Is The Theory of Relativity Fatally Flawed?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by MacM, Nov 2, 2004.


Is Relativity Shown Fatally Flawed?

  1. Yes

    16 vote(s)
  2. Mostly Convienced

    2 vote(s)
  3. No Opinion

    1 vote(s)
  4. Mostly UnConvienced

    7 vote(s)
  5. No

    35 vote(s)
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  1. chrisv25 Registered Member


    Fundamental ideas and problems
    of the theory of relativity

    Lecture delivered to the Nordic Assembly of Naturalists at Gothenburg*
    July 11, 1923

    If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in
    a sense be regarded as bona fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects
    which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the
    theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states
    of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions
    are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned
    to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions
    should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to
    be of fundamental importance.

    These two aspects become clear when applied to a special case, e.g. to classical
    mechanics. Firstly we see that at any point filled with matter there exists
    a preferred state of motion, namely that of the substance at the point considered.
    Our problem starts however with the question whether physically
    preferred states of motion exist in reference to extensive regions. From the
    viewpoint of classical mechanics the answer is in the affirmative; the physically
    preferred states of motion from the viewpoint of mechanics are those of
    the inertial frames.

    This assertion, in common with the basis of the whole of mechanics as it
    generally used to be described before the relativity theory, far from meets
    the above "stipulation of meaning". Motion can only be conceived as the
    relative motion of bodies. In mechanics, motion relative to the system of
    coordinates is implied when merely motion is referred to. Nevertheless this
    interpretation does not comply with the "stipulation of meaning" if the coordinate
    system is considered as something purely imaginary. If we turn our
    attention to experimental physics we see that there the coordinate system is
    invariably represented by a "practically rigid" body. Furthermore it is assumed
    that such rigid bodies can be positioned in rest relative to one another

    * The Lecture was not delivered on the occasion of the Nobel Prize award, and did
    not, therefore, concern the discovery of the photoelectric effect.


    in common with the bodies of Euclidian geometry. Insofar as we may think
    of the rigid measuring body as existing as an object which can be experienced,
    the "system of coordinates" concept as well as the concept of the motion of
    matter relative thereto can be accepted in the sense of the "stipulation of
    meaning". At the same time Euclidian geometry, by this conception, has been
    adapted to the requirements of the physics of the "stipulation of meaning".
    The question whether Euclidian geometry is valid becomes physically significant;
    its validity is assumed in classical physics and also later in the special
    theory of relativity.

    In classical mechanics the inertial frame and time are best defined together
    by a suitable formulation of the law of inertia: It is possible to fix the time
    and assign a state of motion to the system of coordinates (inertial frame) such
    that, with reference to the latter, force-free material points undergo no acceleration;
    furthermore it is assumed that this time can be measured without
    disagreement by identical clocks (systems which run down periodically) in
    any arbitrary state of motion. There are then an infinite number of inertial
    frames which are in uniform translational motion relative to each other, and
    hence there is also an infinite number of mutually equivalent, physically preferred
    states of motion. Time is absolute, i.e.independent of the choice of
    the particular inertial frame; it is defined by more characteristics than logically
    necessary, although - as implied by mechanics - this should not lead
    to contradictions with experience. Note in passing that the logical weakness
    of this exposition from the point of view of the stipulation of meaning is
    the lack of an experimental criterion for whether a material point is force-
    free or not; therefore the concept of the inertial frame remains rather problematical.
    This deficiency leads to the general theory of relativity. We shall
    not consider it for the moment.

    The concept of the rigid body (and that of the clock) has a key bearing
    on the foregoing consideration of the fundamentals of mechanics, a bearing
    which there is some justification for challenging. The rigid body is only approximately
    achieved in Nature, not even with desired approximation; this
    concept does not therefore strictly satisfy the "stipulation of meaning". It is
    also logically unjustifiable to base all physical consideration on the rigid or
    solid body and then finally reconstruct that body atomically by means of
    elementary physical laws which in turn have been determined by means of
    the rigid measuring body. I am mentioning these deficiencies of method
    because in the same sense they are also a feature of the relativity theory in
    the schematic exposition which I am advocating here. Certainly it would be

