Skip to comments.How Einstein may have got the theory of relativity wrong
Posted on 04/11/2005 10:16:58 PM PDT by bloggodocio
Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005
A century after Albert Einstein published his most famous ideas, physicists commemorated the occasion by trying to demolish one of them.
Yesterday astronomers were to tell experts gathering at Warwick University in England to celebrate the anniversary of the great man's "miracle year" that the speed of light -- Einstein's unchanging yardstick that underpins his special theory of relativity -- might be slowing down.
Michael Murphy, of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, said: "We are claiming something extraordinary here.
"The findings suggest that there is a more fundamental theory of the way that light and matter interact; and that special relativity, at its foundation, is actually wrong," Murphy said.
Einstein's insistence that the speed of light was always the same set up many of his big ideas and established the bedrock of modern physics.
Murphy said: "It could turn out that special relativity is a very good approximation but it's missing a little bit."
"That little bit may be the doorknob to a whole new universe and a whole new set of fundamental laws," Murphy added.
Murphy's team did not measure a change in the speed of light directly.
light from quasars
Instead, they analyzed flickering light from the far-distant celestial objects called quasars.
Their light takes billions of years to travel to Earth, letting astronomers see the fundamental laws of the universe at work during its earliest days.
The observations, from the Keck telescope in Hawaii, suggest that the way certain wavelengths of light are absorbed has changed.
If true, it means that something called the fine structure constant -- a measure of the strength of electromagnetic force that holds atoms together -- has changed by about 0.001 percent since the Big Bang.
The speed of light depends on the fine structure constant.
If one varies with time then the other probably does too, meaning Einstein got it wrong.
If light moved faster in the early universe than now, physicists would have to rethink many fundamental theories.
His conclusions are based on work carried out in 2001 with John Webb at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Other astronomers disputed the findings, and a smaller study using a different telescope last year suggested no change.
Murphy's team is analyzing the results from the largest experiment so far, using light from 143 bright stellar objects.
Einstein's burst of creativity in 1905 stunned his contemporaries. He published three papers that changed the way scientists viewed the world, including the special theory of relativity that led to his deduction E=mc2.
The Physics2005 conference, set up by the Institute of Physics as part of its Einstein Year initiative, runs until Thursday.
Close enough for government work :-)
Check out the work of Barry Setterfield re: Speed of Light!
(Sorry, I just wanted to see what that looks like typed out in english....)
If God designed everything, including the mind of Einstein, does God operate outside the laws of physics?
Is there a contemporary Einstein still living?
Please don't say names like Steve Hawking... I seriously dislike the media-driven scientists. Smart people are inately introverted, I believe, and make very poor celebrities.
Einstein himself admitted that he got his ToR wrong...some 4 or 5 decades after Hubble (you know, the space telescope bears his great name) proved him wrong.
I'm torturing you :-)
Global warming and George Bush did it.
"Please don't say names like Steve Hawking... I seriously dislike the media-driven scientists. Smart people are inately introverted, I believe, and make very poor celebrities."
Celebrities make notoriously bad scientists as well.
Wrong, huh? I knew it....!
therefore, by corollary, mc2 is < or =
when approaching ~
Maybe the Intelligent design guys have the key!?!
I'd give Ed Witten my vote as the smartest physicist alive today.
Edward Witten, the Charles Simonyi Professor of Mathematical Physics in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists. Professor Witten is one of the principal authors of string theory, the framework with which physicists have sought to unify quantum mechanics with gravity. String theorists propose that tiny, high-dimensional strings, closed into loops, vibrate to produce the various components of matter. The mathematics describing these strings, many physicists believe, may one day prove to be the key to one of the main puzzles of physics: the relationship of gravity to other known natural forces. In recent years, by means of mysterious new "duality" symmetries, physicists have obtained a much more far-reaching understanding of string theory that has many implications.
Much of Dr. Witten's early work was involved in application of the Standard Model of particle physics. He is the author of many influential papers on quantum chromodynamics, which explains the strong force that binds atomic nuclei together. He has worked increasingly in the area of more speculative unification theories, and has been working on superstring theory since 1984.
"He shows the direction for the rest of us," stated Institute physicist Nathan Seiberg, who collaborated with Witten on a series of groundbreaking papers. "His main strength is that he's powerful in everything. Both in math -- the most sophisticated math -- and physics he has remarkable physics intuition as well as complete control over the math that is needed. And, in that respect, I think he's unique."
Are we supposted to get an accurate critique of Einstein from a paper that doesn't know that the past participle of "get" is "gotten"?
My theory of "relative humidity" is asking your brother for a loan and he says "piss on ya".
Oh, not in the UK it's not.
In order to discover God's laws, you must go to the source. Many physicists are not qualified.
This is not going to help his arguments any. According to this article, the speed of light at the beginning of the universe was 300,092,250 meters per second vice its current speed of 299,792,458 meters per second. In other words, it doesn't vary by the orders of magnitude Setterfield claims.
Oh, you're right. Maybe I should limit my grammar policing to American writing.
It's a difference between Brit and Yank English.
He was 25.
Physics is like pro sports that way.
from the Summer of 2001.
Thanks for the ping!
So, was Einstein a poor celebrity or a poor scientist, because he was certainly both.
Does that mean that Al Gore's Earth In The Balance is not good science? Well, maybe now that he has lost some of his celebrity he can write an update with better science.
There was a good study that said after geniuses meet success, they quickly lose some talent. Apparently money and women - or one wife - makes them softheaded and somewhat less dedicated to work. I don't know if Einstein fit the pattern, but I bet maybe he wasn't a true celebrity until after he helped blow the world up with nukes... hence he may have been both genius and celebrity, but not at the same time!