Recent discoveries on the properties of Space and the Wave Structure of Matter

Introduction to Fritjof Capra, Tao of Physics

I enjoy reading some of the ideas Fritjof Capra talks about in this blog. I have copied and pasted a section of his ideas for you to consider.

Fritjof Capra on Physics & Quantum Theory


“A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement. Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. The mathematical framework of quantum theory has passed countless successful tests and is now universally accepted as a consistent and accurate description of all atomic phenomena. The verbal interpretation, on the other hand, i.e. the metaphysics of quantum theory, is on far less solid ground. In fact, in more than forty years physicists have not been able to provide a clear metaphysical model. (Capra, 1975)

The Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter now provides this ‘clear metaphysical model’. A significant problem has been the conception of the ‘particle’ and thus the resulting paradox of the ‘particle / wave’ duality. These problems have caused great confusion within modern physics over the past seventy years, as Heisenberg, Davies and Capra explain;

Both matter and radiation possess a remarkable duality of character, as they sometimes exhibit the properties of waves, at other times those of particles. Now it is obvious that a thing cannot be a form of wave motion and composed of particles at the same time – the two concepts are too different. (Heisenberg, 1930)

The idea that something can be both a wave and a particle defies imagination, but the existence of this wave-particle “duality” is not in doubt. .. It is impossible to visualize a wave-particle, so don’t try. … The notion of a particle being “everywhere at once” is impossible to imagine. (Davies, 1985)

The question which puzzled physicists so much in the early stages of atomic theory was how electromagnetic radiation could simultaneously consist of particles (i.e. of entities confined to a very small volume) and of waves, which are spread out over a large area of space. Neither language nor imagination could deal with this kind of reality very well. (Capra, The Tao of Physics, p56)

The solution to this apparent paradox is to simply explain how the discrete ‘particle’ properties of matter and light (quanta) are in fact caused by Spherical Standing Waves (Scalar Quantum Waves not Electromagnetic Vector Waves) which cause the Particle effect at their Wave-Center. For a more detailed explanation please see Quantum Theory: Particle Wave Duality.”

Unravelling a difficult physics paradox is not an easy task

A colleague helped me to better understand the Tolman paradox

Around four years ago I read a physics paper written by Moses Fayngold entitled “A possible resolution of the Tolman Paradox as a Quantum Superposition”. Both the topic as well as the depth of ideas Fayngold employed to assemble his paper fascinated me. Naturally enough I could only understand snippets to what the author was talking about. I passed the document along to my colleague and friend Peter to help me better understand it. I now share this interesting information with my readers. I am also paying tribute to Peter for the enormous effort he rendered in responding to my question. Thank you Peter!

The Fayngold essay is attached to this blog in the pdf file below.

On 7/Jan/2013 I sent an email to Peter. This was his response:

Hi Peter,

As a layperson I find this article interesting. Obviously I understand mere snippets of it but I have zeroed on to the closing sentence that “… QM could be nature’s device against violations of relativistic causality” May I ask has this guy got a point?

Hi John,

Thanks. This is very interesting and it is actually a new paper (1104 means 2011 04, ie April 2011).  But his argument is in relationship to the claims of Special Relativity. For the benefit of both of us I will try to explain.

Prior to Special Relativity, people assumed that light waves traveled through a medium (eg ether, or Cahill’s dynamical 3-space) at a fixed speed ‘c’. That implied that if you were moving through the medium at say speed v, then the speed of light waves relative to yourself would be c + v if you were headed into the waves, or c-v if you were headed away and being overtaken by the waves.

This in turn implied that people could determine the speed of the earth through the “ether” by measuring the speed of light in different directions. If they got a maximum speed say of c+v in one direction, and a minimum of c-v in the opposite direction, then the earth would have a speed of v relative to the ether.

Such an experiment was done by Michelson and Morley in 1887, however it gave a value for v of only about 8 km/s. Now since the earth was known to have an orbital speed around the sun of about 30 km/s, its speed through the ether would have to be at least as fast as that, so something appeared to be wrong.

In response to this, a theory was developed that motion through the ether caused matter to contract along its direction of motion and caused its internal physical processes to slow down, in such a way as to cause laboratory instruments to always measure the speed of light as being equal c, even if in reality it differed from c. This became known as Lorentzian Relativity Theory and it implied that it might be completely impossible to experimentally detect motion of matter relative to ether.

