Now, it seems some of you may hold the opinion that the fundamental “things” which make up reality are not matter, are not physical. And are some undefined “stuff” without properties, at least without the properties of physical objects.
And that maybe these things and their interactions result in other things having properties like size, shape and the like. This entire idea does not make any sense and is very disagreeable.
It sounds very Platonic or modern-physics like and is very disturbing. Although, perhaps these things might not have all the properties we are used to.
Whatever the most fundamental things exist turn out to be, they are some kind of matter.
If it isn’t matter, what is it? Well, I guess it is not physical then!
[Editorial: Note the heavy sarcasm. Of course it is physical, what else?!]
Consciousness? Well, evidently not.
Energy? First, tell me what you think that is. Since most people don’t know. And try to convince me that energy is a category of existence in the same way as matter.
Energy is simply some aspect of the behavior of matter or some kind of abstract description of something. Matter does not *turn into energy*. Nor is energy a metaphysical alternative to matter.
So, no, energy is not more fundamental than matter.
An attribute? No. Attributes are attributes of something so can hardly be fundamental.
A relationship? No. Relationships also pertain to things, they describe aspects of things. So cannot be fundamental.
Some kind of abstract description or other abstraction? No, same argument really.
What is this fundamental stuff then? What does the above not rule out? If it is not matter, that does not leave a lot else it can be…
This is a rather important metaphysical issue. Since it seems people are messing up their ontology and trying to justify undefinable and baseless categories of existence.
The basic constituents of reality are matter.
We can use this logic and say that ultimately, everything physics studies reduces to matter, its actions and how it interacts with other bits of matter. As well as the various properties of matter.
What do non-physical explanations do to help us understand matter and how it interacts? Nothing.
Describing spacetime as curved does nothing to help us understand gravity in terms of matter and its interactions.
Just as saying that an electron is a wave and a particle does not help us understand what the electron is and how it behaves.
Or take electromagnetism. It is said that it is caused by the electromagnetic field. OK, great. Now, what is a field? It is a series of points and abstract mathematical descriptions. How does that help us understand which physical entities are involved and how they interact? It doesn’t.
Consider energy. We do not even know what that is. Don’t believe me? Well, Feynman, one of the most knowledgeable physicists of all time points this out:
“It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount.”
Yet, energy is a crucial aspect of every aspect of physics. But, we don’t know what it is. We don’t know how the concept of energy relates to the physical world. Which physical entities does it pertain to?
We know it is conserved. We think that matter turns into energy. But does it?
No. Matter does not turn into energy. We cannot say that. How can we say that, given we don’t know what energy is? We have no basis for believing that.
And in fact, when we talk about energy, what we are describing seems to be an abstract description of something matter does. How can matter turn into an abstract description of what matter does It can’t!
We don’t know what light is. Also, we don’t know how gravity works. We don’t know what keeps atoms apart. There is all this talk about forces working by means of fields, but we simply treat them as mathematical descriptions. Without trying to figure out what they describe.
What then do we know about all these things? Basically nothing, other than a bunch of mathematical equations which describe relationships.
What does quantum mechanics tell us about actual physical objects? Basically nothing! And much the same can be said about Special and General Relativity.
If it does not explain anything in terms of the actions of physical objects, then it is not physics. It is mathematical modeling.
It might be very useful mathematical modeling and it might further our understanding of relationships between things. Granted, it might allow the creation of amazing technology.
But it is not physics. Which is all about explaining how the physical world works, using mathematics as a tool. Not describing relationships, which is the job of mathematics.
Hence, most “modern physics” should be viewed as “modern mathematical modeling”.
And this gives us a pretty good summary of a lot of the problems Bill Gaede also sees in modern physics. And which he is going to tell us in “What is Physics”.
Next week we will start getting into the video itself. I trust that you will tune in to find out more.