A Paradigm and Theory for Postmodern Physics
Published: January 6, 2010


Simply stated, a “paradigm” is a way of looking at something. The English term “paradigm” is taken from the Greek word paradeigma, meaning a “model”, “exemplar”, “archetype,” “ideal”, “to show.” In science, it is a model, pattern, or ideal theory from which perspective phenomena are explained. The American sociologists Richard P. Appelbaum and William J. Chambliss define “paradigm” as “a perspective or framework containing assumptions about the world that help to shape scientific theories.”1 They explain that: “A scientific theory consists of a set of logically consist ideas about the relationships between things that permit those ideas to be checked against observations. To establish the value of a scientific theory, scientists conduct research. Scientific research is what scientists do to achieve the goal of systematic observation and information gathering. If scientific research yields observations that are inconsistent with scientific theories, then one or the other must be wrong.

“Theories tell the natural scientist which facts to look for; indeed, the theory often tells the scientist to see what is happening; facts help the scientist to construct and evaluate the theory. Theories and facts require one another, and each continually modifies the other in a never-ending process that is the hallmark of science.

“Two scientists observing the same event often have different interpretations, depending on the theory they bring to their observations. For example, an astronomer looking at the sunset knows that the sun appears to be setting only because the earth is rotating around its axis; it is the motion of the earth, not the sun, that gives the appearance of the setting sun. Before astronomy came to accept the theory, however, astronomers trained in the scientific method believed that the earth remained still while the sun slowly moved below the horizon. Their reasoning was based on their theory – which stemmed from both common sense and religious beliefs – that the earth, as God’s prize creation, lay at the center of the universe.”2

Appelbaum and Chambliss further explain that: “Scientists, like all people, have different ideas, therefore, about how the world works. Some of these ideas are logically interconnected in the form of theories. Theories are based in part on broad assumptions that can never really be tested. Theories can therefore be said to reflect underlying paradigms, perspectives or frameworks containing assumptions about the world that help to shape scientific theories.”3 In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), the American physicist, philosopher, and historian of science, Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1992-96), described these paradigms as the basic Gestalt (or a view of reality) within which a scientific community at any one time interprets observation of natural phenomena. It is the paradigm that largely dictates the community’s scientific progress. Observations by the community’s scientists are never free from the influence of their shared paradigm.

As Kuhn explains, “A paradigm is what the members of a scientific community share, and, conversely, a scientific community consists of men who share a paradigm. A paradigm emerges first in the mind of one or a few individuals. It is they who first learn to see science and the world differently. Competing paradigms will often disagree about the list of problems that any candidate for paradigm must resolve.”4 Kuhn says: “One of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assured to have solutions. To a great extent these are the only problems that the community will admit as scientific or encourage its members to undertake.”5

Kuhn says: “Paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners [scientists] has come to recognize as acute.”6 Some theoretical physicists today have come to realize that the following two theories dominating modern physics have created a crisis in physics because they cannot be combined to form a unified gravitational theory of nature: Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and quanta theory.

Permit me to offer a paradigm for postmodern physics, which I call the “Atomic paradigm.” This paradigm is a way of looking at the world as made up of countless eternal and indestructible “atoms” whose ever-shifting arrangement in space is the reality behind all appearances. It explains that the gravitational interaction of atoms ultimately causes all the different phenomena in nature. It also explains that atoms are the only masses and forces in the universe, and that they are all governed and limited by inviolable laws of nature. It says that these laws are discoverable by careful observation and reason. One of these laws is the law of conservation of atoms and their motion. Another is the law of immutability of atoms.

According to the Atomic paradigm, there are only three kinds of everlasting objects in the entire universe. As the Roman Atomist Lucretius explains, “The first, owing to the absolute solidity of their substance, they can repel blows and let nothing penetrate them so as to unknit their close texture from within. Such are the atoms of matter… the second can last forever because it is immune from blows. Such is empty space, which remains untouched and unaffected by any impact. Last is that which has no available place surrounding it into which its matter can disperse and disintegrate. It is for this reason that the sum totality of the universe is everlasting, having no space outside it into which the matter can escape and no matter that can enter and disintegrate it by the force of impact. But, as I have shown, the world is not a solid mass of matter, since there is an admixture of vacuity in things. It is not the same nature as vacuity.”7

I will reiterate: As the American physicist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Kuhn says, “Paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has come to recognize as acute.” Usually, paradigms gain their status in scientific communities because they are set forth by exclusive or powerful groups in control of the communities, such as National Academies of Science. A national academy of science is an organizational body, usually operating with state financial support and approval that co-ordinates scholarly research activities and standards for academic sciences. Sometimes the paradigms are not satisfactory paradigms, because they contradict reality and cannot serve as a basis upon which to develop a valid scientific theory of the universe.

