Feynman, Physical Law, Locality Of Conservation

This is a 2 hour 47 minute reading of a book, Feynman The Character of Physical Law.

I find it fascinating in general, but also in the specific that at about 1:52:00 he states that conservation of charge in specific and all conservation laws in general, are only local. A person in motion will not see conservation of charge (or other conservation laws). This makes Conservation Of Momentum or Conservation Of Energy depend on your point of view compared to the localization of the event. Something to contemplate.

At 2:0:40 he goes over Conservation Of Energy in some depth. He points out that it is not just a matter of counting, like the conservation of baryons or charge. Overall, it seems that even with conservation of energy, it is terribly hard to account for all of it (and that alone is a potential for usable variation).

I love the point where, after some discussion starting at 2:18:30, he states near 2:20:28 that “If you thought before that science was certain, well, that is just an error on your part”. So much for “The Science is settled”!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to Feynman, Physical Law, Locality Of Conservation

  1. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – there’s also a transcript at http://people.virginia.edu/~ecd3m/1110/Fall2014/The_Character_of_Physical_Law.pdf for people like me who absorb information better by reading than hearing.

  2. David A says:

    Maybe covered here before;
    Turning light into matter

  3. jim2 says:

    OK, there must be more to this:
    ” A person in motion will not see conservation of charge (or other conservation laws).”

    We are zipping around the Sun at 19 miles per second and yet, we do experiments showing charge is conserved.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Our studies demonstrate a Universe that works in 3 dimensions over time. The phenomena of charge in motion demonstrates a 3 dimensional nature that takes place over time. Relative motion of observer to the observed seems to effect the outcome of our research. Relative motion is not only external, It is internal as well.
    Even communication is relative to our abilities and experience. As we search for understanding we look for clues that are obvious, as well as those that are hidden, often in plain view. ..pg

  5. Eilert says:

    Western science has some huge holes:

    One of them being that energy can exist in a vacuum, without an underlying substratum, on which it can act.
    It was forced to come to this conclusion, since they through out the Aether, because the Michelson Morley experiments did not show the expected results. The reality was that they through out the ‘baby with the bath water’. They had the wrong hypothesis what the Aether actually is (postulated as an innert, passive medium). All that the experiments did show, that this hypothesis was wrong and not that the Aether did not exist.
    This is also the reason that they do not have a theory what gravity, shown to be ‘Action at a Distance’, actually is. If there was a medium between objects, the action at a distance can easily be explained.

    Manny of the holes in science can be attributed by the use of Calculus (a very useful tool if it is used properly), in a indiscriminate way, which resulted that points and lines were treated as physical objects, which they never can be.
    The way western science approached the space from the whole Universe to the Atom and sub atomic particles, is by subdividing the space into ever smaller units, with the eventual end point a Point (singularity) in space, instead of halting the subdivision at the point were space is still a three-dimensional entity.
    Had they done it the other way round, by axiomatic postulating that there needs to be an fundamental indivisible three-dimensional entity, which then assembled into wide variety of conglomerates;they could explain a huge number, possibly all, phenomena in the Universe. They probably would have discovered even more, then we know about now.

    Here is a book:
    ‘Secret of Sankhya – Acme of Axiomatic Unification Part I + II By G. Srinivasan’
    Part 1:http://www.kapillavastu.com/uploads/SecretofSankhyaAcmeofAxiomaticUnification.pdf; Part II:http://www.kapillavastu.com/uploads/Secret_Sanhya_Part_2.pdf,
    which decodes an age old Vedic Sanskrit text called ‘Sankiya Karika’ by Maharishi Kapila, which does just that.
    (I do not know if the book was ever finally published. I cannot find a published copy. This is a copy of a work in progress and has a lot of errors)
    More Info here:http://www.kapillavastu.com/

  6. jim2 says:

    I read up a bit on the ‘non-local’ conservation. From what I can tell, RF means there is no such thing as ‘non-local’ conservation laws because there is no observer located on a uniquely defined reference frame because no unique reference frame can be defined. All reference frames are relative to some entity or another (could be the entity is an observer). I.e. there is no ‘ether’ that acts as a unique, universal reference frame.

  7. Steve C says:

    Another resource is Feynman’s Physics lectures at Caltech.

