What was wrong with Einstein's UFT?
J - What do you think the main problem was with all the predictive theoretical work behind the early stages of RAINBOW?
W - For my part, I believe that one of the main problems Einstein was faced with was integrating Maxwell's equations. It's not simply that they fail when powerful fields are employed. I think they have intrinsic errors - even in their application to ordinary fields. So, Einstein was, in fact, lacking an appropriate electrodynamic model and so his treatment of the electromagnetic field cannot be correct. You see, Maxwell's equations can be fitted to what Einstein called 'a skew-symmetrical tensor' that permits their treatment in Euclidean space, but only if we stick to Lorentz's interpretation of those equations for closed circuits. Magnetic intensity never enters into the tensor treatment, only the electromagnetic field and the electric current density do. But as the magnetic field turns out to be a property mediated by the energy structure of the charges - or, what's worse, by the relative mass of charge carriers - the same intensity could have very different field velocities, or the same field velocities could exist for very different energy magnitudes. This connects to another problem - the complete disregard that all of Einstein's attempts at a unified field theory had for the quantum structure of matter.
J - But he did willingly admit this.
W - Yes, little was known about the electromagnetic field of 'concentrated charges'. If inserting a scalar for the density of matter appeared fictitious, replacing it with a tensor of energy per unit volume that was capable of expressing the roles of matter and electromagnetic energy was even more dubious. Moreover, today, I don't believe his formalism can be correct. If the general theory is a matter of physical geometry where it is important to ascertain whether its axioms are true or false by empirical determinations, then its axioms regarding space and time cannot be said to be correct. Metric relations are seen only as the geometric properties of bodies, not as energy relations. Then, there is an assumed priority of topology over metric, as if spacetime had merely a formal order for its points, and as if these points had a real existence that constituted spacetime. Einstein is aware that this simple numbering of spacetime points had no metric significance whatsoever. Space and time remain distinct, he says - so that space is three-dimensional and time one- dimensional - but they are treated as a continuum by the mathematical artifact of a four- dimensional spacetime. Time-like line elements are treated as if they were space-like line elements, as imaginary distances. In the special theory, the coordinates have both metric and topological functions, but in the general theory they only perform a topological function and do not permit any calculation - by means of co-ordinates - of the interval or the distance between any two points. The metric functions are performed, instead, by the metric tensor g, made up of 16 components, 4 components per imaginary dimension. For a theory that wanted to derive the metric properties of spacetime from the content of this spacetime, from the energy of the continuum, this formalism would seem quite arbitrary!
J - It sounds to me like the failure of mathematical formalism divorced from empirical data - but wasn't it also, and more profoundly, a failure of field theory? Above all, I wanted you to answer this question --
W - You mean failure of Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein --? Which? All of them? Perhaps - hmmm, perhaps they all failed, if by field you mean these topological lines of force that to this day lack any physical reality. But, if you mean 'field' as a discrete zone of activity formed by some energy flux - following the intuition that energy generates forms, that energies act in concert and there is continuity of energy and media - no, the failure cannot be taken as anything other than the failure of specific field theories. I'd much rather say that the scientific objective should be understanding the morphology of energy systems, not replacing them with ad hoc topologies. Einstein pushed a formal concept as far as it could go. But 'field' without energy - and without considering energy properties - is not a viable approach, if you see what I mean...?
J - And he failed.
W - ...because he had no direct way to connect metric systems with the structure of energy. When he thought 'structure of energy', he always thought the influence exerted by the average density of matter upon the metric structure of space. His theory of the total field could never go beyond topology - could never extract the metric relationships that are inherent to the structure of energy, could never get at energy morphology. Space without matter might well be subject to acceleration, but that can only be because it cannot be void of energy. If spacetime is determined by its energy content, then the metric has to be intrinsic to that content. It cannot be arbitrary. To know the structure of the energy would be to know its metric. Einstein was likely correct in assuming that gravitational fields still exist in space without matter, but he could only introduce an energy density tensor by reducing energy to electromagnetic energy and its main field component, matter. So he proceeded to develop his unified theory with a provisional 'energy tensor of matter' that was strictly an electromagnetic field function. Despite all these shortcomings, a perception was created after the war - in the public, the media and in the scientific community - that, with his unification of the gravitational and electromagnetic fields, Einstein had succeeded in finding the key to the physical understanding of the universe. Announcements of this "profound discovery" were carried by major newspapers, such as The New York Times, in January of 1950. And that is the perception that remained throughout the '50's.
J - Yes, it's the second time you bring this up, but you've never really explained why you think it happened - besides the obvious 'feel good' effects for our sense of national pride?
W - Maybe it was also a signal of sorts... I like to think that it was the aftermath of the original RAINBOW.
J - How so?
