fredag 17 juli 2009

Galileo's Dialogue Revisited

Simplicio: I am told that Einstein's special/general theory of relativity together with quantum mechanics are the two pillars of modern physics, which however are incompatible. Isn't this strange? But I am probably too stupid to understand. It seems that very few people can understand relativity theory?

Salvatio: Yes, this is the standard view propagated by the physics community, but as you say it is strange. No, you are not too stupid. It seems that nobody really understands relativity, because there is nothing to understand. It is empty! It is a non-physical theory, which says nothing about physics.

Simplicio: Empty? You must be kidding? How can I understand that it does not say anything about physics?

Salvatio: You see this from the fact that there is no physics input, and thus there can be no physics output. Einstein's special theory of relativity is based on the following two assumptions:
  • (i) There is no aether (aether = material medium for light propagation).
  • (ii) The speed of light is 1 (lightsecond/second).
To understand the nature of these axioms, let us compare with a theory of economy based on the following axioms:
  • (i) There is no free lunch.
  • (ii) There are 100 cents on each dollar.
We understand that (i) is a negative statement stating the non-existence of something, and that (ii) is a definition. There is no physics/economics input in these assumptions, just absence or non-existence of physics/economics.

Simplicio: I see what you are driving at: You ask if a theory about physics can come out from two basic axioms stating non-existence of something + a definition, which have no positive content of physics? It seems to me that you need something more substantial, something positive and not just non-existence? 

Salvatio: Very clever! You are right, you cannot get something out of nothing. No physics input means that there is no physics output. Einstein's special theory of relativity is non-physical. 

Simplicio: I am shocked, but I see what you are saying! But is there then some alternative theory of relativity based on something instead of nothing. A physical theory which can accomodate the Michelson-Morley experiment indicating that the same Maxwell equations should hold for all observers independent of motion.

Salvatio: Yes, you can develop various positive alternative theory of relativity: An example is many-minds relativity based on the following basic axiom:
  • All observers assume that light propagates according to the same Maxwell's equations in a vacuum fixed to the observer.
In a theory of economy, this could be like an agreement among all actors to follow the Bretton Woods system.

Simplicio: I see that the basic axiom has a substantial positive physical content, and I understand that in this theory the Michelson-Morley experiment will turn out the same for all observers, as was observed. In this theory there are many vacui, one attached to each observer. In the same way as each economic actor has an individual perspective, while following Bretton Woods.

Salvatio: Exactly! And this was suggested already in 1914 by the British mathematician Ebenezer Cunningham, which unfortunately was overshadowed by Einstein's non-physical theory.

Simplicio: Is many-minds relativity compatible with quantum mechanics?

Salvatio: Yes, it so seems. 

Simplicio: Well, I now have something to think about.. Replacing Einstein by Cunningham can help modern physics out of its 20th century trauma? I will return with some questions after studying the documents...I will start with Theory of Relativity...

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