Anus Mirabilis

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EW.jpgIt looks like the makers of the Expelled! documentary have some competition. There’s a new film soon to be released titled Einstein Wrong: The Miracle Year. Unless you’re denser than a black hole, it’s obvious from the title alone that it’s an anti-relativity piece. The “Miracle Year” refers to Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis of 1905, which just had its 100th anniversary. So naturally, the time is ripe for it to be destroyed.

The filmmaker is a man by the name of David de Hilster, whom I had never heard of before. He has no background in physics or any other natural science, though his bio proudly states that “his science skills [were] recognized in elementary school”. He also runs or is at least the major contributor to a site called Science Watchdogs, where he humbly places himself as arbiter of all that is or isn’t science.

In order to explain all of the problems with the theory of relativity, de Hilster employs members of his family, particularly his mom. This is certainly a step up from Ben Stein, but the “everyday person” technique is unlikely to convince most skeptics. After all, relativity is conceptually hard, and seeing an elderly lady sit around the living room doing her knitting doesn’t exactly smack of cutting edge science. There is the implied argument that if a theory can’t be made sensible your average suburban mom, then something must be wrong with it. Nuts, says I.

Now I am not a physicist either, and my knowledge of relativity theory extends no further than that of most otherwise scientifically literate people (which is to say, slightly above Star Trek level). But looking at the movie’s website and watching its trailer, I can’t help but feel that I’ve seen this somewhere before. Yep, it uses the exact same tactics as Expelled! and other ID/creationist propaganda. And that seriously pegs my BS meter.

For example, check out this bit from the FAQ:

There are thousands of scientists around the world who know Einstein is wrong. Some are willing to talk about it, most are not for fear of losing their jobs or reputations. They are a small minority but that minority is growing. Also, there are more and more observations in astronomy and physics that violate Einstein’s theory of relativity including going faster than the speed of light.

We have all the familiar tropes: 1) There really are lots of “Einstein skeptics” out there but they’re too afraid to speak out (they’re apparently cowards or something), 2) Their numbers are growing and will presumably become a majority soon (no evidence is offered to back this up), and 3) The evidence is increasingly showing that Einstein is wrong (even though the vast majority of competent physicists don’t see it this way).

You could of course substitute “Einstein” with “Darwin”, “relativity” with “evolution”, etc. and what you’d end up with would be indistinguishable from your average Discovery Institute missive. When confronted with the fact that their ideas aren’t taken seriously, they invoke witch hunts and dark conspiracies as an excuse. This is prima facie evidence that you are dealing with cranks.

And I especially liked this one:

Q: Why are people so upset about the idea that Einstein may be wrong?

A: It is an emotional problem, not a scientific one. Although there are more and more people and proof as to why Einstein is wrong, and there are some very viable directions as to what is right, a very small vocal minority use Einstein to achieve acceptance, social status, and even admiration from other human beings who think they are “really smart”.

If Einstein were 100% right, the reaction to the idea of Einstein being wrong would not bother anyone. It would be like a documentary about the earth being flat. No one would care or be upset. That idea is too absurde [sic].

But the idea of Einstein being wrong is not absurd and everyone who knows some science knows this. People only get upset when they really feel their status is threatened and that the attack could be real.

The ID movement should sue this guy for plagiarism. We see the familiar tactic of using an ad hominem to explain why the vast majority of experts think the “Einstein skeptics” are full of it. This couldn’t possibly be because the experts are highly familiar with the theoretical and empirical evidence – no, it must be because they’re trying to protect their status, careers, and if that’s not enough, they’re too caught up in their emotions. (Physicists being widely known for their emotions.)

I’ll offer an alternative hypothesis: The Einstein skeptics really are full of it, they’ve been shown time and time again why they’re full of it, and mainstream scientists have concluded that there is no point in trying to reason with them any further. Frustrated at not receiving the attention they crave, the Einstein skeptics have engaged in a heavy-handed PR campaign ripe with falsehoods and slanderous accusations directed at mainstream scientists. This has achieved the desired goal of pissing those scientists off.

