The “electric universe” belongs to the third+ world…

The two regular readers of this blog would have noticed a couple of oddities concerning this blog, viz. that (i) it does not receive as many as hits as it should, and (ii) it is mostly devoid of any real blog comments.

At this blog, we have always believed that the first is not a fault of our own making, and that the second … well… the second, you know, also is not because of anything of our own making.

We were, therefore, so taken in by sheer surprise by a real blog comment coming in here today—wait, make it two—and those too, coming in from someone seemingly well-versed with physics, and that too, right in the real-time while we were still updating our last post, that we had already begun fondly toying with the idea of making a separate post just for answering these very valuable queries. And that’s when the third comment arrived. Three comments. In a single day. All real. … It should not be too difficult to see why we immediately decided that honoring our inner voice calling us for a further exercise of our posting labours right today was entirely in order.

We are pleased to thusly present the present blog-post to your monitor.

[Steps aside for a moment and clears the throat before resuming further.]

1. The electric universe

The questioner asks for my say on the “electric universe,” and supplies links; see the first three comments by “Absolute_O_Zero” to my last post, starting here [^].

I pursued the links he provided to a depth of just about 1–2 sub-links, rapidly browsed through them, and here we go…

The answer is that the “electric universe” (I mean: the proper physics-related usage of this term) belongs to the third world in the scheme that I have been thinking about, or perhaps, further down.

I say “further down,” because I am not sure if there would (or even should) be a separate world to describe plasma as a separate physical object. I don’t know about plasmas except that they are some kind of ionized gases that exhibit some curiously different physical properties. My knowledge of plasmas stops there. Literally. So, I am not even sure if they would come after the fourth world of the quantum objects, or with them. And, if and as necessary, I would always be willing to split the worlds further, as you know!

But coming back to a plasma (of physics), is it usually taken to carry a classical (i.e. Maxwellian)  electromagnetic field? Or does it necessarily require a quantum electrodynamics for its description? [I honestly don’t know even just that much about plasma.]

If the former, they might benefit from an application of the concepts of the third world. If the latter, of the fourth. That is, in the current scheme.

And, even if we set this whole issue of the plasma state of the matter completely aside, I still would not be sure if there cannot be a further splitting down of the world.

… And it was to highlight this separate, as yet open, question that I decided to do this separate post. …Let me explain how.

2. Should there be another world in between the third world (EM) and the fourth world (QM)?:

The issue arises, you see, because of another conceptual riddle with an aether-based description, which may be best put as the following:

Just how many aethers do simultaneously occupy the “void?”

That is to say:

If the void/free space between the massive charged objects is already filled with the gravitational field-fluid, then it should not leave any empty space to fill it with the electromagnetic field-fluid, right? or do the aethers allow this circumstance? why or why not? and, of course, how?

I was not running away from this question when I presented you with that neat scheme of the four worlds, and began writing about aether, right from the very first post in this series. I didn’t mention this issue because I just wanted to postpone the complexity it adds to the discussion—one goes from the simple to the complex.

It was in order to simply the discussion of the “void”-related fundamental paradox that I presented the material objects as interacting either with gravity (in the second world) or with the electromagnetism (in the third world), but not both at the same time. The paradox remains that—a paradox—whether you have just one field phenomenon to explain or many of them.

Of course, this layer of the complexity of the aether theories is known to any one who has gone through their history. It is a very well known criticism. There was a time when virtually any field phenomenon—be it sound, light, heat, electricity, magnetism… even heat—was being described via reference to some or the other hypothetical fluid, i.e., [a separate] aether. There was a time in physics, I guess sometime in the 19th century, when someone, I suppose, had even remarked that the aethers had seemed to have multiplied at the rate that rabbits did.

But don’t, therefore, sneer at the 19th century physicists.

The 19th century aethers were taken as always existing in this (i.e. the concretely real) world, and there were only a finite number of them. And, it was right in the 19th century that some of the separately proposed aethers were either shown not to exist at all, and the two most important of them were integrated together into just one: E + M -> EM.

In contrast, today, our standard model has a far bigger zoo of fundamental particles to parade around, and worse: their number only increases and always refuses to come down over decades of research. … And, much, much worse.

Not only do the modern physicists believe that fundamentally different particles can come into existence out of the same pure nothingness without there being any need to provide any explanatory mechanism for (any part) of this “process”, and not only can such fundamental particles making up the physical existence also go completely out of existence (presumably to “nothingness,” again, and of course, without any acknowledged need to provide any theoretical explanation again), but also that some of them are such that they cannot even ever be observed. This description, some of them insist, is reasonable. Or else….

… Or else, there is the spectacle (ugly even to them) of infinity of universes being generated in every finite interval of time. And, no one is sure about the order of that infinity—whether it is the normal infinity, or an infinity of infinities, or an infinity of an infinity of infinities, or some still higher order “number” of them.

In comparison, the rates of reproduction of even the most red-blooded among rabbits would seem either vanishingly small or plain vanishing, wouldn’t they?

Still, the intent was not to downplay the difficulty posed by the simultaneous existence of multiple aethers, by pointing out the glass castle of the modern physics. It is a proper question to be pursued. In fact, the state of modern physics was only one reason—and a relatively minor one at that—why I thought that it best to keep this problematic issue for an appropriately later consideration.