I believe that the Atomic paradigm is the only paradigm that physicists can use as a basis for developing a model, pattern, or ideal scientific theory, that’s genuinely useful in providing a picture of reality and systematizing, simplifying, classifying, and explaining all the different phenomena in nature. Developing such a scientific theory begins with posing a question(s) and exploring possible answers to it based on observation. “Observation” is the use of one or more of our five senses to gather information about the world that we are observing. Our natural senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell provide us with evidence that the world is made up of things that take up (or occupy) space, have mass, and react to gravity. “Mass” is often defined as the amount of matter in an object. It is also defined as the inertia (or resistance) of an object to a change in its motion, a property of all matter. “Gravity” is the force of attraction between any two objects masses) that pulls them together. Gravity pulls objects toward the Earth. It also keeps the planets in orbit around the sun.

Here are some of the most obvious things that we observe about the world:

  1. We observe that the matter of which the world is made is particulate, consisting of very small, separate particles.
  2. We observe that all matter is three-dimensional, having height, width, and depth.
  3. We observe that matter changes form but is never annihilated.
  4. We observe that all matter is bounded by empty space and empty space by matter.
  5. We observe that all matter is in motion.
  6. We observe that when matter moves from one place to another, the space it occupied does not move with it.
  7. We observe that when new things come into existence, they always come from something already existing.
  8. We observe that matter disintegrates or decays.
  9. We observe that the existence of objects varies in duration.
  10. Observing the duration of existence of things, we become aware of the existence of time, which we define as the measurement of duration of existent.
  11. We observe that the duration of the existence of all things always moves straight forward at the same constant rate of time.
  12. We observe that space always remains the same while time passes.
  13. We observe that empty space has no ability to affect the objects, or bodies, moving within it.
  14. We observe that the laws of nature are immutable.

From all of the observations mentioned above, we can develop a valid scientific theory of the nature of the universe. I will reiterate: A satisfactory scientific theory explains all the known facts, based on observation. Judging by this standard, the only satisfactory scientific theory of the nature of the universe is the theory of Atomism, also known as the Atomic theory, which was developed by the ancient Greek natural philosophers Leucippus (fl.c. 450 BC), Democritus (c.460-c.370 BC), and Epicurus (341-270 BC), and the Roman philosophic poet Lucretius (c.98-55 BC).

The theory of Atomism states that:

  1. Everything in the universe is made of matter and void and that nothing can exist which is non-material, except the void.
  2. Matter is anything that takes up (or occupies) space, has mass, and reacts to gravity.
  3. Mass is the amount of matter in an object.
  4. Gravity is the force of attraction between two objects because of their mass.
  5. All matter is made up of atoms and void.
  6. Void is pure empty space or nothingness. It’s the opposite of matter.
  7. Atoms are the invisible and indivisible elements from which nature forms, increases, and sustains all things, and into which, when they disintegrate or decay, nature again resolves them.
  8. Nothing can come into existence without atoms.
  9. Our beliefs, thoughts, desires, sensations, and other mental states are properties of atomic systems.
  10. Atoms and void are the ultimate instruments of nature’s work; there is nothing else.
  11. Atoms are constantly in motion, but there is no motion inside them because they are absolutely solid particles.
  12. Atoms possess a certain original momentum that can be transferred to other atoms by impact.
  13. Atoms move faster than light, which their motion produces.
  14. All changes in matter are the result of atoms moving and combining in different ways.
  15. Atoms naturally move downwards.
  16. In a constant state of congestion they seem immobile, but they are not.
  17. Varieties of atoms size and shape cause variation in the properties of objects.
  18. All objects are compounds of different kinds of atoms.
  19. The number of possible compounds of atoms is finite.
  20. Whatever is seen to be sentient is nevertheless composed of atoms that are insentient.
  21. Atoms have no color, nor heat, sound, taste, and smell, nor feeling.
  22. The movements of the atoms are random; the effects of their collisions are dictated by their construction and nature.

The above ideas stated by the theory of Atomism have led to the discovery of the following atomic principles, or laws, of reality:

  1. Nothing can be created out of nothing (the non-existent).If something comes into existence, it must come from something already existing.
  2. Nothing can be destroyed into nothing (masslessness), but only broken up into constituent atoms.
  3. Matter exists in the form of invisible particles.
  4. The universe is void space as well as solid matter.
  5. Matter and void are the only ultimate realities; there is no third form of existence.
  6. All other things are properties or accidents (unessential attributes) of matter and void.
  7. Atoms are the ultimate instruments of nature’s work.
  8. The atoms are solid, everlasting, and simple.
  9. Being solid and simple, the atoms are indivisible.
  10. The atoms cannot undergo change.
  11. Although physically indivisible, the atoms have parts, which are the minima of extension and magnitude.

