Note : Recent posts have focused on ‘macroscopic’ events and event-clusters, especially those relevant to personal ‘success’ and ‘failure’. I shall be returning to such themes eventually, but the point has now come to review the basic ‘concepts’ of ‘micro’ (‘ultimate’) events. The theory ─ or rather paradigm ─ seems to  know where it wants to go, and, after much trepidation, I have decided to give it its head, indeed I don’t seem to have any choice in the matter.  An informal ─ but nonetheless tolerably stringent ─ treatment now seems more appropriate than my original attempted semi-axiomatic presentation. SH   26/6/14

 Beginnings  

It is always necessary to start somewhere and assume certain things, otherwise you can never get going. Contemporary  physics may be traced back to Democritus’ atomism, that is to the idea that ‘everything’ is composed of small ‘bodies’ that cannot be further divided and which are indestructible ─ “Nothing exists except atoms and void” as Democritus put it succinctly. What Newton did was essentially to add in the concept of a ‘force’ acting between atoms and which affects the motions of the atoms and the bodies they form. ‘Classical’, i.e. post-Renaissance  but pre twentieth-century physics, is based on the conceptual complex atom/body/force/motion.

Events instead of things  

Ultimate Event Theory (UET), starts with the concept of the ‘event’. An event is precisely located : it happens at a particular spot and at a particular time, and there is nothing ‘fuzzy’ about this place and time. In contrast to a solid object an ‘event’ does not last long, its ‘nature’ is to appear, disappear and never come back again. Above all, an event does not ‘evolve’ : it is either not at all or ‘in one piece’. Last but not least, an ultimate event is always absolutely still : it cannot ‘move’ or change, only appear and disappear. However, in certain rare cases it can give rise to other ultimate events, either similar or dissimilar.

Rejection of Infinity 

The spurious notion of ‘infinity’ is completely excluded from UET: this clears the air considerably and allows one to deduce at once certain basic properties about events. To start with, macroscopic events, the only ones we are directly aware of, are not (in UET) made up of an ‘infinite’ number of ‘infinitely small’ micro-events: they are composed of a particular, i.e. finite, number of ‘ultimate events’ ─ ultimate because such micro-events cannot be further broken down (Note 1).

 Size and shape of Ultimate Events

Ultimate events may well  vary in size and shape and other characteristics but as a preliminary simplifying assumption, I assume that they are of the same shape and size, (supposing these terms are even meaningful at such a basic level). All ultimate events thus have exactly the same ‘spatio/temporal extent’ and this extent is an exact match for the ‘grid-spots’ or  ‘event-pits’ that ultimate events occupy on the Event Locality. The occupied region may be envisaged as a cuboid of dimensions su × su × su , or maybe a sphere of radius su ,  or indeed any shape of fixed volume which includes three dimensions at right angles to each other.
Every ultimate event occupies such a ‘space’ or ‘place’ for the duration of a single ksana of identical ‘length’ t0. Since everything that happens is reducible to a certain number of  ultimate events occupying fixed positions on the Locality, ‘nothing can happen’ within a spatial region smaller than su3 or within a ‘lapse of time’ smaller than t0. Though there may conceivably be smaller spatial and temporal intervals, they are irrelevant since Ultimate Event Theory is a theory about ‘events’ and their interactions, not about the Locality itself.

Event Kernels and Event Capsules 

The region  su3 t0  corresponds to the precise region occupied by an individual ultimate event. As soon as I started playing around with this simple model of precisely located ultimate events, I saw that it would be necessary to introduce the concept of the ‘Event Capsule’. The latter normally has a much greater spatial extent than that occupied by the ultimate event itself : it is only the small central region known as the ‘kernel’ that is of spatial extent su3, the relation between the kernel and the capsule as a whole being somewhat analogous to that between the nucleus and the enclosing atom. Although each ‘emplacement’ on the Locality can only receive a single ultimate event, the vast spatial region surrounding the ‘event-pit’ itself is, as it were, ‘flexible’. The essential point is that the Event Capsule, which completely fills the available ‘space’, is able to expand and contract when subject to external (or possibly also internal) forces.
There are, however, fixed limits to the size of an Event Capsule ─ everything except the Event Locality itself has limits in UET (because of the Anti-Infinity Axiom). The Event Capsule varies in spatial extent from the ‘default’, maximal size of s03 to the  absolute minimum size of u3which it attains when the Event Capsule has shrunk to the dimensions of the ‘kernel’ housing a single ultimate event.

