Talk:World History Lecture Eleven

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I noticed this spelling, Guomindang; can we make redirects like Kuomintang, or such, or how do you wish to handle things like this? Thanks. RobS 13:48, 9 March 2007 (EST)

Who's Andy Schlafly? How about some bibliographic info? Testing 15:40, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

He made the site...--Elamdri 15:44, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

Stalin established a brutal totalitarian state, whereby he dictated all aspects of life and used violence to destroy any opponents. A secret police aided Stalin in his vicious execution of all opponents.

And none of this happened under kindly Uncle Lenin? Pachyderm 10:29, 30 August 2007 (EDT)

Why does it not mention that Warren G. Harding was one of the most corrupt presidents ever? And that he is regularly ranked among the worst presidents by most historians?

Do you think Harding was almost as corrupt as recent Democratic Administrations???--Andy Schlafly 12:38, 1 April 2009 (EDT)
Almost as corrupt? try far more corrupt. He had multiple affairs before and during is time in office. he paid one of his mistresses $50,000 not to reveal the affair. his administration was a den of nepotism. he appointed personal friends to important positions such as head of the veterans bureau. His nepotistically appointed friend Charles Forbes, head of the veterans bureau, stole $200 million from the federal government, and his attorney general Daugherty was found to have profited from illegal shipments of alcohol. so yes, i'd say his corruption and that of his administration FAR exceeded that of any recent democratic administration!!!!—The preceding unsigned comment was added by JBryant (talk)
Well????
Are you sure you aren't trying to describe some of the problems in the Clinton Administration???--Andy Schlafly 09:59, 13 April 2009 (EDT)
Are you sure you're not trying to dodge the question???????????????????????????

listen, I"m no fan of Clinton or the democrats. I think that all presidents, liberal AND conservative need to be held accountable for their actions. I think that it is revisionist to not include Harding's shortcomings. I know that if he had been liberal, you'd be all over his affairs and other such corruption. I'm just asking that you be fair and balanced in terms of talking about corruption. is that too much to ask? JBryant 11:13, 15 April 2009 (EDT)

No, you're wrong in suggesting that a quality world history course would waste time on gossip about Harding if he had been liberal. This is a quality history course. Read the National Enquirer if you have a need for gossip.--Andy Schlafly 11:50, 15 April 2009 (EDT)

Contents

Theory of Relativity

This section is full of strange mistakes. Are we permitted to edit the lectures here so that the students get accurate science instruction? For example, the Theory or Relativity does not care whether the speed of light changed over time. It probably has not changed, but the theory has no preference either way. Also, why does the author state that the Theory of Relativity has nothing to do with the atom bomb or any other technology? This statement lacks any point or precision. It' not true that the theory of relativity has nothing to do with technologies we use today. Also the Theory of Relativity does not reject "Newton's Theory." It merely modifies certain Newtonian kinematics, as for very high velocities. Also, the Theory of Relativity has nothing to do with moral relativism. Why does the author keep saying it does? It is a scientific theory, not a theory of morality. I am interested in assisting with this project if it is open for participation! ShmuelB 12:24, 16 April 2009 (EDT)

The truth is welcome. Falsehoods, even popular ones, are not. Your comments are historically or factually incorrect, unfortunately.--Andy Schlafly 13:17, 16 April 2009 (EDT)

Postulates of Special Relativity

I clarified one postulate, i.e., The speed of light is the same for all observers, no matter what their relative speeds. That seems to be an improvement over the speed of light never changes...

This section - especially in its disparagement of Einstein's work - is something you don't find in any common textbook on the history of sciences. Therefore, I'd wish that A. Schlafly would include some sources to bolster his claims.

Unfortunately, such a (in my eyes, mainly unjustified) critique of the importance of the theories of relativity invokes memories of the German Physics.

Clement ♗ 09:30, 17 April 2009 (EDT)

It is inappropriate to compare scientific skepticism about materialist science to Naziism.
If you find me ten articles that accept the theory of relativity and use it to make historical claims, I can show you ten articles that accept that the speed of light is constant. Do you think that is some sort of coincidence?
I do not think it is a coincidence. BHarlan 16:03, 17 April 2009 (EDT)
I don't find any substance in either of the above comments. If you have a specific factual improvement to the article, then let's see it. Otherwise, let's move on.--Andy Schlafly 19:00, 17 April 2009 (EDT)


@Aschlafly: My specific factual improvement of the article is a change of your wording (the speed of light never changes) of one of Einstein's postulate of the theory of relativity. Here a some versions which I looked up over the last days:

  • Wolfgang Pauli Theory of Relativity, 1958, p. 5: The velocity of light is independent of the motion of the light source
  • Robert Resnick, David Halliday Fundamentals of Physics, 7th ed. 1996, p. 1254: The speed of light in vacuum has the same value in all inertial frames, regardless of the velocity of the observer or the velocity of the source emitting the light

and from a source you seem to trust:

  • Merriam-Webster the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and independent of the source or observer

None of these - and many others - implies that the speed of light never changes. They stress the point that the speed of light is independent of the motion of the source or the observer - and I think that's the rather baffling, exciting part for everyone who is confronted with this postulates for the first time.

