# Eugene Shubert, still wrong ten years later

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by rpenner, Aug 29, 2015.

1. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Some assorted critiques of Eugene Shubert’s pseudo-scientific paper currently styled “The Quintessence of Axiomatized Special Relativity Theory”

In a complete unrelated thread, Eugene Shubert once again posts his assorted crap as if it was relevant to physics or the topic which was population biology.
Already, we have a breach of scholarship — 1) Eugene Shubert did not hear Hilbert say that, and does not cite C. Reid’s 1970 biography Hilbert (p. 142) or other authority. 2) The linked to paper doesn’t concern the subjects General Relativity, David Hilbert, or the nature of 4-dimensional space-time. 3) The paper is not peer-reviewed or the work of an domain area expert. 4) The link to the paper is gratuitous self-promotion by a soi disant expert, dated December 6, 2013 but largely recycled from many earlier drafts at the same URL.

Moderators are welcome to re-title this thread in the harshest language considered acceptable.

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3. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Page 1 — Title: The Quintessence of Axiomatized Special Relativity Theory.

Assuming quintessence means “the aspect of something regarded as the intrinsic and central constituent of its character” (OED), then most physicists would say something like “space-time admits both multiple descriptions in terms of physically-covariant inertial coordinate systems and a unique limiting velocity for massive phenomenon which limit is met for massless phenomena.” Neither part of this is visible in Shubert’s main hypothesis which suggests he has missed the ball entirely. And has done so (at the same URL) for over ten years.

It also turns out, that Shubert has introduced his own physical theory incompatible with Special Relativity Theory which is not what the title suggests.

Page 1 — Paper date (this version has December 6, 2013)

No reference to earlier papers at the same URL are given. No edition number to suggest how many different revisions have been listed here. For example in early 2005, a version of this paper was titled: “A Magical Derivation of the Lorentz Transformation”.

Page 1 — Epigraph

This is a cartoon both previously published and not by the author, either of which conditions by academic standard requires credit being given. The cartoon is by Sidney Harris and a cropped version is the cover illustration of his 2004 cartoon collection of the same name.

Page 1 — Abstract

This five-paragraph polemic is not an abstract. It does not provide a synopsis of the paper. It’s main topic is that the author paper is better than all who came before, which is not appropriate for a scientific paper, let alone an abstract. It marks the author as jealous of the success of actual physicists and mathematicians.

Paragraph 1 asserts without basis that “Einstein’s synthesis [of the earlier work of Poincaré and Lorentz] was based on … a seemingly unpenetrable [sic] riddle.” Nothing in the body supports that statement or clarifies what that riddle might be. (But see paragraph 2.) Most people with a background in physics, even a Baccalaureate in physics, would consider that non sequitur a ridiculous position by a physics outsider.

Paragraph 1 asserts without basis that “most conceptualizations of special relativity are primarily anecdotal.” Nothing in the text supports that false statement. Its unclear how any physical theory could have anecdotal conceptualizations. An anecdote is a poorly sourced factual claim while a conceptualization is necessarily a thing of the realm of ideas. As for the non-anecdotal experimental basis for special relativity, in late 2004 Eugene Shubert was referred to the Physics FAQ lengthy review of the physics literature. Paragraph 5 uses anecdote in a different manner which calls into question what Shubert means.

Paragraph 2 misstates that (special) relativity says Nature requires linearity and this is a “mystifying, nonsensical riddle.” This is false and nowhere supported in the body of the paper. It wasn’t Nature, but Newton’s first law of motion instead, that says a body under no external forces either is at rest or moves with constant velocity. In a universe with arbitrary objects without external forces, it is Newton that requires that in any good coordinate system that every object A moves according to the relation $( \vec{x}_A − \vec{x}_{0,A} ) − \vec{v}_A (t − t_0) = 0$, an affine equation. Necessarily, if Newton’s first law of motion is to hold, between two such inertial coordinate systems, every possible triplet of $< \vec{v}_A, \vec{x}_{0,A}, t_0 >$ must map one-to-one with a physically covariant triplet in the other coordinate system $< \vec{v}'_A, \vec{x}'_{0,A}, t'_0 >$ such that every distinct inertial world-line is mapped to physically covariant inertial world-line. But this requires that every space-time coordinate $< \vec{x}, t >$ be mapped by an affine tranform to $< \vec{x}', t' >$ or else for some world-line A, the transformed velocity would not be constant.

