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Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Essays by A.T. Williams

Part I:  Sneaking Up On Einstein

Energy has an objective, independent physical existence and exists in the absence of matter,
but matter is entirely dependent upon energy and cannot exist in the absence of energy.
- A.T. Williams


Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4

Chapter 2

Section 3:  Footprints

An uncountable number of human beings have walked the path toward a future we now experience as the all-inclusive present moment. The scientific hypotheses, postulations and conclusions of today represent a new, currently unknown future still other human beings will experience as their own all-inclusive present moment. Many scientifically trained individuals familiar with the issues in these essays will recognize the clues leading to the new changes, the new provisional understanding of scientific concepts. The casual reader may find some insight into the work of Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, and Bohr helpful.4

In the last decade of the 18th century, intrigued by the electrostatic experiments of Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806) formulated the mathematics of the Coulomb force and the inverse square law as it applies to electrostatics and magnetostatics. Working together in the early 19th century, optical innovator Augustin-Jean Fresnel (pronounced fray-NEL) (1788-1827) and François Arago (1786-1853) firmly establishing Young's transverse undulatory (wave) theory of light and postulated an ethereal ether as the propagation medium.

After hearing of Ørsted's fortuitous discovery in 1820 that galvanic (i.e., unidirectional) electric current in a wire produces magnetic effects, Fresnel's friend André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836) quickly set the tone for the rest of 19th century physics by laying the foundation for the science of electrodynamics (electromagnetism) while formulating a circuit force law for electricity. While electricity and magnetism were being investigated in the laboratory by experimenters like Faraday and Ampère in the 1830s, terrestrial magnetism and magnetic force were being systematically investigated by Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) and Wilhelm Weber (1804-1891) in Göttingen, Germany.

Thirty years later, after formalizing Faraday's experimental results, Maxwell's essay, A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, was presented to the Royal Society (London) in 1864 and published in 1865.5 In Part I, Maxwell wrote:

    The electromagnetic field is that part of space which contains and surrounds bodies in electric or magnetic conditions.
    It may be filled with any kind of matter, or we may endeavour to render it empty of all gross matter... .
    There is always, however, enough of matter left to receive and transmit the undulations of light and heat, and it is because the transmission of these radiations is not greatly altered when transparent bodies of measurable density are substituted for the so-called vacuum, that we are obliged to admit that the undulations are those of an ethereal substance, and not of the gross matter, the presence of which merely modifies in some way the motion of the ether.
    We have therefore some reason to believe, from the phenomena of light and heat, that there is an ethereal medium filling space and permeating bodies, capable of being set in motion and of transmitting that motion from one part to another, and of communicating that motion to gross matter... .6

This classic essay, Maxwell's second on electromagnetism, was based on the latest contemporary scientific knowledge available at that time and served as the foundation for early studies of the electromagnetic field. Educated as a mathematician, Maxwell diligently researched, conversed with and corresponded with the experts in other scientific fields of interest. The work of Wilhelm Weber; Weber and C. Neumann; and Weber and Kohlrausch made significant contributions to Maxwell's electromagnetic field theory.

Indeed, Weber's determination of the ratio between electrodynamic and electrostatic units of charge in 1855 approximated the speed of light and effectively bolstered Maxwell's electrodynamic field theory.7 Faraday's fundamental contributions can be found in his Experimental Researches in Electricity Series and Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics. Maxwell also notes that the electromagnetic theory of light developed in his Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field essay "is the same in substance" as that which Faraday presented in his 1846 essay, Thoughts on Ray Vibrations.8

For authoritative advice concerning the physics of the ethereal medium Maxwell turned to his mentor, William Thomson (1824-1907) (later Lord Kelvin), author of the essay, On the Possible Density of the Luminiferous Medium, and on the Mechanical Value of a Cubic Mile of Sunlight, published in 1854.9 It is clear that Maxwell is following conventional 19th century wisdom and classical (Newtonian) physics when he writes:

All energy is the same as mechanical energy, whether it exists in the form of motion or in that of elasticity, or in any other form. The energy in electromagnetic phenomena is mechanical energy. The only question is, Where does it reside?10

Putting aside the fact that all energy is not the same as mechanical energy, the search was on in the last half of the 19th century for the material, elastic, luminiferous ether within which electromagnetic waves were thought to propagate. The search was helped to a large extent by the 1873 publication of Maxwell's comprehensive two volume work, A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.11

Unfortunately, the search for the transparent material medium within which electromagnetic waves could propagate was based on faulty assumptions. The search was ultimately abandoned in the early 20th century following Einstein's conclusion that an ad hoc hypothesis which required a material medium for the propagation of light was unnecessary. He summarily eliminated the mechanical luminiferous ether from further consideration in the 1905 paper that presented his original theory of special relativity, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.12 Einstein wrote:

