Talk:Theory of relativity

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Special relativity and evidence

Many objects have been accelerated to velocities near the speed of light (in particle colliders) and it is easily observed that the rate at which those objects speed up as a constant force is applied is (very precisely) consistent with special relativity and not Gallilean relativity. That is, as their measured speed approaches the speed of light, that speed increases less and less in response to each "push" even though the "pushes" remain the same strength, thus apparently violating Newton's F = ma. On the other hand, Einstein's famous E = gamma * mc^2 appears to describe their rate of acceleration very accurately. I don't understand how this article proposes to surmount that objection. ZeroThree 15:47, 28 October 2012 (EDT)

What about all the evidence for Maxwell's equations, including electromagnets and radio waves, and all the everyday inventions that demonstrate that these things are real? Maxwell's equations contradict classical physics, and relativity was developed specifically to make Maxwell's equations valid in all reference frames. This includes not only the issue of a constant speed of light, but also magnetic fields arising from "moving" charges, where motion is defined in terms of each observer. Indeed, special relativity can be derived directly from Maxwell's equations. Any confirmation of Maxwell's equations is consistent with relativity and not with Galilean relativity. NgSmith Fri Jan 31 13:29:34 EST 2020

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. [2] 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)
Whether GPS was designed based on Relativity or not may be irrelevant. Whether or not Relativity is necessary for the clocks to run efficiently and accurately, also irrelevant. Observations of the satellites are still consistent with the predictions of General and Special Relativity as evidenced here: Please not that this is an article by the same Tom Van Flandern quoted on this site as saying that relativity is unnecessary for GPS calculations, so I trust this is a source you will accept. Here he is saying here that while relativity may be UNNECESSARY for those calculations, it is still CONFIRMED by our observations.Gus Williams 14:03, 13 May 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)


This debate seems pretty ridiculous, given that GPS is a public system with open specifications. If you're building a GPS receiver you do, in fact, need to compensate for relativistic effects. The correction equations that must be used on the receiving side equipment are given in the official GPS interface specification, IS-GPS-200G [3], p.92. section User Algorithm for SV Clock Correction.

The polynomial defined in the following allows the user to determine the effective SV PRN code phase offset referenced to the phase center of the antennas with respect to GPS system time (t) at the time of data transmission. The coefficients transmitted in subframe 1 describe the offset apparent to the two frequency user for the interval of time in which the parameters are transmitted. This estimated correction accounts for the deterministic SV clock error characteristics of bias, drift and aging, as well as for the SV implementation characteristics of group delay bias and mean differential group delay. Since these coefficients do not include corrections for relativistic effects, the user's equipment must determine the requisite relativistic correction. Accordingly, the offset given below includes a term to perform this function...

I did not include the equations here, but they're given in the manual. --Smac56 16:54, 7 December 2014 (EST)

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." [4].

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 [5] 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 [6]. 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)

Ugh, the reasons GPS devices don't contain the "rigorous transformations" that relativity "would seem to require" is very simple. The satellites are in geosynchronous orbits, and the difference in time that relativity causes only need to be calculated once. From then on, it's simply a case of adding a few ns every day to the satellite clocks to account for this. I would've thought that was obvious to an expert. And only an expert should be attempting to write authoratively on the theory of relativity! A certificate in physics does not an expert make. LucoDaw 15:09, 11 July 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 [7], 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)

OK, how do you explain that adjusting the exponent in Newtonian gravity doesn't account for the orbits of the other planets? You say it has to do with politics. It has nothing to do with politics--the other theory just doesn't work! AndyFrankinson 20:33, 11 May 2012 (EDT)