Paragraph 2 suggests that this consequence of Newton’s first law be “dispensed with immediately.” This is entirely inappropriate for a discussion of Special Relativity. Indeed, General Relativity replaces Newton’s first law with the geodesic equation and inertial coordinate systems with general coordinate systems, with the consequence that linear (affine) coordinate transformations play no significant role in General Relativity. Yet, the geodesic equation reduces to the covariant equivalent of Newton’s first law and the physically convenient exponential map reduces to inertial coordinates in the appropriate limit of flat space-time. Thus the correspondence principle holds between Newton and General Relativity in the appropriate domain.

Paragraph 3 dismisses the issue of clock synchronization which simply marks Shubert as a physics outsider and relativity denier. Clock synchronization is crucial to conceptualizing special relativity because in principle every inertial coordinate system associates for every clock in the same state of motion as the chosen state of rest a coordinate-system dependent “coordinate time.” While Newton’s assumption of absolute time made such synchronization of clocks with coordinate time trivial, the same is not true of systems in agreement with physical observations.

Paragraph 4 warns that “Einstein’s [2] postulates are too restrictive.” In one sense that is true, since Einstein himself introduced General Relativity which includes Special Relativity as a limiting case. However, since the subject of the paper purports to be Special Relativity, this baseless claim simply marks Shubert as a physics outsider. Likewise there are similar gaffs in this paragraph.

Paragraph 5 makes it clear that Shubert thinks the central problem with special relativity is that it does not answer the philosophical question “Why is the universe not infinitely old?” which again is the subject of General Relativity and outside the domain of special relativity. This he calls an “anecdote” when it is nothing of the sort.

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5. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Page 2 — Section 1 — “What is Axiomatization?”

Hilbert’s goal of the axiomitization of physics does not require the “modeling [of] all possible physical-theoretical frameworks” but only the ones with the best empirical support. Hilbert’s goal was deep mathematical understanding of best models of physical reality. But since he started in 1900 with Newtonian mechanics, he was not in as good a position as we are today. Indeed, even special relativity is not the best model of the physical reality of space-time phenomena as the Global Positioning System constantly reminds the physics-aware reader.

The self-serving claim that “this derivation of special relativity theory represents a mathematician‘s perspective. It conforms to David Hilbert‘s philosophy of physics.” is baseless and mendacious. It guarantees this version of the paper will never be published in a relevant peer-reviewed publication. The axiom at the bottom of page 2 in no way corresponds to David Hilbert‘s notion of an axiom as the smallest possible assertion. c.f. Hilbert‘s 1905 axiomatization of vector spaces based on Newton's law of the parallelogram.

Page 2 — Section 2 — “A Minimal Axiom Set for Relativity Theory”

Contrary to Hilbert's position, the Axiom Set presented is a set (a singleton!) of complex statement about terms without antecedents. Contrary the goals of Hilbert‘s Sixth Problem, they do not allow one to derive any predication consistent with special relativity without numerous additional assumptions. Contrary to the theory of special relativity, they are consistent with predictions incompatible with special relativity.

Paragraph 3 is an out-of-place epigraph (not connected to the content of paragraph 2) purported by John von Neumann, but without date or citation of a body of work. A less truncated of the same statement is found on page 492 of John Von Neumann‘s Collected works Vol 6. (1963). Like Hilbert‘s vector space and geometry axioms, the criteria of simpleness was omitted by Shubert.

Paragraph 4 misstates Hilbert‘s axiomitization program in that it emphasizes “small number of axioms” and ignores “as large a class as possible of physical phenomena.” even though both parts are quoted in the last paragraph of section 1. Shubert completely misunderstands that to the most general axioms, one add (Hilbert‘s word is “adjoins”) other axioms to arrive stepwise (“gradually”) at “the more special theories.” Thus statistical mechanics might be a specialization of Newtonian mechanics where one talks about the continuum limit of large numbers of Newtonian particles. Here Shubert's axiom is not capable by itself of reproducing the predictions of special relativity, so fails.

Paragraph 5 is gibberish with regard to time. It conflates clock time with coordinate time and in conflates "mathematical clock" with "inertial motion" and is especially incoherent with respect to the notion of a clock at rest. Many terms are undefined, even in relation to other terms.