However, Cahill argues that if laboratory instruments get distorted by motion through ether, then to get the true value of v, one needs to multiply the experimentally determined value of 8 km/s by a scale factor, which then gives a value of about 400 km/s, which accounts for the orbital velocity of the earth plus the velocity of the sun as it orbits our galaxy etc. See:

The Michelson and Morley 1887 Experiment and the Discovery of Absolute Motion

However, if one assumes, as most physicists came to do, that motion of matter relative ether can not be experimentally detected, then it should be possible to make the same predictions as Lorentzian Relativity, using simpler equations that don’t include terms related to velocity through ether.

That is, it should be possible to develop a mathematically simpler alternative to Lorentzian Relativity that would work just as well for practical purposes.

This was achieved by Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, which became popular because of its greater simplicity.

However, by leaving out the ether, Special Relativity allows paradoxes to arise such as Tolman’s paradox, which I will try to illustrate in a simple way.

Suppose we have observers A and B each with physically identical clocks.

And suppose A is at rest in ether and that B brushes past A and then away from A at a speed through the ether that causes B’s clock to run at half speed.

Then according to Lorentzian Relativity, A can say that the motion of B through the ether causes B’s clock to run at half speed relative to A’s clock and B can agree that this is so.

However, for the same situation Special Relativity asserts that A can say that the motion of B relative to A causes B’s clock to run at half speed relative to A’s clock but that since there is no ether, B has an equal right to say that the motion of A relative to B causes A’s clock to run at half speed relative to B’s clock.

At first sight this appears a ridiculous contradiction, but in practice, it is not possible for A and B to compare the times shown by their clocks without sending signals to each other and it turns out that if the signals do not exceed the speed of light, inconsistencies do not arise when comparisons are made. So because we currently have no way to send signals faster than light,  A and B are each entitled to claim that his own clock is running normally and that it is the clock of the other that is slow and there is no practical way to prove that either is wrong.

But, suppose it was possible for each observer to remotely stop the clock of the other using a signal of infinite speed?

Eg suppose at the instant that B brushes past A, A and B zero their clocks, and then after two seconds A stopped B’s clock and then in response B stopped A’s clock. What would be the result?

Lorentzian Relativity theory predicts that when A stops B’s clock, B’s clock will only be showing a time of one second because it runs at half  the rate of A’s clock. And when B stops A’s clock in response to that, A’s clock will  be showing a time of two seconds, because from B’s point of view, A’s clock runs at twice the speed of B’s clock.  This is also what A would expect, because it would take zero time for a signals of infinite speed to travel from A to B and back to A again. So A would expect his clock to stop as soon as he stops B’s clock.

So Lorentzian Relativity predicts a logically consistent result.

In contrast…

Special relativity theory predicts that when A stops B’s clock, B’s clock will only be showing a time of one second because it runs at half  the rate of A’s clock. But when B stops A’s clock in response to that, A’s clock will only be showing a time of half of a second because from B’s point of view, A’s clock runs at half the speed of B’s clock.

But if A’s clock stops when it is showing only half a second, it could never get to two seconds to allow A to send the signal to stop B’s clock !

So in this example, Special Relativity results in paradox if we consider signals that travel at infinite speed. (The paradox can also arise if the signal speed is less than infinite but greater than the speed of light, but that is more difficult to reason about).

For people who prefer Special Relativity, the usual way to avoid this paradox is to assume that it is impossible for anything to travel faster than light, because if anything could do so, it could be used to send signals between observers such as A and B. That rules out tachyons so far as such people are concerned.

However, the paper you referenced suggests another way to avoid the paradox. The argument seems to be like this.

Suppose we assume that two versions of A (and his clock) can exist in a state of superposition, eg A1 and A2. Then when the clock of A1 shows two seconds, A1 sends a an infinitely fast signal to stop B’s clock. B then sends an infinitely fast signal to stop A’s clock which owing to the claims of Special Relativity arrives when A’s clock shows half a second. This would result in a paradox if it stopped the clock of A1, but thanks to the existence of A2, this signal can stop the clock of A2 rather than the clock of A1.