I doubt the minor tweak in the exponent would affect the other orbits. The orbit of Mercury would be far more sensitive to such a tweak than anything else.
The broader question remains: isn't the censorship of any alternative to the Theory of Relativity obvious? If the theory were correct, then there would be no need for liberals to censor debate or alternative theories.--Andy Schlafly 20:25, 12 May 2012 (EDT)
  • I doubt the minor tweak in the exponent would affect the other orbits. Do you have any calculations which would affirm this belief of yours? AFAIK, Simon Newcomb's and Asaph Hall's idea was discarded when excellent measurements for the Moon were made by Ernest W. Brown which didn't fit the predictions of Newcomb and Hall. This was in the early 20th century...
  • Today Computer simulations allow for an easy test of alternatives to Newton's exponent. Any student should be able to create one and see for himself that it doesn't work out.
  • The influence of the exponent on apsidal angles was discussed be Newton himself. It's still of interest today: a central system in which the exponent is 1 is easily imaginable (swing a weight on a spring around your head). And you will find publications on these subjects still today.
That said:
  • Why don't you run a simulation for yourself?
  • Alternative theories are discussed - and mostly discarded. That's the way physics works. Theories doesn't become true because you believe in them, they become more and more trustworthy when their predictions are verified over and over again.
AugustO 08:40, 13 May 2012 (EDT)
The Newcomb-Hall theory doesn't need anyone, liberal or otherwise, to censor it. It censors itself, by being wrong. It has been shown to be wrong many times, including Ernest Brown's observations, and some data published right here at Conservapedia.
Probably the best refutation at present is with artificial satellites, since their orbital period is so short. If you want to argue for the Newcomb-Hall theory, your best bet would be to find data showing that the periapsis of the International Space Station precesses by .013 degrees per month. That is an enormous precession, easily observed. The orbital eccentricity is only .001, but, since the ISS is so close and is in constant contact by radio and radar, there should be extremely good data. You should probably contact the author of the Heavens Above web site. It has a huge amount of information on things like this.
I think that you will find that what you are up against is not liberals, but facts. JudyJ 12:44, 13 May 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)

Nobel Committee Criticism

That section of the article criticizes the Nobel Committee for not awarding a prize to a scientist who questions relativity, then immediately notes that no awards have been given for work related to relativity. Perhaps it'd be better to remove this contradiction; pick a poison and stick to it, so to speak. Alternatively, it may be more honest just to remove the section. --PaPatriot

What's contradictory about that? It's similar to how the Obama Administration won't appoint anyone who is pro-life, and yet Obama won't campaign on being pro-abortion. That's not a contradiction.--Andy Schlafly 20:07, 23 May 2012 (EDT)

Bending of light in Newtonian gravity

All right, can someone show me exactly how light is bent by gravity in Newtonian gravity? Photons have zero mass, so, according to Newtonian gravity, they should not feel gravity. AndyFrankinson 20:56, 25 June 2012 (EDT)

  • Newton's Corpuscular theory of light didn't state that the mass of the photons is zero. It was just obvious that it is very tiny
  • For the actual calculation, the mass of the photon cancels out
  • Johann Georg von Soldner did the calculations in 1801 - Newton's theroy was still going strong, then. (Über die Ablenkung eines Lichtstrals von seiner geradlinigen Bewegung English: On the Deflection of a Light Ray from its Rectilinear Motion). The predicted effect was to tiny to be observed accurately in his time
  • Newton's corpuscular theory became unpopular since the 1820s, so this line of thought wasn't followed up.
  • Here is a modern re-calculation Bending of light: A classical analysis
From Sendler's essay: Hoffentlich wird es niemand bedenklich finden, daß ich einen Lichtstral geradezu als schweren Körper behandle. Denn daß die Lichtstralen alle absoluten Eigenschaften der Materie besitzen, sieht man an dem Phänomen der Aberration, welches nur dadurch möglich ist, daß die Lichtstralen wirklich materiel sind. – Und überdies, man kann sich kein Ding denken, das existiren und auf unsere Sinne wirken soll, ohne die Eigenschaft der Materie zu haben. –
Hopefully no one will take offense that I looked at a ray of light as an object of mass. That every ray of light has the absolute properties of matter is seen from the phenomenon of aberration, which is only possible because the rays are really material. — and furthermore, one can think of no thing which exists and interacts with our sense without having the properties of matter.
AugustO 02:45, 26 June 2012 (EDT)
Yeah, I've heard of that. But the photon has zero mass. AndyFrankinson 20:20, 26 June 2012 (EDT)
Newtonian physics doesn't know about zero-mass particles, hence it doesn't make a unique prediction. One possible interpretation is to say "zero mass -> zero gravitational force -> no bending". Another interpretation is to take the mathematical limit of the equations for m->0. Since ma = GMm/r2, the mass of the photon cancels and you get a = GM/r2, even in the limiting case m=0. This leads to bending by half the amount as predicted by relativity (and observed). --FrederickT3 22:47, 26 June 2012 (EDT)

Conflation of Relativity and Relativism & Robert H. Dicke & Barack Obama

There appears to be significant resistance to relativity that is largely unfounded. The theory is in no way contradictory to Christian beliefs, or religion in general. As a conservative, right wing encycloepdia, I expect resistance to moral relativism.