    1921 A.EINSTEIN

    logically more correct to begin with the whole of the laws and to apply the
    "stipulation of meaning" to this whole first, i.e. to put the unambiguous relation
    to the world of experience last instead of already fulfilling it in an imperfect
    form for an artificially isolated part, namely the space-time metric.
    We are not, however, sufficiently advanced in our knowledge of Nature’s
    elementary laws to adopt this more perfect method without going out of our
    depth. At the close of our considerations we shall see that in the most recent
    studies there is an attempt, based on ideas by Levi-Civita, Weyl, and Eddington,
    to implement that logically purer method.

    It more clearly follows from the above what is implied by "preferred states
    of motion". They are preferred as regards the laws of Nature. States of motion
    are preferred when, relative to the formulation of the laws of Nature,
    coordinate systems within them are distinguished in that with respect to them
    those laws assume a form preferred by simplicity. According to classical mechanics
    the states of motion of the inertial frames in this sense are physically
    preferred. Classical mechanics permits a distinction to be made between (absolutely)
    unaccelerated and accelerated motions; it also claims that velocities
    have only a relative existence (dependent on the selection of the inertial
    frame), while accelerations and rotations have an absolute existence (independent
    of the selection of the inertial frame). This state of affairs can be
    expressed thus: According to classical mechanics "velocity relativity" exists,
    but not "acceleration relativity". After these preliminary considerations we
    can pass to the actual topic of our contemplations, the relativity theory, by
    characterizing its development so far in terms of principles.

    The special theory of relativity is an adaptation of physical principles to
    Maxwell-Lorentz electrodynamics. From earlier physics it takes the assumption
    that Euclidian geometry is valid for the laws governing the position of
    rigid bodies, the inertial frame and the law of inertia. The postulate of equivalence
    of inertial frames for the formulation of the laws of Nature is assumed
    to be valid for the whole of physics (special relativity principle). From Maxwell-
    Lorentz electrodynamics it takes the postulate of invariance of the velocity
    of light in a vacuum (light principle).

    To harmonize the relativity principle with the light principle, the assumption
    that an absolute time (agreeing for all inertial frames) exists, had to
    be abandoned. Thus the hypothesis is abandoned that arbitrarily moved and
    suitably set identical clocks function in such a way that the times shown by
    two of them, which meet, agree. A specific time is assigned to each inertial
    frame; the state of motion and the time of the inertial frame are defined, in


    accordance with the stipulation of meaning, by the requirement that the
    light principle should apply to it. The existence of the inertial frame thus
    defined and the validity of the law of inertia with respect to it are assumed.
    The time for each inertial frame is measured by identical clocks that are stationary
    relative to the frame.

    The laws of transformation for space coordinates and time for the transition
    from one inertial frame to another, the Lorentz transformations as they
    are termed, are unequivocally established by these definitions and the hypotheses
    concealed in the assumption that they are free from contradiction. Their
    immediate physical significance lies in the effect of the motion relative to the
    used inertial frame on the form of rigid bodies (Lorentz contraction) and on
    the rate of the clocks. According to the special relativity principle the laws of
    Nature must be covariant relative to Lorentz transformations; the theory
    thus provides a criterion for general laws of Nature. It leads in particular to
    a modification of the Newtonian point motion law in which the velocity of
    light in a vacuum is considered the limiting velocity, and it also leads to the
    realization that energy and inertial mass are of like nature.

    The special relativity theory resulted in appreciable advances. It reconciled
    mechanics and electrodynamics. It reduced the number of logically independent
    hypotheses regarding the latter. It enforced the need for a clarification
    of the fundamental concepts in epistemological terms. It united the momentum
    and energy principle, and demonstrated the like nature of mass and
    energy. Yet it was not entirely satisfactory - quite apart from the quantum
    problems, which all theory so far has been incapable of really solving. In
    common with classical mechanics the special relativity theory favours certain
    states of motion - namely those of the inertial frames - to all other states of
    motion. This was actually more difficult to tolerate than the preference for
    a single state of motion as in the case of the theory of light with a stationary
    ether, for this imagined a real reason for the preference, i.e. the light ether.
    A theory which from the outset prefers no state of motion should appear more
    satisfactory. Moreover the previously mentioned vagueness in the definition
    of the inertial frame or in the formulation of the law of inertia raises doubts
    which obtain their decisive importance, owing to the empirical principle for
    the equality of the inertial and heavy mass, in the light of the following consideration.

