Why is the aether appealing?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Beercules, Jul 13, 2003.

  1. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member


    In the ontological sense they are the same thing except that the g-field alone is not quite adequate to unify the forces and explain the causaton of the force of gravity... but the aether is.

    [[[ you can't posibly understand this without reference to the unified field theory that I am talking about ]]]

    Actually a density gradient is at a deeper level of description than the curvature maps. It gets us one step closer to causality.

    Entirely false and I am certain that you or GR have not explored all the options.

    The equations of GR work quite well but the explanations are entirely false and abstract. Furthermore GER is entirely inadequate to explain the causality of gravitation and to unify the forces.

    My point is that we should judge theories based on what they can accomplish not on esoteric quibling on ontological definitions and assumptions.
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  3. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    That's your opinion. But the topic is of ontology, that's why I posted this in the philosophy forum. And as I said, a volume does not need to be a fluid like substance to be real. Are we at least in agreement on that point?

    What do you mean?

    I haven't seen any options that even try, but I'd be happy to see alternatives. It's the age old question though - without reference to particles, how is a region of compressed space (or aether) any different from a non compressed region? Science has defined all kinds of various states of matter, but quantities such as density are all related to concepts of particles.

    Recall that we are talking about the gravitational field, regardless of whether we can explain how it's quantum nature works. To claim that it is abstract would require one to point out a property it is missing to be considered tangible.

    As I said, this topic is about ontological considerations. Science doesn't worry too much about that, but that's why this is in this forum instead of the physics or cosmology board.
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  5. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member


    Well, not quite. To me, "reality" simply pertains to that which exists. This means that it is part of that which we call "causality". [ In order for something to exist it must be caused or causal ] My definition of causality is "matter in motion". For deeper metaphysical reasons (see Spinoza) and reasons imposed upon it by the quantum experiments revealing the wave-nature of all matter and "space"-- such matter cannot be composed of a duality of substance (a-tom and void) but must be continuous. In order for this continuum of matter to be in motion, to satisfy the definition of causality, it must be a compressible and frictionless fluid--such properties also satisfy the equations modeling our experimental contact with physical reality.

    The density gradients are the territory and the curvature of space is the map of this territory.

    Simple, it contains more matter, thus more actual or potential pressure.

    Right, that is why new words and concepts have been developed to make explicit these crucial distinctions.

    And I already have several times.

    I think that metaphysics is the neglected core of all physics. As such it is absolutely crucial to get this core properly established. The problem is that you are trying to establish the metaphysical reality of a non-metaphysical theory--one that is exclusively mathematical and not causal in its core.

    We can either discuss metaphysics or physics, but Relativity theory is not a metaphysical theory.
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  7. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    That's ok, but keep in mind that the important issue here is real as compared a mere abstraction. Concepts like truth, justice, good, evil, negations etc. are considered abstractions because they don't relate to any concept of an actual object. In other words, I cannot visually conceive of an object and call it justice. I can however, concieve of something like a galaxy, as it is a concrete object (existent or not) that is not a mere abstraction.

    In that sense, if we compare an aether to a field there is nothing that makes pure space any more of an abstraction. As per my claim, "volume" is a valid concept on it's own - and it's identity does not require "substance".

    Ok, we're still on the same page....

    And here we're off, because the above is demonstratebly wrong. I can quite easily define matter in motion to be "geometry in motion". Instead of matter moving through a void, the curvature distributed throughout spaces moves about and is constantly evolving. That fits the matter in motion critera as well anything. Actually, I don't even need curvature, as one could just as easily define "matter in motion" as the vibrations of nodes and edges along a lattice. There are probably countless other ways to define this without any need for a fluid substance - geometry is all you need.

    That doesn't explain anything. How can it contain more matter if space is one continuous medium? You can use any every day physics terms, but when the concept of particles is taken away you have nothing conceptual left to define these terms. So the question remains, what is actually different about an empty and full region of space?

    Well let's see. You used causality as a property missing, but clearly a gravitational field has that property as well. The other properties of being compressible and fluid-dynamics do not seem fundemental. That just means logically, if you take away the properties, you can still define a volume. Can you define an aether that has no size? It seems not, though you're welcome to take a stab at it.

    Come again? Modern field theories are about the physical world, so like it or not that necessarily has something to say about metaphysics. While there does not exist any truely unified field theory as of yet, the basic concept of the "field" does have metaphysical implications, at least as far as materialism is concerned)
  8. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member


    You claim a "volume" is just as real as substance. If we can't get past this level there is no point to continue.

    let us find out....
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2003
  9. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    Geometry is a mental construct. It is mathematical and has no existence apart from the mind wrt the measured object which is made out of substance.

    Can you not see the abstractness of this statement? How can curvature have any meaning without something to be curved? Einstein recognized this when he said the ether was absolutely essential to understand this concept. [[ note: space is not a substitute for substance. If you claim that it is then there is no sense in the distinction and the words have identical meaning. ]]

    Not even close...that is mathematics in motion.

    Your satisfaction at the mathematical level of abstraction is why this conversation is not getting anywhere. Have you studied metaphysics? If you had you should understand the crucial distinction between mathematics and causality that you are blurring. What can a node or a lattice mean without being made out of something?

    Physics has declared that mathematics is what reality is made out of. You have the masses on your side, but I am afraid they have abandoned reason and thus they do not understand the necessity of causality--they are blind to the physical reality that the equations quantify.

    You are confusing continuous with homogenous. They are not equivalent. Continuous simply means that there is no absolute division or gap anywhere in the substance. If this substance were homogenous then nothing tangible or perceptible (including perception itself) would exist.

    Matter in motion works just fine. It does not need to be made out of extensionless particles in a void. Such a concept is pure nonsense.

    In actuality there is no such thing as an absolutely empty region of space. What you percieve as "emptyness" is merely the lack of something perceptible, specific or understood.

    Absolutely correct, but I was talking about the theory of General Relativity and not the reality which it abstractly measures.

    They are not fundamental to the standard model and that is a large part of its problem. They are fundamental to Sorce Theory which can unify the forces and etc. in an entirely causal, visualizable and mechanical (fluid-dynamical) fashion.

    Again you are confusing mathematics with metaphysics.

    Size is relative to the measurement system employed and extension is a fundamental property of substance so an extensionless point of substance is an absurdity. This simply illustrates the vast difference between metaphysics and mathematics.

    Just because they are about the physical world does not mean that they contain a coherent metaphysics (beyond physics). In fact they have abandoned the fundamental concept of metaphysics and that is causality itself.

    False. The theory is just unknown.

    It doesn't even consist of a material, how can it have anything deeply meaningful to say about materialism? Again you are confusing metaphysics with mathematics. I suggest you read some Spinoza for the best source on metaphysics. Einstein himself said he was a disciple of Spinoza, so maybe this will help you understand why he said the ether was absolutely essential to understand "curved space".
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2003
  10. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Thanks and yes please.

    Couldn't agree more with - "I think that metaphysics is the neglected core of all physics. As such it is absolutely crucial to get this core properly established."
    Imo physics will make no further progress until this is recognised. However there is a strong reluctance by many people here to accept this view.

    Question - Is your proposed 'aether' a non-dual substance? I think somewhere you suggested this.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2003
  11. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Distributed amongst a significant number of brains.
  12. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Really? So a train is not larger than a car unless it is measured? Is the distance between galaxies any less real if there are no humans to measure it? Of course not. As you've also pointed out, a dimensionless physical object is an absurdity.

    The space is curved. And as I said, our concept of space does not relate to any abstraction, at least not in the context of the word being used here.

    Please don't misrepresent what Einstein said. He did not claim that any fluid like substance at all was necessary. Nor is any substance at all required, according to him. The gravitational field, is a very different kind of aether, as it has properties (a metric, energy, curvature and such) that make it a "thing" in the ontological sense. In other words, it's necessary to have a concept of a gravitational field that is dynamic and not the flat, lifeless void of the past. But it is not "made of" anything, especially a fluid like substance. Einstein wrote a lot about that, and never supported such a notion.

    Nope, because geometry is an applied branch of mathematics. While you can have all kinds of abstract mathematical situations that don't apply to anything concrete, geometry is specifically the study of space, which is a very real property of things. And the thing is, any physical event in the universe (a colliding galaxy, exploding star, etc.) can be moduled entirely in terms of evolving geometry. Logically, you do not need to make matter any substance to have all physical situations defined in a way.