None of those states that the speed of light never changes, but they emphasize the mind-baffling (at least for everyone who is confronted with this theory for the first time) fact that the velocity of light is independent of the motion of the light source.

The phrase the speed of light never changes is at least unfortunate as it implies that the speed of light has never changed since the begin of the universe. But the postulates doesn't require this, the same theory would hold with a speed of light of 300 km/h instead of 300,000 km/s...

@BHarlan: If you find me ten articles that accept the theory of relativity and use it to make historical claims, I can show you ten articles that accept that the speed of light is constant. I honestly don't know what you want say here...

That said, I hope you'll approve that I change the lecture to the version of Wolfgang Pauli.

Clement ♗ 14:07, 20 April 2009 (EDT)

Pauli did not use it, in the quote you supply, to make historical claims. I maintain my promise of ten for ten, and I caution you against attacking the conservative worldview by prevaricating on what "historical" means. BHarlan 15:21, 20 April 2009 (EDT)
I stated above that I won't touch the historical aspects of the lecture, but only the scientific ones. So, I rectified or - if you prefer - improved a scientific statement. That has nothing to do with a certain Weltanschauung, that's just a question whether a formulation is used in physics or not.
I think that Aschlafly will accept a formulation which is similar to the one used at Conservapedia's article on the Theory of Relativity.
Clement ♗ 15:55, 20 April 2009 (EDT)
addendum It isn't my lecture. But it isn't an essay, neither, and the page is not protected. Due to the very nature of these lectures, any change should be done after consideration. The quotes above should show that I tried to be painstakingly diligent. That said, I will change the lecture again, and I like to ask you, BHarlan, for a source of the first version of the postulate - if you have the intention to undo my edit, that is... Clement ♗ 16:02, 20 April 2009 (EDT)

Aschlafly, I've to admit that I'm not glad with the current version (the speed of light can never be increased). It's not a general accepted version of the postulates, and differs greatly from the examples I gave above. I don't know why it seems to be necessary to find a new, somehow unique formulation of these century-old postulates. One doesn't take much liberty with the phrasing of Newton's axioms, and one shouldn't with Einstein's postulates, neither. But as you obviously want to show some creativity, I won't argue any longer. Clement ♗ 08:01, 21 April 2009 (EDT)

