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December 29th : Space-Time-Matter-Energy
Quote of the Day
"We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct." -Niels Bohr
Thoughts for the Day
Yesterday we contemplated the idea that we are not made of atoms but instead that we are patterns imprinted on atoms. Today, let us consider the Big metaphysical question, "What is matter?" We need not start with debates between Democritus and Aristotle as to the existence of atoms. We now know that almost all matter is made of atoms and that all atoms are made of sub-atomic particles such as electrons, protons and neutrons and that all sub-atomic particles are made of quarks. Perhaps it is possible to break quarks down into yet more basic particles. But string theory models the most basic particles as just folded space-time. This is why string theory requires eleven dimensions; that makes space-time complicated enough for folds in it to account for matter.
String theory isn't necessarily the best model for explaining matter. The jury will always be out on that question. But with more work, someone might prove that it is an exceptionally good model, like relativity, quantum mechanics or evolution by natural selection. If that happens then we will be able to say that space-time and matter-energy have been unified into a single concept.
Unification is important in science. Relativity unified space and time into one concept and that is why we talk about space-time. Einstein's equation, E = mc^2 unified matter and energy into a single concept that we now call matter-energy. A basic understanding that sound and light travel at very different speeds allowed us to unify the once separate concepts of thunder and lightning, although, it never became fashionable to talk about thunder-lightening.
The unification of space-time and matter-energy would result in a single concept we might call space-time-matter-energy but that is an awful mouthful. Instead we could call it spimanergy.
But if all matter and energy is actually just complex folds in space-time then as it moves around it must fold and unfold space-time the way a single ripple bends and straightens the surface of a still pond. Just as water doesn't cross the pond with the ripple, no spimanergy is actually traveling when an electron crosses the vacuum tube in an oscilloscope. The pattern of folding that the electron represents moves but the spimanergy just wobbles a bit. The electron is like a magic bit of origami where all the folds are concentrated in one part of the paper but the folds themselves perform expert origami and create a copy of themselves in the next segment of paper and smooth themselves out as they do so and so the origami moves about the paper while the paper remains pretty much still.
Contemplation for the Day
If you can, perform this contemplation sitting near a stone or rock.
So if matter-energy is really just a pattern of folds in space-time, does anything really exist? The answer is yes. If you yell, "I refute it thus!" and kick a stone, the folded spimanergy that makes up your toe will not just pass through the folded spimanergy that makes up the stone. Don't actually do this, because, your foot will come to a painful stop.
This is rather unlike ripples on a still pond which can pass right through each other. But it is a bit more like large waves which as they pass through each other create superimposed crests which then break losing much of the waves' energy. Eleven-dimensional spimanergy can be folded in complicated enough ways to represent a toe breaking when its owner kicks a stone.
So, even though they are just folded space-time, matter and energy still exist. Just as life is a pattern imprinted on atoms, those atoms are a pattern imprinted on space-time. The universe is like a gigantic eleven-dimensional sheet of origami paper and we are all complex patterns of folds in that same sheet of paper. The entire universe is a single object and the Body of All Life on Earth is a pattern of complex folds in that object. All the other bodies of all life on other worlds out there in the gigantic origami universe are folds in the same space-time sheet of paper.
Quietly contemplation this idea for a while. Open your mind to being a part of one eleven-dimensional biosphere-pattern folded into the same sheet of space-time origami-paper as the patterns of every other object alive or inanimate in the universe.