Some Thoughts on Relativity

As I mention in my “about” page, when I was in middle school I thought I disproved Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but almost immediately forgot the thought process. That has created a nagging doubt in my head every time I have used his theory ever since, and I have always been annoyed at not knowing whether I was right or not. However, I just went back over his theory in my current Physics course, and something about the way this guy worded it reignited the thought process I had back in middle school, and I now know what I thought was wrong with the General Theory of Relativity.

The problem I have with the theory is actually found in its very foundation. Einstein said that Newton’s laws of motion could basically be restated by saying that “In the absence of external forces, objects travel the straightest possible path in spacetime.” To explain the “force” of gravity in a way consistent with this statement (because, due to the “principle of equivalence” and some weird reasoning that doesn’t quite make logical sense to me, Einstein thought that gravity wasn’t actually a force), Einstein said that “Mass and energy cause spacetime to curve.” Science teachers love to use the illustration of a mass in a pillow or bed sheet, with a marble rolled alongside. They point to the fact that the marble rolls and hits the mass making the depression, and say “See? Mass bends spacetime!” However, the only reason the marble ends up reaching the bottom of this depression is that there is external gravity! Thus, this illustration begs the question by using gravity to explain gravity. In order for this illustration to actually work properly, it must be in a gravity free environment.

So take this setup out to deep space. Replace the bed sheet and mass with, say, a piece of sheet metal that is warped in the middle in the same way that the mass warps the bed sheet, and replace the marble with, say, a magnetic ball, so that it stays attached to the sheet metal the entire time. Now run the experiment in your head, ignoring friction (because there would be no friction in the theory we are trying to illustrate, and you can successfully neutralize friction in a simulated experiment). First, imagine this with the ball moving very quickly: the ball rolls along, and encounters the simulated gravity well. What does it do? It enters the gravity well along its original path, and then leaves the gravity well, still traveling along the same path. Remember, there is no friction, and no external force pulling the object into the well. The only factors to consider are the ball’s velocity and the metal’s warping. There is absolutely nothing to provide a centripetal force to change the direction of the ball. Viewed from above, the ball curves towards the center of the well when it enters, but immediately begins curving back out, and ends up in the same path it was traveling on before. Now, imagine if the ball is stationary, but inside the simulated gravity well. What happens? Nothing! The ball just sits there.

Now compare this to the situation it is supposed to be illustrating. In a real gravity well, if something is moving very fast, its path will bend in response to the gravity well, but it will not be caught in it. This is consistent with the illustration: if the ball is rolling very quickly, it will curve inside the simulated gravity well, but it will leave the gravity well and continue. However, in a real gravity well, the object will have changed direction when it leaves the gravity well, and in the illustration, the final path of the object is exactly the same as the original path. Now think of an object just sitting in the air above the earth. It begins accelerating towards the earth. In the illustration, the ball just sits there, because there is no outside force acting on it.

Thus, no amount of spacetime warping can permanently change the direction of an object, so Einstein was WRONG!

That is as far as I got in middle school, but this time I was able to take it a little further and develop an amendment to his theory that would solve the theoretical problem without actually changing any of the math: instead of saying, “Mass and energy cause spacetime to curve,” I say that “Spacetime flows towards mass and energy.” Now, this statement still needs some work: for example, we now know that mass and energy are the same thing–a vibration in spacetime (see my Matter and Matter Follow-up posts), so we need to come up with a way to make this statement in a way that is consistent with those ideas, but I am fairly certain that this is how it works on the macroscopic scale.

Let’s go back to the original illustration. You have a bed sheet on the floor, and a device in the middle that sucks the threads towards it. When you roll your marble across the sheet, it will begin to curve towards the device. If it is moving quickly, it will escape the “gravity well,” and emerge traveling in a different direction. If it is moving slowly, it will begin orbiting the device, and if it is moving even more slowly, it will eventually hit the device and rest against it. Finally, if you lay the marble at rest a little away from the device, when you release the marble it will begin accelerating towards the device. This is exactly how we see gravity work in the real world!

