The incentive which impels an outsider to work on a revolutionary new theory of physics is hard to explain to wife, friends, and neighbors. You appear to them like Thaddeus P. Toad, all aflutter with curious ideas which make no sense at all! You have no job, no contract with the government, no support from any foundation, no affiliation with any university; in fact you have no legitimacy whatsoever! If your wife loves you, as mine does, and is able to keep house and finances in order while you spend money on fancy computers, and squander your time on one false lead after another, you are indeed lucky! And, if you actually achieve something noteworthy, and start crowing about it, you are blessed beyond measure, if she refuses to call the local nut house to have you put away!
An outsider is anyone interested in a field of science for which he is academically unqualified. Insiders consider outsiders a plague of locusts, incessantly buzzing around, consuming valuable time spent in squashing them. Even when outsiders contribute something of value, insiders are annoyed. "Hell, this idea isn't new! I've thought of many times, but never got around to writing it down!"
Encouragement for outsiders comes in the form of rebuffs! You get these, simply by talking about your radical ideas. If I had needed this kind of encouragement, I could have obtained rebuffs every day of the thirty-three years of this investigation, simply by informing some physicist of my book's thesis. I'm not that much of a masochist, but this opportunity exists, because there is a heap of hubris in the hallowed halls of High-Energy Physics! Please do not interpret this as criticism - there is plenty of justification for these hallowed people to feel superior. And these rebuffs were useful, for they showed me how different my engineering type mind is from that of a mathematical physicist, and what a huge chasm I must bridge to gain an audience for my ether theory.
A theory is an ordered series of concepts gleaned from a colossal clutter of creative ideas. To create a new theory, you must pluck the fruit of truth from a rubble pile of discarded notions! I view my role as snatching ideas from the formless void, and arranging them to tell a story which is meaningful to me. Whether these ideas become a theory is beyond my control - only my successors will determine this!
Understanding complex phenomena requires the mental agility to leap back and forth among the components of partial comprehension until some new, and higher, gestalt emerges. Often the list of components necessary for the gestalt is not complete, or, if complete, is not comprehended with equal clarity. Frequently knowledge of one component is vital to understanding another, so a serial approach is required. The worst case is one in which all the components of partial comprehension need to be understood in order to understand any of them. Here, one may need to learn in a circular manner, overcoming unclarity gradually by repeated visits, and the serial order of these visits may not have much significance.
This latter mode of activity is, of course, the way any theoretical advance is made. You stew over a motley bunch of half-baked ideas, perhaps for years, until some begin to please you, and you work with these until they begin to cluster into family relationships. Numerous gestalts will then begin to occur, most of them only temporarily appealing, until some idea suddenly blinds you with its potential brilliance. It is still only half-baked, but you know it will work out!
Any new theory advances in cogency by successive purges of misconceptions. At any stage in its development, it will contain flaws. When these are discovered, a defender of the status quo breathes a sigh of relief - but so does a proponent of the theory! Solve this flaw, and the theory is greatly strengthened!
One must be frivolous to think of new things; one must be serious to make something of them. Ergo, a successful theorist is a schizophrenic, manic-depressive! Hence, being crazy, a theoretician progresses from perception to exception to rejection to dejection, from hunch to crunch to lunch, from soaring to boring to snoring, from elation to conflation to deflation to vacation, and from zoom to gloom to tomb!
A small group of scientists, in Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, have established temporary dominance over the entire world by being the only group able to communicate with a huge cloud surrounding our sun, whose shadow threatens to freeze the earth's people. They have learned that the "cloud" is a sentient being of vastly superior intelligence, of incorruptible rationality, very busy with its own affairs, but apparently willing to impart some of its advanced physical knowledge to them.
You know the rest - the "bright boy" volunteers first to sit in front of the apparatus designed by the cloud. He is entranced, mesmerized, immobilized, as new patterns of understanding envelope his mind, creating a wild storm of thoughts so irresistible, and yet so destabilizing to his scientific indoctrination, that he is overcome with "brain fever", and dies.
