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Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Essays by A.T. Williams

Part I:  Sneaking Up On Einstein

In physics, as elsewhere, the map is not the territory.
- A.T. Williams


Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4 Section 5 Section 6

Chapter 5

Section 3:  The Chicken or The Egg

There is no question that historically and professionally Albert Einstein was the right man, in the right place, at the right time. Even so, despite the success of his heuristic special and general theories of relativity in closed or isolated (conservative) material systems, the curious absence in his early work of the crucial difference between the particulate alpha (α) and beta (β) radiation – which possesses physical mass, has weight in a gravitational field, and occupies space – aperiodically emitted from radioactive ponderable matter and the imponderable massless, nonmechanical, nonmaterial electromagnetic energy of visible light and thermal radiation (heat) which cannot be weighed suggests that Einstein purposely avoided the question of which came first:  Energy or mass? The chicken or the egg?

Countless professional or lay papers and books have been written in an effort to describe and understand Einstein himself, his scientific and personal milieus, and his collected papers. This series of essays directly or indirectly touches on various aspects of these Einstein themes in an effort not only to describe the scientific pathways of the past, but also to explore new pathways of discovery which directly point toward the scientiae incognitae (unknown sciences) of the future.

A quick sketch:

Einstein's student years were punctuated by novel fundamental discoveries in physics. For example:

  1. Heinrich Hertz's 1886-1887 discovery of long wavelength radio waves and his subsequent 1888 reformulation of Maxwell's electromagnetic equations.
  2. Wilhelm Röntgen's 1895 discovery of X-rays.
  3. Henri Becquerel's 1896 discovery of particulate radiation (radioactivity).
  4. J. J. Thomson's 1897 discovery of the electron (e-), thereby proving that cathode rays in vacuum tubes are material particles with discrete, physically real mass.
  5. Pierre and Marie Curie's 1898 discovery of polonium and radium.
  6. Max Planck's 1900 discovery of the fundamental quantum of action or radiative energy in thermodynamics, thereby establishing the apparent quantization of blackbody radiation.

A love of mechanics:

Einstein graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Zürich (ETH) in July, 1900. Max Planck discovered the fundamental quantum of energetic blackbody action (radiative energy) in October and publicly revealed his discovery in December of that year. Einstein quickly realized that the auspicious discovery of Planck's quantum of blackbody radiative energy presented him with an the unparalleled opportunity to modify the fin de siècle (end of the 19th century) map of theoretical physics to more fully support his molecular-kinetic view of classical physics.

Describing his intuitive love of mechanics as a student in his Autobiographical Notes, he wrote:

    [T]he more precise development of the mechanics of discrete masses, as the basis of all physics, was the achievement of the 19th century. What made the greatest impression upon the student, however, was less the technical construction of mechanics or the solution of complicated problems than the achievements of mechanics in areas which apparently had nothing to do with mechanics: the mechanical theory of light, which conceived of light as the wave-motion of a quasi-rigid elastic ether, and above all the kinetic theory of gases:  the independence of the specific heat of monatomic gases of the atomic weight, the derivation of the equation of state of a gas and its relation to the specific heat, the kinetic theory of the dissociation of gases, and above all the quantitative connection of viscosity, heat-conduction and diffusion of gases, which also furnished the absolute magnitude of the atom. These results supported at the same time mechanics as the foundation of physics and of the atomic hypothesis, which latter was already firmly anchored in chemistry. However, in chemistry only the ratios of the atomic masses played any rôle, not their absolute magnitudes, so that atomic theory could be viewed more as a visualizing symbol than as knowledge concerning the factual construction of matter. Apart from this it was also of profound interest that the statistical theory of classical mechanics was able to deduce the basic laws of thermodynamics, something which was in essence already accomplished by Boltzmann.29

Employed by the Swiss patent office in Bern, the nascent master of the new physics used his spare time to focus on solving the problem of uniting the classical material point of theoretical and mathematical physics with the Maxwell-Hertz continuum of energetic electromagnetic fields. Interestingly, this particular problem solving effort after his graduation from the ETH demonstrates that Einstein's first attempt to create a unified field theory precedes the publication of his 1905 papers. As we shall see in the light quanta section below, the effort was less than successful.

