The Universe is Only Spacetime

John A. Macken

John A. Macken, Santa Rosa, California

About the Book and Author

Background of the Book

This book started in 2001 with a simple question. I was talking to Dr. Nikolai Yatsenko (a Russian plasma physicist) and he happened to mention that when he was a teacher in Russia he gave his students the following problem: "A car drives from point A to point B at 40 Km per hour, then turns around and drives back to point A at 60 Km per hour. What is its average speed?" I pulled out my pocket calculator and responded that the average speed was 48 Km per hour (not 50 Km/hr).

The amazing part of this story is what happened next. I then said to him that a similar calculation would prove that light trapped in a hypothetical 100% reflecting box would exhibit inertia. This statement surprised even me because I do not remember previously thinking about this problem. I was so surprised by this thought that I immediately began working on analyzing this idea. I not only proved that this statement was correct, but also showed that a photon in a reflecting box exhibited other particle-like properties such as weight in a gravitational field, relativistic length contraction and an interference effect similar to de Broglie waves.

Now I have done many things in my life, but the #1 description that I have for myself is that I am a scientific inventor (patents listed below). Even though my expertise is lasers and optics, I had the feeling that I could invent a model of a fundamental particle that possessed intrinsic inertia and the other particle-like properties of a photon confined in a reflecting box. After working on this it became obvious that the basic building block would have to be waves in spacetime. The concept emerged that I was really trying to invent a model of the entire universe that utilized only the properties of 4 dimensional spacetime.

Usually theoretical physics is a mathematical analysis that takes a set of starting assumptions and extracts from these assumptions new conclusions that were previously hidden but were always present in the assumptions. However, if an essential assumption is missing, then even a perfect mathematical analysis of all the other correct assumptions cannot achieve the complete correct analysis. On rare occasions a theoretical physics analysis needs to incorporate a new starting assumption in order to achieve a new level of understanding. For example, Einstein developed special relativity when he added the starting assumption that the speed of light was constant in all frames of reference.

It is proposed that today there is another assumption which is required to explain many of the mysteries of quantum mechanics and general relativity. The proposed missing assumption is: The Universe Is Only Spacetime. This means that everything in the universe is made of the single building block of 4 dimensional spacetime. The implication is that if this assumption can be proven correct, it would unify all forces, all particles and all fields. It would be the basis of a theory of everything.

However, the assumption that the universe is only spacetime is still too abstract to be analyzed mathematically. Many additional creative insights (inventions) need to be added before models of particles, fields and forces emerge in a form which can be analyzed mathematically. Therefore, I decided that the creation of these multiple models (particles, forces, fields, photons, cosmology, etc.) was a wonderful challenge for a prolific scientific inventor.

My initial intention was to write several technical papers. However, the project became too big and the ideas could only be fully explained in a book. Also the book format pushed me to expand the model to attempt to encompass most of the fundamental subjects in physics. I would never have attempted to explain the strong force, entanglement, electric fields, dark matter, etc. if I had not been pushed by the book format to cover these fundamental subjects. I believe that the book contains well over 100 creative new insights that were originally developed as if they were inventions.

It is proposed that physics currently incorporates a list of assumptions which is sufficient to achieve equations which correspond to experimental results. However, a key assumption is missing. The missing assumption blocks conceptual understanding of large parts of quantum mechanics and general relativity.

Brief Resume

I began my working career in 1962 working at an aerospace company initially named North American Aviation which was renamed Rockwell International. Shortly after I was hired I began making inventions in what was then the new field of lasers. I worked in this company on lasers and laser radar until 1971.

Starting about 1969 I began working at night in my garage developing commercial products that were instruments for use in the laser field. In 1971 my brother and I incorporated a company named Optical Engineering Inc. to manufacture and sell scientific instruments that I had developed. This same year I began working full time as president of this small company. I developed the process and equipment to make laser engraved decorations in wood products and make intricate laser cut paper products. The company changed its name to Lasercraft, Inc. and by 1991 it had grown to about 230 employees. At that point I split the company exchanging my partial ownership of Lasercraft for full ownership of a new company that manufactured laser equipment for material processing. I developed a new type of high power CO2 laser and an innovative optical design that allowed sheet metal to be rapidly welded from a distance of more than one meter (called remote welding). This was well suited for welding automobiles and I sold the company to an automotive related company in 1997. I went into semi-retirement in 2001 and began to work on this scientific theory. I am also currently on the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s College of California.

