Difference between revisions of "Talk:Theory of relativity"

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::::: Sounds good.  However, the fact that GPS satellite clocks have built-in corrections for relativistic effects is something I inserted previously, and it was reverted.  I hope you understand that I brought up these issues in an effort to accurately represent the science, and not because of some agenda.  As I've said, I don't think special and general relativity are associated with political controversy.--[[User:Bayes|Bayes]] 19:12, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
 
::::: Sounds good.  However, the fact that GPS satellite clocks have built-in corrections for relativistic effects is something I inserted previously, and it was reverted.  I hope you understand that I brought up these issues in an effort to accurately represent the science, and not because of some agenda.  As I've said, I don't think special and general relativity are associated with political controversy.--[[User:Bayes|Bayes]] 19:12, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
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:::: Bayes, you continue to insist on a falsehood, and I attribute that to [[liberal]] distortions in what you've read elsewhere.  Please recognize that politics does distort science.  '''GPS satellite clocks were not built based on predictions made by the theory of relativity.'''--[[User:Aschlafly|Aschlafly]] 19:38, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
  
 
== Theory of Relativity (moved from [[User talk:Aschlafly]]) ==
 
== Theory of Relativity (moved from [[User talk:Aschlafly]]) ==

Revision as of 18:38, 26 July 2007

Great article

1) Superb avoidance of difficult science in a scientific article. Best not to be confusing. 2) Nice attention on Eddington rather than the theory itself. 3) Good mind reading regarding Eddington's dreams. 4) Nice work ignoring the facts about things that have been inventing using GR such as GPS

And rather than simply be sarcastic, I will work on a better article over the weekend. One that actually discusses the science.

Special and general relativity

This article seems to combine the two. They are different ideas and need to be distinguished. JoshuaZ 19:21, 24 February 2007 (EST)

Agreed. Separate articles would make more sense. I don't have time to do the necessary work right now, but if no one else does it I'm sure I'll get to it eventually. Tsumetai 10:11, 25 February 2007 (EST)
If someone will split the pages, I'll help flesh them out.--ZLewis 10:42, 1 March 2007 (EST)

Moral Relativism line needs to go.

I have never heard anyone advocating moral relativism use either of the theories of relativity to do it. Actually, the only people who I've ever heard that from are relativity deniers like Fred Hutchison. Not only does that show a grave misunderstanding of the scientific theory, but also a misunderstanding of the phrase "moral relativism". In any case, you can't draw moral implications from scientific theories. When someone says that Einstein's theory of relativity implies some kind of moral relativism, they're really saying "The geometric theory of gravity allows me to internalize my moral decisions".

That line is ridiculous and irrelevant, and needs to disappear.

I don't like it at all in its present form, but the word "relativity" is thrown around casually quite a lot and there might be justification for a section with a title like "what relativity is not."
E.g. Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strip, says "Einstein’s great insight was assuming reality was not fixed, and that everything was relative to the observer" and goes on to say "I have extended that thinking to people..."
I think using Scott Adams as a reference or a jumping-off point for discussion really constitutes holding one's self to a dismally low standard. He's posted his own theories of physics to his blog a few times, freely admitting that he knows they're wrong and that he just takes pride in the fact that the layman can't successfully challenge them. In all honesty, moral relativism is a perfectly valid subject for an article, but it doesn't have anything to do with physics other than an unfortunate overlap of words and definitions in English. Putting this section in just makes the authors look like they're bristling for a fight. Willforpresident 21:25, 7 March 2007 (EST)
What follows is interesting if not very profound, but dragging Einstein into it is not helpful.
It just goes to show the value of jargon. When scientists give something a simple name like "relativity," people assume they understand it and misapply it. I'm just thankful that people aren't very familiar with mathematics or we'd be hearding about crop circles in Galois fields. Dpbsmith 12:50, 25 February 2007 (EST)
I like the "what relativity is not" idea. Might be worth pointing out that relativity in physics didn't start with SR; there is such a thing as Galilean relativity, after all. Tsumetai 12:57, 25 February 2007 (EST)

This line must go. It is not relevant to the article. Have a disambiguation page for relativity. The citation is completely incorrect. The website http://www.moralrelativity.com/about1.html says nothing about general relativity influencing moral relativity. This article says 'Relativity has generated a huge following by advocates of moral relativism,' but the website http://www.moralrelativity.com/about1.html does not make any mention of this statement, therefore it is improperly cited. Citations are supposed to support claims, and this one does not. (Read the website for yourself). Also, just because relativity is a homophone in this case doesn't mean it belongs in an article of the (general) theory of relativity. Please make a disambiguation page because this is clearly in the wrong place.