Clement, where did your accusation that "you obviously want to show some creativity" come from??? It's bizarre.
I'm looking for the clearest explanation of the postulate. I don't think your version is any more historically accurate than mine, and yours is far more difficult for history students to understand. Good teaching is about .... clear teaching. It does not allow confusing students with contorted, confusing statements.--Andy Schlafly 08:56, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
Sorry, that wasn't meant as an accusation, that's just an observation: instead of using a formulation of Einstein's postulates which is to be found only with small alterations in most textbook on physics - and even in the Merriam-Webster, you prefer your own wording. That's creative.
Pauli's version in not only more historically accurate, it is more scientifically accurate. Of course, the whole concept is baffling. So it may be a little bit more difficult to understand - but you have bright students! And it can be understood correctly.
BTW, you will find scant scientists or educators who judge Pauli's statements as contorted or confusing.
Clement ♗ 14:05, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
I wasn't offended by your "observation", but found it to be inexplicably bizarre. I articulated the postulate, then you replaced it with a far more complex and non-historical substitute, and then I simplified it into something clearer. Your response was a petulant accusation, without even addressing the substance my improvement. Are you saying the more concise, clearer formulation is wrong? I can't even tell what your view is.--Andy Schlafly 15:42, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
Until now, the history of the formulations of the postulate in the lecture reads like:
  1. the speed of light never changes (original by Aschlafly)
  2. the speed is the same for all observers (no matter what their relative speeds) (Clement B.)
  3. the speed of light never changes (reversion by BHarlan)
  4. the speed of light is independent of the motion of the light source (Pauli's version inserted by Clement B.)
  5. the speed can never be increased (second version of Aschlafly)
Your formulations are shorter, but neither more concise or clearer. Furthermore, I don't know how you can label W. Pauli's version as non-historical?
In his article Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Koerper - About the electrodynamics of moving bodies (Annalen der Physik, 1905, p 891), Einstein wrote
1. Die Gesetze, nach denen sich die Zustände der physikalischen Systeme ändern, sind unabhängig davon, auf welches von zwei relativ zueinander in gleichförmiger Translationsbewegung befindlichen Koordinatensystemen diese Zustandsänderungen bezogen werden.
2. Jeder Lichtstrahl bewegt sich im ,,ruhenden“ Koordinatensystem mit der bestimmten Geschwindigkeit V , unabhängig davon, ob dieser Lichtstrahl von einem ruhenden oder bewegten Körper emittiert ist.
This would be the historic origin of the postulates. A translation:
1. The laws which describe the change of the properties of physical systems are independent of a steady translation of the coordinates in which this changes are described
2. Any ray of light moves in «stationary» coordinates with a certain velocity V, regardless whether this ray was emitted from a stationary or moving body
So, from the very beginning you find the same idea which Pauli describes concisely and clearly : the speed of light is independent of the motion of the light source
Clement ♗ 16:18, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
This is an interesting and informative discussion. But Einstein said that the speed of light always moved with a "certain velocity." That is very similar to my first formulation. Pauli, who had nothing to do with the development of relativity, is saying something different. Under Pauli's formulation, the speed of light may vary. Not so under Einstein's.--Andy Schlafly 17:53, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
Einstein speaks of a certain velocity V - eine gewisse Geschwindigkeit V. This is his way to introduce an abbreviation (V) - you'll find similar formulations in the work of his contemporaries. In his whole essay he doesn't touch the question whether this certain velocity V has changed over time.
The main point - as it is stressed in so many textbooks - is that the speed of light is independent of the movement of the source. Think about it: It's really mind-boggling as it contradicts our intuition! I haven't met a pupil who wasn't intrigued by this, especially if you explained the Gedankenexperimente ...
To be petulant for another time: Frankly, I don't think that you can produce a better formulation than that of W. Pauli.
Clement ♗ 18:09, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
Clement, you're not responding to my points, and you've resorted again to a petulant mode. Do yourself a favor: open your mind and think more for yourself, rather than simply repeating what someone else said. Suit yourself, but I'm moving on to others. Thanks and Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 18:23, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
And may I give you an advise, too? Sometimes it is good to listen to those great minds who actually had the ideas in the first place. Thinking for yourself is all fine and dandy, but sometimes, it seems to be the sensible thing not to ignore a century of textbooks.
Clement ♗ 18:41, 21 April 2009 (EDT)
If your approach is to rely on authoritative, time-tested sources, Clement, then why haven't you been quoting the Bible during your many edits to this site? Instead, you seem very selective in which sources you quote, and as BHarlan pointed out first below, you don't even seem to interpret your own selective sources correctly.--Andy Schlafly 20:33, 21 April 2009 (EDT)

ClementB, doesn't "a certain velocity V" imply that Einstein is saying that the speed does not change during the scope of the problem? For instance, if I say "If a certain man V is President for two full terms, V may not be elected to a third term" or "There is a certain function f such that if a car is traveling at a certain velocity V that is less than the escape velocity, then it will fall to Earth in less than time f(V)", then the variables are not changing over the scope of the problem, no? And since some problems take place over very long periods of time, the velocity is assumed not to change over that whole period, no? And doesn't that imply that the speed of light is constant, no matter how far your twin travels? BHarlan 18:26, 21 April 2009 (EDT)

