The Search for the Ultimate

From the very beginning of the kind of disciplined thinking about the physical world that we now call science, one of the major objectives has been to identify its basic constituent, or constituents; to answer the question, What is the world made of? The earliest theories of which we have detailed knowledge, those developed by the Ionians in the years from about 600 to about 400 B.C., and by the Chinese around the same time, were of two general types. One group of philosophers, reasoning from an assumption as to the unity of nature, argued for a single constituent. Water was the usual choice, although there was some support for air. Another group contended that the great multiplicity of physical forms required the existence of a number of basic constituents. The most popular choice among the early investigators in the West was a four-element universe, constructed of earth, water, air, and fire, an identification that achieved a kind of an official status when it was accepted by Aristotle. The Chinese recognized five basic elements, omitting air and adding metal and wood.

One problem that persisted throughout this development of thought was the question as to the cause, or causes, of physical change. The investigators who laid the foundations of science concentrated on explaining existence rather than change; that which is, rather than that which happens. One influential philosopher, Parmenides, even went so far as to deny the reality of change.By including fire as one of the basic elements the later theorists provided explanations for many of the observed physical phenomena, and Aristotle filled in the gaps with some inventions, including a “prime mover” to account for the motions of celestial bodies, and a theory whereby every physical object tends to move toward its “natural place”. With the benefit of these additions, the four-element hypothesis was able to hold its ground for nearly two thousand years. But the gradual accumulation of observational knowledge eventually forced a change in thinking, and the scientific revolution that began about 1500 A.D. replaced the ancient Greek concepts with some very different ideas.

Modern science has arrived at a consensus which accepts the concept of a universe in which there is only one type of existence, but this is not a one-component universe, as the distinction between what is and what happens is retained, and this requires additional components to explain change. This currently accepted theory envisions a universe of matter, one in which elementary particles of matter exist in a framework provided by space and time. Physical activity is explained by the existence of certain “fundamental forces”, each of which produces a “force field” that acts upon matter. One of the primary objectives of present-day basic science is to devise a unified field theory that will unite these various force fields. This is the task on which Einstein spent the last twenty years of his life. It remains as elusive today as it was to him.

Strangely enough, no one seems to have considered the question as to whether forces can be fundamental; that is, unexplainable in terms of other entities or phenomena. Once this question is asked it obviously has to be answered with a decisive No!, inasmuch as force is defined scientifically as a property of motion. Motion is measured on an individual mass unit basis as speed, or velocity, and on a collective basis as the product of mass and velocity. This product represents the total quantity of motion of an aggregate of matter, and in earlier days it was specifically designated as the “quantity of motion”. More recently the term “momentum” has been substituted, and this has had the unfortunate result of obscuring the real nature of the quantity. The time rate of change of the motion of each individual unit is acceleration, while the time rate of change of the total quantity of motion is the product of the mass and the acceleration, which is called force. Thus force is actually the total quantity of acceleration.

In the cylinder of a steam engine, for instance, the total quantity of acceleration (the force) of the moving steam molecules that is exerted on the piston can be calculated by statistical methods that evaluate the rate of change of the total quantity of motion (the momentum) of the steam particles. This total quantity of acceleration can then be divided by the mass of the piston to arrive at the acceleration that is imparted to each of the mass units of the piston, and thus to the piston as a whole.

From the foregoing it follows that there cannot be any such thing as a fundamental force. Every force is necessarily, by definition, a property of an underlying motion, the rate of change of that motion. Clearly, those who are seeking a unified field theory that will unite the so-called “fundamental forces” are aiming at the wrong objective. Instead of looking for a unified theory of the forces of nature, they should be looking for a unified theory of the motions of nature. It is the motions that are fundamental, not the forces. Meanwhile, it has also become evident that matter cannot be the basic physical constituent. We now know that there are processes whereby matter can be converted to non-matter, and vice versa. For instance, matter can be converted to radiation, and since matter is not a form of radiation, and radiation is not a form of matter, it follows that both radiation and matter must be forms of some underlying entity. This has been recognized by many of those scientists who have considered the issue, and attempts have been made to identify the common denominator that obviously must exist. Heisenberg, for instance, suggested that energy might be the basic quantity, although he admitted that he could not see how energy could meet the requirements. Many other investigators have favored motion as the fundamental entity.

Thus, whether we approach the question from the standpoint of the nature of “substance”—that which is—or from the standpoint of the nature of “change”—that which happens—we come down to motion as the most likely candidate for the position as the fundamental constituent of the physical universe. Even before all of the evidence now pointing in this direction was available, the potential ability of motion to unite that which is and that which happens was clearly recognized, and a long list of scientists and philosophers, including such prominent figures as Descartes, Eddington, and Hobbes, tried to construct theories based on the concept of a universe of motion. None was successful. Indeed, none of them really got off to a good start. But the complete failure of the present-day concept of a universe of matter to meet the tests of validity makes it imperative to continue the efforts along this line, and calls for a more critical examination of the obstacles that have hitherto prevented taking advantage of the potential that is inherent in the concept of a universe of motion.