Einstein and electromagnetic fields:

Following his chosen path of theoretical physicist, Einstein found himself in a situation similar to that of Newton on gravity and Coulomb on magnetism. Namely, the physical nature and the source of the electromagnetic spectrum were unknown in the 19th century and 20th century science was only in the very earliest preliminary stages of understanding the difference between particulate radiation (radioactivity) and the massless electromagnetic energy spectrum. Thus, as with Newton and Coulomb, Einstein had only his personal experience, logic, and intuition to supplement or correct the incomplete scientific maps created by the natural philosophers (scientists) who preceded him.

Describing the challenges Maxwell's field theory presented to him, Einstein credits H. A. Lorentz with the initial breakthrough:

    The most fascinating subject at the time that I was a student was Maxwell's theory. What made this theory appear revolutionary was the transition from forces at a distance to fields as fundamental variables.30

    It was the great merit of H. A. Lorentz that he brought about a change here in a convincing fashion. In principle a field exists, according to him, only in empty space [German: leeren raume]. Matter – considered as atoms – is the only seat of electric charges; between the material particles there is empty space, the seat of the electromagnetic field, which is created by the position and velocity of the point charges which are located on the material particles. Dielectricity, conductivity, etc., are determined exclusively by the type of mechanical tie connecting the particles, of which the bodies consist. The particle-charges [Teilchen-Ladungen] create the field, which, on the other hand, exerts forces upon the charges of the particles, thus determining the motion of the latter according to Newton's law of motion. If one compares this with Newton's system, the change consists in this: action at a distance is replaced by the field, which thus also describes the radiation. ... The physicist of the present generation regards the point of view achieved by Lorentz as the only possible one; at that time, however, it was a surprising and audacious step, without which the later development would not have been possible. (Emphasis added.)
    If one views this phase of the development of theory critically, one is struck by the dualism which lies in the fact that the material point in Newton's sense and the field as continuum are used as elementary concepts side by side. Kinetic energy and field-energy appear as essentially different things. This appears all the more unsatisfactory inasmuch as, according to Maxwell's theory, the magnetic field of a moving electric charge represents inertia. Why not then total inertia? Then only field-energy would be left, and the particle would be merely an area of special density of field-energy. In that case one could hope to deduce the concept of the mass-point together with the equations of the motion of the particles from the field equations – the disturbing dualism would have been removed. (Einstein's emphasis.) 31

Notice that even as he wrote the Autobiographical Notes in 1946 at age 67 Einstein uses the phrase "empty space" to indicate a region of space which contains absolutely nothing prior to the propagation of the electromagnetic fields. Thus, in his view, electromagnetic fields are generated not only in regions of space which contain no particulate matter, but also that the regions of space subsequently occupied by the propagated electromagnetic fields had been entirely empty and previously contained nothing at all.

The perceptive 21st century reader, however, is struck by Einstein's critique of dualism – a dualism his own mathematical formalism created – which is based on his unalterable commitment to the old atomic theory that defines energy per se solely as a property of matter and asserts that matter is the fundamental, irreducible foundation of the material universe.

On the one hand, Einstein's critique of dualism correctly describes kinetic energy and electromagnetic field energy as two separate elemental concepts. The rest of the paragraph anticipates the Standard Model of particle physics developed by Martinus Veltman and Gerard t'hooft, recipients of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics. On the other hand, his intransigent view of atomic theory – held inviolable even before the publication of his 1905 papers and Ph.D. dissertation on Brownian motion – seems to have prevented him from searching for more inclusive universal principles during his lifetime.

In contrast, The Energetic Holographic Paradigm (TEHP, pronounced "teep") model of reality postulates that the omnipresent, energetic, conditionally relative space-time continuum which encompasses, pervades, and maintains our open (nonconservative) holonomic material universe is itself immersed in the underlying fundamental, irreducible foundation of the transcendent, nonmaterial (subquantum, prequantum) primordial energy domain.

On the TEHP view, and in accordance with the universal principle of energy, the fundamental, irreducible nonmaterial energy domain is the source of each and every material manifestation of reality. Therefore, material objects move from point A to point B through the fundamental, irreducible nonmaterial energy domain as opposed to moving through empty space. In like manner, the massless, weightless, nonmaterial electromagnetic fields generated by material objects which possess physically real mass and have an electric charge are also propagated through the fundamental, irreducible energy domain rather than empty space.

Moreover, TEHP postulates that each instance of particulate matter which possess physically real mass is fundamentally a conditionally relative sequential series of periodic, synergistic, holonomic energy states or energy phase changes which are produced in, immersed in, and pervaded by the omnipresent, irreducible, nonmaterial primordial energy domain.

Einstein's search for the unification of the electromagnetic field continuum and classical physics were produced in several interconnected phases. Each phase was instrumental in its own way as the foundation of the next phase. His published papers also acted as the impetus and foundation for the advancement of new 20th century physics in general. His major themes are:

  1. Statistical mechanics.
  2. Thermodynamics.
  3. Brownian motion.
  4. The light quantum hypothesis.
  5. The special relativity theory.
  6. The general relativity theory.
  7. The Unified Field Theory.

Einstein's ultimately unsuccessful search for the seamless unification of classical mechanical concepts and nonmechanical, nonmaterial concepts like the Maxwell-Hertz electromagnetic fields consumed much of his later life, yet the prodigious benefit his successfully completed efforts provided to the broad spectrum of 20th century science in general is undiminished.

Einstein's confession:

Thermodynamics was one of the primary areas of theoretical and experimental investigation as scientific knowledge advanced from the 19th to the 20th century, thus Planck's discovery of the fundamental quantum of blackbody radiative energy implicitly challenged theoretical physicists to create a new non-Newtonian map of the unknown territory.

Even so, unequivocally accepting the prospect of a new foundation for theoretical physics, then implementing the requisite formalism may have been the single greatest professional challenge of Einstein's generation. Indeed, Einstein himself acknowledged feeling overwhelmed by the challenge during the early stages of his theoretical work:

    Planck got his radiation-formula [Strahlungsformel] if he chose his energy-elements [Energieelemente] ε of the magnitude ε = . The decisive element in doing this lies in the fact that the result depends on taking for ε a definite finite value, i.e., that one does not go to the limit ε = 0. This form of reasoning does not make obvious the fact that it contradicts the mechanical and electrodynamic basis, upon which the derivation otherwise depends. Actually, however, the derivation presupposes implicitly that energy can be absorbed and emitted by the individual resonator only in "quanta" of magnitude , i.e., that the energy of a mechanical structure capable of oscillations as well as the energy of radiation can be transferred only in such quanta – in contradiction to the laws of mechanics and electrodynamics. ...
    All my attempts, however, to adapt the theoretical foundation of physics to this [new type of] knowledge failed completely. It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one, with no firm foundation to be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built. That this insecure and contradictory foundation was sufficient to enable a man of Bohr's unique instinct and tact [Feingefühl] to discover the major laws of the spectral lines and of the electron-shells [Elektronenhüllen] of the atoms together with their significance for chemistry appeared to me like a miracle – and appears to me as a miracle even today. This is the highest form of musicality in the sphere of thought.
    My own interest in those years was less concerned with the detailed consequences of Planck's results, however important these might be. My major question was: What general conclusions can be drawn from the radiation-formula concerning the structure of radiation and even more generally concerning the electro-magnetic foundation of physics? (Emphasis added)32

The mature Einstein makes an astounding confession in the first two sentences of the second paragraph above. In German he wrote:

    All meine Versuche, das theoretische Fundament der Physik diesen Erkenntnissen anzupassen, scheiterten aber völlig. Es war wie wenn einem der Boden unter den Füssen weggezogen worden wäre, ohne dass sich irgendwo fester Grund zeigte, auf dem man hätte bauen können.33

If the confession is credible, then between his miracle year of 1905 and the introduction of Bohr's 1913 model of the atom the effort Einstein expended on resolving the contradictions he perceived succeeded only in resizing the contemporaneous classical map. That is indeed the case. From 1905 through the publication of his final paper on the old quantum theory, On the Quantum Theory of Radiation, published in 1916&17 34 his efforts to define and describe the light quantum are based not only on classical concepts of force, inertia, and mechanics, but also on classical mathematics.

Continued in Section 4:  Beyond The Borderland


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

29  Schilpp, Paul Arthur, editor. Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, pp. 19, 21, Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, [1949; 1951] 1969, 1970. ISBN  0-87548-286-4

30  Ref. 29, p. 33.

31  Ref. 29, pp. 35-37.

32  Ref. 29, pp. 45-47.

33  Ref. 29, p. 44.

34  "Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung," Mitteilungen der Physikalische Gesellschaft Zürich 18 (1916). Reprinted in Physikalische Zeitschrift 18, 121 (1917)


Back to Chapter 5, Section 2:  The Map Is Not The Territory

Index:  Consciousness, Physics, and the Holographic Paradigm

Last Edit:  June 22, 2006.

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 © 2003-2008 by Alan T. Williams. All rights reserved.