    Yes I have, and would not be making these claims if I didn't find it impossible to justify the need for substances. I used to think that substance is what gives rise to volumes, and without it, space could not exist. Then when I failed to actually find any properties to define such a substance that weren't already contingent upon space in the first place, I realized it was backwards. Instead of substances giving rise to space, space gives rise the our perceptions of substances. The logic of this is unavoidable.

    That becomes quite obvious when you realize that something fundemental, by definition cannot be made or comprised of something else! It would be like asking what the fluid substance that defines the aether is made of. If it is fundemental, it is not made of anything. And this is really a logical necessity, because if something is made of something else, it cannot be fundemental, again by definition.

    You are again mistaking abstract mathematics, with geometry which is the study of space.

    My point is that if something is a continuous medium, and not made of composite parts in some kind of relational structure, I don't know where there is any room for inhomogenous regions. Why different regions can have different properties at all is the question, and goes back to Newton as I mentioned. You can put all kinds of labels such as density on them, but all you will have is a label. You won't have any other way of telling apart different regions. With GR, you can see that a compressed volume of space is different from an empty space, because density=more curvature.

    Quantum theory does not suggest that either, as it is about fields as well. And as I said, matter in motion can easily be defined as geometry in motion.

    You can also say there is no such thing as "full" space either, only different conditions of the same thing. In GR, that condition is geometry. Either approach ends up with the same result.

    It's not abstract, it's space.

    A fundemental property is one that cannot be taken away without losing the identity of the "thing" in question. Since an extensionless aether is not possible, volume is then a fundemental property of the aether. If that's true, you logically cannot have an aether without volume. However, you can logically have a volume without the few additional properties the aether has. Therefore, the aether is just a volume with additional properties tacked on.

    I thought we were on the same metaphysical page here, namely physicalism/materialism? In such case any physical model of the universe will necessarily touch on metaphysics for a materialist. There is nothing logically inconsistent or inconherent about a universe based on the findings of field theories. The claim that causality is abandoned is completely false, since no classic theory like GR is complete without it. And as I said, matter can be defined as spaces without logical inconsistencies or the need for a fluid like substance.

    That's along the same lines as what I said. A theory has not been found yet. Oddly enough though, unification is not the big problem. Supergravity can unifiy all the forces and matter, for example. The problem seems to be the uncertain language that QM speaks.

    It says everything material IS fundementally space and time. Think about it. Everything we perceive in the physical world is involves space and time. That is, a spatial object that is constantly evolving. Spacetime seems to be the only way to define physicalism at all, and you don't need substances to do it.

    As I said, Einstein did not believe in substances either. In terms of metaphysics, an aether is just a space with additional properties. While you can define a space without the need for substances, you cannot give any meaning to notion of substances without space.
  13. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Not among brains that belong to physicists.
  14. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    Right. Substance is the root level from which everything else is made.
  15. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    There is a duality to relation. There is physical relation and there is metrical relation. Dimensions are a construct of the mind. In this sentence you are using dimension as a substitute for extension. In this sense you are correct, but such a usage of the term leads to problems, as seen in String Theory with its excessive abuse of dimensions as an excuse to add complexity without accounting for causality.

    Regardless of your claims to the contrary, "space" is an abstraction for "extension" and only substance can have extension.

    I did not say that he did.

    This is false. Einstein was a self proclaimed disciple of Spinoza. He knew that empty space could have no attributes to map any curvature to. He said this directly in his speech at Leyden University.

    You are correct that the concept of Substance is incompatible with Relativity theory, however. All the worse for Relativity because ironically the substance of Spinoza (with some important additional properties) is the key to the Unification of the forces for which Einstein sought so desperately. Had Einstein only trusted his deeper metaphysical intuitions he may have understood the irrelevance of relativity and come closer to an understanding of the true theory.

