Our models of reality change over time.

Discrepancies or inconsistencies in existing theories are found, or mathematical machinations suggest at-times counterintuitive notions be considered part of reality. As these discrepancies and inconsistencies are eliminated, the understanding of reality morphs. For example, the old elephants-on-the-back-of-a-turtle model of the universe does not generally work in today’s world.

Below is a sampling of discoveries that fundamentally changed the way the world was understood. New concepts were introduced and the human mind realized new ways of evaluating data, devised better tools for turning raw materials into useful devices, and stretched the limits of the imagination.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion

Our models of reality change over time.

Discrepancies or inconsistencies in existing theories are found, or mathematical machinations suggest at-times counterintuitive notions be considered part of reality. As these discrepancies and inconsistencies are eliminated, the understanding of reality morphs. For example, the old elephants-on-the-back-of-a-turtle model of the universe does not generally work in today’s world.

Below is a sampling of discoveries that fundamentally changed the way the world was understood. New concepts were introduced and the human mind realized new ways of evaluating data, devised better tools for turning raw materials into useful devices, and stretched the limits of the imagination.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Galileo
The western world changed in the early seventeenth century, at the cusp of what has been called the Great Enlightenment, when there emerged a scientific revolution and cultural shift in Europe. Contemporaries Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, building on the discoveries of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe before them, studied how objects move based on precise numerical measurements and calculations, not simply by observation and logical conjecture.
Kepler measured relationships in planetary motions and Galileo studied earthly motion. With their discoveries, the predominant theories of the day were upended and science as we know it began. Soon the principle developed in the West that only measurable physical quantities were fit for scientific inquiry, not such ephemeral things as experiences of the mind and spirit.
Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Kepler
Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Kepler
Kepler measured relationships in planetary motions and Galileo studied earthly motion. With their discoveries, the predominant theories of the day were upended and science as we know it began. Soon the principle developed in the West that only measurable physical quantities were fit for scientific inquiry, not such ephemeral things as experiences of the mind and spirit.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton further quantified physics (light and the motion of bodies including gravity) in mathematical terms later in the seventeenth century. In addition, he and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (separately) devise the calculus, a new tool that allowed precise measurement of a shape or process by slicing it into smaller- and smaller-sized pieces and then finding the limit as the size of the slices shrinks to zero. These discoveries revolutionized the study of physics. Looking at reality this way allowed great advancements in theory, invention and manufacture.

A new model of the world was again suggested by the double-slit experiment performed by Thomas Young in 1801. In this model, light came to be seen as a wavelike substance, forming striped interference patterns on a screen as it propagates. But it also indicated that when emitted one at a time, photons of light showed a different pattern, two diffuse globs of light, one for each of the slits. Here, the solution created another problem. Bits of reality exist as wave or particle, depending upon how one conducts the experiment: What?

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Thomas Young

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Thomas Young

A new model of the world was again suggested by the double-slit experiment performed by Thomas Young in 1801. In this model, light came to be seen as a wavelike substance, forming striped interference patterns on a screen as it propagates. But it also indicated that when emitted one at a time, photons of light showed a different pattern, two diffuse globs of light, one for each of the slits. Here, the solution created another problem. Bits of reality exist as wave or particle, depending upon how one conducts the experiment: What?

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Michelson and Morley

When Michelson and Morley (1887) demonstrated that the velocity of light in a vacuum is unchanging regardless the direction, the at-the-time idea that light waves traverse through a fluid-like luminiferous ether as water waves move through water was eliminated as a model for nature. Light waves need no medium. Light can travel through a vacuum. No matter how fast you’re traveling or whether you are moving towards the source of light or away from it, the light hits you at the same speed (in a vacuum). That certainly blew contemporaries’ minds.

Pierre and Marie Curie (1898) found that certain elements naturally emit radiation (and transmute into other, lighter elements).

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Pierre and Marie Curie

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Pierre and Marie Curie

Pierre and Marie Curie (1898) found that certain elements naturally emit radiation (and transmute into other, lighter elements).

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion

Thirty-five years later, Enrico Fermi, identified this process as “beta decay” due to the newly theorized weak nuclear force, fulfilling in a strange way, the alchemists dream of something like lead into something like gold.

Max Planck (1900) showed that energy intensity does not change in a continuous manner, but comes in discrete packages. Light particles, not light waves. Photons.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Max Planck

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Max Planck

Max Planck (1900) showed that energy intensity does not change in a continuous manner, but comes in discrete packages. Light particles, not light waves. Photons.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion

Einstein in 1905 discovered that matter and energy are different ways to look at the same thing (E=mc2). A decade later, he showed that space and time are interrelated, although the three spatial dimensions upon analysis seem to have nothing in common with the singular temporal “dimension”.

In the nineteen-twenties, Louis de Broglie found that electrons are particle-waves, in fact, all matter has wavelike properties, from photons and electrons to any and every physical object in the universe, small or large.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Louis de Broglie

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Louis de Broglie

In the nineteen-twenties, Louis de Broglie found that electrons are particle-waves, in fact, all matter has wavelike properties, from photons and electrons to any and every physical object in the universe, small or large.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Paul Dirac

In 1928, Paul Dirac did the math for the electron, which included taking a square-root. The square-root of any number gives a positive root and a negative root. He concluded that something seems to exist exactly like an electron except that it has a positive charge, the anti-electron or positron. The concept of antimatter was thus born theoretically and soon after its existence was verified experimentally.

