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Fractal Space-Time and Microphysics: Towards a Theory of Scale Relativity

  1. May 16, 2004 #1


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    Hi all,

    I was wondering if anyone of you has read the book of Laurent Nottale

    Fractal Space-Time and Microphysics: Towards a Theory of Scale Relativity


    why is not his approach adopted ?- as apparently, he extended the principle of relativity to scales and thus proposes a unifying frame between relativity and quantum mechanics.

    See the review on amazon.com

    "As Einstein indulged a long time in wondering how it would be like to be a photon, LN spent his time trying to slip into a fractal. For once it is in it, a particule which follows chaotic movements in a classical frame, goes straight ahead, and then one may understance the apparent disorders of microphysics. The most amazing is that, beyond the theoretical development, LN's scale relativity not only unifies both poles of the 20th century theoretical physics, namely General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, but also gives us new philosophical insights about how to look at our world. Faithful to Einstein's ideas, he reintroduces the necessity of "the maximum elegance" in our description of the world, elegance which had been swept away by the quantum formalism. Roughly said, quantum mechanics is no longer an axiomatic theory but is now a consequence of a satisfying general principle for mind, namely the relativity principle. So what's the new point? We know since einstein that every momentum is relative (uniform momentum with special relativity, accelerated momentum with general relativity). Roughly said, I never absolutly move, I only move compared to another body. LN extends this beautiful idea of general relativity to the notion of scale. I am not tall, I am just taller than something. But this simple looking idea needs new mathematical tools to enter the hall of wonder that is called theoretical physics. There come the fractals. How these extraodinary and strange figures upset our sight of the whole universe, from microphysics to cosmology ? All this is brilliantly explained, in a simple and accessible way, in this book, where intuition and philosophical insights are as significant as theoretical ideas."

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2010 #2
    The idea of fractal space just popped into my mind just now, so I decided to come take a look who was discussing it online. It seems like if things on Earth show fractal nature, then space/time should have fractal nature too--not necessarily a continuous emptiness. Fractals might combat the second law of thermodynamics. I recall reading about fractal memories too. I seem to be having a fractal memory right now.
  4. Mar 16, 2010 #3
    Scale is almost universally believed not to be a dimension.If it were we could apply a scalar relativity.The universe is variant in scale.This implies that the Universe is non relative through scale.Is this an indication that Universe is non symetrical through 4d fractal spacetime? Funnel shape perhaps?
  5. Mar 17, 2010 #4
    Seeing as I have only taken highschool physics, I probably wouldn't understand the book very well. I did find part of it online, and the math overwhelmed me (I have a hard enough time reading w/o the math). If space is bent around massive objects, perhaps there is some quantum bending that is fractal in nature? Perhaps this "roughness" is what makes gravitons (packets of gravity)? Are we using too many differential equations and not enough difference equations? Are we flying through space, or bouncing through space? What is the shape of earths orbit around the sun? Believe me, I wish for fields (waves), and all I see is clods (particles,quanta). What is the happy medium? What is quantum/fractal bending of space?

    If you use dimension on me again, I will ask you what a point is. Your best response will be something that is 1 dimensional. How many 1 dimensional points are there in the universe? How many 1 dimensional points are on [0,1]? If your answer is the same, why? It seems reasonable that dimensions are a sign of dementia. After all, wasn't Descartes sick in bed when he came up with the idea?

    A point is 1 dimensional in time. That's the only way it can exist at all.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  6. Mar 17, 2010 #5


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    Gold Member

    a point doesn't have dimension/s.
  7. Mar 17, 2010 #6
    I don't think points exist at all. Neither do lines, planes, or the cartesian coordinate system!

    Actually, I think that points, etc. must exist in time, otherwise, we couldn't hold a conversation about them.

    Many things have has fractional dimension, including our decimal and binary numbering systems (they're hierarchical, not linear).

    The only numbering system that is linear is the unary, or base-1 numbering system.

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  8. Mar 17, 2010 #7
    Here's an interesting link: http://www.obspm.fr/actual/nouvelle/nottale/nouv.en.shtml [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Mar 17, 2010 #8
    How is the theory of Relativity of Scale related to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

    It is interesting that at the bottom of the text in the link the only (two) references refer to the author and of all the references given in the To Know More link only one of them is not the author, Notalle. Call me an old cynic, but this is often not a good sign.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Mar 17, 2010 #9
    There's a second link here, with more authors: http://www.obspm.fr/actual/nouvelle/nottale/pesp_en.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Mar 17, 2010 #10
  12. Mar 17, 2010 #11
    This is where you end up if you click on To Know More at the bottom of the original link. All but one of the references (which has multiple authors) refer to Nottale. Again it deals with Scale Relativity and, as far as I can see, is not about SR or GR, although gravitation is mentioned.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Mar 17, 2010 #12
    Could someone tell me why Laurants theory considered so insane.I may not be the brightest person in this forum.In simple terms why doesn't the hypothesis work?
  14. Mar 18, 2010 #13


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    Staff: Mentor

    Please note the post that you responded to is nearly six years old, and you are the first person to respond to it! Nottale's work has in fact been discussed here occasionally, as a site-restricted Google search shows, so you might want to investigate some of those threads:


    I leave it to others who are more versed in such things to comment on why Nottale's ideas haven't been taken up more widely.

    This thread started out in the Relativity forum, then got moved to the Science Books forum. I think if the focus stays on Nottale's ideas, the best place is probably here in "Beyond the Standard Model."
  15. Mar 19, 2010 #14
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  16. Mar 25, 2010 #15
  17. Mar 25, 2010 #16
  18. Mar 29, 2010 #17

    oh sorry, a long time on the beach (a good sun, a lot of photons)

    yes, palmer a meteorologist and einstein a patent clerk.
    but bright minds.....

    without trying to convince anyone...
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2010
  19. Apr 13, 2010 #18

    "The Evolution and Development of the Universe"
    -- http://arxiv.org/abs/0912.5508

    It has some more on scale relativity and fractal space-time. Maybe more philosophical than physical though. And from the evo-devo people appearently.
  20. Apr 13, 2010 #19
  21. Apr 13, 2010 #20
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