Nearly twenty years have passed since the first edition of this work was published. As I pointed out in the preface of that first edition, my findings indicate the necessity for a drastic change in the accepted concept of the fundamental relationship that underlies the whole structure of physical theory: the relation between space and time. The physical universe, I find, is not a universe of matter existing in a framework provided by space and time, as seen by conventional science, but a universe of motion, in which space and time are simply the two reciprocal aspects of motion, and have no other significance. What I have done, in brief, is to determine the properties that space and time must necessarily possess in a universe composed entirely of motion, and to express them in the form of a set of postulates. I have then shown that development of the consequences of these postulates by logical and mathematical processes, without making any further assumptions or introducing anything from experience, defines, in detail, a complete theoretical universe that coincides in all respects with the observed physical universe.
Nothing of this nature has ever been developed before. No previous theory has come anywhere near covering the full range of phenomena accessible to observation with existing facilities, to say nothing of dealing with the currently inaccessible, and as yet observationally unknown, phenomena that must also come within the scope of a complete theory of the universe. Conventional scientific theories accept certain features of the observed physical universe as given, and then make assumptions on which to base conclusions as to the properties of these observed phenomena: The new theoretical system, on the other hand, has no empirical content. It bases all of its conclusions solely on the postulated properties of space and time. The theoretical deductions from these postulates provide for the existence of the various physical entities and phenomena—matter, radiation, electrical and magnetic phenomena, gravitation, etc., as well as establishing the relations between these entities. Since all conclusions are derived from the same premises, the theoretical system is a completely integrated structure, contrasting sharply with the currently accepted body of physical theory, which, as described by Richard Feynman, is “a multitude of different parts and pieces that do not fit together very well.”
The last twenty years have added a time dimension to this already unique situation. The acid test of any theory is whether it is still tenable after the empirical knowledge of the subject is enlarged by new discoveries. As Harlow Shapley once pointed out, facts are the principle enemies of theories. Few theories that attempt to cover any more than a severely limited field are able to survive the relentless march of discovery for very long without major changes or complete reconstruction. But no substantive changes have been made in the postulates of this new system of theory in the nearly twenty years since the original publication, years in which tremendous strides have been made in the enlargement of empirical knowledge in many physical areas. Because the postulates and whatever can be derived from them by logical and mathematical processes, without introducing anything from observation or other external sources, constitute the entire system of theory, this absence of substantive change in the postulates means that there has been no change anywhere in the theoretical structure.
It has been necessary, of course, to extend the theory by developing more of the details, in order to account for some of the new discoveries, but in most cases the nature of the required extension was practically obvious as soon as the new phenomena or relationships were identified. Indeed, some of the new discoveries, such as the existence of exploding galaxies and the general nature of the products thereof, were actually anticipated in the first published description of the theory, along with many phenomena and relations that are still awaiting empirical verification. Thus the new theoretical system is ahead of observation and experiment in a number of significant respects.
The scientific community is naturally reluctant to change its views to the degree required by my findings, or even to open its journals to discussion of such a departure from orthodox thought. It has been a slow and difficult task to get a significant count of consideration of the new structure of theory. However, those who do examine this new theoretical structure carefully can hardly avoid being impressed by the logical and consistent nature of the theoretical development. As a consequence, many of the individuals who have made an effort to understand and evaluate the new system have not only recognized it as a major addition to scientific knowledge, but have developed an active personal interest in helping to bring it to the attention of others. In order to facilitate this task an organization was formed some years ago with the specific objective of promoting understanding and eventual acceptance of the new theoretical system, the Reciprocal System of physical theory, as we are calling it. Through the efforts of this organization, the New Science Advocates, Inc., and its individual members, lectures on the new theory have been given at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. The NSA also publishes a newsletter, and has been instrumental in making publication of this present volume possible.
At the annual conference of this organization at the University of Mississippi in August 1977 I gave an account of the origin and early, development of the Reciprocal System of theory. It has been suggested by some of those who heard this, presentation that certain parts of it ought to be included in this present volume in order to bring out the fact that the central idea of the new system of theory, the general reciprocal relation between space and time, is not a product of a fertile imagination, but a conclusion reached as the result of an exhaustive and detailed analysis of the available empirical data in a number of the most basic physical fields. The validity of such a relation is determined by its consequences, rather than by its antecedents, but many persons may be more inclined to take the time to examine those consequences if they are assured that the relation in question is the product of a systematic inductive process, rather than something extracted out of thin air. The following paragraphs from my conference address should serve this purpose.
Many of those who come in contact with this system of theory are surprised to find us talking of “progress in connection with it. Some evidently look upon the theory as a construction, which should be complete before it is offered for inspection. Others apparently believe that it originated as some kind of a revelation, and that all I had to do was to write it down. Before I undertake to discuss the progress that has been made in the past twenty years, it is therefore appropriate to explain just what kind of a thing the theory actually is, and why progress is essential. Perhaps the best way of doing this will be to tell you something about how it originated.
