Physics and Timepath are compatible views – the past is real; the future – messy probability; the Now separates them.
Well-trained, reputable physicists have published claims that the past is fixed, the future is just like the past but stretches in the other direction, and that the present Now is the point that joins the two. Some even publish that it is possible to travel through time. Are such positions sensible, or, as we believe, are they ideological beliefs supported by wishful thinking?
This is our concluding post in the 4 part series that introduces our Timepath picture of reality. Timepath is not yet a model with new predictions ready for physics testing. It is a pre-hypothesis; a suggestion of how to view world processes to remove the feelings of strangeness generated by (for example) quantum ideas. We begin by discussing the three physics worldviews (paradigms) and compare how they mutually interact. The Timepath description follows, along with a discussion of how the quantum paradigm and Timepath views can work together. Click any image for full resolution
Overview: The Three Paradigms of Physics
This section is a quick summary of the three distinct physics worldviews.
- The Newtonian view of the classically famous 3 laws of motion.
- The Relativistic view with its ‘Special’ description and its cosmological ‘General’ extension.
- The Quantum view that accounts well for the atomic world of the ultra small.
A more complete description for non-technical general audiences can be found in our Physics In 3 Paradigms.pdf.
Newtonian Paradigm (NP)
Isaac Newton’s Laws form the oldest paradigm in physics that that actually works. NP was developed in the mid 1660s. It was released several decades later as the 3 famous laws that students learn in their first classes in physics. NP is deductive and causal in that current interactions cause subsequent motion. NP is also called deterministic. It described and explained activities in ways not possible before.
Fig 1 Australia’s Sydney Harbor.
Nearly every object in the Sidney Harbor view (Fig 1) owes its existence to the success of NP analysis. All the constructed things we use today – bridges, complex buildings, vehicles, lighting, aircraft, etc. show Newton’s success.
They connect the beginnings of NP (accurate descriptions of planetary orbits) to modern explorations of our local environments (underseas, ground-to-atmosphere, and near-Earth space).
NP is our foundation paradigm to understand the world. For this reason it is called Classical Physics.
Relativistic Paradigm (RP)
Special Relativity (SR), the initial form of RP, was released in 1905 and extended NP to high velocities, and accelerations in inertial reference frames only. SR is the attempt to find the form of physics ‘laws’ that can be expressed exactly the same way in all inertial frames, independent of any relative velocity (valid laws must be covariant). It assumes that the speed of light has the same numeric value in each reference. These two requirements – covariant laws and invariant light speed – led to startling predictions.
- The length of a moving object is always less than its proper length.
- The duration of a time interval (like the time between successive clock ticks) is always longer than the proper duration.
- If there is in inertial frame where two events are detected to occurring simultaneously, they will not occur simultaneously in any other moving frame.
SR has been strenuously examined through extremely detailed tests. Because it has passed every one of these test, SR now is generally accepted. But to the old NP physicists, it did not “feel like” physics – sure, it made new predictions, but it seemed closer to a philosophical discussion.
General Relativity (GR) is the upgrade to SR and is its natural successor. GR combines the speed of light and simultaneity with gravitational mass to describe the universe as a whole. GR predicted that accumulations of mass will warp straight lines through space and was immediately used to explain the classical anomaly in the precession of Mercury’s orbit as well as the bending of star light around our sun. In its GR form, RP has passed the myriad tests of its predictions.
Physicist John Wheeler (1911-2008) is often quoted to have said
Mass tells space-time how to curve, and
space-time tells mass how to move.
Fig 2 The Andromeda galaxy, M31
About 20 years ago, the structure and behavior of the Andromeda galaxy (Fig 2) was found to differ a bit from GR calculations, a fact that led to the proposal of dark matter.
So far, no one has observed “dark matter” – does this invalidate GR?
Think about this – neutrinos started as a math tool to let quantum relations work. But. If neutrinos were only a math contrivance, Quantum mechanics would be as acceptable as epicycles or phlogiston. Twenty six years after being proposed, Cowen and Reins (link) detected their very real existence.
Frankly, I am not worried about dark matter – our understanding of galactic dynamics and the universe as a whole is based on the success of GR theory.
Although the SR subset of the RP is accepted by nearly everyone, its GR generalization still makes some physicists squirm, even though it has passed every challenge during the past 100 years. It is in continuous daily use: the GPS location devices use GR calculations in every measurement. Without GR, GPS could not work.
As with its NP predecessor, RP provides accurate deductive predictions from causal relationships. Both are deterministic world views – If you can specify something’s initial state and keep it fully isolated from everything else, you can know with perfect precision what will be happening at any time after the starting point.
Quantum Paradigm (QP)
The physics discipline that underlies the QP is Quantum Mechanics (QM), which describes an atom as a tiny positive central nucleus surrounded by a definitely shaped though diffuse cloud of negative electrons. Since you cannot distinguish between identical electrons, no prediction can be made for any particular one. This means that QP can not provide deterministically predictive descriptions – only most likely ones.
Fig 3 Artist’s image of the calculated dz2 atomic orbital
QM‘s “diffuse but definite” cloud is the density of the probability in which the various states that the collection of electrons could exist. The gaseously diffuse probability is called the state’s wave function, and has required decades to understand (assuming we actually do so, now).
Wave function calculations proved precise explanations for what we observe, and accurate predictions about what we should expect. We can picture these as in Fig 3, our artistic conception of the dz2 wave function for the orbital electron distribution in an atom. It shows a distinct though blurry solid against a background of all the general probabilities in the atom’s environment.