Sadly, I have had in my previous Lectures to pay some attention to the role played by Albert Einstein, because his philosophical picture of space has made everything obscure and has blocked the way forward in progressing to the ultimate truths. I have much more to say on that subject in the Lectures that will follow. Here in this Lecture, however, I will introduce my account of things by presuming that Einstein has never existed.
The question is: "Where to begin?" and my answer to that is to presume that those of you that are interested in what I have to say are the kind of people who might read the American Journal of Physics or the equivalent periodical published by the U.K. Institute of Physics, namely Physics Education. Physics teachers, their students, including those involved in research, and graduates in physics are the kind of people who will be able to understand the subject I now address.
So, I shall begin by referring first to something you can read on page 938 of the No. 10 issue (Volume 53) of American Journal of Physics, dated October 1985. In the upper portion of that page there is a Letter to the Editor entitled: 'THE PROTON ENIGMA' and, nested alongside that, there is another Letter to the Editor entitled: 'THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND A BINARY STAR: IS THERE A CONNECTION?'. So here we have protons mentioned alongside stars, a spectrum of physics ranging from the basic building blocks which form our universe to the stars into which those building blocks cluster. We need to explain how those protons are created and why they group together to form those clusters and I am going to develop what I say here from what was written in those two short communications to the Dr. J. S. Rigden, the then-editor of the American Journal of Physics.
Now, concerning my method of approach and the need to interest you, the reader. The question you face is whether you want your physics to be expressed in symbols, equations and formulae or whether you want physics to provide the checks and balances that come essentially from getting the numbers right. By that I mean that you may be the type of person who enjoys the elegance and symmetry of a mathematical formulation, even though it gives only rough answers, numerically speaking, or you may be the type of person who expects the numerical answers to come out right and expect precise accord with observation before you can believe anything expressed by fancy mathematics.
You see, here I have suffered from experience in that I have always regarded the constants of physics as Nature's challenge to us as an invitation to decode or decipher what is hidden behind those numbers. Like most people interested in science, I have enough imagination to invent a variety of explanations for certain unexplained phenomena which interest me. However, ideas and inventions are not sufficient in themselves to solve the basic problems of physics. One can so easily go astray. What one needs is the simple truth and I emphasize here the word 'simple'! You can be sure that Nature builds on foundations that are firm in their structure, just as the fundamental form of solid matter comprises and orderly arrangement of atoms in a crystal structure. That is why what we measure as physical constants in our physics laboratories in USA are the same as those in Europe or elsewhere around the world. The factor which decides whether something is a constant is simply whether the numbers come out the same at those different laboratory locations. The number is important!
So, about my experience, I found that when I offered my ideas on the fundamental issues of physics, as hypotheses developed to show interesting connections and relationships, with some formulations in support, they were rejected as 'mere speculation'. If I stressed their success in giving the right numerical values for the constants of physics that hitherto lacked a physical basis of derivation, I was told that I was merely 'playing with numbers'. As if I would be stupid enough to sit patiently pressing keys on a pocket calculator, just hoping to see some numerical coincidence appear that looked like it had the same value as one of the dimensionless physical constants!
In fact, my main breakthroughs on the theory I am writing about in these Web pages, were made before I ever owned a pocket calculator or any form of computer other than a simple engineer's slide rule. Yes, my first calculations leading to the value of hc/2(pi)e2, which is slightly greater than 137 were made using a slide rule in the mid-1950 period and it was not until 1960 that they appeared in published form in a printed publication, necessarily, in those days, hand-set in printer's type. So, please believe me when I say that the subject I am now addressing is simple in its component form and is something that you, the reader, can check, step-by-step, if I guide you through the process. You will find that you can calculate the value of G in terms of e/me, the charge to mass ratio of the electron, but that will be a few Lectures ahead.