Again, I am not a physicist and couldn’t tell you if the Autodynamics theory that the filmmaker is peddling is worth a damn, but guess which of the above hypotheses I find more likely to be true? (The fact that he’s more interested in attacking Einstein than in providing evidence for his own beliefs also raises a red flag.) If I hadn’t seen it all before, I’d be more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

There’s a couple of lessons to be learned from all of this. First of all, creationists are fond of saying that there must be something wrong with evolution because of all the people who simply can’t believe it, find it counterintuitive, really, really don’t like it, etc. No other theory is like that, right? Well yes, other theories are like that – in fact just about all of them are like that. For every successful idea there will always be contrarians and self-styled iconoclasts who feel the need to prove it wrong. Physics has had more than its share of crackpots, so many in fact that it prompted John Baez to invent the crackpot index just for them. The only difference between physics cranks and creationists is that the latter are also driven by religious fundamentalism with its threats of eternal damnation and culture war mentality, and that adds an extra layer of stridency.

Secondly, crackpottery is as crackpottery does. As early as the 1950s, Martin Gardner noticed that crackpots of all kinds have a set of defining characteristics, and his analysis has stood the test of time. Entertaining heterodox ideas does not make one a crank – it is the attitude, the self-absorbed conceit, and method of presentation that does. Key among them is the Galileo Complex. If someone tells you that he’s discovered that a successful scientific theory is totally wrong, and that thousands of scientists agree but they can’t speak out for fear of persecution… head for the door. You’re dealing with someone who’s constructed a paranoid fantasy world in lieu of admitting that his ego-driven beliefs are rejected by competent experts. That person just might be a crackpot. Jeff Foxworthy, call your agent.

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Autodynamics from Science After Sunclipse on October 19, 2007 1:53 PM

Ah, some light Friday fare! By now, everybody has probably heard about the forthcoming crackpot “documentary” from David de Hilster, Einstein Wrong - The Miracle Year. Currently looking for financial backing, de Hilster hopes to release th... Read More

59 Comments

That is so whacked-out it’s hard to believe it isn’t a satire on Expelled, and pseudoscience in general. Sadly, it seems a bit too elaborate for a spoof.

Take it from a physics student, Autodynamics is totally wrong. Just look at the velocity-addition formula, and the refutation of the neutrino. We know neutrinos exist, saying that they don’t is just bonkers. It’s also useful to point out that if SR is wrong, then so are Maxwell’s equations, and if those are wrong it’s a serious wonder that anything electronic works at all.

Basically, asserting that SR is wrong is saying that half of Physics is wrong, and that’s crazy.

Well, I suppose I’m just dense, but after poking about on that site for awhile, and even watching the trailer (anyone else think it sounds like an Ed Wood movie?), I still have no clue WHAT they think is wrong with Einstein. Given the silly wigs, maybe they just thought his hairstyle was wrong?

Physics is a favorite target of crackpots because crackpots can always find a following that thinks they are brilliant when they claim to understand something as “esoteric” as relativity or quantum mechanics. These followers have no way to check anything out because they don’t have the tools to do so. They tend to come from a subculture of paranoid misfits who believe everything in science is some kind of conspiracy by a scientific cabal.

These crackpots also tend to get a lot of media publicity because news organizations love the underdog crackpot who claims he is bucking the system. Some like Joe Newman keep coming back time after time and manage to wheedle money out of some pretty stupid people who somehow manage, despite their low intelligence, to have some.

Relativity is under no threat from crackpots. It has been tested to extremely high precision and there are many current technologies (such a GPS) that would not work if relativity were not true. Particle accelerators are built on the principles of relativity, and they work pretty well.

It is interesting, however, that the more recent crackpots have learned the language of the ID/Creationist crackpots. Apparently they think they can still get some mileage out of it.

I personally find the physics crackpots among the most entertaining, and most pathetic, of the crackposts that are out there.

some pretty stupid people who somehow manage, despite their low intelligence, to have some.

“Anyone can make a fortune. It takes a genius to hold onto one.”
Jay Gould

Seems you accidentally left an ‘n’ out of the title of the article;-)

The title appears to be misspelled. It should be “Annus Mirabilis”. Unless this is a deliberate comment. Are you suggesting that the movie is full full of crap it must have come from a miraculous anus? Someone suggested at one point that the sphincter is irreducibly complex. That may be related.

People, the title is not misspelled. Sheesh.

I still don’t know what “miracle hag” has to do with this topic.

Oh, man, I love this quote from the FAQ.

Q: If Einstein is wrong, then who is right?

A: Einstein has to be right before you can prove him wrong. Special relativity is wrong and never was right. General relativity provides no mechanism for gravity and is only math.

That’s brilliant! I’m convinced.

Hah, I can’t resist another gem.

Q: Do you have experimental proof that Einstein is wrong?

A: We talk with people who have addressed the current “proof” for Einstein who find much of it inconclusive and some just plain wrong. We present scientists and professors who have experiments that have proven Einstein wrong. To put is simply, there has to be proof for Einstein’s theory before you can say it is wrong.

