Physicists teach us that aether is a nineteenth-century misconception, thoroughly discredited by Michelson & Morley, Einstein, and by astronomers failing to find “aether drag” effects. Our common sense tells us, also, that the earth couldn’t possibly “punch” a path through a space rigid enough to account for the “wave-theory” propagation of light. Yet, isn’t it time for us to re-examine the current assumptions about space? Do you feel, as I do, that our notion of space was not clarified by the rejection of the ether theory, but, rather, was left in a muddled state?
For example, what is your current concept of the space in our vicinity? Is it predominately emptiness, yet teeming with dimensionless “points” of matter, all interacting with each other? Or is it a mathematical abstraction of space-time metric tensors? Or, perhaps, a fabric, impossible to characterize, which somehow looks the same to any observer, no matter what his velocity relative to ours? Or is it a frothing medium of ten-dimensional cosmic “strings”? Or what?
And what is your concept of the regions of our space not occupied by matter? Are they completely empty, occasionally empty, or completely full of chimerical “force particles”, some massless, some two-orders-of-magnitude heavier than a proton?? How do you visualize the mode of propagation of these “force” particles through this void? Or, if you prefer the notion of “fields”, how would you characterize a field “element”? What is present in the void that tells a particle how to behave? And if something is present, are we justified in calling the region a “void”? Could anything exist if “empty” space were really empty? Let us see what arguments can be marshaled against the notion of “empty” space!
First, we accept the fact that space imposes limits on physical processes. The bundles of energy we term photons move only at the finite speed, 300,000 km per second, and matter is known to have the same velocity as a limit, no matter how high the accelerating energy. Surely this confutes the notion of emptiness, which would suggest, either that no propagation should be possible, or that there should be no upper limit to these velocities.
Next, consider the photon as a quantum particle, as suggested by Planck, Einstein, and Compton. Clearly, the ability to oscillate at infinite Q at any frequency over dozens of orders of magnitude cannot be an attribute of any fundamentally simple particle, and we would not accept a premise that the photon family consists of an infinite number of differing and complex particles. No, the only thing which makes sense is to consider that the photon is a reflexive oscillation which moves, but does not dissipate its energy, and this is plausible only in a medium capable of sustaining this oscillation. Emptiness obviously cannot satisfy this requirement!
Consider a mirror. Viewed in the microcosmic mind’s eye of the physicist, the mirror surface is not only rough terrain, but is teeming with electrons in utterly random motion. For a photon to obey the Law of Reflection, its interaction with the surface electrons must be a group effect, involving countless electrons, sufficient in number so that their individual randomness integrates out to a smooth group predictability. To interact with all the electrons of a mirror’s surface simultaneously a photon must be a diffuse phenomenon, that is, it must be an oscillation which extends diminishingly, but unbounded, into the space surrounding its center. Since mirrors work equally well in the best vacuum, “empty” space can’t be empty, but must contain something which supports oscillatory phenomena!
Consider the two-hole interference patterns of photons and electrons, or other particles. This phenomenon clearly shows the diffuse nature of energy, whether in photons, or matter-waves, and suggests that matter, also, is diffuse. And supporting this conclusion is the perception that sufficiently diffuse particles (say, stretching to infinity) could very well account for the interaction of particles over the vast reaches of space, thereby yielding tangible concepts for electromagnetism and gravity. This extreme tenuousness of particles can be plausible only in an interactive medium, not in emptiness!
Consider particle decay. Physicists treat decay as if it was spontaneous, but this conclusion is merely a tacit admission of ignorance. With particle half-lives ranging from 10-23 seconds to beyond 1018 seconds, decay could be spontaneous only if particles had internal timing mechanisms functioning over this range. This is hardly credible for structures postulated to be 109 times smaller than the wavelength of visible light! Furthermore, even if we were to accept this implausibility, we should expect the timing mechanisms of all particles of a particular type to be identical, whereas experiment shows that the decay times of each particle type fit a probability curve. What makes more sense is to attribute differences in particle half-lives to differences in their structural integrity. For example, short-lived particles may be disrupted by a distant passing of a single charged particle, whereas extremely long-lived particles may require close approaches of multiple influences in a specific geometric pattern to disrupt them, this obviously being much less probable. Notice, also, that attributing decay to passing events causes decay to be probabilistic. Yet, for influences to vary with distances, particles must be assumed to have diffuse boundaries, something credible only if space, itself, has a structure.
Consider Quarks. In spite of the evident congruence between the predictions of the quark theory and experimental discoveries, the theory has an elastic, ad hoc nature such that, as new experimental discoveries are made, complexities must be added to keep abreast. We have witnessed the addition of three flavors, three colors, and eight gluons to the original three flavors of quarks. Even this apparent simplicity, when embellished by three classes of leptons, anti-matter forms, “force” particles, and the “higgs” particle, burdens QCD with 62 “fundamental” particles, plus an infinite number of photons. Surely we are justified in questioning whether these are the most fundamental entities of the microcosm. Again, the diffuse character of all particles seems to be an unexplored dimension, whose understanding may point to something more fundamental, namely the entities comprising space, itself.
Consider General Relativity. Einstein’s concept of a gravitationally warped space has stood the test of observation, and his equation intimately binding together space and time has led to many cosmological insights, such as the nature of neutron stars and black holes, the expanding universe and the Big Bang, stellar collapse, novas and supernovas, gravitational waves and “lenses”, and even to predicting the instability of black holes. Yet, is this not just another way of saying that space has a structure, and does not one have to be pretty frivolous to assert this, and in the same breath assert that space is empty?
Consider current ideas of “exchange” forces & fields. Each infinitesimal quark, for example, is considered able to produce, emit, and catch thirteen different kinds of “ghost” entities (virtual photon, graviton, 8 gluons & 3 weakons). If these ghost particles are presumed to be emitted in sufficient numbers by each quark in the universe to send information to all the other quarks in the universe, we must wonder how all these ghost particles can propagate without interference through “empty” space. Of course, “ghosts” are expected to pass through material things without hindrance, so one could postulate that they might pass through each other without effect; but, if so, why then would they be able to affect material particles like quarks?