Paragraph 6 asserts “The definition of clock time … is simply defined and mathematically well-defined.” which is not anything like an axiom or definition. It's a gross evasion of a definition. The sentence “The ensuing time equations have the same mathematical form in all inertial frames of reference.” is likewise gibberish in that it relates three terms without definition. "The ensuing A have the same B in all C??"

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7. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Page 3 — Section 3 — “My First Toy Universe”

Already, Shubert admits failure in the section title. This is not a simple physical situation in model of special relativity, but a toy universe unconnected to physics.

Paragraphs 1 and 2 introduce Ξ₂ complete with a footnote explaining that this is a Greek letter. Shubert postulates Ξ₂ is a 1+1 dimensional space-time where only 2 states of motion (S₁, S₂) are allowed.

Subsection “The Definition of Clock Time”

Paragraphs 3 and 4 bizarrely asks as question of the reader of how motion should be used to create time in such a model.

Instead of answering, yet more postulates are added. Ξ₂ is filled with regularly-spaced, labeled points in state of motion S₁, and distinguishable regularly-spaced, labeled points in state of motion S₂. The labels correspond with the integers and positive labels are in the same direction relative to the label 0 in the same state of motion.

Every pair of real number and state of motion corresponds to an admissible inertial motion, with the real number represented a position interpolated between the integer labels. Every ordered pair of real numbers (x₁, x₂) corresponds to an intersection of two affine lines in space-time with different inertial motions.

Shubert asserts in paragraph 8 that the space time point (x₁, x₂) is associated with two clock times which can up to a single scale factor be read off the labels of points in the opposite state of motion, t₁ = − x₂ / μ , t₂ = x₁ / μ. But this is doubly wrong. First, the assumption that t₁ and t₂ have compatible units assumes that the spacing between successive points in state of motion S₁ have the same “proper length” as successive points in the state of motion S₂, which was not even conceptually introduced. (In fact in the last paragraph of page 4, Shubert denies that he assumed this.) Secondly, x₁ corresponds directly to a coordinate in an inertial coordinate system where motion S₁ is considered to be at rest, therefore the corresponding time value is not a clock time value but a coordinate time value.

In Lorentzian space-time, if this proper length is defined as L₀ and the relative motion between S₁ and S₂ is given as 0 < v < c, then (X₁, T₁) = ( X₀₁ + L₀ x₁, T₀₁ + L₀ x₁ / v − L₀ x₂ √( 1 − v²/c²) / v ) and (X₂, T₂) = ( X₀₂ + L₀ x₂, T₀₂ + L₀ x₁ √( 1 − v²/c²) / v − L₀ x₂ / v ), where X₀₁, T₀₁, X₀₂, and T₀₂ are arbitrary constants.

The Shubert constant that characterizes this model μ, is seen to be equal to v / ( L₀ √( 1 − v²/c²) ).

Here (X₁, T₁) and (X₂, T₂) are affinely one-to-one related to (x₁, x₂), and therefore it follows that (X₁, T₁) and (X₂, T₂) are affinely one-to-one related to each other.

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8. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Page 4 — Section “Clock Synchronization Scheme”

Struggling with the conceptual difference between clock time and coordinate time, Shubert redefined (a big mathematical no-no) clock time to be arbitrarily offset from the former simple notion, by a position-dependent factor. Thus t₁ = g₁(x₁) − x₂ / μ , t₂ = g₂(x₂) + x₁ / μ. This is compatible with the special relativistic notion of g₁(x₁) = T₀₁ + L₀ x₁ / v, g₂(x₂) = T₀₂ − L₀ x₂ / v , but has infinitely more degrees of freedom, and therefore is a sterile dead-end.

//Added in edit: For example it doesn't generalize to the d'Alembert operator which is so important in Electromagnetism.

Page 4 — Section “Proper Velocity”

To compute from (x₂, t₂) and (x₂, t'₂) what the "Proper velocity" of S₂ relative to S₁, Shubert computes the mixed-frame formulas:
μ₁₂ = (x'₁ − x₁) / ( t'₂ − t₂) = (x'₁ − x₁) / (x'₁ / μ − x₁ / μ) = μ

Similarly
μ₂₁ = (x'₂ − x₂) / ( t'₁ − t₁) = (x'₂ − x₂) / (− x'₂ / μ + x₂ / μ) = − μ

This is true for arbitrary position-dependent offsets of clock time from the natural definition.

