Saturday, October 26, 2013


It is self evident that I am brilliant, but I’m unaccomplished and undisciplined. So my philosophical speculations are likely to be astute, and accurate as far as I have my facts straight, and original in that I came up with them -- which is not to say they are original. Perhaps my new ideas are clichés, to initiates of the arcana.

I was thinking about light, photons, having wavelike properties. Then I thought about what a wave actually is. It is the transfer of energy, momentum, through a medium, from one molecule to another, in a bumping sort of movement. Water molecule A pushes against water molecule B, losing energy as it transmits it. Water rises outward in wave formation as energy moves out, losing it in the trough, transferring it to the crest. Same with sound: air molecules push against molecules further out. Or a guitar string, or a whip, or the ground during an earthquake. It requires the outward transfer of energy.

 Given this concrete definition, how can light be a wave? Is a photon pushing against another, which in turn pushes against another? No -- no more than a bullet pushes against another bullet, and so on. So I thought, the term wave must be an analogy, and I wonder if this thought has been thought before. We get caught up in the word wavelike, which leads us down false paths.

 Then I thought about how a photon is timeless, eternal. An object traveling at the speed of light would be frozen in time -- an astronaut traveling for 20 years at light speed would return to earth after 20 years, virtually no time having passes for him. And an object going faster than light would move backwards in time -- impossible of course, but that’s what would happen if it could. So what is the universe like, to a photon? Frozen, the way a reel of film is frozen (without a projector’s movement and light to give it life). All laid out, contiguous but static. The astronaut would observe 20 years of an earthling’s life as if it were a person-shaped line of extruded toothpaste -- not a point moving through time but a completed line. That’s why they say things stretch at near light speed … perhaps it’s not so much a stretch as an infinitude of multiplicities -- every moment abutting the next as a physical object. Thus would an object gain infinite mass. Yet, again, the universe would not be so much frozen as imperceptible -- moving faster and faster, to the vanishing point; even the most distant stars would move their given distance, instantly, which is to say, undetected. To a photon, the universe is black and empty.

 Then I thought about what a photon is like to itself. It is a line, a streak, originating at the source whence it emanates, ending at an eyeball or a black surface or whatnot. It is not a particle or a wave, to itself. It is a string, timeless. And that gave me the idea about how it can be a wave. A photon manifests, intrudes, in time, the universe, as the movement of a single oscillation along its length. If it travels/extends 186,000 times 10 miles -- so it lasts 10 seconds -- the wave along its length shows up as a photon each second every 186.000 miles (and all the relevant fractions). A photon experiences the universe the way a monkey slides down a vine; the vine is always there, and there is no jungle. That’s how a particle can be a wave: the same way a vibration moves along a violin string. You may very well call a piece of a vibration, a particle. It’s not a bullet traveling down a barrel, it’s a shotgun load.

 Then I thought about how everything is in motion at 186,000 miles per second. For us, as objects at “rest”, almost all of that motion is spent moving through time; for an object moving through space at near light speed, there is hardly any motion left for movement through time, so time slows for it. Something is going to be slower, the object or its time. It’s an inverse function, always ends up as 1. Movement through time and movement through space sum up to lightspeed. This is basic relativity

 But what I was really thinking was, that explains, oh, say, angels. Our mundane world, plodding innert materialism, is almost all time and almost no speed. Matter is slow, racing through time; light is fast, and massless and timeless. What of consciousness that was all speed and no time? -- like light? Innately massless, that is, nonmaterial, immaterial, incorporeal -- but if it does slow down, entering time, it gains mass, becomes physical (as an object which increases in speed gains mass) (“objects” then of both types, material and, um, radiant, gain mass when they change speed to a relativistic degree). It is a different set of laws that must govern such a plane. The idea that we express as 186,000 “miles” per “second” (space and time) must find its expression some other way.

Ours is a universe of (slow) mass-particles racing through time. Another would be of timeless massless-particles, its entities comprised of such “molecules” and aware in time at the wave-point, pervading the entire universe, as a mass-particle would take on the mass of the universe if it could attain light-speed.  And I’m just ignoring gravity.  But

I could drive myself to distraction, following up the implications.

 I have no desire to start a cult, however, and I’m too bad at selling things to write a book about it. I’m like the Unibomber -- alone in his shack, spewing out ideas, with no reality check, no other strong intellect to challenge or correct or encourage. I don’t get a lot of feedback. Mostly I’m not understood. I may be wrong, but I’m not crazy-wrong. And even with old, simple and obvious ideas, it’s hard to be understood.

 Pain, pain, go away. Come again some other day. I got old suddenly, and too soon.  A certain symptom has manifested, that informs me that my now long-term issue is not bursitis or what have you.  Unsettling.  But depression is close enough to despair that I have cause to fear for my life, if my life is imperiled.  I'm sure I'll go to a doctor, though.  After all, it would be crazy not to.  And what an artist the world would lose, in me.



Will C. said...

Speaking of waves and what not...

Seemed to musically sum up your post.

- Will C.

Joe Rose said...

Hoping you are OK.