(See the accompanying Interview with Bruce Director.)
People today could say they have a good sense of heritage from knowing their grandparents' accomplishments and lives; some people have studied their family trees and have a sense of where they have come from going back generations. But very few people have a sense of where humanity as a whole has come from, stretching back hundreds to thousands of years. When we do not know the struggles of our grandparents, we take for granted what they did to ensure our existence and success. When we take for granted what the whole of human culture and society has accomplished, we cannot appreciate what sets us apart from the animal kingdom and are unaware of the historical forces determining our daily lives. The risk of this folly, this lack of perspective, is allowing the mysterious "forces that be" to control our future.
Cultural trends pushing an "end of history" philosophy continue to dominate our lives and culture, that despite small changes in science, culture, and politics, every year is actually the same as all other years. History is cyclical and no progress occurs in reality. Humanity has reached an equilibrium. You should live your life in the now because world history is book-ended with your birth and death. Not only is this conception immoral, it is completely detached from the facts of humanity's existence. Indeed, the very statistics of population growth that the proponents of a human ecology use to say we should not allow ourselves to grow in technology, are the proof that we have progressed for the better, beyond what any animal species is capable of doing and that this evolution occurs in terms of quality, not just quantity.
Since the Renaissance, the average standard of living, life span, and access to an intellectual existence have increased through the application of new discoveries. A rigorous look at human civilization will reveal, not a constant recycling of situations and thoughts, but a layering of advancements, built on previous achievements of self conception, of government, art, science and technology. These advancements come as revolutions, as discrete leaps forward in the continuous train of existence. New ideas that had never been thought or experienced before, either for the individual or the society, overturn our previous beliefs, as if a future thought is pulling us forward. This is not done accidentally or anarchically for the sake of novelty and destruction, nor is what was thought before made obsolete; it is lawfully subsumed by a higher principle, previously undiscovered. The discovery of these unknown principles has a very real physical effect, expressed by man's increased mastering over nature to support himself physically and mentally. The availability of principles to be discovered is endless, therefore, so is our progress.
With this article I would like to demystify E=mc², and show a short snippet of mankind's evolution up to the point of the discovery of E=mc². More importantly, I intend to show the invariant scientific method that exists throughout the history of man that allowed for the many discoveries which the equivalence of mass and energy subsumes and to draw out the more profound implications of the discovery itself, showing that this scientific method, the use of the creative imagination, is what allows man to create its future in the lawful breaking of previous trends.
Some History of Scientific Thought
Think of the individual's discovery process: all the facts are in front of you, but you can't seem to make them add up to their necessary cause. Then, retracting your mind from the clashing literal evidence, you suddenly change the way you were thinking, and look at the problem in a new way. Your mind organizes the parts differently; now all that came before, changes. Nothing which came previously in your thoughts would have ever led logically to this new and radical idea; it could have only come from your imagination. There was no step to be taken to get to the next thought, though from this new thought looking back, everything falls into place. The continuous process of concentration and creativity generates the discrete leaps in thought. This microcosm of the individual thought process is analogous to the whole process of human evolution. Every moment in history is necessary to create the current state, though their sum cannot explain what comes next. Only the human imagination has the power to willfully determine the future.
The word evolution has a funny popular connotation because of Darwin. In this context, instead of thinking of one tyrannical system overthrowing another because of one lucky quirk, think of a higher system which subsumes and incorporates what came before, but which has something systemically new and superior, like the end of a classical musical piece as compared to its beginning. And instead of evolution occurring physically, think of it as a cultural change with just as much of a dramatic effect as the jump from reptiles to mammals. In the history of science, one of the best examples of this evolutionary process is Einstein's famous equation, E=mc².
The intention of the scientist, such as Einstein, is to deliberately push this evolution forward. The evolution of physics, for example, has occurred by the scientist searching for simple hypotheses, as few as possible, which explain as much as possible. One way this is expressed is to say, their intent is to determine what the unification of the many different phenomena is.
