Newton, Einstein and Rubin’s Vase.

On Gravity, General Relativity, Unification and Seeing Two Faces.

Photo by Antoine Peltier on Unsplash

In the Big Whisper model, Newton and Einstein play vital roles. Newton, for declaring the Laws of Motion, viewed as classical mechanics. Einstein, for declaring the general theory of relativity, the description for gravitation in modern physics.

Newton and Einstein are important in understanding the big picture. Newton was leading the scientific pack for a long time with his Laws of Motion. At some point, though, his work became seen as not describing everything correctly. In comes Einstein to deliver a more complete version. Einstein modifies Newton’s work with his General Relativity. Einstein pushed Newton a bit to the side.

Rubin’s Vase can be used to view Newton and Einstein’s work and it can help see the outlines of the big picture. Particular in light of the ongoing quest to unify all forces, in which gravity is the force that plays hard to get, both men’s work can shed light on the big-picture perspective.

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In Rubin’s Vase, the viewer sees either a Vase or Two Faces. The image is mainly used in psychology to show how we can sometimes focus on the incorrect part of the picture, simply because we come hardwired that way. Fortunately, there are not too many situations in which Rubin’s Vase occurs. But particularly when we try to capture the big picture, something can go wrong. We may automatically go for the Vase, and the Two Faces option is then not investigated as an alternate view.

We may believe (and believing indicates seeing matters as true and correct) where a further scientific step needs to be investigated still.

Get this right: With Rubin’s Vase, Newton is never wrong. Newton is either seen with the Vase or Newton is seen with the Two Faces, both options representing matter. Whatever the central matter of our focus is, we find Newton there with the matter. It is only at the outlines of Newton’s work that we need Einstein — and with Einstein we need to make a choice.

Einstein created an outline for matter and that is when we can start mixing the Vase for the Two Faces. The outline is not incorrect by itself either, yet the outline forces us to make a choice on how we view the reality of matter. In particular, we need to make a choice about the question if matter is always based on a unified principle or not.

Only with actively picking the Vase or the Two Faces do we establish the correct overall perspective. If we do not make this choice, then we accept one of the options as the truth, much like one would accept a belief to be the only correct one. A scientific door needs to be opened, but this may not be obvious. To execute the scientific steps fully, both options must be investigated and a choice made after the investigation.

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The big issue in Einstein’s time was how Mercury wasn’t behaving itself according to the laws of Newton. Mercury’s orbit around the sun wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, so something had to be corrected.

Einstein established a framework known as spacetime; the sun’s gravity distorted the spacetime framework in such a way that Mercury’s behavior could be explained by it. In simple words, the closeness to the Sun’s gravitational field caused Mercury to behave microseconds faster than Newton would have had it.

The strange part is of course that space would be curved to explain the phenomenon. For Newton lovers, space is just space and that is that. Einstein forced us to view space in a different light.

This is where Rubin’s Vase comes into play. Originally, with Newton, space is not an entity that establishes any kind of force. But with Einstein, we need to give space, or at least the framework in which masses play out their gravitational roles, importance. Instead of dealing just with matter, we had to deal with matter + its immediate environment.

The immediate environment of matter is Einstein’s outline of Rubin’s Vase.

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Among all forces, gravity is the odd one out. The weak-nuclear, the strong-nuclear, the magnetic and the electric forces have all been unified in the Grand Unified Theory, but this GUT does unfortunately not capture gravity.

If we accept not one but two universal levels, their combination close but not identical to unification, then it is possible to view gravity as the synergistic force of the other forces. Gravity exists then at a different level, ‘above’ the other forces. From the specific forces, the general force automatically occurs without adding any components.

As such, we have our two options to investigate:

If we accept that spacetime is a reality that informs us about the ultimate behavior of matter in space, then we do not have just a single option to choose from. Matter does not behave like Newton’s Laws of Motion only and so there cannot be just a Vase for matter; the outline declares that both behaviors are probable. There is the Vase and there is the Two Faces anywhere we look for gravity.

Naturally, only one can be the correct option and it is fortunately easy to figure out which one is correct. All one needs to do it choose that option that fits with reality best — using Occam’s razor.

In space, we see matter behaving in two distinct manners:

Matter likes to converge with matter but only when that matter is found nearby enough and other influences, such as movement, do not prevent it. With this, we may look at Einstein’s work differently as well, since movement can be seen as the underlying reality for the spacetime framework.

This means that the option to pick from Vase or Two Faces is obvious.

The Two Faces option reflects reality, while the Vase reflects what is best described with a belief. The desire to unify all at all levels, but then not investigating the alternate option, is much like establishing a Deo ex Machina. The last step tantalizingly close but never achieved.

Unification can be found close at hand, among matter close at hand. Yet unification at the universal level itself is out. At the very beginning of the materialization process, a one-time suspension of the unified reality occurred after which unification could only occur among the separated results themselves.

Structural Philosopher

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