Ruminations on Reality: The Aether

The Aether, Time, Consciousness, Intelligence, Matter and Energy

Daniel D. Barber
8 min readFeb 7


Part I of a multi-part discussion

distant galaxies, an eye and an hour glass in a meditative juxtaposition


The seed for this paper came from two distinct but related ideas. The first is that plasma, which constitutes 99% of the universe, is most likely the stuff from which the physical universe is derived. The second idea is that — disregarding divine intervention — electromagnetism-in-motion is functionally indistinguishable from consciousness.

While putting these ideas to paper, new ideas, revelations and possible solutions to previously intractable problems or poorly defined concepts presented themselves seemingly of their own volition. I believe this behavior to be an indication of the quality of my ‘map’.

Mental Maps

All of us carry a mental map of the world in which we exist — an internal representation by which we decide how to navigate situations to our advantage or how to avoid or mitigate obstacles. If our map is imprecise then we may flounder through life being neither able to predict those obstacles, nor modify our actions accordingly.

The greater degree that our map resembles reality however, the more adept we will be at navigating life — but beyond that, the more visible and traverseable our route. Indeed, not only do the signposts to otherwise hidden and obscure byways present themselves, but sometimes they are lit with neon and are impossible to miss.

The other alternative, when this seeming serendipitous flow occurs and every potentiality seems a revelation, is that our map is so completely divorced from reality that we may as well be experiencing psychosis. The ease with which the solutions in this paper presented themselves is, I hope and believe, an indication of the accuracy of my map rather than a measure of my descent into madness.

By working backward from plasma, I hypothesize a structure for reality that simultaneously provides clear, cogent and simple explanations for time, consciousness, gravity, the void of space, matter, intelligence, and more.

That this structure is reminiscent of the Aether lends credence, in my mind at least, to those earlier hypotheses — and I would suggest that perhaps they might be dusted off and reexamined in light of the ideas proposed here.

I ask that, while engaging with the following ideas, the reader suspend disbelief and consider them free from the bias of previously held knowledge and understandings. Allow them to germinate and gestate for a week or two — it is possible they will send some interesting roots down into the subconscious that may change the reader’s outlook on some various subjects.

It is my hope that the concepts in this paper will spark further ideas and revelations in others.

~The Author, November 8, 2022

In The Beginning

In the beginning, there was nothing — or, more accurately — there was an undifferentiated everything. Existence was a boundless pool of pure potential.

I am assuming a beginning at nothingness, though I wonder if that is the only viable option.

But what did that look like? Let’s start with what we do know and work backwards from there.

Initial Assertions:

  • Divine intervention is not necessary to explain the phenomenon of reality.
  • All ‘particles’ are in fact dipole fields of charge more akin to bubbles abutting one another than billiard balls knocking into each other. Recognizing that the measurement of something so small looks to us like a discrete object (point) rather than a field, in this paper I will refer to these as “point-fields”.
  • ‘States of Energy’ is the more appropriate categorization and will be used throughout this paper.
  • Electricity and magnetism are simply different facets of the same fundamental thing. They are inseparable and cannot exist singly. Even if the measurable extent of one is zero, it is still there holding space or is temporarily expressed as a different facet of the Aether. They are the warp and weft of reality.


According to our best science, plasma makes up 99% of the known universe. It is reasonable therefore to assume that plasma more closely resembles the initial or underlying state of the universe than the alternative states of energy (gas, liquid, solid) and is the logical starting point when trying to reverse engineer, if you will, the underlying fabric of reality.

Plasma is defined as ‘charged particles containing about equal numbers of positive ions and electrons’. It is a dynamic state without structure and is always in flow. But in the beginning, let’s assume there was no flow — let’s call it the Zeroth state of energy, a proto-plasma in complete equilibrium, without flow — though not static — each dipole field fixed in charge and relative position, oscillating or spinning in synchronicity with one another. A murmuration of motion in harmony. Let’s call it the Matrix, the Source, the Universe. Let’s call it the Aether.

I use ‘Aether’ in homage to previous hypotheses about an underlying structure of reality — however I do not wish to imply the inheritance, necessarily, of those ideas without examination. To be clear, I am only shallowly familiar with those previous ideas and have never read any of them.

Any similarity between what I propose here and previous hypotheses is purely coincidental — but also very telling.

The Zeroth State

So in the beginning there was the Zeroth state of energy, the Aether — an infinite matrix of perfectly balanced dipole charges, tiny fields of positive and negative likely far smaller than the size of an electron — each field equidistant from and oscillating in synchronicity with its neighbors in an unending dance of electric charge and attendant magnetic fields. Each field an influence on its neighbor and each neighbor’s reaction a stabilizing response.

The Magnetic Structure of the Matrix

The possibilities of how this matrix moves, regulates itself and is sustained (and possibly generates excess electromagnetism to be released into the physical universe as plasma) is practically endless. However I will propose a state that to me seems most likely.

