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The Illusion of Mass  

Fundamental to some of the most basic philosophical and spiritual traditions of the world is the concept that “matter” -- the material that makes up what appears to be real to our senses -- is in all respects illusionary.  It is what has been referred to as maya, and has no basis in reality -- other than perhaps as a distraction to humans searching for meaning.           

Physicists refer to matter and the material world by a term called mass -- “a coherent body of matter of indefinite shape” (a definition which might apply to several relatives).  For all extents and purposes, it is mass which makes up the material world, from the mass of incredibly small elementary particles, to the mass of atoms and molecules, to the mass of a set of weightlifter’s barbells, to the mass of any coherent body.  From a combination of these two perspectives (maya and mass), one might consider whether or not the mass defined by physics is also illusionary in the sense of having no fundamental nature.  

From the perspective of modern physics, Puthoff, et al [1] have argued that “the concept of mass may be neither fundamental nor necessary in physics.”  From their perspective, Einstein’s famous formula (in which mass can be equated with via E = mc2) is not about the conversion of one fundamental thing, mass, into another fundamental thing, energy; but rather “a statement about how much energy is required to give the appearance of a certain amount of mass.”  If they are correct in their theorizing, “there is no such thing as mass; only electric charge and energy, which together create the illusion of mass.”  

These authors point out that: “The physical universe is made up of massless electric charges immersed in a vast, energetic, all-pervasive electromagnetic field. It is the interaction of those charges and the electromagnetic field that creates the appearance of mass.”  The means that the apparent weight of any object thought of as having mass, is nothing more than the interaction of electric charges and an electromagnetic field.  This is basically the same as in the concept of Superstrings, where theory suggests that the void (i.e. nothing) forms infinitesimally small strings which wink in and out of existence, but which when focused together begin to make up the so-called mass of elementary particles.  

The distinction between mass being real or illusion is important, in that it provides for gravitational theory to be united with electromagnetic and quantum theory in such a manner as to verify the reality of the “vast, energetic, all-pervasive electromagnetic field.”  This field in turn provides a means for the interconnectedness of all things, the unspecified interaction of matter in Mach’s Principle, and the basis of Connective Physics.  

Inertial and Gravitational Mass  

Mass, from the traditional physics viewpoint, arises from two sources, its inertia and the gravitational attraction of other masses.  This has led in physics to a distinction between inertial mass and gravitational mass -- a distinction which can be easily demonstrated in a simple Experiment.  One can be thought of as resistive force to change in motion (speed and/or direction), while the other stems from an attractive force between masses.  

Gravitation seems a simple concept, wherein two objects with mass are attracted to each other, dependent upon the inverse square of the distance between them, their respective masses, and a Gravitational Constant.  Why these masses are attracted to each other is never really addressed, while the means by which a force connects them -- what physics thinks of as “action-at-a-distance” -- has been under debate since Galileo.  Or longer.  Thus gravity, while experientially easy to deal with -- i.e. no support, one fall down! -- the physics itself is still in flux.  (To add insult to injury, there is evidence from such a diverse field as Hyperdimensional Physics to suggest that the Gravitational Constant... is not a constant, and has changed notably over the eons.  Even some 0.06% in the last twenty years or so!  It may be just a matter of time before “what goes up... stays”, i.e. Levitation and/or the worst fears of the Anti-Gravity Defamation League come true.)  

Inertia’s case, on the other hand, is even more difficult.  Galileo’s attempt was to define inertia as a property of matter that kept an object in uniform motion, unless acted upon by a force external to the object.  Sir Isaac Newton formalized this in his Principia, and in his first and second laws.  His first law is actually a special case of the second, the latter which states that the acceleration (a) -- change in velocity (speed and direction) is proportional to the force (F) applied on the object, and that the constant of proportionality is the mass (m).  I.e. F = ma.  Inertial mass can thus be viewed as the resistance of an object to being accelerated by an external force.  When there is no force, or when the force ceases, the acceleration is zero, and the object moves in uniform motion (maintaining the same speed and same direction).  Massive objects are therefore assumed to resist acceleration because such resistance is an innate property of matter.  It’s a questionable assumption.  

Mach’s Principle  

Newton was never able to his own satisfaction, explain inertia.  200 years later, an Austrian physicist and philosopher, Ernst Mach, tried to explain inertia in what later became known as Mach’s Principle.  This principle assumes, among other things, that “a particle’s inertia is due to some (unfortunately unspecified) interaction of that particle with all the other masses in the universe; the local standards of nonacceleration are determined by some average of the motions of all the masses in the universe, and all that matters in mechanics is the relative motion of all the masses.”  The principle goes on to imply the existence of “interactions between inertia and electromagnetism.”  [2]  

Mach’s Principle can be viewed as an entire universe being altered by changes in a single particle -- much in the same manner as hurricanes and tornadoes occurring in Florida because of an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, or perhaps more aptly, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Peru causing rains in Kansas.  

The means by which such “actions-at-a-distance” can be interconnected (whether through the exchange of elementary particles, or some “unfortunately unspecified” means) has a long history in physics.  It stems originally from Newton’s concept of an Absolute Space, the latter replaced by Maxwell’s “ether”, and more recently theories which encompass Mach’s principle. Ultimately, we are left with the idea that Mach’s Principle implies that the whole universe matters locally.  Furthermore, the interconnecting link of all masses in the universe -- the “vast, energetic, all-pervasive electromagnetic field” -- can now be likely identified as the Zero-Point Field.  State-of-the-art physics is now demonstrating the truth of what sacred traditions have long assumed as an article of faith!  


Connective Physics         Zero-Point Energy        Superconductivity

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle         Sonoluminescence

Forward to:

Experiment         Cold Fusion         Nikola Tesla

Consciousness         Mind-Matter         David Bohm



[1]  H. E. Puthoff, Alfonso Rueda, and Bernhard Haisch, The Sciences (Vol 34, No 6, Nov/Dec 1994, pg 26-31).

[2]  Rindler, W., Essential Relativity, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1977.



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