Let's get into the history of our current example:
Wind, heat, mechanical motion, animal strength, chemical explosions, etc., were known phenomena for a long time, but were thought of as unrelated things. Eventually, all these types of effects came to be subsumed under one measurement: energy. A new idea was discovered to express what unified these many different effects and processes. The different senses, such as the eyes or ears, give us different readings from the same phenomena; our mind unifies these many effects, recognizing their interconnection or common cause. What after-the-fact seems obviously united had to initially be discovered. Instead of loosely throwing together varied processes into some metaphysical goulash, Gottfried Leibniz in the seventeenth century used a restrictive principle to add rigor and order to his research in physics. The principle Leibniz used was that there could be no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. Leibniz, in his studies on motion, recognized that there was something more to the power of motion a body had other than just its extension, mass and speed. The absolute motive power, he said, comes from the square of the velocity, and according to the law of continuity and the fact that nature's processes are based on order, the quantity of power is conserved. That is, that the cause and effect are equal, so that perpetual motion is impossible and would be an absurdity on nature's part.1For more see Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters, translated and edited by Leroy E. Loemker:
Critical thoughts on the General Part of the Principles of Descartes (1692) and Specimen Dynamicum (1695).
Other sources: Leibniz' book Dynamica (1691), unpublished translation. And Dynamics and Vis Viva: An Introduction http://larouchepac.com/visviva This concept came out of a philosophical debate with the Carteseans who simply said the quantity of motion, velocity times mass, as opposed to mass times velocity squared, is conserved, avoiding acknowledging a higher force outside the body itself. The Cartesean's conception allowed for perpetual motion. [See Appendix I.]
Leibniz' conception of Vis Viva (living force, which the conservation of energy is derived from) was used as the invariant principle in his work on Dynamics, the science of all motions, which put all mechanical motions, celestial motions, etc., under one principle. As a demonstration, a pendulum, when let go, swings back and forth. Its initial height, (which we would say has a state of potential energy) is converted into velocity (what is called kinetic energy.) The body travels along to its lowest point as the velocity increases, and then, the reverse happens, the velocity of the mass gets transferred into height. Even though the different aspects of the pendulum, the height and the speed, are changing, they are actually interchanging, preserving the same energy throughout the whole process. The slowing down of the pendulum from friction would seem to violate the principle of the conservation of energy; where is the energy going? Here we see an example of two separate realms of science being combined. We know that the work from friction gets converted into heat. The pendulum's mechanical work slowly converts, through friction, into heat, the amount of energy throughout being exactly equivalent.
Now that the world of the intangible was defined and unified, it seemed that the same could be done for the tangible world. This same invariant principle was applied to matter. It would be quite silly if matter could be created or destroyed willy-nilly. There would be no way to know how the tangible world was operating. Hence the conservation of mass. No matter what a body chemically goes through, all the mass should be accounted for. To test and demonstrate this idea, A. L. Lavoisier2Antoine Laurent Lavoisier 26 August 1743 – 8 may 1794 by Harold Hartley and Elements of Chemistry by A.L. Lavoisier in the eighteenth century took a material, such as iron, and created a chemical reaction with it, keeping the whole process in a closed system, so that he could measure all the parts after, including the air. Surprisingly, a piece of iron that had rusted became heavier. Had matter been created out of thin air as an alchemist would dream? No. When the air was weighed, it was found to be lighter after the reaction than before! The difference in this lost of weight of air was equivalent to that gained by the iron, up to observational error. Man's power to understand nature had advanced, just like what happened with Leibniz's work.
Another shift in science occurred in the nineteenth century with the combination of electricity and magnetism. Two seemingly different domains were united; one acting with an attractive or repulsive force along an axis; another having the effect of heat and light along a circuit. This new realm of science was called electromagnetism, with the speed of light being discovered as the constant between their interactions.3For more on the work in electromagnetism: Hans Christian Orsted's Scientific Method, and The Atomic Science textbooks don't teach: the significance of the 1845 Gauss Weber correspondence. Then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, another union occurred. In 1905 Special Relativity, a theory based on the restrictive principle that all of nature's laws are invariant no matter the relative uniform motion of the observer4For more on Special Relativity from the author see: The Genius of Einstein and Productive Thinking by Max Wertheimer (1961) chapter 10, Einstein: the thinking that lead to the Theory of Relativity., harmonized two opposite branches of science: Mechanics, which deals with relative motions and action at a distance in empty space, was combined with the independent branch of electrodynamics, which had the absolute speed of light as an essential constant in its equations and is based on the continuous wave motion through some medium.