    Einstein was a victim of his particular place in history. In the early 1800’s the existence of the phenomenon of polarized light was quite well established. In 1816-1817, as a result of investigations by Fresnel and others on the interference of polarized light, an interpretation of this phenomenon was given by Thomas Young, in which it was concluded that light waves are transverse (shear waves) and not, as had been previously thought, longitudinal (pressure waves). In 1865, Maxwell formulated his electric and magnetic field equations from his technique of analogy where he likened magnetic lines of force to incompressible fluid flow. The waves in his electromagnetic field theory, however, are transverse—as postulated by Young. It was the common ‘understanding’ at the time [this “common understanding” is the critical error!!], that transverse waves could not travel through a body of liquid or gas. These types of waves were thought to be exclusive to propagating through solids or at best, on the surfaces of fluids such as water. Therefore, the reasoning went, the ether cannot be a fluid because the observed transverse waves of polarized light would not be able to pass through it. The ether must therefore (somehow) be a solid.

    As we all know, the M&M experiment failed to detect any relative motion through this solid ether whatsoever, thus proving conclusively that the theoretical context of the M&M experiment was false—there simply was no solid, etheric frame of reference as postulated by classical science.

    In 1999 a very interesting fact was discovered.

    From: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990730072958.htm

    Superfluid Is Shown To Have Property Of A Solid
    EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University physicists have for the first time shown that superfluid helium-3 -- the lighter isotope of helium, which is a liquid that has lost all internal friction, allowing it to flow without resistance and ooze through tiny spaces that normal liquids cannot penetrate -- actually behaves like a solid in its ability to conduct sound waves. The finding, reported in the July 29 issue of the journal Nature, is the first demonstration in a liquid of the ‘acoustic Faraday effect,’ a response of sound waves to a magnetic field that is exactly analogous to the response of light waves to a magnetic field first observed in 1845 by British scientist Michael Faraday. The acoustic effect provides conclusive proof of the existence of transverse sound waves -- which are characteristic of solids but not of liquids -- in superfluid helium-3.

    “I wouldn’t say that our discovery is of that magnitude [says William Halperin. (if only he knew!)], but it is significant as the first observation of a previously unknown mode of wave propagation in a liquid -- one that is of the type you would expect to see in a solid.”

    Thus there never was a reason to assume a solid ether in the first place.

    Einstein was ignorant of the facts about transverse waves in a superfluid. Had this been known he very well may have come to an alternate conclusion.

    BTW, the ether I am proposing is equivalent to a zero-energy superfluid but is much more compressible.

    I am not saying that it can't be applied to physical reality, but that it is not a replacement for it...and "space" is not real at all. It is an abstraction.

    You simply cannot replace substance with geometry and expect it to make metaphysical sense. Such reasoning is one of the main problems with physics today.

    Sure you can model them with mathematics and geometry, but that does not mean that they are made out of such things.

    I would call it faulty. Extension is simply an attribute of substance.

    The problem is that you are placing finite things such as mathematics at the fundamental level.

    lol... That's pretty funny.

    Who said there was no relational structure?

    Volume is a metrical construct. It must be defined by the mind of man. Thus it is not fundemental.

    So you would think in your ignorance of a causally unified metaphysical theory.

    GR has violated causality and QM has abandoned it altogether in favor of mathematics.

    Completely wrong on this part. Einstein simply had a new relativistic definition of substance (ether). This definition is poorley formed and violates causality which is ironic coming from him.

    I think we have reached an impasse. You are content to rest with mathematics as a substitute for causalty and I am not. If we can't get past this impasse then I respectfully withdraw from this discussion. It was fun however.

    sir Mojo Loren
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2003
  16. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    Physics has abandoned metaphysics. It has become a dirty word. Physics prefers mathematics because it is not limited by such silly things as causality and human understanding.
  17. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Yep, and very ironic, considering that Goedel proved that human understanding is not as limited as mathematics.
  18. Canute Registered Senior Member

    Beercules - you're missing a lot because you avoid metaphysics, not recognising that at the fundamental level of questions like those here metaphysics and physics are the same subject.

    Thus you do not understand the notions of duality and non-duality that, if I read Sir Mojo correctly, both he and I have employed in our arguments. You believe that a non-dual substance must have dual properties, and do not see the illogic of such an idea.
  19. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    You can call it what you want, be it extension, size, volume, or whatever. It is a fundemental property of physical things that cannot be seperated. And from that, we can logically deduct that an aether is just a volume with added properties.

    How does string theory violate causality?

    This is an unsupported claim, as a space that is not made out of substance is logically consistent. But an aether without size (or extension if you will) is not.

