A new definition of space-time?

What is space-time?

Well we all know of its description in terms of Einstein’s Special and General Relativity papers, not to mention countless other interpretations and further work to Einstein’s original thought experiments, from John Archie-ball Wheeler through to modern-day scientists such as Kip Thorn, Paul Davies, Michio Kaku, Roger Penrose and Stephen W. Hawking, to name a few.

But none of these great minds, as far as I am aware, have come up with a physical tangible non-mathematical description. The closest we have describes space-time akin to a 2 dimensional rubber sheet where planets and stars glide across the top of it. Modern day computer graphics can provide images of 6 dimensional space manifolds, but these are still represented on 2 dimensional paper; no element of time is represented pictorially.

So how can space-time be visualized?

Well this is a hard question to answer and there currently is no known ‘correct’ answer, but we can deduce from common sense some factors; this could be dangerous of course because where quantum mechanics is involved, common sense usually is the proverbial ‘baby being thrown out with the bath water’, to miss-quote an old saying.

Common sense notions would say that causality – the idea that effect must follow cause – being one of the most common fundamental principles of physics, rules the roost with a description of space-time; also see thermodynamics. However if you look at things on the quantum level, causality can be broken; experiments with particle pairs can demonstrate strange quantum on-goings and time can flow backwards, thus breaking common sense notions of causality.

So how would one describe space-time?

Well one would like to think of space-time as having some sort of structure, a box to contain the contents of the universe, like a Venn diagram holds sets and subsets of information.

  • So how do you describe space-time?
  • What are its physical characteristics, or properties?
  • Could space-time be seen as sponge with lots of honey-combed connected holes?
  • How about looking at the 3 dimensional aspect, what if space is a super-fluid?
  • Could the structure of space-time be similar in properties like water being cooled down to almost absolute zero where it would have super-fluid like properties?

We know that atoms that exist within space-time all “vibrate” to a certain extent, where each element has a particular frequency or vibrates at a specific cycle/pattern; this is not including the possibility of string theory properties. This individual resonance can sing when a combination of atoms are put together – song in the heavens? But what if the time element of space-time is the expansion of space or the resonance of the very super-fluid structure of space?

We know that space-time itself is expanding, this does not mean that the matter within is expanding itself, but space-time is, hence why galaxies are moving away from each other. We also know that the light carrier, the photon, is connected through “Einstein’s biggest blunder“. It has been suggested by physicist João Magueijo of Imperial College London, that when the Universe was younger and space-time was smaller, light moved faster than 300,000 km/s, and as space-time grew/expanded, light slowed down to its current speed of 300,000 km/s. If space-time were to collapse and shrink up, then light would become more energetic and would get faster? This might be testable with future particle accelerators.

Gedankenexperiment

So if we take the idea of space-time as a super-fluid structure, and the time component is the frequency vibration of the space super-fluid, could this description be visualised as a working structure or model? Think of the super-fluid at its smallest component, like a ‘molecule’ of water vibrating away, collectively the ‘molecules’ make space-time. The carriers that exist within space-time, such as the photon, have no mass or discernible quantitative structure as they are a by-product of space-time ‘molecular’ structure vibrating, ‘molecules’ which have broken off from the whole structure because they have lost energy and have a slightly different frequency, and therefore vibrate differently from the other ‘molecules’ that make up the space-time super-fluid structure.

Could this explanation not account for some of the behaviour of the carrier particles and the structure of space-time itself?

Lets open up a new way of thinking, with another Gedankenexperiment.

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One of our Dinosaurs, or is that Universes, is missing?

Like the accolade to Disney in its heyday with the great comedic British Actor… I feel a certain sense of nostalgia to the missing Universe debate; an article published at http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/19/6/5/1 discusses how “dark matter” is still nowhere to be found.

If astronomers are correct in that only 4% of the known visible universe is made up of ordinary matter, with the rest being made up of dark matter and or dark energy {which is responsible for the universe’s expansion}, then one might sensibly ask, where is the rest of the missing matter? Or is it missing?

It is good to debate, discuss and form hypothesis, as this keeps people thinking; though to describe dark matter in scientific journals as though it was “real” as normal matter that we can see and touch, is stretching it a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for debates, discussions and hypothesis, but also, there is nothing wrong in saying: “we don’t know” where the rest of the missing matter is.

So is the current models that describe the Universe, from quantum mechanics through to general relativity missing something? Some scientists currently believe that general relativity is not currently complete as it does not encompass all aspects of quantum mechanics.

As scientists discovered, Newton’s predictions of gravity have a limited accuracy. Einstein’s general relativity expanded on this and can describe galaxies and  cluster of galaxies within the cosmos, but this too has its limits, such as with the theoretically predicted black holes.

With our current boundary limit of knowledge, now that we can peek further “back in time” into the depths of the great expanse of the universe that seems to keep going on, we are learning that it is approximately 28 billion light years across and about 14 billion years old.

Membrane theory has made some inroads into unifying a few elements of quantum mechanics with general relativity, however the picture is still incomplete within membrane theory {a predecessor of string theory}.

Could it not be the case then that the “multi-verse” might exist, similar to membrane theory but not the same as described within, where other “branched versions of universes”, are not just bumping next to one another, but existing in similar space and time; not the same, but similar. The universes could all co-exist in the same space and be made of the same or similar fabric, but be phased out from one another, like one of the other bane explanations which accounts for neutrinos. Or is space-time folding back on itself and the different objects we see are the same, like the weird properties {information} of a photon being entangled in two different places at once? As Bishop Berkeley {Berkeley, George (1685–1753), Irish philosopher and bishop who argued that material objects exist only by being perceived} philosophised, reality is not all it seems!

An article published in New Scientist, “Is space-time actually a superfluid?” 09 June 2006, Marcus Chown, Magazine issue 2555, discusses the possibility of space-time being a super-fluid. Reading this article, it reminded me of “luminiferous aether“; I wonder if there is another Michelson-Morley experiment waiting in the wings to force a new hypothesis to describe the fabric of space-time? Or is a super-fluid model of space-time a step in the right direction? Once thing is for certain, to continually debate, discuss and hypothesise is crucial to avoid dogmatic ideologies from setting in. Science is about the search for truth, and we can never know enough.