Responses to Leonid Fainberg's Comments on
A Rational Cosmology
G. Stolyarov II
Issue LXXX- November 25, 2006
Thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking comments regarding A Rational Cosmology; you have read and evaluated it thoroughly and presented many original responses to it. You and I share the conviction that we live in a knowable, non-contradictory universe and that we can discover truths about it. I hope this discourse aids both of us in such discoveries. I have written several remarks in order to further discuss what you wrote and my thoughts on it.
I would like to thank you for your excellent insights regarding the Big Band and Quantum Mechanics; I agree in entirety with what you wrote in sections 2 and 4 of your essay. Likewise, I was interested to read sections 1, 3, and 5, on which I would like to remark to either clarify my position or respond to your statements. For every section, I will cite the portion of your words to which I am responding, and then give my response.
Response to Comments on the Universe and Existence
Mr. Fainberg: According to your description, by “universe” we usually mean the physical world, the total sum of entities. Existence is the subject-matter of metaphysics. Universe is the subject-matter of Cosmology and physics. The Crab Nebula is part of the universe (and existence) but it would be awkward and not very appropriate to describe philosophy or individual rights as part of the universe. Your definition of the universe as a collective designation of all entities has another corollary – this concept describes only known entities. Existence, however, describes any entity, already discovered or waiting to be discovered. Existence, therefore, is a much broader concept than the universe. The implication of this conclusion is that one cannot always ascribe properties of existence to the universe. Existence exists, and this is an axiom. But the existence of the universe as a collection of known entities is not axiomatic. (To talk about the universe as a collection of unknown entities would be contradictory—one cannot discuss an unknown universe). We have no knowledge of the whole universe, not even a significant part of it. For example, we have only recently discovered that 95% of the universe’s mass is made up of dark matter. So in actual fact we only know about 5% of what constitutes the universe.
Although one does not typically speak of “the universe” as containing individual rights or filosofy, I will claim that if “the universe” were to cease existing, filosofy, individual rights, and all other aspects of “existence” would cease existing as well—thus leading to an impossible contradiction of the axiom of existence.
All qualities are ultimately qualities of fysical entities, and all relationships are ultimately relationships between and among fysical entities. Individual rights, for instance, are qualities of individual human beings. Filosofy is ultimately the relationship of human beings to the natural world, their own minds and bodies, and other human beings in such a way that the humans engaged in this relationship seek to discover proper ways for interpreting the fundamentals of the natural world and the proper ways for them to act. It follows, then, that if all entities of a given sort disappear, all qualities and relationships pertaining to them would disappear also. If humans were to all disappear, there would no longer be any individual rights or filosofy—provided that no other rational life form exists. So, if all fysical entities were to disappear, all qualities and relationships would disappear as well—and thus all of existence would cease to exist, which is a violation of the axiom we both recognize.
The definition of “universe” I use is “the sum of all entities that exist,” which is, of course, identical to “the sum of all fysical entities that exist.” This encompasses all entities that exist, whether or not they are currently known to us. What you say regarding the impossibility of discussing an unknown universe is true—provided that it is entirely unknown. But some entities in this universe are known to us, and on the basis of this knowledge we can make generalizations about the others which we can expect to hold true if and when we discover those previously unknown entities. For instance, while many of the properties of dark matter might be a mystery to us, we can be certain that dark matter has identifiable mass, volume, and spatial extension.
But the definition of “universe” which you proposed is a different definition: “the collection of known entities,” which is a much narrower subset of the universe as I define it. Different conclusions will follow from this definition, I grant. For sake of clarity, let us use the following terminology to distinguish these two different definitions:
Universea - the collection of all entities that exist
Universeb - the collection of known entities (we shall assume that this is the collection of all the entities known to any human being(s), living either currently or in the past)
It follows then that universea cannot be destroyed, for that would violate the axiom of existence. It is conceivable, however, that universeb might someday cease to exist, in the sense that all entities that have been known to any humans living either currently or in the past might someday cease to exist. However, this cessation will not occur at a single time—as some of those entities might cease to exist tomorrow, and others might cease to exist in a trillion years.