Wait, what? There has to be proof before something can be wrong?

So, wait, do the IDiots know that? If there’s no evidence for evolution, how can it be wrong?

I wonder if this is indeed a spoof… a mockumentary on the scale of “Spinal Tap” or “Blair Witch”.

Relax, Steve. The article is aptly titled. You’ve just got to look at the punctuation ;-)

First of all, creationists are fond of saying that there must be something wrong with evolution because of all the people who simply can’t believe it, find it counterintuitive, really, really don’t like it, etc.

If not liking a conclusion of a theory somehow invalidated it, that would do in global warming - nobody with sense wants the major conclusions of that theory to be correct.

Then again, evolution theory also has some conclusions that I don’t particularly like. Hmmm, could I be on the wrong side? :p

Henry

There is the implied argument that if a theory can’t be made sensible your average suburban mom, then something must be wrong with it.

The Baconian philosophy in a nutshell. Most Americans – most humans, I’d guess – are Baconians at heart and believe that Nature is basically a simple and straightforward thing. Anything that is complex & difficult to understand is automatically viewed with suspicion: relativity, evolution, climatology, economics, advanced mathematics…

I can’t help thinking about the story concerning Einstein vs. the Third Reich. (I’m paraphrasing here) The Nazis published a book entitled “200 Scientists Who Say Einstein Is Wrong” (or some such). Einstein is said to have remarked “ Well, if they’d been right, it would only have required one scientist “

Stuart Coleman:

Take it from a physics student, Autodynamics is totally wrong. Just look at the velocity-addition formula, and the refutation of the neutrino. We know neutrinos exist, saying that they don’t is just bonkers. It’s also useful to point out that if SR is wrong, then so are Maxwell’s equations, and if those are wrong it’s a serious wonder that anything electronic works at all.

Basically, asserting that SR is wrong is saying that half of Physics is wrong, and that’s crazy.

I’m not a physics expert by any means, I merely have an undergrad degree in the subject. I agree with Stuart, and add that while it appears to be total bullshit, it sounds all sciency and uses the same rhetorical techniques as ID, so expect it to be very persuasive among the creationist set. Don’t be surprised to see a post at Uncommon Descent announcing Einstein’s Waterloo.

For interested readers, I recommend checking out Wikipedia for information about Einstein’s Special Relativity and General Relativity theories. Just enter RELATIVITY and different things are listed.

I think you really, Really have to be a genius to understand Einstein’s Relativity theories.…. But as noted here, and in Wikipedia, they are described as theories. And Wikipedia has numerous competing theories listed. Of course, fundies don’t have to explain anything in any terms other than “an unidentified supreme intelligent designer made it”.

Not sure what Mrs “de” movie is attacking, after watching the trailer. According to cursory information gleaned from Wikipedia, E=mc2 refers to the Special Relativity theory.… and the General theory of Relativity refers to Gravity.

If this movie is deceptively pushing “Intelligent Falling” as a non-religious alternative to Gravity, then I think the reference to E=mc2 might be an incorrect one.

Problem with autodynamics is that in the limit of small velocities it fails to recover the well tested Newtonian physics.

M.A.:

I think you really, Really have to be a genius to understand Einstein’s Relativity theories.….

I was in the Bureau of Mines building at NCSU one time, and I asked a grad student, “I can do the equations for special relativity, and I can solve the ordinary problems in it, but I don’t really ‘get it’. Do you ever really ‘get it’? Does it ever make a kind of intuitive, gut sense?” He thought for a minute, and said, “Well…I’m not sure I really ‘get it’…but after a while, you kind of…get used to it.”

First off, I want to declare that I, ONCE, “got” special relativity.. I was thinking about the business about time dilation, trying to figure out “why” it happened.. I mean how Einstein was able to figure out that it happened from a purely logical beginning. For one night, after spending a half an hour or so bouncing my thoughts off someone else, suddenly I had it! It was amazing. I came close to understanding the length contraction thing, but I figured out time dilation. I could picture the process in my mind and it made sense.

I’ve since lost that bit of insight. But I claim some sort of victory in achieving what I did with as little education on the matter as I had. In school I’d been taught that the process happened, but I never understood why. For that night, I understood why.

But anyway.. I checked out the website for that movie, and found it to be absolutely pathetic. The front page declares:

I have spent over 13 years trying to show the scientific community what I have found

Yet here he is, with his own website and everything, and he can’t manage to tell anyone what he’s found. Indeed, he explains that the trailer for his movie doesn’t explain anything because he doesn’t want to give the movie away.

