Talk:Theory of relativity

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Mass depending on direction

The article states:

There is a logical difficulty, however, to an increase in relativistic mass. Such increase would only exist in the direction of motion, and the rest mass would remain intact with respect to a force applied in a direction orthogonal to velocity. Neither mass nor energy is a vector, and the notion of the mass of an object having different values depending on the direction of an applied force is illogical.

As RSchlafly on 8 July 2007 (EDT): This paragraph is nonsense [..] The relativistic mass applies no matter what the direction of the force is.

AugustO 15:45, 10 January 2012 (EST)

Neutrinos now obey speed limit

The observation sited in the first sentence of this article has been discredited. [1] It appears that a loose fiber-optics cable is to blame for the misreadings. I suggest editing this first sentence, and any other mention of this in the article.--CarloP 18:51, 2 March 2012 (EST)

Issues concerning the neutrino experiment are not yet fully resolved. No problam: I replaced it with another counterexample.--Andy Schlafly 19:12, 2 March 2012 (EST)

Why does Conservapedia seek to discredit Relativity

Can someone explain why Conservapedia is so opposed to the Theory of Relativity?

Is there some philosophical or conservative/liberal basis for this opposition? RolandPlankton 18:32, 5 April 2012 (EDT)

Conservapedia seeks the truth, not merely what the lamestream media claim is the truth. Moreover, once one accepts a logical fallacy, then anything false can be proven from it.--Andy Schlafly 23:34, 5 April 2012 (EDT)
Ahh.... But the fact that the conclusion is false does not necessarily render the basis false. I could say "Andy Schlafly founded Conservapedia and therefore I am a pig monkey." I am not a pig monkey, and even if I were, that has nothing to do with you founding this website. But you still did. Gregkochuconn 09:58, 9 April 2012 (EDT)
When looking around the internet, it is obvious that Conservapedia's classification of relativity as pseudoscience is a source of some amusement and contempt. Aschlafly, could you please answer the two questions I raised above? RolandPlankton 11:27, 9 April 2012 (EDT)
Roland, liberal peer pressure from "around the internet" does not illuminate the truth. If what liberals on the internet said made a dime's bit of difference, then the Bible would not be the best selling book (by far) and the percentage of people who are conservative would not be growing (as it does).
"Can someone explain why Conservapedia is so opposed to the Theory of Relativity?" Because it's false, it confuses people, it misleads people into stop reading the Bible, and its orthodoxy interferes with the advancement of science for the benefit of all. Other than that, it's not a bad theory!
"Is there some philosophical or conservative/liberal basis for this opposition?" The only bias is by liberals who shout down any criticism of the theory. If the theory were so clearly true, then there would be no need for some liberals to rely on censorship in propping it up.--Andy Schlafly 17:10, 9 April 2012 (EDT)

GPS and Relativity

I note that anyone using a GPS is relying on the Theory of Relativity being true, since calculations derived from Relativity are used within a GPS. RolandPlankton 18:32, 5 April 2012 (EDT)

GPS does not rely on the Theory of Relativity, and this has been thoroughly explained on this site.--Andy Schlafly 23:34, 5 April 2012 (EDT)
Hi Aschlafly, I've located at least some of the discussion re GPS in the archives of this talk page, and there a lot of references for me to examine before I can make any further serious comments; certainly there are some references which appear to state that GPS relies on relativity. Can you perhaps draw my attention to what you consider the most important (half-dozen or so) references which indicate that the GPS system does NOT rely on relativity so that I have somewhere to start from? In the meantime I'll continue editing and improving less controversial articles as I have been doing for the last two months (my talk page lists nearly 40 articles I can usefully contribute to). RolandPlankton 14:17, 6 April 2012 (EDT)
This note 7 is on Counterexamples to Relativity:
Contrary to the claims of Relativists, the GPS system has never been based on Relativity. The Time Service Department, U.S. Navy, observed that "The Operational Control System (OCS) of the Global Positioning System (GPS) does not include the rigorous transformations between coordinate systems that Einstein’s general theory of relativity would seem to require" in part because "the effects of relativity, where they are different from the effects predicted by classical mechanics and electromagnetic theory, are too small to matter – less than one centimeter, for users on or near the earth.”
The Theory of Relativity does not even assert that it would require significant adjustments to GPS timing: the small effects claimed by the special and general theories nearly cancel each other out for orbiting satellites. From an engineering perspective, it makes far more sense simply to adjust the clocks using synchronization rather than relying on (dubious) theoretical claims.--Andy Schlafly 14:36, 6 April 2012 (EDT)

Another false claim because of sloppy reading: In the same source by The Time Service Department, U.S. Navy, you can find how the authors Fliegel and DiEsposti describe what is happening to the clocks in the satellites: Since GPS receivers work in the time and not in the frequency domain, they handle the velocity, gravity, and acceleration shifts differently than described above. First, each GPS space vehicle (SV) clock is offset from its nominal rate by about -4.45 × 10-10 (= -38 microseconds per day) to allow for the relativistic offsets between the differences between the SV and the ground. Of this -38 microseconds per day, about -45 are due to the gravitational potential difference between the SV at its mean distance and the earth's surface, and +7 to the mean SV speed, which is about 3.87 km/sec. (p. 193).

The text is about the necessity of further corrections by the operational control system - there are corrections already installed in the clocks!

The Theory of Relativity does not even assert that it would require significant adjustments to GPS timing: This sentence is wrong. It has shown to be wrong a couple of times, so it starts to become a lie. AugustO 15:12, 6 April 2012 (EDT)

The Theory of Relativity was not used to develop GPS, nor would it be sensible to waste time and money doing so. Synchronization is cheaper, simpler, and more reliable. The above quote does not contradict this obvious truth.--Andy Schlafly 16:32, 6 April 2012 (EDT)
The fact that these offsets are implemented in the clocks in accord with the theory of relativity as you can read in the very source you quoted shows that the Theory of Relativity is used in the GPS - and this from the very beginning of the project! Please, start to read your sources - completely! AugustO 16:37, 6 April 2012 (EDT)

Please, before we get into any more debate, could someone supply some actual references (not quotes from) which state that relativity is not used in GPS? RolandPlankton 16:41, 6 April 2012 (EDT)

Aschlafly took his quote from GPS and Relativity: An Engineering Overview by Henry F. Fliegel and Raymond S. DiEsposti (though he probably isn't aware of this). The paper is about relativistic effects due to moving GPS-receivers (or GPS-receivers in high altitudes) and comes to the conclusion, that at the moment, they don't have to include additional relativistic corrections.
Aschlafly interprets this as if no relativistic corrections are implemented in the GPS.
However, in the paper itself, you will find the section I quoted above, where the authors describe such very corrections within the clocks of the satellites.
I'm afraid that Aschlafly won't come up with some actual references (not quotes from) which state that relativity is not used in GPS as there aren't any.
AugustO 16:53, 6 April 2012 (EDT)

Folks, the burden of proof is on anyone who claims that the Theory of Relativity was used to design GPS. That burden includes describing who, when, where, how, and why. It didn't happen. And if it did, the person who wasted time and money on such a frivolous approach should explain the mistake, because engineers can simply synchronize the clocks far more accurately than the theory ever could.--Andy Schlafly 18:15, 8 April 2012 (EDT)

