An Essay on the Void and the Ether
Since the dawn of human
intelligence mankind has pondered the stars at night, floating high above in a
vast sea of darkness. And he has wondered about the darkness. Moses wrote in the
Book of Genesis, “2. And the earth was
without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3. And
God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
science, with names like Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein, have continued through
the years to wonder about the darkness. Early on it was thought that it could
not be nothing. However, as the novitiate Maria
sang in “The Sound of Music”: “Nothing comes from Nothing; Nothing ever
Newton pondered how the gravitational field of one object could affect another
with nothing separating them. James Maxwell believed that “empty space” must
actually consist of an invisible “ether” which could transmit electric and
magnetic forces and waves. The underlying Maxwellian concept seems to be that
the void is composed of equal-density distributions of positive and negative
electric charge. We can sense such charge only (a) when the charge densities do
not sum to zero, or (b) in radiation.
example, some agent (Maxwell never says what or who) might have displaced small
regions of the positive and negative charges into isolated regions of excess
positive and negative “displacement” charge, setting up lines of stress in
the all-encompassing ether in the
process. Such stresses are known as electric field lines, and by convention they
point from the excess positive charge to the excess negative charge. Every time
Maxwell’s unidentified agent separates the ether into charged “particles”
of opposite sign, the net displaced
charge is zero … a result known as the conservation of charge. For every
positive quantum of charge in the Universe, there is a negative one.
with magnetic field lines, the electric field lines can also take the form of
self-sustaining, transverse waves whose speed through the void Maxwell
recognized as the propagation speed of light. It was an enormous leap forward in
human understanding, and ushered in the modern world of all things electric.
addition to charged entities, we can also sense uncharged ones (or ones
whose net charge is zero). Such entities are often said to be comprised of
neutral mass. Before Maxwell, and
certainly since Maxwell, men have pondered the attraction of such uncharged
bodies toward one another. Newton’s Law of gravitation and Coulomb’s law of
electrical interaction are both inverse square laws. A key difference is that
like-signed charges repel and opposite-signed charges attract, whereas there is
only one sign (positive) of mass in the world as we know it. And two positive
masses always attract one another. If
there was ever anything such as a negative-sign mass, it would presumably have
long since been repulsed to immeasurable distances from the positive, and we
would never detect it in the world as we know it.
for two masses to attract one another,
the gravitational field vectors must be configured like the electric field
vectors between two oppositely signed
electric charges. In the case of electric charges the energy in the electric
field between two like-signed charges (a) Increases as the two are moved closer
to one another, and (b) decreases as the two charges are moved further away from
one another. The field energies rather elegantly equal the work expended to
cause or control the change in separation. The energy in the electrostatic
field, proportional to the square of the field, provides a record of the
charges’ past movement.
case of spatially discrete masses,
positive work must be done to make two
masses move further apart from one another. But if the field energy is assumed
to be proportional to the square of the gravitational field vector, this does not
result in more energy in the field! The conventional gravitational field cannot
serve as a record of past source movements.
theory has proposed the following solution to this difficulty. Gravitational
mass and its associated field are mathematically
imaginary. And the gravitational field vector does not point toward its source mass. Rather, as in the case of positive
charge, it points away from the mass.
The Real force of one mass in the
field of another is the product of two imaginary quantities, and the product of
two imaginary quantities is negative; the force is attractive.
general, gravitomagnetic theory states that the equivalent field vector for
electromagnetism’s B field is the
analogous (but imaginary) gravitomagnetic field vector (symbolized as O). And the theory includes analogues to such electromagnetic
vectors as the Poynting vector (and in general the Lorentz force law).
Maxwellian equations can be mapped into gravitomagnetic equivalents by
substituting the constant G for 1/4peo,
m for q, g for E, and O
for B. Among other things
gravitomagnetic theory indicates the existence of grav-gravitomagnetic waves.
gravitomagnetic theory Maxwell’s
“ether sea” is overlaid on a sea of mass. As in the case of Maxwell’s
positive and negative charge, we can experience
this mass only when one portion has been displaced from another. But since
positive masses attract (rather than repel) one another, displaced positive and
negative masses (if two signs of mass indeed exist) have long separated into
“sister universes”, separated for all practical purposes by an infinite
expanse of void containing no regions (or particles) of displaced mass.
Maxwellian theory a displaced charge can have inertia.
If the charge is accelerated, a component of self-induced E is engendered right at the
charge by the charge’s time-varying B
field. In the case of a positive charge this causes the self-induced E field
to point opposite to the acceleration.
Consequently the charge experiences a component of self-induced electric force
opposing the acceleration. (In the case of a negative charge the self-induced
field points in the same direction as
the acceleration, and the charge again experiences a force opposed to the
acceleration.) As a consequence of these self-induced forces, it is sometimes
said that electric charge has inertial mass. However it should be
borne in mind that all charged, sub-light speed particles also have gravitational
mass. An intriguing, experimentally observed result is that the inertial mass
and gravitational mass of such particles are always equal … a result stated in
the Equivalence Principle.
What is true for charge is also
true for mass. When a mass is accelerated, a self-induced component of g
is induced right at the mass. This again causes a real self-induced inertial
force to occur. However, both the mass and self-induced g
vector are imaginary, and the
“inertial” force points in the same direction as the acceleration! At
first glance this counter-intuitive result might seem to indicate a fundamental
flaw in gravitomagnetic theory. However, it is now believed that many sub-light
speed particles, like neutrons and protons, are actually comprised of charged
quarks. Consequently the inertia of such particles is, in the final
analysis, an electric charge effect.
There appears to be no such thing
as a displacement of pure charge. Such displacements are always accompanied by a
displacement of mass in the void medium of overlaid distributions of charge and
mass. Hence every charged particle has a gravitational field and includes some
displaced mass. But the converse is not necessarily true. Photons and neutrinos
have no charge but do have mass (or momentum). Since these particles always move
at or very nearly equal to the speed of light, they are said to have zero or
practically zero rest mass.
After the introduction of
Maxwell’s “ether” an excellent question arose: “Is there one unique
frame of reference in which the ether … the seas of charge (and mass) … are
at rest? To Michelson and Morley, and Trouton and Noble, it seemed that such
must be the case. And they did experiments to determine Earth’s motion
relative to such a frame. However, modeling moving “atoms” indicates a
foreshortening of their width in the direction of motion, and a dilation of
their electrons’ orbital periods. As a consequence the Lorentz transformations
of space and time indicate that motion relative to a hypothetical ether rest
frame cannot be detected by optical effects. In virtually every
inertial frame light will be measured to propagate in all directions with the
one speed, c!
Transformations of Newton 2 (F=d(mv)/dt, where m(v)=mo/(1-v2/c2)1/2)
similarly show why dynamic experiments like Trouton-Noble make it impossible to
determine the apparatus’ motion relative to the ether by frame-varying dynamic
effects. Poincare reportedly averred that the Lorentz transformations of space,
time, charge, force, etc. are accordingly laws of nature. In present times such
experimental results have led many physicists to abandon the concept of ether
altogether, and to think of material entities as existing in a void of nothing.
The concept of Dark Matter may
rekindle the Maxwellian and gravitomagnetic paradigms that “empty” space is
actually filled with undetectable seas of mass and charge. Time will tell.