By: R. J. Anderton

R OGER BOSCOVICH (BORN IN DUBROVNIK, YUGOSLAVIA, on 18 May 1711, and died in Milan, Italy, on 13 February 1797) had a career that is an anachronism in the history of science. Physics in general at the time took its lead from Newton, and Boscovich’s idiosyncrasy led him to take the opposite track to the majority. Whenever words like anachronism” are used, this means something strange is happening; it is a word sometimes used to describe Tesla, who seemed far ahead of his time. Boscovich is another example of a person far ahead of his time.

In a book written for the 250th anniversary of his birth, Boscovich is described as combining what we would now call relativistic ideas with quantum theory. The book, edited by Lancelot Law Whyte, admits that Boscovich had a unified theory of physics that combined the macroscopic scale with the microscopic.

How can a unified physics theory be overlooked by mainstream physics? The answers are many and varied but, essentially, 20th-century physics has moved on from the ideas that Boscovich was dealing with.

The development of quantum mechanics from 1925, by Heisenberg, Bohr and company, made Boscovich and his theories seem irrelevant to the mainstream history of physics, and he and his ideas were thus omitted from orthodox science history.

The Whyte book admits that Boscovich had a unified physics theory, but says it is wrong. No clear reasoning is given as to why Boscovich’s theory is wrong; the book just seems to assume that Boscovich’s theory is wrong because it is not based upon the same quantum theory that was developed from the events of 1925-26.

Interestingly, Einstein kept insisting that the theory of 1925-26 was wrong. He summed up his position in his book, Out of My Later Years:

.                   ........  in my opinion, the quantum theory [of 1925-26]

                    does not seem likely to be able to produce a usable found-

                    ation for physics: one becomes involved in contradictions

                    if one tries to consider the theoretical quantum description

                     as a complete description of the individual physical system

                    or happening.

It is well known that the theory of general relativity does not combine with quantum mechanics, as has often been pointed out by professors such as Hawking and Penrose. Maybe it would be a good idea to look at an earlier theory, dismissed by the mainstream physics community, that had its own version of quantum theory.

Only philosophers—not scientists—now bother to look at Boscovic, and the philosophers do not know what they are looking at. I was shocked to find Boscovich describing what we would today call “superstring theory,” but he did not have the technical words that we have since developed in the past 200 years and was thus struggling to describe his theory.

Boscovich starts with talking about “physical point particles” which he called ‘puncta” He then goes on to define several other features, saying what is now interpreted as “the fields of elementary particles have associated with them a length which appears in certain respects as a minimum; this is often loosely called ‘the radius of the particle”’ . In effect, Boscovich was saying:

                     “Treat all finite radii as properties not of single

                     constituent entities, but of the laws of two-body


As pointed out by Whyte, this suggests that physics should stop associating radii with single particles and only consider interacting pairs or sets; in other words, physics based on a “perfectly indivisible and non-extended point”, treated as a quasi-material persisting centre of interaction.

All of Boscovichs puncta are identical, so that the “mass” of any composite body is simply the number of puncta in it (actions being additive). Whyte says in his book that “this is an ordinary number which can be counted, not a dimensional quantity which must be measured in terms of extended units, like space or time”. I think Whyte is in error here. But he makes amends when he says: “Boscovich, writing in Latin more than a century before the theory of dimensions was developed, could not say ‘my theory is kinematic, everything being derived from spatio -temporal relations, not mechanical like Newtons’.

A kinematic theory means a theory based on motion considered abstractly without reference to force or mass. Boscovich was trying to describe such a theory, and did not have the words; these did not come into existence until after his death.

His theory involved eliminating Newtonian mass as a primary quantity and substituting a kinematic basis. This means he was treating mass in the same way as Minkowski treated time in Einstein’s theory. We now talk of four-dimensional space-time. Boscovich was treating mass as another dimension to go alongside space and time . Wesson in 1990 discussed treating mass in this manner.

Boscovich is thus presenting us with an interesting idea. He is starting with a theory that has puncta (point particles), and then extending the theory to a much wider theory that has bi-punctas (two point-objects joined together). In the “wider” theory, punctas or points by themselves do not exist; instead, bi-punctas exist. By treating space, time and mass as dimensions then each point is defined by five dimensions, so the bi-puncta is defined by 10 dimensions. And with two points we can define a line: a one dimensional object.

So, Boscovich had a 10-dimensional theory built on fundamental objects we would now call “strings”, which today is called superstrlng theory. These bi-punctas of Boscovich are thus foreshadowing the idea of strings. We have a natural progression from classical theory development through Boscovich, an idea that is a modern contende r for a “theory of everything”.

But modern physicists claim that the unification of physics is very difficult; they have not been able to achieve it. I am now convinced that Einstein is right: the quantum theory of 1925 is wrong, and physicists have been trying to combine the wrong quantum theory. I am further convinced that Boscovich achieved unification of physics in the 18th century.

Modern physicists are looking for a much more complicated theory than that

which Boscovich was describing. So, how can a simpler theory be the answer? Well, let me explain with a few quotes. According to Einstein:

                    Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially

                    simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language

                    comprehensible to everyone.

Werner Heisenberg says something real similar:

                    Even for a physicist, the description, in plain language,

                    will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that

                     has been reached.

The simplicity of Boscovichs theory fulfills the criteria of Einstein and Heisenberg.

I was easily able to describe it in a few words in this article.

Erwin Schrödinger agrees with Einstein and Heisenberg on the ‘simplicity’ matter:

                    If you cannot—in the long run—tell everyone

                    what you have been doing, your doing has been


Now compare the complexity of modern physics based on quantum mechanics of 1925, with Boscovich’s theory of the 18th century, and ask yourself which theory is easier to understand . I will give you a clue: Feynman—possibly the greatest physicist since Einstein—admits that no-one understands modern physics.

The choice is between a 20th - century theory that no-one understands, and an 18th - century theory that has been discarded. I am convinced that the 18th-century theory wins the contest, hence the numerous problems we are experiencing in the 20th - century, as highlighted in NEXUS Magazine. No-one properly understands the technology we are using.

About the Author:

Roger Anderton has an honours degree

in maths and physics and is a former tele-

communications engineer. His published

work includes Relativity Investigations:

Relationship between light and gravity, Vol.

1 (Minerva, 1999), and “‘Postulates for a

ten-dimensional theory” (Speculations in

Science and Technology 1994; 17 [41:292-


          He has also set up a website,


                    For further information,

                    email the author at:




Volume 8, Numbe r 5. September - October 2001


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