  8. Simon Derricutt says:

    Jim2 – non-local conservation would lead to paradox, unless there is an absolute rest frame in the universe. If the universe is actually limited in extent, then logically there will be a centre of mass we can define that doesn’t move. An unlimited-extent universe won’t have that “rest frame”, of course. Despite the attempts to get rid of the Aether concept, it keeps coming back with a different name, from Einstein’s spacetime to the Higgs field, so in current theory space does have a structure and properties and a rest frame is not excluded though of course specified not to exist.

    Since the Michelson-Morley experiment had the same start-point and end-point, then it would be impossible for it to detect first-order effects in Aether movement, and could only see second-order effects and above (dependency on v², v³ and so on), which would be far smaller. As such, I suspect it’s inconclusive as regards velocity relative to any proposed rest frame or Aether. Maybe better to say we don’t know, therefore.

    As a thought-experiment, consider a hot body being observed by two observers coming from different directions. One observer will see blue-shift on the photons heading towards him and red-shift on those going away, and since the emission of photons is uniform and the momentum of a blue photon is higher than that of a red one, he’ll conclude that the body should be decelerating slightly in his frame. The other observer will decide that the acceleration is different. A bit of a paradox, but solved with an absolute rest frame. It may be possible to experimentally verify this, since methods of measurement have improved a lot.

    Another paradox exists with the equivalence of gravitational attraction and acceleration, where the idea is that if you were in an enclosed box then you can’t tell if you are on the ground at 1g or in space accelerating at 1g. However, given that light is bent by gravity with twice the curvature than an acceleration, you can in fact tell the difference between the two situations just by shining a laser across the box and measuring the drop. It’s a very small effect though for reasonably-attainable gravitational fields and accelerations.

    Yep, I tend to look for some small deviations from theories being exactly true, and maybe some of them are really too small to worry about, but some of them may have visible (and usable) effects. As our capabilities of measuring things becomes better, then it seems almost certain that some things we thought were absolutely true will show measurable differences from what we expect to happen, and thus require tweaking of the theory or even a completely new idea. A new theory may make some things appear possible that we thought were impossible, and suggest experiments that will demonstrate that as well. Feynman understood this, too, and only regarded current theories as the best we know so far. He read Alzofon’s theory early on and liked the ideas in it, which adds a bit of weight to the need to run the experiments and see if the predictions pan out. Sadly, Feynman died before Alzofon had completed the work, so history may have been different if he hadn’t.

  9. jim2 says:

    SD – The Michelson-Morley experiment was interpreted as one would interpret the behavior of a sound wave in a fluid. If light behaved that way, it would be expected that when light is traveling the same direction as the ether, the measured velocity would be c+v, were v is the velocity of the ether with respect to the instrument. If moving against the ether the measured velocity would be c-v. This is analogous to what happens to the speed of sound in air, a first-order effect and certainly detectable.

  10. Simon Derricutt says:

    Jim2 – the reflections between the mirrors mean that the light spends as much distance at c+v as at c-v, and so the first-order differences almost-totally cancel out. For any situation where we start at one point, split the light, and recombine it at another point to generate fringes, this will be true. It would also be true with waves in water where the water is flowing, though of course getting the waves plane would be a little difficult. Where you’re talking about sound waves in moving air, this is easily measured, but if you set up an equivalent to the interferometer then it wouldn’t be, since again the distance travelled with the speed-up is the same as the distance with the speed-down leaving a very small difference in arrival-time. The method is flawed. Funnily enough, though, if the experiment is done with light moving in opposite-direction circles rather than a straight cross, then you can see a significant difference due to the rotation of the Earth, and this is used in optical-ring “gyroscopes” to measure absolute angular rotation. This will of course be absolute in relation to the rest of the universe.

    I recall reading somewhere that someone tried a different method and came up with the result that we’re moving at around 400 miles/second (IIRC) in the direction of Sagittarius, but I didn’t chase that one up to check on the details of the experiment and whether it was a reasonable result. I think that was mentioned in one of the Aether theory sites, which do have a lot of questionable data. Lots of theorising, but the ideas contain paradoxes that they somehow haven’t noticed. For example, they use the equations of fluid dynamics to explain inertia, and haven’t noticed that those equations depend on inertia in the fluid, so they’re explaining inertia by positing an uber-inertia in the Aether instead. Not good. I had a flurry of emails a few months ago by an Aether theorist who was trying to convince me of his theory, so did some reading around at the time. I ended up with the position that there is most likely something that permeates space, and that the Aether theorists are not totally wrong, but that it’s different than they think it is. More data once I’ve tested Alzofon’s experiments and see whether they work, and if they work then the Aether may be seen as the “tail” of all the matter in the universe, so becomes real matter/energy that is very diffuse. Much the same as the QM view of the probability distribution, except that we’d be saying that it’s actually matter/energy rather than a mathematical probability function.