The sad thing is I still want to see the movie to see what the argument is. I mean I don’t want this crackpot to get a cent of my money, but I’d like to see what’s got him all worked up.

Still this final quote doesn’t leave me much hope:

Although this movie can’t get into the lower level technical details, it will show those who do have answers and explanations for why relativity is wrong, and what can replace it.

So.. if I can penetrate the terrible grammar in that quote, it would appear that the movie won’t actually tell us the details of why Einstein is wrong, or what the allegedly accurate replacement theory is.. but we’ll get to see the people who have the new theory.

Don’t Panic comments on Pharyngula:

… it’s not a spoof. David de Hilster has been pushing Autodynamics since … well, I argued extensively with him on Usenet sci.physics in the late 80’s or early 90’s. One of the “features” of this so-called theory is the nonexistence of the neutrino. Given that, at the time (and again today), I was working on a particle physics experiment measuring the interaction properties of the neutrino, I was pretty sure they existed. I explained, patiently at first, less so later, how they were produced and how they were measured and how we were sure that what we saw wasn’t something else. In the end he demanded that I give him copies of our data; seeing as it was just a bunch of bits unless you understood how to interpret the data-aquisition readout, etc (in 60-bit Cyber format!) he wasn’t going to get far with that. In the end he never did tell me where to ship him the 8mm tapes.

I never quite understood about his insane need to not believe in neutrinos. I think it follows from neutrinos are needed to balance energy and momentum in radioactive decay under special relativity (SR). Thus if they exist that serves as evidence that SR is right, and if SR is right then Autodyanmics, his hobby horse, must be wrong (being that it is completely incompatible with SR … or even Galilean, i.e. everyday slow moving, low energy physics).

So not only is he smarter than Einstein (who couldn’t be all that smart since he got the “I after E” rule wrong twice in his name), he’s also smarter than Newton and Galileo. I suspect that he was a contributing factor to the creation of the crackpot index developed by John Baez in the early 90’s. [Bold added.]

… de Hilster is the king of the “little guy outsmarts those silly PhD’s” ‘cause they’re just in it for the money not the knowledge and are suppressing the real thinkers.

I followed the link to the crackpot index, and tried it out on what I could remember of the famous works of one Dr. Dr. W. Dembski. I ended up with an index of 400, which is very impressive.

On the subject of special relativity, I didn’t get it until a teacher described this thought experiment:

Imagine you are on a train travelling very, very fast. Beside the train is a mirror of infinite extent, exactly parallel to the tracks. You flash a torch out of the window at the mirror. How far does the light beam travel?

From your point of view, it travels directly from the window to the mirror and back again, perpendicular to your direction of travel. From the point of view of someone standing by the tracks, the light beam does something odd: because, in the time taken for the light pulse to travel from the train to the mirror and back again, the train has moved on, it travels in a diagonal line from the train to the mirror, reflects off the mirror at an angle and returns to the train. Thus, it has travelled farther, but in the same time.

This means that either the speed of the light has changed, depending on the frame of reference, or the passage of time depends on the frame of reference. Now, I can’t remember the (separate) thought experiment that illustrates the constancy of the speed of light, but combining the two gives you a changing pace of time. Essentially, for the observer on the train, time passes more slowly than it does for the observer stood by the tracks, and so the pulse of light travels a shorter distance, but at a speed that is constant for both observers.

Now, how do we know that it is the train that is moving, and not the tracks and mirror?

In other words, why does time run slower for the observer that we have arbitrarily decided is moving rapidly? This has to do with acceleration. Because the train was accelerated relative to the tracks at the start of its journey, its frame of reference changed to one with slower-paced time. Acceleration can be measured independently without needing to refer to any arbitrary markers, so it turns out to be the key to the time dilation effect.

E=mc^2 is derived from the fact that we cannot accelerate an object to the speed of light. We can add more and more energy, and the object’s speed will get fractionally closer to c, but it will never reach c. Where does the energy go? It becomes mass. As any physicist will be able to tell, I am not a physicist, so this is all a kind of anecdotal understanding. It does, however, serve to prevent my brain from dribbling out of my ears when I read articles about SR in such publications as New Scientist, or in popular science books.

General relativity starts from the premise that we cannot distinguish acceleration from gravity, and then it gets all scary.

