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Why Does the RST constitute "New Physics?"

Posted on Saturday, September 2, 2006 at 05:27AM by Registered CommenterDoug | CommentsPost a Comment

As discussed in our “The Trouble with Physics” blog, Ira Flatow, the host of the NPR show Science Friday, asked his guest Lee Smolin, the author of the new book The Trouble with Physics:

Are we at a point now, where you just have to sit and scratch your head and think, “We need some revolution, don’t we?” I mean, we need a revolution in physics, maybe we need a new physics!

Normally, however, when physicists talk about “new physics,” they don’t mean it in the way Flatow meant it, as a “revolution” in the theoretical concepts of current physics, but rather as the discovery of new forces, particles, or dimensions. In the latter sense, the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, tentatively attributed to “dark” energy, constitutes new physics, because it appears to be a new force. Similarly, the discovery of anamolous rotation speeds of stars in galaxies, attributed to “dark” matter, constitutes new physics, because it appears to be the result of a new particle, and the search for Supersymmetry particles is a search for new physics, because, if Supersymmetry is discovered, it would appear to confirm extra dimensions of space.

In this sense, then, new physics constitutes new clues that might be helpful in solving the mystery of nature, using the existing concepts of physics. However, Flatow, Witten, Gross, Green, and others, have referred to a revolution in the concepts of physics itself, meaning a revolution in the ideas that constitute the science of physics, distinct from the ideas of the normal science of modern physics. Of course, a change in ideas so monumental as to revolutionize the science of physics itself is difficult to comprehend, and I think Smolin, and many other professional physicists like him, find it just too much to contemplate.

Nevertheless, it appears, as Flatow says, that “we need some revolution,” a change in the fundamental concepts upon which the current practice of theoretical physics depends. Most physicists who recognize this, also recognize that the nature of the required change will have to do with the concepts of space and time. I quoted Brian Green’s comments to this effect in our Trouble With Physics blog, but David Gross, in another NPR interview, has essentially said the same thing:

In string theory I think we’re in sort of a pre-revolutionary stage. We have hit upon, somewhat accidentally, an incredible theoretical structure…but we still haven’t made a very radical break with conventional physics. We’ve replaced particles with strings—that in a sense is the most revolutionary aspect of the theory. But all of the other concepts of physics have been left untouched…many of us believe that that will be insufficient…That at some point, a much more drastic revolution or discontinuity in our system of beliefs will be required. And that this revolution will likely change the way we think about space and time.

It is our conviction that the time of drastic change predicted by Gross has arrived. Indeed, we are convinced that the new scalar physics under investigation here at the LRC, based on Larson’s Reciprocal System of Physical Theory (RST), definitely constitutes the “drastic revolution or discontinuity in our system of beliefs” that Gross believes is required. The drastic change that the RST introduces can best be understood in light of the impact it has on three concepts:

1) The concept of motion
2) The concept of the space and time reference system
3) The concept of the three properties of magnitude: quantity, direction, and dimension

The Concept of Motion
In the vectorial system of motion, or what we refer to as the legacy system of physical theory (LST), motion is defined as a change in an object’s location, x, over time t. It is the physics program that Newton inaugurated, and, borrowing from the words of David Hestenes, it is the “grand goal” of this program “to describe and to explain all properties of all physical objects” (see: New Foundations for Classical Mechanics.) The program’s approach is determined by two general assumptions:

1) Every physical object consists of a composite of particles, and
2) A particle’s behavior is determined by its interaction with other particles.

The objective of the program then is to reduce the description of the structure of the physical universe to “a few interactions among a few particles,” according to Hestenes.

The standard model of elementary particles is the result of this program, and although it’s not fully satisfactory from many standpoints, it is generally looked upon as the finest intellectual achievement of the 20th century, and regarded as the pinnacle of success for modern theoretical physics. The standard model represents the power of the mathematical formalism of the Newtonian program’s general assumptions, even though its total dependence on the clear formulation of the key concepts of particle and interaction, as an object with a definite orbit in space and time, had to be modified somewhat in order to accommodate the discovery of the discrete nature of atomic phenomena.

Nevertheless, Hestenes writes that the foundation of the program to this day is that the orbit of a particle is represented by the continuous function x = x(t), which specifies each object’s position x, at time t, and, thus, expresses the continuous existence of a particle, by expressing its motion, as a continuous function. According to Hestenes, if we assume that variations in a particle’s motion are completely determined by its interactions with other particles, then the equation of motion becomes

and since m, the mass of the particle, is a constant, or scalar, and is the variation in the motion, or acceleration of the particle, then the equation becomes “a definite differential equation, when f is expressed as a specific function of x(t) and its derivitives.”

In Newton’s program, this idea led to a focus on the forces of interaction sufficient to determine the motion, or existence, of a particle, and became a means for classifying elementary particles. Thus, the standard model is the classification of elementary particles, according to the kinds of interactions in which they participate.

Clearly, then, the redefinition of motion, from a vectorial definition, depending on the changing location of an object over time, to a scalar definition, where no object is involved, and no location is changed, has a drastic impact on modern theoretical physics. Instead of a focus on forces of interaction, as a means for classifying particles of matter, an entirely different approach will be necessary, one that will seek to classify particles of matter, according to the scalar motions that constitute them. Thus, it is the scalar motions that are elementary, not the particles of matter. In scalar physics, particles of matter are either atomic, or subatomic, units of motion, or combinations of units of motion, and the interactions between them are relations between units of motion, or combinations of units of motion.