I have always been very much interested in the theoretical aspect of scientific research, and quite early in life I developed a habit of spending much of my spare time on theoretical investigations of one kind or another. Eventually I concluded that these efforts would be more likely to be productive if I directed most of them toward some specific goal, and I decided to undertake the task of devising a method whereby the magnitudes of certain physical properties could be calculated from their chemical composition. Many investigators had tackled this problem previously, but the most that had ever been accomplished was to devise some mathematical expressions whereby the effect of temperature and pressure on these properties can be evaluated if certain arbitrary “constants” are assigned to each of the various substances. The goal of a purely theoretical derivation, one which requires no arbitrary assignment of numerical constants, has eluded all of these efforts.
It may have been somewhat presumptuous on my part to select such an objective, but, after all, if anyone wants to try to accomplish ; something new, he must aim at something that others have not done. Furthermore, I did have one significant advantage over my predecessors, in that I was not a professional physicist or chemist. Most people would probably consider this a serious disadvantage, if not a definite disqualification. But those who have studied the subject in depth are agreed that revolutionary new discoveries in science seldom come from the professionals in the particular fields involved. They are almost always the work of individuals who might be considered amateurs, although they are more accurately described by Dr. James B. Conant as uncommitted investigators.” The uncommitted investigator, says Dr. Conant, is one who does the investigation entirely on his own initiative, without any direction by or responsibility to anyone else, and free from any requirement that the work must produce results.
Research is, in some respects, like fishing. If you make your living as a fisherman, you must fish where you know that there are fish, even though you also know that those fish are only small ones. No one but the amateur can take the risk of going into completely unknown areas in search of a big prize. Similarly, the professional scientist cannot afford to spend twenty or thirty of the productive years of his life in pursuit of some goal that involves a break with the accepted thought of his profession. But we uncommitted investigators are primarily interested in the fishing, and while we like to make a catch, this is merely an extra dividend. It is not essential as it is for those who depend on the catch for their livelihood. We are the only ones who can afford to take the risks of fishing in unknown waters. As Dr. Conant puts it,
Few will deny that it is relatively easy in science to fill in the details of a new area, once the frontier has been crossed. The crucial event is turning the unexpected corner. This is not given to most of us to do… By definition the unexpected corner cannot be turned by any operation that is planned… If you want advances in the basic theories of physics and chemistry in the future comparable to those of the last two centuries, then it would seem essential that there continue to be people in a position to turn unexpected corners. Such a man I have ventured to call the uncommitted investigator.
As might be expected, the task that I had undertaken was a long and difficult one, but after about twenty years I had arrived at some interesting mathematical expressions in several areas, one of the most intriguing of which was an expression for the inter-atomic distance in the solid state in terms of three variables clearly related to the properties portrayed by the periodic table of the elements. But a mathematical expression, however accurate it may be, has only a limited value in itself. Before we can make full use of the relationship that it expresses, we must know something as to its meaning. So my next objective was to find out why the mathematics took this particular form. I studied these expressions from all angles, analyzing the different terms, and investigating all of the hypotheses as to their origin that I could think of. This was a rather discouraging phase of the project, as for a long time I seemed to be merely spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. On several occasions I decided to abandon the entire project, but in each case, after several months of inactivity I thought of some other possibility that seemed worth investigating, and I returned to the task. Eventually it occurred to me that, when expressed in one particular form, the mathematical relation that I had formulated for the inter-atomic distance would have a simple and logical explanation if I merely assumed that there is a general reciprocal relation between space and time.
My first reaction to this thought was the same as that of a great many others. The idea of the reciprocal of space, I said to myself, is absurd. One might as well talk of the reciprocal of a pail of water, or the reciprocal of a fencepost. But on further consideration I could see that the idea is not so absurd after all. The only relation between space and time of which we have any actual knowledge is motion, and in motion space and time do have a reciprocal relation. If one airplane travels twice as fast as another, it makes no difference whether we say that it travels twice as far in the same time, or that it travels the same distance in half the time. This is not necessarily a general reciprocal relation, but the fact that it is a reciprocal relation gives the idea of a general relation a considerable degree of plausibility.
So I took the next step, and started considering what the consequences of a reciprocal relation of this nature might be. Much to my surprise, it was immediately obvious that such a relation leads directly to simple and logical answers to no less than a half dozen problems of long standing in widely separated physical fields. Those of you who have never had occasion to study the foundations of physical theory in depth probably do not realize what an extraordinary result this actually is. Every theory of present-day physical science has been formulated to apply specifically to some one physical field, and not a single one of these theories can provide answers to major questions in any other field. They may help to provide these answers but in no case can any of them arrive at such an answer unassisted. Yet here in the reciprocal postulate we find a theory of the relation between space and time that leads directly, without any assistance from any other theoretical assumptions or from empirical facts, to simple and logical answers to many different problems in many different fields. This is something completely unprecedented. A theory based on the reciprocal relation accomplishes on a wholesale scale what no other theory can do at all.
