The existence of
quasars strongly suggests that we are dealing with phenomena that present-day
physics is at a loss to explain. Perhaps we are making fundamentally wrong
interpretations of some data or it might indicate that there are laws
of physics about which we know nothing yet.230 (Gerrit Verschuur)
The most obvious
and most striking feature of the quasars, the point that has focused so
much attention on them, is that they simply do not fit into the conventional
picture of the universe. They are mysterious, surprising,
enigmatic, baffling, and so on. Thus far it has
not even been possible to formulate a hypothesis as to the nature
or mechanism of these objects that is not in open and serious conflict
with one segment or other of the observed facts. R. J. Weymann makes this
The history of the
our knowledge of the quasi-stellar sources has been one surprise after
another. Indeed, almost without exception, every new line of observational
investigation has disclosed something unexpected.231
of this situation is that long before the quasars were discovered, there
was in existence a physical theory that predicted the existence of the
class of objects to which the quasars belong, and produced an explanation
of the major features of these objects, those features that are now so
puzzling to those who are trying to fit them into the conventional structure
of physical and astronomical thought. Although the application of the
theory of the universe of motion to astronomical phenomena was still in
a very early stage at that time, nearly a quarter century ago, the existence
of galactic explosions had already been deduced from the basic premises
of the theory, together with the general nature of the explosion products.
knowledge was far behind the theory. At the time the first edition of
this work was published in 1959 the study of extra-galactic radio sources
was still in its infancy. Indeed, only five of these sources had yet been
located. The galactic collision hypothesis was still the favored explanation
of the generation of the energy of this radiation. The first tentative
suggestions of galactic explosions were not to be made public for another
year or two, and it would be three more years before any actual evidence
of such an explosion would be recognized. The existence of quasars was
unknown and unsuspected.
circumstances, the extension of a physical theory to the prediction of
the existence of exploding galaxies, and a description of the general
characteristics of these galaxies and their explosion products was an
unprecedented step. It is almost impossible to extend traditional scientific
theory into an unknown field in this manner, as the formulation of the
conventional type of theory requires some experimental or observational
facts on which to build, and where the phenomena are entirely unknown,
as in this case, there are no known facts that can be utilized.
steps have to be founded on observational data. Where no data base exists,
the logic of theory alone provides no help.232 (Martin Harwit).
general theory, one that derives all of its conclusions from a
single set of basic premises, without introducing anything from any other
source, is not limited in this manner. It is, of course, convenient to
have observational data available for comparison, so that the successive
steps in the development of theory can be verified as the work proceeds,
but this is not actually essential. There are some practical limitations
on the extent to which a theory can be developed without this concurrent
verification, as human imagination is limited and human reasoning is not
infallible, yet it is entirely possible to get a good general picture
of observationally unknown regions by appropriate extensions of an accurate
theory. The subject matter of the next six chapters of this volume, the
phenomena of the final stages of the life of material galaxies, provides
a very striking example of this kind of theoretical penetration into the
unknown, and before we undertake a survey of this field as it now stands,
it will be appropriate to examine just what the theory of the universe
of motion was able to tell us in 1959 about phenomena that had not
yet been discovered.
We have seen
in the preceding pages of this and the earlier volumes that the structure
of matter is such that it is subject to an age limit, the attainment of
which results in the disintegration of the material structure and the
conversion of a portion of its mass into energy. Inasmuch as aggregation
is a continuing process in any region of the universe in which gravitation
is the controlling factor (that is, exceeds the recession due to the progression
of the natural reference system), the oldest matter. in the universe is
located where the process of aggregation has been operating for the longest
period of time, in the centers of the largest galaxies. Ultimately, therefore,
each of the giant old galaxies must reach the destructive age limit and
undergo a violent explosion or series of explosions.
At a time
when there was no definite supporting evidence, this was a bold conclusion,
particularly when coming from one who is not an astronomer, and id reasoning
entirely from basic physical premises. As expressed in the 1959 edition:
While this is apparently
an inescapable deduction from the principles previously established, it
must be conceded that it seems rather incredible on first consideration.
The explosion of a single star is a tremendous event; the concept of an
explosion involving billions of stars seems fantastic, and certainly there
is no evidence of any gigantic variety of supernova with which the hypothetical
explosion can be identified.
The text then
goes on to point out that some evidence of explosive activity might be
available, as there was a known phenomenon that could well be the result
of a galactic explosion, even though contemporary astronomical thought
did not regard it in that light.
