Robert Brison


I have hypothesized that a single quantized entity in nature inevitably led to the evolution of two very different perceptions: time and space. I will call this entity “tise” and its quanta “tisons.” If we could observe tisons, they would appear to travel in a straight line at the velocity of light. In this concept, tisons are the carriers of all electromagnetic energy. The energy quanta exchange among tisons whenever the energy is redirected in any way. Although conceptually very different from the spacetime of Einstein's relativity theories, the tise concept is, I submit, internally consistent and may not conflict with either relativity theory in respect to predictability. This concept could ultimately lead to a unified theory of physics by eliminating the fundamental conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics and by permitting background-independent formulation of string theory.


This paper is not written in the language of science, i.e. mathematics. However, according to Sachs (p.3), “… it is a lesson of the history of science that the pace of progress in the development of the mathematical language of science has never kept up with the pace of progress in our discoveries of scientific concepts.”

I am neither a physicist nor a mathematician, but a retired engineer with a long-time interest in the nature of space, time and gravitation. I arrived at this novel concept of space and time in 1985 and submitted manuscripts on the subject to Physical Review Letters in 1991 and to Nature in 1993. Both were rejected.

In 1991, I met and corresponded with a noted physicist, Asim O. Barut (1926-1994). He wrote, in part:

“I do not see anything wrong with entertaining the concept. But as a working physicist I do not know what to do with it. Should we reformulate physical theories? If you could formulate a bit more concretely (and possibly mathematically) how we can use the concept, I think it might lead to something.”

I have now developed the concept more concretely, but the mathematics would be far beyond my capability and I suspect might be challenging even for a mathematical physicist.

By publishing this on the web, I hope to make the concept available to those physicists and philosophers of science who may be receptive to considering this paradigm-nonconforming view of space and time. I was encouraged in this pursuit by Brian Greene's book “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” in which he stresses the critical importance of striving for a fundamental understanding of space and time in order to resolve the incompatibility between large- and small-scale physics. He states, for example, (p.6) that "fully understanding space and time has become physics' most daunting problem..." And in Mendel Sachs' web site, Sachs writes: “I strongly believe that it is essential to resolve this problem of the dichotomy between the quantum and relativity theories before we can make any genuine progress in physics.”

People have long puzzled over the basic nature of space and time. The philosopher Kant proposed over 200 years ago that space and time do not really exist but are “intuitions” or perceptions imposed by our own minds. In the early 1900s, Minkowski and Einstein found that space and time are interchangeable and replaced them with spacetime for rigorous scientific purposes. In 1986, Szamosi discussed in vivid detail how the perceptions of space and time evolved from the beginning attempts of primitive life forms to make sense of their world to become the modern firmly entrenched ideas of space and time. In this paper, I describe a specific concept of the nature of the source of our space and time perceptions, along with some of the concept's implications, in the hope that others, much more qualified than I am, will pursue the conceptual and mathematical development.

The Concept

Space and time are great inventions of the mind to help it comprehend the world, at least in the scale range of our experience. But what could be the source in nature that led to the evolutionary development of these two tenacious and extremely useful perceptions? I have hypothesized that a single entity in nature , which, for convenient reference, I will call “tise,” underlies both of these perceptions. Tise is all of what we perceive as space and time. Tise is comprised of infinitesimally small quanta, which I will call “tisons.” I introduce the words “tise” (from TIme SpacE) and “tison” reluctantly, but necessarily, because tise is conceptually very different from the spacetime of modern physics.

If we could somehow observe tisons, they would appear to us to travel in a straight line at the speed of light. In a sense, we can observe them as light rays, which, in this concept, are comprised of energized tisons. (To be more precise in reference to this concept, I should use the term “speed of tisons” rather than “speed of light," but will stay with the latter, more familiar, term.)

Although tise is based on probability rather than determinism, it may not conflict with the predictability of relativity theory as discussed later, and, on a small scale, it may ultimately offer a solution to the need for background-independent formulation of string theory.

In this concept, tisons are the carriers of light and all other electromagnetic energy. A light photon, for example, may then be considered as a string of tisons energized by a quantum of light. Neutrinos, in this concept, also consist of energized tisons. Although tisons are too small to ever be detected, we can visualize tise simply by seeing light in a new and radically different way. Instead of thinking of light as energy quanta emitted from a source such as a lamp, we can visualize it as energy quanta transferred from the source to the innumerable tisons passing through the source in every direction. Tise, then, is what radiates throughout the universe, and radiant energy is composed of energized tisons. Electromagnetic energy then has no inherent velocity and the term “radiation” takes on a different meaning. It is tise that radiates; energy gets a free ride.

