The World of Atoms - Philosophy of Presentation

  Larry Curtis

The fundamental nature of our physical universe is now understood in ways that unify our daily perceptions and provide fascinating predictions for future exploration. In contrast, the traditional methods of teaching physics have retraced the historical steps by which false models were first proposed and then rejected. Unfortunately this inductive "voyage of discovery" approach invariably stops short of putting the complete picture together, and makes physics appear to be a large number of disconnected pieces in a multidimensional jigsaw puzzle. Modern concepts are added as if they were paradoxical, making it appear that nothing is really as it seems. In reality, everything is exactly as it seems, if one starts with a correct world view.

An alternative deductive approach will be presented here which begins with a unified (and, initially, exotic) conceptual model for the universe. This model provides a cognitive basis to imagine and describe the various interactions of the very large and the very small, the very near and the very distant, the very fast and the very slow, in the present, past, and future. However, an essential aspect of this approach is to abandon our reliance on the instantaneous positions, speeds, and accelerations. We can replace these quantities (to great advantage) by a "dwell-time pattern" that specifies instead where an object spends the most time and where it spends the least time (much like a photographic time exposure that stands still, yet captures the essence of motion).

Among other considerations, the following questions will be addressed:
  1. How big are things?
  2. How small are things?
  3. How many things are there?
  4. How do things change?
  5. How do things stay the same?
  6. Are things distorted by the way we perceive them?
  7. How can we think about things so that all of this makes sense?