Who will be next, after this outcome? Only, Chris, the leader of the Group! He has a scheme to avert the same fate: he will ask the "cloud" to go slower, and resolves not to contest the "cloud's" concepts, but will just subordinate his own beliefs whenever there is a conflict. The scheme almost works, but, in the end, Chris finds himself in an intolerable state, where the two irreconcilable viewpoints cannot be kept in separate compartments, but merge and destroy his brain. Just before the end, he has a moment of sanity, and observes, "The height of irony is that I should experience this singular disaster, while someone like Joe Stoddard (the simple-minded estate gardener) would have been quite all right!"
So what led Hoyle, in 1957, to imply that our current understanding of the cosmos was vulnerable to drastic reformulation? Was it the flack he was getting from Big Bang proponents over his Steady-State Universe postulate? Or did he perceive that Quantum Mechanics was so divorced from common sense, that its proponents would be completely unnerved to find that there was, after all, a common sense way of reconciling all its odd, contradictory aspects? Surely the knowledge imparted by the cloud was not the "Equation of Everything", because that insight would merely have produced a smile of understanding, undergirded with envy! No, to have induced a brain-damaging fever, the Cloud's information must have been truly revolutionary - something that inverted all the scientist's perceptions about the microcosm. The most logical inference we can make is that the Cloud imparted something revolutionary about the characteristics of space, itself, since his organism spread into trillions of cubic kilometers of it.
Perhaps the Cloud suggested that space was actually an unimaginably dense crystal of two elemental charge entities, and then showed how all known phenomena derived from the interactions of just these two elementary particles. Would that insight be mind-boggling enough to destroy a physicist's brain?
Had this powerful imagery of Hoyle's 1957 novel created a latent predisposition toward space-lattice theories in my mind, ready to be ignited by a chance Scientific American article? I don't know! But I would like to think that IPP is according to Hoyle!
We heretics, nowadays, have a much easier life than was true in the Middle Ages, when you were burnt at the stake, or placed under lifetime house arrest. But it is, nevertheless, painful to the ego to spend hours on personal letters to numerous prominent physicists and cosmologists, describing your accomplishments, only to receive perhaps three or four replies out of over a hundred, and these replies rather non-committal. When you are persuaded that you are right, this is baffling! But one can rationalize this rejection by philosophical rumination on the diverse nature of minds, as follows:
Every observant person has noticed that minds are as idiosyncratic as faces, or figures. Some are sharp and quick, some vague and slow, some are reflective and involute, others dynamic and decisive. In each of these types, we also find differences in proclivity, emphasis, and, to choose a modern metaphor, "programming". Although any particular mind defies complete characterization, we recognize certain types - artistic, literary, pragmatic, mechanistic, mathematical, inventive, pedantic, legalistic, humanistic, and so on.
These differences lend excitement to life, but they also lead to many problems. When exposed to the same learning situation, we absorb different things, reach different conclusions, and act in different ways. And when we view the actions of others, we tend to think of them as "right", or "wrong", depending whether they are consonant, or antagonistic to our own impulses. Ultimately, then, it is the tug and pull of these value judgments which shape the course of cooperative human behavior. Whether an activity is sacred or secular, business or academic, productive or hedonistic, pseudo or scientific, little can be accomplished unless the participants have similar backgrounds and thinking processes. Without this commonality, their efforts will be dissipated in argument, strife, and bitterness.
Thus, the urge to accomplish something, rather than nothing, leads inexorably to mind-selecting processes in all major human activities. These processes are, at first, informal and competitive, with much soul-searching and experimentation, and with numerous sub-groups bidding for supremacy. Each sub-group strives to define a paradigm for the activity which will enlist the maximum number to its cause, hoping, thereby, to achieve dominance, so that the emphasis can shift from politics to useful activity. If this paradigm is skillfully chosen, a variety of mind-types can be active toward the group goals, but it is never possible to define the activity so that all mind-types will be able to, or want to, participate. And, indeed, it would be undesirable to include too many mind-types, since differences create disagreements, and disagreements slow the pace of the work.