In the galaxy M 87,
which we have already recognized as possessing some of the characteristics
that could be expected in the last stage of galactic existence, we find
just the kind of a phenomenon which theory predicts, a jet issuing from
the vicinity of the galactic center, and it would be in order to identify
this galaxy, at least tentatively, as one which is now undergoing a cosmic
explosion, or strictly speaking, was undergoing such an explosion at the
time the light now reaching us left the galaxy.
to predicting the existence of the galactic explosions, the 1959 publication
also forecast correctly that the discovery of these explosions would come
about mainly as the result of the large amount of radiation that would
be generated at radio wavelengths by reason of the isotopic adjustment
process. The conclusion reached was that
Objects which are
undergoing or have recently (in the astronomical sense) undergone such
[extremely violent! processes are therefore the principal sources of the
localized long wave radiations which are now being studied in the relatively
new science of radio astronomy.
the theoretical study published in 1959 made the following predictions:
- That exploding galaxies
exist, and would presumably be discovered sooner or later.
- That radio astronomy would
be the most probable source through which the discovery would be made.
- That the distribution of
energies in the radiation at radio wavelengths would be non-thermal.
- That the exploding galaxies
would be giants, the oldest and largest galaxies in existence.
- That two distinct kinds
of products would be ejected from these exploding galaxies.
- That one product would
move outward in space at a normal low speed.
- That the other, containing
the larger part of the ejected material, would move outward at a speed
in excess of that of light.
- That this product would
disappear from view.
- That the explosions would
resemble radioactive disintegrations, in that they would consist of
separate events extending over a long period of time.
- That because of the long
time scale of the explosions it should be possible to detect many galaxies
in the process of exploding.
In the quarter
century that has elapsed since these predictions were published, the first
three have been confirmed observationally. Evidence confirming the next
five is presented in this work. The information now available indicates
that the last two are valid only in a somewhat limited sense. We now find
that the predicted long series of separate explosions are supernovae in
the galactic interiors preceding the final explosion of the galaxy. and
that the latter is an event resembling a boiler explosion. There is evidence
that the products of the supernova explosions do actually build up in
the central regions of the galaxies over a long period of time, as suggested
in item 10. This evidence will be discussed at appropriate points in the
pages that follow.
In one respect
the 1959 study stopped just short of reaching an additional conclusion
of considerable importance. Inasmuch as one of the products of the galactic
explosion is accelerated to speeds in excess of that of light. it was
concluded that this component of the explosions products would be invisible.
This is the ultimate fate of almost all material ejected with ultra high
speeds, including the galactic explosion products. However, the subsequent
finding that the galactic explosion occurs when the internal pressure
in the galaxy becomes great enough to break through the overlying structure
means that the ejected material comes out in the form of fragments of
the galaxy—aggregates of stars—rather than as fine debris. These fragments
are subject to strong gravitational forces. and even though the speeds
imparted to them by the explosion exceed the speed of light, the net
speeds after overcoming the oppositely directed gravitational motion are
less than that of light for a finite period of time. It follows that,
although the fast-moving component of the explosion products will finally
escape from the gravitational limitations and move off into the unobservable
regions, there is a substantial interim period in which these objects
are accessible to observation. Here, of course, are the quasars, and this
is how close the theoretical study came to identifying them years before
they were found by observation; a point that is all the more worthy of
note in view of the fact that conventional theory still has no plausible
explanation of their existence.
out in the discussion of the pulsars in Chapter 17, what was actually
accomplished in this area in the original investigation reported in 1959
was to predict the existence and properties of the class of objects
to which both the pulsars and quasars belong. The properties defined in
that publication are those which are shared by all objects of this class.
All are explosion products. All have speeds in the upper ranges, above
the speed of light. All are moving outward, rather than being stationary
in space like the related intermediate speed objects, the white dwarfs.
Except for the few, such as those discussed in Chapter
17, that lose enough speed to reverse direction and return to the
material status, all ultimately disappear into the cosmic sector. What
the original investigation failed to do was to carry the theoretical development
far enough to disclose the existence of two different kinds of objects
of this class, one originating from the explosion of a star, the other
from the explosion of a galaxy.
features of each type of object are due to the differences between stars
and galaxies. The quasar is long lived because it is ejected from a giant
galaxy and is subject to powerful gravitational forces. The pulsar, on
the other hand, is ejected from a relatively small object, a star, and
is initially subject to little gravitational restraint. It is therefore
short lived. The many evolutionary features of the quasars have no counterparts
in the life of the pulsar because that life is too short for much evolution.
