Matter, Void & the Force Field

Reference: The Physics Book

The classical physics starts with the concepts of matter and void. These two concepts are connected in the sense that void is conceived as the absence of matter. 

Essentially, matter exists and moves within the void. 

Matter is conceived as the substance of the universe. It is concentrated in astronomical bodies. Such material bodies consist of material objects that can be broken down into smaller and smaller material particles. 

The smallest particle of matter is an atom this is considered to be infinitesimally small and spherical in shape. 

The laws of Newtonian mechanics apply to material bodies, objects and particles because they have a center of mass. Without a center of mass there is no material particle.

A material particle down to the atom is defined by a center of mass.

A material object consists of atoms. There is void among these atoms. As this void expands, the form of matter changes from solid to liquid to gaseous. 

All forms of matter—solid, liquid or gaseous—consist of atoms and a void among them.

There seems to exist a sharp boundary between matter and void at macroscopic level. Is that still the case at atomic level?


The Force Field

We observe that the astronomical bodies influence each other from great distances. Newton (1642 – 1726) determined that this influence depended upon the mass of the material bodies and the distance between them. It was described as the force of gravity, and identified as the property of matter. This force could barely be detected between two material objects. But it was postulated to exist between two material particles down to the atoms. 

It was postulated that matter extends itself as the force of gravity throughout the void.

Roger Boscovich (1711 – 1787) developed a concept of “impenetrability” as a property of hard bodies which explained their behavior in terms of force rather than matter. He found that the continuity of force is a necessary assumption for determinism. He, therefore, saw atoms as centers of force.

Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) found that the concept of atoms as centers of force resolved the anomaly of electrical conduction in matter. He notes in his paper, Electrical Conduction & Nature of Matter, January 25, 1844:

“If we must assume at all, as indeed in a branch of knowledge like the present we can hardly help it, then the safest course appears to be to assume as little as possible, and in that respect the atoms of Boscovich appear to me to have a great advantage over the more usual notion. His atoms, if I understand aright, are mere centres of forces or powers, not particles of matter, in which the powers themselves reside.”

Faraday, thus, rejected the notion of “particles of matter surrounded by a system of powers.” He identified a “force field” as the basic substance that was concentrated in the atoms, and which filled the void among atoms.

Faraday defines matter to be essentially a “concentrated force field.”

Faraday further resolved the anomaly of light requiring an impossible ethereal medium by the concept of lines of force extending out from atoms. Essentially, matter, as a force field could thin out as lines of force to fill the void among material objects and bodies. This idea he presented in his paper, Thoughts on Ray Vibrations, April 15, 1846. 

Matter conceived as a force field that could thin out may explain the nature of light, and, possibly, the nature of gravity.

Faraday was convinced that the “conservation of force,” as in force field, could more than replace the principle of conservation of matter. He emphasized this with great intensity in his paper, On the Conservation of Force, February 27, 1857.

The force field may be able to substitute both matter and void as the sole substance of the universe.

Thus, we may look at matter, electricity, light, and heat as different concentrations of force field. Within an atom itself, the force field may exist on a gradient with maximum concentration at the center and least concentration at the periphery.

This hypothesis makes the void a very thinned out force field, and puts matter in continuum with that field while existing and moving within it.

The sharp boundary between matter and void, when looked closely, may be found to consist of a gradient of force.


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  • vinaire  On December 27, 2022 at 8:56 AM

    Faraday’s conception of “force” is different from the Newtonian conception of force. Faraday’s “force” is a substance that may be described more accurately as a “force field.”

    Therefore, “force field” refers to a substance whereas, “force” refers the impact of that substance on our senses.

    I have updated the above post to clarify this differentiation.

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