Another, far more important reason was that, based on my grasp of the Objectivist epistemology, I felt confident that the difficulty shouldn’t be of a very great, unsurmountable kind of, fundamental importance. [I won’t tell you the specific reasons for that, because it would spoil some of my blogging—and thinking, and even rethinking—fun… But, confident, yes I was, and still am.]

But of course, this whole discussion is not so relevant to the question presently posed, because the plasma theorists never take the idea of aether seriously—or at least, completely seriously. Therefore, it is not a question that would even occur to them.

So, this question of the multiple aethers, really speaking, belongs only to places such as this blog.

As to their theories, well, inasmuch as the term “electric universe” refers to a proper theory of physics, it’s not just that they have a great theory of the plasmas of physics. One of the links provided by the questioner actually goes to a Nobel winning work related to the plasmas; the creation [is it?] of MHD i.e. magnetohydrodynamics or some such a long and unhyphenated thing [apparently competing somewhat aggressively on the hyphenations-not-necessary count with some of us Indians’ first and last names—each being a separate entry in that competition.]

Leaving aside the MHD, the “electric universe” folks also seemingly do quite a bit of cosmology based on that plasma theory.

Now, here, I am not sure if a detailed cosmological theory should have a place in this scheme of mine, which deals mainly with the broad views of the fundamental character of the physical objects i.e. world assumed in the core theory building of physics, by physicists of different historical eras, as it were.

A theory which says something new about how the plasma occupies the “void,” and affects planets/stars/solar systems/galaxies/whatnot in a new theory of cosmology that perhaps has a hard time getting enough highlighted by the top-5 American universities professors, may actually be great, but this whole “shebang” simply side-steps the main issue of the fundamental character of the physical objects. Let me show you how.

Let’s begin at some very simple questions. Suppose, I ask you: “What is, err, a plasma?”

You might say something like: “Say, take an atom, knock off an electron and make an ion out of it. Now, take very many of them in this compact…”

Me: “Stop! Stop!! Stop right there….”

“Two electrons” is good enough for me!

Take away all the other electrons, and nucleons, and chuck them aside. Suppose that the whole universe has only two electrons, each with some arbitrary initial motion. [For instance, initially, both of them are stationary, with a 1 meter distance between them.] And, now, suppose, we accelerate only one of them. … The question is: what does it do to both their motions? through what mechanism—if any—acting through that 1 m void?

In addressing this question, if you recite Maxwellian theory to me, I would ask: but does Maxwell’s aether have mass? If yes, then, how does this characteristic of the aether affect Newton’s three fundamental laws of motion? Do they undergo a change, too, as they should, in the process? And, if the aether is not massive, then… Here, you know the main paradox (of my last post) which I would point out to you. … If you recite the relativity theory to me, I would ask why an aether-based explanation is not satisfactory to you. And, how you answer the objection that the procedure of introducing an absolute nothing into a theory is both epistemologically and metaphysically unsound, nay, even mocking in an ugly way of any theory building at all?

Now, yes, here, I did keep aside the issue of whether the electrons would also feel the pull due to gravity or not: if you supply an aether-based explanation for the EM part of the electronic interaction, then where would you put the gravity aether at the same time?

But, if you are going to confuse between that “whole shebang” of the electric universe of a plasma that we have already chucked aside, and these simple questions of mine which, despite all their simplicity you still apparently cannot answer, then, probably, you don’t understand what the phrase like “character of a physical” means.

That phrase isn’t always hungry looking for an object that is a product of consciousness (i.e. a law of nature). At a more fundamental level, but still continuing to belong to the theory of physics, that phrase is hungry looking for an objects that make the physical world itself. …Ummm…

… Metaphysics trumps epistemology. … Quite a fine principle, don’t you think?

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

A Song I Like:
[BTW, remember the rules of this section of this blog. Unless otherwise explicitly noted, this section always focuses only on, say, the “aural” aspects of a song; it does not factor in the extraneous “non-aural” aspects such as the visual aesthetics of any picturization done using the song, or the plot of the movie in which it might appear, or actors, or the shirt worn by a musician on the day of its recording, or by a lightman on the day of the shooting of the song, or whether any one wore any shirts at all or not, etc. … I wanted to remind you this rule because, with a song like this one, if you see listen to the song itself (including its words), what it suggests is, say, one world. But if you watch only the video of the song without knowing the story of the movie, then it “transforms” into an entirely another world. And, if you go watch the movie, I gather that you will entirely stop making any sense of anything in any world at all! [I haven’t seen it, but still, that’s what I gather from a review at a blog[^]]  … In short, just listen to this song as you would listen a song  heard on [the usual pre-Internet] radio, and you should be doing fine. … Though, as you listen to it, you might think that it’s Lata, though it’s not… And you might think that it’s Laxmikant-Pyarelaal or Kalyanji-Anandji, but it’s not… All in all, this song somehow has the potential not just to fox you; it has one to make an earth or a troop [^] out of you! Rather like the universe of the modern physics… So, listen to a sage advice. Just listen to it on a virtual/real radio, and, may be, you will like it too… ]

(Hindi) “dil ne phir yaad kiyaa…”
Singers: Mohamed Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur, and Mukesh
Music: Sonic Omi
Lyrics: G. L. Rawal (?)

[Enough. I am not going to post for many, many days… Though, I might come back and streamline this post a bit (and think whether the updates to my last post really should go into a separate post, or not)… Too tired… Everything, later!]

[E&OE]

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