W - Shortly after the war, Infeld left Princeton to go to the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto (22). There he concentrated on the problems raised by a unified treatment of magnetism and gravitation, in light of the emerging field of nuclear magnetic resonance. Now, earlier in that same year of 1950 (23), at the height of the Cold War, Infeld defects to the Soviet block, to Poland, with all the work that he'd done in that field. Which is why Reich printed these news pieces in his Einstein Affair, in '53.
J - The implication being that, all along, Infeld was a Stalinist spy.
W - Quite so, there can be no doubt about it. So the signal to the Soviets appears to have been - "you've got Infeld but we've got Einstein and, meanwhile, our Einstein has solved the problem, thank you very much" - which he hadn't, of course.
J - Face-saving - yet later, as nowadays, it became commonplace to think that his UFT was ill-fated - so was this just posturing, Einstein hadn't resolved anything after all?...
W - Well, it's claimed that all three of the acid tests that Einstein suggested would provide proof for the general theory, have now confirmed it. But the theory of the total field has never been proven and the ill fate of the early RAINBOW is there to remind us that its predictions were deeply flawed. Are you beginning to see now why it was obvious to me that Reich's orgone theory wasn't at all compatible with Einstein's approach to the unified field?
J - Yes, but not yet fully...
W - Look, if the continuum is one of massfree energy, it cannot be treated by a mere topological representation in 4 dimensions...Einstein considers gravitational fields as exclusively questions of topology, and the only energy he recognizes is electromagnetic and has inertial effects. To speak of curving light in a gravitational field is just another way of saying that light carries weight and inertia. Reich discovers a massfree energy that has no inertia and will permit us to engineer space. The notion of a spacetime continuum is foreign to Reich. Einstein's relativity abolished the notion of simultaneity, Reich's work with pendulums and periodic motion restores simultaneity and brings it back to questions of energy. Einstein's special theory treats photons like fibers of light that propagate across space, and later his general theory treats them as geodesics. What use would Einstein have for a theory, like Reich's, that claimed that light or photons propagate by 'orgonotic excitation', or that they are the 'lumination' property of orgone? Electromagnetic fields may well be consequences of a unified field - but this would not even begin to tell Einstein how such consequences arise. And now that we're on this one - what did Reich ever think he wanted with relativity, a theory that made metric subordinate to light, Time subordinate to Space, and invoked time-dilation and length-contraction?
J - I see now - so the riddle...
W - The Riddle, yes, the riddle is a double one - that Einstein, despite the negative results of RAINBOW, stubbornly refused to realize that the electromagnetic field is secondary to the primary orgonotic properties of massfree energy fields. He couldn't really understand Reich for the same reasons that he couldn't understand the early RAINBOW results. There too, if I'm right, what that underlying massfree field did was never understood. The other side of The Riddle is that Reich himself didn't know enough about his own work at the time to realize that it really wasn't at all compatible with Einstein's approach to a UFT, or to really be of any help to Einstein in his quest for a UFT. That realization only came later, some time before '53.
J - Maybe the whole story teaches us something about seeking approval for new ideas from established authorities --
W - Or about the openness of scientists or science in general. Now imagine that you're a car mechanic and by way of some sort of time-machine you drop in - equipped with toga, manners, Latin and all - on an ancient school of charioteers. Suppose further that they're perplexed by this automobile that was dropped, on some earlier occasion, on some patrician's estate. If you want to explain to them what this car is and how it works, you must first get them to listen to you. But you are not a charioteer, they've never seen your mechanical or driving prowess. They simply won't listen to you. You must first become a charioteer, and then they might listen. Now suppose you set out to become a charioteer, you go through the motions, year after year, until they will listen to you. And, if you're lucky, one day they do - and you compress for them the knowledge that led to the internal combustion engine across 20 centuries of history. They might even be disposed to listen at first - but soon enough they'll throw you out of there, or kill you, if you're unlucky. They'll be absolutely certain that you are speaking nonsense. Yet, you could be telling them a profound truth! Major discoveries in science often suffer this fate - the peers ignore them, there is intention to suppress, the discoverer is scorned, poor replications are carried out. Why? - you might ask. Because the reaction of most people when confronted with having to learn something new that is complex, is to feel threatened and insulted while doubting its veracity. People don't like to change their ways nor to be told that they're wrong, or worse still, be proven wrong! That is the real answer to the riddle.
J - That's almost what Reich himself said over and over...
W - Uh-huh, but it gets worse - for I believe that, in the end, people admired Einstein for the very same reasons that they ridiculed Reich: they didn't understand either of them. When the physicist Harold Urey from the OSRD asked Infeld why one couldn't use the "master theory" to resolve problems such as those posed by RAINBOW, Infeld answered condescendingly - "Like Chinese, you must first learn the alphabet". And you know what? Urey replied, "Had I bothered to read it, I would still not have understood it!" So clearly, he hadn't! And no one - neither Infeld, nor Einstein nor any of the FDA physicists -- ever presented evidence to contradict Reich's experimental claims. Not even in 1953, when Reich felt the FDA tightening its noose around his neck and finally published almost all of his correspondence with Einstein, in a booklet called The Einstein Affair. A thousand copies were printed by the Orgone Institute Press - without asking any authorization from Einstein himself. But from Einstein's side, came not a whisper.