Furthermore—though it is
possible—it is still extremely difficult for
universeb to ever cease to exist,
because the collection of known entities
keeps expanding by virtue of the expansion of human
knowledge. Every time a human being discovers a new
entity, that entity becomes part of universeb.
Every currently unknown entity is potentially
knowable; that is, it is potentially
identifiable, since it has some specific
identity. Thus, as human knowledge increases, the
set of entities encompassed by universeb
will approach the set of entities encompassed
by universea, which will make it
increasingly less likely for universeb
to ever cease to exist.
Thus, the province of fysicists is neither to describe the future of universea nor that of universeb, but rather to study 1) the mechanical laws governing entities and 2) the peculiar properties of certain specific entities which are encompassed by universeb. Those entities include atoms and planets—objects about which fysics might tell us more than our everyday experiences alone would. When it comes to specific planets and stars, it is entirely within the province of fysicists to try and predict what will happen to those entities—and it is entirely conceivable that any specific planet or star might someday cease to exist (and even that a large but finite collection of planets and stars such as a galaxy might someday cease to exist). But at that point the fysicist would be describing the futures of specific planets, stars, and galaxies, not “the universe” in either sense.
Responses to Comments on Light
Mr. Fainberg: Light is easily observable by our perceptional organs. However, one doesn’t directly observe a relationship like space or friendship—which are true relationships.
Mr. Stolyarov: Yet some relationships—such as motion, acceleration, and force—can be observed through the senses; one can perceive an object as it moves and accelerates, and one can also perceive an object applying a contact force on another object and thus accelerating it. The ways in which those relationships are perceived are as “direct” or as “indirect” as the ways in which light is perceived. Strictly speaking, one sees not motion per se, but the moving object. Similarly, however, one sees not light per se, but illuminated objects. This also applies, of course, to the numerous tiny air particles whose simultaneous illumination creates the illusion of a continuous “beam” of light. In fact, those air particles are simply so close together that the separation between them when they are illuminated is virtually indistinguishable by the unequipped human eye.
Mr. Fainberg: Light interacts with other entities—like the retina in our eyes, chlorophyll in plants, photoelectric elements, etc. It transfers energy and causes physical changes in these entities. A relationship doesn’t have such a quality.
Mr. Stolyarov: I claim that it is not light itself which performs these interactions, energy transfers, and fysical changes, but rather the light source. Light is the interaction which accompanies the changes you describe, though it is not identical to those changes. I would say, then, that the entity which is the light source illuminates the target entity while also transferring energy to it and causing other fysical changes to it. Thus, we have three distinct kinds of relationships here: 1) illumination (light), 2) energy transfer, and 3) other fysical change(s) of the relevant sort. We can, using this distinction say that the Sun interacts with human retinas and triggers chlorophyll production in plants. The Sun also transfers energy to plants and causes fysical changes in virtually every entity that it also illuminates. I think, however, it would be most accurate and precise to distinguish the various functions of the Sun and other light sources and not attribute illumination to the same function as energy transfer or other fysical change.
Mr. Fainberg: Light possesses mass. That has been demonstrated experimentally by observing that light rays can be bent by the gravitational pull of the nearby star.
Mr. Stolyarov: I would be interested in reading any data or literature pertaining to these experiments. I wish to examine the evidence and see how I might be able to explain it and whether it would require any modification of my views regarding light.
Mr. Fainberg: One can actually move objects by illuminating them. It is possible to use light as a means of propulsion in empty space, provided that the light sail is big enough.
Mr. Stolyarov: This is extremely interesting information, and I would also like to know of some literature on this subject (i.e., articles, encyclopedia entries, and/or other descriptions). Do you happen to know whether this kind of light propulsion was ever actually achieved in experiments or other human endeavors, and, if so, what sorts of equipment and methods were used? Again, I need to be more informed on this subject in order to provide any sort of statement relating it to my theory on light.