In the generation of electromagnetic waves by an antenna, whenever a charged particle is accelerated, it is said to radiate energy. In the tise concept, it simply releases energy to tisons passing through in all directions.

This question naturally arises: how can tisons be carriers of energy if tisons appear to travel in straight lines at the velocity of light while energy is so easily redirected, slowed or absorbed? In this concept, energy quanta exchange among tisons whenever the energy is redirected by any means, such as reflection, refraction, diffraction or dispersion. The tisons maintain their directions as the energy transfers to other tisons having the new directions of the energy quanta, or as the energy quanta are slowed or absorbed while passing through any form of matter. Just as certain electromagnetic energy (e.g. light) quanta are released by matter and, in this concept, transferred to tisons passing through, other arriving energy quanta are absorbed by matter.

If space and time are not part of nature, why do we perceive them? As the brain evolved various perceptions of energy such as color and "solid" matter, it also evolved the perceptions of tise as space and time. Assuming that the tise concept is valid, I cannot imagine any different result of evolution of its perception in conscious beings with senses such as ours. Certainly, because such beings could not sense tise or tisons in any way, evolutionary development of direct perception of the nature of tise would be impossible.

Because of our ingrained evolved perceptions, it is not easy for us to visualize space and time, on a small scale, as different perceptions of a single entity. However, let us consider that we have no difficulty in thinking of the distance to a star in a time-related term, i.e. light-years.

Tise is, of course, entirely different from the discredited static ether concept of old. Tise is the dynamic fabric of the universe. In the following text, I will discuss the tise concept as not only an alternative to the concept of spacetime, but also as a quantized modification of both special and general relativity.

Although the tise concept may be indistinguishable from the relativity theories in respect to predictability, there are two fundamental differences between them. One is that the spacetime of relativity was derived mathematically not from any basis in mind-independent nature but rather from the evolved perceptions of space and time, whereas, conversely, the tise concept is based on the hypothesis that tise is the source in nature of those evolved perceptions. The other difference is, of course, that relativity is based on determinism whereas tise is probabilistic.

The tise concept, incidentally, conforms to Occam's razor, one translation of which is: “One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.” This concept requires only a single entity to explain the nature of our space and time perceptions. Even spacetime requires two entities (space and time) for its derivation.

In this concept, since all electromagnetic radiation is energized tisons, the somewhat abstract concept of electromagnetic field might be replaced by the more concrete concept of electromagnetically energized tise. In any case, Maxwell's equations, as well as many other basic equations of physics, would need to be reformulated, for basic science purposes, to obviate the perceptions of space and time, which are incorporated in existing formulations.

I do not mean to imply that the concepts of space, time and spacetime should be excluded from all scientific studies. However, in the search for the ultimate unification of physics, I submit that space, time and even spacetime, as perception-based concepts outside the scope of mind-independent nature, should be put aside.

I submit that Einstein might have arrived at this tise concept if he had not been so sure that “God does not play dice”, and if he had considered more fully the role of evolution of the brain in perceptions of nature. Indeed, he appears to have come close to the tise concept in his statement:

“But it must now be remembered that there is an infinite number of spaces, which are in motion with respect to each other .The concept of space as something existing objectively and independent of things belongs to pre-scientific thought, but not so the idea of an infinite number of spaces in motion relative to each other. The latter idea is logically unavoidable, but is far from having played a considerable role even in scientific thought.” (Einstein, p.139, my italics.)

If Einstein had just thought instead of “the idea of an infinite number of quanta of the source of our space and time perceptions, in relative motion to each other,” he may soon have achieved his goal of a unified theory.

Tise and Special Relativity

Although the tise concept is quite different from Einstein's understanding of the nature of space and time, a particular characteristic of tise makes it clear that the tise concept would have no effect on Einstein's lucid arguments and important conclusions regarding special relativity, other than the space and time terminology. That highly relevant feature of tise is that, under the idealized conditions of special relativity, tisons and their associated energy are inseparable, and hence light can be considered a perfect tracer for tisons under these conditions. I suggest, therefore, that Einstein's special relativity conclusions on light apply equally well in this tise concept, except that, in this case, his observations and conclusions are attributable to the source of our space and time perceptions (tise), and light is simply a convenient tracer.

