Vacuum? Aether? Or spacetime?

Simplicity to its extreme — Why physics needs to question the notions of space and time:

On Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:48 PM, wrote:

If you don’t believe that the aether exists or that there is experimental evidence for its existence, that’s your problem. Light is a wave, so something must be waving in the vacuum: that is the aether.

Well,  I am not a believer.    :-)) 

And that is why I do not believe in spacetime. 
For me, “physics” means:  “experimental physics”. 
Experiments produce results,  or they don’t, 
so there is no need to believe in anything else.
Either it works,  or it doesn’t.    Simple.

I would imagine that when we would tell spacetime believers that there is no experimental evidence for the physical existence of spacetime, they could use your above pseudo-reasoning:  If you don’t believe that spacetime exists, that’s your problem. Gravity waves were detected, Nobel was given, so something must be waving. And that is spacetime.

I could also tell you:  If you believe in the aether, without any experimental evidence, that’s your problem.   :-)) 

However, then it would not be a scientific debate.  As you know, de gustibus non disputandum est,  and for this reason, in physics, there is no point in debating our believes. The best way is to present objective evidence and logical reasoning. 

 ” Until just over a century ago, most physicists believed that the ether filled all of space. Their reasoning was straightforward enough: the prevailing opinion was that light travelled as a wave, just like sound. And just like sound waves, light waves would need something to move through. Light, they believed, was the result of oscillations in the ether. If the most famous null result in science was right, why not repeat it? And if it was wrong, then Einstein is no longer king of the universe. No wonder Maurizio Consoli is keen to get started. This experiment could be dynamite!  Consoli, of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Catania, Sicily, has found a loophole in the 19th-century experiment that defined our modern view of the universe. The experiment established that light always travels through space at the same speed, whatever direction it is heading in and whatever the motion of its source: there is no way to put the wind in light’s sails. Einstein used this foundation to build his special theory of relativity, but it seems his confidence may have been premature. Consoli’s paper, published in Physics Letters A (vol 333, p 355), shows that there might be a wind that blows in light’s sails after all: something called the ether.” 

This problem is, however, a bit more subtle than a simple alternative: either the aether, or the vacuum. 

Historically, it had became more and more obvious that for the aether to be physical, and to perform all the required functions, it would have to be something else than normal matter as we know it.  If so, then the aether has the same problem as dark matter, and spacetime. No one has any idea what dark matter or spacetime should be made of, so no wonder that there is no convincing experimental evidence for their physical existence. We don’t even know what to search for. 

Spacetime is supposed to just curve and wave, but the aether would need to perform even bigger miracles than spacetime, to make everything work.  As you said, there is neither a priori reason for it, nor there is any credible experimental evidence. 

On the other hand, how could waves propagate in the vaccum of outer space?! But this problem is even worse than that.

We imagine that the dark matter, or the aether, filling the vacuum of empty space. Empty space, in my opinion, is one of the most obvious things we directly perceive. But what is empty space? 

What is empty space made of? From my experience, I know that most people naturally assume empty space to be made of nothing, because it is empty.  

If something is made of nothing, then it cannot be something, and must be effectively nothing, so it cannot exist. 

So, for space to exist physically, it would have to be made of something physical. Maybe there is no need for empty space to be filled with the aether. The space could be the aether.

However, we still don’t know what miraculous physical substance the aether is made of.  Instead of spacetime, we would simply have the aether. That means that the only thing that really changed is the name we decided to use. 

The real problem is this:  the empty space ( that we would like to fill with the aether ) cannot be made of nothing, because then it could not exist.  And neither the empty space can be made of something physical, like normal matter, because then we would be able to detect the existence of this matter. 

So, because it is obvious that empty space exists — we can see it — it would have to be made of something miraculous, something else than normal matter as we know it, something like the aether or spacetime.

I am sure that Albert Einstein understood this problem very well. Einstein rejected the aether only to replace it with spacetime.

However,  there is an essential difference between the aether and spacetime, because the aether would have to be made of some miraculous physical matter, while spacetime does not need to be made of any matter at all.  I imagine Einstein’s reasoning to be as follows:

 ” While sitting on a bench in the park, I asked myself: What kind of physical stuff could my spacetime be made of? Well, it is only logical that spacetime is simply made of space and time. And what is time made of? Time is made of seconds. And what is space made of? Space is made of cubic meters. Because we use time and space in equations describing real physical phenomena, so let’s hope that space and time are real physical entities, too. Therefore, the physical substance that space and time are made of are physical meters and physical seconds. This way spacetime is physical, but it is not made of any typical matter, or energy, like the Aether. Bingo! I have it both ways. And to add the insult to injury, I will turn time into the fourth dimension of space. Just because it will be simpler and more elegant. Besides, my deep intuition tells me that God followed this principle to create the Universe. So, don’t blame me, because you will go to Hell. Praise the Lord! Amen. ”

Of course,  the above genius idea works in theory only, because in practice there is no experimental evidence for physical existence neither of time, nor of space. 

Clearly, it is impossible for space to be made of physical matter, nor to be completely filled with material aether, because in addition to solving the problem of propagation medium, it would create paradoxes, it would really create more problems than it would solve. Such matter would have to be truly miraculous, but we have no experimental evidence of its existence, because we can’t even imagine what it would have to be made of.  And, at the same time, clearly, it is impossible for space to be made of nothing, and therefore it must be nothing else than :

Spacetime, the aether, and the vacuum, are all physically impossible propositions, because their potential existence would create more problems then it could solve. 

The aether is as impossible, as spacetime, dark matter, Higgs’ field, and the vacuum of empty space. 

The reason that waves cannot propagate in the vacuum of empty space is not that the vacuum, or space,  are empty. The reason is that empty space, or vaccum,  could not exist at all. 

So, what do we do with this?   Where does it leave us? 

The good news is there is enough experimental evidence that electromagnetic waves can propagate anywhere and everywhere in the entire Universe, and gravity works without spacetime and without the aether, exactly like Newton discovered. So, there is nothing to worry about.  ;-)) 

Remeber? My quantum gravity conjecture does not affirm, nor negate neither physical existence nor non-existence of spacetime, aether, quantum vacuum or foam, zero-point field, Higgs’ field, nor anything else of that sort. Not even the vacuum of empty space! 

I do not mind that you believe in the physical existence of the un-detectable magical aether that can perform all the required miracles, exactly like spacetime, dark matter, Higgs’ field, or the vacuum of empty space do. 

But,  before you start filling the vacuum of space with your aether, 
I think it would be good for you to find out what’s this space, that 
you are trying to fill, is made of.


” The aether is a frictionless medium. If you study what friction really is, you will discover that it is due to the fact that two rubbing surfaces are not SMOOTH or that two rubbing surfaces tend to STICK to each other. None of these is true for atoms moving through the aether: the aether is an INERT chemical substance (so NOT STICKING to anything, it is like a superfluid similar to Helium but much smaller/finer). Also, if a substance can bath atoms it is possible that it will be in contact with SMOOTH surfaces. So that is why objects can move in vacuum indefinitely, there is no friction. The only time when you feel the opposition from the aether is when you ACCELERATE and object through it: when you start an object moving through the liquid aether you feel a resistance from it that opposes your push – that is a hydrodynamical effect known in fluid dynamics. Once an object is pushed and moving through the aether that object continues to move through an effect called in fluid mechanics D’Alembert ‘s paradox! “

Once you assume the impossible to be possible, its capabilities become limitless.

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