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De-Mystifying Special Relativity
#1
This is my first post, so please bear with me if I struggle with the mechanics of using the editor, although it look quite good at first sight.

A short introduction to myself: I am an engineer, so not a mathematician or physicist. My understanding of physics is therefore conceptual rather than mathematical. In the "shut-up and calculate" world of mainstream physics this is clearly a shortcoming. After reading many "layman's" explanations for the foundations of physics by some of the leading physicists, I have come to the conclusion that mostly there is little conceptual understanding of the key concepts of physics which the mathematics have thrown up. While the mathematics is clearly required to formalise theories and to make them useful from a predictive point of view, I think that doing the maths and then trying to explain it in retrospect has lead us down a rabbit hole where very little real progress has occurred in the last 50 years, from a fundamental perspective.

Today I would like to throw out a "theory" regarding special relativity that I thought was intuitively obvious, but when discussing it with a physicist, I got the distinct idea that he thought I was "not all there". Admittedly the concepts in a verbal discussion can sometimes be clouded by many external factors, so maybe I just did not explain myself well. The logical conclusion of my conceptual reasoning is that there must be an aether.

So, here is the theory stated:

The invariance of the speed of light, and the apparent dilation of time with increased velocity of an observer, and the inability of an observer to define an absolute velocity, is a natural consequence of measuring waves using waves, and is a characteristic of all wave systems, not just electromagnetic waves.



I am struggling to enter the necessary equations into the editor, so I have attached a "paper" with the necessary arguments on it, including some elementary mathematics. Basically it can be summarised in the steps below:

Step 1: Define a wave existential reference frame:

A wave existential reference frame is defined as follows:

  1. It is an experimental space within which measurements are made of waves within a specific medium. Examples may be sound waves in air, sound waves in water, or sound waves in a specific homogenous metal such as copper or iron.
  2. All measurements are to be made by instruments that are constrained by the wave propagation mechanism of the particular waves being measured. As an example, sound waves in air can only be measured by mechanisms that are themselves based on sound waves in air.
  3. The experimental space of the reference frame is big enough that no “edge effects” are encountered.
  4. The medium inside the reference frame is stationary with respect to the edges of the experimental space. This requirement is included to conceptually simplify the discussion, rather than it being an absolute requirement to make our hypothesis work.
  5. The experimental velocities within the wave system are limited to less than the speed of the wave within that system. While this is given as a separate condition, it is a natural consequence of using measuring instruments that are themselves based on waves within that system.
  6. The classical wave equations defined in non-relativity theories are used for calculations.
[*]

An interesting conceptual result of our definition is that observers within the wave existential reference frame are not able to establish their own speed with respect to the reference medium they are moving through.

What we are implying is that the observers themselves are waves travelling through the medium in which the wave measurements are being made. Such a wave will not be able to perceive the medium it is travelling through, because it is itself made of the medium. At any point in time, a cross section through the “observer wave” will look exactly the same with respect to the medium around it as at any other time. There is therefore no perceptual change over time as far as the wave is concerned. In other words, the wave cannot detect its own motion through the reference medium.

The speed of a wave in this wave existential reference frame is calculated as: S = frequency  x wavelength

Step 2: Invariance of the speed of waves:

We know that waves travel at specific speeds as determined by the elastic and other physical properties of the medium they are travelling through. For example, the speed of sound through air is around 343 m/s, the speed of sound through water is around 1484 m/s and the speed of sound in iron is around 5120 m/s.

[*]Due to Doppler effects when the observer is moving relative to the wave he is measuring, the frequency and wavelength vary inversely to each other. The net result is that the observer always measures the same speed for any wave within the wave existential reference frame. (See attached PDF for equations.)

Step 3: Define how to measure time and length in existential reference frame:

[*]When using a clock based on the wave existential reference frame, the same time dilation equation is derived as that used in special relativity. (The gamma factor often used in time and distance dilation due to the velocity of an observer.) - See attached PDF for equations. This equation is therefore common to all wave systems, not just electromagnetic.


Step 4: Implication of a generalised understanding of wave speed invariance and time dilation:

In essence, it suggests:




  1. Electromagnetic waves follow the same fundamental principles for propagation as all other waves. In particular, it suggests that light travels through a medium, in a manner similar to all other waves. In the absence of a better term, we will call the medium “aether”.
  2. “Rigid matter” is part of the electromagnetic wave existential reference frame. This follows from experimental results showing that even when using measuring instruments (clocks and distance measuring devices) made of “rigid matter”, the same results are obtained as when using electromagnetic wave based instruments. This in turn suggests that “rigid matter” is at least partially comprised of electromagnetic waves and therefore are constrained by the same rules of propagation as electromagnetic waves. This behaviour has been observed in experiments that involve the measurement of time dilation occurring at “relativistic speeds”.