This unification was accomplished by mentally giving up the beliefs in absolute space and absolute time (which were suppose to exist outside of the universe and above physical processes) and by using the speed of light as an invariant principle, bounding both realms. A few months after the publication of this groundbreaking theory, Einstein published another paper that came as a consequence of his Theory of Special Relativity, a prediction that energy was the same substance as mass. The proof, generally, is as follows:
If an object is continually given a fixed amount of force, say an object in space given the same amount of fuel constantly, you would expect the object's velocity to continually increase, i.e. you would expect it to constantly accelerate. But, in the Theory of Relativity, according to the Lorentz transformation, (which calculates the distance and time contraction that occurs at high speeds,) the increase in velocity is not proportional to the applied force, and in fact, the body continually puts up more and more resistance. This appears to contradict our law of conservation of energy; where did all the energy of the force we were applying go?
Einstein sets up a thought experiment to test what might physically explain the difference between what we expect from Newtonian physics and what the Relativity Theory predicts.
A stationary body symmetrically shoots out two burst of rays of energy. According to the law of the conservation of energy, a stationary observer would see the object's total energy decreased by the amount of the ray's energy that left the body. In Special Relativity, all of nature's laws must be equally true, whether you are stationary or in uniform motion. So, does a moving observer see the law of conservation hold as well? Because of relative motion, the moving observer sees the body not as stationary, but as moving uniformly; the body has kinetic energy. After the emission of the rays of energy, the kinetic energy is seen to decrease. Kinetic energy has two components, velocity and mass, (hence ½ mv².) Of the two, the velocity was kept uniform by design, and as observed. So the change in kinetic energy must have came from a change in mass.
Einstein shows that the kinetic energy decreases by ½ (E/c²)v² (similar to the equation for kinetic energy from before;) E being energy and c being the speed of light, meaning that the mass has decreased by E/c². A forecast based on Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity is that m= E/c², or written differently, E=mc².
No longer could either one of the principles of the conservation of energy or the conservation of mass, stand alone; mass was not conserved, because it could be converted into energy and vice versa. This did not mean that either principle was obsolete, by any means; they were merely subsumed, as particular cases of something higher.
Physicists accepted this principle [the conservation of mass] until it proved inadequate in the face of the special theory of relativity. It was therefore merged with the energy principle – just as, about sixty years before, the principle of the conservation of mechanical energy had been combined with the principle of the conservation of heat. We might say, that the conservation of energy, having previously swallowed up that of the conservation of heat, now proceeded to swallow that of the conservation of mass – and holds the field alone.
-Albert Einstein, E=mc² (1946) Ideas and Opinions.
Leibniz had brought science to a new plateau with the concept of vis viva; that something constant, outside of mass and speed, was guiding a body's motion. This allowed for the conscious harnessing of energy for man's use, as in the steam engine5See Leibniz, Papin, and the Steam Engine -by Phillip Valenti., and furthered our understanding of the ordering of the universe. Separating energy as an immaterial process, accessible to scientific thought, provided the basis to turn around and separate matter as a definite thing with Lavoisier's principle of the conservation of mass. Before this, it was thought, for example, that heat was a material substance, which would mean heating up an object would increase its weight. The discovery of the conservation of mass allowed for the development of chemistry, providing a new platform for understanding the world and for application in science and technology. Over the span of several hundred years, taking only a few cases, we see that even though individuals die, the work they have done and the ideas they helped develop live on and continue to work on others, providing a basis for further progress. In a certain way, all the scientific developments in history up to the point of Einstein can be seen as a foundation from which he was to do his work; everything that came before was there for the purpose of allowing Einstein to make his breakthroughs.
