Dewey B. Larson
755 N.E. Royal Court
Portland, Oregon 97232
Feb. 21, 1982
I am perfectly willing to change any part of what I have written if it will help to make my statements more understandable, but the changes that you are suggesting are not in order because they alter the meaning. I say that a charged object is actually moving, but it is represented in the reference system as stationary. Its motion, I then say in the sentence that you are questioning, “appears as motion of the interacting objects.” Here I am using the word “appear” in the sense in which it means “to become visible.” But in your proposed revision you are using “apparent” in the sense defined as “to seem what it is not.” This turns my meaning upside down. I am not trying to say that there is an apparent motion of the interacting objects. I say that they do actually move relative to the reference system in order to represent the motion of the electric charge, which exists, but is not represented in the reference system.
This is the essence of the whole situation. What I find is that all of the problems that have arisen in previous attempts to understand the nature of the electric charge and gravitation have been due to a failure to recognize that the seemingly stationary charged and gravitating objects are, in fact, moving, and that, since they are represented as stationary, their motion has to be attributed to other objects.
I will concede that there is a certain amount of conceptual difficulty involved in getting used to the idea that an object that is stationary in our conventional reference system is actually moving. But if the true situation had been easier to grasp it would have been recognized thousands of years ago. That is why I have spent so much time on the balloon analogy. Here is an example that certainly can be understood by anyone who actually gives it a try. It is easy enough to see that every spot on the balloon is moving in exactly the same manner. And it is likewise easy to see that the distance between a spot X and another spot Y continues to increase as the balloon expands in exactly the same way and at exactly the same rate if spot X is placed on the floor as it did before the balloon was placed in this position. It follows that the motion of X now appears in the context of the reference system as a motion of Y.
What I have tried to do is to explain that the charge is analogous to spot X. The charge, too, is moving, and that motion has to show up somewhere. When I say that it “appears as motion of the interacting objects,” this is exactly what I mean. If “appears” seems to be subject to misinterpretation, we could say “manifests itself,” or “becomes visible,” or something of that nature, but the wording must be such that it does not change the meaning.
The situation with respect to the statements on page 16 is essentially the same. Here again I have said exactly what I mean. I don’t mean that gravitation can be viewed as a motion; I mean that it is a motion: a distributed scalar motion. And I am simply saying that mass is a measure of the magnitude of that motion (irrespective of how that magnitude is measured in practice). Furthermore, since I have explained the charge situation in some detail (by means of the balloon analogy), I don’t believe that repeating the explanation in application to gravitation serves any useful purpose. However, since you have raised the issue, there may be some merit in distinguishing more clearly between the concepts of “gravitation” and “mass.” Perhaps the lack of a clear enough distinction here has something to do with your objections. The two sentences that you quoted from page 16 could be replaced with this:
Mass, like charge, is a distributed scalar motion that is not recognized as a motion by present-day science. Gravitation is an aspect of that motion; that is, the gravitational force is the force aspect of the motion that is called mass, just as the electric force is the force aspect of the motion that is called charge.
Since this lengthens the paragraph, it would probably be advisable to start a new paragraph with the sentence beginning “Magnetostatic phenomena...” If you have some further ideas on these matters after reviewing the points I have made in this letter, I would be glad to consider them.
I have no objection to a change in the title of the article if the editor feels that something else would be more effective, although I believe that the definition of “blind spot,” as I find it in my dictionary, is an accurate characterization of the kind of defect that, as I am pointing out, exists in one area of current theory. This definition (Merriam-Webster) is: “An area in one’s discernment where one fails to exercise understanding, judgment, etc.” If the editor suspects that her readers might not appreciate the significance of the term, the definition could be quoted, either as an introduction or in a display.