Length of a ksana 

The ‘length’ of a ksana, the duration or ‘temporal dimension’ of an ultimate event, likewise of an Event Capsule, does not expand or contract but, by hypothesis, always stays the same. Why so? One could in principle make the temporal interval flexible as well but this seems both unnecessary and, to me, unnatural. The size of the enveloping capsule should not, by rights, have anything to do what actually occurs inside it, i.e. with the ultimate event itself, and, in particular, should not affect how long an ultimate event lasts. A gunshot is the same gunshot whether it is located within an area of a few square feet, within a square kilometre or a whole county, and it lasts the same length of time whether we record it as simply having taken place in such and such a year, or between one and one thirty p.m. of a particular day within this year.

Formation of Event-Chains and Event-clusters 

In contrast to objects, a fortiori organisms, it is in the nature of an ultimate event to appear and then disappear for ever : transience and ephemerality are of the very essence of Ultimate Event Theory. However, for reasons that we need not enquire into at present, certain ultimate events acquire the ability to repeat more or less identically during (or ‘at’) subsequent ksanas, thus forming event-chains. If this were not so, there would be no universe, no life, nothing stable or persistent, just a “big, buzzing confusion” of ephemeral ultimate events firing off at random and immediately subsiding into darkness once again.
Large repeating clusters of events that give the illusion of permanence are commonly known as ‘objects’ or ‘bodies’ but before examining these, it is better to start with less complex entities. The most rudimentary  type of event-chain is that composed of a single ultimate event that repeats identically at every ksana.

‘Rest Chains’

Classical physics kicks off with Galileo’s seminal concept of inertia which Newton later developed and incorporated into his Principia (Note 2). In effect, according to Galileo and Newton,  the ‘natural’ or ‘default’ state of a body is to be “at rest or in constant straight-line motion”. Any perceived deviation from this state is to be attributed to the action of an external force, whether this force be a contact force like friction or a force which acts from a distance like gravity.
As we know, Newton also laid it down as a basic assumption that all bodies in the universe attract all others. This means that, strictly speaking, there cannot be such a thing as a body that is exactly at rest (or moving exactly at a constant speed in a straight line) because the influence of other massive bodies would inevitably make such a body deviate from a state of perfect rest or constant straight-line motion. And for Newton there was only one universe and it was not empty.
However, if we  consider a body all alone in the depths of space, it is reasonable to dismiss the influence of all other bodies as entirely negligible ─ though the combined effect of all such influences is never exactly zero in Newtonian Mechanics. Our ideal isolated body will then remain at rest for ever, or if conceived as being in motion, this ‘motion’ will be constant and in a straight line. Thus Newtonian Mechanics. Einstein replaced the classical idea of an ‘inertial frame’ with the concept of a ‘free fall frame’, a region of Space/Time where no external forces could trouble an object’s state of rest ─ but also small enough for there to be no variation in the local gravitational field.
EVENT CAPSULE IMAGEIn a similar spirit, I imagine an isolated event-chain completely removed from any possible interference from other event-chains. In the simplest possible case, we thus have a single ultimate event which will carry on repeating indefinitely (though not for ‘ever and ever’) and each time it re-appears, this event will occupy an exactly similar spatial region on the Locality of size s03 and exist for one ksana, that is for a ‘time-length’ of to.  Moreover, the interval between successive appearances, supposing there is one, will remain the same. The trajectory of such a repeating event, the ‘event-line’ of the chain, may, very crudely, be modelled as a series of dots within surrounding boxes all of the same size and each ‘underneath’ the other.

True rest?

Such an event-chain may be considered to be ‘truly’ at rest ─ inasmuch as a succession of events can be so considered. In such a context, ‘rest’ means a minimum of interference from other event-chains and the Locality itself.
Newton thought that there was such a thing as ‘absolute rest’ though he conceded that it was apparently not possible to distinguish a body in this state from a similar body in an apparently identical state that was ‘in steady straight-line motion’ (Note 3). He reluctantly conceded that there were no ‘preferential’ states of motion and/or rest.
But Newton dealt in bodies, that is with collections of  atoms which were eternal and did not change ever. In Ultimate Event Theory, ‘everything’ is at rest for the space of a single ksana but ‘everything’ is also ceaselessly being replaced by other ‘things’ (or by nothing at all) over the ‘space’ of two or more ksanas. In the next post I will investigate what meaning, if any, is to be given to ‘velocity’ ‘acceleration’ and ‘inertia’ in Ultimate Event Theory.       SH  26/6/14

