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NO-MATH ESSAYS IN THEORETICAL PHYSICS
By Thomas Garcia
Copyright 1996/Revised 2012/All Rights Reserved
ESSAY ONE: The Time and Motion Relationship
When asked about the nature of time, I can answer only in terms of my own frame of reference - that is, as a student of human group interactions and as an activist in the American sociopolitical arena, and with a layman’s whetted interest in science and an analytical eye out for straight thinking in the formulation of reasonable thought.
Where it concerns time theory, my candid inquiries have led me to propose that the passage of time varies at a rate set inversely proportional to the state of motion of discrete matter in space, and therefore time to me is a distinct property of matter. I believe this very simple time and motion relationship, which I defend with logical arguments, is at least as relevant to science today as is the incredible concept of Albert Einstein’s curved Space-Time Continuum. I hope to convince the reader of the validity of my claim by the end of this essay.
It is obvious to me that while we’ve known for quite some time now the rate of the passage of time depends on the speed of objects, we have not used this information as well as we should have. That may be simply because we are continually being led and pushed into considering ever more-exotic and quite complicated concepts that purport to explain, at least to some extent, the riddles of light, energy, motion, and even space. Consequently, we have not put as much importance as we should have into what we do know about time.
That may well be the reason why, after all the centuries of people asking each other “Just what is time?”, we have progressed essentially no farther in Theoretical Physics than Albert Einstein’s standpoint of time and space interdependence and his premise that they are both flexible and dependent upon the state of motion of an observer.
Indeed, it is difficult to figure out time. We cannot get beyond Dr. Einstein’s premise of time-space interdependence because it bonds time and space as partners absolutely and forever, where one cannot exist without the other. The result of that is the creation of a virtual “blind alley” from which there seems to be nowhere else to go because the premise discourages any in-depth consideration of the idea that there may be more relevance to time other than our usual understanding of it as simply the Siamese twin of space and not much else than that.
Therefore, when we think about time, it is usually as a “continuum” or “fabric” in our universe in which all things exist equally subject to the “force” of time’s irresistible and unwavering flow. However, such a concept requires time to have or to be a force of its own - it requires that time must either be energy or must contain energy.
Subsequently, we are led to another blind alley where we find we cannot explain certain “loose ends” or apparent natural contradictions. For example, time must contain energy in order for it to be a force that is imposed onto objects as well as onto space. Although most people believe that time has such energy, it remains a belief without substance, based only on the effect and not the cause of it.
In order to support the idea of the existence of a time and space continuum, scientists have had to come up with the notion that there must be such things as time and space so-called “fluctuations” in the form of “time warps,” “curved space,” “dilations,” and so forth.
For many of us, though, it is just too hard to successfully imagine the warping of time and the curving of boundless space in any way other than as the literary trick used in science fiction stories as a relatively quick and easy way to travel around the universe.
It is a task too difficult for us because we are unable to reasonably extend the concept of ordinary space far enough to reconcile in our inquiring minds how it could be that empty space can “do”, “act”, or “perform” any sort of physical act. For scientists to take ideas from science fiction or nature’s effects is a risky adventure as it can too easily become a case of the tail wagging the dog, as it were.
“Absolute space” is commonly defined as: “…physical space independent of whatever occupies it.” Of course, time passes and matter moves, but can we really bestow to empty space the capacity to actually do something? And if space could do something, how would we ever know it? Even so, if we wish to (perhaps only to resolve these nagging questions), we can imagine the concept of time being something quite separate and independent indeed from the concept of space, contrary to what most scientists believe today. I shall later herein discuss just how this may be done.
In a common textbook example of Special Relativity theory, two observers - one of whom is seated inside a moving passenger train while the other is positioned outside as the train goes by – take accurate measurements with their synchronized clocks of the amount of time it takes light to travel from a ceiling lamp to the floor of the train car. The experiment proves (in a surprising conclusion) that time passes slower for the observer riding on the train, but only in comparison to the rate of the passage of time for the other observer standing alongside the railroad tracks. That doesn’t seem right, how can an experiment show such a thing, and why does it apply only to the two observers? It does that by having the only relevant difference between the two observers being that they are not moving at the same speed with respect to each other.
From the viewpoint of the outside observer who took his measurement as the train went by, the light traveled “distance x” in moving from the ceiling to the floor, plus “distance y,” which is the distance the train moved in the time it took for the light to travel to the floor of the car. For him, a line tracing the path of a single light particle as it fell would show a diagonal line of travel drawn downward but curving in the direction of the train’s movement. For the passenger, the light fell plumb downward from the ceiling light bulb to the floor of the train, but for the outside observer, the same light did not fall straight downward.