[*]
 Step 5: Re-interpretation of the results of the Michelson and Morley Experiments:

In 1887, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley conducted experiments with an interferometer to detect the presence of an aether. [2] The reasoning behind the experiment was that if the earth was traveling through an aether, then we should be able to detect differences in this velocity between different times of the day, due to the earth’s rotation, and different seasons in the year, due to the earth travelling in different directions around the sun.

According to their experiments and calculations, they were unable to detect any such difference. In other words, they were unable to detect an “aether wind”.

The experimental result can however be interpreted in two ways:




  1. In a universe where “rigid matter” is separate from electromagnetic waves, the absence of an aether wind would suggest that an aether does not exist.
  2. In a universe where aether exists, the inability to measure the aether wind suggests that the measuring instruments (including rigid bodies) are themselves subjected to the wave propagation principles of electromagnetic waves. In other words, rigid matter is itself some form of electromagnetic wave.


[*]
As wave theories of matter, such as quantum field theory, only emerged in any meaningful way in the 1950s, the second interpretation above would not have been given serious consideration by Michelson and Morley at the time of their experiment. I believe that there is enough scientific evidence to support the second interpretation.

Thought Process and Conclusions:

Within the conceptual framework of a “wave existential reference frame”, the following conclusions can be drawn:




  1. The constancy of the speed of a wave, regardless of the velocity of an observer, is not unique to electromagnetic waves. This is a general property of all wave systems when the speed of the wave is measured as frequency times wavelength. Whenever waves are used as the measuring tools, then we are inevitably measuring the speed of a wave as frequency times wavelength.
  2. Time dilation with increasing velocity is not unique to electromagnetic waves. This is a general property of all wave systems when the time measurement is made with a clock that is constrained by the wave system in which the measurements are made.
  3. The tenets and results of the theory of special relativity are therefore predictable results of measuring waves, using instruments that are themselves based on waves within that system.
  4. The presence of the constancy of the speed of light, and time dilation, for electromagnetic waves when using measuring devices made from “rigid matter”, suggests that matter is part of the electromagnetic wave existential reference frame.
  5. If matter is part of the electromagnetic wave existential reference frame, then it suggests that matter is at least partially composed of electromagnetic waves. Given that subatomic particles do have electromagnetic properties, this conclusion seems reasonable and supported by the current scientific understanding of matter.
  6. If electromagnetic waves follow the same basic properties as other wave systems, then it is reasonable to conclude that electromagnetic waves are also travelling through some medium, as is the case for all other wave systems. We will call this medium “aether”.
  7. It therefore follows that all matter is composed wholly or partly of aether waves.
  8. If it is accepted that matter and electromagnetic waves are both composed partly or wholly of aether, then the Michelson and Morley experiments to detect an aether wind will always give a “negative” result.
  9. If all matter is composed wholly or partly of aether waves, then designing an experiment to detect motion through the aether will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
  10. There is a conceptual difference between the aether proposed in this post and the “luminiferous aether” to which Michelson, Morley and Einstein referred. The Michelson and Morley luminiferous aether is a medium through which light propagates, while the aether proposed in this paper is the very fabric of the universe.


[*]
 





[*]



Unfortunately I could not get the equations entered into this editor, so please read the PDF document for the calcs.

At any rate, please give me feedback on the "theory" above. Am I missing something, or is this all "old hat" to everyone?

Looking forward to some feedback.


Attached Files
.pdf   N Jooste-Aether Proposal.pdf (Size: 439.84 KB / Downloads: 12,447)
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#2
I have actually some problems downloading it (probably bad connection), so my first comment only about what you have written here.

A similar idea goes already back to Lorentz, who has observed that if what holds usual matter together is also the EM field, then rulers and clocks would have the same symmetry group.  

See also my preliminary version of an introduction into relativity based on the Lorentz ether.  

So, for me this is an "old hat".  Unfortunately, most mainstream physicists are completely unaware of this.
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#3
(09-12-2017, 08:59 AM)Schmelzer Wrote: I have actually some problems downloading it (probably bad connection), so my first comment only about what you have written here.

A similar idea goes already back to Lorentz, who has observed that if what holds usual matter together is also the EM field, then rulers and clocks would have the same symmetry group.  