From the FAQ:

There is much more than math that makes a theory correct. The idea is for the main character to decide on her own whether she thinks Einstein may be right or wrong. The filmmaker has the point of view that if the general public can’t understand a theory, engineers don’t use it, and there is a growing number of physicists and scientists finding fundemental [sic] problems with relativity, then the public (represented by the main character) should be able to judge this for themselves. [Bold added]

More fundamentally than GPS, what will we do without magnetism as Stuart Coleman notes?

Maybe they don’t appreciate that when we derive the Lorentz force directly from EM theory we use the covariant formulation that fundamentally unite E and M forces. Magnetism is such a cool low-velocity relativity effect, we just aren’t used to think of it as such.

Then we will have to disuse X-ray tubes, whose photons are generated by Bremsstrahlung with relativistic corrections at higher energies.

We would have to close down our nuclear reactors. Which btw waters tantalizingly glow with Bremsstrahlung as well.

I guess we should leave interplanetary missions and accelerator technology alone. We wouldn’t want to confuse such esoteric activities with, you know, what engineers do.

I think you really, Really have to be a genius to understand Einstein’s Relativity theories…..

IMO the basic rationality of most theories are often quite easy. And that goes for the rationale of major tests as well. It is the structure and results that can be really complicated and voluminous. And the way to comprehend the basic rationality may be different for different individuals.

For example, it is IMO rather easy to understand the idea behind special relativity if you are used to compare what you observe in one system with another in mechanics. It is even surprisingly easy to derive mass-energy equivalence in that way. But when you start ponder how to compare clocks, add forces and how the rather simple Doppler effect looks relativistically (conformal Penrose-Terell rotation)

steve s:

I was in the Bureau of Mines building at NCSU one time, and I asked a grad student, “I can do the equations for special relativity, and I can solve the ordinary problems in it, but I don’t really ‘get it’. Do you ever really ‘get it’? Does it ever make a kind of intuitive, gut sense?” He thought for a minute, and said, “Well…I’m not sure I really ‘get it’…but after a while, you kind of…get used to it.”

I’ve heard physicists say something similar about quantum mechanics: everyone uses it because the math works and experimental results support it, but nobody really understands why it works the way it does.

It’s amusing and ironic that many creationists deride evolution as “just a theory” and suggest it’s somehow less scientific than relativity or QM, when in fact, recent discoveries in fields such as genetics and evo-devo mean we now understand evolution better than we understand relativity or QM.

I think “Mom” should stick to the “relativity” of her family tree and lob off one very stupid branch.

I think “Mom” should stick to the “relativity” of her family tree and lop off one very stupid branch.

Message to the humor-impaired:

It’s OBVIOUSLY a satire; stop taking yourselves so seriously!

It’s a spoof.

Nigel D Wrote:

I followed the link to the crackpot index, and tried it out on what I could remember of the famous works of one Dr. Dr. W. Dembski. I ended up with an index of 400, which is very impressive.

I really should have linked to this post, which was one of the first posts ever on this blog. There is virtually no entry on that list that the ID movement doesn’t get points for.

Raven’s law: There is nothing too stupid that people won’t believe it.

This isn’t even the worst example.

1. 20% of the US population think Copernicus was wrong and the sun circles the earth. Source, Gallup GSS poll, 2004 or 2006.

2. Scientologists believe that Xenu the Galactic overlord dropped off a few billion Thetan ghosts 70 million years ago. They have been haunting us ever since then. You can have them exorcized by the Scientologists for a few tens of thousands of dollars. A bargain really.

3. Some creos believe UFO’s are real. They are piloted by demons rather than space aliens.

Obviously, this list could go on forever. It is part of the human condition that someone will be found to believe anything.

I found that once I’d drawn enough space-time diagrams, special relativity made pretty good sense. QM is still hard on my brain, sometimes, but the move from Newtonian mechanics to relativity wasn’t much harder than recognizing that yes, objects fall with the same acceleration regardless of weight.

To those thinking this is a spoof, I would suggest that they look more deeply at the intentions of the ID movement, especially in the US, and consider how this “spoof” weaves almost seamlessly into the fabric of ID’s founding document, the Wedge Strategy as laid out by Johnson, Behe and friends.

ID has proven itself meritless as science time and again - even when provided with a very high profile, high publicity forum, the Kitzmiller vs Dover Public Schools court case, they produced nothing suggesting that it is science - but that makes no difference really since the intent of the DI is not to establish ID as science so much as to undermine the public confidence in existing science. Then, it is the hope of the DI’s representatives, that the ground will be fertile for ID everywhere and they can step in with their observably wrong fundamentalist christian conceptions of life and the universe. While this movie may not be a DI brainchild, and for that matter even if it is a spoof, you can bet that the impact of this movie, no matter how bizarre it might be - think Behe … if bizarre is what it takes to change public opinion, bizarre is what he’ll do, even on the witness stand - will be measured and assessed by the DI. If in the eye of the American public they can erode confidence in Einstein by having some dopey old woman spew complete nonsense, you can bet that the DI will invest heavily in the movies that strike at germ theory, atomic theory, and geology.