For him, the falling light curved as it fell simply because the train was moving faster than he was as it passed by. For the observer in the train, however, the light particle traveled only the “distance x” because the falling light was moving down but not moving past her since she was on the same train as the light she measured. For the train rider, then, a line drawn based on her observation would be a vertical line because she is moving along inside the train with the photon as it falls. Thus, there is no “distance y” involved in her measurement.
In comparing the length of the two lines, the diagonal curved line is longer, meaning that it had to have taken more time for the light to reach the floor, so far as the stationary observer is concerned, but less time than that as it pertains to the measurements of the train passenger observer.
If for the stationary observer the event took, e.g., two seconds to occur by his clock, and if for the train passenger it took, say, only one second to occur by her clock, it means that in this bilateral relationship, time passed for the stationary observer at twice the rate that the train passenger underwent, and therefore he aged faster, or more, than the passenger in the moving train. This experiment clearly illustrates the time and motion relationship of inverse proportionality in that the observer moving relatively faster than the other observer accrued and underwent a slower time rate.
Here is an instance where we have obtained two accurate but different time measurements of the same event; yet, this hardly seems possible. The speed of light is constant; therefore, it cannot be that which changed and caused the differences in the time measurements of the two observers. If the speed of light did vary in order to accommodate the situation, that would explain the time differences and we could then say that the speed of light “adjusted” to that particular situation, and then it would not be necessary for time and space to warp or curve.
If it was the case that the speed of light varied instead of the rate of the passage of time (as opposed to just the passage of time), then time could be a force of the universe, and if that was so, it seems all objects in the universe should age at the same rate. However, we would still need to wrestle with the same question as with space, e.g., how could time have the energy required for it to be a force?
However, if it cannot be the case that the speed of light varied during the experiment, it seems then that the reason for the time differences must indeed have to do with the fact that the measurements were made while each observer was in a different state of motion relative to the other. Thus, the rate of time varied for each observer inversely proportional to their particular state of motion. Up to this point, many already agree with the latter case, as we shall see below.
Within the context of Einstein’s time-space interdependence premise, it is said that both time and space must at some unknown point warp, fold, flex, bend, dilate, or curve so as to reconcile the differences in the rates of the passage of time as measured by our two observers. The premise is a conclusion necessarily adopted to explain the time differences, I believe, since we believe the speed of light does not vary in the vacuum of space. Beyond that context, however, it is extremely difficult if at all possible to apply such physical terms to time and space because neither can be so easily studied as can discrete objects.
If we think that the rate of the passage of time (i.e., the rate of aging) is universal - that is to say, for those who think that time is, or is part of, a medium or “continuum” in which all things are held equally captive in time - and are thus held equally subject to its immutable flow - then it becomes necessary indeed to invent such terms as time and space “warps” and imbue space and time with forces impossible to confirm. The necessity arises, I think, when we are confronted with such natural inconsistencies of the type shown in the experiment above and we cannot come up with better explanations for them.
For the rest of us, however, if we can agree that in our experiment above the rate of the passage of time varies for the observers due to the difference in the states of motion between them, it becomes easier for us then to think that the reason for the time differences is because each observer measured the event from within a time rate corresponding to his and her own state of motion.
Remember that we said both measurements in our train example are accurate and so, essentially, the only difference in the situation between the observers is that one is moving faster than the other at the instant they each measure the light traveling from the ceiling to the floor inside the train car. They are both moving in space along with planet Earth, but on the planet, the train has a different state of motion.
The stationary observer is at constant velocity with respect to the earth, but the train passenger is not because while the train has all the motions imposed upon it by the moving planet, it also has the added motion, as it moves along the tracks, of moving with respect to the earth. This experiment has also been explained by using a spaceship in place of a train, but I think it is more easily understood using the surface of the planet as the reference base.
In the resolution to the so-called Twin Paradox (another common textbook example), it is proposed that a twin who goes off in a spaceship for a few years will return to greet a much older twin brother or sister because Nature apparently grants a slower time rate to the accelerating space traveler. That conclusion has prompted many to work out mathematical calculations which purportedly show how that happens. However, of the many proposed resolutions to this paradox, not one explains why nature should grant different time rates to moving objects, as I’ve done herein.