Absolute or Relative?
The changes in the fundamental concepts of theoretical physics that the RST makes don’t stop with the definition of the new scalar motion. One of the most important concepts of LST physics involves reference systems. The famous debate between Leibniz and Newton over whether the nature of space is absolute, or relative, which goes directly to the heart of the fundamental crisis facing theoretical physics today, ultimately has to do with the reference systems, which are needed to define vectorial motion.

It is the invariance of physical laws, through translation and rotation of the reference system, that is the key determination in formulating the laws of LST physics. These laws are based on the continuum concept of space and they are always invariant under the transformations of space and time, which lead to the important conservation laws of physics:

1) The invariance under translations in space conserves momentum.
2) The invariance under translations in time conserves energy.
3) The invariance under rotations in space conserves angular momentum.

In addition, the motion between reference systems must be taken into account; that is, there is no preferred reference system that can be used to determine the function x(t) in any absolute sense, because vectorial motion is defined by the change of an object’s location with respect to other, fixed, locations, in a selected frame of reference. Therefore, the magnitude of a given motion, or velocity, in LST physics, will change, if the reference system, in which it is defined, is changed, from a fixed frame of reference, to a moving frame of reference. Hence, it is impossible to assert that a given frame of reference is the absolute frame of reference for defining the function x = x(t).

Scalar physics changes all of this, but not in the sense that invalidates LST physics, but rather in the sense that subordinates it; that is, LST physics is the physics of vectorial motion, and, therefore, it does not apply to scalar physics, but it depends upon scalar physics, because, we are assuming that without scalar physics, no physical entity can exist, and, therefore, without scalar physics, no fixed frame of reference can exist in which to define vectorial motion. In other words, if the geometry of space is defined by the relation of the positions of existing objects, then it doesn’t exist, if the objects defining relative positions don’t exist first, which was Leibniz’s argument that space is only a relative concept: space does not exist in an absolute sense, as Newton asserted.

Besides the obvious impact that scalar physics therefore has on the fundamental laws of vectorial physics, there is another important facet that is not so obvious. It is a result of the concept of the relational view of space that is noted by Lee Smolin, in his paper “The Case for Background Independence.” He writes:

…a physics where space and time are absolute can be developed one particle at a time,
while a relational view requires that the properties of any one particle are determined
self-consistently by the whole universe.

Thus, the development of the universe of motion upon the principles of scalar physics must meet this requirement, and it does so by beginning with the unit progression ratio (UPR) of the uniform progression, where ds/dt = 1/1, as the absolute reference for magnitudes of scalar motion. It is the quantum displacement from this reference speed that determines the properties of any one particle in the universe of moton.

Quantity, Direction, and Dimension
Finally, the impact of recognizing scalar motion, as a redefinition of vectorial motion, eliminating the motion of an object with respect to a background reference system of space and time, as a necessary part of the definition of motion, leads to another drastic change in the accepted concepts of LST physics, the concepts of quantity, direction and dimension. Indeed, the change in the meaning of these accepted concepts is arguably the most drastic of all the revolutionary changes that scalar physics introduces.

In vector physics, since scalar magnitudes, by definiton, have no direction, they are treated separately from the concept of direction; that is, a vector magnitude has two properties, the quantity of the magnitude and the direction of its path, defined in terms of dimensions. Thus, the velocity of an object is defined in terms of the coordinates in the three dimensions, x, y, and z, of its location, the time rate of change of which constitutes the magnitude of the velocity, a scalar value, while the history of those changes describes the direction of its velocity. The time rate of change part of vectorial velocity is scalar; that is, it is a value that specifies no direction, while the history part of its coordinate changes describes its path, or direction.

In contrast, scalar motion is defined without employing the changing location of an object in the definition of the time rate of change of its spatial aspect. Therefore, it has no history of a one-dimensional direction, specified by changing coordinates, describing a path of the motion. For instance, the scalar motion of the galactic recession has no specific direction.  This observed motion is clearly scalar, because it has magnitude only; that is, the distance between the distant galaxies is simply increasing, it is not increasing in a given direction, but in all directions simultaneously.

Clearly, however, there is a “direction” to the outward motion of the galactic expansion of the universe, relative to the inward “direction” of the galactic contraction of the universe, if such a contraction actually existed.  This outward versus inward “direction” of scalar motion cannot be differentiated in terms of three orthogonal dimensions, as the directions of vectorial motions are commonly differentiated in a fixed coordinate system, but it can be differentiated in another, analogous, manner: it can be outward/inward in space, or in time.

In fact, scalar motion can exist in both the outward and inward “directions” simultaneously.  For instance, the collection of distant galaxies is expanding outward in all directions at the same time that the galaxies themselves are contracting inward in all directions individually, due to gravity.  If it were not so, the expanding galaxies would be torn apart by the expansion, but, clearly, they are not.   Therefore, in the universe of motion, where it is assumed that matter consists of nothing but units of motion, and combinations of units of motion, the scalar motion of matter must exist in both its inward and outward forms simultaneously.

In the Scalar Mathematics blog, we will see how these “directions” of the scalar motion can actually be described in terms of three “dimensions” of scalar motion:

1) Outward space motion
2) Outward time motion
3) Inward space or inward time motion

Again, however, scalar motion can exist in these three scalar “dimensions” simultaneously, whereas the vectorial motion of objects in three dimensions can only exist in one, resultant, vector at a time.  This too has important consequences. 

It should be clear now why the scalar physics of the RST constitutes new physics.  The revolutionary changes in the accepted concepts that constitute scalar physics are a drastic departure from the concepts of vector physics, but they do not invalidate the concepts of vector physics, they simply expand the concept of physics itself, and thereby inaugurate a new, expanded, RST program of research that is better equipped “to describe and to explain all properties of all physical objects” than is the current LST program, restricted as it is to vector physics.



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