Mass and Energy
The domain of energy was considered to be expressed by continuous waves, to be immaterial, acting in a filled field, exempt from the laws of mechanics; as opposed to mass, which was known to be the discrete tangible objects acting through empty space. Those two extreme views, diametrically opposed, were trying to jockey for dominance over the foundational explanation of how the world operates. This conflict was shown to be a phantom problem, each realm ending up being different sides of the same coin. The two seemingly separate worlds became one with the equivalence of mass and energy. This had a cultural shock on the way scientists thought. Mass, something discrete and tangible, is now equivalent (in some form) to energy -that immaterial continuous measure, meaning something more primary had to generate this shadow of mass-energy. We now no longer have separate categories of fixed absolute measures; the independent existence of self evident space, time, mass and energy are annihilated!
Einstein wrote his 1905 paper on Special Relativity in June, and immediately his mind was set on expanding and generalizing his theory. His paper on E=mc² (written in September) could be taken as a particular application of Special Relativity. As we would expect with any theory, you want to see what your theory can be applied to, and where and how it has significance in the real world. But the way I see it, E=mc² was a test of the boundaries of the Theory of Special Relativity. Can the theory hold up in the face of a new fact to be incorporated? E=mc² was a forecast based on the theory of relativity, something testable (though not fully untill much later, after atomic science further developed 30 years later.) The test alone could disprove Special Relativity. More than that, introducing E=mc² brought in something that the theory was not built to handle: change. Not only was E=mc² a revelation in science and culture, but it had the potential to make Special Relativity, the theory from which it came, obsolete! (As we shall see.)
Adaptation is not Evolution
The Theory of Special Relativity dealt with uniform motion; no rotation, no acceleration, nothing other than rectilinear movement. Energy being equivalent to mass times the speed of light squared doesn't seem to challenge those parameters. Inertial mass is measured by the resistance a body puts up against a certain force. This is what astronauts use to measure their mass in zero gravity6A NASA video demonstration of how astronauts weigh themselves on the International Space Station, or as one of the comments says 'inertia-ing' themselves. Here is a video of an inertial balance., in a sort of rocking chair or an inertial balance. This doesn't seem too threatening. But there's a well known fact that complicates things. Inertial mass, for some odd reason, always comes out proportional to gravitational mass. Now, don't be fooled by the fact that these two measurements both use the word mass. They are measuring two entirely different things. One is the resistance of a body, the other is the gravitational weight of a body. Gravitation is the threatening part here.
Special Relativity in no way deals with gravitation, there's no relativity of motion for acceleration. With uniform motion, you literally cannot tell the difference in whether you are stationary or in motion; hence it's relative. With rotation or other forms of acceleration you definitely can feel the difference between motion and standing still (think of spinning in a chair. It would be difficult to convince everyone in the room that it was actually all of them that were spinning when they do not feel a thing and you are the one that is dizzy.) If Special Relativity is going to say that the inertial mass of a body is a measure of its energy content, and that the inertial mass can change depending on the increase or decrease of the energy it receives, it is implicitly saying something about the gravitational mass, the weight of the body, which is something the theory has no grounds to approach; because, as we just said, Special Relativity does not deal with gravity. We have no evidence that the weight of an object changes with its energy, but all the observational facts say that the inertial and gravitational mass of an object are equivalent. So what is correct? Special Relativity predicts that the weight of an object will change with a change in its energy content, according to E=mc², which is a consequence of Special Relativity. If this is not factually true, and there is no evidence that, for example, heating up a body makes it heavier, then the theory that the prediction comes from, must be false. Why would Einstein publish something that could completely destroy his theory? Why not just have the theory adapt to new paradoxes? The application of Einstein's Special Relativity Theory, if true, could lead to the theory's own obsoleteness.