In the final paragraph of page 4, Shubert crows about his lack of introduction of frame-dependent simultaneity. While true, this is a consequence of his restricted assumptions. It is literally impossible in this toy universe for signals to propagate in both directions. Therefore, there is no way to for someone positioned halfway between x'₁ and x₁ to receive signals from both.

Shubert also applauds himself in not assuming the measure between 0 and 1 is the same for co-moving points in state of motion S₁ and state of motion S₂. But this is the only way to make his assumption of a universal constant μ compatible with either a Lorentzian universe (where it has the value v / ( L₀ √( 1 − v²/c²) ) or a Newtonian universe, where it has the value v / L₀.

Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
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9. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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Page 5 — Section 4 “My Second Toy Universe”

Shubert introduces Ξ₃ which is still 1+1 dimensional but now supports three states of motion. Since a triple of (x₁, x₂, x₃) is overdetermined for a universe with only two dimensions of space-time, not all possible triples are consistently admissible. Likewise if (x₁, x₂) and (x₁, x₃) and (x₂, x₃) map each map affinely to two of (X₁, T₁), (X₂, T₂), and (X₃, T₃), and vice versa, then this constrains (x₁, x₂, x₃) to a subspace of $\mathbb{R}^3$. Everything falls apart as Shubert struggles with overdetermined equations and never confronts physics. As with Section 3, the methodology isn't good enough to distinguish Lorentzian from Newtonian universes. In the end he guesses at a proper velocity composition law and gets it wrong based on the introduction of k in equation 26 on page 7, unconnected to any axiom.

How did he get there? In equation 7 he introduces the assumption of linearity in conflict with paragraph 2 of the "Abstract."

Then it follows that
X₁ = L₀ x₁,

Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
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10. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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How did he get there? In equation 7 he introduces the assumption of linearity in conflict with paragraph 2 of the "Abstract."

A mistake in equation 28 in inserted conflicts with the symmetric property assumed after equation 7. Consequently the discussion of ε is without basis. The parameter k isn't constrained so this theory too does not equate to special relativity.

This situation continues until the middle of page 10.

Page 9 starts a digression on insane clock times that destroy the manifold structure needed to do fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, electrodynamics, etc.

The bottom of page 10 misstates what the Poincaré transforms look like. The difference between the Poincaré and Lorentz transforms, is that first is an affine transformation and the latter is a linear transformation.

The flaws I found ten years ago persist:

Another 2011 link where he makes his case best by overdubbing a celebrity so that it appears the celebrity agrees with his position.

Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
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11. ### danshawenValued Senior Member

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Great analysis. I had read (and was dismayed by) the first link. Eugene is by no means alone in adoption of portions of relativity theory as religious cannon. It's what Feynman once referred to as a ""Cargo Cult", sometimes seen among the denizens of remote Pacific islands. They construct mock airplanes out of the wood from abandoned cargo containers, complete with runways and offerings to the G-ds of flight who no longer visit them.

In this way, the cult leadership gets a piece of the credit for the miraculous engineering marvels beyond the reach of their followers. Simply replace the planes with Einstein. Same halo effect.

12. ### brucepValued Senior Member

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Thanks for writing it down for everybody to read. Your choice of referring to Eugene Shubert as a 'physics outsider' is a reference to his lack of scholarship associated with the subject he's trying to address?

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And his fanatical religious agenda and associated baggage.
Here is a link to his cult like orginization and cult like thoughts........
http://www.everythingimportant.org/SDA/viewtopic.php?t=34

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14. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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That's precisely what I mean. In a universe without clocks, he offers his proposed "clock time" which varies from place to place arbitrarily and not even smoothly. In addition to varying from place to place, it varies from state of motion to state of motion. At no point he addresses how to reconcile this useless concept of clock time with the physics of material objects. For example, an accelerated body moves through many positions and can be said to assume a great number of states of inertial motion. What is needed is a concept of coordinate time to describe such a motion in time and space and that requires time and space to resemble smooth continua. The success of modeling coordinate time as a smooth continuum has hundreds of years of precedent while the idea that one's clock time can change by arbitrary amounts due to assuming a new state of motion is without empirical precedent. In actual special relativity, coordinate time is a useful fiction, just as is coordinate position and it's justified by the path-dependent empirical phenomena of proper elapsed time.