In the 1930s, observations of radioactive decay didn’t make any sense to physicists. They seemed to violate the laws of conservation of energy and momentum. Wolfgang Pauli proposed the existence of a new “ghost” particle with zero electrical charge, later named the neutrino by Fermi, to salvage these conservation laws, but he did so with reluctance, even “shame”. The existence of neutrinos was verified by Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956. Then a neutrino for a larger lepton than the electron, the muon, was discovered in 1962 by Leon Lederman, Mel Schwartz, and Jack Steinberger, of Brookhaven National Laboratory. A third variety, the tau neutrino, was discovered in 2000 by a team at Fermilab. Thus the overall process took seventy years to sort out and verify.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Wolfgang Pauli

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Wolfgang Pauli

In the 1930s, observations of radioactive decay didn’t make any sense to physicists. They seemed to violate the laws of conservation of energy and momentum. Wolfgang Pauli proposed the existence of a new “ghost” particle with zero electrical charge, later named the neutrino by Fermi, to salvage these conservation laws, but he did so with reluctance, even “shame”. The existence of neutrinos was verified by Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956. Then a neutrino for a larger lepton than the electron, the muon, was discovered in 1962 by Leon Lederman, Mel Schwartz, and Jack Steinberger, of Brookhaven National Laboratory. A third variety, the tau neutrino, was discovered in 2000 by a team at Fermilab. Thus the overall process took seventy years to sort out and verify.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Leptons and Quarks

Similarly, quarks, the innards of atomic nucleons (protons and neutrons) were discovered to occur in six different varieties, two regular, everyday quarks (up and down) and four exotic types. These and short-lived giant electrons called Tauons and Muons changed the way physicists thought about subatomic particles.

In most of these paradigm shifts, calculations provided predictions which were later verified experimentally, and blew a hole in the scientific model of the day, invariably leaving unresolved the deeper implications of the change. Thus each new discovery resolved a problem (is light particle or wave) or discovered a new idea (antimatter), and so required a reevaluation of then-current theories, a rethinking, a reimagining, a searching for parallels between disparate systems for some metaphorical understanding.

Today we are facing another crisis in understanding. Quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics have nailed down predictions of the subatomic world. We’ve verified that movement in relativistic space slows down time for the one who’s moving. Both microscopically and at a scale that encompasses clusters of galaxies, mathematicians and physicists are satisfied that their theories are justified by the precision with which they predict real-world outcomes.

Yet the current model isn’t complete. There are odd pieces here and there—large pieces that don’t match predictions. The universe is expanding at an increasing rate. Some unknown “dark” energy is behind this. And the universe contains a lot of stuff, “dark” matter that cannot be detected, but must exist for the universe to work the way it does. Ultimately the material world we live in comprises less than a sixth of the total mass of the universe, and less than five percent of the total mass/energy components of the universe. The rest is dark. So says the scientific community.

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Composition of Spacetime

Steve Sharp Science of Compassion Composition of Spacetime

Yet the current model isn’t complete. There are odd pieces here and there—large pieces that don’t match predictions. The universe is expanding at an increasing rate. Some unknown “dark” energy is behind this. And the universe contains a lot of stuff, “dark” matter that cannot be detected, but must exist for the universe to work the way it does. Ultimately the material world we live in comprises less than a sixth of the total mass of the universe, and less than five percent of the total mass/energy components of the universe. The rest is dark. So says the scientific community.

And remember Paul Dirac, who calculated that there must be antimatter. Wait. What? And sure enough, within a few years, a mere mathematical anomaly, antimatter was verified experimentally. So now, another mathematical anomaly appears. String theory, which suggest the need for six more dimensions—apparently tiny dimensions—that allow for gravity to join with electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces.

What do we make of these things?

What is a dimension?

First let’s think about what a dimension is. We understand four dimensions very well. Space and time. This is Isaac Newton’s contribution. Physics. Then, further, Albert Einstein demonstrated that space and time are intimately related, in that as a physical object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases and its aging slows.

But wait, time and space dimensions are completely unlike each other. Spatial dimensions are solid, with density and extension; but time is now and then another now and another. Whether you are walking or standing still and holding your breath, time is something else, a movement of thought or mind, perhaps. A movement of the hands of a clock. Time: t. Seconds. Years. But never inches or nanometers, which is space in three directions, x, y, z. Time and space, although intimately connected, are different kinds of dimension.

So when we talk of six more dimensions, these most surely resemble neither space nor time in our experience. We cannot measure them with either rulers or clocks. What else could they be?

Whatever they are, they must have relations to space and time. So let’s imagine. At every spacetime event with a location and a miniscule slice of time, x, y, z, and t, let’s add six dimensions more.

So we have: x, y, z, t, s1, s2, s3, s4, s5, and s6.

These six dimensions are not time and they are not space. But they react with time and space. At each nanosecond of time, as you sit in a chair at some specific latitude, longitude and altitude, there are six other things. These six “dimensions” make a whole in the same way that with three spatial dimensions you can build a box, but their interactions are not measurable with space or time devices.

Not space. Not time. Something else. They do not extend into space, and they do not happen in time. Yet there are the calculations.

Not spacelike. Not timelike. Beyond space, outside of time. What?

Experience?

Can we imagine a new model? Space. Time. Consciousness. Ten dimensions. (Actually more than ten, but ten including the “string” dimensions. We have to start somewhere.)

Space extends, time moves, and consciousness experiences. All fundamental parts of what we know as reality. Can we imagine how these constituents go together?

Let’s start with what we know and play around with these other outlier concepts and pretend this and pretend that, and see where it leads.

Take a moment to listen to “29 Love Songs” by Steve Sharp, as we continue the journey . . .