Matter is what the universe is made of, but what is it made of? This question has always been tough for those who contemplate it – especially for physicists.
Reflects recent trends in my physics Colleague Geoffrey Aichen And me Description of an updated way of thinking about it. We suggest that this issue is not made of grains or waves, As was long believed, but – essentially – this material is made of Fragments of energy.
Five to one
Imagine the ancient Greeks Five building blocks of matter From the bottom up: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether. Ether was the substance that filled the sky and explained the rotation of stars, as observed from the point of view of the Earth.
These were the first basic elements with which to build a world. Their perceptions of physical elements have not changed significantly for nearly 2,000 years.
Then, about 300 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton Introduce the idea that all matter is in points called grains. One hundred and fifty years later, James Clerk Maxwell Presented the Electromagnetic wave The most basic and often invisible form of magnetism, electricity and light.
The particle was the basic building block of the mechanics and wave of electromagnetism – and the audience settled on the particle and the wave as the building blocks of matter. Particles and waves together became the building blocks of all matter.
This was a major improvement over the Five Elements of the Ancient Greeks but it was still flawed. In the famous experiments series known as Double slit experimentsAt times, light acts like a particle and other times it behaves like a wave. And while the theories and mathematics of waves and particles allow scientists to make incredibly accurate predictions about the universe, the rules break up on larger and smaller scales.
Einstein suggested a remedy in his theory of General Relativity. Using the mathematical tools available to him at the time, Einstein was able to better explain some physical phenomena as well as solve a long-standing problem. The paradox of inertia and gravity.
But rather than refining particles or waves, he removed them as he proposed distorting space and time.
Using newer mathematical tools, my colleague and I demonstrated a new theory that may accurately describe the universe. Rather than basing the theory on the curvature of time and space, we considered that there could be a more fundamental building block than the particle and the wave.
Scientists understand that particles and waves are existential opposites: a particle is a source of matter that exists in a single point, and waves are everywhere except for the points that create them.
My colleague and I thought it only made sense that there was a fundamental relationship between them.
The flow and fragments of energy
Our theory starts with a new basic idea – that energy always “flows” through regions of time and space.
Think of energy as consisting of lines that fill a region of space and time, flow into and out of that region, never begin, never end, and never intersect with one another.
Starting with the idea of the universe of flowing energy lines, we looked for a single building block of energy flow. If we could find and define something like this, we’d hope we could use it to make accurate predictions about the universe on the largest and smallest scales.
There were several building blocks to choose mathematically from, but we looked for one that had the characteristics of both particle and wave – concentrated like a particle but also spreading across space and time like a wave.
The answer was a building block similar to an energy concentration – somewhat like a star – having higher energy in the center, and smaller farther from the center.
Much to our surprise, we discovered that there were only a limited number of ways to describe the concentration of the flowing energy. Among these, we only found one that works according to our mathematical definition of flow.
We called it Part of the energy. For mathematics and physics enthusiasts, it is defined as A = – / r where is the density and r is the distance function.
Using the energy fraction as the building block of matter, we then constructed the mathematics needed to solve the physical problems. The last step was to test it.
We go back to Einstein, adding global
More than 100 years ago, Einstein turned to Two myth problems In physics to validate it General Relativity: Very light yearly Transformation – or preemption – in the orbit of Mercury, And the Slight bending of the light as it passes through the sun.
These problems were at both ends of the size spectrum. Neither wave theories nor particles of matter could solve it, but general relativity did.
General relativity has distorted space and time in a way that causes Mercury’s path to shift and light bends precisely in the quantities seen in astronomical observations.
If our new theory had a chance to replace the particle and wave with the assumed fundamental, we would be able to solve these problems with our theory as well.
For the Mercury prelude problem, we modeled the Sun as a massive constant fraction of energy and Mercury as a smaller but still slow fraction of energy. For the problem of bending light, a model of the sun is modeled in the same way, but a photon is designed as a small fraction of energy moving at the speed of light.
In both problems, we computed the paths of the moving parts and got the same answers that the general theory of relativity predicted. We were stunned.
Our initial work showed how a new building block is able to accurately model objects from the large to the minuscule. When the particles and waves break, part of the energy block remains strong.
This part could be a single potential universal building block in which to mathematically shape reality – and update the way people think about the building blocks of the universe.