To illustrate what I am talking about, let us consider the recession of the distant galaxies. As most of you know, astronomical observations indicate that the most distant galaxies are receding from the earth at speeds which approach the speed of light. No conventiona1 physical theory can explain this recession. Indeed, even if you put all of the theories of conventional physics together, you still have no explanation of this phenomenon. In order to arrive at any such explanation the astronomers have to make some assumption, or assumptions, specifically applicable to the recession itself. The current favorite, the Big Bang theory, assumes a gigantic explosion at some hypothetical singular point in the past in which the entire contents of the universe were thrown out into space at their present high speeds. The rival Steady State theory assumes the continual creation of new matter, which in some unspecified way creates a pressure that pushes the galaxies apart at the speeds now observed. But the reciprocal postulate, an assumption that was made to account for the magnitudes of the inter-atomic distances in the solid state, gives us an explanation of the galactic recession without the necessity of making any assumptions about that recession or about the that are receding. It is not even necessary to arrive at any c as to what a galaxy is. Obviously it must be something—or its existence could not be recognized—and as long as it is something, the reciprocal relation tells us that it must be moving outward away from our location at the speed of light, because the location which it occupies is so moving. On the basis of this relation, the spatial separation between any two physical locations, the “elapsed distance,” as we may call it, is increasing at the same rate as the elapsed time.
Of course, any new answer to a major question that is provided by a new theory leaves some subsidiary questions that require further consideration, but the road to the resolution of these subsidiary issues is clear once the primary problem is overcome. The explanation of the recession, the reason why the most distant galaxies recede with the speed of light, leaves us with the question as to why the closer galaxies have lower recession speeds, but the answer to this question is obvious, since we know that gravitation exerts a retarding effect which is greater at the shorter distances.
Another example of the many major issues of long standing that are resolved almost automatically by the reciprocal postulate is the mechanism of the propagation of electromagnetic radiation. Here, again, no conventional physical theory is able to give us an explanation. As in the case of the galactic recession, it is necessary to make some assumption about the radiation itself before any kind of a theory can be formulated, and in this instance conventional thinking has not even been able to produce an acceptable hypothesis. Newton’s assumption of light corpuscles traveling in the manner of bullets from a gun, and the rival hypothesis of waves in a hypothetical ether, were both eventually rejected. There is a rather general impression that Einstein supplied an explanation, but Einstein himself makes no such claim. In one of his books he points out what a difficult problem this actually is, and he concludes with this statement:
Our only way out seems to be to take for granted the fact that space has the physical property of transmitting electromagnetic waves, and not to bother too much about the meaning of this statement.
So, as matters now stand, conventional science has no explanation at all for this fundamental physical phenomenon. But here, too, the reciprocal postulate gives us a simple and logical explanation. It is, in fact, the same explanation that accounts for the recession of the distant galaxies. Here, again, there is no need to make any assumption about the photon itself. It is not even necessary to know what a photon is. As long as it is something, it is carried outward at the speed of light by the motion of the spatial location which it occupies.
No more than a minimum amount of consideration was required in order to see that the answers to a number of other physical problems of long standing similarly emerged easily and naturally on application of the reciprocal postulate. This was clearly something that had to be followed up. No investigator who arrived at this point could stop without going on to see just how far the consequences of the reciprocal relation would extend. The results of that further investigation constitute what we now know as the Reciprocal System of theory. As I have already said, it is not a construction, and not a revelation. Now you can see just what it is. It is nothing more nor less than the total of the consequences that result if there is a general reciprocal relation between space and time. As matters now stand, the details of the new theoretical system, so far as they have been developed, can be found only in my publications and those of my associates, but the system of theory is not coextensive with what has thus far been written about it. In reality, it consists of any and all of the consequences that follow when we adopt the hypothesis of a general reciprocal relation between space and time. A general recognition of this point would go a long way toward meeting some of our communication problems. Certainly no one should have any objection to an investigation of the consequences of such a hypothesis. Indeed, anyone who is genuinely interested in the advancement of science, and who realizes the unprecedented scope of these consequences, can hardly avoid wanting to find out just how far they actually extend. As a German reviewer expressed it.
Only a careful investigation of all of the author’s deliberations can show whether or not he is right. The official schools of natural philosophy should not shun this (considerable, to be sure) effort. After all, we are concerned here with questions of fundamental significance.