For over two thousand years, natural philosophers believed that all of nature could be understood by describing the atomic structure of matter and the atomic laws governing its behavior.

In 1638, the Italian mathematician, astronomer, and natural philosopher Galileo Galilei (1561-1626), expressed his belief in the theory of atoms in a book that he wrote entitled Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove science, 1638 (The Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences). In this book, he described objects as being made up of an infinite number of infinitesimally small particles held together by an infinite number of small vacua. The Italian philosopher, political theorist, and poet Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) wrote to him, in which he said: “I am very sorry that you have given your enemies the opportunity to deny all the heavenly things that you have shown us.”8

IN 1644, the Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli discovered the weight of air and the existence of the vacuum. His discovery of the vacuum, after one and a half thousand years, confirmed the Atomists' assertion that the void is a constituent of the universe, as the Greek Atomist Democritus postulated. A new study of atoms developed and Torricelli developed a gas theory.

In 1687 and 1704, the English mathematician, astronomer, and natural philosopher Isaac Newton (1642-1727), described the nature of matter as follows:

  1. “The least parts of bodies are all extended, and hard and impenetrable, and moveable, and endowed with their proper inertia.” (Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687, Book 1)
  2. “Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of the masses of the particles and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the them.” (Newton, Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687, Book 1)
  3. “Are not the Rays of Light very small Bodies emitted from shining Substances.?” (Newton, Opticks, 1730, Book 3, 4th ed., Query 29)
  4. “Do not Bodies act upon Light at a distance, and by their action bend its Rays, and is not action (other things being equal) strongest at the least distance.?” (Newton, Opticks, 1730, Book 3, 4th ed., Query 1)5.“

Are not gross bodies and light convertible into one another, and may not bodies receive much of their activity from the particles of light which enter into their composition?... the changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very conformable to the course of nature, which seems delighted with transmutations….?” (Opticks, 1704, Book 3, Part 30)

In 1806-8, the English chemist John Dalton (1766-1844) unified the theory of Atomism with the modern theory of elements.

He explained that:

  1. All elements are made up of atoms.
  2. All atoms of a given element are identical.
  3. The atoms of a given element are different from those of any other element.
  4. Atoms of one element can combine with atoms of other elements to form compounds.
  5. Atoms are indivisible in chemical reactions.

The above statements by Dalton are based on experimentation, not on pure reason. He conceived of atoms in a compound as mere juxtaposition with each atom under the influence of Newton’s law of gravitation, or gravity, the force that draws any two bodies together because of their mass.

Dalton, like every Atomist before him, conceived of atoms as “absolutely solid” particles that are the smallest particles of matter that can exist; the ultimate and smallest division of matter. Being absolutely solid particles, he held that atoms could not be destroyed. This idea about the atoms became the basis of the law of conservation of mass (the atoms that make up mass can neither be created nor destroyed).

To help him explain that atoms are absolutely solid particles, he used models depicting them as “billiard balls” or “solid spheres.” The models are useful because an experiment can show that atoms cannot be split or divided and always act as wholes in chemical changes. They do not, and cannot, break up under any condition.

No new facts about atoms have been discovered since Dalton. But, in modern physics, it is taught that Dalton’s concept of the atom had to be modified when new facts about the atom were discovered, claiming that atoms can, and do, break up under certain conditions. I will reiterate: The English word “atom” comes from the Greek word atomos, meaning “uncuttable”. If the description of a particle does not fit this definition of an atom, it cannot be an atom. The particle called an atom in modern physics, which has been split into sub-particles – protons, neutrons, and electrons – is certainly misnamed.

Now that I have shown you how to develop a scientific theory of the nature of the universe based upon observation, I will leave it to your own judgment about whether or not the theory of Atomism, also known as the Atomic theory, is correct or not. If you study the history of Atomism, you will find that it has been able to absorb all known scientific facts about the universe. I agree with the American Unitarian clergyman John Weiss (1818- 79), who explained that: “The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation.”9

References:

  1. Richard P. Appelbaum and William J.Chambliss, Sociology, Second Edition (Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1997), p. 615.
  2. Ibid., p. 14.
  3. Ibid., p. 16.
  4. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Third Edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 176.
  5. Ibid., p. 37.
  6. Ibid., p. 23.
  7. Lucretius, On The Nature of The Universe (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1951), p. 137-38.
  8. T.Campanella, Letter to Galileo, March 8, 1614, Works, X11, p. 32. Quoted in Piertro Redondi, GALILEO HERETIC, translated by Raymond Rosenthal (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 321.
  9. Quoted in The New Dictionary of Thoughts: A Cyclopedia of Quotations (New York: Standard Book Company, 1944), p. 643.