This is the background of the research on physical fundamentals that I and my associates have undertaken, and on which we have spent a great many years.In essence, what we have done is to locate the error that has stood in the way of developing a viable theory of a universe of motion. This error, we now find, is at the very base of the currently accepted theoretical structure. A mistake has been made in the definition of motion, one that excludes most of the basic motions of the physical universe. The prevailing view is that every motion is characterized by a magnitude and a direction, and can therefore be represented by a vector in a spatial coordinate system. Like the assumption as to the fundamental status of force, this definition of motion persists only because no one has questioned it. As soon as the issue as to its validity is raised, it can easily be seen that this definition is much too restrictive. There are observable motions that have no inherent direction.

For instance, all of the distant galaxies are observed to be moving away from our location at high speeds. Unless we make the assumption that our galaxy is the only stationary object in the universe, an assumption that was repudiated by science long ago, this means that we are also moving outward away from all of the others; that is, we are moving outward in all directions. And since it is conceded that our galaxy is not unique, it follows that all galaxies are moving outward in all directions. If these were ordinary vectorial motions, the only kind of motions currently recognized by science, the motions in all directions would cancel out, and there would be no actual change in the position of any galaxy. But the measurements of the Doppler shift in the frequency of the radiation that is being received from the galaxies shows that they are actually receding from us, and therefore from each other. Such a motion in all directions has no specific direction. It is a scalar motion, one that has no property other than a positive magnitude, represented as outward in the reference system.

We encounter the same kind of motion in gravitation. If we visualize a group of gravitating objects scattered in space, and far distant from any other aggregate of matter, we know from Newton’s discovery that each of these objects is moving toward all of the others. In this particular case, then, gravitation is also a scalar motion, not merely the equivalent of a motion, as asserted by Einstein. The gravitational motion of these objects differs from the motion of the galaxies only in that it is negative (inward in the reference system) whereas the galactic motion is positive (outward in the reference system).

This brings up the question as to the nature and function of the reference system. We are accustomed to identifying motion by change of position relative to some identifiable objects that we regard as motionless, in ordinary practice, the surface of the earth and those objects that are motionless relative to the earth’s surface are the reference objects. For scientific purposes we recognize that these objects define a reference system to which we can relate the various motions for mathematical treatment. On the basis of the prevailing definition, both the magnitude and the direction of a motion are specifically related to the coordinates of the reference system, and are independent of the location from which they are being observed. If object X is seen to be moving due north when viewed from point A, it is also seen to be moving due north when viewed from any other point B, providing that the observations are accurate in both cases. But, as we have just seen, this is not true in the case of scalar motion. The direction of a scalar motion depends entirely on the location of the reference point. In the galactic case, if we designate our galaxy as A, the direction of movement of galaxy X, as we see it, is AX. But observers in galaxy B, if there are any, see galaxy X as moving in the very different direction BX, those in galaxy C see the direction as CX, and so on.

In the galactic case the location of the observer is the reference point, but in the more general situation the reference point is determined by other considerations. For instance, the motions of spots on the surface of an expanding balloon constitute a scalar system of motions for which the reference point is the point on the balloon that is in contact with the surface on which the balloon is resting. In a gravitational system the reference point is usually determined by the location of the largest object in the system, which is immobilized by its own inertia.

We thus see that the identification of gravitation as a scalar motion is not confined to those cases where the gravitating objects are free to move in the reference system. All particles and aggregates of matter are moving gravitationally irrespective of whether or not they change position in the context of the spatial reference system.

Observations show that the magnitude of the gravitational motion is a measure of the amount of matter; that is, the mass. From a theoretical standpoint the mass is usually identified with the inertia, but the inertial mass and the gravitational mass are numerically equal, which indicates that they are merely two different aspects of the same thing. The finding that gravitation is a motion explains this identity. Gravitation is the motion itself. Inertia is the resistance that this motion offers to an opposing motion. Matter, then, is a form of motion, as so many investigators have long believed.

Furthermore, when the gravitational force is identified as the force aspect of a scalar motion it can be seen that the forces due to the electric charge and its magnetic counterpart have the same general characteristics as the gravitational force, the characteristics of scalar motion. It follows that these forces, too, are properties of hitherto unrecognized scalar motions. Thus recognition of the existence of scalar motion unites matter and the forces that act on matter. All physical entities and phenomena are motions, combinations of motions, or relations between motions. The universe in which we live is a universe of motion.