Nikola Tesla detested relativity theory, and he derided Albert Einstein as a “white-haired crank.” Tesla supported the concept of the universal “ether,” and he raged about Einstein’s relativistic concept of “curved space.” Tesla also scoffed at the maximum possible velocity of “c” (light speed), which is a central tenet of Special Relativity.
When viewed through a modern lens, these stances paint Tesla as a bit of a crank. However, Tesla may yet have the last laugh in regards to these positions.
Now, Albert Einstein was never a big supporter of Tesla, either, although he did not speak of him much that is known of. We also know that Einstein was a great skeptic of the generally accepted “truth” of quantum mechanics that uncertainty, randomness and probabilities were inherent limitations of quantum measurements. Einstein felt that quantum events and physical quantum properties should be understood, if not measurable, with very high precision. That is what led to his famous quote in a 1926 letter to Max Born: “I, in any case, am convinced He (God) does not play dice with the universe.”
This stance of Einstein, which he took with him to the grave, might make him appear to be a bit of a “crank,” as well– much as Tesla had referred to him in another context, ironically. However, Einstein may have the last laugh, also, regarding his position.
Why do I say that both Tesla and Einstein may yet have the last laugh? Let us look at one of the greatest, longest-standing mysteries of science—the famous double-slit experiment– as supporting evidence. The mechanism underlying the double-slit experiment provides surprising justification for some of Tesla’s contentions regarding relativity theory, while simultaneously providing some solid justification for Einstein’s contentions regarding quantum mechanics.
Let us first define what is meant by a “quantum particle” or a “quantum unit” in the context of this article/ post. In a general mathematical or physics sense, and for the purpose of our elucidation of the double-slit experiment, a “quantum particle” can refer to any value that represents a discrete unit, such as a single photon. In the natural world, it is difficult to describe materials and/or phenomena which cannot be broken down into discrete units.
By the same token, we might consider an assemblage of quantum particles, taken as a whole, to be a quantum unit. For example, one electron is a quantum particle. However, one atom, which might contain many electrons among its other components, might also be called a quantum unit. One molecule, which might consist of many atoms, might be called a quantum unit. Electrons, atoms and molecules comprised of hundreds of atoms have all successfully demonstrated wave-particle duality, as individual quantum units, within the context of the double-slit experiment.
In the same way, a planet, solar system, galaxy, or galaxy cluster might be called a quantum unit. Astronomical observations have already demonstrated that objects on cosmological scales also follow principles governed by Schrodinger’s Equation, which describes the wave-like behavior of quantum particles in what is usually considered to be small-scale quantum mechanics. I discuss that in more detail in my earlier post “Space-Time,” which references published observations out of Caltech regarding large-scale wave-like behavior in massive astronomical bodies, within large-scale accumulations such as accretion disks.
For those unfamiliar with the double-slit experiment, I will provide a very brief summary. For more information, there are many videos, websites, etc. with more detailed information. The double-slit experiment was first performed by Thomas Young in 1801. By passing light through a single slit, Young demonstrated that light consists of discreet particles. By passing light through two slits, Young demonstrated that the interacting beams of light also exhibit an interference pattern, which is a hallmark of waves. Young proved that light seems to exist as both a particle and a wave—an apparent paradox.
In the 20th century, things got stranger still, when physicists ran electrons through the set-up one at a time. In agreement with quantum theory, each particle seemed to interfere with itself—apparently passing through both slits simultaneously. This paradox within a paradox is why the double-slit experiment is considered by many to be the most beautiful physics experiment ever performed, as well as the strangest.
What is really happening here? Is a quantum unit both a particle and a wave? Does a quantum unit pass through both slits, simultaneously, interfering with itself as a sort of double wave? The answer to both questions is “no.” The universe is pulling a trick of perception on us, akin to the work of a master magician—much as Albert Einstein suspected regarding quantum mechanical weirdness.
To understand what is happening, both in the double-slit experiment and within large-scale astronomical accretion discs, let us step far back, and consider a duck, paddling on a lake. The duck moves forward as it paddles, but it also bobs up and down due to the waves on the lake. Essentially, the duck is a quantum unit, yet it is showing wave-like characteristics. Is the duck both a particle and a wave? Of course not. The duck is a quantum unit, and the water is the matrix which provides the wave, moving the duck up and down as it paddles forward. Echoes of Tesla’s aether?…
Perhaps you have seen double-slit experiments involving water, demonstrating the diffraction and interference patterns produced by waves (water moving in a wave pool, in this case) passing through one or two slits. Let us add an additional element to that set-up, in the form of rubber ducks. We do not need live ducks in this demonstration, since the wave pool is providing the movement—no paddling needed.
When we allow a group of rubber ducks to ride the waves through a single slit in a break wall, the ducks will disperse in a simple diffraction pattern, much like electrons in a single-slit experiment. The same simple diffraction pattern results from ducks being released one at a time. Now the next part gets much more interesting.
When we add a second slit in the break wall, the waves of water passing through each slit interfere with each other, resulting in a complex interference pattern—tall wave crests where they constructively interfere, and shallow troughs where the waves destructively interfere.
Now, when we release rubber ducks en masse to ride the waves through two slits in the break wall, they no longer follow a simple diffraction pattern. Instead, the ducks disperse via the wave crests into a complex interference pattern, just as photons dispersed in Young’s original double-slit experiment. The more energetic constructively interfering wave crests draw water, and the ducks floating on top, upwards from the trough areas onto the higher wave crest areas, resulting in few ducks remaining in the troughs. Well, that is interesting, and the next part gets even more interesting.
