by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
December 12, 2009
KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C., Dec. 12, 2009 -- Isaac Newton. Albert Einstein. Iconic names nearly synonymous with the word "science" itself. Petr HoYava. Who?
The question most likely to follow the name of the University of California at Berkeley physicist responsible for ruffling collars and generating tremendous banter amongst the physics community due to his new theory of gravity: A theory that may potentially re-champion the enlightenment absolutism of Newton.
Interesting stuff considering that if the theory holds true it drastically restructures the conceptual understanding of the universe as we know it. What would this mean? In its greatest implications, "If HoYava gravity is true... the universe didn't bang - it bounced."
Perhaps a brief historic overview is appropriate before before proceeding: Newton released his "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy") in 1687. The work functioned as a sort of simultaneous synopsis and conclusion concerning the momentous findings of Newton's predecessors, bringing "Kepler's laws of celestial mechanics and Galileo's terrestrial law of falling bodes into an all-embracing theory of universal gravitation that described every physical movement in the universe."
In the "Principia," Newton argued that the universe ran on sound principles, that it was well organized, and functioned systematically like any other machine. With 550 pages worth of pristine, well-ordered pen strokes, Newton simultaneously banished chaos, and wrested science from the fanatical grasp of religious superstition. His was a mathematical universe. Precise. Intelligible.
In the poetic lines of a prestigious contemporary, the implications of Newton's contribution was thus described:
Nature and Nature's Laws lay hid in Night.
So for a little more than two-centuries the dogmatical firmament, with all its winged angels and pagan spirits, as well as the old prankster himself - chaos the coyote - were banished into the sterile numeric lines of an equation.
Then there was Einstein...
With Einstein's 1905 public release of "special theory of relativity," the notion of an orderly universe suddenly dissipated, crushed beneath the heavy rubber tread of a probing modernism. Einstein proclaimed that "Time and space intervals (duration and length) could not be described as absolutes, since they were relative to the motion of the observer."
The "special theory" not only dethroned the prevailing concept of mechanistic order, but also served to deconstruct that imposed well manicured illusion, the feigned control over chaos, the notion of certainty. Back to the present. It is 2009 and Einstein's theory has dominated the realm of physics for over a century, rising to a position of such notoriety that is safe to say that many of us laymen consistently make the bumbling error of confusing theory with law.
Hey, it seemed a safe assumption. Why shouldn't some great genius be endowed with some sort of divine greatness, the capacity to get it absolutely right? Forgive me, it seems I've lapsed into preaching an odd form of Newtonian pastoralism. But wait! So is Petr HoYava - In a way. Speaking on his new theory for gravity, he says, "I'm going back to Newton's idea that time and space are not equivalent."
All right. But what exactly does that mean? What is this theory that may turn the Big Bang into the Big Bounce?
The problem physicists have had is that of "marry[ing] quantum mechanics with gravity," getting Einstein's general relativity- his theory of gravity - to explain "the gravitational force between two objects in terms of a quantum graviton," which consistently leads to the a calculation of infinity. This is problematic in that the lapse suggests that the theory is inconclusive: it does not explain it all. HoYava believes that the problem lays within Einstien's notion of time.
What Einstein did was to upend the Newtonian idea that "time is absolute - steadily ticking away in the background," arguing instead that "time is another dimension, woven together with space to form a malleable fabric that is distorted by matter".
In an article on the subject, Zeeya Merali writes, "The snag is that in quantum mechanics, time retains its Newtonian aloofness, providing the stage against which matter dances but never being affected by its presence. These two conceptions of time don't gel."
So now we've returned to the beginning, so to speak. Come back to Newton's proclamation that "time and space are not equivalent."
HoYava asserts that in order to solve the problem it is necessary to "snip threads that bind time to space at very high energies, such as those found in the early universe where quantuam gravity rules." Further, he maintains that at "low energies, general relativity emerges from this underlying framework, and the fabric of space-time restitches."