From reading the article, it appears many of the authorship appear to conflate Einstein's relativity with moral relativism. The two concepts are entirely and utterly unrelated other than both containing the word "relativ". Newton's model of gravity as a simple inverse square law is a very close approximation to Einstein's model. The difference is Newton's is very slightly inaccurate and cannot be used where extreme accuracy is needed. Relativity can.

What's the difficulty with relativity here? The central premise is very basic and seems pretty self evident upon a little thought. There is no absolute frame of reference in a universe in which everything moves relative to everything else. Something can only be defined as moving with respect to (relative to) something else. And there you have it, general relativity.

There is also a problem with the section on Robert H. Dicke. He wasn't a major critic of relativity. Indeed, he developed some of the most stringent tests (relativity is highly falsifiable). It passed them. All.

I tracked down and read the article regarding relativity and law (Obama, etc.). It is quite a nice analogy, and is no way an attempt to use relativity to justify anything. The analogy is more closely related to the uncertainty principle - you cannot measure a particles position without changing or influencing it. You cannot just observe, as you have to intervene in order to do so. The same is true in American law (with a much stronger reliance on test cases, etc, than in say, English law). You cannot deal with one case without it having vast implications for others. That is all the paper is saying. Again, there is no agenda against conservatism or religion in this paper.

LucoDaw 23:45, 5 July 2012 (EDT)

Clocks on Trains - alternative theory

Someone better come up with a really good explanation as to why a clock on a train will show a different time to a clock next to the track, after the train has travelled for a length of time. This has been done, and relativity predicted the difference (due to time dilation). If relativity is definitely un-true (the premise of this article), then what IS causing the difference in times?

The above GPS argument makes a similar case, but trains are easier to understand. The difference in time on these clocks has nothing at all to do with quantum physics. Noone try and claim it is, and that they don't have to prove it because it's a logical statement. Anyone who thinks they can logically infer QM (which is inherently illogical by human perception) needs to see a shrink.

LucoDaw 23:51, 5 July 2012 (EDT)

Counterexamples to Recent Experiments

Recently, experiments have been published in Science, directly measuring general relativistic time dilation effects using atomic clocks placed about a metre apart. Do we have any idea how to refute this? The reference I provide is to a newspaper summary of the findings [8]. I have also read the paper and see no loopholes. --DanPW 12:49, 20 July 2012 (EDT)

We don't need to, and can't, refute this; it is true. This appears to be an update, over a much shorter distance, of the Pound-Rebka experiment of 1960 or so. SamHB (talk) 08:27, 15 July 2017 (EDT)
Probably our best bet is personal attacks on the researcher, Chou, or possibly NIST. I suspect Chou was not born in this country. He may have an agenda to confuse American citizens. Spielman 14:35, 20 July 2012 (EDT)

Information and Relativistic Time Dilation?

The question is this: are laws of physics the results of predetermined relationships, or are they result of using information?

This seemingly has nothing to do with time dilation, mass increase and such. But it does. Read more about this important question:


It turns out, there is a connection between information processing and SR/GR time dilation.

In a simplified way, the more information there is, the slower the rate of physical processes.

Antecedent to first concept of physics, main SR/GR results can be derived out of thin air, without postulates.

Edit of 29 Oct 2014

I think User:Dossas was right in having the article say what it is before criticizing it. Most pages on science have at least a sentence or two, at the beginning, saying what the subject is.

I have moved the bulk of the criticism (Louis Essen, etc.) up a few paragraphs. The link to his article The Special Theory of Relativity: A Critical Analysis was a dead link, but I found two other links that are equally fiery. And I put the "wouldn't get tenure" line into a better contextual place. That is, in with the paragraph about Essen. In fact, his Relativity and Time Signals paper has a quote at the top: "The theory is so rigidly held that young scientists dare not openly express their doubts" that you might want to put in, illustrating the "wouldn't get tenure" line. Though I haven't done that.

SamHB 00:10, 30 October 2014 (EDT)

An argument against relativity

I think I have a strong (theoretical) argument against the theory of relativity. Is there anyone who could help me by reviewing my stuff, by giving me a professional opinion? May email address: —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Laszlogm (talk)

I think things like this would be best played out in public. After all, this is a wiki, and Conservapedia has a long history of debating relativity issues openly. But if you really do want to promulgate it in private, my email is near the top of my user page. However, if you go that route, I very well may decide, based on what I see, to make it public somewhere here on CP.
Your next choice might be simply to publish it directly, either on your own user or talk page, or at the bottom of this page (Talk pages are appended at the end, so they are in forward chronological order).
Perhaps your best bet, if you are feeling really confident, is to add it to the Counterexamples to Relativity page. But I should advise you in advance: The bar for counterexamples is rather high, and, unless you really have a correct counterexample, your argument will be figuratively ripped to shreds, the way all the others have been.
SamHB 13:33, 11 January 2015 (EST)

Einstein’s Relativity and Relativism: Why Einstein’s theory of relativity is actually a powerful argument for absolute truth.

Please read the article Einstein’s Relativity and Relativism: Why Einstein’s theory of relativity is actually a powerful argument for absolute truth. Conservative (talk) 13:55, 11 February 2016 (EST)

New heading

I have rarely laughed out loud as often as I did while reading this article. This must be satire, no? If not then I weep for humanity. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Nikib (talk)

Yeah, sure you do. You might weep for closed-mindedness too.--Andy Schlafly (talk) 15:15, 2 July 2017 (EDT)
You may consider it to be satire, but it is not. The story is more complicated than that. Conservapedia is probably the most prominent place on the internet where relativity is treated this way. There is probably no one on the planet that disparages and denies relativity more ferociously than Andy Schlafly. The counterexamples to relativity page is world-famous, has over 2 million page views, and dominates, by a wide margin, Google searches for the subject. If you think that all of us at CP are anti-relativity, you are wrong.
You should know that there is sort of a custom at CP, for pages like this, that parts of pages above the table of contents are not to by edited except by Aschlafly, but the material below the table of contents is the consensus (in the usual way for a wiki) of the editor base, and that most editors try to have that part of the page be a factual exposition of the subject. If you would like to contribute to that, feel free. SamHB (talk) 15:37, 2 July 2017 (EDT)

Gravitational time dilation

Each rising sun is a synchronization of time, every eclipses synchronize altitudes together from one eclipse to the other. Synchronization of events is incompatible with desynchronization of clocks. I prefer to believe in synchronization of eclipses than in desynchronization of clocks. But that is a choice. If you believe eclipses are desynchronized, it is God will, but you are not in the truth. If there were some (nano)seconds more at high altitudes between eclipses (slower rate), it would mean events happen quicker at low altitude (quicker rate of events in a time dilated frame???). What is your opinion? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Geocentric (talk)

My opinion is that the English language is a beautiful and expressive language, and that science is a beautiful and useful pursuit. What I reverted showed a level of English and scientific literacy lower than that of a reasonable 10-year-old.
Relativity is about fundamental physical truths about space and time, not trivialities about eclipses and sunrises. In any case, the phenomenon of sunrise is known, to anyone with a primary-school education, to be nothing but a manifestation of the rotation of the Earth (relativity!)
I still do not know whether this person is a willful troll/vandal or is just monumentally ignorant. We certainly have our share of scientific nonsense at Conservapedia, such as Gravitation demystified and Hydroplate Theory[1]. We don't need any more. I would recommend that this person go away. If this stuff persists, I will recommend that the administrators review this issue and block this user. SamHB (talk) 20:27, 21 August 2017 (EDT)

"Household name" claim

What made someone a "household name" is not of scientific interest. The fake news of the 1919 eclipse, and how media ran with it, hardly seems to be of encyclopedic value in a scientific entry. The implication that fake news must be true if people believe is not enlightening.--Andy Schlafly (talk) 16:46, 3 September 2018 (EDT)

Information about Einstein's rise to fame is admittedly not appropriate for an actual science textbook. A physics textbook would describe Galileo's accomplishments in mechanics (leading to what we now call "Galilean relativity") and astronomy (telescope, moons of Jupiter, etc.) but would probably not discuss in any detail his problems with the Catholic Church.
However, this an encyclopedia, not a physics textbook, and a certain amount of "fluff" or societal material appears in many CP articles. For example, the articles on Madonna Ciccone, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley, Johannes Kepler, Stephen Hawking, Marie Curie, William Herschel, Wolfgang Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, to name just a minuscule fraction of our articles, all have "soft" material on why they are famous.
Like it or not, Einstein is a household name. If it weren't, would you be fighting so hard against him? And he got that way in 1919 because of the eclipse. I happen to disagree that that's his signature achievement. But it's the achievement that, for better or worse, got the headlines and made him a superstar.
If the eclipse observations had been wrong, that fame would have been taken away. But Eddington's result was right while his methods were wrong.[2] Eddington lucked out and got away with it, and the flaws in his analysis weren't discovered until decades later with the advent of more rigorous methods for analyzing experiments. By then, extremely precise and properly analyzed data had gotten the same result—the angle of deflection was 1.75 arcseconds.
It is far better to say that people believed the eclipse news (else how could we explain how Einstein became a household word?) but Eddington's methods were wrong (And this is exactly what our article says!) than to censor that information and leave people in the dark about Einstein's fame.
Wrong things get said all the time. In the extremely early years of computers, some famous person (can't be bothered to look it up, but you've probably read it too) said that the whole world would have a need for about 5 computers. And don't forget that the US Patent Office was once closed down because nothing more would be invented.
SamHB (talk) 19:05, 3 September 2018 (EDT)

Numbers for claims about Mercury's precession.

ASchlafly compares the relativistic prediction for the precession of Mercury's orbit with observed values and states that "the conflict is greater than the margin of error." However, he does not show what these values are or provide a link to an external reference. Elsewhere on the same page some numbers for observed and predicted anomalous precession are provided, and they appear to be in agreement: the uncertainties overlap. For example, a predicted value of 42.98 ±0.04 arcseconds per century is provided, which does overlap with the provided observed value of 43.13 ± 0.14 arcseconds per century. Interestingly, there is no reference for the predicted value of 42.98 ±0.04. There are values in tables that do not match the values in the references that seem to be associated with the tables as well. Lastly, a formula for the approximation of precession under GR is provided in two places which is off by a factor of 2Π, in the reference frame of the orbiting body in question. Use of that formula as stated provides neither the correct predicted precession per orbit, nor the correct predicted precession per 100 Earth years (which is how the precession is normally presented). It's unclear when the incorrect formula was added to the page or for what purpose.
If ASchlafly would cite or report the specific numbers that he is comparing, or point to his source for those numbers, his argument could be evaluated. Currently, his claim is in clear conflict with the numbers provided elsewhere on the page. The issue of the incomplete/incorrect formula and possible errors (or incorrect references) in the tables should probably be addressed by a more senior party than myself.--Brossa (talk) 14:14, 4 September 2018 (EDT)

Ummm, yeah. I may have gotten the two "approximations" wrong. The one in footnote 46 or so was the approximation in Einstein's paper. The other one was just put together by me as an extreme back-of-the-envelope rough approximation designed to show how the precession depends on the planet's speed relative to the speed of light, without fussing over the orbital eccentricity. I'll go look at that again. It's made confusing by the need to choose really consistent units (what exactly is the Schwartzschild radius? Are we using c=1 units?). And the standard "theoretical" formulas are in Mercury years, whereas we traditionally describe this in Earth years.
But keep in mind that the real test is whether the precession as observed through telescopes and the precession as precisely calculated from the Einstein field equations and the Schwartzschild metric agree. That's what the error bars are about. The two approximations are just that. You need to solve the equations, and (unlike for Newtonian/Keplerian gravity) that has to be done by computer.
So I'll look at that and try to clean it up. And not have one of the approximations in the text while another is in a footnote. That's just dumb. Thanks for pointing out the problem. SamHB (talk) 16:32, 4 September 2018 (EDT)
I've looked it over, and I "sort of" stand by my original formulas. I think things are confused by the symbol "a". In modern relativity textbooks that's the Schwartzschild radius, (also know as the "gravitating radius") but in Einstein's paper it was the semi-major axis of the ellipse. (You remember a and b being the semi-major and semi-minor axes of an ellipse from high school, right? That's what Einstein was using.) Now the reason I say "sort of" is that my supposedly nice approximation of was already simplified, by me, from what was in Einstein's paper. And that was an approximation in any case. The only way to get the really precise theoretical prediction is to solve numerically for a geodesic, by computer. Thet's what the Pijpers paper is comparing with the experimental measurements. SamHB (talk) 01:17, 5 September 2018 (EDT)
I agree that it's an approximation, and a reasonable one for these purposes, but that 3GM/... approximation is per radian of rotation, so the precession over an entire orbit (2π radians of rotation) is 2π(3GM/....), or . That can be converted directly into arcseconds per Earth century. Incidentally, how do you get a π to show up in an equation?--Brossa (talk) 23:23, 5 September 2018 (EDT)
Not even top relativists claim that the advance of the perihelion of Mercury proves the General Theory of Relativity anymore. Once the divergence between more accurate measurements and the theory began occurring nearly 15 years ago, relativists stopped reporting data about this. The Wikipedia entry on this displays a style of everything except confirmation by the data of the theory. Instead, it talks about historical motivation and uses liberal style like "consistent with" rather than "confirms". Its citations are then more than a decade old. See [10].--Andy Schlafly (talk) 12:13, 5 September 2018 (EDT)
I don't think anyone claims that the perihelion measurements prove GR. Experiments can only refute a theory. They can also be consistent with a theory. When enough experiments, especially experiments that investigate a wide variety of phenomena, are shown to be consistent with the theory, it lends credence to the theory. When no other plausible theory can explain the those observations, we can say that they validate the theory. The Mercury observations are just one phenomenon. By themselves they couldn't validate or prove GR. And there's another competing theory—the Newcomb-Hall exponent-fudging theory. That one doesn't hold up for things other than Mercury, which helps validate GR. But there are many other supporting observations listed on the page—bending of light, gravitational time dilation, gravitational waves, geodetic precession, Shapiro effect, etc. It is these widely disparate observations that lead people to say that GR is "validated". SamHB (talk) 23:53, 5 September 2018 (EDT)
My question for you was just what the specific numbers you are comparing are, in support of your statement that the conflict is greater than the margin of error. For example: are you comparing the calculated vs. observed numbers for the anomalous precession only from the Pijpers paper, or some other numbers from the Wikipedia article, or some third source? You mention 15 years ago, so are you referring to some data from 2003 or thereabouts? As I said above, the numbers presented on the page here are not in conflict, so if you are operating with a different set of numbers we should know what those are. --Brossa (talk) 23:03, 5 September 2018 (EDT)
The Pjpers material was not put in by me. Someone else, maybe AugustO. By the way, I do not copy stuff from Wikipedia; I go straight to the source if possible. If what I've written above is "Wikipedia style", so be it. I don't pay attention to "Wikipedia style"; I just try to use terms correctly and logically.
I have no idea where Andy gets the idea that there are more recent data than those reported by Pijpers, and that are inconsistent with GR. Perhaps Andy should cite that. I'm not aware that "relativists [whatever that means] stopped reporting data" about any such divergence in measurements.
I started to clean up the approximations, but I started getting edit conflicts with Andy, so I'm going to stop for tonight. Be aware that the seemingly obvious way we do things now may not be the way Einstein did things in 1916. In particular, he measured the precession in fractions of a full rotation rather than in radians. And, of course, it was per Mercury year, not per earth year, so all that stuff needs to be corrected for. SamHB (talk) 23:53, 5 September 2018 (EDT)


  1. [1]
  2. Einstein's Luck, John Waller, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860719-9

How can you fit Time Dilation into Newton Theory?

Astaka (talk) 20:37, August 30, 2021 (EDT)

The data disprove the theory

`--Andy Schlafly (talk) 18:25, September 26, 2021 (EDT)