 Note 1  One could envisage the rejection of infinity as a postulate, one of the two or three most important postulates of Ultimate Event Theory, but I simply regard the concept of infinity as completely meaningless, as ‘not even wrong’.         I do, however,  admit the possibility of the ‘para-finite’ which is a completely different and far more reasonable concept. The ‘para-finite’ is a domain/state where all notions of measurement and quantity are meaningless and irrelevant : it is essentially a mystical concept (though none the worse for that) rather than a mathematical or physical one and so should be excluded from natural science.
The Greeks kept the idea of actual infinity firmly at arm’s length. This was both a blessing and, most people would claim, also a curse. A blessing because their cosmological and mathematical models of reality made sense, a curse because it stopped them developing the ‘sciences of motion’, kinematics and dynamics. But it is possible to have a science of dynamics without bringing in infinity and indeed this is one of the chief aims of Ultimate Event Theory.

Note 2  Galileo only introduced the concept of an ‘inertial frame’ to meet the obvious objection to the heliocentric theory, namely that we never feel the motion of the Earth around the Sun. Galileo’s reply was that neither do we necessarily detect the regular motion of a ship on a calm sea ─ the ship is presumably being rowed by well-trained galley-slaves. In his Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems, (pp. 217-8 translator Drake) Galileo’s spokesman, Salviati, invites his friends to imagine themselves in a makeshift laboratory, a cabin below deck (and without windows) furnished with various homespun pieces of equipment such as a bottle hung upside down with water dripping out, a bowl of water with goldfish in it, some flies and butterflies, weighing apparatus and so on. Salviati claims that it would be impossible to know, simply by observing the behaviour of the drips from the bottle, the flight of insects, the weight of objects and so on, whether one was safely moored at a harbour or moving in a straight line at a steady pace on a calm sea.
        Galileo does not seem to have realized the colossal importance of this thought-experiment. Newton, for his part, does realize its significance but is troubled by it since he believes ─ or at least would like  to believe ─ that there is such a thing as ‘absolute motion’ and thus also ’absolute rest’. The question of whether Galileo’s principle did, or did not, cover optical (as opposed to mechanical) experiments eventually gave rise to the theory of Special Relativity. The famous Michelsen-Morley experiment was, to everyone’s surprise at the time, unable to detect any movement of the Earth relative to the surrounding ‘ether’. The Earth itself had in effect become Galileo’s ship moving in an approximately straight line at a steady pace through the surrounding fluid.
Einstein made it a postulate (assumption)  of his Special Theory that “the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames”. This implied that the observed behaviour of objects, and even living things, would be essentially the same in any ‘frame’ considered to be ‘inertial’. The simple ‘mind-picture’ of a box-like container with objects inside it that are free to move, has had tremendous importance in Western science. The strange thing is that in Galileo’s time vehicles  ─ even his ship ─ were very far from being ‘inertial’, but his idea has, along with other physical ideas, made it possible to construct very tolerable ‘inertial frames’ such as high-speed trains, ocean liners, aeroplanes and space-craft.

Note 3  Newton is obviously ill at ease when discussing the possibility of ‘absolute motion’ and ‘absolute rest’. It would seem that he believed in both for philosophical (and perhaps also religious) reasons but he conceded that it would, practically speaking, be impossible to find out whether a particular state was to be classed as ‘rest’ or ‘straight-line motion’. In effect, his convictions clashed with his scientific conscience.

“Absolute motion, is the translation of a body from one absolute place into another. Thus, in a ship under sail, the relative place of a body is that part of the ship which the body possesses, or that part of its cavity which the body fills, and which therefore moves together with the ship, or its cavity. But real, absolute rest, is the continuance of the body in the same part of that immovable space in which the ship itself, its cavity and all that it contains, is moved. (…) It may be, that there is no such thing as an equable motion, whereby time may be accurately measured. (…) Instead of absolute places and motions we use relative ones; and that without any inconvenience in common affairs: but in philosophical disquisitions, we ought to abstract from our senses and consider things themselves, distinct from what are only sensible measures of them. For it may be that there is no body really at rest, to which the places and motions of others may be referred.”
Newton, Principia, I, 6 ff.

 

Advertisements