First, we need to put some method into our approach. At this point, I ask you to ignore what you may have heard about neutron stars and Black Holes. My reason is very simple. It is that physicists do not know enough about neutrons here on Earth to make sense of what they see, so how can they begin to convince us that there are neutron stars? Also, not heeding my findings, they do not know how to calculate G, which means that they do not understand the physical cause of gravitation. That further means that they do not know the limits and constraints which govern the action of gravity. Suppose I were to explain why an apple falls to the ground by saying that I do work in lifting it to a height of 2 metres before allowing it to fall, adding that gravity is like the action of a stretched spring linking apple and Earth, and that was all you knew about gravity by way of theory and experiment. You would be justified then in saying that gravity is something that has a range of action of two metres and it applies to objects having a mass approximating that of the apple. To apply the same theory to more massive objects separated by very large distances you surely would need to know something about that spring and to wonder whether God did the work of stretching it in the first place to separate those objects. You see, something or somebody has to wind up the spring that runs a mechanical clock and there has to be something in space that constitutes the universal 'time machine'!
Ah, but you now say that Isaac Newton convinced us that the action of gravity involves that constant G and an inverse square law of action which applies to interaction between Sun and planet, Moon and Earth and even to that apple and body Earth. True, but now go from there with your neutron in mind and ask how the force of gravity can override the electrostatic forces of repulsion between electric charges seated in protons, for example. If you say that the proton charge is always neutralized by the presence of an electron, as in an atom, so that there need be no electrical restraint on gravitational compaction, then you have imposed your own limit on the effect of gravity. It can never crush atoms together so as to squeeze them into less space than is needed for their atomic electron shell form.
To go further than that and argue that Black Holes exist, as by neutrons alone forming into stellar objects, then you have invented your image of a neutron and given it properties of your own choosing and you have also declared, in effect, that the force of gravity is not seated in actions which stem from electrodynamic effects. You have lost contact with physics as we see it from laboratory measurement and wandered off into no-man's land, where you go unarmed and unequipped to deal with the problems you then can only imagine.
A sensible person waits in his Earth laboratory environment until the riddle of G is solved and then begins to think about the consequences of that solution. So, reverting to our American Journal of Physics reference, we will now build from there, following the two separate tracks defined by each of those Letters to the Editor and beginning with the one concerning the solar system. It was authored by Jerry Webb of the University of Arkansas at Monticello in Arizona.
"Some time ago I noticed a very interesting feature of the solar system that evidently has not been commented upon before. If it has I have been unable to find any reference to it. If one calculates the total energy and the total angular momentum of the planets, the numbers turn out to be the same as those of a single planet having a mass essentially the same as the total mass of all the planets, and orbiting the Sun in an orbit which is near to the present day center of mass of all the planets. The possibility that the solar system was once a binary star (or is in the process of becoming one) needs to be examined more closely."You will see here that Webb is influenced by that numerical circumstance into speculating that the planets formed by the break-up of a small star orbiting around our Sun. Now, long before Webb wrote this, I had taken some interest in a different aspect of this same problem. The idea of a binary star was not in my mind, because the total mass of the planets is so small compared with the mass of the Sun that a binary system was not, as I saw it, a logical implication. My approach had been to say that the Earth must have formed and then shed the Moon to carry away most of its angular momentum and, by analogy, the Sun first formed and shed the planetary matter from which the Earth emerged. I did wonder if the sequence of events involved shedding the planetary matter in one go, as it were, or whether it was shed step-by-step, each step involving two planets, dynamically disposed on opposite sides of the Sun at the time they initially formed.
Now although cosmologists spend most of their efforts and their funded resources on theorizing about what there may be out there in space well removed from our solar system, there is a great deal to be learned still, and at very little cost, from deliberating on the kind of question put by Jerry Webb. However, we must be guided as much by those numbers and what they imply as we are by notions about the underlying processes needed to account for those numbers and the way things work out. Here there are two kinds of numbers, those which apply specifically to one system, such as our solar system, and those which apply universally, such as the constant of gravitation G, Planck's constant h and the proton/electron mass ratio M/me. The values of those numbers do tell us something!