Incidentally, this concept makes it obvious why energy quanta emitted from matter immediately assume “the speed of light” and why all electromagnetic radiation has the same apparent speed regardless of its wavelength or the motion of the source. The apparent speed of light is, in this concept, a property of tisons and not of electromagnetic energy released by a source. The following section explains why the speed of light is also independent of the observer in this concept.

Tise Symmetry

I need to introduce here the idea of tise symmetry. Spherical symmetry of tise exists at any point in tise if the directional distribution of tisons is completely random (i.e. uniform, considering the extremely large number of tisons involved). I submit that tise always maintains spherical symmetry at every point (except possibly under extreme conditions such as a black hole). As discussed later, a body always remains in symmetrical tise unless acted on by an external force. In the case of a rotating body, the constituent parts undergo acceleration and are therefore not in symmetrical tise, but the body as a whole is, again assuming no external force. In the tise concept, tise symmetry (rather than absolute spacetime) is the basis for determining whether a body is accelerating.

Because all inertial observers exist in symmetrical tise regardless of their velocity, tisons would always pass through them in every direction at the speed of light. The speed of light would therefore be the same in every direction for every observer.

Although tise is spherically symmetrical, its dynamic nature provides a more graphic alternative to our perception of the arrow of time. Tise may be visualized as consisting of an almost infinite number of adjacent spherical layers of tisons, approaching, or receding from, an inertial observer at the speed of light. Those receding tisons we perceive as the past, and those approaching, the future.

The present laws of physics do not distinguish past from future. For example, they do not explain why spilling a cup of coffee cannot simply be reversed. In the tise concept, however, it is clear that there is no possible reversal of the direction of tisons, and the same point in tise cannot be reconstituted.

For the same reason, although I would not want to discourage the many devotees of time travel, I submit that such an interesting adventure would not be possible within this concept. The tisons at any point in tise disperse in every direction at the speed of light, never to reassemble.

Tise and General Relativity

In idealized outer space, infinitely far from matter and in the absence of any external force, the path of a particle in tise would correspond to the concept of uniform motion in a straight line. But what about gravity? According to general relativity, spacetime is affected by matter, and gravitation is described in a series of differential equations involving the curvature of spacetime.The tise concept would not, I suggest, conflict with general relativity in respect to gravitational behavior. Any mass or energy approaching Earth, for example, would follow the same trajectory in tise as it would in spacetime. In the tise concept, as in general relativity, gravitation is not a force and is not considered as acceleration. A body near Earth simply remains in symmetrical tise unless subjected to an external force such as that imposed by contact with the Earth's surface.

In the tise concept, however, a simpler alternative explanation of gravitation, with a physical basis , is available. I have hypothesized that gravitation might be attributable to annihilation of tisons by matter at a rate proportional to mass. In this case, also, I foresee no conflict with general relativity in respect to the behavior of matter or energy.

Let us consider Earth's gravity, for example. The depletion of tisons by matter would cause a deficiency of tisons departing Earth, resulting in apparent acceleration of symmetrical tise toward Earth. Matter near Earth therefore appears to accelerate toward it to remain in symmetrical tise, i.e. to equalize tison distribution. Similarly, matter near the Sun, including Earth, appears to accelerate toward it to maintain tise symmetry.

Gravitation in the tise concept would be consistent with the existence of black holes. A very small fraction of the tisons entering Earth, or even the Sun, would be annihilated, but in the case of a black hole, all would be annihilated because of the combination of sufficient mass and density. Therefore, no tisons, and consequently no energy or information, could emerge.

In this concept, there is no need for the existence of gravitons. Indeed, the tise concept would predict their nonexistence. However, waves of tise may well exist and may have the same effect as the postulated gravity waves

I suggest that a mathematical analysis of tise will eventually show that tise will yield the same predicted outcome of the Gravity Probe B experiment regarding frame dragging as does general relativity.

Tise and String Theory

Greene (p. 486-8) has stressed the need for a background-independent formulation of string theory, a formulation in which string theory does not exist in a background of space or time or even spacetime. Might string theory possibly incorporate strings of tisons traveling at the speed of light, but comprising tise rather than existing in a background of space and time or spacetime?