Yet, as all of you undoubtedly know, the scientific community, particularly that segment of the community that we are accustomed to call the Establishment, is very reluctant to permit general discussion of the theory in the journals and in scientific meetings. They are not contending that the conclusions we have reached are wrong; they are simply trying to ignore them, and hope that they will eventually go away. This is, of course, a thoroughly unscientific attitude, but since it exists we have to deal with it, and for this purpose it will be helpful to have some idea of the thinking that underlies the opposition. There are some individuals who simply do not want their thinking disturbed, and are not open to any kind of an argument. William James, in one of his books, reports a conversation that he had with a prominent scientist concerning what we now call ESP. This man, says James, contended that even if ESP is a reality, scientists should band together to keep that fact from becoming known, since the existence of any such thing would cause havoc in the fundamental thought of science. Some individuals no doubt feel the same way about the Reciprocal System, and so far as these persons are concerned there is not much that we can do. There is no argument that can counter an arbitrary refusal to consider what we have to offer.
In most cases, however, the opposition is based on a misunderstanding of our position. The issue between the supporters of rival scientific theories normally is: Which is the better theory? The basic question involved is which theory agrees more closely with the observations and measurements in the physical areas to which the theories apply, but since all such theories are specifically constructed to it the observations, the decision usually has to rest to a large degree on preferences and prejudices of a philosophical or other non-scientific nature. Most of those who encounter the Reciprocal System of theory for the first time take it for granted that we are simply raising another issue, or several issues, of the same kind. The astronomers, for instance, are under the impression that we are contending that the outward progression of the natural reference system is a better explanation of the recession of the distant galaxies than the Big Bang. But this is not our contention at all. We have found that we need to postulate a general reciprocal relation between space and time in order to explain certain fundamental physical phenomena that cannot be explained by any conventional physical theory. But once we have postulated this relationship it supplies simple and logical answers for the major problems that arise in all physical areas. Thus our contention is not that we have a better assortment of theories to replace the Big Ban and other specialized theories of limited scope, but that we have a general theory that applies to all physical fields. These theories of limited applicability are therefore totally unnecessary.
While this present volume is described as the first unit of a “revised and enlarged” edition, the revisions are actually few and far between. As stated earlier, there have been no substantive changes in the postulates since they were originally formulated. Inasmuch as the entire structure o g theory has been derived from these postulates by deducing their logical and mathematical consequences, the development of theory in this new edition is essentially y significant difference b the same as in the original, the only significant difference being ina few places where points that were originally somewhat vague have been clarified, or where more direct lines of development have been substituted for the earlier derivations. However, many problems are encountered in getting an unconventional work of this kind into print, and in order to make the original publication possible at all it was necessary to limit the scope of the work, both as to the number of subjects covered and as to the extent to which the details of each subject were developed. For this reason the purpose of this new edition is not only to bring the theoretical structure up to date by incorporating all of the advances that have been made in the last twenty years, but also to present the portions of the original results—approximately half of the total—that had to be omitted from the first edition.
Because of this large increase in the size of the work, the new edition will be issued in several volumes. This first volume is self contained. It develops the basic laws and principles applicable to physical phenomena in general, and defines the entire chain of deductions leading from the fundamental postulates to each of the conclusions that are reached in the various physical areas that are covered. The subsequent volumes will apply the same basic laws and principles to a variety of other physical phenomena. It has seemed advisable to change the order of presentation to some extent, and as a result a substantial amount of the material omitted from the first edition has been included in this volume, whereas some subjects, such as electric and magnetic phenomena, that were discussed rather early in the first edition have been deferred to the later volumes.
For the benefit of those who do not have access to the first edition (which is out of print) and wish to examine what the Reciprocal System of theory has to say about these deferred items before the subsequent volumes are published, I will say that brief discussions of some of these subjects are contained in my 1965 publication, New Light on Space and Time, and some further astronomical information, with particular reference to the recently discovered compact astronomical objects, can be found in Quasars and Pulsars, published in 1971.
It will not be feasible to acknowledge all of the many individual contributions that have been made toward developing the details of thc theoretical system and bringing it to the attention of the scientific community. However, I will say that I am particularly indebted to the founders of the New Science Advocates, Dr. Douglas S. Cramer, Dr. Paul F. de Lespinasse, and Dr. George W. Hancock; to Dr. Frank A, Anderson, the current President of the NSA, who did the copy editing for this volume, along with his many other contributions; and to the past and present members of the NSA Executive Board: Steven Berline, RonaId F. Blackburn, Frances Boldereff, James N. Brown, Jr., Lawrence Denslow, Donald T. Elkins, Rainer Huck, Todd Kelso, Richard L. Long, Frank H. Meyer, William J. Mitchell, Harold Norris, Carla Rueckert, Ronald W. Satz, George Windolph, and Hans F. Wuenscher.
D. B. Larson