Returning to the point, it is interesting to take this mass-centric view of systems and reverse it. For example, why is a nucleus considered to be the functional center of an atom? Is it possible, for example, that there is instead a linear link of information between the electron shell and the quarks which actually defines all the phenomena we have attributed to the Bohr model of atomic phenomena?
Mass, indeed, is a human experiential notion which successfully serves us in estimating efforts. We can number it and multiply the numbers thereof, calculate force and acceleration and terminal velocity. But we cannot say clearly what mass IS. It appears to be a spatial phenomenon.
The critical transition to free-energy economics which is our next great cultural hurdle may totally depend on our technical ability to work up friendly answers to this question. If mass is a function of space, then we have to answer the question of what space is. No-one from Plato to Hubbard or from the cave-artists to Michelangelo has left an answer to this one. The closest answer we have is that space is a viewpoint of dimension.
In modern college courses we are taught that space is the view we have of distances between objects.
Neither of these answers is satisfactory, and this inability to recognize the functional nature of space is the ultimate lock on scientific progress. Because our systems of measure all derive from a postulated uniformity of space, and because they have brought us so remarkably far in the advance of technology, it is understandable that we assume space IS the way we measure it. It is axiomatic that if you measure something a certain way long enough you will believe that it IS that way.
It is also a global invisible assumption that space has a lack of personality, a complete neutrality, an absent-ness to it which provides the background for all sorts of somethingnesses to occupy our attention. Partly this is because we are habituated to seeing through light waves, and therefore defining things relative to them.
Light waves do not reflect or refract from space; therefore space is nothing. Wonderful, idiotic analysis, but the kind of blind spot we are all heir to, of the sort which gave birth to the 'humors' version of circulation.
Well, what is the alternative? If space is actually more than nothing, what is its nature and quality?
We can approach this question from the fringes by looking at what space DOES. It enables all sorts of material phenomenology. Essentially, space makes EMF radiation possible, provides a backdrop for inertia and momentum and differing distances to exist, offers a uniform measure of existence itself, and a sort of medium in which all the communication links we have (including physical perception) (perhaps short of direct spiritual linkages, whatever they are) occur.
We are fond of speaking of inner space, outer space, going within, and so on. It should be considered that inner, outer and other delineations of space may not be the proper target; that the conquest of various spaces depends first on the conquest of space itself as a phenomenon.
Freeman Dyson quotes the wonderful differentiator Weichert, a nineteenth century visionary among physicists, who said
'We have to abandon the idea that by going into the realm of the small we shall reach the ultimate foundations of the universe. I believe we can abandon this idea without any regret. The universe is infinite in all directions, not only above us in the large, but also below us in the small. If we start from our human scale of existence and explore the content of the universe further and further. we finally arrive, both in the large and in the small, at misty distances where first our senses and then even our concepts fail us.'
Dyson brings Weichert out of his obscurity for good reason -- an effort to deflect the massive mainstream of associative thought which characterizes scientific thought in the school of Newton and Einstein, whom Dyson Freeman characterizes as integrators and unifiers rather than differentiators. Weichert is the ultimate differentiator, and as such he threatens unsettling boundlessness to those whose impulse is to corral and predict the phenomenological universe.
It may be that when the mystery of participative influence is resolved it may find itself holding hands with Weichert and Dyson, by announcing to us all that in taking on a view of any dimension, we add thereby to the space of it, and in doing so, multiply the phenomenological patterns it may bring back to our curious view. This is something like being entranced by the power of the writing in one's own manuscript, and borders unsettlingly on the mystic; but for physicists these are not new sensations and may even be the earmarks of truth unfolding.