    It is well known that Maxwell's electrodynamics – as usually understood at present – when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries that do not seem to attach to the phenomena. ...
    ... and the failure of attempts to detect a motion of the earth relative to the 'light medium', lead to the conjecture that not only in mechanics, but in electrodynamics as well, the phenomena do not have any properties corresponding to the concept of absolute rest, but that in all coordinate systems in which the mechanical equations are valid, also the same electrodynamic and optical laws are valid,... . We shall raise this conjecture (whose content will be called 'the principle of relativity' hereafter) to the status of a postulate and shall introduce, in addition, the postulate, only seemingly incompatible with the former one, that in empty space light is always propagated with a definite velocity V which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body. These two postulates suffice for arriving at a simple and consistent electrodynamics of moving bodies on the basis of Maxwell's theory for bodies at rest. The introduction of a 'light ether' will prove superfluous, inasmuch as in accordance with the concept to be developed here, no 'space at absolute rest' endowed with special properties will be introduced, nor will a velocity vector be assigned to a point of empty space at which electromagnetic processes are taking place.13

Einstein's authoritative eminence gradually grew in the physics community during the early 20th century and led to the tacit acceptance that electromagnetic fields and waves require no propagation medium. The view became received wisdom and the search for the transparent cosmological medium within which electromagnetic waves propagate prematurely ended. Inexplicably, the research which led Einstein to correctly conclude that a mechanical medium was unnecessary for the propagation of light did not include an investigation into the alternative possibility of an intangible, non-mechanical, transparent energetic medium.

Furthermore, the view that electromagnetic fields and waves do not require an underlying medium within which they propagate contradicts the apparently seamless regularity and symmetry of nature. Since all other waves do require a propagation medium, this conspicuous anomaly attributed to electromagnetic fields and waves is the only known exception. Indeed, this singular fact, by itself, implies that our current understanding of electromagnetic wave propagation, field action, and nonmaterial energy per se is less than complete.

It is noted in passing that Einstein used classical three-dimensional (3-D) mechanics and kinematics to describe the theory of special relativity in 1905. He also considered space per se to be empty (German:  leer Raum). By 1907 Einstein's former mathematics professor in Zurich at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (Federal Polytechnic Institute, or University), Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909), developed a four-dimensional (4-D) coordinate system for non-Euclidean space which he called the "space-time continuum." Einstein readily accepted Minkowski's advanced mathematics and later used 4-D space-time in his general relativity theory.

Continued in Chapter 2, Section 4:  Einstein Insights


Reference Notes (Click on the Note number to return to the text):

4  Recommended reading:

  • Williams, L. Pearce.  Michael Faraday, A Biography; Da Capo Press, Inc., New York, NY, 1965.  ISBN 0-306-80299-6 (paperback)
  • Pais, Abraham.  'Subtle is the Lord ...' The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein; Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1982.  ISBN 0-19-285138-1 (UK paperback)
  • Pais, Abraham.  Niels Bohr's Times, In Physics, Philosophy, and Polity; Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1991.  ISBN 0-19-852048-4 (paperback)
  • Feynman, Richard P.  QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter; Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1985.  ISBN 0-691-02417-0 (paperback)
  • 't Hooft, Gerard.  In search of the ultimate building blocks; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1997.  ISBN 0-521-57883-3 (paperback)
  • Pais, Abraham.  Inward Bound: Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World; Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1986.  ISBN 0-19-851997-4 (paperback)

5  Torrance, Thomas, editor. A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, by James Clerk Maxwell (1865), p. ix; Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene OR, 1982.  ISBN 1-57910-015-5

6  Ref. 5, p. 34.

7  Ref. 5, pp. 33-34, 41, 85.

8  Ref. 5, p. 42.

9  Ref. 5, Footnote, p. 35.

10  Ref. 5, p. 70.

11  Maxwell, James Clerk. A Treatise on Electricity & Magnetism, 3rd Edition (1891), 2 vol., Dover Publications, Inc., New York NY, 1954.  volume I:  ISBN 0-486-60636-8; volume II:  ISBN 0-486-60637-6

12  Einstein, Albert. "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper", Annalen der Physik, 17 (1905):  891-921. Anna Beck, translator; The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein: English Edition, vol. 2, Doc. 23, pp. 140-172, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1989.  ISBN 0-691-08549-8.

13  Ref. 12, p.140-141.


Back to Chapter 2, Section 2:  Science is Provisional

Index:  Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Last Edit:  October 24, 2004.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

This paper is a work in progress.
Please check for the latest update before quoting in other venues the concepts and hypotheses presented here.
Thank you.


Copyright © 2004-2006 by Alan T. Williams. All rights reserved.