Instead of compromising with some sort of damage control ad hoc hypothesis, Einstein made this paradox the basis of a new theory. Instead of trying to save face, he used the paradox which was based on physical fact, as a wedge to get to a higher platform of the Relativity Theory. Having the character to trust the truth and his own mind beyond what it currently knows as fact, allowed Einstein to be a true scientist. E=mc² is more than the most famous equation that helped launch the atomic age; it was the bridge from Special Relativity, dealing with uniform motion that only approximated what happens in reality, to General Relativity, the theory that allows us to deal with change, to understand the motion of the planets and conceptualize the shape of the universe. The Theory of General Relativity will have to be saved for another time, because there's still a lot to cover with E=mc².
To use a comparison, we could say that creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connection between our starting-point and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.
–Einstein, Evolution of Physics.
Mass and Energy Equivalence
The speed of light squared, (9 x 1o16 meters squared per second squared,) is a large number. Divide most common amounts of ergs of energy by that number, and you get miniscule results. You can see why pumping a body full of energy would not show a measurable change of mass. But reverse the process, multiply any miniscule amount of mass in grams by 900,000, and you will get a very noticeable effect. How was it that up to a recent point, bodies of mass were able to hide their enormous power? In an essay, Einstein compares this to a miser; if he never spent his money, you wouldn't be able to tell how rich he was. Einstein had the insight, expressed at the end of his 1905 paper, to look to radium salts to test if E=mc² was true, anticipating that the atom would be the key to an experimental proof.
The history of the discovery and use of nuclear processes of fission and fusion, is a testament to the sublime ability of human beings to change the physical universe, with a thought. Not only are we able, from this little expression, to create new states of physical existence, (creating elements, tapping into unimagined stores of energy etc.) but this thought, laid out in a short three page paper in 1905 by one man, allowed us a new degree of freedom to understand, for the first time, the processes of the sun and stars, and the reactions on the smallest scale of cosmic rays and electrons. It would increase man's power to conceptualize the universe and his power in use of energy. Giant mysteries of the universe were unlocked and within our grasp. The vigorous pursuit, application, and further investigation into the newly attained knowledge that had only existed in potential previously, would lead to new mysteries, rapidly increasing our growth as a species of mind, pulling us forward to continue the evolution of science.
With the power gained from fission and fusion, a process made possible by the fact that E=mc², there is only a partial conversion of mass to energy, there's still mass left over. Now with matter-antimatter reactions, you have a near complete conversion of mass to energy. Thus, we get magnitudes of successive higher energy sources, fission to fusion to matter-antimatter, all from the same single idea. This puts us at the threshold of mankind's future: antimatter ignited fusion propulsion for long term space travel, medical and industrial applications, energy sources that rival the stars, and a new basis to hypothesize the creation of the universe. It is as if all of Einstein's work is a foundation for our present advancement. We gained so many incredible capabilities from this one idea, and E=mc² was just one of the several papers of Einstein's that year, and was only a pit-stop from Special Relativity to General Relativity and beyond to the Unified Field Theory; a side perk popping out of his work in pursuing the higher cause of our universe. For Einstein, one solution or discovery did not lead to the next question; the ultimate question provoked particular answers that gave him a toe-hold to progress towards the absolute goal.7“I want to know how God created this world (wie sich Gott die Welt beschaffen.) I'm not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” – The Listener September 8, 1955: A Talk with Einstein recollected by Esther Salaman (Berlin 1925.) Einstein states in his autobiography that his overall goal in his life's research is to establish a science that can be used in the unity of the physical world; a language incorporating the lawful coexistence of the discrete and the continuous, the microcosm and the astrophysical. Einstein as an individual sought out his own theory's limitations to further their universality.
The change and evolution of a society is similar to the process the individual mind takes in pushing its scope of power and knowledge beyond its current boundaries. The study of these processes of mind, which is higher than all other domains, may be our solution to the problems in physics.8As Creighton Cody Jones has gone through in referring to the work of Max Planck and Wolfgang Koehler: http://larouchepac.com/node/20394
I have to point out that the development of science knows only of a build-up, not of a tearing down. If a generation cannot build upon the achievements of its predecessors, then there is no science proper. It would be sad if the theory of relativity would have to topple the precious mechanics, somewhat like one tyrant toppling the other....the theory of relativity is nothing but another step in the centuries-old evolution of our science, one which preserves the relationships discovered in the past, deepening their insights and adding new ones.