The Twin Paradox is just another example where there has been for widespread agreement for some time now that the time rates of discrete objects are set inversely proportional to their states of motion, although I have found no one willing to propose that as a fact. Although questions abound, I have found very little has been written about time, in fact. Centuries back, the argument was whether time passes in a continuous flow or in brief spurts. The issue was not resolved then and it has been forgotten today, perhaps rightly so if it is as unimportant an issue as it seems.
If someone has lately argued time concepts in print, I’ve missed them and thus felt compelled to poke further into what to me seems quite an important discovery about time. I’ve come to believe that at any time when it seems Nature simply and freely “grants” us something, we should be wary of accepting her “gift” too readily because in so doing we could miss a good clue. Greek philosopher/scientist Aristotle argued that all heavenly objects traveled around the earth because it was in their nature to do so. That had a ring of logic to it then, and even though apparently no better argument was offered as to why it was in their nature to do so, many accepted the proposition, probably because then no exception to it could be observed, or perhaps because it just suited them to accept it. We know now that under that “logic,” there couldn’t have been any exceptions, as today heavenly bodies other than our moon still seem to revolve pell-mell around the earth.
We may have acted too eagerly then in accepting Aristotle’s logic as if the question of “why” is of little importance to our insatiable thirst for knowledge. Yet, it would be just as nice for us to be able to think that we can know why nature should choose one observer over another, as in our examples above, as it would be for us to be able to imagine the quite-unimaginable physical feat of the “warping” or “curving” of time and space, as Modern Physics so argues today.
Because I believe our universe is one of cause and effect and that the “why” of any effect is the cause of it, I felt there had to be a reason why Nature would “gift” one observer over the other with a slower time rate. After long deliberations, I was able to develop the following hypothesis about time.
If we agree that an object has a longer life-span (due to a slower time rate) than another similar object moving at a slower speed, then we are saying that for any discrete object time passes at a rate of inverse proportion to its state of motion. If that is so, then the aging rate of the twin and the spaceship would be slower than on earth at any instant whenever the spaceship’s speed would become higher in relation to the earth’s state of motion in space, rather than at some arbitrary or unknown point in time and space. Thus, upon returning to earth, the traveling twin will have aged less as far as the earthbound twin and all the rest of the people on earth are concerned, simply because the spaceship would have to accelerate faster than the earth’s state of motion in order to leave it and then return.
Yet another reason why this idea has not been further developed (that time rates vary as a function of the state of motion of matter in space) may be due to another Relativity postulate which states that motion is meaningful only between two bodies moving relatively to each other. Since the universe is expanding, all observable matter in it must be in motion; therefore, we cannot locate a stationary point in the universe from which to measure the motion of a single body. Any and all of our measurements of motion may only be obtained by comparison to the relative motion and position of other objects.
Nevertheless, is not Einstein’s other premise (noted on page one in the third paragraph) that time and space are dependent on the state of motion of an observer - simply the one exception where motion is meaningful to something other than the relative motion of two bodies? The premise of the paragraph above holds true when we wish to measure the motion of objects in space because that requires other bodies to enable us to compare their motions.
Still, my contention that motion is meaningful to something other than just the motion of two bodies, where time is dependent on the state of motion of objects, is also relevant and holds true to measurements taken by observers whose states of motion differ, as they do in our moving-train and space-traveler-twin experiments. We have already noted above that it is the difference in the states of motion of the observers that yields consequential outcomes in measurements of time.
Some may infer from the above that the time rates of matter vary because observers may by their presence or some other method, cause them to do so. From there, it would be easy to argue that time rates vary only when and if there are observers around to measure them. Yet, why wouldn’t the rate of the passage of time simply depend upon the state of motion of discrete objects, sans observers?
The answer is, of course it does. If we can agree a priori that the diagonal line in our moving-train example is a longer line, whether or not we ourselves actually trace the vertical and curving diagonal fall of the light particle, then we can agree that the differences in the time measurements do not occur only because someone is there to make the measurements any more than the sunrise depends on someone being there to observe it.
Can we not also validly deduce from all of the above that the rate of the passage of time for an object depends on that object’s state of motion, and not simply on the fact that two or more bodies are moving relatively to each other? This is a relevant argument because, if it were true in all cases that motion is important only between two bodies, it could be argued then that time rates vary only when bodies in relative proximity move at relatively different speeds, because in such cases they will affect each other’s states of motion and thus each other’s time rates as well, at certain distances from each other.
However, that interpretation has to do with the spatial positioning of bodies and that does indeed require the involvement of both time and space in an interdependent relationship, as Einstein correctly noted.