However, the situation of having two versions of A in superposition cannot continue for ever. At some point, one or other of the states must end up as the one that is observed to be real. If A1 is manifested, then A sent a signal to stop B’s clock, but did not receive a signal back to stop his clock, so that signal was in effect lost in quantum noise. If A2 is manifested, then A received a signal from B to stop his clock, but did not send a signal to stop B’s clock so the signal that stopped B’s clock was in effect spontaneously generated by quantum noise.

So this method of avoiding the paradox allows signals (eg using tachyons) that are faster than light, but does not allow such signals to be used for reliable communication.

On the other hand, as illustrated above, Lorentzian Relativity does not result in paradoxes when we consider signals (eg using tachyons) that move faster then light so adopting Lorentzian Relativity instead of Special Relativity provides a simpler way to avoid the paradox.


tachyons and superposition pdf

What are cosmological particles in physics?

If you have not heard about physics particles before, the quotation below may help

As you read this document I draw your attention to the last paragraph of this quote, which reads:


“And of course, we’re still left asking: If particles come from fields, are those fields themselves fundamental, or is there deeper physics involved? Until such time as theory comes up with something better, the particle description of matter and forces is something we can count on.”

I suggest that this paragraph provides a clue as to why I have taken such a persistent position with my notion about the implicit/explicit nature of reality which is not only informational but is also very difficult to scientifically define anyway.

If you are interested in this mysterious connection between metaphysical [implicit] science and everyday [explicit] phenomena I suggest that you go to a blog I have written relating to this implicit/explicit relationship in a blog entitled “The relationship between Gnosis and science”.

You should also keep in mind that the Standard model of physics does not say what causes particles to have the properties that they do!

Full article quote:

What are particles

“Is he a dot or is he a speck? When he’s underwater, does he get wet? Or does the water get him instead? Nobody knows.” —They Might Be Giants, “Particle Man”

We learn in school that matter is made of atoms and that atoms are made of smaller ingredients: protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are made of quarks, but electrons aren’t. As far as we can tell, quarks and electrons are fundamental particles, not built out of anything smaller.

It’s one thing to say everything is made of particles, but what is a particle? And what does it mean to say a particle is “fundamental”? What are particles made of, if they aren’t built out of smaller units?

“In the broadest sense, ‘particles’ are physical things that we can count,” says Greg Gbur, a science writer and physicist at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. You can’t have half a quark or one-third of an electron. And all particles of a given type are precisely identical to each other: they don’t come in various colors or have little license plates that distinguish them. Any two electrons will produce the same result in a detector, and that’s what makes them fundamental: They don’t come in a variety pack.

It’s not just matter: light is also made of particles called photons. Most of the time, individual photons aren’t noticeable, but astronauts report seeing flashes of light even with their eyes closed, caused by a single gamma ray photon moving through the fluid inside the eyeball. Its interactions with particles inside creates blue-light photons known as Cherenkov light—enough to trigger the retina, which can “see” a single photon (though a lot more are needed to make an image of anything).

Particle fields forever

That’s not the whole story, though: We may be able to count particles, but they can be created or destroyed, and even change type in some circumstances. During a type of nuclear reaction known as beta decay, a nucleus spits out an electron and a fundamental particle called an antineutrino while a neutron inside the nucleus changes into a proton. If an electron meets a positron at low velocities, they annihilate, leaving only gamma rays; at high velocities, the collision creates a whole slew of new particles.

Everyone has heard of Einstein’s famed E=mc2. Part of what that means is that making a particle requires energy proportional to its mass. Neutrinos, which are very low mass, are easy to make; electrons have a higher threshold, while heavy Higgs bosons need a huge amount of energy. Photons are easiest of all to make, because they don’t have mass or electric charge, so there’s no energy threshold to overcome.

But it takes more than energy to make new particles. You can create photons by accelerating electrons through a magnetic field, but you can’t make neutrinos or more electrons that way. The key is how those particles interact using the three fundamental quantum forces of nature: electromagnetism, the weak force and the strong force. However, those forces are also described using particles in quantum theory: electromagnetism is carried by photons, the weak force is governed by the W and Z bosons, and the strong force involves the gluons.

All of these things are described together by an idea called “quantum field theory.”

“Field theory encompasses quantum mechanics, and quantum mechanics encompasses the rest of physics,” says Anthony Zee, a physicist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Zee, who has written several books on quantum field theory both for scientists and nonscientists, admits, “If you press a physicist to say what a field is, they’ll say a field is whatever a field does.”