Conversely, although the pulsed radiation that is the most distinguishing
feature of the pulsars undoubtedly exists in the quasars as well, it is
unobservable because the individual pulsations are lost in the radiation
from millions of stars that have entered the pulsation zone at
As the information
in the foregoing paragraphs demonstrates, the theoretical exploration
of the galactic explosion phenomenon carried out prior to 1959 and reported
in the book published in that year, well in advance of any observational
discoveries in this area. supplied us with a large amount of information
which, as nearly as we can now determine on the basis of existing knowledge'
is essentially correct. This is a very impressive performance. and it
demonstrates the significant advantage of having access to a theory
of the universe as a whole, one that is independent of the accuracy—and
even of the existence--of observational data in the area under consideration.
conventional astronomy has been baffled. It has been unable to arrive
at any definite conclusions as to what the quasars are, where
they are, or how their unusual properties originate. The following is
an assessment of the existing situation taken from a current textbook
The most accurate
assessment of the quasar problem is that no satisfactory explanation has
been found for the existence of these objects, whose puzzling properties
place them beyond the limits of current astronomical knowledge.233
In this connection,
it should be noted that the difficulties which conventional theory is
having with the quasars—those difficulties that have made quasar
almost synonymous with mystery—are not due to any lack of
knowledge about these objects, but to too much knowledge; that is, more
knowledge than can be accommodated within the limits of the existing concept
of the nature of the universe. It is easy to fit a theory to a few bits
of information, and the scientific community currently claims to have
a sound theoretical understanding of a number of phenomena about which
very little is actually known—even about some phenomena that we now find
are totally non-existent. But by this time a great many facts about the
quasars have accumulated. As a consequence, orthodox theory is currently
in a position where any explanation that is devised to account for one
of the observed features of the quasars is promptly contradicted by some
other known fact.
There is no
light on the horizon to indicate that a solution of the existing difficulties
is on the way. More and more data are being gathered, but a basic understanding
still eludes the astronomers. A review of the situation in 1976 by Stritimatter
and Williams included this comment, which is equally appropriate today:
In general this [the
large amount of information accumulated in the past seven years] has led
to new problems related to the QSO's, rather than to solution of the many
long-standing problems associated with these objects. The QSO's remain
among the most exciting but least well-understood astronomical phenomena.
the principal obstacles that have stood in the way of an understanding
of the quasar phenomena are not difficult and esoteric aspects of nature;
they are barriers that the investigators themselves have erected. In the
search for scientific truth, a complicated and difficult undertaking that
needs the utmost breadth of vision of which the human race is capable,
these investigators have gratuitously handicapped themselves by placing
totally unnecessary and unwarranted restrictions on the allowed thinking
about the subject matter under consideration. The existing inability to
understand the quasars is simply the result of trying to fit these objects
into a narrow and arbitrary framework in which they do not belong.
Most of these
crippling restrictions on thinking result from a widespread practice of
generalizing conclusions reached from single purpose theories. This practice
is one of the most serious weaknesses of present-day physical science.
Many of our current theories, both in physics and in astronomy, are in
this single-purpose category, each of them having been devised solely
for the purpose of explaining a single set of observed facts. This very
limited objective imposes only a minimum of requirements that must be
met by the theory, and hence it is not very difficult to formulate something
that will serve the purpose, particularly when the prevailing attitude
toward the free use of ad hoc assumptions is as liberal as it is in present-day
practice. This means, of course, that the probability that the theory
is correct is correspondingly low. Such a theory is not, in the usual
case, a true representation of the physical facts. It is merely a model
that represents some of the facts of the physical situation to
which it applies. When conclusions derived from such a theory are applied
to phenomena in related fields, the inevitable result is a distortion
of the true relations.
The most damaging
of these generalizations based on far-reaching extrapolations of conclusions
derived from very limited data is the pronouncement that there can be
no speeds greater than that of light. For some strange reason, the scientific
Establishment has decreed that this product of a totally unsubstantiated
assumption must be treated as Holy Writ, and accepted without question.
Thou shall not think of speeds greater than that of light,
is the dictum. The conservation laws may be questioned, causality may
be thrown overboard, the rules of logic may be defied, and so on, but
one must not suggest that the speed of light can be exceeded in any straightforward
Using a theory
of this highly questionable nature as a basis for laying down a limiting
principle of universal significance is simply absurd, and it is hard to
understand why competent scientists allow themselves to be intimidated
by anything of this kind. But the iron curtain is almost impenetrable.
There are a few signs of a coming revolt against strict orthodoxy. Some
investigators are beginning to chafe under the arbitrary restrictions
on speed, and are trying to find some way of circumventing the alleged
limit without offering a direct challenge to relativity theory. Tachyons,
' hypothetical particles that move faster than light, but have some very
peculiar ad hoc properties that enable them to be reconciled with relativity
theory. are now accepted as legitimate subjects for scientific speculation
and experiment. But such halfway measures will not suffice. What science
needs to do is to cut the Gordian knot and to recognize that there is
no adequate justification for the assertion that speeds in excess of the
speed of light are impossible.