The Bible is my source of inspiration. I keep it out of my science or history classes, though.
Yes, I'm selective in my sources: on science, I quote scientists. I'm humble enough to know that I can't improve the insights of the greatest minds of the last century, but I am confident that I can understand what they were talking about. If you read the quotes above with an open mind, you'll find that your wording of the postulates is lacking: it covers at most half of the original of Einstein, and leaves out the baffling part. You scold me for respecting to much what someone else said. May I quote Sir Isaak Newton: If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.
I think it is prideful to refuse to climb on these shoulders, and to remain willfully in the shadows of the giants.
And may I say that you offered no quote, neither Biblical nor scientific, for your version of the postulate? I got the impression that you thought it up by yourself. But which sources did you use?
BTW, BHarlan talks about a conclusion drawn from the postulates, not the postulates themselves.
Clement ♗ 07:25, 22 April 2009 (EDT)
Perhaps you "keep" the Bible "out of" many fields of inquiry, not just science and history (and why censor the Bible from history???). I've never seen you quote or mention the Bible in any of your numerous edits here. You seem to quote everything and everyone except the Bible.
You've never explained why you think the lecture is incorrect with respect to its current formulation of the relativity postulate. I'm not even sure you do disagree with it, except that you say it is not how Pauli (who had nothing to do with relativity) described it. I have explained why Pauli's description is inadequate: his description ("the speed of light is independent of the motion of the light source") does not expressly preclude somehow increasing the speed of light. Yet the formulas for relativity do assume that is impossible.--Andy Schlafly
  • Pauli's description is inadequate That's quite a surprise:
  • Ever since this 1921 article on relativity in the Encyklopaedie der mathematischen Wissenschaften , Pauli is seen as a kind of expert. This article was praised by A. Einstein himself - and many others (Born, Heisenberg, Sommerfeld). It's one of the most widespread elaborations of the theory, and that's why I quoted it in its English translation
  • It's not a description. It's a formulation of the postulates of relativity
  • That the brilliance of the postulates: they don't have to state everything expressly, a lot of things are follow implicitly
  • These formulas for relativity are conclusions from the postulates.
Clement ♗ 16:19, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
Clement, there's no substance in your replies. You're just imitating and copying. This is a site for thinking. Please address the substance of my comments above. Last wordism is disfavored on this site.--Andy Schlafly 18:33, 24 April 2009 (EDT)

<- unindent: Please address the substance of my comments above. Fine.

  • Perhaps you "keep" the Bible "out of" many fields of inquiry, not just science and history (and why censor the Bible from history???).: I said that I keep it out of my science or history classes, I don't censor it from history.
  • I've never seen you quote or mention the Bible in any of your numerous edits here. I didn't quote the Bible, but I mentioned it - as I do now
  • You seem to quote everything and everyone except the Bible. The Bible doesn't say much about the history of Prussia, the political parties Orwell belonged to, or the Theory of Special Relativity. You haven't quoted the Bible on these issues neither. At the moment, I try to treat Conservapedia as an educational source, not a spiritual one.
  • You've never explained why you think the lecture is incorrect with respect to its current formulation of the relativity postulate. If you want to state Einstein's postulates, you should try to represent them truthfully, i.e., use a wording which is accepted in physics. We're talking about something quite elementary, so a look in a text book should help. You still haven't given any source for your formulation of the postulates. Your formulation: the speed of light can never be increased doesn't prevent that a static observer A and a moving observer B measure different quantities for the speed of light. It only implicates that these measurements doesn't differ from their own earlier - or later - done measurements.
  • I'm not even sure you do disagree with it, except that you say it is not how Pauli (who had nothing to do with relativity) described it. Pauli is nowadays most popular for his exclusion principle. But to say that had nothing to do with relativity is downright comical.
  • I have explained why Pauli's description is inadequate: his description ("the speed of light is independent of the motion of the light source") does not expressly preclude somehow increasing the speed of light. First, it isn't a description, it's a widespread formulation of Einstein's postulates. Second, yes the postulates don't preclude expressly that the speed of light increases. As BHarlan stated above, that's a conclusion of the postulates.
  • Yet the formulas for relativity do assume that is impossible. What formulas for relativity are you referring to?

Yes, I copied your edits above. I tried to address any statement of your edit. As for substance: Calling Pauli's work inadequate, and stating that he had nothing to do with the theory of relativity - though he wrote one of the most prominent articles on this subject made me cringe. In a discussion, someone will always have the last word - at least temporarily. But you'll have the last word on the article, as I won't alter it against your will. Clement ♗ 00:10, 25 April 2009 (EDT)