Despite the vagueness of the concept, fields describe everything. Two electrons approach each other and they stir up the electromagnetic field, creating photons like ripples in a pond. Those photons then push the electrons apart.
What waves?

Waves are the best metaphor to understand particles and fields. Electrons, in addition to being particles, are simultaneously waves in the “electron field.” Quarks are waves in the “quark field” (and since there are six types of quark, there are six quark fields), and so forth. Photons are like water ripples: they can be big or small, violent or barely noticeable. The fields describing matter particles are more like waves on a guitar string. If you don’t pluck the string hard enough, you don’t get any sound at all: You need the threshold energy corresponding to an electron mass to make one. Enough energy, though, and you get the first harmonic, which is a clear note (for the string) or an electron (for the field).

As a result of all this quantum thinking, it’s often unhelpful to think of particles as being like tiny balls.

“Photons [and matter particles] travel freely through space as a wave,” says Gbur, even though they can be counted as though they were balls.

The metaphor isn’t perfect: The fields for electrons, electromagnetism and everything else fill all of space-time, rather than being like a one-dimensional string or two-dimensional pond surface. As Zee says, “What is waving when an electromagnetic wave goes through space? Nothing is waving! There doesn’t need to be water like with a water wave.”

And of course, we’re still left asking: If particles come from fields, are those fields themselves fundamental, or is there deeper physics involved? Until such time as theory comes up with something better, the particle description of matter and forces is something we can count on.”

The hyperlink for this quotation is here.

What is the Planck length?

I refer to it as the Planck line

Throughout my science writings I refer to the expression Planck line. I have done this because I feel it is an easier concept for layperson readers to identify with rather than its proper physics name the Planck length. The definition of Plank length below is a very elementary one. can be found in Wikipedia. What is the Planck length? It can be broadly seen as follows:


“Physicists primarily use the Planck length to talk about things that are ridiculously tiny.  Specifically; too tiny to matter.  By the time you get to (anywhere near) the Planck length it stops making much sense to talk about the difference between two points in any reasonable situation.  Basically, because of the uncertainty principlethere’s no (physically relevant) difference between the positions of things separated by small enough distances, and the Planck length certainly qualifies. Nothing fundamentally changes at the Planck scale, and there’s nothing special about the physics there, it’s just that there’s no point trying to deal with things that small. Part of why nobody bothers is that the smallest particle, the electron, is about 1020 times larger (that’s the difference between a single hair and a large galaxy). Rather than being a specific scale, The Planck scale is just an easy to remember line-in-the-sand (the words “Planck length” are easier to remember than a number).”

The Planck length has a more formal meaning as well. I have copied and edited the following quotation on your behalf in order for you to better understand what I mean here:

Importance of Planck


“… The idea of a fifth dimension is not new (our fourth dimension including time, plus one other)” “… extra dimensions needn’t be curled up as small as the Planck scale, their effects could be felt by particles at lower energy” “… unification happened when the forces were still weak enough to be handled by conventional mathematical techniques” “… researchers were amazed because unification at a such low energy was supposed to be impossible” “… Fortunately, a fifth dimension comes to the rescue” “… The implications of being able to observe events on the GUT (grand united theory), string and Planck scales are truly mind boggling. We would for the first time be able to see strings, the ultimate foundation stones of reality. And with the Planck scale lowered, experimental tests of quantum gravity-the long sought unification of Einstein’s theory of gravity with quantum theory-might just be around the corner” “… For physics however, the consequences are huge” “… Suddenly, people are seeing extra dimensions as not just a theoretical theory but as every day things whose consequences we could actually measure” “… If (unification) occurs at lower energy, it would change everything, including our picture of evolution of the Universe from the big bang” “… Even simpler laws of physics would change …” “… the discovery (of a timeless fourth dimension) is simply another vital piece of the cosmic jigsaw”

New Scientist, Volume 2157, page 28

You will notice that this latter Planck article also talks about the possible discovery of other dimensions, including where I noted the possible discovery of a timeless fourth dimension within this process. I argue that the fourth dimension can be located at the Planck length and this is why I wrote a major blog entitled “Is the universe floating in a fourth dimension”. (1st August 2017 this blog is now being amended).

The following sound cloud presentation features Arthur C Clark talking about the Planck length and Clark also introduces another audio extract therein relating to the same subject and this is spoken by  Stephen Hawkins.