Next up for assault and reinterpretation in semantic terms is discovery of gravitational waves, which was the major news as the author was writing the book. He clearly couldn’t restrain himself from making this late addition and this probably explains why this chapter gets somewhat fuzzy in the end.
Gravitational waves are not a new theory and their discovery doesn’t affect general relativity in any way but detecting them for the first time was nice. According to general relativity two black holes orbiting each other lose some of their energy in the form of gravitational waves and this amount increases as black holes come closer and closer. This was the first time when our instruments were sensitive enough to catch the wave generated by black holes in the last second of their lives before they collapsed into each other.
The discovery deserves a Noble Prize but the difficulty lies in crediting because people who first showed how it could be done have gotten their Nobels decades ago and the current effort can’t be attributed to any one individual or a group. What made the difference to waves being detected this time lies in increasing equipment sensitivity and that was a financial decision, not an even an engineering one.
Two long tunnels at the right angle to each other were used to shoot lasers and when space contracted due to gravitational waves these tunnels length changed and that caused a change in lasers phases, which was detected from a change in their interference as their waves blended. In short, gravitational waves make space bigger or smaller, and that’s what the book aims to explain from a semantic perspective.
If there’s transfer of information between two nodes of a semantic tree than the node that emitted the information would become “smaller” and the node that received the information would become “bigger”. Not the nodes themselves, I figure, but whatever is branching out of them. More information means more branches, less information means less branches with less details. Information transfer, therefore, would cause expansion and contraction of “space” where by space we must mean “everything that exists from that node down”. This is true for ANY information exchange, not just for gravitational waves.
Then there’s a floating half paragraph about detecting these contractions and expansions on the macroscopic level. I say “floating” because it is not anchored anywhere. What is the threshold for detecting macroscopic addition of information, for example? What would “information” mean in case of space expansion in general relativity? What is it that we are supposed to detect? Instead the book simply says that this information transfer need not be caused by two rotating black holes but it could be created by either a massive transfer of detailed information or a transfer of an abstract from which all these detailed information is produced.
How does that follow? There’s no connection whatsoever. In this case it would be nice to explain how amount of information translates into the size of space. It’s not obvious at all, though as I think about it I can see how what we call “space” can be expressed in terms of information describing it, pretty much like digitized images. I’m still not sure whether space expansion would affect its digital representation or not, or what space expansion actually means. As I understand it’s not about fitting more stuff in it but rather the time it takes light to travel through. Maybe one day I’ll stumble upon a clear explanation of this but today let’s move on with book.
So, it could have been a massive transfer of details or a smaller transfer of abstracts. One deep enough abstract can cause massive changes because it will affect all the contingent details so it’s not the size of the transferred symbol itself that affects the resulting change in size but it’s the type of this symbol. This is clear enough but has nothing to do with detection of gravitational waves, just a general principle.
In gravitational theory there’s an assumption of space made up of physical points and expansion and contraction are changes in the metrics of that space. In semantic theory space doesn’t exist a priori but is constructed from information for each particular point and “physical distance” between points is pointless itself because creation of two points doesn’t mean all points in between have been created as well. I mean we can create this point and that point but they won’t be connected to each other, as gravitational theory assumes.
The unlimited number of points making up straight lines is impossible even from quantum theory point of view and so any theory that supposes this will be inconsistent with quantum physics, which is another reason why general relativity can’t be reconciled with quantum theory and why we can’t create a unified theory of everything.
In the last paragraph the author drives the main point home, which is that in semantic theory there’s no contraction or expansion of space but there are differences in distance between two objects which we can measure semantically and translate into “physical distance”. How exactly it happens is not explained but let me try again.
What we call physical distance is, in fact, a difference between semantic description of two objects. I suppose the location property would be the main difference here but there could be other differences as well. To fill that informational gap a certain amount of information needs to be exchanged and the amount of that information could be expressed as “physical distance”.
What complicates this is that amount of transferred information doesn’t matter as much as its type so that some cosmetic changes to details might require a bigger transfer of detailed symbols while one abstract symbol would change the entire system at once.
At the end of the day another achievement of modern science has been explained in a semantic way, which we should not forget is the good old Sāṅkhya expressed in modern language, and that this approach does away with conflicts between relativity and quantum theory but it needs an induction of a new theory of abstract vs contingent “atoms”. Once we have those we can explain pretty much anything science throws at us.
We, of course, already have this new theory, it’s part of Sāṅkhya, but we need it to be accepted by scientists before they can unify their irreconcilable theories of atomic, macroscopic, and cosmic size objects.