By an unfortunate
coincidence, a universal principle, recognition of which would have avoided
this costly mistake, has never been accepted by physical science. Most
other branches of thought recognize what they call the Law of Diminishing
Returns. which states that the ratio of the output of any physical process
to the input does not remain constant indefinitely, but ultimately decreases
to zero. The basis for the existence of such a law has not been clear,
and this is probably one of the principal reasons why scientists have
not accepted it. In the light of the theory of the universe of motion
it is now evident that the law is merely an expression of the fact that
the status of unity as the datum for physical activity precludes the existence
of infinity. Zero may exist as a difference between two finite quantities,
but there is no simple zero, and there are no infinities in nature.
physicists realize that they are dealing with too many infinities. If
we put all these principles [the known principles of physical]
together . . . we get inconsistency, because we get infinity for various
things when we calculate them, 235 says Richard Feynman. But the
physicists have not conceded the existence of the universal law that bars
all infinities, and they have allowed Einstein to assume that the
relation F = ma extends to infinity. (This, of course, is the assumption
on which he bases his conclusion that the limiting zero value of a corresponds
to an infinite value of m.)
conclusions derived from other single purpose theories have compounded
the difficulties due to the arbitrary exclusion of speeds greater than
that of light from scientific thought. The accepted explanation of the
high density of the white dwarfs cannot be extended to aggregates of stars,
and therefore stands in the way of a realization that the high density
of the quasars results from exactly the same cause. Acceptance of the
Big Bang theory. of the recession of the distant galaxies, a theory designed
to explain one observed fact only, prevents recognition of the scalar
nature of motion of the recession type, and so on.
result of the proliferation of these single purpose theories is that it
places a barrier in the way of correcting errors individually. the step
by step way in which scientific knowledge normally advances. Each of these
erroneous theories applicable to individual phenomena rests in part on
equally erroneous theories of other phenomena, and has been forced into
agreement with those other theories by means of ad hoc assumptions and
other expedients. Correction of the error or errors in any one
of these interlocking theories is unacceptable because it leaves that
theory in conflict with all others in the network. Scientists are naturally
reluctant to make a wholesale change in their theories and concepts. But
when they have maneuvered themselves into the kind of a theoretical position
that they now occupy in the area that we are discussing, there is no alternative.
Elimination of errors must take place on a wholesale scale if it to be
done at all. The broad scope of the revisions of astronomical thought
required by the theory of the universe of motion should therefore be no
It is true
that correction of a multitude of errors in one operation leads to theoretical
descriptions of some phenomena that are so different from previous views
that it might almost seem as if we are dealing with a different world.
But it should be remembered, as we begin consideration of the quasar phenomena,
the terra incognito of modern astronomy, that the criterion of scientific
validity is agreement with the observed facts. Furthermore, the acid test
of a theory, or system of theories, is whether that agreement, once established,
continues to hold good as observation and experiment disclose new facts.
Of course, if the theory can predict the observational discoveries,
as the theory of the universe of motion did in the case of the galactic
explosions and a number of the features of the products thereof, this
emphasizes the agreement, but prediction is not essential. The requirement
that a theory must be prepared to meet is that it must be consistent with
all empirical knowledge, including the new information continually
being accumulated. This is the rock on which so many once promising theories
theories have survived only with the help of ad hoc assumptions to evade
conflicts. This currently fashionable expedient is not available to the
Reciprocal System of theory, which, by definition, is barred from introducing
anything from outside the system; that is, anything that cannot be derived
from its fundamental postulates. But, as can be seen in the pages of this
volume, this new system of theory has no need for such an expedient. The
principal elements of the new observational information acquired by the
astronomers during the last few decades have all been identified with
corresponding elements of the theoretical structure without any serious
difficulty, and there is good reason to believe that the minor details
will likewise be accounted for when someone has time to examine them systematically.
It has been
necessary to extend the theoretical development very substantially,
not only to account for the facts disclosed by the new observations, but
also to deal with areas not covered in the original investigation. That
original study was not primarily concerned with astronomical phenomena
as such, but rather as physical processes in which the physical principles
derived from the theory could be tested in application under extreme conditions.
In this present volume the objectives have been broadened. In addition
to using astronomy as a proving ground for the laws and principles of
fundamental physics, we are using these laws and principles, now firmly
established, to explain and correlate the astronomical observations.