The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Gravity As The Vacuum

The striking difference between the gravitational force and the other three forces is that the gravitational force is much weaker. Gravitational force operates among "bodies" (e.g., complex aggregates of interacting particles), but does not seem to have any effect on interactions between elementary particles.

The effects of the gravitational force are not considered in the Standard Model because they are assumed to be negligible among subatomic particles, but, of course, the other rational explanation would be that... there are no such effects on subatomic particles: based on empirical evidence, one could assume that gravitation does not operate at all among elementary particles but only among bodies made of many interacting particles.

Physicists had known for a long time that there is a superficial similarity between Einstein's equation of how the momentum-energy tensor affects the curvature of space-time and Maxwell's equation of the electromagnetic field, but the connection between gravitation and electromagnetism was made only in 1968, and it had to do with the vacuum.

The Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov ("Vacuum Quantum Fluctuations in Curved Space and the Theory of Gravitation", 1968) proposed a simple explanation to these "oddities": that gravitation might be not a fundamental interaction but a by-product of the electromagnetic interaction, precisely an electromagnetic phenomenon induced by the presence of matter in the quantum vacuum (the quantum field that is present even in "empty" space).  Thus, according to Sakharov, matter is not just "there" but is "in" the quantum vacuum, and therefore interacts with it, causing some kind of quantum-fluctuation energy. That fluctuation is gravitation.  In a sense, Sakharov moved to Quantum Theory the same objection that Mach had moved to Newton's Physics: you can't assume that a body is isolated, because a body is always "interacting" with something.  Except that Sakharov updated this idea to the terminology of Quantum Theory.  A body, any body, is immersed in quantum fields, and thus interacts with them.  One such field is the quantum vacuum. Sakharov thought that this was not negligible at all, in fact that it was the origin of the gravitational interaction itself. 

Building on Sakharov’s ideas, the US physicist Harold Puthoff  ("Gravity as a Zero-Point-Fluctuation Force," 1989) proposed that a body's inertia (as expressed by Newton's equation "F=ma") is due, as Mach speculated, to the distribution of matter in the universe, and, more precisely, to the electromagnetic interaction that arises from quantum fluctuations of the zero-point field in accelerated frames.  Basically, a particle's inertia is a function of the particle's interaction with the zero-point field.  Inertia is resistance to acceleration: Puthoff showed that the resistance which defines the inertia of a particle is, ultimately, electromagnetic resistance caused by the zero-point field on the particle.  Matter (made of leptons and quarks) continuously interacts with the zero-point field, and this interaction yields a force (the “resistance” to motion) whenever acceleration takes place. Inertia is due to the distortion of the zero-point field under acceleration.  Newton's equation "F=ma" is merely an effect of zero-point fluctuations in an accelerated reference frame.

Puthoff has, de facto, offered the first rational explanation of why force and acceleration are related; and has also given a definition of what “mass” is (Newton introduced it as a primitive property of matter).  Technically, inertia is due to the high frequencies of the distortion of the zero-point spectrum, whereas gravity is due to its low frequencies.  Newton and Mach measured inertia against a reference frame. Puthoff is using the zero-point field as the reference frame, and is claiming that inertia originates from the reference frame itself. 

The “gravitational field” is the set of all electromagnetic fields generated by all particles (leptons and quarks) as they interact with the zero-point field.

The Standard Model has been able to predict correctly all sorts of complicated experiments. However, a skeptic would object that the Standard Model does not quite explain everything that we see in nature (falling rocks, flying birds or suspended bridges).  It only explains phenomena that quantum physicists perform in laboratories and that cosmologists presume are happening billions of light-years away.  Newton's Physics does explain the phenomena of the human world (the world of objects).  It had been relatively easy to reduce Relativity Theory to Newton's Physics, but it had been very difficult to reduce Quantum Theory to Newton's Physics. 


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