Man as a creation of this universe, was given the unique power to further the universe's growth and unfolding, unlike any other creature. Through our willful creativity, we help fulfill the universe's purpose through subsuming states of advancement. This ability of creating new states in the physical universe through creating new states in the individual's mind, shows man's role as co-creator in the universe. The artistic imagination of man envisions the future; science willfully creates it.
Thermonuclear War Threat
Einstein was concerned about the use of nuclear weapons; to be specific, he was not worried that nuclear reactions and the knowledge and technology of it was the cause of evil itself, but that the state of man was such, that this capability would be used for evil. Today, with Obama pushing for thermonuclear war with China and Russia, we should make this a serious issue for us, too.
Mankind is extremely powerful. The fact that we can annihilate ourselves shows that the mind of man is at least a global force. It also shows the urgent demand for a global renaissance in culture. Not only is a classical culture needed to nurture every individual to contribute creative discoveries9See the author's paper Einstein the Artist for more. to the mission of moving man further into the solar system, but also to give society a higher conception of itself to leave our petty problems behind and avoid the use of technology for destruction. The great discoveries of Einstein and the fact that every person can know them and has the potential to be creative, shows that we can accomplish such a cultural shift, and it is here that we find optimism.
Technology is a must, an absolute evolutionary necessity, as Krafft [Ehrike] said, but it has to be combined with the ennoblement of the soul...science and technological progress always must be combined with Classical culture, with the aesthetical education of man, because if a science or a technology is good or bad, that is not defined by the technology, but it is defined by man, if he is for evil or if he is for the good... the problem is not science and technology; it is the lack of the cultural development of human beings.
–Helga Zepp-LaRouche webcast and Krafft conference book.
Certain scientific questions are impossible to answer without mankind giving up his enslavement to sense perceptions and other animal-like imposed habits. The challenge of determining the shape of space in relation to conquering sustained fusion reactions and antimatter applications is not only a technical question, but is a cultural question. A developed culture is what allows tools to be properly used: math, nuclear reactions, a credit system etc., so that the tools do not dominate us and cannot be used against us, for mass control. Very little can be discovered and even less will be implemented for the betterment of man without a moral and creative shift in the population; a rediscovery of human nature.
One of the questions left to us, after studying Einstein's creative mind, is, do we need a new conservation principle which subsumes E=mc²? Does not the energetic and material effect of Einstein's discovery out-weigh the energy and mass of his brain?
Thus, the whole of mankind put together represents an insignificant mass of the planet's matter. Its strength is derived not from its matter, but from its brain... here a new riddle has arisen before us. Thought is not a form of energy. How then can it change material processes? That question has not as yet been solved....
The effect of mind seems to violate the conservation principle. We have a new paradox. The principle of conservation, instead of being a zero sum entropic game, again has to be reconceptualized.
To conclude: There has been knowledge that has been lost, but overall, the longer humanity continues to exist, the more it comes to know. There is no end in sight to this process. In fact it seems to be ever increasing in speed, quantity and quality, building off of what came before to reach new unfathomable heights, as if driven by an outside force. Yet, this has been willful and for it to continue we must become conscious of the evolution of scientific thought up to this point, to determine what the next leap needs to be.
See the accompanying Interview with Bruce Director.
For a technical work through of E=mc2 see Appendix II.
For more on Fission, Fusion and Antimatter see:
An interview on antimatter:http://larouchepac.com/node/21439
A blog: A Lost Opportunity: The 2004 Proposal For a Joint NASA/NIH Crash Program For Antimatter Research By Judy Hodgkiss.
weekly report: http://larouchepac.com/node/21602
Critical thoughts on the General Part of the Principles of Descartes (1692) and Specimen Dynamicum (1695).
Other sources: Leibniz' book Dynamica (1691), unpublished translation. And Dynamics and Vis Viva: An Introduction http://larouchepac.com/visviva