Presumably, because of the immense electromagnetic wavelength spectrum, the number of tisons involved in transmission of different energy quanta would vary greatly, and the tisons associated with each energy quantum might be considered as string bits. Smolin (p.164) refers to imagining “a string going by at very nearly the speed of light. It would appear to contain a set of discrete elements, each of which carries a certain fixed amount of momentum.”

According to Greene (p. 487-8), “Many researchers consider the development of a background-independent formulation to be the single greatest unsolved problem facing string theory.” The tise concept, when developed mathematically, would appear to offer a solution to that problem.

Some Other Implications of the Concept

Further development of the concept may require radically different thinking. For example, rigorous analysis would presumably involve rejection of the perceived dimensions of space and time and the concept of spacetime itself, which is mathematically derived from these perceptions, as well as restructuring of those formulae of physics that involve space and time.

The problem of dispensing with the ingrained perceptions of space and time as basic dimensions is indeed daunting. In this paper, I could not avoid using terms related to space and time and implying that tise may have three large-scale dimensions, with additional small-scale dimensions related to the energy associated with tisons. Since space and time must be rejected in the tise concept, it is not clear whether the present understanding of dimensions (which began with the perceptions of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time) will ultimately be useful and valid in analysis of the tise concept.

Tisons, in this concept, are the carriers of all electromagnetic energy, not just radiant energy. This, of course, includes energy in the form of matter. In this concept, Einstein's famous equation can be stated simply as E=M, because c may be assigned the value of unity simply by changing the size of the arbitrary units of measurement of our perceptions of distance and time.

The tise concept implies that all matter consists of energized tisons, with the energy quanta transferring among tisons innumerable times at the smallest scale of nature, presumably the Planck scale. In this case, at this scale, everything in the universe would be in motion at the speed of light.

If the tise concept is valid, a certain condition exists only at the smallest scale of nature but everywhere in the Universe. There, the paths of tisons must converge and diverge very strongly, from and to every direction, at the speed of light. It appears that this Planck-scale effect of tise may relate to “the core principle of quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, which implies a wild, tumultuous, turbulent, environment on the tiniest of scales” (Greene p.335). However, I will leave any further speculation on that possible point of similarity between the tise concept and quantum mechanics to others more familiar with the latter.

In this concept, tise is much more than the source of our time and space perceptions and the medium in which matter and energy exist. I submit that tise is the dynamic fabric that makes matter and the Universe possible, and a key to understanding the Universe as well as the smallest scale of nature.

Finally, I cannot resist speculating on one possible cosmological implication of the tise concept, even though many may question it as, at least, premature. As previously discussed, gravitation, in this concept, may result from annihilation of tisons by matter. Since nature tends to be symmetrical, the agents of this annihilation may be antitisons emitted by matter, in which case the source of tisons may be antimatter! Antimatter, of course, is generally considered to be (inexplicably) rare in the Universe. Within this concept, however, while concentrations of matter would deplete tise and thereby coalesce into clusters of galaxies, essentially eliminating antimatter in the vicinity, regions of concentration of antimatter would generate tise and would therefore appear to expand, forming huge “voids” containing highly dispersed antimatter.

This might ultimately explain the immense bubble-shaped, and apparently empty, “voids” surrounded by clusters of galaxies, as well as the apparent rarity of antimatter in the universe. Thus, the contraction of tise within clusters of galaxies may be offset by expansion of tise within the “voids”. An obvious test of this implication would be the detection of an adequate concentration of antimatter in the “voids” (which may not be easy) or a relatively greater tise expansion rate in the “voids”. Based on symmetry, our antiuniverse, in this case, would consist of clustered galaxies of antimatter surrounding huge “voids” of dispersed matter, all existing in antitise. Such a universe would presumably be internally indistinguishable from ours.

But enough speculation. Although the basic tise concept may be difficult to develop mathematically or to verify or falsify, I submit that further exploration by others is warranted by its potential for leading to a better understanding of nature and its potential for being vital to the development of a completely unified theory.


I gratefully acknowledge the constructive criticism of earlier revisions of this paper by others, especially Asim O. Barut and Mendel Sachs, but I do not intend to imply that they expressed any opinion regarding this concept.


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