This is what has scientists excited. Aside from possibly redefining physicists' conception of the origin of the universe, the 'big bang', "HoYava gravity may also create the illusion of dark matter," a component of the universe general relativity cannot account for. On top of this, some physicists see expository links between the theory and dark energy.
What is dark matter? Dark energy? Why is this so important?
Dark matter is, as explained by the "Scientific American's" John Matson, "the invisible material thought to account for puzzling mass disparities in large-scale astronomical structures. For instance, galaxies and galactic clusters behave as if they were far more massive than would be expected if they comprised only atoms and molecules, spinning faster than their observable mass would explain." Matson goes on to say that dark energy is believed to be the force "behind the accelerated expansion of the universe... [the] intrinsic energy that pushes the universe outwards."
Both of these phenomenon seem compatible with HoYava's theory. According to cosmologist MuIn Park of Chonbuk National University in South Korea, dark energy "cannot be accounted for by general relativity but pops naturally out of the equations of HoYava gravity."
Shinji Mukohyama of Tokyo University states that "in certain circumstances HoYava graviton fluctuates as it interacts with normal matter, making gravity pull a bit more strongly than expected in general relativity. The effect could make galaxies appear to contain more matter than can be seen." Rather promising.
While the theory remains in the preliminary stages of post-publication trial and investigation, naturally there are some skeptics. Diego Blas of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne says he "has found a 'hidden sickness' in the theory."
Blas, upon examining realistic cases concerning the shapes of the Earth and sun, where the objects are regarded as imperfect spheres, found that HoYava gravity produces a wild differential of results between those circumstances and the cited 'ideal conditions', where the two are represented as perfect spheres. Whereas "general relativity pretty much gives the same answer in both the scenarios."
In answer to the discrepancies, HoYava explains, "When I proposed this, I didn't claim I had the final theory. I want other people to examine it and improve it."
Despite the kinks, HoYava gravity has generated tremendous excitement, even amongst the most skeptical of opponents. Gia Dvali, a quantum gravity expert at CERN, states: "My intuition is that any such models will have unwanted side effects. But if they find a version that doesn't, then that theory must be taken very seriously."
Indeed. If HoYava's theory proves to be correct, history will have made an odd boomerang: having catapulted outwards into the abyss of uncertainty and missive indeterminacy, it suddenly makes a sharp turn, whipping back in the direction of a more concrete reality. Progress is sometimes very strange.
Without the prefatory historic embrace of chaos, this advent - this possible reclaiming of the universe under a Newtonian banner of concrete absolutes - would never have occurred, would likely have been impossible.
Perhaps then, we should remember our history: Chaos is a wily character who does not enjoy containment, who continuously confounds confinement. In essence, He seems an integral component, some form of unfathomable vital necessity. The fact remains that history is a fluid, contradictory, self-defining beast that moves with all the grotesque refinement of a blind one-legged dog wriggling its way through a muddy-slough.
It is true that Pope deemed Newton the 'light' of the enlightenment... It is also true that the blinding unearthly light was subsequently swallowed by a dark so deep it was like a mid-70's Miles Davis jazz riff spiraling into the outer reaches of consciousness. So now, it seems, there may be coming a new light, one that perhaps may eventually be sculpted by some post-modernistic poet into an epithetic eidos as eloquent as Pope's. But let us not forget the nature of the boomerang - it comes and goes - nor the strange motions of the dog.
Perhaps then, if we look to the future, we may see this unprecedented light cutting a sharp beam into the vast unseen reaches - the corners of the figurative and literal universe that remain dark beyond a Dostoevsky midnight. Perhaps this new generation can venture to speculate, and to even expect the consequent manifestation of some new David.
And yet, peering distantly into the thick tenebrous dark, we can just barely make out the reactionary foray of a futuristic Picasso.
For more information concerning Petr HoYava, visit his Website.