science

Fragments of energy – not waves or particles – may be the building blocks of the universe

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The new mathematics showed that energy lines can be used to describe the universe.

Matter is what the universe is made of, but what is it made of? This question has always been difficult for those who contemplate it – especially for physicists. Reflects recent trends in my physics Colleague Geoffrey Aichen And me Describe an updated way of thinking about it. We suggest that matter is not made of particles or waves, as was long believed, but – primarily more – this matter is made of Fragments of energy.

Five components

In ancient times, five elements were believed to be the building blocks of reality.

Five to one

The ancient Greeks envisioned five building blocks of matter – from bottom to top: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether. Ether was the substance that filled the sky and explained the rotation of stars, as observed from the Earth’s point of view. 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.

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton is credited with developing the particle theory. Credit: Christopher Terrell, CC BY-ND

Then, about 300 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton introduced the idea that all matter is found in points called particles. One hundred and fifty years later, James Clerk Maxwell introduced 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.

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This was a major improvement over the Five Elements of the Ancient Greeks, but it was still flawed. In a popular series of experiments, known as double-slit experiments, light sometimes acts as a particle and other times as 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 down on larger and smaller scales.

Einstein suggested a remedy with his theory of general relativity. Using the mathematical tools available to him at the time, Einstein was able to better explain certain physical phenomena as well as solve an ancient paradox of inertia and gravity. But instead of refining particles or waves, he removed them as he proposed distorting space and time.

Using newer mathematical tools, my colleague and I have demonstrated a new theory that may accurately describe the universe. Instead of 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 know 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.

Brick building material

A new building block of matter can represent both the biggest and the smallest of things – from stars to light. Credit: Christopher Terrell, CC BY-ND

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 for flowing energy. If we could find and define something like this, we would 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 from mathematically, 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 that looks like a concentration of energy – somewhat like a star – that has higher energy in the center and gets smaller farther from the center.

To our much amazement, 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 hobbyists, it is defined as A = – /s Where is the density and s 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

Over 100 years ago, Einstein turned to Two problems are myth In Physics for Checking General Relativity: Annually Transformation – or preemption – in the orbit of Mercury, And the Slight bending of the light as it passes through the sun.

Perihelion of Mercury

General relativity was the first theory to accurately predict the slight rotation of Mercury’s orbit. Credit: Rainer Zenz via Wikimedia Commons

These problems were at both ends of the size spectrum. No matter or wave theories 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 pre-Mercury 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 that moves at the speed of light. In both problems, we calculated the trajectories of the moving parts and got the same answers that the general theory of relativity predicted. We were stunned.

Our initial work demonstrated how a new building block is able to accurately model objects from the very large to the minuscule. When the particles and waves break, part of the energy building block remains strong. This part could be a single potential universal building block in which reality could be mathematically shaped – and refreshed in the way people think about the building blocks of the universe.

Written by Larry M. Silverberg, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University.

Phil Schwartz

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