    Let K be an inertial frame without a gravitational field, K’ a system of coordinates
    accelerated uniformly relative to K. The behaviour of material
    points relative to K’ is the the same as if K’ were an inertial frame in respect

    1921 A.EINSTEIN

    of which a homogeneous gravitational field exists. On the basis of the empirically
    known properties of the gravitational field, the definition of the
    inertial frame thus proves to be weak. The conclusion is obvious that any
    arbitrarily moved frame of reference is equivalent to any other for the formulation
    of the laws of Nature, that there are thus no physically preferred
    states of motion at all in respect of regions of finite extension (general relativity

    The implementation of this concept necessitates an even more profound
    modification of the geometric-kinematical principles than the special relativity
    theory. The Lorentz contraction, which is derived from the latter,
    leads to the conclusion that with regard to a system K’ arbitrarily moved relative
    to a (gravity field free) inertial frame K, the laws of Euclidian geometry
    governing the position of rigid (at rest relative to K’) bodies do not apply.
    Consequently the Cartesian system of coordinates also loses its significance
    in terms of the stipulation of meaning. Analogous reasoning applies to time;
    with reference to K’ the time can no longer meaningfully be defined by the
    indication on identical clocks at rest relative to K’, nor by the law governing
    the propagation of light. Generalizing, we arrive at the conclusion that gravitational
    field and metric are only different manifestations of the same physical

    We arrive at the formal description of this field by the following consideration.
    For each infinitesimal point-environment in an arbitrary gravitational
    field a local frame of coordinates can be given for such a state of motion
    that relative to this local frame no gravitational field exists (local inertial
    frame). In terms of this inertial frame we may regard the results of the special
    relativity theory as correct to a first approximation for this infinitesimally
    small region. There are an infinite number of such local inertial frames at
    any space-time point; they are associated by Lorentz transformations. These
    latter are characterised in that they leave invariant the "distance" ds of two
    infinitely adjacent point events - defined by the equation:

    which distance can be measured by means of scales and clocks. For, x, y, z, t

    represent coordinates and time measured with reference to a local inertial


    To describe space-time regions of finite extent arbitrary point coordinates

    in four dimensions are required which serve no other purpose than to pro-



    vide an unambiguous designation of the space-time points by four numbers
    each, x1, x2, x3 and x4, which takes account of the continuity of this four-
    dimensional manifold (Gaussian coordinates). The mathematical expression
    of the general relativity principle is then, that the systems of equations expressing
    the general laws of Nature are equal for all such systems of coordinates.

    Since the coordinate differentials of the local inertial frame are expressed
    linearly by the differentials dxof a Gaussian system of coordinates, when


    the latter is used, for the distance ds of two events an expression of the form

    = =
    is obtained. The guv which arc continuous functions of xv, determine the
    metric in the four-dimensional manifold where ds is defined as an (absolute)
    parameter measurable by means of rigid scales and clocks. These same parameters
    guv however also describe with reference to the Gaussian system of
    coordinates the gravitational field which we have previously found to be
    identical with the physical cause of the metric. The case as to the validity of
    the special relativity theory for finite regions is characterised in that when
    the system of coordinates is suitably chosen, the values of gfor finite regions


    are independent of x.


    In accordance with the general theory of relativity the law of point motion
    in the pure gravitational field is expressed by the equation for the geodetic
    line. Actually the geodetic line is the simplest mathematically which
    in the special case of constant gbecomes rectilinear. Here therefore we


    are confronted with the transfer of Galileo’s law of inertia to the general
    theory of relativity.