When we release the rubber ducks one at a time, some ducks will pass through the left slit, and some will pass through the right slit. Ducks do not pass through both slits at the same time. Yet since the interference pattern is a function of the water matrix—not a function of the ducks themselves—the ducks still are drawn onto the wave crests, and are dispersed in a complex interference pattern, exactly matching the apparently doubly paradoxical observation of electrons released one at a time in the double-slit experiment. !!!
So do rubber ducks exist as both particles and waves, each duck passing through both slits, simultaneously, in some sort of quantum mechanical voodoo? Of course not. They are quantum units, simply riding the waves of their matrix, and passing through one slit or the other.
What, then, provides the matrix in the double-slit experiment? To answer that question, let us look towards space-time. The universe certainly can be measured in terms of length, width, and height, so space does exist. And movement and change necessitates the passage of time, so time exists, since we can observe movement and change. But there is a continuum of energy that pervades all of space, and all of time, that we are becoming more and more aware of. Although the physical details are still being worked out on the exact nature of concepts such as zero-point energy and vacuum energy, the idea of an overall field of background energy has become a mainstream-type view.
The clues are all around us that there is an inherent movement to this background energy (or at least to some aspect of the background energy), and there is a wavelike nature to this movement. The clues also tell us that this energy interacts with normal matter or mass/energy, and those interactions reflect the wavelike nature of the movement of the background energy field.
This moving background energy field is the matrix in which all quantum matter exists. This energy passes through the slits in the double-slit experiment, and photons, electrons, atoms or molecule simply ride the waves of the field, just as the ducks do in our water-based experimental model. The field passes through a single slit in a simple diffraction pattern, as do the electrons that it carries along. Likewise, the field passes through each of two slits, but here the two resultant waves of the field interfere with each other, carrying the electrons on the crests of the resultant interference pattern, making it appear that the electrons themselves are behaving as bizarre self-interfering waves. A good trick! Attempting to measure what is happening in one of the slits disrupts the waves of the field, therefore disrupting the interference pattern, resulting in electrons collapsing back into a simple diffraction pattern—i.e. as “particles,” rather than “waves,” per the observation in the classic experiment.
On astrophysical scales, cosmological masses such as asteroids, planets and stars also surf the waves of the background field. That is why we can describe mysterious ripples which occur in large-scale astronomical discs by using the Schrodinger equation, which governs the behavior of fundamental particles, and therefore is the basic equation of quantum mechanics. The quantum unit of a star is not so different than the quantum particle of an electron, then. Both surf the waves of the background field. A star is not both a particle and a wave, and neither is an electron. They are both simply particles, or quantum units, riding the waves of the overall background energy field.
The mathematical equations that describe a curvature of space-time when interacted with by matter are describing the curvature of this background field and its effect on our perception of time and gravitation. This energy field herds matter towards the greatest curvature of the field, which we see as the gravitational force. If gravitation involves the movement of matter, what is the source of the energy required for this movement? It is the background energy of space-time. In fact, since this background field always moves matter (mass/energy) in the direction of the slowest passage of time—gravitation might possibly be referred to as the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics—the Conservation of Time.
Now what would Albert Einstein think about all this? I believe he would say that this is proof that at least one strange concept of quantum uncertainty is not true, just as he thought. While quantum mechanics dogma tells us that an electron passes through two slits at the same time, we now see that there is a clearly understandable physical truth behind the phenomenon, instead. This phenomenon is explainable without the electron being in two places simultaneously. Although we may struggle to measure quantum locations, that does not mean a true, singular quantum location for any given quantum unit does not exist. This also puts “wave-function collapse” in a new light. When we measure a particle, we no longer see its connection to the wavelike background energy field, so we incorrectly see that as “collapsing the wave-function” of the particle itself.
As for Tesla, no doubt he would be pleased, also. This background field is a nice proxy for his concept of the “ether,” although instead of a diffuse “gas” as he described the ether, this “ether” is an overall energy field. And we can see that Tesla might have had a very good point about the curvature of space-time, also. Perhaps it is closer to reality to say that space itself is not curved, but rather the overall background field itself is curved, under the influence of mass/energy. This curvature of the field affects our perceptions of time and gravity. In Tesla’s terminology, it is the “ether” (the energy field) that is curved, not space-time. I might meet Tesla half-way by agreeing that 3D space does not need to “curve”– only the curvature of the time dimension, as influenced by the curvature of the background field, needs to occur to account for our relativistic perceptions of space-time. In that sense, I am surprised to realize that Tesla was, for the most part, correct all along on this point.
And what of the universal velocity limitation of c, that Tesla disagreed with? Well, the background energy field must exists throughout the entirety of three-dimensional space, and at all velocities. That is why a traveler moving at any relative velocity experiences this field at the singular velocity of c, so the field itself violates this basic stance of Special Relativity which Tesla had derided.
In my previous post “In Defense of Feynman,” and in much greater detail in my book, I discuss the misinterpretation of the Lorentz Relativistic Velocity Transformations, and why that misinterpretation led to the incorrect assumption that nothing can travel faster than c in the universe. Not only must the overall background field violate that assumption, but I am also convinced that it exists over an unlimited range of velocities, as does quantum mass/energy, in general, in our universe. That being the case, Tesla was correct, after all, about the speed limit of c. The universe doesn’t put any limitations on velocity, at all. Hyper-dimensional space-time allows faster-than-light travel, which has profound implications in our search for dark energy and dark matter, in particular.