Einstein opened to the new brave world of modern physics in two articles in his 1905 annus mirabilis, one giving humanity a breath-taking entirely new view on space and time through the special theory of relativity, and the other on photoelectricity introducing light quanta carried by light particles later named photons preparing the development of quantum mechanics.
Einstein's science is difficult to understand because it is never clear if the basic postulates of his theories are definitions without physics content, that is tautologies which are true by semantic construction, or if they are statements about physics which may be true or not true depending on realities.
The special theory of relativity is based on a postulate that the speed of light (in vacuum) is the same for all observers independent of motion with constant velocity. With the new definition of length scale of a lightsecond to be used by all observers, the speed of light for all observers is equal to one lightsecond per second and thus simply a definition or agreement between different observers.
Yet physicists by training firmly believe that the speed light is constant as physical fact behind the definition. For Einstein and all modern physicists following in his footsteps, definition and statement about physics come together into one postulate of relativity which can flip back and forth between definition and statement about physics and thereby ruin any attempt to bring clarity in a scientific discussion. Einstein played this game masterfully by formulating special relativity as a prescription or definition or dictate that different observers are to coordinate observations by Lorentz transformation. A dictate cannot be false. It can only be disastrous.
Let us now check if Einstein's law of photoelectricity, which gave him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics is also a definition and thus empty of physics content. The law takes the form
- $h(\nu -\nu_0) =eV$,
- $h\nu = h\nu_0 + eV$
It remains to sort out the appearance of the parameter $h$ (determined by photoelectricity) in Planck's radiation law and in Schrödinger's equation, which has already been touched in a previous post, but will be addressed in more detail in an upcoming post.
The advantage of using definitions as postulates about physics is that you can be absolutely sure that your physics is correct (but empty). This aspect came out when Einstein confronted with an observation claimed to contradict special relativity, with absolute confidence could say that the observation was wrong:
- If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
- Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use.
- It is the theory which decides what we can observe.
- What I'm really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all.
PS2 If now Einstein is a genius by definition, there is as little reason to question that as questioning that there are 100 centimeters on a meter.