    In mathematical terms the search for the field equations amounts to ascertaining
    the simplest generally covariant differential equations to which the
    gravitational potentials gcan be subjected. By definition these equations


    should not contain higher derivatives of gwith respect to xthan the sec

    uv v

    ond, and these only linearly, which condition reveals these equations to be a
    logical transfer of the Poisson field equation of the Newtonian theory of gravity
    to the general theory of relativity.

    The considerations mentioned led to the theory of gravity which yields
    the Newtonian theory as a first approximation and furthermore it yields the
    motion of the perihelion of Mercury, the deflection of light by the sun, and
    the red shift of spectral lines in agreement with experience.*

    * As regards the red shift, the agreement with experience is not yet completely assured,

    1921 A.EINSTEIN

    To complete the basis of the general theory of relativity, the electromagnetic
    field must still be introduced into it which, according to our present
    conviction, is also the material from which we must build up the elementary
    structures of matter. The Maxwellian field equations can readily
    be adopted into the general theory of relativity. This is a completely unambiguous
    adoption provided it is assumed that the equations contain no
    differential quotients of ghigher than the first, and that in the customary


    Maxwellian form they apply in the local inertial frame. It is also easily possible
    to supplement the gravitational field equations by electromagnetic
    terms in a manner specified by the Maxwellian equations so that they contain
    the gravitational effect of the electromagnetic field.

    These field equations have not provided a theory of matter. To incorporate
    the field generating effect of ponderable masses in the theory, matter
    had therefore (as in classical physics) to be introduced into the theory in an
    approximate, phenomenological representation.

    And that exhausts the direct consequences of the relativity principle. I shall
    turn to those problems which are related to the development which I have
    traced. Already Newton recognized that the law of inertia is unsatisfactory
    in a context so far unmentioned in this exposition, namely that it gives no
    real cause for the special physical position of the states of motion of the inertial
    frames relative to all other states of motion. It makes the observable
    material bodies responsible for the gravitational behaviour of a material
    point, yet indicates no material cause for the inertial behaviour of the material
    point but devises the cause for it (absolute space or inertial ether). This
    is not logically inadmissible although it is unsatisfactory. For this reason

    E. Mach demanded a modification of the law of inertia in the sense that the
    inertia should be interpreted as an acceleration resistance of the bodies against
    one another and not against "space". This interpretation governs the expectation
    that accelerated bodies have concordant accelerating action in the same
    sense on other bodies (acceleration induction).
    This interpretation is even more plausible according to general relativity
    which eliminates the distinction between inertial and gravitational effects.
    It amounts to stipulating that, apart from the arbitrariness governed by the
    free choice of coordinates, the guv -field shall be completely determined by
    the matter. Mach’s stipulation is favoured in general relativity by the circumstance
    that acceleration induction in accordance with the gravitational field
    equations really exists, although of such slight intensity that direct detection
    by mechanical experiments is out of the question.


    Mach’s stipulation can be accounted for in the general theory of relativity
    by regarding the world in spatial terms as finite and self-contained. This hypothesis
    also makes it possible to assume the mean density of matter in the
    world as finite, whereas in a spatially infinite( quasi-Euclidian) world it should
    disappear. It cannot, however, be concealed that to satisfy Mach’s postulate
    in the manner referred to a term with no experimental basis whatsoever
    must be introduced into the field equations, which term logically is in no
    way determined by the other terms in the equations. For this reason this
    solution of the "cosmological problem" will not be completely satisfactory
    for the time being.

    A second problem which at present is the subject of lively interest is the
    identity between the gravitational field and the electromagnetic field. The
    mind striving after unification of the theory cannot be satisfied that two
    fields should exist which, by their nature, are quite independent. A mathematically
    unified field theory is sought in which the gravitational field and
    the electromagnetic field are interpreted only as different components or
    manifestations of the same uniform field, the field equations where possible
    no longer consisting of logically mutually independent summands.

    The gravitational theory, considered in terms of mathematical formalism,
    i.e.Riemannian geometry, should be generalized so that it includes the laws
    of the electromagnetic field. Unfortunately we are unable here to base ourselves
    on empirical facts as when deriving the gravitational theory (equality
    of the inertial and heavy mass), but we are restricted to the criterion of mathematical
    simplicity which is not free from arbitrariness. The attempt which
    at present appears the most successful is that, based on the ideas of Levi-
    Civita, Weyl and Eddington, to replace Riemannian metric geometry by
    the more general theory of affine correlation.