The magnetic facet of electromagnetism is responsible for maintaining the structure of the matrix. The movement of the point-fields in relation to each other — always within the limits of their resistance, without breaking bonds or collapsing into each other — generates electricity which feeds back into the system to maintain and keep it energized. Any excess energy might be bled off to the physical universe in the form of plasma, which in turn gives rise to the gaseous, liquid and solid states of energy.

In terms of magnetic force exerted upon each other I think it is unlikely that the point-fields hold a rigid 1:1 relationship with each other — instead of maintaining an equal but canceling push/pull as they rotate, this force might be better represented as a sine wave between an upper and lower breaking point — the point-fields oscillate in relation to each other such that the bonds between them are never stretched so far that they break, nor shorten so much that they collapse.

Considering that each point-field is encompassed by neighbors, action like this would result in a 3-dimensional spherical movement that would look to us like an extremely fast vibration as the point-field is pushed/pulled and pushes/pulls it’s neighbors on all sides. Viewed from one direction only, we might miss those movements that come toward or move away from our point of view and so the movement would look oddly erratic as well.

Matter and the Matrix

There are three possible means by which matter and the matrix of the Aether coexist and interact.

  • Matter is separate from the matrix; the matrix parts when matter moves through it.
  • Matter is insulated from the matrix but not separate — the matrix is within and throughout every object, being too small to disturb matter or to be disturbed by it, except perhaps in the most minute of manners.
  • Matter is one with the matrix and moves through it like energy through the ocean, transferred from one point-field to the next without disturbing the structure of the matrix.

I do not believe the first option to have any merit — it does not fit within the map of this hypothesis. What kind of reality is it that moves aside for something as insubstantial as matter? Matter exists within reality, not alongside it. This idea though is essentially the widely-accepted view of most people and science today. It is hugely human-centric and comes from a matter-first paradigm.

The third option seems to discard the idea that one energy can be insulated from another, and asserts that all matter is simply a coruscation within the matrix. This, again, does not fit in with the map that I am proposing.

The second option respects the idea that energies can be held separately through insulative layers and yet are still a part of the same energy of existence. Interaction at the edges might also provide a possible explanation for gravity where the insulated edge of matter interacts with the matrix. This, I believe, is the most likely scenario and fits nicely within our map. In the manner of good maps, it also suggests further avenues for exploration.

Key assertions:

  • Plasma is one step removed from the fabric of reality
  • The matrix of the Zeroth State is infinite
  • This matrix is constant and immutable
  • This matrix exists within and throughout the entirety of the universe
  • This matrix is the substrate throughout which all charge flows, but is unchanged by it

The First State

Assuming, as stated previously, that the Zeroth State is constant and immutable, then at the beginning of time a mechanism must have existed by which excess energy was generated and released into the physical universe as plasma, perhaps creating it at the same time.

From Energy to Matter

Somehow then, the Aether produces and releases plasma which, being unbalanced in charge, will flow across the infinite playground of the universe, being attracted and repelled by other clouds of plasma, or just expanding or contracting as conditions dictate. It is in these areas of contraction where forces are strong enough to fuse these flowing strands of plasma into stars, and it is within the intense electromagnetic fields at a star’s surface that elements are formed. Those atoms then combine to form more or less electrically insulative molecules. Regardless of their insulative or conductive properties, these molecules are still energy. Solids, liquids and gasses are just then alternate forms of energy.

There is, by the way, evidence of this very process that can be observed in the cosmos today. Intergalactic strands of plasma can be seen twisting and snaking between galaxies. Intermittently these strands will form what is called a Z-pinch where the strands collapse together in an intertwined Z shape. It is within these Z-pinches that stars are born. And it is at the surface of stars that we know many of the elements are formed. These strands, first predicted by Kristian Birkeland in 1808, are called Birkeland Currents.

Key Assertions:

  • The Aether releases excess energy as plasma into the physical universe
  • Plasma is the first state of energy
  • Stars are formed within Birkeland Currents
  • Matter is formed by intense electromagnetic forces such as those found on the surface of stars


This matrix of vibrating point-fields also offers up potential explanations for gravity through its interaction at the edges with the atoms suspended within. I won’t pretend to understand how that might work — I’ll leave that to the future ranks of cosmo-electromagnetic physicists to discover.

By ‘interaction at the edges’ I am not referring to the edges of the physical object itself; rather I am speaking about the insulative edges of the individual atoms that make up that object.

The “Void” of Space

In the absence of a solid, such as in the “void” of intergalactic space, this matrix is the scaffolding — the essential substrate — within which objects are suspended and through which objects may propel themselves. It is why we are able to move through the “void” of space. It makes sense that this is the result of the ‘interaction at the edges’ — the same electromagnetic interaction that is responsible for gravity.

Here ends Part I of my Ruminations. Part II, The Three Faces of Time, can be found here.