The following are my U.S. patents and some of my publications.

Laser and Optics related patents

  1. 6,078,420 - Hole-coupled laser scanning system
  2. 4,755,999 - Laser apparatus utilizing a magnetically enhanced electrical discharge
  3. 5,561544 - Laser scanning system with reflecting optics
  4. 4,756,000 - Discharge driven gold catalyst with application to a CO.sub.2 laser
  5. 5,237,149 - Laser machining utilizing a spacial filter
  6. 5,128,953 - Transmissive optics for high power lasers
  7. 5,206,763 - Corrective optics for rectangular laser beams
  8. 5,205,967 - Method of forming retardation plate utilizing deformed zinc selenide
  9. 5,155,323 - Dual focus laser welding
  10. 4,941,731 - Corner cube utilizing generally spherical surfaces
  11. 4,921,338 - Corrective optics for rectangular laser beams
  12. 4,757,512 - Discharge driven silver oxide catalyst with application to a CO2 laser
  13. 4,897,848 - Discharge driven precious metal catalyst with application to ...
  14. 5,528,613 - Laser apparatus utilizing a magnetically enhanced electrical discharge with...
  15. 4,469,931 - Laser assisted saw device
  16. 4,480,169 - Non contact laser engraving apparatus
  17. 4,430,548 - Laser apparatus and process for cutting paper
  18. 4,458,133 - Method and apparatus for laser engraving of smoke-sensitive materials
  19. 4,430,549 - Method and apparatus for producing deckle-edged paper
  20. 4,221,468 - Multi-cavity laser mirror
  21. 4,242,647 - Stabilized vortex convective laser
  22. 4,219,254 - Corrective optics for higher order mode lasers
  23. 4,242,646 - Spiral flow convective laser
  24. 4,139,409 - Laser engraved metal relief process
  25. 4,156,124 - Image transfer laser engraving
  26. 4,042,822 - Laser radar device utilizing heterodyne detection
  27. 3,834,790 - Cumulative optical frequency shifter
  28. 3,644,016 - Optical isolator
  29. 3,569,857 - Method and means for achieving chemical equilibrium in a sealed off CO2...
  30. 3,560,875 - Beam Angle Limiter
  31. 3,527,532 - Digital Frequency Shifter

Non Laser Related Patents

  1. 6,919,787 - Method and apparatus for magnetic coupling
  2. 7,567,159 - Energy absorbing magnetic coupling device
  3. 7,793,661 - Method and apparatus for treatment of snoring and sleep apnea
  4. 5,694,337 - Water ski performance analysis method and apparatus
  5. 4,195,729 - Combined photograph holder and storage device


  1. To be Published: J. A. Macken, "Spacetime Based Foundation of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity" in M. Nascimento et al (eds): Prog Theor Chem & Phys, B 28, Springer'' (2014)
  2. J. A. Macken, "Spacetime-Based Model of EM Radiation". Proc. SPIE 8832, The Nature of Light: What are Photons? 88320Q (2013)
  3. J. A. Macken, "Remote laser welding": International Body Engineering Conference ’96 Advanced Technologies and Processes, 1996, pp. 11–15
  4. J. A. Macken et al "CO2 laser performance with a distributed gold catalyst" SPIE Milestone Series Vol MS 22, P524-532 (1990)
  5. John Macken, Robert Salvage "Alignment insensitive resonators using focusing corner cubes" SPIE Optical Resonators Vol. 1224 pp. 386-392 (1990)
  6. J. A. Macken et al "CO2 laser performance with distributed gold catalyst," IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics, Vol QE-25(7), 1695-1703 (July 1989)
  7. J. A. Macken et al "Chemical equilibrium in the CO2 laser," Bull. Amer. Phys. Soc., vol 12, p669, 1967