    This is false, because in general relativity empty space is mere flat spacetime. The more mass you have, the more curvature you have (from flat space) and GR can also consistently describe universes that contain no matter or energy at all.

    The aether of Einstein is exactly the field I've described, so I don't know why you are arguing it.

    How is that relevant? I don't recall ever hearing the claim that the aether of old was anything other than a fluid like substance, not a solid.

    But you haven't supported this assertion. The fact that the aether has few properties that can't just as easily be added to the field should be a clue. If you want to claim space is an abstraction, the entire universe is an abstraction - because neither a field no aether can exist without it.

    Too bad, it does make sense! In fact, it makes any notion of substances completely redundant, because it is all you need to describe any physical event in the universe. Why you seem to think adding the properties of a superfluid adds anything ontologically, especially when I have already demonstrated that such an aether is contingent upon space in the first place.

    Then why can I logically define a space without the need for substance, but not a substance without the need for space, or extension as you call it?

    I've already shown that space is just as real as anything.

    In a continuous medium, there is no room for relations unless various regions are different somehow. Geometry explains this nicely, though I still haven't seen an explanation without it.

    I'll ask again. Is a train not bigger than a car, regardless of whether or not a human is there to measure it. Does the visible universe not have size without human measurement, likewise? You can call it extension if you like, but it is the same. Forget about reference frames and measurments - do physical objects have size or not? If so, then it is a property. If it is impossible to speak of an aether without this property, then it is fundemental by definition. Likewise, you cannot define things like compression, change, motion, etc. without the background of space. Since those concepts require a notion of space to define, a substance without it would be a logical contradiction.

    Yeah, ok....

    I've asked you this several times without an answer. How does GR violate causality?

    No he didn't, and you won't find any of his quotes supporting such a notion.

    That's true, if we can't agree that volume needs no substance to exist, then there is no point in going further. At the very least, I hope you will consider the implications of the logical deduction that places volume as fundemental property of things.
  20. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Canute, did you even bother to read the last few pages of this thread? I am in fact arguing that space is a fundemental property of physical things which cannot be seperated. The logical implications of such make substances redundant. That is specifically about the ontology of physical things, and is metaphysics as far as materialism is concerned. How in the world did you miss that?

    Do you even know what the word "dual" means? Hint: It does not mean the result of me slapping you in the face with a glove.

    BTW: I'm still waiting for any inconsistencies in an eternal universe that cause you to think such an idea is illogical.
  21. Beercules Registered Senior Member

    Forget metaphysics. Do you not suppose there are other reasons why professional physicists consider aether theories to be complete nonsense?
  22. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    It simply does not contain causality. All it has is empty mathematics.

    Einstein called it ether because he knew that it must be composed of a substance of some sort.

    You got your history wrong. The classical ether was a solid. It was the motion wrt this solid that MM failed to detect. If it was a fluid then there should be no reason to assume any motion of the earth or the MM laboratory wrt the ether. The fluid ether satisfies the null results, but since it was assumed that transverse waves could only travel through a solid then the fluid ether was not a candidate so Einstein had to satisfy the null result via pure mathematical manipulations.

    Because you are not using metaphysics. You are operating in the fantasyland of pure mathematics.

    To your own satisfaction not to mine. My arguments have gone unheeded this is why this discussion has reached an impasse.

    density and pressure variations

    Define "size".

    Because the root-level matter-in-motion of substance is incompatible with a constant speed of light in all interial reference frames.

    When one assumes a fluid frame of reference this "common-sense" and causality defying logic is superfluous to satisfy the null results of MM and all the properties of relativity can be understood at a deeper causal level.

    Apparently you have not read the speech. Here is one such quote of the many spread throughout the talk.


    "To deny the ether is ultimately to assume that empty space has no physical qualities whatever. The fundamental facts of mechanics do not harmonize with this view. "

    Note the term "physical properties" not purely mathematical properties.

    Sorry but your argument was weak at best...and why on earth do you suppose I would ever give up a causal understanding of how the forces are unified at the core level?
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2003
  23. sir Mojo Loren axial anomaly Registered Senior Member

    It is caused by Einsteins initial ether-denying reaction which was a response to accidents of history that need to be corrected.

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