by     Reginald O. Kapp



The hypothesis is defended that the laws of physics are not restrictive in the sense in which laws in statute books are. The laws of physics, it is claimed, neither require nor prohibit any specific number, event, condition, property, configuration or other feature. They permit everything to occur that is logically consistent with all observable facts and that is, in this sense, logically possible. This can be expressed by saying that every valid generalization in physics can be so stated that the term 'any' or 'either' occurs in its formulation: Examples are - 'A solar system may contain any number of planets. A nuclear particle may carry any number of unit charges up to the stability limit. Space may conform to any geometry. An indivisible particle may carry either a positive or a negative unit charge.'
It is shown that physicists have often acted on this hypothesis in the past and that, when they have done so, progress has been made towards the unification of physics. Conclusions have, nevertheless, sometimes been based on the alternative hypothesis that the laws of physics are of the statute book kind, though perhaps inadvertently. These conclusions have had to be abandoned later in favour of non-specific ones. In this respect, it is claimed, physics differs basically from all other disciplines, including biology. The hypothesis defended here is given the name 'Principle of Minimum Assumption'. It is declared to be the most basic of all the principles of physics. If it is applied with uncompromising consistency, it precludes every ad hoc explanatory hypothesis of a specific kind. For if the Principle of Minimum Assumption holds for the whole of the physicist's universe of discourse, it must be theoretically possible to infer all other generalizations in that universe from this principle without the need for any other hypotheses.


It is shown that there is a choice between nine different assumptions about the duration of matter and energy. They are all hypothetical and five of them have had the support of various authorities. These hypotheses are discussed critically and tested for their conformity to the Principle of Minimum Assumption as also for their consistency with known facts. It is shown that, with one exception, each of them can be supported only with the help of a substantial number of additional ad hoc hypotheses. The exception is the hypothesis that any elementary component of the material universe may originate at any moment of time and become extinct at any moment of time. It is called the Hypothesis of the Symmetrical Impermanence of Matter. It is shown not to be an independent hypothesis but an inference from the more basic one called the Principle of Minirnun Assumption.

The Hypothesis of the Symmetrical Impermanence of Matter is tested for its consistency both with what is known about causation in physics and with the conservation laws. It is shown that origins and extinctions have to be regarded as uncaused events in the same sense in which the disintegration of a radio-active atom is regarded as an uncaused event. To accept Symmetrical Impermanence is therefore not to change the physicist's present conception of the nature of causation. It is also shown that this hypothesis is not inconsistent with the conservation laws when these are given the form that expresses precisely the use to which they are put; but these laws have come often to be imprecisely worded and can then seen to refute Symmetrical Impermanence. It has to be emphasised that, according to Symmetrical Impermanence, origins and extinctions are absolute and not accompanied by the conversion of energy from one form into another. Extinctions are, therefore, not accompanied by release of any energy.


According to the Hypothesis of the Symmetrical Impermanence of Matter, new matter is originating everywhere. In a region large enough to be a fair sample of the whole material universe the rate of origin per unit volume is constant. Hence most origins occur in extragalactic space. The resulting atoms of hydrogen find themselves in the very faint gravitational potential gradients that are caused by existing nebulae. The atoms experience accelerations that, though very small by terrestrial standards, continue for sufficient periods of time to lead to large velocities and to displacements of matter over large distances in large quantities. If Symmetrical Impermanence is true, these faint gravitational potential gradients determine the distribution of matter in extragalactic space. The gradients are discussed in detail and the expression used to describe them is 'astronomical landscape'.

It is shown that the detailed features of the astronomical landscape are such that new clouds must form in extragalactic space at finite intervals of time and eventually acquire the characteristic shape of the spiral nebulae, including the spiral arms. One should expect the formation of these to be accompanied by turbulence in a very large quantity of very tenuous gas and to be revealed by a radio-telescope. Some of the radio-stars that have been observed in regions remote from any visible nebula may be incipient nebulae at the stage at which their spiral arms are formed.


It is shown that our understanding of gravitation is more defective than that of most natural phenomena and eight questions of major significance are listed to which answers cannot yet be provided. Among these is why an accumulation of inert mass is the source of a gravitational field. A new theory of gravitation is provided that gives an answer to this questtion as well as to the other seven. This theory is based on two physical principles. One is the Symmetrical Impermanence of Matter, the other the relativistic concept of curved space.

If the new theory is true, a particle does not carry an extensive gravitational potential gradient around with it, as has hitherto been supposed. The gradient occurs only as a consequence of the extinction of the particle and as a momentary pulse. Gravitation is quantized and could be described as the swan song of matter and not, as supposed by tradition, as its signature tune.

It is pointed out that the formation of stars from a tenuous gas and their rotation are both more difficult to explain than is often supposed. Indeed, no tenable explanation has hitherto been provided for either. It is shown that, if gravitation is quantized and the pulses in a very tenuous gas are significantly intermittent, the formation of stars as well as their rotation and the rotation of the spiral nebulae can be accounted for.


It is inferred from sundry known facts that the half-life of matter is of the order of 4x108 years. This means that the mass of the Earth, and with it the value of g, is and has been continuously becoming smaller.

Astronomical, geological and biological implications of this finite half-life of matter are worked out and it is shown that it helps to explain a number of facts that have, hitherto, defied explanation. If the mass of the atomic nucleus is a region of intensely curved space the hypothesis of a nuclear force in order to explain the cohesion of the nucleus is shown to be unnecessary. It is concluded from this that the units becoming extinct are electrons and complete atomic nuclei.

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