Mr. Fainberg: One can actually calculate light’s mass by using Einstein’s equation. If E=MC2, then M=E/C2. To calculate light’s mass, one has to measure its energy and divide by C2, which is constant.
Mr. Stolyarov: While it is true that energy associated with the emission of light can be measured, it does not follow that it is light itself to which the energy belongs. Any energy the light source imparts on another entity will be transferred to that entity and be measurable at that entity, either in terms of motion, heat, electricity, or another process associated with the entity itself. It is not possible, to my knowledge, to measure the energy associated with the emission of light anywhere except either at the source entity that emits it or the target entity that receives it. Thus, while energy is certainly transferred from one entity to another and that energy can be measured, it is a transfer which is distinct in nature from light itself; light and energy transfer are two simultaneous relationships that the source performs with respect to the target. There is no need to attribute any mass to light, because the energy change at the source or target entity can be accounted for by other fysical changes—such as changes in motion or heat.
(As a simple analogy, consider the formula for kinetic energy, K=m*v2/2. To increase an object’s kinetic energy, its mass need not change at all; it could simply be accelerated to a higher velocity. If one object exerts a force on another at a distance and accelerates it, we not posit some particle traveling between them in order to explain what occurred.)
Mr. Fainberg: Light possesses other qualities: intensity, color, and fixed rate of propagation in space (C). The attempt to relate all properties and qualities of light to its source cannot be validated.
Mr. Stolyarov: I think, on the contrary, that such qualities can be explained as qualities of the light source. A more powerful light bulb, for instance, will produce more illumination than a less powerful one. A light source with a color filter will illuminate other objects in certain colors and not in others. As for C, as I explained in A Rational Cosmology, it is conceivable for a relationship to have a rate—just as the relationship of sound has a rate, for example. I wrote in Chapter VII: “Thus, the idea of a "speed of light" can be refrased as simply the idea that the relationship that light does not affect the target instantaneously, and is transmitted from the source at a certain rate.
I also must disagree with the idea that light is propagated “in space,” because I do not think that light at all occurs in the regions between the light source and any target. I describe the nature of light’s transmission in greater depth in my article, “Transmission with Travel: The Behavior of Light:” http://rationalargumentator.com/errorsfysics7.html
Mr. Fainberg: Light, however, doesn’t possess the quality of volume. That is because light cannot be contained. But there are many other entities like that. What, for example, would be the volume of the water in the river in which water is flowing constantly? We only can calculate water velocity in the river exactly as in the case of light.
Mr. Stolyarov: Though the water constantly moves in the river, it is still, I think, possible to calculate its volume. We know that water is massive and that its density is 1 gram/cm3. To measure the volume of water, we need only measure the mass of all the water in the river; the volume in cubic centimeters of this water will be equal to its mass in grams. Even though the water constantly moves, its volume is unaffected by this motion as long as the water remains in the river. The volume might change over time as well, since the water might flow out of the river into a sea or ocean or pour in from a mountain stream or due to rain. However, at any given instant in time, the water will have some particular volume which can—at least in theory and with the proper equipment—be measured. Yet I cannot see how anything similar can be done with light. I agree that, indeed, light does not possess the quality of volume—which would disqualify it from entity status.
Mr. Fainberg: Many entities possess different qualities in different conditions. The problem is that contemporary physicists have created from this simple fact of nature such a philosophical mess that the conversation of Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter looks likes a lecture on Aristotle’s logic by comparison.
Mr. Stolyarov: Agreed in full. No matter what light’s nature is revealed as being, this is no cause for asserting that contradictions exist or for denying the validity of logic or the data of everyday experience. Even if in the course of argumentation and observation it is discovered that some or all of my views on light are incorrect, this will not deny the fact that light has some definite, knowable identity and that it follows fixed natural laws in its behavior.