As one group achieves dominance, the excluded participants in the original quest either switch to other pursuits, or continue to advance their divergent views, earning the opprobrium of their erstwhile associates, and, eventually, if they persist, being treated as heretics. Either way, their competitive concepts of the paradigm are not promulgated, and gradually fade from view. Not only is this true, but through control of the pedagogy, the dominant group will tend to pass on mainly those aspects of its paradigm which have proven most productive, thereby both narrowing the range of acceptable pursuits, and also further delimiting the mind-types who find the field possible and challenging.
What finally prevails in any mature group activity is a professional class of participants with a relative narrow range of mind-types, who are predisposed to, and specially indoctrinated in, a narrowly defined paradigm which is assumed by them to encompass all desirable investigations and explorations, present and future. This limited purview can be highly successful in ethical, literary, and artistic fields, and even in science, so long as the phenomena under consideration are consonant with the mental processes of the participants. However, since Nature's bounty is unlimited, and man is clearly not omniscient, it is inevitable that moments of bafflement will eventually arrive which appear insoluble to the specially selected mind-types who comprise the professional cadre.
These moments of bafflement are common in scientific work, and quite often the pessimism which ensues proves to be unfounded, when renewed effort and new approaches vanquish the supposed "insoluble" problem. Successes have been often enough, in fact, that even long-standing and seemingly intractable problems acquire a patina of pregnant possibilities in the ambience of other "impossible" breakthroughs. But breakthrough don't always happen! Some problems resist explication by the entire community of scientists for decades, seemingly placing the group's paradigm in jeopardy!
One would think, at this point, that these scientists would seek assistance from proponents of alternative paradigms. Perhaps the narrowed focus of the reigning paradigm was unwise? Perhaps the intractable problem would become intelligible, if it were viewed from a radically different perspective? Alas, perish these heretical thoughts! It is much easier to sweep these niggling difficulties under the rug, and just work on problems that have solutions! If the rug gets too lumpy, just get a bigger rug!
Meanwhile, this rug debris, while cleverly rationalized away by the specialists, becomes fascinating to other mind-types, especially to those excluded during the period of paradigm squabble. Maybe this is their day in court; find solutions for the intractable problems under the rug, and surely the reigning paradigmists will listen! I have sad news for these out-of-favor mind-types: don't count on it! From the perspective of reigning paradigmists, solving "rug" problems is impossible; hence, anyone who claims to have done so is clearly a fool, whom all reigning paradigmists should (and will) ignore!
At the root of the differences in the thought processes between mathematicians and engineers are the different goals they seek. The mathematician is interested in generalities, the engineer in specifics. Thus, M is concerned with procedures, while E must be concerned with details. They also pursue their goals differently:
M plunges into the water, heading north, for example, and swims under water with his eyes tightly closed, until he arrives at his destination. He has faith that, providing every stroke is precisely determined, and his inertial guidance system is working, he will emerge in a glorious place, one fully worthy of his efforts. A certain serendipity is hoped for, since his effort would be useless if he already knew precisely where he would emerge.
E, on the other hand, must choose his destination before getting in the water, must swim on the turbulent surface, fighting the wind and waves, dodging flotsam and jetsam, and must keep his destination ever in sight, through blinding reflections and irritating salt spray. If his strength is adequate, and his goal is not an hallucination or a mirage, he knows precisely what to expect at his destination.
To achieve outstanding success in either field, a high degree of imagination, technical mastery, discipline, and fortitude is essential, and luck and Divine Guidance are most welcome. But imaginationM is not imaginationE, just as skillM is not skillE. The mathematician's imagination is poly-dimensional, and poly-chromatic, while the engineer's imagination must be in 3-dimensions, and in living Technicolor. M's thoughts have no boundaries, and his visions are not limited to the real universe, while E's thoughts are confined to real-world possibilities, and his mental pictures must exclude the impossible and the impractical. M seeks universality, elegance, and congruence; E seeks utility, appeal, and functionality.