Realize that if you can taint Einstein, then you can slip doubt into radiometric dating. And from that you can put young earth and biblical literalism back on firm footing, the foundation of broad public ignorance. The US is scary with Bush and Company calling the shots, but it would be almost unimaginably worse if someone with dreams of christian world domination were at the switch of the US’s nuclear arsenal. For the Bush cadre christianity is a means to their economic end. Sadly, the citizenry of the United States are neither an educated nor a thinking lot, and, by God, they are proud of that fact. They embrace supernaturalism of all sorts and, as recent years have shown, they are essentially under absolute control of corporate media.

My hope is that this movie is so stupid that few ever see it. But if it has just the right emotional appeal, soon public schools might be in court fighting to keep the word “Einstein” in physics texts and that will assist the DI by undermining science just a little bit more.

Scientologists believe that Xenu the Galactic overlord dropped off a few billion Thetan ghosts 70 million years ago. They have been haunting us ever since then.

You can’t prove this didn’t happen. After all, were you there?

Anyone remember the great prophet Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House”? One of the short stories described a future America where daily living was proscribed by a “Minister of Normal” - I’m paraphrasing here. Anyway, this minister would decree that whomever had talents greater than an “average” person had to be “handicapped” so the average person wouldn’t feel bad. Thus, a spectacular ballet dancer had to wear 20 pound weights, the husband had to wear a hearing aid that gave off sound blasts randomly to disrupt his thinking, since he was smarter than his wife, etc. It seems like we are moving in this direction - because “average people” don’t understand something it must be wrong, because otherwise it might hurt their feelings.

steve s said:

I was in the Bureau of Mines building at NCSU one time, and I asked a grad student, “I can do the equations for special relativity, and I can solve the ordinary problems in it, but I don’t really ‘get it’. Do you ever really ‘get it’? Does it ever make a kind of intuitive, gut sense?

I’ve never fully understood this sentiment. What about inertia, do you really ‘get it’? I mean why do things just keep on going?

Basically, when we say we ‘get it’, it usually means that we can make it correspond to something we’ve seen. We’ve all thrown things, or pushed objects on low friction surfaces, so we ‘get it’ when it comes to inertia. I just don’t understand why, after doing experiments that demonstrate quantum effects, or relativistic effects, people have a need to ‘get it’ on a more basic level than they get inertia. For me it’s a matter of, “well, I’ve seen it, I’ve gone through the math, and that’s just the way the world works.”

For example, Special relativity. Why does it make more sense for time or distance to be constant quantities in all reference frames than it does for the speed of light to be a constant quantity in all reference frames. Sure, before you’ve done any experiments that demonstrate this fact, it makes more sense based on our previous experiences; but, there is no fundamental reason that time should have a constant value in all reference frames. So, really, what is there to get? It’s just the way it is.

Einstein’s Relativity theories… as noted here, and in Wikipedia, they are described as theories. And Wikipedia has numerous competing theories listed.

So, if you look at wikipedia’s list of competing theories, almost every one listed has some reason for rejection listed with it– say, it predicts things which are observably false. And if I’m not horribly mistaken, those theories on that particular list which haven’t been adopted but haven’t specifically falsified either– like kaluza-klein theory or that NGT thing– aren’t so much alternatives to relativity as they are extensions of relativity, they grant relativity to be correct in its domain but then identify some other domain where the theory breaks down and you have to provide new theory…

ben:

Scientologists believe that Xenu the Galactic overlord dropped off a few billion Thetan ghosts 70 million years ago. They have been haunting us ever since then.

You can’t prove this didn’t happen. After all, were you there?

I can confirm this happened, because I was there. By the way, raven can’t speak to this matter because he wasn’t there, and as we all know, you can’t know anything about the past without being there.

Hmmm, L. Ron Hubbard knew about this event, so maybe he was there, but invisible. It is the only logical explanation!

Wow. I can’t speak to the science… But as an executive producer who employs a LOT of documentary filmmakers, I gotta say, if he handed me something as bad as that trailer, I’d fire him in a non-time-dilated minute.