  11. jim2 says:

    SD – measurements are made at two orthogonal orientations. The paths are not equivalent unless there is no “ether effect.”

    Here is a good explanation of the apparatus and why it works:


  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    I saw one glaring error in the basic concept that the Michelson/Moorely experiment was designed around,
    They assumed that Aether flowed through their experiment. Not true, Gravity and mass/inertia causes a boundary layer effect, around the earth, in the Aether. Therefor no flow of Aether in the experiment. We know of this layering causes “lensing” of light around massive bodies.
    Linear acceleration or gravity, a static charge difference within Aether, surrounds Mater and is the feature we see as mass/inertia….pg

  13. Simon Derricutt says:

    Jim2 – the crosswise versus lengthwise looks like a second-order effect to me. There’s also the point that what you should see as you rotate a single set of mirrors around would be a shift of the path as you go from inline with the Aether to crossways, but you need a laser for that to get a fine-enough spot to measure. Still, I’d forgotten that triangular path lengthening the crossways path no matter what direction the Aether flow was.

    Still, though I grew up with the knowledge that Aether doesn’t exist and the MM experiment proved that (or, as I later learned, put a lower limit on the relative speed), there’s also the Mach effect and thus the possibility that we are affected by the Rest of Universe (RoU) as regards inertia and angular inertia, and then there’s the probability field of a particle in QM, the Higgs field and a few other things that point to something like the Aether existing that needs to be somewhat-attached to the particles that create it. In this picture, what could be termed the Aether would be a superposition of all the mass/energy tails of all the particles in the accessible universe (that is, up to the Hubble radius). Things beyond that horizon can’t affect us, so whether there is anything there or not is a moot question.

    In this picture, obviously the Aether would be made up of a very large number of matter/energy tails which will be relatively moving but with the net effect being closely tied to the concentrations of matter that are more local. We should thus see annual changes in the precise location of distant stars, and in fact this does happen. I’ll see if I can find the data on that – some time since I read that and I didn’t realise it might be important.

    Thanks for talking on this, since that made me realise another part of the puzzle that I hadn’t seen before. The data was there, but I hadn’t seen where it fitted. This picture would of course explain the null result on Michelson-Morley, as well, since instead of being a sort of fluid that is dragged (or not), the Aether would be composed of many components that all move independently as the particles that generate them move. As I’ve noted before, if there’s more “stuff” in a location, then time should run slower (since all processes would run slower) and thus we’d produce gravity because time was slower, rather than gravity being the cause of time running slower.

    I’ve no idea yet whether the picture is right. I’ll need to run Alzofon’s experiment to see if that works, and if so the hypothesis is that we’re removing the “tail mass/energy” in a volume of space and thus causing nodes in the other particles mass/energy tails to have to occur there. As Feynman said, take a guess and try the experiment that either disproves it or shows it’s provisionally right.

  14. Simon Derricutt says:

    pg – it looks to me that we’re coming to the same result from different directions. Still, it’s making it seem more likely that the experiment may actually succeed. Too many things seem to come together using Alzofon’s ideas, and though that doesn’t necessarily means he was right it may be close enough to give us cheap access to space pretty soon. That would be amazing.