    The characteristic assumption of Riemannian geometry is the attribution
    to two infinitely adjacent points of a "distance" ds, the square of which is a
    homogeneous second order function of the coordinate differentials. It follows
    from this that (apart from certain conditions of reality) Euclidian geometry
    is valid in any infinitely small region. Hence to every line element
    (or vector) at a point P is assigned a parallel and equal line element (or vector)
    through any given infinitesimally adjacent point P’ (affine correlation).
    Riemannian metric determines an affine correlation. Conversely, however,
    when an affine correlation( law of infinitesimal parallel displacement) is mathematically
    given, generally no Riemannian metric determination exists from
    which it can be derived.

    1921 A.EINSTEIN

    The most important concept of Riemannian geometry, "space curvature",
    on which the gravitational equations are also based, is based exclusively on
    the "affine correlation". If one is given in a continuum, without first proceeding
    from a metric, it constitutes a generalization of Riemannian geometry
    but which still retains the most important derived parameters. By
    seeking the simplest differential equations which can be obeyed by an affine
    correlation there is reason to hope that a generalization of the gravitation
    equations will be found which includes the laws of the electromagnetic field.
    This hope has in fact been fulfilled although I do not know whether the formal
    connection so derived can really be regarded as an enrichment of physics
    as long as it does not yield any new physical connections. In particular a field
    theory can, to my mind, only be satisfactory when it permits the elementary
    electrical bodies to be represented as solutions free from singularities.

    Moreover it should not be forgotten that a theory relating to the elementary
    electrical structures is inseparable from the quantum theory problems.
    So far also relativity theory has proved ineffectual in relation to this most
    profound physical problem of the present time. Should the form of the general
    equations some day, by the solution of the quantum problem, undergo
    a change however profound, even if there is a complete change in the parameters
    by means of which we represent the elementary process, the relativity
    principle will not be relinquished and the laws previously derived therefrom
    will at least retain their significance as limiting laws.
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  3. MacM Registered Senior Member

    Good for your responses have been of no value to anyone.


    Screw you. Since you haven't had the answer to questions raised you have relied on innuendo, slander, lies, distortions, etc. Of no value to a discussion.

    What you really mean is I do not cow down to BS posted by relativist pretending it is the answer when it is not.

    Pot meet Kettle.

    Good. Now perhaps people can have a discussion.
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  5. PhysMachine MALLEUS SCIENTIARUM Registered Senior Member


    You really need to realize that you've been presented with solutions to every question you've asked as accepted by the contemporary physics community. You just refuse to believe them. But because you have no experimental basis for your ideas, and in fact your ideas are inconsistent with the way the universe is observed to work, you respond to these presentations by attacking the credentials and credibility of the posters. I know a few of the posters here personally, and looking at your profile and your website, their credentials to answer these questions are far beyond yours.

    If you don't like their answers, fine, don't like them. But don't respond to them with posts like the one you just made in which the only thing you do is list of personal attacks. Some of us are interested in some intelligent discourse on the subject matter.
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  7. MacM Registered Senior Member

    Fuck you jerk. You haven't responded yet with any thing intelligent. All you do is say look at all these smart people how can they be wrong.

    Damn I'm glad you live now and not in our history. We'd still be living in caves trying to figure out how to start a fire.


    My opoliogy for the bluntness but I mistook you for PM. So the comments about intelligent posts were for him and his appeals to authority.

    But it doesn't actually matter - Screw you.
  8. MacM Registered Senior Member

    This is typical of your posts and merits no detailed response. I'll just note once more that you are not posting any physics and are simply full of shit.
  9. PhysMachine MALLEUS SCIENTIARUM Registered Senior Member

    He posted plenty of physics about three pages ago. You just refused to acknowledge any of it.

    Oh, and fuck you too.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I think this thread has now served its purpose.

    MacM has not shown relativity to be fatally flawed. Since the thread has descended to personal insults and taunts, there doesn't seem much point in continuing.
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