The many differences in thought processes may suggest why there is a love-hate relationship, sotto voce, but nevertheless real, between mathematicians and engineers. The epithets vary, but "ivory-domed theorists" vs. "bone-headed empiricists" captures the essence. Neither group really understands how the other is able to get satisfaction from its activities, nor can one group fully comprehend the thought processes necessary for success of the other.
What engenders this mutual animus - when it is readily apparent to both groups that scientific understanding is vitally dependent on both activities? My answer, now painfully apparent to you, is that we are both victims of our happenstance mental programming, most of which took place in early childhood. Each group is innocent of any malice - they are both just doing what comes naturally!
What has become a serious difficulty, however, is that mathematicians have become custodians of the Temple of Knowledge, and keepers of the Sacred Scrolls. They decide what information needs to be preserved, and what language the scrolls are to be kept in. We should not be surprised that this language is mathematics, and that they take delight in making the scrolls incomprehensible to practical minds. Incomprehensibility has always been the goal of Keepers of the Sacred Scrolls - it enhances our awe of them, and dissuades us from invading their territory!
So, engineers, challenge the mathematical theorists! Despite your impure blood, take your rightful place in Physics! It needs your contributions!
"In conclusion", the boring speaker says, after he has severely tested our ability to stay awake, "I want to thank all of you for your restraint! I know my message has raised your hackles and blood pressure, offended your dignity, and, perhaps, curdled your milk of human kindness. New ideas are always disturbing, and particularly so, when they question the very foundation of centuries-old thought patterns. I feel very lucky not to have been ridden out of town on a rail, dripping tar and feathers, for, in truth, my message is not nearly as secure as I have proclaimed it. Consider these points:
"IPP does not have the potential of superseding the mathematical quantum theory of atoms, nor the mathematical theory of the electron, QED. All it can achieve is to explain many of the items which these theories have given up on, as too mysterious to have explanations. Although IPP provides much more plausible explanations, than QCD, of what particles, energy, fields, and forces are, it offers no alternative to the currently adequate scheme of mathematical analysis of the dynamics of particle trajectories. While I fully expect IPP to supersede QCD, much effort will need to be expended (by other mind-types) to adapt IPP concepts to the analysis of high-energy particle experiments.
"Now, having voiced all these disclaimers, I don't want you to underestimate the value that IPP may bring to our society. Ever since Einstein's Special & General Theories of Relativity became the epitome of intellectual achievement, the opinion molders of world culture have utilized the concept of relativity, divorced from its scientific meaning, as a means of subverting our European and Christian heritage of individualism, property rights, and free markets. We have gone from an ethic of hard work = achievement, to "what's the easiest way to get by!" From personal integrity, to "all things are equivalent, hence no value is superior to any other". Just criticism of behavior is deflected by the glib phrase, "everything is relative"!
"Likewise, the Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Mechanics has sauntered into the common vernacular as a means of justifying fuzzy thinking, since "we can never know anything for sure"!
So what might an understanding of IPP contribute to alleviating this malaise?
Answer: IPP brings back the concept of "absolute"! It is premised upon an absolute space. It shows one that nothing in physics occurs spontaneously, that all things have causes, and that we humans are intelligent enough to discover what these cause are! It offers explanations for Heisenberg's "uncertainty", and for Einstein's "relativity", for spin, mass, conservation of energy, wave-particle duality, particle decays, fields, forces, gravity, particle charges, including why some particles have zero charge. And, foremost, it permits us to form mental "pictures" of all these elements of our microcosm & cosmos, so that they can become real to us! In short, IPP gives us back our sanity!
I'm glad the boring speaker said this, because this is exactly what I would have said, if I had his courage!
Sincerely yours, Dick