It looks to me as if you are trying to put impossible conditions prior to any debate. To avoid a lengthy debate all you have to do is produce some actual references which support your point of view. Is this too much to ask?
If it didn't happen then you should be able to produce some evidence of this, so some actual references please. The only 'evidence' you have produced so far is an out-of-context quote from a paper which is concerned primarily with GPS receivers (that same paper mentions the use of relativity-related adjustments to the clocks on the GPS satellite transmitters). Surely you must have more than this. Will you accept evidence from engineers and companies involved in designing and building the GPS system? If not, why not? Who would you accept evidence from? The US Department of Defense? Do you seriously expect a member of the public to be able to access internal design documents as your "who, when, where, how, and why" statement implies?
If you care to check my contribution history you will see that I am actively contributing non-controversial information to articles. This discussion re GPS etc. is only a small part of my activities on Conservapedia. Since I've barely started on considering and consolidating what evidence there is re GPS I would rather have a week or so to look at the evidence before getting into a debate. This should give you ample time to come up with some references to support the separation of GPS and relativity. Simple searches via Google turn up numerous instances where relativity is claimed to be relevant to GPS, but I can't find anything to the contrary and I need your help to do so. I would really like to see evidence from both sides of the discussion before entering the debate, so some actual references please. RolandPlankton 19:15, 8 April 2012 (EDT)
Roland, you're requesting proof that something didn't happen. Moreover, someone with an engineering background (such as myself) would not expect it to have happened. It is like asking for a reference that no green cheese was found on the Moon. No such scientific reference is likely to exist, nor would anyone expect such a reference to exist.--Andy Schlafly 19:28, 8 April 2012 (EDT)
Every single article on GPS says that relativistic adjustments are made to the satellite clocks. Some give the formulas and some give quantitative data on the adjustments. Textbooks explain why the adjustments are necessary. I don't see any reason to doubt that GPS uses relativistic adjustments. RSchlafly 20:52, 8 April 2012 (EDT)
GPS does make synchronizing adjustments. Call them whatever you like, but those adjustments are not made based on predictions by the Theory of Relativity. Indeed, it would be a silly waste of time and money to synchronize in such a manner.--Andy Schlafly 21:07, 8 April 2012 (EDT)
Unless you drive the flying Delorean from Back to the Future, relativity would say that its effect on your car when you're driving at normal speeds is so small it need not be accounting for. The normal error for GPS (about 40 feet) is many magnitudes higher than the error relativity would cause. Now, the GPS in the Flying DeLorean would be another issue. But until that's invented, let's not worry about it, ok? Of course, if you were orienteering, your speed would be even slower than if you were driving. Indeed, if you were moving at any normal speed (even a supersonic jet), relativity would be incredibly small (assuming that it exists as scientists explain it). Gregkochuconn 22:14, 8 April 2012 (EDT)
GPS does make synchronizing adjustments Not only simple synchronizing: read the specifications for the GPS, read the sources in full which you are quoting, and you will see that all these engineers and scientists don't give a damn that you think that they are wasting time and money.
Aschlafly, your position is only tenable as you are willing to ignore most of the data which is presented to you. AugustO 03:12, 9 April 2012 (EDT)
Aschlafly, please correct me if I am misunderstanding you, but it seems to me that you believe very firmly that relativity has nothing to do with GPS, even though you are unwilling to present any evidence to support this belief, and wish to put severe restrictions on what 'proof' of the relationship other folks may present. I raised some five questions above as to what sort of evidence you might consider. Could you please answer these questions.
I'd like to ask Mr. Schafly if he could explain what the clock adjustments on GPS satellites are for, the article is not clear, and neither is anything on this talk page.--Cahnkj 00:44, 11 April 2012 (EDT)
Cahnkj, herewith a summary of the clock-adjustment situation as I (RolandPlankton) see it. Newton's equations of motions say nothing about how clocks keep time. Einstein's equations of relativity imply that identical clocks will vary in their timekeeping (tick at different rates) if they are travelling at different speeds, or if they are at different heights in a gravitational field, or if they are subject to different accelerations; see GPS and Relativity: An Engineering Overview. Now the satellites used in the GPS system require very accurate clocks which are in step with ground-based clocks. The paper just quoted provides the various relativistic equations which apply - the satellites are travelling faster than a ground-based receiver, and are at a different height in a gravitational field. Prior to launch the clocks in the GPS satellites are deliberately set to a different tick rate from ground-based clocks, so that when they are in orbit the clocks will appear to tick at the same rate; the difference in tick rates is about 38 nanoseconds per day, and this adjustment can be calculated from the relevant relativistic equations.
But the problem is that Aschlafly rejects the Theory of Relativity, and hence rejects any calculation based on that. The only serious argument he has put forth on this current talk page (see preceding section) is an appeal to the truth; the quote he provides above is also demolished above. You may wish to consult Counterexamples to Relativity, which is rebutted point by point in Essay:Rebuttal to Counterexamples to Relativity.
Hope this doesn't add too much to the confusion. RolandPlankton 12:07, 11 April 2012 (EDT)
Mr. Schlafly states above that "the burden of proof is on anyone who claims that the Theory of Relativity was used to design GPS." (This is a fair requirement, and it seems as this has been done when AugustO referred to the Fliegel and DiEsposti paper above.)
But really, isn't the burden of proof on anyone who claims anything on this site, since Conservapedia Commandment #1 states that "everything you post must be true and verifiable" and Commandment #2 states that users should "always cite and give credit to [their] sources?" --AndreaM 19:03, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
Good point. Anyone who asserts on this site that GPS was designed based on the Theory of Relativity needs to prove the claim. Note that the claim is implausible because it is cheaper, easier, and more precise to synchronize GPS based on observations rather than theoretical speculation. Also note that no Nobel Prize has been given for verification of the Theory of Relativity with GPS.--Andy Schlafly 19:55, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

A Separate Question for Mr. Schlafly About References

Aschlafly, as a separate issue, in view of of your apparent attitude to references, could I ask you to have a look at the articles I have been working on over the last two months: Pi, Programming language, Compiler, and the work-in-progress Chomsky hierarchy. Obviously I'm only asking you to consider the changes I have made. In particular, can you check if the references are acceptable to you, and can you also check that the general style and level of writing is in accordance with Conservapedia's aims? The next article I intend to turn my intention to is Context-Free Grammar, since it seems to me that this fails to satisfy Conservapedia:Guidelines#Style "Articles on complex topics need an introduction which assumes little or no previous knowledge". RolandPlankton 11:03, 9 April 2012 (EDT)
Roland, your good edits are appreciated and I've seen no complaints about them. I agree that the Context-Free Grammar would benefit from a better introduction and look forward to reading what you add there.--Andy Schlafly 17:39, 9 April 2012 (EDT)

Why are adjustments needed to GPS?

A good question was raised above: if synchronization to GPS is not due to the Theory of Relativity, then what is it due to?

And the answer is simply this: quantum mechanics. There are fundamental uncertainties, and those uncertainties will lead to clock differences. Otherwise a perpetual motion machine would be possible. It isn't.--Andy Schlafly 22:50, 11 April 2012 (EDT)

Where to start with this. This is so bad it isn't even wrong. Could I respectfully suggest that you confine your efforts to areas you understand at least a little bit.

The impossibility of perpetual motion has nothing to do with quantum mechanics. It comes from the 2nd and 3rd laws of thermodynamics and predates quantum mechanics by at least 100 years.

The uncertainty principle is also completely irrelevant. If we imagine a 100 kg satellite moving at a velocity of approximately 100 km/s (this is three times the earth's velocity , so is a plausible and easy to handle number). If we know the satelites location to an uncertainty of 1cm then the uncertainty on its velocity implied by the uncertainty principle is 1 part in 10^39 (i.e. completely negligable).Jloveday 13:10, 14 April 2012 (EDT)

Well, this is progress indeed. Could you please provide references to support the contention that the synchronization is required as a result of quantum mechanical effects?
Also, as an aside, how do you say that fundamental uncertainties described by quantum mechanics relate to the impossibility of a perpetual motion machine? Not sure I follow you there. --JeromeKJ 23:36, 11 April 2012 (EDT)
It's basic logic. Unless someone denies quantum mechanics and the fundamental uncertainties it describes -- and many Relativists do deny it -- then synchronization will be required as a logical result.--Andy Schlafly 23:58, 11 April 2012 (EDT)
Do you have any references? --JeromeKJ 00:04, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
I haven't looked ... nor is it necessary to. I wouldn't look for references to confirm any logical statement.--Andy Schlafly 00:14, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
Really? Is it fair to say then that this contention that the synchronization is required as a result of quantum mechanical effects is not something that you have read about but rather something that you yourself concluded from your own knowledge of quantum mechanics and GPS systems? --JeromeKJ 00:21, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
P.S. As a result of this discussion I found a couple of articles which appear to confirm that GPS satellites have their clocks adjusted by about 38,000 nanoseconds per day before launch in compliance with relitavistic predictions (both Special and General Relativity are taken into account). The articles are here and here. Is there really any question that this is what is happening? I would think that if these sources are to be questioned that some sort of reference should be provided. A mere assertion that the adjustments are as a result of quantum mechanical effects and that it is a matter of logic would not usually be enough for any serious encyclopedia. --JeromeKJ 00:53, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
The references are hearsay. Logic is far more compelling, more efficient, and more likely to lead to the correct result.
To take the analogy mentioned above, if you agree that perpetual motion machines are impossible, what is the reason?--Andy Schlafly 01:45, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
Quantum mechanics gives a probabilistic model of phenomena. Indeed, the page you linked for quantum mechanics states:
"If we measure such an observable, generally the wave function does not predict exactly which value we will obtain. Instead, the wave function gives us the probability that a certain value will be obtained."
If this is the case, that means that Quantum mechanical phenomena are unpredictable. How is it that clock adjustments can be made based on unpredictable events, ie, probabilities?
I'd also like to know how the GPS system is affected by these phenomena.
--Cahnkj 01:51, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

Logic is a nice thing. But engineers like to calculate. So could you give us a Ballpark estimate for the quantum mechanic effects which come into play here? AugustO 01:59, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

(Edit conflict x2) Andy, as a lawyer I can assure you that hearsay is a legal concept which is of little use in this sort of scientific discussion. Whilst I understand that non-legally trained people sometimes confuse the nature and applicability of the concept, I can confirm that it has no relevance here.
The difficulty here arises from your wanting to assert the truth of a matter without providing either references or even the basis for you own logic. Just saying "quantum mechanics" is hardly enlightening. Do you deny that GPS satellite clocks are adjusted by approximately 38,000 nanoseconds as referred to in the references that I provided? If not, do you say that there is a quantum calculation that accounts for that adjustment? What is that quantum calculation and what is it based on? I am really having difficulty in understanding the basis for all of this. --JeromeKJ 02:03, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
Aschlafly, this reference GPS and Relativity: An Engineering Overview has been pointed out to you several times already. Since it is published by folks actually working on the GPS system, I hardly think that it qualifies as 'hearsay'. It contains all the relevant relativistic equations, which are not really that complicated, and derives the 38 nanosecond figure quoted above. An assertion on scientific matters without any evidence can't really be taken seriously. Can we please see the quantum mechanical equations and calculations which come up with the same or similar result? RolandPlankton 09:49, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I'm inclined to suspect that your disbelief in relativity is so strong that you are unwilling to consider any evidence which might indicate that relativity could be correct, and are hence flailing around looking for some other explanation as to what actually happens (GPS clock adjustment by 38 ns). Would you care to comment on my suspicion? RolandPlankton 09:49, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

Quote: "A logical statement is a declarative sentence that is either true or false." [2].

So Aschlafly, why don't you need a reference to confirm a logical statement? Just because a statement is logical doesn't mean that it is true. RolandPlankton 16:53, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

It would be helpful to have a more modern reference. GPS switched to a system of daily updates to the satellites. Maybe those relativistic formulas cause errors that require daily clock synchronizations to correct. Not likely. But to prove the point we ought to find a reference that says that the satellites still use the 38 ns/day relativistic adjustments, and that the daily corrections are much smaller than that. RSchlafly 17:18, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
The best I've found so far is [3] from Physics Today, May 2002. This confirms the initial adjustment and mentions further on page 7: "Additional small frequency offsets arise from clock drift, environmental changes, and other unavoidable effects such as the inability to launch the satellite into an orbit with precisely the desired semimajor axis. The satellite clock frequencies are adjusted so that they remain as close as possible to the frequency of the Naval Observatory's clock ensemble." Unfortunately it doesn't give the actual size of the adjustments, thought the word 'small' does indicate it as being much less than the initial adjustment. I rather like the last sentence of this paper: "Ordinary users of the GPS, though they may not need to be aware of it, have thus become dependent on Einstein's conception of space and time." RolandPlankton 18:26, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
The lack of evidence, amid so much political pressure to prove it, is indicative that no proof can be found. Notice how no Nobel Prizes have been given for GPS confirming the Theory of Relativity?--Andy Schlafly 21:01, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
If you want to use the Nobel Prize as evidence against relativity, might I direct you to:
Where the official Nobel Prize website discusses various experiments related to relativity, and the relevant Nobel Prizes awarded for them.
--Cahnkj 00:32, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
GPS is not even on that overly broad list.--Andy Schlafly 00:43, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I've tried to confine my evidence to items which not even you can claim as 'hearsay'. A simple Google search turns up hundreds of references linking GPS and relativity, but in view of your earlier dismissal of such as hearsay, I thought I'd better stick to indisputable items. At least there is some fairly convincing evidence linking GPS with relativity (including all the relevant equations and the result of applying these equations), unlike your assertion linking GPS with quantum mechanics, where you have produced precisely zero evidence. You still haven't responded to my comments and question re 'logical statements' above. So, where is the evidence for your assertion? RolandPlankton 02:46, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
There is no credible evidence that the Theory of Relativity had anything to do with the development of GPS. In addition, not even the pro-Relativity Nobel Prize liberals say that GPS proves the theory.
My comment about quantum mechanics was in response to a question about why synchronization is needed. Unless someone thinks that perpetual motion machines are possible (have you answered my question about that?), then synchronization will be needed.--Andy Schlafly 11:00, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
Could you please clarify what the connection between synchronisation, quantum mechanics and perpetual motion machines is? From what I've learned, clock synchronisation between the satellites is necessary because any signal between them travels at a finite speed, namely the speed of light. Do you deny that? The claim is that in order to compute the signal travel time and thus to synchronize the clocks correctly, the relative velocities and the differences in gravitational potential due to the different altitudes of the satellites (and Earth's surface) have to be taken into account. Do you think that is wrong? --FrederickT3 11:56, 13 April 2012 (EDT)

Lets stick to the subject (GPS and relativity); perpetual motion is a complete red herring, and I'm not sure how Nobel prizes come into the picture (we're debating science, not prizes). On the basis of actual evidence produced in this discussion so far, I think that we can confidently state four facts:

  1. Prior to launch, the clock in a GPS satellite is set to run about 38 nanoseconds/day different from an otherwise identical clock on the earth's surface.
  2. When in orbit the GPS clock then appears to tick at the same rate as an identical clock on the earth's surface.
  3. Equations based on the theory of relativity accurately come up with this figure of around 38 nanoseconds.
  4. No evidence has been produced to show how quantum mechanics is involved.

If anyone disagrees with any of the above, they need to bear in mind (emphasis added):

from Conservapedia:Commandments 1 Everything you post must be true and verifiable.
from Conservapedia:Commandments 2 Always cite and give credit to your sources.
from Conservapedia:Guidelines/Reliability 4 A major difference between Liberalism and Conservatism is how much each group is willing to have its pronouncements checked, its actions reviewed and evaluated.

Hope this summary helps. RolandPlankton 14:41, 13 April 2012 (EDT)

That is the story as I have heard it. Except that I heard that the 38 ns/day adjustment was remotely switchable, because of relativity skeptics who did not believe that it would be necessary. I also don't agree that GPS is "dependent on Einstein's conception of space and time." The GPS system has the ability to measure the daily adjustments that it needs. So even with any relativity theory or Einstein conception, it could just make those 38 ns/day adjustments and GPS would have all the accuracy it has today. RSchlafly 15:19, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
In the summary I was careful to stick to facts supported by evidence, and to avoid saying "GPS is dependent on Einstein's conception of space and time", even though the two main references I have quoted do in fact say this. All I said was that the adjustment calculated according to relativity agrees with the actual adjustment, from which one might reasonably conclude, in this instance at least, that relativity is consistent with reality. RolandPlankton 15:44, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
I note that no one has proposed any credible alternative theory as to why the orbiting clocks tick at a different speed from surface clocks, so until some better theory comes along I'm quite happy to stick with relativity. RolandPlankton 16:00, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
In the last week, apart from one clarification question from RSchlafly, no one has challenged the 'four facts' summary I provided above. According I will shortly move a copy of this summary along with the relevant references in to the talk pages of other relevant articles, and will then update those articles to match. RolandPlankton 13:36, 21 April 2012 (EDT)
Beware: in your fact #1, the correction is 38 microseconds, not nanoseconds. See [4]. My own rough calculations also agree that it's microseconds. JudyJ 15:05, 21 April 2012 (EDT)
Well spotted, Judy. I've gone back to one of the sources and it is indeed 38 microseconds. Thank you for the correction. RolandPlankton 16:10, 21 April 2012 (EDT)

All right, can Andy Schlafly explain how adjusting the exponent in the law of gravity accounts for the orbits of the other planets? You know the reason why no one considers that as an alternative? Are you ready?! Because it doesn't work! And can you tell me why Einstein came up with GR? Was it to explain the orbit of Mercury? AndyFrankinson 21:36, 28 April 2012 (EDT)

In response to your first question, the reason is purely political. Any grad student who suggests that tweaking the exponent in Newtonian mechanics is an interesting approach worth more attention will thereby eliminate his chances for obtaining a PhD.
In response to your second point, GR was tweaked to explain the Mercury perihelion precession, but now the more precisely observed data fail to match the theory. Grad students and Nobel Prize wannabes are clever enough to keep quiet about it now.--Andy Schlafly 21:56, 28 April 2012 (EDT)

Andy: You make an interesting point about people not thinking that the Newcomb/Hall theory of planetary precession is an interesting approach—I hadn't thought about that aversion. I'm not sure why you think that people who take an interest in that theory would eliminate their chances of getting a PhD—people take an interest in historical aspects of science all the time. I can think of a few discarded scientific theories that are commonly discussed in science classes: The Ptolemaic theory of the solar system, the "plum pudding" model of the atom, and the phlogiston theory of combustion come to mind. The first two are very commonly taught in science classes. I think this is because they do a very good job of illustrating the scientific method and the value of careful analytical thinking. The phlogiston theory also illustrates careful thinking, but it isn't discussed in science classes nearly as much. My guess is that this is because it's harder to visualize. You can easily make a diagram in a textbook of the epicycles of Ptolemy and the ellipses of Kepler. And the model of electrons circling the nucleus, as per the Rutherford atom, is pretty much the logo for all things atomic. Lavoisier's (and others') experiments with combustion don't make for as dramatic an illustration.

The Simon Newcomb / Asaph Hall theory of planetary precession, unfortunately, seems to be even less photogenic. The effect being explained, 43 arcseconds per century, may be hard to get sudents excited about. But I doubt whether anyone jeopardizes their academic or research careers by being interested in it.

Idea: How about if I write some articles about the 4 theories (Ptolemy/Kepler, pudding/Rutherford, phlogiston/oxidation, and Newcomb/Einstein)? We could create a category for discarded scientific theories.

But I won't get to it any time soon. I'm very busy at Ameriwiki.

By the way, I have to thank you for the "E=mc^2" article. It really sharpened my thinking about the issues involved in special relativity, and it contributed to the outline of the articles I'm writing at Ameriwiki.

SamHB 22:40, 2 May 2012 (EDT)

Logic and the GPS

  • Atomic watches work on the Earth quite fine
  • Quantum mechanics describe the physics of very small length and energy scales
  • Satellites are macroscopic objects.
  • Even a precision of 1cm on the surface of the Earth isn't a very small length.

So which kind of logic tells us that quantum mechanical effects influence the synchronization of the clocks? Why are not only the scientists involved lying, but also their calculations?

For me it seems to be a logical conclusion that you, Aschlafly, are even more knowledgeable of Greek than of Science! AugustO 08:21, 12 April 2012 (EDT)

He's trying to apply the Heisenburg Uncertainty principle to satellites? Are you kidding me? That principle is used for things at the ATOMIC LEVEL! Using ANYTHING with regards to quantum mechanics in an argument about satellites is absurdism and/or ignorance of the subject matter! Seriously Andy, I know you hate the Theory of Relativity, but you should really leave science to those who understand it. JanSmuts 16:04, 12 April 2012 (EDT)
For someone who thinks that Brownian motion is about motion at the sub-atomic level your suggestions of scientific superiority ring hollow.--DavidEdwards 10:15, 13 April 2012 (EDT)

Newtonian explanation of Mercury's precession

I removed the phrase "[precession can be understood by] factoring in the gravitational pull due to other planets". The first sentence of that paragraph says the opposite, that the extra precession cannot be understood "even after accounting for gravitational perturbations caused all other planets". Unless I'm reading it wrong, it sounded like a contradiction. Spielman 16:51, 13 April 2012 (EDT)

Where is the contradiction? If the exponent in Newtonian gravity is slightly adjusted, then it predicts the Mercury precession.--Andy Schlafly 18:01, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
I'm curious as to the justification for changing a formula in Newtonian gravity. Do you change it for every situation, or just for this one special case? Can you give us the adjusted formula, and specify the exact change? For such a change in physics which has been in use for over 250 years I would like to see a reference, preferably several good references. RolandPlankton 18:25, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
The old Newcomb-Hall hypothesis. This book says that it contradicts the observations of the orbit of the moon, which rules out a change of exponent of of the required magnitude. --FrederickT3 18:30, 13 April 2012 (EDT)
The contributors to this section might be pleased to see that the issue has been discussed, at great length, right here at Conservapedia. An entire debate page was created for it: Debate:What is the exponent of r in Newtonian gravity? This was a discussion that spilled over from Essay:Quantifying Open-Mindedness.
Furthermore, the subject was discussed on the relativity page itself, in the section Theory_of_relativity#Experimental_Verification_of_Relativity. There is a large chart showing the precessions of the planets under the Newcomb-Hall theory and under general relativity. They are the last two columns of the chart. The actual observations match the last column very well (see [5], taking into account that it's very hard to get accurate reading on the outer planets, since their precession is so small.
One can see that the last two columns of the chart match only for Mercury. That is, Newcomb and Hall "tweaked" the exponent to the value of 2.000000157 in order to get Mercury's precession correct.
Under the Newcomb-Hall theory, the precession of any orbiting body would be .000000078 revolutions per orbit. This works for Mercury, but is too high for the other planets, and way too high for the Moon. This is why the theory was discarded. With modern artificial satellites, such as the International Space Station, an orbit takes only an hour and a half, and the precession would be enormous. The clearly wrong value for the Moon is why the Newcomb-Hall theory was quickly discarded.
Under general relativity, we know that the precession per orbit is proportional to the square of the planet's orbital velocity. Mercury has the highest velocity, so it has readily measurable precession. Artificial satellites are much slower, and the Moon is slower still.
I personally don't see accepting the possible truth of such a thoroughly discredited theory as evidence of open-mindedness, but open-mindedness is admittedly a very tricky issue. SamHB 18:11, 14 April 2012 (EDT)
"Mathematical physicists" (an oxymoron - I'll add it to the list) insisted that it was impossible for the exponent in Newtonian gravity to be anything other than precisely 2 (or -2). With the political push to promote the Theory of Relativity, the influence of the mathematical physicists rose too, and that is what shut down the valid inquiry into whether the Newtonian exponent should be precisely 2 (or -2). But any logical inquiry must admit the possibility, or even the likelihood, that it would not be exactly 2 (or -2).--Andy Schlafly 19:31, 13 April 2012 (EDT)

The issue here is not whether the exponent is precisely two or not but that you have to have a model which explains all (or at least as many as possible) observations. To get the precision of Mercury right you produce a model which then fails to explain the observed precession of every other body in the solar system. This seems to be a good experimental demonstration that Newcomb-Hall is wrong (or least inadequate as a model). Jloveday 15:32, 15 April 2012 (EDT)

I'm not sure how Andy Schlafly got us on the subject of the Newtonian exponent. My comment makes no mention of it. I'll answer his original question "where's the contradiction?": I quoted two sentences, both containing the phrase "other planets". One sentence said the precession can be understood by including the effects of the other planets, whereas the other said the precession cannot be understood that way. It is just rhetoric. The contradiction has little to do with physics. Spielman 12:06, 16 April 2012 (EDT)

First sentence of article contradicted by the rest

Given that main body of the article now largely deals with the things GR can explain (including the precession of Mercury) should not the first sentance be changed?Jloveday 15:37, 15 April 2012 (EDT)

GR is disproven now by the precession of Mercury. See Counterexamples to Relativity.--Andy Schlafly 16:22, 21 April 2012 (EDT)

I checked Counterexamples to Relativity and the number for the observed precession in the note are unreferenced. To be credible there has to be a reference for this number.Jloveday 12:11, 22 April 2012 (EDT)