This book is a somewhat unusual expedient which is being used as a means of meeting an unusual situation. For the past twenty-five or thirty years I have been engaged in the study and analysis of basic physical processes and by virtue of the immense number of hours that have been devoted to the task, together with what I like to consider as a sound plan of procedure and a little more than a fair share of good fortune, I have arrived at some very significant results. As it happens, my findings indicate the necessity for a drastic change in the accepted concept of the fundamental relationship which underlies the whole structure of physical theory: the relation between space and time. Since there is practically no major sector of physical activity which is not affected in some manner by this change, the work as a whole involves a very radical departure from current scientific thought.
In theory, new scientific ideas are always welcome and most of the vast amount of effort now being devoted to fundamental research is aimed at the discovery of new facts and relations. In actual practice, however, the welcome is reserved for those discoveries which are in essence extensions or minor revisions of the existing body of scientific thought, and an altogether different reception awaits a discovery which challenges any of the fundamentals of currently accepted doctrine. Max Planck once said that new scientific truths never succeed in convincing their opponents and must wait for a new generation of scientists to grow up before they can triumph. This may be somewhat of an overstatement, but at least there is no question but that the general reaction to any innovation in fundamental theory is decidedly antagonistic.
The full force of this situation naturally falls on anything as heretical as this present work, and it introduces some serious complications into the problem of publication. The usual practice of publishing the results piecemeal in the scientific journals is out of the question in this ease since the findings in any one of the subsidiary areas arc not acceptable without some explanation of the process whereby they were obtained, whereas the fundamental theory underlying this process is so far off the beaten track that it is futile to try to present it without the massive support that can only come from demonstrating its validity in a great many of these subsidiary areas. Anything short of a book-length presentation is therefore precluded, but the normal book publishing procedure involves running the gauntlet of some of the very individuals who are the least inclined to spend the time and effort necessary to understand new concepts that conflict with established doctrines : those who are regarded as authorities in their fields. The general attitude was expressed very succinctly by one prominent American scientist to whom I communicated some of my early findings. He found it entirely unnecessary to consider my arguments or to look at the facts and figures which I had assembled in support of those arguments ; he merely enumerated the existing theories with which my results were in conflict and then laid down the dictum, “There is no chance that they are wrong.” This is a very human reaction on the part of one who has spent a lifetime working with and teaching these theories, but it does present a formidable obstacle to any new ideas on basic subjects: a fact which has been widely recognized and has been the subject of comment by many writers on scientific methods.
In view of the factors which are delaying the release of my findings in a normal manner it has seemed to me that it would be advisable to publish a preliminary report which would cover enough of the major results to show the nature and scope of the work, without including all of the great mass of numerical data which I have assembled to corroborate the qualitative findings, and to make this report available for study and analysis pending completion of arrangements for publication of the work as a whole.
This preliminary edition includes the first six sections of the complete work, in which the general physical principles are derived from the postulates on which the work is based, and the nature of the mathematical development is indicated by calculations of the inter-atomic distances of the elements and representative compounds. The next 18 sections, which are devoted primarily to similar detailed calculations of the physical properties of matter in different states and under different conditions, are omitted, but their contents are described in Appendix B. Except for two short omissions of the same kind of material the full text of the remaining 14 sections is included. In this portion of the work the principles and relationships developed in the earlier sections are applied to the major physical problems of the present day : the nature of electrical and magnetic phenomena, radioactivity, atom building, cosmic rays, and the varied problems of astronomy and cosmology. The general objective of this presentation is to show that the two fundamental postulates which are developed and explained in the first few pages define a theoretical universe which is identical With the observed physical universe both qualitatively and quantitatively. Aside from a few instances where references to other theories assist in clarifying the new theoretical picture, no comparisons have been made with the results obtained by other methods. The theoretical universe herein developed is shown to be in agreement with observation and measurement of the actual physical universe, within the scope and accuracy of the observations, and this establishes the validity of the new theoretical structure and the postulates from which it was derived. Whether or not other conflicting theories are also valid within their own limited fields has no bearing on this situation; no previous theory even approaches the point of being universally applicable.
Omission of more than half of the text from this preliminary edition interferes with the continuity of the development to some extent and also launches the new theory without the impressive mathematical support which I have accumulated by calculating a vast number of values of physical properties directly from theoretical foundations by means of the derived relationships. I believe, however, that the earlier release of the findings which has been made possible by this expedient justifies overlooking the disadvantages.
DEWEY B. LARSON