måndag 25 mars 2013

Einsteinian Contradictions 3

Einstein delivering his Nobel Lecture in Gothenburg in 1923, on his theory of relativity, which was not awarded any Nobel Prize. In the front row King Gustav V listening with surprise.

Einstein's theory of relativity is viewed as the basis of modern physics together with quantum mechanics. While the scientists behind quantum mechanics have been richly awarded Nobel Prizes,  Einstein's theory of relativity has not been acknowledged by a single one.

In 1922 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Bohr and at the same time with a one-year delay the 1921 Prize was given to Einstein. The pressure to give Einstein the Prize had mounted in the aftermath of the First World War with Einstein rising as a symbol for German-British reconciliation, but relativity theory skeptics had been dominating the Nobel Committee, until in 1922 two of them (Hasselberg and Granquist) passed away and were replaced the strong proponents of modern physics Oseen and Siegbahn. The 1922 Prize came out from a battle between to following key actors:
  • Gullstrand (against Einstein),
  • Arrhenius (against Einstein),
  • Oseen (for Einstein), new member of the Committee 1922. 
Gullstrand had consistently blocked giving the Prize to Einstein despite many nominations during 1910-21, including one by Bohr in 1920, based on his harsh criticism of Einstein’s relativity theory:
  • Time and space can be described variously, but even if absolute time can- not be measured, thereof one cannot deduce that that time in its essence is relative, or even that it is advantageous to describe time a relative.
  • (Einstein’s thought experiments concern)...relativity that lies entirely outside the realm of experience and can therefore only be embraced by belief. 
  • Relativity theory has the character of an article of faith rather than a scien- tific hypothesis, and in accordance with the doctrine’s own needs Nature is rearranged so that any falsification is unthinkable.
Gullstrand thus had demolished Einstein’s relativity theory and Einstein’s 1905 work on the photoelectric effect was by Arrhenius put into perspective as follows:
  • It cannot be denied that Einstein’s idea (the law of the photoelectric effect) was a stroke of genius. However, it was natural and lay close to hand after the results of Leonard’s, J-J- Thompson’s and Planck’s great contributions. When it was formulated it was only a tentatively poorly developed hunch, based on qualitative and partially correct observations. It would look peculiar if a prize was awarded to this particular work. 
The negative attitude to Einstein changed with the report by the new member of the Committee Oseen entitled Einstein’s law of the photoelectric effect plus a second report that also landed Bohr a prize:
  • Convincing the other three members that Einstein’s “law” was a fundamental law of Nature, and that Bohr’s atomic theory directly rested on it, he managed to pilot the two cases through unproven waters into a new and safe harbor where fundamental laws and constants still counted as benchmarks.
  • It was formally decided that an official clarification should be inserted into Einstein’s diploma saying that the prize had nothing to do with his special and general theories of relativity.
In his report to the committee, Oseen argues as follows:
  • The one who pulled the theory of heat radiation out of that isolation (black- body radiation), the first one to show that the magnitude of (Planck’s constant) h has a radical significance for the whole of atomic physics, is Einstein. 
  • This, the very first of his contributions to quantum theory is the one that reaches deepest, his proposition that the emission and absorption of light occurs in such a way that light quanta with energy hν are emitted and ab- sorbed. The law of the photoelectric effect was an immediate application of this proposition...an analysis which in its originality and penetrating mind has few equals in theoretical physics. 
  • The validity of Einstein’s original proposition regarding the quantum character of absorption and emission of light (at its microphysical interface with matter) quantitatively expressed in his law of the photoelectric effect was one of the prerequisite conditions on which Bohr built his atomic theory. Almost all confirmations of Bohr’s theory and with it all spectroscopic confirmations are at the same time confirmation’s of Einstein’s law. 
  • The Einsteinian proposition and Bohr’s content-wise identical frequency conditions are currently one of the most certain laws that obtain in physics. 
The Einstein Prize motivation found the thin edge between plus and minus infinity:
  • For his services to theoretical physics, in particular for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect (P + W = hν). 
  • ...without taking into account the value which will be accorded your relativity and gravitation after these are confirmed in the future (in a cover letter). 
In short: Einstein’s derivation of the law of the photoelectric effect and his relativity theory were rejected and what remained was only a “discovery” of a physical law (which in fact had been “discovered” before by Hertz), which was then boosted as the foundation of modern physics.

Swedish physicists kept a skeptical attitude to Einstein’s relativity well into the second half of the 20th century as expressed by Hannes Alfven (1908-1995), Nobel Prize in Physics 1970:
  • Many people probably felt relieved when told that the true nature of the world could not be understood except by Einstein and a few other geniuses who were able to think in four dimensions. They had tried to understand science, but now it was evident that science was something to believe in, not something which should be understood

1 kommentar:

  1. One typo: "second half of the 19th century" should be "....20th century"