Clement:
 t = \frac{t_{0}} {\sqrt{1 - \frac{v^{2}}{c^{2}}}}
I don't know why you keep avoiding the obvious: the theory of relativity does plainly assume a maximum fixed velocity for light, known as c. If you don't believe me, then plug in a velocity v greater than c and watch what happens to the above equation.
As to the Bible, why do you avoid it so much? I cite it repeatedly in my history course, but I haven't seen you cite a passage from it yet despite all your commentary about history. Do you ever cite a specific passage from the Bible? I'd like to see just one example.--Andy Schlafly 19:59, 25 April 2009 (EDT)
Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. (Ecclesiastes 10:8-10)
If you don't believe me, then plug in a velocity v greater than c and watch what happens to the above equation. But, as you said, in the formula for time dilation, c represents the speed of light. Plug in a velocity greater than 300,000,000 km/sec for c and see what happens! Nothing much....
I said above: Your formulation: the speed of light can never be increased doesn't prevent that a static observer A and a moving observer B measure different quantities for the speed of light. It only implicates that these measurements doesn't differ from their own earlier - or later - done measurements.
In fact, that's my biggest rub with your formulation.
The existence of a maximum fixed velocity for light (though not it's quantity) is a consequence of Einstein's postulates if they are stated correctly.
Clement ♗ 22:39, 25 April 2009 (EDT)
My restated postulate that the "speed of light can never be increased" does preclude the scenario you describe, whereby a static observer increases the observed speed of light with the assistance of a moving observer. This is expressly precluded by my restatement of the postulate.
But your postulate about "independent of the motion of the light source" does not preclude increasing the speed of light beyond the ordinarily observed "c". Indeed, some relativists now insist that "c" need not be the ordinarily observed speed of light, but can be any assumed upper bound on the speed of light, and might be much greater than "c" as traditionally defined. My postulate is what underlies the above fundamental formula of relativity; your postulate requires redefining "c" in the above formula.
Your biblical quote is a good start but it's unclear what it means, if anything, to you. Do you ever apply the Bible in your quest for the truth? Do you earnestly seek the truth?--Andy Schlafly 23:36, 25 April 2009 (EDT)
If your formulation of Einstein's postulates is superior Pauli's formulation (as quoted by me), why do physicists around the world use Pauli's version in text books, articles, etc. ? Why did Einstein, Sommerfeld, Born, etc. endorsed Pauli's article, where he stated the postulates the way I do? Is yours a new insight into the world of special relativity which all the physicists of today seem to have missed?
I'm sorry that you found the biblical quote unclear.
Clement ♗ 00:29, 26 April 2009 (EDT)
Rather than answer my two simple questions, or be substantive, you resort to a question rant. Surely you don't think Pauli's formulation is perfect, and incapable of improvement. No, your real position seems to be that a conservative cannot possibly improve on it!--Andy Schlafly 19:23, 28 April 2009 (EDT)
Two answer your two questions:
  • Do you ever apply the Bible in your quest for the truth? - Yes
  • Do you earnestly seek the truth? - Yes
Now, here are mine:
  • Do you try to apply the Bible to physics?
  • Do you think you are the one to improve Pauli's formulation of Einstein's postulates substantially? The same formulations which are around for a century and used by physicists around the world? Endorsed by the leading scientist of his time? Please, do yourself a favor, and ask some actual physicists what they think about your version...
Clement ♗ 00:03, 29 April 2009 (EDT)

Regarding Trotsky

While I was perusing the site last night I happened across the section eleven homework assignments and was curious as to which mottoes by John Smith and Trotsky were being referred to in one of the questions. I checked out the lecture and found the section in question and I believe there is a problem with context involved.

Whereas the Englishman Captain John Smith famously stated in the early days of the Jamestown settlement,
“He that will not work shall not  eat, ”Trotsky’s famous motto was this: “Those who do not obey do not eat.” 

For one, the John Smith quote seems to indicate that "He that will not work, shall not eat" is a phrase coined by John Smith. It might be good to give proper attribution to the Bible, which is where the thought originated.

Also, regarding the Trotsky quote: Trotsky’s famous motto was this: “Those who do not obey do not eat.” This indicates heavily that Trotsky advocated such a thought process and that this sentiment was inherent to the birth of communism. This is false. While communist dictators throughout the world have proven belief in this sentiment through atrocious acts of government, it was in no way Trotsky's belief or line of thinking nor was it expressed in the origins of communism as a political and economic theory. While claiming to espouse a saying more akin to "He that will not work, shall not eat", it was in fact Stalin who most embodied the phrase “Those who do not obey do not eat.”

Now I am certainly not going to make an argument for communism here, it is simply not a functional system of government, I will say that Trotsky as a historical figure has been improperly quoted via lack of significant context. Trotsky voraciously opposed the totalitarian government of Stalin which was the reason for his exile and assassination. “Those who do not obey do not eat.” was Trotsky's response to the 1936 constitution of the U.S.S.R. including the phrase :

In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: "He who does not work, neither 
shall he eat."

“Those who do not obey do not eat.” was Trotsky's condemnation of Stalin's methods and was what Trotsky believed to be Stalin's true "motto".