Now, I also have idea about Special Relativity: not a correction, but a new way of thinking about things that could make Special Relativity  much easier to understand. However, it will involve a lot of math and other homework–by far the most labor and thought intensive idea I have had so far–so it may be a while before I can post it. Despite this, I am really excited about it, and wanted to give a little teaser now to piggyback on the General Relativity post: Basically, I am working on a new mathematical definition of motion that will take Special Relativity into account–essentially redefining motion as distance warped over time warped, instead of distance passed over time passed. Now, this is basically what Einstein was going for when he developed his General Theory of Relativity, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he already did this and it just ended up using more complicated math than they want to teach non-physics majors, so I might come up dry or find I am simply reinventing the wheel, but I have stated my goal.

Now, I have had this idea for an amendment to Relativity for a while, but it was based on some other ramifications, such as the possible existence of antigravity (gravity that pushes instead of pulls), antimatter, white holes, etc., but this base has allowed me to flesh it out some more. I will try to write on the other ramifications of this amendment in my next post.

Finally, I have the image at the top linked to the page I found it on. I have not read it, but I want to read it as soon as I have the time. It appears to be a well thought out argument for another problem with Relativity, so I linked to it in case you guys were interested.

Any thoughts? I hope I explained this clearly enough, but knowing how abstract this whole concept is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I simply left your minds even more twisted than before. I know my mind went for quite a few loops while figuring this out. I would love to answer any questions you have in the comments. Also, I might be wrong about all this, and simply be misunderstanding Einstein’s theory, but I am fairly confident in my analysis, and I would love to be challenged so I can refine or recant my idea.

Time Theory

My favorite genre of pretty much anything (books, movies, TV shows, etc.) is science fiction, which shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the subject of this blog. I particularly enjoy the ones in which time travel is a main theme.  However, every time I watch anything with time travel, I just try to accept its theory of time travel, because there are so many theories, and they all have problems.  So I was talking about this to a friend, and he encouraged me to make my own time theory, so that is what I am doing.  This is by no means set in stone for me, and I would love to talk about it in the forums.

The first order of business would be paradoxes. This is dangerous ground to tread, because they cannot exist, but time is not an entity than can prevent them.  So what do we do?  Well, let’s think about time as a set of dimensions. It is common to think of time as a fourth dimension, but what I am suggesting is, if only for argument’s sake, to think of it as a fourth and fifth dimension, so that basically, time has its own “timeline.” Every time a paradox is created, a change is made in time, and it moves time a little further along its timeline.

Another way to think of this is that every time a paradox is created, an alternate universe is created for that paradox to happen in. If this is the case, if a paradox creates a parallel universe, which universe does the creator of the paradox end up in? Well, the time traveler left his spot in time and moved to a different spot. If he then travels to the future, it will be his future that he travels to, which would be the future of whatever universe/dimension he leaves to go to the future. Thus, if he makes any changes to the future while he is in the past, his future will contain the effects of those changes. Therefore, if the time traveler creates a paradox, he is stuck in the version of the universe with that paradox. Following this line of reasoning, since the very existence of a time traveler in the his own past inherently makes some changes, however minute, to the world the time traveler left, it would be impossible to return to the exact universe you left. You might return to the same spot in your life, and you might not even notice any changes, but you would not be the same you your friends knew. As far as the world around you is concerned, a version of you left, and a version of you may or may not have come back, depending on the extent to which you changed the past, but the you that came back is slightly different from the one you left. Another facet of this is that there will be some versions of reality that have multiple copies of a certain time traveler (because the time traveler’s adventures in the past caused his future version to never time travel, thus leaving two copies of the same person in the universe) and other versions in which the time traveler left and never came back (because no version of the time traveler changed the past of this version of the time traveler to cause him to leave, thus the time traveler essentially dies to his family and friends when he leaves for the past.

