Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Einstein Theory Of Relativity, HA Lorentz, 1920

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” A Einstein.

This book is several stories, physics, Einstein, life in the early 1900s, the author, Relativity, principle vs. mechanical theory, gravity, light, electro-magnetism, solar eclipse and more. I should like to jump around to some highlights and I make no attempt to explain Relativity, Special, General or otherwise.

The author HA Lorentz was a noted physicist himself. In 1902, he won the Nobel Prize for physics. In 1920, he wrote this book, which includes some general explanations of relativity. I have struggled with some of the concepts of general relativity and decided reading something written contemporaneously to Einstein’s life might help clarify those issues. It was interesting to read the books opening paragraph after which gave me hope. I opened my mind, willingly looking for clarity and finally understanding.

“NOTE: that not more than 12 persons in all the world are able to understand Einstein’s Theory, It is nevertheless a fact that there is a constant demand for information about this much-debated topic of relativity. The books published on the subject are so technical that only a person trained in pure physics and higher mathematics is able to fully understand them. In order to make a popular explanation of the far reaching theory available, the present book is published.”
This was it, finally I would be enlightened! Did the author succeed in his quest? You have got to be kidding. The reason only 12 people in the world understand Relativity is because it is impossible to understand. Twins that do not age, light bending in space ships, trains going in opposite directions with different clocks, I would like to go back to the Ether. ( I will explain the Ether afterwards)

So I read the book, maybe next time. Maybe next time.

Let me include a few quotes from the book,

- “Einstein’s theory has the very highest degree of a aesthetic merit: every lover of the beautiful must wish it to be true. It gives a vast unified survey of the operations of nature, with a technical simplicity in the critical assumptions which makes the wealth of deductions astonishing”

- There certainly should have been a powerful “ether wind” blowing through the earth and all our instruments….all the phenomena examined were evidently independent of the motion of the earth. That this is the way they function was brought to the front by Einstein in his first or “special” theory of relativity. For him the Ether does not function and in the sketch that he draws of natural phenomena there is no mention of the intermediate matter.

- Nevertheless, I cannot refrain, while I am mentioning it, from expressing my surprise that, according to the report in the Times there should be so much complaint about the difficulty of understanding the new theory.

ETHER: Before Einstein, certain observations could not be explained. Mostly it involved the wave versus particle theories of energy, tne nature of atomic particles, light propagation, electrical currents and electromagnetic influences on currents. In order to explain why observation with did not jive with the theories of the day, the Ether was invented. It was a great idea and I wish we still had it. The real name of the Ether was Luminiferous Aether (Greek) look here to see more: (it has been proven to NOT exist) (Gravity cannot be explained still. Although Einstein postulates it is not instantaneous and may have velocity.)

Does the Ethernet mean any to any of you? From what was the name derived? My new favorite concept is the Ether. It works great. If you cannot explain something, it is the Ether. If some crazy idea comes out, the Ether. When people say the government can create jobs or solve the problems of poverty, you can ascribe the origin of the crazy ideas to the Ether: A substance that is mysterious and does not exist. NO RATIONAL OR ACTUAL EXPLANATION NECESSARY AND YOU DON’T NEED FACTS!!!! Too cool. In physics the Ether does not apply anymore,only politics.

As promised, I will not explain any theories but in this book, Lorentz explains an experiment used to test the Relativity theory. This was great. In 1919, The English mounted expeditions. Physicists traveled to Prince’s island, of the coast of Guinea, and Sobral Brazil and measured the deflection of light emanating from distant stars around the solar rim. IN 1919. No laser, no computers no anything. They were measuring the gravitational effects of the sun on passing light. The measured bending of light matched, within the error of the day, the deflection predicted by Einstein. In this way, Einstein introduced an entirely new way of science. Rather than making observations followed by testing and formulation of theory. Einstein formulated theory and looked to see if the observations would confirm or disprove the idea. This was a transformational concept of the day. He called it “a-priori principle.”

Fun book, not for the mathematically challenged. I hope I made you think today.

Cool Einstein quotes:

- “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

- “Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.”

- “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”

- “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything”