- More Relativity -
In the next chapters I will concentrate on the difference between Special Relativity (SR) and Lorentz Ether Theory (LET), especially with regard to Lorentz's quote: (my bold)
<< The chief cause of my failure was my clinging to the idea that the variable t only can be considered as the true time and that my local time t' must be regarded as no more than an auxiliary mathematical quantity. In Einstein's theory, on the contrary, t' plays the same part as t; if we want to describe phenomena in terms of x'; y'; z'; t' we must work with these variables exactly as we could do with x; y; z; t. >> Lorentz, H.A (1916), The theory of electrons, Leipzig & Berlin: B.G. Teubner.
I'll show you why the Lorentz Transformations and its primed time coordinates only make sense in the physically real 4D Spacetime (Special Relativity), not in a 3D ether theory (LET).
A few Minkowski and Einstein quotes to support this:
Minkowski: (my bold):
<< Then from here on, we would no longer have space in the world, but endlessly many spaces; analogously, endlessly many planes exist in three-dimensional space. Three-dimensional geometry becomes a chapter of four-dimensional physics. You realize why I said at the outset: space and time are to sink into the shadows; only a world in and of itself endures. >>
(Minkowski 1909: 79)
In one sentence Einstein himself summerizes what physics became after 1905 (the publication of his Special Relativity paper:
<< From a "happening" in three-dimensional space, physics becomes, as it were, an "existence" in the four-dimensional "world". >> Albert Einstein. "Relativity: The Special and the General Theory." 1916. Appendix II Minkowski's Four-Dimensional Space ("World") (supplementary to section 17 - last section of part 1 - Minkowski's Four-Dimensional Space).
<< Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent "now" objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence. >> Albert Einstein, "Relativity", 1952.
<< For us convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. >> (March 21, 1955. Einstein Archives 7-245)
Other quotes support Einstein's belief in 4D existence.
Einstein's assistent Banesh Hoffman:
<< In spacetime, past, present, and future are all spread out before us, motionless like the words of a book. >> J.Neffe, Einstein, a biography. p. 147.
Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of science in the twentieth century, about his encounter with Einstein:
<< The main topic of our conversation was indeterminism. I tried to persuade him to give up his determinism, which amounted to the view that the world was a four-dimensional Parmenidean block universe in which change was a human illusion, or very nearly so. (He agreed that this had been his view, and while discussing it I called him "Parmenides".)... >> Karl Popper, Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography.Routledge Classics. Routledge. pp.148–150.
Special Relativity automatically leads to a 4D existence (Block Universe). Unfortunately not everybody is able or willing to take that step. Block Universe means free will is an illusion. Tell somebody he has no free will and you will get fierce opposition.
What is mindbogling is that even a lot of mathematicians and physicists are not facing the facts of Special Relativity. And it took me a long time to find out why. The crux of the matter is the difference between mathematics and physics.
<<Modern scientists are being taught so many formulas and calculations without a proper grounding in the initial development of theories that they have become calculators and autistics. Abstracted so far from what each calculation actually means in the physical realm, their understanding is hobbled.>> (I forgot to note the link - but the quote is not from Einstein, nor Minkowski)
Mathematicians will juggle with formulae, their calculators working non stop, and the results are what they are. The problem starts when the calculated numbers have to be interpreted in a physical way. What is the physical meaning of the numbers produced by the Lorentz Tranformations? You might be very surprised what mathematicians answer to this type of question. Most of the time they are simply not interested in dealing with those questions because they consider physical reality only a philosophical interpretation of mathematical results! In that state of mind Special Relativity adds nothing to science, because both Special Relativity and LET deal with the same 'Lorentz Transformations'. But the physical interpretation is vastly different!
Let me quote Einstein on a mathematics versus physics issue, in a discussion with Georges Lemaître. (Lemaître was a Belgian priest, astronomer and professor of physics, and was the first person to propose the theory of the expansion of the Universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble. Lemaître also proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe (wiki)). Originally Einstein was not ready to accept Lemaître's idea of an expanding universe. Einstein told him: "Your math is correct, but your physics is abominable". Sometimes quoted as: "Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable." (Lemaître finally turned out to be correct, but that's off topic here.)
I'm afraid LET fanatics do not (want to?) understand the physical significance of 'simultaneity' (in the sense of: simultaneous events are what a 3D physical space world is made of). Because if they would, they would immediately agree why relativity of simultaneity automatically leads to Block Universe. Too many mathematicians see relativity of simultaneity only as a mathematical trick produced by different reference frames: events with different mathematical time coordinates. Period. Ask a mathematician about the physical meaning of a different time coordinate and you are in for months of neverending discussions. Trust me, I know what I am talking about.
Ether (LET) fanatics consider the Lorentz Ether Theory (LET) an equally valid alternative for Special Relativity because they consider LET "experimentally indistinguishable from SR because of the same mathematical result of the Lorentz Transformations in LET and SR." Obviously, if 'experimentally indistinguishable' means nothing else than 'mathematically indistinguishable', then there is indeed no difference between SR and LET. But is that it?
Einstein: (my bold)
<< Physics is an attempt conceptually to grasp reality as it is thought, independently of its being observed. In this sense, one speaks of physical reality. >>
Mathematics are only a human invented helping tool to discover what the 'observation independent' reality is. Mathematical results carry implicit physical assumptions, what else are we calculating? Pysics is more than mathematics. Richard Feynman:
"... Physics is not mathematics, and mathematics is not physics. One helps the other. But you have to have some understanding of the connection of the words with the real world."