  15. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Simon; It certainly appears we “see” the same picture. Just a few differences in the I keep description of the picture we see.
    I keep thinking that the solution is fairly simple once we fully grasp the problem….pg

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    Most of our electrical/electronic training centers around external effects of induction on the RoU and internal effects in capacitance. I think the key is in the external effects of capacitance on the RoU…pg

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Mike; I think we will soon need that secure IM system…pg

  18. Simon Derricutt says:

    pg – I’m doing this pretty-well in the open, since most people will dismiss it as crackpot and thus not worth worrying about. As regards Fred Alzofon’s papers, they’ve been out in the open since 1981 and 1993, and aren’t marked as secret. Pay the money and buy them, or sneak them via other methods. David’s book has enough information to do the experiment, and is available to anyone from Amazon. The new idea about Aether (thanks, Jim2) of superpositions of a lot of individual fields gives a satisfying reason why the MM experiment was null, whereas other ideas posit some sort of fluid that has the properties of a fluid (though maybe superfluid). With the field superposition idea, that fits with the QM picture of probability function for a particle too, and that idea seems to be well-accepted. That slight shift from being a mathematical function to being something that’s real and tangible makes a lot of difference. It still begs the question of what exactly is waving, but I’ll leave that to someone else to figure out. For the moment, getting the experimental test done and seeing if it really works is a reasonable step that doesn’t look too hard to do. I’m after all an engineer and not a theoretical physicist, though I can look at the theory and see how we can apply it. If it works, it works.

    I’ll reserve the right to call it something other than Aether, though, since there’s a lot of baggage with that name. It remains that empty space has properties, though, and the question is whether we can modify those properties.

    Though the maths is somewhat opaque to me, Fred’s picture of how things work is surprisingly simple when you boil it down. It’s all waves in fields, which we reckon as particles where the waves are strong and waves where it’s weak, and since the waves are in 3 dimensions + time we need more dimensions in the maths to describe it mathematically. May be more dimensions available, too, but I’m not worried about that since I can’t see them.

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Just last night I was fishing around on how to set it up. Found several good pages. The major issue is that there’s 3 major technical choices (IPSEC vs OpenVPN vs Racoon) and then the install process varies with SystemD present vs SysVinit based. There’s some other hair on it too in that various other parts can be “choices” too.

    Oh, and my “outside server” is an Alpine build so “different” from either Debian or Devuan… So while I liked this clean script / example; I’m not so sure it is what others need:


    This claims to be a “just click it” script that does all the build on a Pi, but I’ve not tested it (yet) to see if it has a systemD dependency, a SystemVinit dependency, or flexible no-dependency:


    Then this one from 2013 is most likely not tuned for SystemD but for the older Wheezy Debian SystemVinit and is a pretty good “recipe” but not “GI Proof” enough IMHO. (That is, it takes some tech chops and fooling around to fix any surprises…)


    So I’d figured that today I’d do a bit more “prior art” searching, then test that PiScript and see where it works / if it works; and then make some decisions.

    But feel free to “hit the links” and see what things look like to you. Even though I’m not fond of SystemD, it would be quite reasonable as an expedient solution to use the PiVPN script on “whatever” it works on (SystemD or SysVinit). Then deal with the hair of getting the “best” one on Devuan.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and FYI, the potential search space (looking for the desired product) is large, and many have gone dormant (see list in link) so choosing wisely matters:

    But the good thing is lots of folks care about this and are making solutions.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    This one looks interesting:

    RetroShare is an free and open-source peer-to-peer communication and file sharing app, based on a friend-to-friend network built on GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). Optionally, peers may communicate certificates and IP addresses from and to their friends.

    Retroshare creates encrypted connections to your friends, which reduces the likelihood of surveillance. Retroshare is completely decentralized. This means there are no central servers. Retroshare provides independence from corporate systems and centralized servers which might shut down or change their terms of services at any time.

    RetroShare is built completely without any corporate or state sponsors. It is not dependent on funding, and thus is able to operate without outside influence.
    There has been an unofficial build for the single-board computer Raspberry Pi, named PiShare, since 2012.

    The web site ‘PRISM Break’ has recommended RetroShare for anonymous file sharing since 2013.

    On November 4, 2014, RetroShare scored 6 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s secure messaging scorecard. It lost a point because there has not been a recent independent code audit.

    But this is wandering off topic for this thread. I think maybe after breakfast I’ll put up a P2P Comms Posting and link back to places where these such discussions have been posted.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; I have come to the understanding of this situation: “A man must know his limitations” dirty harry

    While I grasp the fundamentals of what you are doing, I’m in over my head in the execution.
    A tutorial on the system would be useful but I think buying fully Installed system SD chips from you to plug into the required equipment would be a better solution. Something to think about. Security could be builtin. Any clone systems would be the same. …pg.

  23. Pingback: F2F – Friend To Friend Networking | Musings from the Chiefio

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