In addition to being a physics outsider, he appears to be an outsider to mathematical thinking as, despite claiming to rely on an opaque two-sentence statement of his single axiom, he introduces axiomatic claims wily-nily and makes broad appeals to intuition rather than relying on deduction. In a recent thread he demanded a mathematical model for evolution and did not respond when one was presented.

On of the problems of being an autodidact is that you don't know the parts of the field that you haven't found for yourself. In pathological cases, this can leave one with an undeserved feeling of superiority. He very well may be smarter than the people in his immediate vicinity, but he doesn't seem to know how to construct a persuasive rational argument or limit himself to a topic where his opinion is based on empirical fact and rational argument.

I find it hard to credit that he was once a mathematics student at UCSD, but it would explain that one professor who always seemed sad.

Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
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15. ### danshawenValued Senior Member

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Short internet Bio says he has a BA in mathematics from UCSD.

16. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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That's usually only the beginning of a mathematician's education.

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17. ### brucepValued Senior Member

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He's been a strange Internet crank for much longer than the ten years rpenner blasted to smithereens. Sciphysicsrelativity. Probably the Internet birthplace of science cranks.

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18. ### wellwisherBannedBanned

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An interesting observation is, space clocks orbiting the earth lose time due to relativity. Ironically, although we assume space-time is integrated, these same clocks do not remain permanently smaller to match the permanent change in time; stuck with space-time contracted. We may see the clock appear to be smaller, when in motion, but unlike time, distance is reversible. Only time sticks.

This leads to the question, since in physical systems only time will undergo a permanent change via relativity, does that means that the red shift is occurring via permanent changes in frequency, with the wavelength tagging along due wavelength and frequency being proportional to C?

An addendum to this is, if we had a child in space, orbiting the earth, he will remain slowed in both time and size, relative to his now slightly older and larger twin on earth. Life can work differently from inanimate matter, since life grows in time. The clock is not design to change with time.

Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
19. ### originTrump is the best argument against a democracy.Valued Senior Member

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That make about as much sense as a soup sandwich. By the way frequency is not proportional to capacitance (C).

20. ### Aqueous Idflat Earth skepticValued Senior Member

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It was only after I realized that rpenner has been answering Schubert for a decade or more that I began to understand why so much detail was given in the evisceration of Schubert's proposition. Clearly the latter is pseudoscience supported by religiosity and nothing more.

Special relativity isn't "axiomatized". It is developed through explanation of the so-called "Fitzeau water experiment", and subsequent works (ultimately resulting in Michelson-Moreley reconciled with Maxwell's equations). Schubert seems to have little or no practical knowledge of the subject, and needs to re-explain Fitzeau et al in the absence of Einstein et al. There simply is no other plausible explanation. Special relativity, as bizarre as it seems (reconciled with macro world ideas about reality) completes the square, so to speak. Again, there simply is no other plausible explanation. Spacetime was already rearing its strange head by the late 1850s.

And Schubert should consider how Einstein's familiarity with his father's work (wiring the train stations with telegraphs and synchronizing station clocks) affected young Albert and led to his connection of the dots, adding perhaps that one connecting dot between the announcements of theoreticians Poincare and Lorentz and those of experimenters from Fitzeau to Michelson & Moreley (and others) . . . all in light of the supremacy of Maxwell's equations.

No, we just need Schubert to destroy our faith in Maxwell's equations, and/or in the empirical evidence, to win his claim of "axiomatization" of anything concerning relativity. This I gotta see.

And then there is GPS to make all of this moot. Or is that just a conspiracy, Schubert? Then build a frikkin receiver you can stick probes into, and post it on YouTube -- and I assure you, you will be rich and famous overnight.

Gee, I wonder why that hasn't already been done.

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He's already had one thread moved to the fringes, and I dare say this won't be too far off also being removed.

Oh, I almost forgot, welcome back!

22. ### Eugene ShubertValued Senior Member

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Where in the world did you get that idea?

23. ### rpennerFully WiredRegistered Senior Member

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That question was answered in that post from 2015 that you quote.