On a lighter note: It may be interesting to your students that after Trotsky's assassin buried a pick-axe in his skull, The sixty year old man remained conscious and actually fought his attacker with an axe sticking out of his head. Trotsky didn't die until the next day. I've always found that interesting. --NicholasT 08:25, 24 April 2009 (EDT)

Interesting comments. Thanks. But Trotsky was a communist, just not a supporter of Stalin. Did Trotsky believe his motto? I would think so. Also, I'm not sure from where in the Bible you think John Smith's motto came. Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 08:47, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
NicholasT explained how this wasn't Trotsky's motto, but the motto of Stalin as seen by Trotsky. He made it clear that Trotsky didn't endorse this motto
In lecture 12, you state that Orwell fought in Spain against both the communists and Franco’s fascists. But Orwell was member of a Trotskystic group. So, Orwell was a communist, wasn't he? Clement ♗ 09:10, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
Regarding the bible verse: "He that will not work shall not eat" can be found in Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians Thessalonians 3:10
As for Trotsky: I may have not expressed myself well enough. "Those who do not obey do not eat" was no one's famous motto. The official motto of the Soviet Union under Stalin was "He who does not work, neither should he eat". Trotsky wrote a book in 1937 entitled "The Revolution Betrayed" in which he condemns Stalin's use of brutality within the state as an oppressive regime. In it he cites specifically Stalin's act of advising local organs to not give work to anyone sympathetic with Trotsky. Trotsky goes on to state that the lack of employment options led to followers of his philosophy lacking money, and in turn food, and leading to starvation. Trotsky says the the old motto of "who does not work shall not eat" had been replaced by Stalin with "Those who do not obey do not eat.".
My main point is this: "Those who do not obey do not eat." was not Trotsky's motto or Stalin's motto. It is a statement from a book Trotsky wrote just before his death. Trotsky claimed it to be Stalin's new motto as a point of rhetoric in an argument against Stalin's brutal methods, specifically against the Bolsheviks and supporters of Trotsky. "Those who do not obey do not eat." might be what happens when a communist dictator is in command, but as far as Trotsky is concerned it was a specific reference to Stalin's starving out of his followers and Trotsky believed it to be the wrong way to run a government. --NicholasT 10:49, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
The points above about Trotsky and Orwell are interesting, and I've spent some time without success trying to confirm t. Unfortunately, you don't provide any support for your claims. There's no doubt that Orwell fought against the communists, and that changed his view of them. There also seems to be no doubt that Trotsky said what the lecture states. The very, very subtle distinction between drawn above does not change the essential substance of the lecture, even if the claims are true.
I welcome a supported, well-written improvement on the lecture, but not something that would tend to confuse students with hairsplitting and debatable distinctions. Thanks and Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 15:15, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
The lecture says Trotsky used the phrase as his personal motto. Nicholas says that he used it as a way to summarize and criticize his opponent, Stalin. That's not a subtle distinction - Nicholas and the lecture report precisely opposite versions! So it's probably worth "getting to the bottom of" if indeed the lecture contains a serious inaccuracy. [EDIT]: This seems to be the source: "The Revolution Betrayed" by Leon Trotsky, Chapter 11. The quote, a little more than halfway down, reads:
...during the “purgations” in the last month of 1935 and the first half of 1936, hundreds of thousands of members of the party were again expelled, among them several tens of thousands of “Trotskyists.” The most active were immediately arrested and thrown into prisons and concentration camps. As to the rest, Stalin, through Pravda, openly advised the local organs not to give them work. In a country where the sole employer is the state, this means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat. Exactly how many Bolsheviks have been expelled, arrested, exiled, exterminated, since 1923, when the era of Bonapartism opened, we shall find out when we go through the archives of Stalin’s political police.
I have to say that this supports Nicholas's reading of it, since Trotsky is using the phrase to describe Stalin's reign of terror, and definitely sees the altered adage as a Very Bad Thing. Carillonneur 15:51, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
No, the lecture does not say that "Trotsky used the phrase as his personal motto." The lecture says it was Trotsky's motto (about the communist regime). I'll add the parenthetical to avoid misinterpretation.--Andy Schlafly 15:58, 24 April 2009 (EDT)
Orwell was a member of the POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification ). He wrote a book about it, Homage to Catalonia. That's hardly obscure. Clement ♗ 16:05, 24 April 2009 (EDT)

20th century science

There are a number of comments I'd like to make about the science / technology section of this lecture. That is the only part I'm going to address; the rise of "modern physics" (quantum mechanics and relativity) happens to be something I take great interest in. Some of my comments are rather trivial, like the way Freud died, but some are, in my opinion, quite serious, to the point of being untrue, or at least seriously misleading to the point of appearing deceptive.

