New theory casually turns space and time upside down

From Men’s Health

  • Fragments of energy can be the basic building blocks of the universe.

  • The theory combines the ideas of particles and waves into a concentration of energy that flows through space and time.

  • The researchers used the theory to answer two problems solved by Einstein.

Embrace the flow, says a duo of mechanical engineers at North Carolina State University – the flow of energy, that is. The mantra you normally hear from your yoga instructor can be a whole new way of looking at the universe.

The two theorists, Larry Silverberg and Jeffrey Eischen, suggest that fragments of energy, rather than waves or particles, perhaps the basic building blocks of the universe.

The basis of their theory is the fundamental idea that energy always flows through space and time. The authors suggest that energy be viewed as lines that enter and leave an area of ​​space, never intersect, and have no beginning or end point.

“Working from the idea of ​​a universe of flowing energy lines, we looked for a single building block for the flowing energy,” said Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. registers The conversation. “If we could find and define something like this, we hoped we could use it to make accurate predictions about the universe on the largest and smallest scale.”

What is going on?

In the 4th century BC, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle formulated the idea that the universe was made up of five building blocks of matter: earth, water, air, fire, and the heavenly. ether. This idea persisted for over 2,000 years and plagued the countless alchemists who tried to make it rich by turning the Earth into gold.

Coincidentally, it was also an alchemist who removed Aristotle’s ideas from their throne. Robert Boyle, the famous ‘father’ of chemistry, left the classical elements behind and went for the idea that all matter was made up of particles. This revolutionary idea sparked one of the most explosive periods in the history of science, including Sir Isaac Newton’s formulation of classical mechanics.

The particle was now the king of the scientific universe, and it would reign for another 150 years until Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell introduced electromagnetic waves into the equation.

Together, particles and waves became the familiar building blocks of all matter. Particles served as the individual stones, as matter that existed at a single point in space. Electromagnetic waves formed the mortar that held everything together, like energy that dissipated like waves throughout space.

Separating matter into both particles and waves made predictions easier for physicists because they could easily describe the behavior of particles and waves. But nothing comes easy in physics, and the theory was quickly turned upside down.

In the early 20th century, the famous double slit experiment showed that particles and waves weren’t nearly as different as we previously thought. The experiment revealed that particles can sometimes act like waves and light can sometimes act like particles.

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Around the same time, ghosts exploded about the wave-particle duality of matter, Albert Einstein formulated his theory of general relativity, which describes how warping of the fabric of space and time causes gravity. Together, the discoveries have shaped the course of modern physics, but the connections between the two phenomena remain unclear.

The fragment of energy

“Using newer mathematical tools, my colleague and I have demonstrated a new theory that can accurately describe the universe. Rather than basing the theory on warping space and time, we thought there could be a building block more fundamental than the particle and wave, ”writes Silverberg.

He and Eischen looked for a solution with characteristics of both particles and waves. They wanted to find a building block that was both concentrated as a particle and spread like a wave. Their answer is what they call a fragment of energy.

The energy fragment is very similar to stars in a distant galaxy. From a distance, a galaxy resembles a bright glow of light radiating outward. But on closer inspection, astronomers can spot individual stars in the Milky Way. In the same sense, the energy fragment represents a concentration of energy that flows out and disappears away from the center.

With their new building block, the scientists formulated a new set of equations to solve physical problems. They tested their theory on two problems that Einstein solved more than a century ago.

Photo credit: Rainer Zens / Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Rainer Zens / Wikimedia Commons

Einstein’s general theory of relativity was confirmed by two observations of astronomers. The first was a small annual job shift Mercury. Einstein accurately predicted that the curvature of spacetime caused by the mass of the sun would cause Mercury’s orbit to wobble over time. The second was to bend the light as it travels through space and time curved near the sun.

“If our new theory were allowed to replace the particle and wave with the presumably more fundamental fragment, we should be able to solve these problems with our theory,” Silverberg writes.

To solve Mercury’s problem, Silverberg and Eischen modeled the sun as a huge fragment of energy, with Mercury as a smaller fragment of energy revolving around it. In the problem of bending light, the sun was modeled identically, but the light was modeled as a massless point moving at the speed of light (a photon). After calculating the paths of the moving energy fragments, the researchers got the same answers as Einstein.

The solutions show how effective their new building block can be in modeling the behavior of matter from micro to macroscopic scale. While their formulation may not really change physics like the discoveries of Maxwell and Einstein, the theory could make the wave particle duality of matter more intuitive and give a new way of thinking about the universe.

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