Responses to Comments on the Theory of Relativity
Mr. Fainberg: Space has been defined in A Rational Cosmology as a relationship between two or more distinct entities. Space itself is not an entity and therefore cannot be the point of reference. This definition has an important corollary: contrary to Aristotle, there is no such a thing as absolute rest. In the hypothetical universe comprised of only one object, it would be impossible to determine if this object is moving or not. In the universe comprised of two objects, it would be impossible to determine which one of them is moving. The same principle applies to any number of objects. Every entity is resting or moving only relatively to another entity. Therefore, velocities of moving objects are relative to the object of reference, which can be voluntarily chosen.
Mr. Stolyarov: There is truth in what you say here, and I would like to explain my understanding of it in the context of my theory:
In a hypothetical one-object universe with no intelligent observer of that object, there is indeed no distinction between rest and motion and no way to determine whether that object moved or not—provided, of course, that the object has no component parts that move relative to each other.
However, if we, as observers, try to model the behavior of that object, we can do so via a three-dimensional Cartesian Coordinate System. We can designate some point on the object at time t as (0, 0, 0) on our coordinate system and hold that point mentally fixed. If the object departs from that point at some other time t+1, we can measure the object’s motion relative to (0, 0, 0) during one unit of time.
Of course, we as observers would not exist in a one-object universe by definition—since an observer would be a second entity introduced into the universe. It is true, then, that in order to determine whether any entity moves, some second entity is required (such as an intelligent observer, a measuring tool, or even an imagined point of reference which an intelligent observer needs to think of).
In a two-entity universe, however, it may well be possible to determine whether an object is at rest or in motion. One entity simply needs to be the observer himself; the observer notes the other entity’s position at time t and calls it (0, 0, 0). He remembers where (0, 0, 0) is and would be able to identify it even if no entity was there any longer. He can then compare the other entity’s subsequent positions with its position at time t and thus determine whether or not it moved. This determination, of course, depends on the selection of an arbitrary fixed reference point—but any such point is as good as any other for finding that absolute motion occurs. For example, the observer himself might be moving away from (0, 0, 0) while he observes the other entity doing the same. In this two-object universe, it might be possible to say that both entities moved and how much they moved—because motion is calculated relative to a fixed and imagined reference point.
Mr. Fainberg: Time is a man-made tool of measure of the different processes. We use one process as a point of reference or standard to measure another process. When I say “I’m fifty years old,” I simply mean that since my birth the Earth has rotated around the Sun fifty times. This statement doesn’t say anything about the rate of my aging. What is relative is the rate of aging. We know from simple observation that the rate of the same process can be different in different circumstances. For example, iron will rust quickly in a damp environment and slowly in a dry environment, meaning that during the same period of time, a damp sample of iron will have more rust than the dry one. That doesn’t mean dampness shortened time of rusting and dryness dilated it. The same thing is happening to the object which has velocity near C: all processes in this object grow slower.
Mr. Stolyarov: Agreed. It is perfectly feasible and non-contradictory that velocity can affect biological processes in the human organism and that this simply amounts to a change in the rate of processes due to a change in circumstances; no change in the passage of time itself is involved. Whether time is a manmade tool or a quality of entities, I think that it is necessary to measure time in absolute, uniform increments—so as to have a fixed standard to compare different processes by. A fixed, uniform measure of time serves much the same function that the imagined fixed reference point (0, 0, 0) which I mentioned earlier serves; it enables us to compare all other processes to one another via a reliable, unchanging standard.
As for traveling faster than C, I will agree with you for the time being that it is impossible to bring about any process which reverses the law of causality and makes the effect precede the cause. The equation you mentioned, delta teta (rate of aging) = delta T (elapse of time) (1-V2/C2)/2, would suggest that traveling faster than C would lead to an impossible negative rate of aging.To the extent that the above equation corresponds to the workings of the physical world, this would be correct. I would be interested, however, to examine how Einstein arrived both at it and at E=MC2 in order to be able to evaluate the correctness of the derivation itself. That is, I am interested in the starting premises behind Einstein’s process of derivation.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at email@example.com.
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Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.