But first, you have challenged other contributors making comments on the talk page for lecture 9 to take your midterm exam. Accordingly, I have created a "modern physics" midterm here. In the spirit of good fun, I challenge you to take it. And, of course, feel free to adapt any of these questions into your exams.

Here are my comments:

  • "The most notable accomplishment in science was the discovery of quantum mechanics ..." You should qualify it as "accomplishments in 20th century science". I realize that this lecture is about the early 20th century, so the context should be clear, but the sentence looks funny without that qualification. Also, you should mention that there were two theoretical achievements in the early years of the 20th century: quantum mechanics and relativity. Those two together are considered to be the rise of "modern physics", perhaps the most important physics watershed in history. You may consider them very different, and you may assign much greater importance to one than the other, but the fact is that they are taken together whenever one writes the history of "modern physics".
  • "ultimately produced about a dozen Nobel Prizes" About a dozen? Much more than that, I'd say. I don't have the list in front of me (it could be looked up easily), but I'd guess that most physics Nobels have been related to quantum mechanics and subatomic behavior.
  • "basis for the entire computer industry today" I'll have more to say about that below.
  • "Enrico Fermi, a devout Christian" I don't know for sure, but that may be a stretch. From what I've read, he was raised in a not-very-observant Catholic family, and was not very observant himself. He may have been an agnostic. But I'm not an expert on this. You could very well have better information.
  • "Quantum mechanics formed the basis later for the discovery of very small transistors, which today form the integrated circuits in every computer and electronic device." More below. It is, in any case, somewhat redundant with an earlier statement.
  • "relativity was proposed based on mathematical theory rather than observation" Well, quantum mechanics was also based on mathematical theory (statistical mechanics) rather than observation. No one observed quantum effects in a recognizable way until well after Planck's "quantized oscillator" theory. Of course, Planck's observations about statistical mechanics were ultimately based on observation (no area of physics can be formulated completely in a vacuum), but the same can be said of relativity -- it was based on observed invariance of Maxwell's equations, etc. The two theories actually had quite similar origins, as mathematical theories designed to explain effects that were quite esoteric in comparison with the usual way scientific theories are made (dropping balls from the Tower of Pisa, for example.)
  • "the expression arose that 'space is curved.' But experiments later proved that space is flat overall." Totally misleading and/or wrong. The curvature of spacetime as the source of gravity is firmly established, and has been for decades. The way this is popularized is unfortunate, but the statement you made seems to be exploiting the imprecision of the curvature in the popular imagination. It then seems to imply that space isn't curved after all. This is just wrong, if not outright deceptive. The two effects are completely different. The scientists using supernova data to determine the overall curvature of the universe know full well that local curvature is real, and is the source of gravity.
  • "Nothing useful has even been built based on the theory of relativity" More below.
  • "Einstein's work had nothing to do with the development of the atom bomb, contrary to popular opinion." Largely true, and you are to be congratulated for debunking some nonsense. (I even have a book about the Manhattan Project claiming that Einstein was at Los Alamos!) But "nothing to do with" is too strong a statement. I'm not sure just how the sentence should be phrased.
  • "validity of that particular award [Hulse/Taylor, I presume?] is questionable" Is this really a controversy you want to get into? Are you questioning the research or results of Hulse and Taylor? Can you cite that? Is it relevant to the history of 20th century physics?
  • "Many things predicted by the theory of relativity, such as gravitons" Not true. Relativity never predicted gravitons. They arose from later attempts (still ongoing) to unify relativity with quantum mechanics. As you know, Einstein never participated in those attempts, and wasn't very accepting of quantum mechanics.
  • "Many observed phenomena, such as the bending of light passing near the sun or the advance of the perihelion in the orbit of Mercury, can be also predicted by Newton's theory." Absolutely untrue. The two theories give different values for the bending of light; and the determination of which value was correct (not whether it bends at all) is what Eddington was seeking. We all know that Eddington handled the situation in a way that wouldn't pass muster today, and pointing this out was the right thing. But subsequent observations, that are accurate and unimpeachable, confirm the relativity value or 1.75 arcseconds. There is a lot of confusion in the lay literature about whether classical mechanics predicted any bending at all, and, consequently, just what Eddington was looking for. You have a chance to clear that up. But the existing article seems to muddy the waters, rather than clearing them.
Furthermore, Newton's theory does not predict (anomalous) perihelion precession. Absolutely not at all. Now one might think that one could fudge the exponent (2) in the inverse square law, but
  • That wouldn't be Newton's theory. Newton set the exponent to 2.
  • It doesn't work in any case. The anomalous precession fraction is 3 v2/c2. Connected with the velocity as a fraction of the speed of light. It is, without question, a relativistic effect.
General relativity is the only credible theory explaining this, and has been right from the start.
  • "Eddington supposedly retorted, 'Who's the third?'" This is a very widely misunderstood anecdote. You say nothing about what he meant. Please put it into the context, so that people can understand what it was about, and not continue with their lack of understanding.
  • "many seized upon the theory of relativity to apply it in a vague way to morality and social issues" Could you please say "wrongly seized upon"? I know you believe that seizing upon this is wrong; you can help put this foolishness to rest.
  • "There remains enormous political support for the theory of relativity that has nothing to do with physics" Really? Does this have to do with the "vague morality and social issues" business? You seem to be implying that by putting it in the very next sentence. Do you really believe that congressional appropriations on LIGO, for example, are based on some notion that it will promote moral relativism? Can you cite evidence?
  • Big bang vs. steady state -- good.
  • Freud -- minor nit: Is there a point to saying that his death was assisted by a physician? If your intent is to show that doctor-assisted suicide did not originate with Dr. Kevorkian, and that it was going on at least as far back as 1939, please say so, with appropriate statistical data. As it is, one anecdote doesn't really say much. BTW, a far more telling anecdote relating to 20th century science would be the death of Max Planck's son.

