The History Of CTM
The personal website of Douglas C. George.
By Douglas C. George
July 21, 2015
The Cavitation Theory of Matter is the result of an insight that occurred to me sometime in the mid-to-late '90s. Although it didn't start out as such, it soon became a theory about what matter is made of and how it could come to exist. This is a short history of how the theory developed and a brief update on current ideas by others who appear to be coming to the same conclusion.
The theory is explained using General Relativity but it wasn't derived therefrom. It was arrived at by the intuitive, hand-wavy sort of process outlined below. It wasn't until years later that I found out it was not only in agreement with GR but the basic conclusion appeared to be mandated by it.
I was thinking one day about a paradox. How can a falling object be moving inertially and undergoing acceleration at the same time? It was the same paradox that led Einstein to invent General Relativity so I assumed the issue had been resolved; I just didn't know how.
I was imagining a large boulder falling from the sky. It was well known that a freely falling object feels no acceleration. At the same time, from the point of view of an observer on the ground, it is obviously accelerating. I was trying to imagine how this could happen. As I was pondering this, an odd thought suddenly occurred to me.
What if space itself progressively thins out as the distance to the Earth gets smaller? That was the insight. The closer to the Earth, the thinner space becomes; if that were the case, I realized, the paradox would disappear. The reasoning went like this:
If you require the boulder to cover the same distance through space each second (i.e., to move inertially) and at the same time have the space through which it is falling thin out progressively, the boulder, as seen from afar, would have to move further each second in order to make up for this thinning-out of space. For this to work, the thinning-out of space must somehow change the definition of distance such that the falling boulder would be covering the same amount each second (and thus be moving inertially). As seen from afar, it would be accelerating.
If space thins out this way there would be no paradox.
Now this was a surprising notion, indeed, and over the next few days I realized it carried all sorts of wild implications. If space thins-out around massive particles, what then would an elementary particle be if it sits exactly where space and time appear to be petering out? And, could the density of some region possibly go all the way to zero? Could it form an actual hole or cavity in the spacetime manifold? What sort of physical properties might such a cavity have? Wouldn't it be awfully like a black hole?
Then I calmed down a bit and started thinking.
Yes, it was an interesting idea, no doubt about it. But surely it had to be wrong. It was just too easy, too facile, to be accurate. So, I put some time and effort into more carefully examining the idea but I couldn't find any obvious flaws. Eventually I gave up and got on with my life but the idea kept popping back up over the years and, each time, I'd try to figure out why it was wrong (or how it might even be right), but to no avail. I was living off-grid with my wife and son in the hills of northern California at the time and had no internet connection until 2003. Then, with the vast resources of the internet at hand, I gradually discovered over the next couple of years that, much to my surprise, my strange idea might actually be correct.
If the idea was wrong I figured it would probably be General Relativity that would show me how, so I rolled up my sleeves and started digging into Einstein's notoriously difficult theory.
First off, for my idea to make any sense at all, empty space, the vacuum, had to be a physical, fluid-like medium of some sort and General Relativity, as I soon discovered, assumes just that. Special Relativity declares that, for its purposes, there is no need to consider the vacuum to be a physical medium but General Relativity makes it absolutely mandatory. The vacuum, according to General Relativity, is a real, physical medium that can be warped or distorted by the matter embedded in it; the resulting warpage of space being what we know as the gravitational field.
It was also generally accepted that the empty space between atoms, stars and galaxies is collectively expanding so it wasn't a big leap to wonder if this expansion might result in space becoming somehow thinner. And, if such thinning-out could occur, could it occur locally, on a scale of any size? Once again, to my surprise, General Relativity provided a clear answer.
In General Relativity, it is the metric that defines the way distances and time are measured through the distorted space around a massive object and the metric is found by solving the Einstein Field Equations for the object. The most famous of these is the Schwarzschild metric, the solution to the field equations for a simple, spherical object.
Of special note with regard to my idea was that the Schwarzschild metric displays a phenomenon called "metric-stretching". It says that, the closer you get to an object, the more distance measurements are exaggerated or stretched out, and correspondingly, the more the energy density of the region thins out. At the event horizon of a black hole, this metric-stretching of space explodes to infinity and the energy density of space plummets to zero (and just to finish everything off, time comes to a complete stop).
In other words, GR was, to me anyway, clearly describing the spacetime manifold, itself, coming to an end at the event horizon of a black hole and leaving us with a hole in space, exactly as I had imagined.
