In the previous post entitled "Why Strings Don't Exist", we showed it is possible to have a length shorter than the famed Planck length. The question becomes, what is the minimum discrete distance, assuming there is such a thing? Normally, we use infinitesimal points to build geometrical objects like lines, planes, rectangles, etc. What happens if we use a line with the smallest magnitude possible that is greater than zero? Before we delve into these questions, let's define the variables:
OK, let's assume the fundamental building block is a line somewhere between zero and the Planck length. We'll call it d:
Let's try building a square with d:
So far, so good. All the distances appear to be no less than d. But what is the distance along the diagonal (or hypotenuse)?
The diagonal distance is a little bit more than d. The additional distance is marked in red. Notice this distance is not an integer multiple of d. To make this distance, we need a distance d plus a distance less than d. There can be no distance less than d, so we can't draw the above square. Here's an idea: draw a rectangle with 3X4 d-units. Thanks to Pythagoras, the diagonal will be 5 d-units:
Because all distances must be integer units of d, our geometry does not include squares, rectangles or triangles that have diagonals and sides that fail to have magnitudes that are integer multiples of d. But at least we found one rectangle that works--or maybe not:
If we draw lines from each d to every other d, we once again have distances that are not integer multiples of d. In the example above, we have a distance (c) of 3.6d. To have that distance, we need 3d plus a 0.6d. In our geometry, there's no such thing as 0.6d. Thus we can't draw the 3X4 rectangle. In fact, every rectangle and triangle we draw will have some distance that includes a fraction of d.
Perhaps we'll have better luck with circles? Check this out:
If we take distance d and shape it into a circle circumference (C), the diameter (D) will be less than d! D = d/pi (where C=d). If we try to draw any circle with d-units, we hit a brick wall. You see, you calculate the circumference with pi * D. If D is an integer (n) multiple of d, pi * n won't equal a circumference with an integer multiple of d. Pi is an irrational number.
OK, so perfect circles are out. How about imperfect circles? Perhaps we can replace pi with something more rational. Even if we do, circles have the same problem we encountered earlier:
There's always a line between two d's, that is not an integer multiple of d. This is also true with any shape imaginable:
So far, things look pretty hopeless for our geometry based on d. But unfortunately, there's more pain. Let's go back to the beginning and reexamine d:
Distance d is a line along the x-axis. But what is it along the y and z axis, i.e., what is its cross section?
Line d has a cross section of zero magnitude! That zero magnitude is just a single point in space with zero distance! Zero distance is not allowed, so a distance-d line is not allowed. Perhaps we can convert the line into a cylinder, so the cross-section will have a d-magnitude. Let's look at our new cross section:
Oops! The cross section is shaped like a circle. We can easily draw a red line from one d to the other that isn't an integer multiple of d. Thus it is now abundantly clear that a geometry based on distance d (instead of a point) is a dismal failure.