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Time and distance scales

I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i. e., on continuous structures. In that case nothing remains of my entire castle in the air gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics[21].

Einstein reached this conclusion near the end of his life in spite of the obvious pain it caused him because of its implications for his beloved relativity. I came to a similar conclusion as an undergraduate long before this quote was published. The implications for relativity were the biggest concern I had at the time. I cannot know why Einstein came to this conclusion but I can tell you why I did.

The universe has an absolute time and distance scale. Particles behave differently at the scale of single atoms then they do at distance scales we experience directly. At the much smaller scale of the Planck distance5.1the existing laws of physics cease to work. The continuum required for relativity is incompatible with the uncertainty that is fundamental to quantum mechanics. At larger scales this is only a theoretical problem but at the Planck distance the equations of physics no longer give meaningful answers. This suggests the Planck time and distance scales are approaching the point at which space and time are discrete or digital.5.2


Completed second draft of this book

PDF version of this book
next up previous contents
Next: Waves, particles and events Up: Digital physics Previous: Digital physics   Contents


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