J - That's where The Riddle text comes from, right?
W - Quite so. But Einstein appears to have betrayed Reich's confidence well before then. A German physician, Dr. [E.] Jacobsohn, claimed in '47 that Einstein had told her that he'd been unable to reproduce Reich's findings - which would have been exactly the same lie that Infeld had been spreading and that the FDA was clinging onto. Don't forget the other significant event in this story - Reich's final arrest and imprisonment in 1956.
J - No, I won't - but, Einstein appeared to have broken Reich's confidence in '47...?
W - That is what the record shows. And you know, that's how one knows about these little conspiratorial chapels - they always leak insidious rumors while suppressing overt publication of what was or was not said. With the beginning of the Cold War, Einstein lost many friendships. But you are right, yes, Reich's real mistake was to have sought approval from the authority of "great men", people like Freud and Einstein. But if he hadn't, we might never have known the truth about Einstein, heh?
J - I don't get you - it's apparent that his Unified Field Theory failed, but Special and General Relativity are well established, you said so yourself. Reich was unable to do anything that would shake this - it stands to this day.
W - I mean the truth beyond the pretensions of the physics establishment. And the proof is visible - they no longer seek to understand gravity or antigravity through unified field theory, but through all manner of 'quantum' hypotheses about gravitons, conversion of electron-positron annihilation, infinite energy of the zero-point, and so on. The basic understanding of the structure of matter that Einstein lacked, is still missing - and we are still stuck on the dogmas of the topology of spacetime, and have gleaned little else about gravitational fields.
J - So, there were no positive, direct outcomes from RAINBOW - aside from the U- 2 business and such like?
W - No, there were - as you see - even direct ones, hmm, but not that way - not with respect to the unified field hypothesis. For one, you have NMR and all the benefits - including medical ones - that have come from it...
J - Yes, you're right --
W - ...and for two, you've got a major triumph for Lorenzen's Section in '44: when radio-controlled bombs were launched against Allied ships in the Mediterranean, in late '43, the Navy captured a Henschel-293 glide bomb like the one that destroyed the Rohna in November. This was an integral part of RAINBOW, with similar ship support protocols but entirely different setups. Lorenzen's Section employed a two-destroyer system to record, magnetically, on steel wire, the German steering signals and to analyze the frequency shifts. His renamed Special Projects Section was able to jam the German radio signals, and even successfully usurp the frequencies - so that the Luftwaffe was deluded into thinking that the guidance system was faulty and unfriendly. The war was made and won by these small victories, and they often came from comprehensive investigations in basic science, even incomplete or unsatisfactory ones. In fact, when it comes to this, we should take our hats off to people like Bowen, Gunn, Hulburt, Gebhardt, and so on, for the simple reason that before and during the war, they always pleaded the case of basic science, and never entirely succumbed to the logic of research only for direct military use. But they were all heavily penalized for it, too.
J - Extraordinary... I do very much want to thank you for shedding so much light on these troubling matters. I'm sure it took a great deal of courage to come forward - I know, I know, you feel you're close to the end of your life, you've told me, and - you believe that the truth must be told, that too many lies and injustices have been committed to prevent it from getting out.
W - The Navy's denial has always bothered me - it seemed to be protecting Einstein's reputation, and us from his failure. But then Allen's letters and their timing, and the unnecessary death of Jessup and what was done to Reich, they too, bothered me greatly. Maybe one day you'll release this information?
J - Yes, though I wonder who will listen to me?
W - Yes, who?
J - I have one last question - if you don't mind. Einstein's last texts on the unified field problem, I believe in '53, do they address his failures?
W - Yes, they do - there is some serenity that can be read in them, and there is a parting line where he states unequivocally that all of his efforts did not succeed in coming up with a model of the real continuum, and that maybe, somewhere, there lurks a more fitting theory, one that will succeed in describing reality with a purely algebraic approach (24). Do you know what is the greatest irony of all in the riddle of the meeting between Reich and Einstein?
J - No, tell me!
W - When they met, Reich thought that he had something to contribute to the unified field, but he hadn't - as he later realized, because his discovery was not compatible with the unified field, nor did it need it. But by the time Einstein concluded that his entire life's work might have to be superseded by a purely algebraic theory, Reich was in fact laying down the basis for one. He never systematized it or completed it, but supposedly, while in jail, he was working on a book entitled Creation in which he was providing an integral mathematical presentation. Apparently, that book was burned in '57 by the prison authorities after Reich died from a very suspect heart attack. Why these authorities burned Reich's manuscript instead of giving it back to his family, has never been answered. Certainly I, for one, don't know of anybody who has succeeded in creating such a purely algebraic theory. What's more, I believe that nobody is even looking for one."