There are a few fascinating things to note about this hypothesis:

  1. Each universe would be either
    1. full of perceived paradoxes, because the people who caused the paradoxes would be from a different version of the universe, so the paradox actually contradicts nothing, or
    2. completely devoid of paradoxes, but full of random people appearing out of nowhere. I am not sure which of these would happen
  2. Circular reasoning within time (going back in time and causing yourself to go back in time and cause yourself to go back in time, etc) is no longer a paradox, because every time you go back in time you enter a different universe. What would likely happen is that each iteration of time travel would produce a slightly different result, until the apparent circle reveals itself as a tight spiral within the overall timeline of time.
  3. Time travel would be very dangerous: not for you, but for those who know you. Depending on the history of your universe (whether there was a version of you that entered in the past who left his present under similar circumstances as you), you may or may not come back to those who care about you. Also, depending on how much you change (and/or how much the other version of you that entered your past changed) in the past, the friends that you come back to will be different than the ones you left (or the version of you that comes back to your friends will be different than the one that left)
  4. The existence of each new version of the timeline is dependent upon each previous iteration of the timeline, because if the “creator” timeline had been different, the created timeline would have been proportionally different. This reasoning is valid for each version of the timeline, either until the version of the timeline God originally created, or ad infinitum, depending on your worldview. Thus, because each version of time is connected to the previous in a continuous stream of timelines, it can be said that the timeline is actually experiencing change.

Now, change is relative. Any time something changes, it is changing relative to something. When a top is spinning, it is spinning relative to the things around it, but nothing on the top is changing relative to itself. All change, however, can be described relative to a fixed idea called a dimension.  A bead on a string can move along the string, but nowhere else, so it can move in one dimension.  A figure on a screen can move up and down or side to side on the screen, but it can’t reach out of the screen, because it can only operate in two dimensions. We can move up and down, side to side, and backwards and forwards, because we have three dimensions. But change as a concept makes no sense whatsoever aside from the context of time. This hypothesis postulates that the very context that makes sense of change is changing, but for that to make sense, it must change within a time-like dimension of its own. Thus, time actually experiences time! If we could travel between the versions of time and change them, the entire timeline of time would be changed, so we know that the time that time experiences also experiences time. How far does this go? Are there an infinite number of dimensions? Another way to put this is that the bead on the string can move on the string, but the entire string can move back and forth on a piece of paper.  The figure on the screen can only move on the screen, but the screen can move towards and away from you.  So you can move in space, and space moves in time.  So each successive dimension is like a time for the last dimension. So if space moves in time, what dimension does time move in?  That may be a little harder to grasp, but I feel like it gives a better understanding of what is going on.

This brings up an interesting theological question. If there are infinite dimensions, how many dimensions does God have?  Or does he have dimensions at all? Or maybe he has all the dimensions. I don’t have any answers for this, but I would love to talk about it in the comments.

Finally, the worldview concept I touched on briefly, about whether time’s time had a beginning actually can be used in a proof for the existence of God, which I will be posting soon, so consider this a teaser for that.

Anyway, I hope this made sense. I started it several months ago and heavily edited it, but seeing how much I found to edit, there are probably still lots of errors.

Gravity Waves Detected

So, from what I can tell, somehow my website started to try to portray itself as an https site instead of an http site, which, in the long run, took the website down.  I don’t know how that happened, but I apologize for not taking care of it faster.  Anyway, it’s back up now, and I might as well get back to posting.

On February 11, the scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (or LIGO) detected a blip.  That blip provided massive evidence for Einstein’s theory for how gravity works. The LIGO is essentially a gravity microphone.  To avoid wasting time on describing the discovery, here is the news release for those of you who haven’t heard of it yet: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/news/ligo20160211

This discovery provides a large amount of plausibility to my gravity shield idea, because if gravity does work in this way (as supported by the blip), and if we can detect the fluctuations in space-time, it isn’t much further to actually manipulate it.  And if we can manipulate it, we can do most, if not all, of the things I mention in my gravity shield page are possible.