So there it was. The idea of cavities in the spacetime manifold was, I discovered, already built into the structure of General Relativity and appeared to be mandated by the phenomenon of metric stretching. Given the relatively simple math involved, all of this left me wondering why it hadn't been noticed a long time ago. I can only guess that, all those years, it was simply assumed that the spacetime manifold continued on past the event horizon (I've still not heard of any actual justification for it). As near as I could tell, though, the math was saying just the opposite: space and time end at the event horizon.
Inside the event horizon, the math suddenly turns seriously weird. Time turns into space, space into time, things falling toward the central singularity have to move backward in time and, finally, at the central singularity, the math fails completely. These mathematical "ill behavior" problems have been well-known since shortly after GR was published and the failure at the central singularity is widely thought to be where the theory of General Relativity itself fails (it's also just happens to be where Quantum Theory fails).
My interpretation, on the other hand, made all these problems simply disappear and saved GR from imploding, to boot. Granted, it seemed way too facile for comfort but there it was. And, beyond all of that, the idea, offered up a simple and intuitive description of matter and its gravitational field (they are one and the same thing) and allows for a simple way for them to come into existence (solely from the expansion of space).
Anyway, another eight years would pass before "firewall" theory (based on quantum physics) came along and raised the specter of a serious challenge to the assumption that the spacetime manifold continues across the event horizon.
In 2012, firewall theory sparked a lively discussion within the physics community. Raphael Bousso at U.C. Berkeley mused that space and time seem to "somehow" end at the horizon and Joseph Polchinski at U.C. Santa Barbara summed it up this way: "... the inside of a black hole - it may not be there" ... "Probably that's the end of space itself; there's no inside at all.".
The long held assumption that space and time continue inside the event horizon of a black hole suddenly appeared to be in serious doubt. As far as I know, however, no one yet has actually described black holes as cavities, or holes in the manifold.
The Cavitation Theory of Matter is surprising in a fundamental way. It suggests that matter (all matter) is made out of warped space, period; the warpages being subatomic holes in the spacetime manifold. Furthermore, it implies that these holes are simple black holes, and by extension, all black holes, of any size, are actual holes in the spacetime manifold. The evolution of the universe is the process of these tiny black holes being forged by gravitational collapse into ever larger black holes, without end.
The universe we see, it seems, is built entirely of black holes, bottom to top, and black holes are, as Kip Thorne says, "made wholly and solely" from the warpage of space itself. And the warpages (according to me anyway) turns out to be energy density gradients surrounding cavities in the spacetime manifold.
Matter does not, as widely thought, distort space but simply is distorted space and nothing more. Matter, as something separate from and embedded in otherwise empty space, is a superfluous concept. The warped space surrounding a massive object is all there is to the massive object.
The gravitational field of a massive object is the object.
In support of this rather startling idea, I would point the reader to a remarkable paper by the Cambridge astrophysicist, Professor Donald Lynden-Bell, and Professor Emeritus, Joseph Katz at the Racah Institute of Physics. In their greatly (in my opinion) underappreciated paper called Gravitational field energy density for spheres and black holes they conclude that the total coordinate-independent field energy distributed in the gravitational field of a Schwarzschild black hole is ... mc2. They state explicitly that "... all the energy remains outside the hole." http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1985MNRAS.213P..21L
As for how these cavities could come about, I imagine the explosive expansion of the early universe most likely boiled the spacetime manifold, turning it into an expansive cauldron of bubble-filled space, not unlike what happens when you open a carbonated drink (only on a much grander scale of course). The picture of reality that emerges is more than a bit startling. It's an inside-out universe where empty space rules and matter is downgraded to being simple cavities. As explained in more detail in the paper, the idea has many advantages over the usual view of things.
Do I consider these ideas to be realistic? Yes, at least until someone (politely, I hope) points out the errors in my reasoning.
I have a bachelor level degree in physics with a minor in mathematics. I worked for a number of years as an aerospace physicist doing basic research in atmospheric physics but have never worked professionally in theoretical physics. So, in this endeavor, I am very much an amateur. I do this as a recreation and hobby because I find it interesting. I am seventy-seven years old and have studied theoretical physics on my own for many years and consider my understanding of these things to be fairly good.
I hope you will find the ideas presented in the links below to be interesting, provocative and perhaps useful. Please feel free to let me know what you think.
Douglas C. George