At 45:42 in video: Click here
I will explain -and repeat more than once- why the Lorentz Transformations can never give an real physical 'experimental' result in an ether context, because in LET the primed coordinates of the Lorentz Transformations are only mathematical auxiliaries, fictitious data!
In LET Lorentz's 'local time' is a pure mathematical trick (not an optical illusion, but rather a mathematical illusion!) with no physical meaning. It was Einstein who solved that problem by considering Lorentz's local time as physically real as the unprimed time. Lorentz admited that Einstein solved that problem: (my bold)
<<The chief cause of my failure was my clinging to the idea that the variable t only can be considered as the true time and that my local time t' must be regarded as no more than an auxiliary mathematical quantity. In Einstein's theory, on the contrary, t' plays the same part as t; if we want to describe phenomena in terms of x'; y'; z'; t' we must work with these variables exactly as we could do with x; y; z; t. >> Lorentz, H.A (1916), The theory of electrons, Leipzig & Berlin: B.G. Teubner
Unfortunately I often have the impression that many mathematicians/physicists interpret the issue the other way around (!): instead of accepting t' as a physical time, they reduce Einstein's t to a mathematical number! Simply for not having to deal with any physical interpretation at all, because that would lead to a 4D Block Spacetime (Block Universe). Hence -to put it bluntly- for thousands of mathematicians a 4D spacetime diagram is only a mathematical model to organize mathematical numbers. Simultaneity as a mathematical trick. But In that sense even a physically real 3D space world (=simultaneous events!) has no physical meaning. They may not be aware of it, but this approach leads to solipsism. I will -I have to- deal with that philosophical topic too. Because Special Relativity does not need bizarre philosophical interpretations. Simple logic suffices.
The biggest problem an ether theory faces, is the fact that there has never been any experimental evidence of the existence of a 3D ether world. If you are considering ether (LET), then you have to give me an experiment/ observation/ measurement of (any specific aspect of) the ether. You cannot. If you can not detect an ether, then an ether is scientifically irrelevant. Einstein's special relativity does not need an ether.
There is a clear cut difference between Lorenz's ether theory and Einstein's Special Relativity, between dynamical (Lorentz) and kinematical origins (Einstein), between more complex ad hoc explanations (Lorentz) and straightforward common cause explanations (Einstein). The laws of electromagnetism would be horribly complicated in an ether theory, compared to the laws of electromagnetism in Einstein's relativity. To summerize I can do no better than copy a quote from Professor Janssen at the University of Minessota: (my bold)
<< For the current measured in the conductor, only the relative motion of the magnet and conductor matters; but in Lorentz's theory the case with the magnet at rest is very different from the case with the conductor at rest. No matter how the argument is made, the point is that there are brute facts in the neo-Lorentzian interpretation that are explained in the space-time interpretation. As Craig (p.101) writes (in a different context): 'if what is simply a brute fact in one theory can be given an explanation in another theory, then we have an increase in intelligibility that counts in favor of the second theory.' We just presented such an argument in the case of the space-time interpretation versus the neo-Lorentzian interpretation. The argument is not iron-clad and may still be outweighed by the need of theology or quantum mechanics. But it is on par with, say, the argument for preferring Darwinian evolution over special creation. That's good enough for us. >> Yuri Balashov and Michel Janssen. p342 Critical Notice. Presentism and Relativity. 2003.
Physics is not only about observations and measurements, but also about what is out there, at the origin of the observation or measurement. Einstein and his Special Relativity deal with an 'observation independent' reality: there exists an 'observation independent' reality and it is the task of physics to discover what that reality is. And Special Relativity shows that this 'observation independent' reality is not 3D ether space world (such as in LET) but a 4D Spacetime reality (Block Universe).
The real difference between LET and SR is: LET is about observation independent 3D reality, SR is about observation independent 4D reality. In LET 3D ether space is invariant. In SR 4D spacetime is invariant. LET is about fictitious (mathematical) relativity, SR about physically real relativity. Hence Einstein's words:
<< From a "happening" in three-dimensional space, physics becomes, as it were, an "existence" in the four-dimensional "world". >> and: << Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent "now" objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence. >>
In my texts 'LET' stands for the old Lorentz ether theory. Unfortunately in some literature a new kind of LET is proposed as an attempt to mix Special Relativity's 4D spacetime and 3D aether space. But in that case LET considers dynamical ether effects in one frame and pure 4D spatio-temporal effects in another. It would mean that in one frame one has to accept that the origin of contraction and dilation is dynamical, and in the other frame the cause is not dynamical but pure spatio-temporal. This simply doesn't make sense. For that reason -as illustrated below- I will not deal with this kind of interpretation of LET. On this site LET = Lorentz's evolving 3D ether space, i.o.w. the future does not exist yet.
Special Relativity (Block Universe) is a theory without 3D ether. One might consider LET (ether) and SR to be two very different interpretations of the Lorentz Transformations, but LET can never be an interpretation of SR.
If after my 'Relativity for Dummies' section (click here) you are not convinced yet of Block Universe reality, because you need numbers and time clock indications, then the following chapters will be your cup of thee. Top of right column you find links to the chapters.
If you find my sketches too small, click on the images to enlarge.
- Simultaneity = 3D Space.
- Observer and observation independent.
- Reality vs Solipsism.
- A/ Clock time indication = observer and observation independent event.
- B/ Lorentz Transformations. Time coordinates and clock (wristwatch) time indications.
- C/ Reciprocity of time dilation and length contraction.
- Mathematics vs Physics.
- Fictitious time or physical time?
- Experimental evidence?