If it is true instead, though, that time alone - sans space - is dependent on motion, then the rate of the passage of time for an object depends at any given moment upon the current state of motion in space of that single object, regardless of the state of motion or spatial size and position of any other object (except, of course, when the condition of any nearby body is such that it may affect our object’s state of motion).
A small point, admittedly so, but a relevant one nevertheless because, after all, how can space be dependent on motion? Also, if we accept the latter of the two arguments above as true, and if the reader is in agreement with my arguments so far in this essay, then our goal of freeing the concept of time from its binding ties to the concept of space is therefore achieved.
So now space remains a property of the universe, but time must be recognized as an essential property of all positive matter (+matter), and we should understand that the rate of the passage of time for any discrete object depends on the state of motion of that particular discrete object, and not necessarily upon an interdependent relationship with space.
We can say, if we wish to, and because we can’t prove otherwise at the moment, that if time rates accrue to objects in inverse proportion to their states of motion, there must be universal time rates that apply to the varying levels of motion of similar discrete objects in space. That is to say, at the speed of planet Earth in the universe (as it revolves around the Sun, and as the Sun revolves around the galaxy, and as our galaxy races through space), there is within the universe a specific time rate which accrues for the particular state of motion of the earth, and for any similar object which is in the same state of motion, irrespective of their location within the universe.
As the Sun moves through space slower or faster than Earth, for example, its time rate varies from Earth’s time rate due to the Sun’s particular state of motion in space. And if another similar star in another similar galaxy far away moves through the universe in a state of motion similar to our sun, its time rate should be about the same as the time rate of our star, in accordance with Einstein’s Relativity Principle that natural law is the same throughout the universe. Only in this sense may the property of time be considered a universal imposition of the so-called “force” of the “fabric” of time and space.
If motion is necessary for an object to have the property of time, it means time is dependent upon motion, and if the time rate of an object varies in inverse proportion to its state of motion, then the rate of the passage of time must increase as an object’s state of motion slows and vice-versa. Therefore, as an object’s time rate increases, its “lifetime” is “used up” (relatively) sooner. This means that the near-absence of motion in matter is likely another natural boundary of our universe, like the near-speed of light and the near-Absolute zero temperature.
There are natural boundaries set for ordinary matter and when an object comes too near those limits, it may change into another form that can exist beyond those limits, in accordance with conservation of energy laws, but if it no longer has energy, it can have no positive mass and thus no property of time.
It is necessary, I’m sure, to clarify my meaning of the phrase, “state of motion,” as I use it herein so often: When we speak of an object’s state of motion, we usually refer to the velocity or momentum of bodies; yet, there is always motion within all objects, including molecular kinetic energy activity in gases, molecular and atomic vibrations in matter, the motion of particles through space and matter, and also the “outward” motion of matter resulting from the BB and the continuing expansion of the universe.
Any and all motions of discrete matter are included in the phrase referred to above. In fact, we must argue there is nothing visible in our universe that is totally motionless, except perhaps, space. After all, how could empty space have any motion to it if motion - and thus time - can accrue only to objects of matter, while transparent space lacks +mass/energy? There is a way to resolve that paradox, and I offer it in my next essay, The Ether Found.
There exists at least one new area of thought which we have yet to discuss that includes more about the time and motion relationship. We have known for a long time now that the universe is in a state of expansion, but scientists recently discovered and confirmed that galaxies in the outer reaches of space are moving away from us at much faster speeds than more local ones, while maintaining their positions relative to each other. If the galaxies were moving outward from us through space, the distances between them would be expected to change and we could observe the changes.
The discovery means the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, rather than at a slowing or at a steady rate, as had been previously surmised. Furthermore, it raises the question, “How is it possible in a globular universal expansion for the far-out galaxies to maintain unchanging coordinates as they gain distance from us?” The more acceptable answer, even though a more incredible one, is that they are not moving as a picture on a balloon expands, but rather it is space itself that is expanding! More about this in Essay II!
END OF ESSAY I
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I have undertaken to develop a series of these essays solely to clarify the questions in my mind about the universe. I offer them to scientists and science fans alike in the hope they will encourage many to question that which others try to convince us is the reality in which we exist. This first Essay is free and available here to anyone and may be reproduced or distributed in its entirety without any change(s) and including all references.
Subsequent essays will not be free but will be available hopefully within three months of each other. I expect this series to contain a total of eight to twelve essays offering more explanations related to other issues in physics that need review and revision and which can be used to stump your teachers and professors or to just agree or disagree with, and for that purpose I welcome any discussion from readers via email sent to me at: