söndag 27 oktober 2019

Why Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is so Confusing

In recent posts I have been searching for the source of the paradoxes/contradictions of Einstein's special theory of relativity SR.  My objective is to understand why SR is so confusing. Here is the result of my search in short form:

Ingredients of SR:
  • Observers.
  • Measuring Apparatus.
  • Coordinate systems (inertial systems moving with constant velocity with respect to each other).
Postulate of SR:
  • An Observer with Measuring Apparatus at rest in a coordinate system measures the same constant speed of light = c independent of the motion of the light source in the coordinate system. 
This Postulate is compatible with a description of propagation of light according to Maxwell's equations (with constant speed of light = c) in a coordinate system with Observer and Measuring Apparatus at rest. In principle this gives the Observer access to the full electromagnetics described by Maxwell’s equations in the given coordinate system with Observer at rest, but Einstein did not use this golden opportunity and started instead from absolutely minimal assumptions with the objective to derive far-reaching revolutionary consequences, as his special contribution to science outmatching Newton.

In SR Einstein considers two observers moving with respect to each other: Observer1 at rest together with Measuring Apparatus1 in system S1 and Observer2 at rest together with Measuring Apparatus2 in system S2, with thus the systems moving with respect to each other.

Einstein now poses the Basic Question to be answered by SR:
  • What will Observer1 observe concerning propagation of light in S2?  (Q)
Einstein then gives the answer in the form of the Lorentz transformation connecting the coordinates in S1 with those of S2. More precisely, Einstein dictates what Observer1 will have to see in S2 by giving Observer1 special glasses in the form of the Lorentz transformation.

Observer1 with Measuring Apparatus1 can measure the propagation of light in S1 while at rest in S1. Observer1 is not allowed to carry his Measuring Apparatus1 to S2, since it is tied to S1. Einstein is thus asking Observer1 to abandon his Measuring Apparatus1 and then somehow without apparatus make observations in S2. But this is a break of logic with respect to the Postulate of SR only speaking about Observer1 with Measuring Apparatus1 making observations at rest in S1 and not while moving with respect to S2 without apparatus. 

In Einstein's familiar Train-Embankment example with Observer1 with Measuring Apparatus1 at rest on the Embankment as S1, Einstein thus asks about the observation by Observer1 without apparatus of light propagation in the system of the moving Train as S2. Einstein's answer is the Lorentz transformation.

We understand that Einstein separates Observer from Measuring Apparatus, which breaks the logic of the Postulate of SR, and leads to asking the question (Q) which should not/cannot be asked. When Einstein insists on answering the question, which cannot be asked, he breaks the logic and paradoxes and contradictions result. This connects to Wittgenstein’s: Whereof you cannot speak, you have to keep quiet.

An example of a question which cannot be posed is the showpiece of medieval scholasticism:
  • How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Seeking to give an answer to such a question was/is not helpful to science.

To see a contradiction between theory and observation does not require much imagination, but to understand a logical inconsistency may require more, and so people can get fooled more easily by incorrect logic than incorrect facts.

In Many-Minds Relativity logical reasonable questions are posed based on the Postulate of SR.

Summary: If a theory, like SR,  contains paradoxes/contradictions it may be because the theory breaks logic. This is the case with SR where the paradoxes/contradictions result from seeking to answer a question which breaks the logic of the Postulate of SR.

This was in fact acknowledged by Einstein in his 1905 article stating that the Postulates of SR appear to be contradictory, yet he continued, towards immense fame...:
  • We will raise this conjecture (the purport of which will hereafter be called the “Principle of Relativity”) to the status of a postulate, and also introduce another postulate, which is only apparently irreconcilable with the former, namely, that light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body. 
PS What about experimental verification of SR? Apparently nil as concerns photons/light.

1 kommentar:

  1. It is confusing because one beam of light in the Michelson-Morley experiment, must move at a different speed than the other beam, right next to it, while the Earth orbits the Sun.