a different perspecive on physics

(Note: this is any­where be­tween crack­pot and in­spiring, based on the peo­ple I talked to be­fore. I am not a physi­cist.)

I have been think­ing about a model of physics that is fun­da­men­tally differ­ent from the ones I have been taught in school and uni­ver­sity. It is not a the­ory, be­cause it does not make pre­dic­tions. It is a differ­ent way of look­ing at things. I have found that this made a lot of things we nor­mally con­sider weird a lot eas­ier to un­der­stand.

Al­most ev­ery model of physics I have read of so far is based on the idea that re­al­ity con­sists of stuff in­side a co­or­di­nate sys­tem, and the only ques­tion is the di­men­sion­al­ity of the co­or­di­nate sys­tem. Rel­a­tivity talks about bend­ing space, but it still treats the ex­is­tence of space as the norm. But what if there were no di­men­sions at all?


If we as­sume that the uni­verse is com­putable, then di­men­sion-based physics, while hu­manly in­tu­itive, are un­nec­es­sar­ily com­pli­cated. To simu­late di­men­sion-based physics, one first needs to define real num­bers, which is com­pli­cated, and re­quires that num­bers be stored with prac­ti­cally in­finite pre­ci­sion. Oc­cam’s Ra­zor ar­gues against this.

A graph model in con­trast would be ex­tremely sim­ple from a com­pu­ta­tional point of view: a set of nodes, each with a fixed num­ber of at­tributes, plus a set of con­nec­tions be­tween the nodes, suffices to ex­press the state of the uni­verse. Most im­por­tantly, it would suffice for the at­tributes of nodes to be sim­ple booleans or nat­u­ral num­bers, which are much eas­ier to com­pute than real num­bers. Ad­di­tion­ally, tran­si­tion func­tions to ad­vance in time would be easy to define as well as they could just take the form of a set of if-then rules that are ap­plied to each node in turn. (these tran­si­tion func­tions roughly cor­re­spond to phys­i­cal laws in more tra­di­tional phys­i­cal the­o­ries)


Model re­al­ity as a graph struc­ture. That is to say, re­al­ity at a point of time is a set of nodes, a set of con­nec­tions be­tween those nodes, and a set of at­tributes for each node. There are rules for evolv­ing this graph over time that might be as sim­ple as those in Con­way’s game of life, but they lead to very com­plex re­sults due to the com­pli­cated struc­ture of the graph.

Con­nec­tions be­tween nodes can be cre­ated or deleted over time ac­cord­ing to tran­si­tion func­tions.

What we call par­ti­cles are ac­tu­ally pat­terns of at­tributes on clusters of nodes. Th­ese pat­terns evolve over time ac­cord­ing to tran­si­tion func­tions. Also, since par­ti­cles are pat­terns in­stead of atomic en­tities, they can in prin­ci­ple be cre­ated and de­stroyed by other pat­terns.

Our view of re­al­ity as (al­most) 3-di­men­sional is an illu­sion cre­ated by the way the nodes con­nect to each other: This can be done if a pat­tern ex­ists that matches these crite­ri­ons: change an ar­bi­trar­ily large graph (a set of ver­tices, a set of edges), such that the fol­low­ing is true:

-There ex­ists a map­ping f(v) of ver­tices to (x,y,z) co­or­di­nates such that for any pair of ver­tices m,n: the eu­clidean dis­tance of f(m) and f(n) is ap­prox­i­mately equal to the length of the short­est path be­tween m and n (in­ac­cu­ra­cies are fine so long as the dis­tance is small, but the ap­prox­i­ma­tion should be good at larger dis­tances).

A di­men­sion­less graph model would have no con­tra­dic­tion be­tween quan­tum physics and rel­a­tivity. Quan­tum effects hap­pen when pat­terns (par­ti­cles) spread across nodes that still have con­nec­tions be­tween them be­sides those con­nec­tions that make up the pri­mary 3D grid. This also ex­plains why quan­tum effects ex­ist mostly on small scales: the pat­tern en­forc­ing 3D grid con­nec­tions tends to wipe out the en­tan­gle­ments be­tween par­ti­cles. Space di­la­tion hap­pens be­cause the pat­terns caused by high speed travel cause the 3D grid pat­tern to be­come un­sta­ble and the illu­sion that di­men­sions ex­ist breaks down. There is no con­tra­dic­tion be­tween quan­tum physics and rel­a­tivity if the very con­cept of dis­tance is un­re­li­able. Time di­la­tion is harder to ex­plain, but can be done. This is left as an ex­er­cise to the reader, since I only re­ally un­der­stood this graph-based point of view when I re­al­ised how that works, and don’t want to spoiler the aha-mo­ment for you.


This is not re­ally a the­ory. I am not mak­ing pre­dic­tions, I provide no con­crete math, and this idea is not re­ally falsifi­able in its most generic forms. Why do I still think it is use­ful? Be­cause it is a new way of look­ing at physics, and be­cause it makes ev­ery­thing so much more easy and in­tu­itive to un­der­stand, and makes all the con­tra­dic­tions go away. I may not know the rules by which the graph needs to prop­a­gate in or­der for this to match up with ex­per­i­men­tal re­sults, but I am pretty sure that some­one more knowl­edge­able in math can figure them out. This is not a the­ory, but a new per­spec­tive un­der which to cre­ate the­o­ries.

Also, I would like to note that there are al­ter­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tions for ex­plain­ing rel­a­tivity and quan­tum physics un­der this per­spec­tive. The ones men­tioned above are just the ones that seem most in­tu­itive to me. I rec­og­nize that hav­ing mul­ti­ple ways to ex­plain some­thing is a bad thing for a the­ory, but since this is not a the­ory but a re­fresh­ing new per­spec­tive, I con­sider this a good thing.

I think that this ap­proach has a lot of po­ten­tial, but is difficult for hu­mans to analyse be­cause our brains evolved to deal with 3D struc­tures very effi­ciently but are not at all op­ti­mised to han­dle ar­bi­trary graph struc­tures with any effi­ciency. For this rea­son, Com­ing up with an ac­tual math­e­mat­i­cally com­plete at­tempt at a graph-based model of physics would al­most cer­tainly re­quire com­puter simu­la­tions for even sim­ple prob­lems.


Do you think the idea has merit?

If not, what are your ob­jec­tions?

Has re­search in some­thing like this maybe already been done, and I just never heard of it?