It’s OBVIOUSLY a satire;

What is a satire?

If you mean the movie, it is a satire long in the making. David de Hilster is a (use)net.legends member since -94:

David de Hilster (“special relativity does not apply to decays”): Another classic crackpot (again, in the scientific sense).

Posts to alt.sci.physics.new-theories about Autodynamics, a theory which is supposed to explain particle decays without invoking neutrinos; unfortunately, this can’t be done without violating momentum conservation, and David tries to get around this by invoking a different kinetic energy equation and energy imparted from an “external medium”. Is also against the neutrino detection from the supernova at Kamiokande.

Autodynamics is apparently a creation of a Dr. Carezani; David has at least one supporter at his site (Amnon Meyers). Posts as David de Hilster <[Enable javascript to see this email address.]>.

Physicist Aaron Bergman mentioned the movie 2006 and warned of people to work on it.

Dropped a letter there. ‘Warned off’, of course.

There is obviously a controversy about whether Einstein was correct. I think it is high time that all American schools be required to ‘teach the controversy’, with both sides being given equal weight. The children deserve no less! Write your congressmen!

Pineyman said:

“Anyone remember the great prophet Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House”? One of the short stories described a future America where daily living was proscribed by a “Minister of Normal” - I’m paraphrasing here.”

The story in particular was “Harrison Bergeron”.

Its one thing to pick on evolution, but special relativity? Common! Whats the world coming to? ;-)

I wonder how many of these maniacs use GPS navigation to find their conference center to attend an “autodynamics” convention.

This is usually the place where I say “Lets move to Mars”, but I like this planet, so lets make these science disbelievers live under it’s more conspicuous reign.

Re “with both sides being given equal weight.”

Relativistic weight, of course. :p

Anyhoo, FWIW, the way I approach SR is to figure that physical processes involve photons getting from one atom (or smaller particle) to another at c within an object, and then figuring out what happens to the local interactions when the whole object is moving at a significant fraction of c. Exchanges of photons across the direction of travel takes longer due to longer path (same as in train analogy given above). If we assume that exchanges of photons in direction of travel have to be time dilated by the same amount as those across the line of travel, then length contraction is necessary to achieve that conclusion. This way of looking at it avoids talking about time “slowing down”, which imnsho confuses the issue. Time can’t slow down; it’s a dimension, not an object moving at some speed.

Oh, and the additional mass of the moving object works out to be simply the mass equivalence (delta M = KE/c**2) of the kinetic energy.

Henry

The fundamental idea in special relativity really comes down to the equivalence of reference frames moving at constant velocity relative to each other. Up until Einstein raised the constancy of the velocity of light to fundamental principal, there was the hope that using the measured differences in the velocity of light as seen by different observers would single out a preferred reference frame.

With the velocity of light being constant for all observers, there is no experiment whatsoever that can single out a preferred inertial reference frame. So relativity really holds.

The consequence was that time stretches or shrinks just as the projections of distances do for observers looking from different perspectives at a rotated object. Now time is also included in the coordinate differences of events in spacetime. The transformations of the coordinates of spacetime events from one reference frame to another are very much like the rotations of coordinate systems in space, except there are now four dimensions and there is that funny little minus sign associated with the time coordinate (depending how one chooses the metric). This is the consequence of the Principle of Relativity, where even the speed of light can no longer be used to sort out a special reference frame.

We think that time dilations and length contractions are strange merely because we don’t detect these effects in our daily lives (although we now understand that electromagnetic fields can look different to observers in reference frames moving at quite small velocities relative to each other). But once the Principle of Relativity is understood, its consequences follow logically and don’t seem all that strange.

Crackpots get hung up on these time and length changes from frame to frame. They miss the most fundamental idea.

Russ Wrote:

Realize that if you can taint Einstein, then you can slip doubt into radiometric dating. And from that you can put young earth and biblical literalism back on firm footing…

Actually, YECs need Einstein and relativity in a big way. How else can you compress 15 billion years of natural history into 6000?

Actually, YECs need Einstein and relativity in a big way. How else can you compress 15 billion years of natural history into 6000?

By using lots and lots of gaps?

Henry

I still have no clue WHAT they think is wrong with Einstein.

Well, he was wrong about the uncertainty principle and the cosmological constant, but that’s probably not what they’re talking about.

There is obviously a controversy about whether Einstein was correct.

Even worse, we know he was wrong! General relativity isn’t complete, we can quantize gravity but the description breaks down for large fields. Sooner or later we will measure it too, and will have to come up with a more correct theory. Write your congressmen!