When is technology "based on" something theoretical?

Some statements in the lecture, cited above, attempt to draw a clear distinction between quantum mechanics, with an apparently huge number of practical applications (including the entire computer and semiconductor industry) and relativity, with none at all. It is extremely misleading to say that quantum mechanics can be credited with producing transistor technology. So much so that a reader might come away from this lecture having been deceived into thinking that quantum mechanics is "more important" than relativity. They are both extremely important. But they are both theoretical advances. They give us insights into how the universe works. In retrospect, those insights are, of course, crucial to everything we do. Including transistors.


Consider this:

  • Quantum mechanics tells us how electron orbitals work, and hence how all chemical reactions work. Without chemical reactions, we would have nothing.
  • Relativity tells us how gravity works. Without gravity, we would have nothing. Relativity also tells us how electromagnetism works. This is the basis for the "electrical revolution" of the 19th and 20th centuries.

But people have known about chemical reactions (for example, fire) since long before 1900, and people have known about gravity since long before 1900. Fire, and all the inventions dependent on it, is now known to be explained by quantum mechanics. Space travel, to name one thing out of millions, depends on combustion. Do we credit quantum mechanics for that?

Similarly, without gravity, we would not be in orbit around the Sun. We would have none of the benefits of being close to a star. In fact, neither the Sun nor the Earth could have formed. Do we credit relativity for that?

Furthermore, the electric and magnetic forces are unified by relativity. Magnetism could be thought of as just a relativistic consequence of the electric force. Therefore, all electric motors and generators, for example, use relativity as the underpinnings of their operation. Do we credit relativity for that? Of course, Maxwell knew nothing about relativity when he formulated his equations. He did not know that they took the form that they did because of relativity. But the cavemen didn't know about the quantum-mechanical underpinnings of fire.

We can credit quantum mechanics, and relativity, after the fact for all these wonderful things. But most of them were developed without direct use of these theories. There are a few inventions (SQUIDS, for example) that directly, intentionally, and knowingly depend on quantum mechanics. But most use it indirectly. The semiconductor properties of Germanium and Silicon were known long before the details of the "band theory" solid-state quantum mechanics were worked out.

Putting it another way, one can fabricate a transistor without knowing the details of quantum mechanics, just as one can upload gravitational time dilation information to GPS satellites, or turn on a fan, without knowing the details of relativity.

Robert 15:21, 16 May 2009 (EDT)

Communism and Christianity

I've noticed that the section on "Communism" enters almost immediately into a discussion of Christianity and the parables of Jesus. Might it make more sense (and perhaps be more intellectually honest) to consider/critique Communist ideology on its own terms a little more before moving on to interpretations from the Christian perspective. Communism (and the work of Karl Marx more broadly) is a complex and difficult social theory that, like it or not, is important even today to how we understand and discuss our world. It would seem important that students become familiar with the theory itself to allow for more informed critique. As the section on Socialism and Communism in lecture ten strikes me as a bit light, I think we should add a bit more heft, either in Lecture Ten or here. --Rubashov 10:43, 20 January 2010 (EST)

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