Chapter 27: The Choice of a Yardstick: What Einstein Really Meant

“The speed of light in a vacuum is constant.”

 “The speed of light in a vacuum is constant.”

It is interesting to look back (well actually, you don’t have to look too far back) to see what standards have been used for measurement units. Currently, the standard for the US/English/Customary system is the ‘foot’ which was mythologically derived from the foot of King Henry I of England. Although many records indicate that this is probably not the real source, King Henry’s foot was determined to be 12 ‘thumbs’ (inches) long. This is a very funny way to define a measurement standard. After he died, did they keep the foot? Whose thumbs did they use? Is his preserved foot still the same size, or did it shrink when he died and is today’s foot therefore smaller than it was when King Henry was still living? What is even more humorous is than all that is that we still build spaceships like the US Space Shuttle and the International Space Station to the ‘foot standard’.

There is also the meter, which is a part of a much more logical measurement system, and was originally based on being one ten thousandth of the circumference of the Earth from the North Pole to the Equator. This is not exactly a stable unchanging value either, even if you only consider the effects of the tides.

So both of the current, predominant distance measurement systems in use in the world today were based on standard units that could not be readily verified, even by comparison to the originally specified source.

We have ‘fixed’ this problem; initially by making ‘precise’ meter sticks that everyone could come and measure for themselves, and then take their own new standard home with them for comparison.  In this, I’m referring to the older practice of having a physical, singular measurement standard ‘bar’, made from platinum, which was kept in a controlled environment and referenced when required. Not many are old enough to remember this methodology.  Eventually, as we got smarter (thanks again to Dr. Einstein) we came to define these lengths in terms of the speed of light within a vacuum. This is very convenient and precise, except, you know, the speed of light is a velocity.

From Wiki: The meter “is defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures as the distance travelled by light in absolute vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second.”

And the foot is defined in terms of the meter. So you see, we already define length in terms of a velocity, a distance as it relates to time. We just tend to ignore that fact and use the definition to create static yardsticks, instead of acknowledging that the definition for them is inexorably linked to time.

And the speed of light is the perfect yardstick, because although that measurement system is rather cumbersome to use to build a highway or on the speedometer of a car, it is a standard that does not vary no matter what your personal velocity is or where you are in the universe as a whole; because the speed of light is a constant. Everywhere. And it’s portable. If you wanted to measure a meter on the distant planet of Theophylline which orbits a Red Dwarf star in the galaxy ‘NGC doubletween’, you could, because all you need to know is that the meter is the distance that light travels in 1/299,792,458th of a second. If you knew the precise frequency of the light, you could even define the meter and the second both by the wave count.

But here’s the hook. Here’s the explanation for the statement made back in the first chapter, and the point that Dr. Einstein made but did not fully understand:

If the speed (velocity) of light is a constant, then we should be measuring, and constructing our geometry based on THAT CONSTANT, which is a velocity. A velocity, which is a relationship between both distance and time, in which each one cannot be defined without the other, and neither can be considered separate or existing independently.

If this is the case, (and that’s the point of this book, after all) then each and every geometrical system in use today, including the Tensor matrix systems employed by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity and the super-multidimensional worlds of Strings is fundamentally flawed, because they all use the language of points, lines, and static geometry, where time can be divorced from the structure of the dimension. All of these assumed (I would say, pseudo-) dimensions are time independent, as they say. This means, as we’ve shown previously, that all of the solutions derived from such assumptions can only be approximations, at best.

This then, is what Dr. Einstein discovered but failed to fully understand:

 “The speed of light in a vacuum is constant.”

It is the speed, the velocity of light that is the constant, and the structure of the mathematics that supports the description the world around us should be in terms of that phenomenon. Not points. Not force. Not distance. Not isolated, preexistent time. These are all subjective and ephemeral. If we want to describe something in terms that do not need tricky transformations from one system to another, then we should define and create our descriptive system in terms of the velocity of the speed of light, the yardstick that does not vary or lose calibration.

This will have a lot of implications.

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