See also my preliminary version of an introduction into relativity based on the Lorentz ether.  

So, for me this is an "old hat".  Unfortunately, most mainstream physicists are completely unaware of this.

Thanks for the feedback.

I checked the download from my side, and there was no problem. Let me know if I need to re-load the attachment.

I get that there was/is "speculation" about matter having electromagnetic "wave" properties. However, that the invariance of the speed of a wave, and time dilation, can be seen to be associated with measuring waves using waves, regardless of the type of wave, (sound in air, water, steel) then there is really no speculation required.

Why is there this "mystery" around the invariance of the speed of light if it is relatively clear that it is merely a function of measuring waves using waves? Why is there a surprise that time dilates when it is just a function of waves being measured with waves, and it is clear to see that this is a function of all wave systems, not just electromagnetic waves?

Surely the easiest way to explain "special relativity" to anybody is to explain that these phenomena are just properties of waves, rather than these being some "weird" properties associated with "light" and "travelling close to the speed of light".
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#4
(09-12-2017, 01:28 PM)Niekie Wrote: I get that there was/is "speculation" about matter having electromagnetic "wave" properties. However, that the invariance of the speed of a wave, and time dilation, can be seen to be associated with measuring waves using waves, regardless of the type of wave, (sound in air, water, steel) then there is really no speculation required.

Surely the easiest way to explain "special relativity" to anybody is to explain that these phenomena are just properties of waves, rather than these being some "weird" properties associated with "light" and "travelling close to the speed of light".
The download is ok, it was a bad internet connection from my side.

What matters is not measuring waves using waves, but measuring waves using waves of the same characteristic (limiting) speed.  If there would be two aethers, with different characteristic speeds, only very weakly interacting, one could measure also absolute distances and time, simply by comparing both.  Like a classical thermometer works by comparing the different expansion of different materials (glass and mercury), one could use similar comparisons to measure absolutes. So, for example, you can measure with high accuracy everything about sound waves, including the speed of the medium where the sound moves, using light waves.  So, it is not something about waves in general.  And if we would have sound waves of some absolute medium, not influenced by the ether,  we could use it to measure the speed of the ether.  

It is almost, but not exactly, the speed of the waves which has to be equal. But there is also a caveat: It is the wave equation which matters, not the speed of a particular solution.  So, \[ (\square + m^2) \phi = \frac{1}{c^2}\partial _{t}^{2}\phi -\nabla ^{2}\phi +m^{2}\phi =0\] describes waves of a massive scalar particle, with velocity smaller than c, how fast depends on the momentum, while the massless particle  \[\square \phi = \frac{1}{c^2}\partial _{t}^{2}\phi -\nabla ^{2}\phi =0\] describes waves with exact velocity c. But nonetheless both wave equations have the Lorentz group as a symmetry group.  One can also say they have the same light cone - in one case it describes the limiting speed of the wave, in the other the exact speed. 

I agree, the easiest way to explain relativity is by explaining the properties of wave equations.  This is what I have tried in my introduction into relativity. Starting with the point of using a Lorentz transformation with the speed of sound instead of c to construct, from a given solution of the sound equation, other, Doppler-shifted solution of the same sound equation.  And, then, simply trying to explain the mathematics that this works also for some other, more complex variants of the same wave equation.

BTW, Latex formulas you can write using the \ ( ... \ )  brackets for inline and \ [ ... \ ] brackets for full line formulas.  See here for more.
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#5
(09-17-2017, 12:10 PM)Schmelzer Wrote: [quote pid='5559' dateline='1505222915']
What matters is not measuring waves using waves, but measuring waves using waves of the same characteristic (limiting) speed. 

[/quote]

I think we are both saying the same thing. That is why I have "defined" the wave existential reference frame. It is about using the same kind of waves to do the measurements as the waves you are measuring. e.g. Sound waves in air to measure sound waves in air, sound waves in water to measure sound waves in water etc. The conclusion that I believe is clear from this is that "matter" must therefore be part of the electromagnetic wave "characteristic" wave, (existential reference frame in my definition) because when we use "matter" to measure electromagnetic waves, we get the same results as when using electromagnetic waves to do the same measurements. (Time dilation etc.)

You then bring up the next point, regarding "matter" with mass. I have a conceptual model for how that works, from which flows a gravitational model for the aether. Unfortunately the mathematics of such a model is beyond me, but maybe you would find this much easier, if you agreed with it off-course!

I think that maybe I should start another thread, seeing as this moves outside the subject of "special relativity" which is in the title of this thread. I will call the new thread "Aether matter waves".
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