"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex...It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction."
The unified field as Einstein understood it
Let's face it. There really is no mystery to Einstein's Unified Field Theory. What Einstein did was merely to acknowledge in a mathematical sense the unified field nature of the oscillating electromagnetic field (also known as electromagnetic radiation, or light in its most general sense). Yes, that ubiquitous energy of the universe that pervades every nook and cranny of our existence, from the quantum level to the largest scale. Radiation is truly the unified field that Albert Einstein was pursuing all his life, and encapsulated mathematically through his Unified Field Theory.
However, there is a view from Einstein's scientific contemporaries that his work was a failure and there is nothing we can learn from his final scientific legacy. Either that, or he did not complete his work, or so we are told by a number of scientists.
Dr Cornelius Lanczos of the School of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies confirms this current scientific belief about Einstein's final work when he said:
"In the meantime, modern physics continues to grow and advance without taking account of Einstein's unifying attempts and, in fact, denying even the possibility of such an attempt being successful." (2)
Did Einstein complete his work?
After 1917, Einstein wanted to tackle head on the mystery of the gravitational field once again because something wasn't right. The problem of what this gravitational field is continued to affect him. Previously he acknowledged a link between the acceleration of uncharged matter and the gravitational field, which is now encapsulated in Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, published in 1916. However, there is something rather peculiar about light that made Einstein pursue the problem of the gravitational field once again.
At first, Einstein discovered a strange ability for light to move uncharged matter. If you need evidence of this claim, you only have to observe a typical Crookes' radiometer to notice how the sunlight moves supposedly uncharged metal plates acting as "sails" to capture the sunlight. Not only that, but it also includes the ability of light to bend in a gravitational field, much like the way a tennis ball thrown through the air can bend in the same field. Actually, this latter discovery really disturbed Einstein thanks to the results of the experiment by Professor Arthur Eddington (1882 - 1944) to check the validity and magnitude of the light bending effect during a solar eclipse in 1919 as predicted by Einstein's work where he noticed an unmistakable connection between the electromagnetic field and the gravitational field.
Huh? A purely electromagnetic phenomenon that can be influenced by a gravitational field? How is this possible? Or, more accurately, what is in the light to influence the gravitational field, and vice versa?
After realising light can bend in a gravitational field, Einstein became seriously perplexed by this unmistakable connection between the electromagnetic field and the gravitational field, although far more so for himself than for Eddington or any other physicist at the time or since.
After much careful thinking and some sleepless nights, Einstein eventually made the decision to see light as ordinary matter. At first this doesn't seem all that radical to the physicist. Well, to be truthful, there is a reason in Einstein's thinking to look at light along this line. This is the thing. It doesn't matter if you replace light with any other form of ordinary matter, it would make no difference. The same gravitational and ordinary matter effect would exist (i.e., both light bending and the ability to move uncharged matter), and there is no way to discern a difference in this "gravitational" effect. The same is true when light is used in the presence of a gravitational field. Light is influenced by the gravitational field. For all intent, the light is behaving like ordinary matter. But why? What is in the light to affect the gravitational field, and for the gravitational field to affect light?
Well, here is a clue. What does all ordinary matter have as well? As all physicists agree and everyone has been taught in the science classrooms, ordinary matter has, or is known to generate, a gravitational field of its own. So naturally Einstein thought, why leave out the gravitational field from the picture of light? Surely, it must make sense to include the gravitational field with the electromagnetic field. The only thing that remained in Einstein's mind was the type of electromagnetic field to use to influence the gravitational field and vice versa. Since light, or radiation, is an oscillating electromagnetic field, it just makes sense to use the oscillating electromagnetic field as the unified field for his new theory.
It is from this humble beginnings that he formulated the most ambitious mathematical theory ever devised in science: The Unified Field Theory.
But did Einstein fail to complete his work? A rather pertinent question to ask considering how many scientists are willing to vouch for this possibility.
Well, in 1924, Albert Einstein completed the essential aspects of his unification work. After further refinements, the fully completed version was published in 1929 (you can download the paper from the link below, together with a simplified presentation of the theory by Professor Tullio Levi-Civita). So yes, he did finish his work. Since then, Einstein remained confident throughout his life that what he achieved was indeed correct and that all he needed was a mathematical solution derived from the unified field equations for a new special case that can be applied to reality and reveal through experimental testing to be true and so prove the validity of his idea behind his final scientific masterpiece.
The only problem with the Unified Field Theory is the complexity in solving field equations (1), especially in the non-static cases, of which radiation is an example.
But rest assured, there is a way to overcome this mathematical barrier. And we can perform practical experiments to test the concept. But have we solved the fundamental problem of what is the gravitational field? Talk of the gravitational field being linked to the electromagnetic field is one thing. Getting to the source of the original problem of what is the gravitational field has yet to be solved, right? Absolutely. Because it is this very question that led Einstein on a very long quest that would take up the rest of his life. The only remaining question is, did Einstein find a solution?
Or perhaps the real question we need to ask is, do we need the gravitational field to explain the gravitational effects seen in light and other ordinary matter? What if the gravitational field never existed? What then? Can we use another field to explain the same effects in a different way? A kind of new picture of how the universe really hangs together. Now that has to be a radical idea to consider in physics today.
Whatever this gravitational field is, this book explains from a purely electromagnetic perspective how we can explain the gravitational field and how matter clumps together in a process that was originally called the "gravitational" effect. Furthermore, it is now looking like the physicists may be closer to unifying all the forces of nature than they think. All they have to do is bring all the ideas behind each force of nature under the umbrella of electromagnetism, with radiation being the prime mover for all things.