Message to the humor-impaired:

It’s OBVIOUSLY a satire; stop taking yourselves so seriously!

As obviously as that organisms were designed.

Perhaps you were just joking with such a silly snap judgment, but it isn’t obvious to me.

EW! Now look what you’ve done!

You got stupid ALL over me!

Really, you need to warn people when you blog about stuff like this.

:-)

You know, the worst thing with stupid isn’t that it is self perpetuating, clingy or gum up the works. The worst is that we drown in it and it isn’t even a good fertilizer.

Who the hell benefits or feels better about their beliefs if Einstein is wrong????? I mean I GET that some people can’t get their minds around the bible not being a literal translation of God’s word on earth. Evolution breaks that idea and thus they are afraid of death, and thus they need to kill evolution and pull themselves back from the all devouring nihilistic void that is life and death in the absence of a loving divinity. I don’t agree with them but hey I get that.

But who the fuck cares if relativity is right or not???? I mean yeah lots of stuff wouldn’t work if it wasn’t true, but that doesn’t really impact my life. Fuck maybe god just likes Ipods and nuclear weapons and makes them work b/c they’re nifty ideas. No where in the book of luke does it state “ and lo, Jesus looked down upon the starving masses huddled around him and spoke ‘all of you fear not your hunger for I say unto you that if all accelerated systems are equivalent, then Euclidean geometry can and MUST hold in all of them!’ and the people looked amongst themselves and knew that it was good.”

Who the hell really cares if Einstein was right or not? Ipods do work, nukes do go boom, scientists keep creating new and wonderful ways to amuse and kill ourselves. This is a diatribe without a controversy. Just odd.

There apparently are alot of these folks who want to negate SR, GR and QM. Below is just one little dittie from our friends at “Common Sense Science.” The bios of these guys include some real degrees (one from my alma mater) and some connections to our Dept. of Defense. Remarkable. Really folk these guys are comin for us and that is not paranoia.

“Contradictions in Modern Physics The modern theory of matter rests upon such supporting theories as the Standard Model of Elementary Particles, Quantum Mechanics, and the Special Theory of Relativity. After decades of work by thousands of physicists, the theory has “grown” until it can explain a very large body of physical phenomena. This has made the theory very successful; but the theory is not adequate or true because:

It is only a mathematical model consisting of equations and does not usually specify physical structure for elementary particles. It frequently contradicts itself. It provides no mechanism for such fundamental processes as the exchange of energy. It has to rely upon numerous assumptions “

It has to rely upon numerous assumptions

Yeah - it assumes that photons act like photons, that quarks act like quarks, that electrons act like electrons, etc.

Henry

dogheaven Wrote:

It is only a mathematical model consisting of equations and does not usually specify physical structure for elementary particles. It frequently contradicts itself. It provides no mechanism for such fundamental processes as the exchange of energy. It has to rely upon numerous assumptions

It is certainly the case that there are many unsolved puzzles in the Standard Model. There is no explanation for the masses of particles; they have to be “put in by hand” so to speak. We know the masses only experimentally, but we don’t know why each particle has the mass it does. There are plenty of hints that the Standard Model is incomplete, and there are some problems merging General Relativity with Quantum Mechanics in strong fields. This is part of the reason that String Theory and other multidimensional theories are being pursued. Unfortunately, most of the predictions of these newer ideas take place at energies far beyond those that are technologically possible at the moment. Some clever new experimental ideas are needed. Finding the Higgs particle would be nice, but it won’t answer everything. And there are still the questions of Dark Matter and Dark Energy for which there is apparent evidence but no good explanation.

It is not a desirable situation to have theories that are not testable; physics is not and does not want to become ID/Creationism. Unlike those crackpots, physicists don’t claim a new theory is correct without experimental evidence, as tempting as a beautiful new theory may be.

This, however, is the normal progression of science; it doesn’t mean everything has to be scrapped and that there is now a huge vacuum for crackpots to fill.

I watched the trailer video and my conclusion is that this movie is satire. It’s so over the top that it can only be seen as a spoof. Judging from the trailer, the movie is so bad that it fails even as satire: it is not funny at all.

BTW, the production values are abysmal. The movie is just a home video.

Following my analysis, millions of persons on our planet receive the loan from good banks. Thus, there’s good chances to find a financial loan in every country.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on October 18, 2007 4:51 PM.

Federal Funding of Creationism Withdrawn was the previous entry in this blog.

Science v Intelligent Design: Denyse O’leary to teach a pastoral class on ID is the next entry in this blog.

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