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Are We Talking About Phlogiston Again?

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on April 9, 2002 20:55:52 UTC


Again, you reach for absolutes!

***** Harv:
GR and the philosophical discussion about the nature of time necessitate this kind of thinking.

If it necessitates that kind of thinking, perhaps it is in error! Suppose that, in order to explain reality, there is indeed a need for a fourth axis (other than x,y & z) but that it is a real axis (just like x,y & z) and that those devices we call clocks measure precisely the motion along that fourth axis. Then let time be a parameter indicating interaction (two things interacting means they exist at the same time). Allow no interactions except "contact interaction" (the potential well being a Dirac delta function): i.e., all forces are to be explained by virtual particle exchange (essentially quantum electrodynamics by the way). Finally, require every event to move at a fixed speed in this 4 dimensional universe.

In this situation, quantization of momentum along that fourth axis yields some rather surprising kinematics. The uncertainty principal makes the axis undetectable. If the quantized momentum in that direction is called mass, all the dynamics of Special relativity will be seen to be valid. General relativity is a straight forward generalization of the same effects. A lot of things become very clear.

Motion is well defined as "time" is not a coordinate of the geometry. But a problem exists: clocks do not measure "time". But that clearly is not a real problem because (if one says that interaction indicates "same time") real clocks don't measure time anyway. The idea that they do is the confusion that leads to the conflict between quantum physics and relativity! The static nature of Einstein's picture (pointed out by Aurino) is the basic reason for his theory of General Relativity and the philosophical discussion about the nature of time (which Harv pointed out necessitate this kind of thinking) becomes entirely moot.

Now I know most all of that is far over everyone's head, but try thinking about it anyway.

Have fun -- Dick

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