Bob shared the following article about the nature of fields after one of our discussions about the nature of physical reality.

Within our current physics models Fields cause measurable/observable physical effects at a distance.

How can this be?  How can a “cause” at a space-time “point” create the “effect” at another space-time point?  Within our current physics models  we assume there is some medium for “propagation”, but we don’t know what it is—even within a vacuum.  Is there a better way to understand the nature and limitations of field equations?

Yes, but to do so we need to start with different assumptions about how reality works to create any kind of “change” in our measurable/observable physical world.

The first thing we must realize is that “time” and “space” are attributes of what we observe as the “changes” take place in our measurable/observable physical world.  In particular, we only get a sense of time because something like the hands of a clock or the atomic state of some atom has changed.  Space appears as an inescapable attribute within the manifestation of our objective physical world as a result of the relationships (including separation) that essentially define our objects.   Relationships between anything we can describe within or outside of space-time are independent of space-time attributes.

Our models that evolved by observing change assume that the cause of the change must be explainable within the model—even though there is growing evidence that this is not so within current physics.  It has become clear that time and space are not fundamental “dimensions”, but rather a historically developed bookkeeping framework we use within our current physics models, for characterizing attributes of change.   In so doing, we infer elaborate, but contrived, ways to relate the “effect” associated with a change to a “cause” of it that is totally within the modeled activity.

These are fabulously great models that mankind has laboriously created as a framework for trying to understand the physical world we live in and how it works—but at the core, they are based on an assumption that nothing apart from the physical phenomena being modeled can in a sequence of changes be a causative agent.  They forget that one cannot prove a negative—and in this instance, that means that they can’t prove that something else might be the causative agency.

Leaving the detail for a later time, there is a growing amount of evidence to establish as fact that our current physics models cannot explain that evidence.  The models describe physical phenomena in a way that is both incomplete and misleading.  We must therefore create new ways to characterize how change takes place, and how therefore to improve our current models.  If we are to make some sense about what is a field, there must be a way to explain both compatibility and incompatibility between the old and the new model.  There is a reason current models have evolved the way they have, and that reason should be understandable within a new model.

So, without going into more detail than is necessary to improve our understanding of what a Field is, we start with the compatibility aspect.  The nature of change at the smallest levels of current models is represented within quantum physics (QP).  QP represents how all change in our Universe takes place in small discrete increments of change.  There is no agreement within QP as to how those equations can be interpreted to describe a greater reality.  There is general agreement, however, that the outcome of the change at each incremental step of change is indeterminate to some extent

We know that a very important “limit” of what can be said within QP is defined by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, (HUP).   In short, there is a limit represented by the Planck time, space, and energy beyond which we cannot within our models say anything definitive as to how any change in our physical world might be characterized within those current models.  Our representation becomes “fuzzy”—at best—if and when we consider exceedingly small increments of change.  According to QP, an operational definition of “fuzzy” is “probabilistic”.

For instance, consider our matter of “what is a field?”  Let’s explore the view from a new, or extended, model of how a field might be viewed.

As with all else, any and all change represented by field phenomena are quantized within our current physics models.

Keying off the HUP, without abandoning that idea of compatibility, we are permitted to accept until proven otherwise that the physical world we measure/observe sort of “blinks” in and out at that Planck limit.   That is compatible with the current physics support for change to take place in discrete steps.  And, that Planck “rate” of change within our space-time representation is the basis for our measurement of “the speed of light”, as “light” has meaning within our physics models.

We can even maintain that compatibility when introducing a difference in how those steps are viewed.  We can use a terminology that makes clear that all we really know must be referenced from a “now”—say the state of the physical world at any such step.  We can then think in terms that each “now” has a prior state, and in the inherent probable sense, a subsequent state—with the words “prior” and “subsequent” replacing  the assumption that time is fundamental and that the “past”, current, and “future” steps occur solely with the passage of the “time” variable within current models.  Prior and subsequent mean just that, there is no time inference.  The relationships of the world at a “now” instance had a set of prior relationships and we like to talk about the highly likely subsequent set of relationships about which we only have probable possibilities to consider.  To make predictability even more uncertain, we don’t even know what all can influence those possible subsequent states.  This characterization of “change” requires no assumption about an arrow of time.

So, back to the idea of a field.  The field equations are supposed to provide us a way to measure the degree of change “caused” by that field at some distant location in time and space, assuming nothing else interferes.  But, our equations within current physics models require that every subsequent state of the world must be potentially subject to some unknown influence as represented by the indeterminacy within QP.   We can limit the options for the nature and extent of change represented by our current models, but that does not make them deterministic.

Thus, without going into further detail, we can say that:

A Field is essentially a probability function relating to a possible subsequent change in the state of affairs of some space-time relationship within the measureable/observable world assumed and represented within our current physics models.  It is not deterministic, and therefore is not an assertion of cause and effect.  We cannot know for certain or limit the source(s) of the influences relating to change.

The foundation upon which this assertion rests is entirely compatible with commonly accepted (mainstream) physics, but without some of the inherent assumptions that commonly go along with that mainstream understanding.