For example, using the measured values of G and M and me, as well as the magnitude of the electric charge e of the electron and the proton, we can work out that the gravitational force of attraction between those two particles which form the hydrogen atom is very much less than the force of electrical attraction between them. Indeed, that electrical force is some 23x1038 times greater than the gravitational force. If we consider instead two well-spaced hydrogen atoms then the electric force between them is zero because the positive proton charge and negative electron charge cancel to leave us with a neutral entity. So here the force gravity is infinitely greater than the electrical force. If, then, gravitation has to be explained in terms of the electrical properties of matter, we need to consider the possible effects of charge motion, meaning electrodynamic forces of the kind we associate with electromagnetism.
However, here we encounter problems that are not numerical in significance, but are more related to the direction of the forces set up by moving charges, because there is the problem that the standard interpretation of the electrodynamic force between two charges in motion does not give a force acting directly along a line linking the two charges.
On this account the problem of gravitation might seem to be quite formidable, but yet we can solve the riddle involved and know we are right, because the value of G emerges with the correct value and so provides the needed confirmation.
Explaining the creation of the solar system is not the best place to start in this quest to solve the riddle of gravitation, but it has some appeal and can engender interest and give the reader the initial confidence needed to keep with me as I work my way through that challenging task.
I will return to discuss the other Letter to the Editor in American Journal of Physics, the one alongside that by Jerry Webb, after presenting what I will be saying below under the heading: 'Space, Energy and Creation'. That other Letter was entitled 'THE PROTON ENIGMA' and it opens what I will have to say in this Lecture concerning the proton and the neutron, which are recognized as the primary actors having the main gravitational role in our universe.
Concerning the solar system, the following presentation of data is identical in form to what was presented on the page facing page 2 in a Lecture paper 'Space, Energy and Creation' that was published 20 years ago in 1977:
OBJECT MASS ORBIT REVS. ANGULAR MOMENTUM RADIUS /YR. IN EARTH UNITS SUN 332,800.00 -- -- 20 (approx.) MERCURY 0.05 0.387 0.24 0.03 VENUS 0.82 0.723 0.62 0.69 EARTH 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 MARS 0.11 1.52 1.88 0.135 JUPITER 317.8 5.20 11.86 724.6 SATURN 95.2 9.54 29.46 294.1 URANUS 14.5 19.18 84.01 63.5 NEPTUNE 17.2 30.07 165 94.3 PLUTO 0.11 39.44 248 0.69 ______________ 1200 (approx.)
Now the significance of all this can be understood if one now takes note that Jupiter spins about its axis in less than 10 hours and that Saturn spins in just over 10 hours, as does Uranus, whereas Neptune has a spin at nearly 16 hours. The Sun spins once in 25 days. Then observe that 1200 divided by 20 is 60 and so, if all the planetary angular momentum were to be put back into the Sun, then the primordial spin rate of the Sun would be just about the same as we see for Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus!
Here is a curious fact. Does it not tell you that when large astronomical objects first form, as by coalescing from whatever form matter takes at that stage of Creation, there is for some reason a process that likes that spin rate of the order of 10 or so hours per revolution?
I add here the point that those 20 Earth units of angular momentum assigned to the Sun were estimated assuming that much of the solar mass is concentrated towards its centre and so a figure was used of about half of the value applicable if the Sun's mass density were to be uniform throughout. The figure adopted was only intended to show the scale of angular momentum deployment as between Sun and its satellite system.
Now one may next ask about the Earth and Moon system. Yes, here too we see that the primordial form of body Earth, before it shed the Moon would spin far faster than it does today, even faster than that 10 or so hour rate implies. However, these are only early clues to help us on our way and, for my part, my contribution is summarized in just a few pages in chapter 8 of my 1980 book: 'Physics Unified'. If you have a copy of that book then read that section. If not, then I invite you to read on here in the continuation of this Web Lecture as I reproduce the text of my 1977 lecture paper on 'Space, Energy and Creation'.