“There has never been a law of physics that did not demand ‘space’ and ‘time’ for its statement.”
John Archibald Wheeler
Starting Assumption: Physics today has a large body of experimental observations and mathematical equations that correspond to the experimental observations. Therefore, on a superficial level it would appear that we have a good theoretical understanding of nature up to a limit that will be called the frontier of knowledge. However, there are many counter intuitive physical interpretations of the mathematical equations and experimental observations. This book proposes alternative physical interpretations that fit both the equations and the experiments, but offer improved conceptual understanding and new insights. If we are looking for the fabled “theory of everything”, it is best to start the quest with the simplest possible starting assumption. Only if the simplest assumption is proven to be inadequate, should we reluctantly move on to a more complex assumption. When I examined the similarities between light confined in a reflecting box and particles, I was struck by a big idea.
This idea is:
Basic Assumption: The universe is only spacetime.
This idea will be taken as a basic assumption for the remainder of this book. If this simple starting assumption is correct, it should be possible to invent a model of the universe that uses only the properties of 4 dimensional spacetime. Ultimately, all matter, energy, forces, fields and laws of physics should logically be obtainable from just 4 dimensional spacetime. This is a large project that encompasses all of physics. It grew into this book length explanation rather than a few technical papers.
Initially, this might seem impossible because spacetime appears to be just a quiet vacuum that possesses three spatial dimensions plus time. However, the quantum mechanical model of spacetime has a vast energy density also known as vacuum energy, quantum fluctuations, zero point energy, etc. The spacetime model that is capable of forming matter, energy, forces and fields is a composite of quantum mechanical and general relativistic characteristics. Besides a specific speed of light and a gravitational constant, spacetime also possesses impedance, bulk modulus, energy density etc. The combination of these properties permits spacetime to become the basic building block for all matter and forces.
Spacetime does have some real advantages as the basic building block of everything in the universe. Spacetime is the stiffest of all possible mediums that support wave propagation. A disturbance in spacetime propagates at the speed of light. The characteristics of spacetime permit it to support any frequency wave up to Planck frequency ~1043 Hz. This is a tremendous advantage if we are attempting to find a medium that can hypothetically support the large energy density required to build a proton, for example. Some waves in spacetime will be shown to be capable of modulating the spatial and temporal properties of spacetime.
This can serve as the basic building block of matter, forces and fields. The simplicity of the starting assumption does have one advantage. It should be relatively easy to prove or disprove. Unlike string theory, this starting assumption hardly provides any “wiggle room”. If the assumption is wrong, the error should be quickly evident. If the assumption is correct, the extreme limitations define a narrow path that should lead to both conformations and new insights.
A confined photon in a moving frame of reference has the following 8 similarities to a fundamental particle with the same energy and same frame of reference: 1 the same inertia,
2 the same weight,
3 the same kinetic energy when moving
4the same de Broglie wavelength
5 the same de Broglie phase velocity,
6 the same deBroglie group velocity,
7 the same relativistic length contraction,
8 the same relativistic time dilation. It is hard to avoid the thought that perhaps a particle is actually a wave with components exhibiting bidirectional propagation at the speed of light but somehow confined to a specific volume. This confinement produces standing waves that are simultaneously moving both towards and away from a central region. The assumption that the universe is only spacetime causes us to explore the possibility that waves in spacetime dynamically curved spacetime are the basic building blocks of particles, forces and fields. It also offers the opportunity to give a physical description of quantum mechanical operations such as the collapse of the wave function or making a measurement of a quantum mechanical state. The ultimate test is whether this assumption logically leads to gravity and compatibility with quantum mechanics.
The starting assumption that the universe is only spacetime requires that the reader change perspective about what is a cause and what is an effect. The standard physical interpretation of general relativity is that matter causes curved spacetime. The reverse perspective would be that a special type of curved spacetime (dynamic spacetime) causes matter. The static curved spacetime, normally assumed to be caused by matter, will be shown to be a minor residual effect of dynamic spacetime.