masses, the two laws are not actually equivalent. This is because the universal law of gravitation does not include a quantity of acceleration, as an explicit term in the equation. Still, Einstein concluded, and all observations to date confirm, that there is not one iota of difference between a force (quantity of acceleration), produced between gravitating masses, and an equivalent force required to accelerate a given mass. The obvious question here is that, if the second law of motion, upon which Newton’s entire program of researching the structure of the physical world is founded, states that force is defined by a quantity of acceleration, that is, a quantity of motion, and the force of gravity is no exception, then why on earth are we attempting to classify particles solely on the basis of force, as if the concept were divorced from any underlying motion (acceleration), instead of including motion, which is clearly prior to force, as part of the basis of classification?

In other words, in a very fundamental sense, motion produces force, force does not, per se, produce motion. In the stricter sense it only represents the measure of the change of a quantity of motion over time (acceleration), and is thus very useful in the classification effort for that reason. Yet, the question is, are we justified in ignoring the fact that in order for a force to exist at all, there must be an underlying motion (acceleration) first? Can we justify the classification of particles such as the photon or the electron on the basis of an autonomous force (no term of acceleration), regardless of whether or not its position and momentum can be determined simultaneously, or whether it is considered a particle or a field?

Perhaps the answer to this crucial question is found in the philosophy of Newton, because he clearly emphasized that the key to understanding physical phenomena lies in discovering their underlying motions. As he states in the preface to the Principia:

We offer this work as the mathematical principles of philosophy; for all the difficulty of philosophy seems to consist in this – from the phænomena of motions to investigate the forces of nature, and then from these forces to demonstrate the other phænomena.

Force as a Property of Motion

Clearly, Newton believed that the investigation of the physical structure of the world should be focused on forces as properties of motions. While this is a subtle distinction, it is an important one and one obviously not retained in Hestenes’ exposition of the interpretation of the Newtonian “dictum,” which constitutes the modern program of physics research. Indeed, this distinction is one of the major neglected facts of science that Dewey Larson documents in his book by that name, The Neglected Facts of Science. In this book, Larson emphasizes the importance of recognizing the distinction between force as a measure of motion and motion itself. He writes:

The way in which force enters into physical activity, and its relation to motion can be seen by examination of some specific process. A good example is the action that takes place when a space vehicle is launched. Combustion of fuel imparts a rapid motion to the molecules of the combustion products. The objective of the ensuing process is then simply to transfer part of this motion to the rocket. From a qualitative standpoint, nothing more needs to be said. But in order to plan such an operation, a quantitative analysis is necessary, and for this purpose what is needed is some measure of the capability of the molecules to transfer motion, and a measure of the effect of the transfer in causing motion of the rocket. The property of force provides such a measure. It can be evaluated (as a pressure, force per unit area) independently of any knowledge of the individual molecular motions of which it is a property. Application of this magnitude to the mass that is to be moved then determines the acceleration of that mass, the rate at which speed is imparted to it. Throughout the process, the physically existing entity is motion. Force is merely a property of the original motion, the quantity of acceleration, by means of which we are able to calculate the acceleration per individual mass unit, a property of the consequent motion.

However, while this distinction between force as a measure of motion and motion per se is easy to see in Larson’s example of accelerated masses in rocket fuel, in the case of the forces such as the force of gravity, the force of electrical charge, and the force of magnetism, the actual underlying motion is not apparent, only the resulting force is manifest, a fact that disappointed Newton, as he mentions in the preface to the Principia:

I wish we could derive the rest of the phænomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from mechanical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they may all depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain.

While Newton’s principles induced him to refrain from speculating about the “causes hitherto unknown” that are the source of these forces, which the “philosophers” of the time were unable to find, modern physicists possess no such compunctions, but feel free to be very inventive when it comes to forming hypotheses to explain these forces. So free, in fact, that they have at length concluded that, since they can’t find any underlying motion, these forces are not measures of motion at all, but something of a different nature. Hence, the force of gravity results not from motion, but is considered to result from the “curvature of space-time” in general relativity, or simply as an unexplained “fundamental force” in quantum mechanics, existing autonomously, such as the electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak “nuclear” forces thought to explain the atomic nature of matter in the standard model.

But such an evasion is a distortion of the known facts. Force is a quantity of acceleration, and acceleration is a time rate of change of the magnitude of motion. Facing this truth squarely is so important that it is hard to overstate it. Just because the underlying motions are not easily discovered does not mean that they don’t exist. In fact, Larson has found that they do, indeed, exist, but they just haven’t been recognized as motions, because they are a different type of motion than the ordinary, one-dimensional, vectorial motion with which we are familiar. These motions belong to a class of distributed, multidimensional, motions that has not hitherto been recognized as a separate class of motions, even though such a class of motions can be observed, in the case of the receding galaxies. After pointing this out in his book, Larson writes:

In the earlier paragraphs it was deduced that there exists, or at least may exist, somewhere in the universe, a class of distributed scalar motions, not currently recognized as motions. Now a critical examination of the concept of force shows that the presumably autonomous “fundamental forces” are properties of unrecognized underlying motions. These two findings can clearly be equated; that is, it can be concluded that the so-called “fundamental forces” are the force aspects of the hitherto unrecognized scalar motions. The reason for this lack of recognition in present-day practice is likewise practically self-evident. A scalar motion with a fixed direction is not currently distinguished from a vectorial motion, whereas if the scalar motion is directionally distributed, which is possible because of the nature of the coupling between the motion and the reference system, the phenomenon is not currently recognized as motion.

The New Program of Physics

Thus, we see that there is no need, after all, to deny the true nature of force as defined in Newton’s equation of motion, once this confusion of the nature of motion is clarified. However, the effect that the neglect of this definition has had on mankind’s search for understanding of the physical world is simply incalculable in terms of wasted effort and treasure. Nevertheless, though the loss cannot be fully recovered, it now must be recognized that the neglect does not need to continue, and, in fact, can easily be corrected by turning the focus of the modern investigation of the structure of the physical world to the phenomena of motion first, and then to the force properties of these fundamental motions in turn.

As already asserted in the beginning of this article, such a program, centered on the phenomena of the newly discovered scalar motion, has in fact already been inaugurated by Dewey B. Larson as a well-defined program of research into the structure of the physical universe. We invite all who may be interested in it to examine it by means of the LRC Wiki, but while doing so to keep in mind that it constitutes a new progam of physics research, differing substantially from the methodologies, theories, and results of those found in today’s legacy physics program of research.