I removed the moral relativity part from this article and placed it in a new article called Moral relativity. Relativity here is clearly just a homophone, and moral relativity is irrelevant to special or general relativity. To illustrate my point, see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relativity. Relativity in physics has a special meaning. Teji 00:38, 5 April 2007 (EDT)

Folks, moral relativism is a big reason for the political support of types of relativity. It's obviously relevant to this article, and the above criticism only reinforces the need to include a reference. We can debate how to say it, but censorship is not an option here. Go to Wikipedia for that.--Aschlafly 01:31, 5 April 2007 (EDT)
Okay, then that can go into the Moral relativity article, which now exists. There is no support for your claim. Neither is there a need for political support for a scientific theory. The way you describe it, moral relativity references this theory of relativity, not the other way around. The theory of relativity neither relies on moral relativity in any explanation of it or needs it to be mentioned for a complete treatment of the theory, and therefore it is inappropriate to add it here. I direct you again to the dictionary http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relativity in order to clarify that relativity in this sense has specific meaning in the domain of physics, and arbritrary theories that share the word are not in this domain nor are related in any concrete way, simply being homophones. Teji 18:40, 5 April 2007 (EDT)


Someone added more about the moral relativity bit, so I put it in the right place: in the article on Moral relativity. The section says, "Advocates of moral relativity seized on the theory of relativity to legitimize their views," which is about moral relavitity and how they use the theory of relativity, not how the the theory of relativity involves moral relativity. I challenge the writer again to find a work on the physics theory that metions moral relativity at all. Just because a page mentions the theory of relativity does not make it a legitimate part of the theory itself, and as such, does not belong in this article. If anything, the Moral relativity article should make a link to this article, not the other way around. I am not sure the agenda here, but it seems that someone would like to promote moral relativity by attaching it to unrelated articles. Please add your information to the correct article in the correct place. Again, here is the link: Moral relativity. Go crazy. Teji 14:42, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

ASchlafly, you added the line "Advocates of moral relativity seized on the theory of relativity to legitimize their views" and gave a citation afterwards. If you read the page that you cite, you will see that the author merely uses Special Relativity to demonstrate how moral relativism works. He does not "seize" on the theory and does not use it to "legitimize" his view. Can you find a better source please? (or remove the sentence)

I can't tell who or when this comment was made, because it lacks the signature (use the signature button above). But I will look for more sites about to support my statement, which should be easy to find. Frankly, I've never heard anyone doubt the statement.--Aschlafly 20:07, 8 April 2007 (EDT)


Perhaps you've been listening the wrong people. No reputable explanations of relativity mention moral relativity. Find a reputable one. Don't look for moral relativity explanations that include physics relativity, because that information belongs in Moral relativity, not here. You are researching the wrong topic. Repeat: look for information about the physical theory of relativity and see if you can find one that mentions moral relativity (not pages that talk about moral relativity and mention physical relativity). Furthermore, anyone can set up a web page and say whatever they want, so web pages are generally not a very good resource (unless it's the physics department website at MIT, for instance, because it has credibility in this field). You should find reputable scientific texts. And, please, stick the topic at hand: physical science topics needs physical science resources. There is ample room in the Moral relativity article to discuss. In fact, I'm surprised you aren't contributing more to that article (especially compared to how much you try add to in this article), since you seem to be very interested in the topic and are more knowledgable about it than physical relativity. Teji 13:08, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
I've received no response. Can I remove the paragraph now? Teji 16:59, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
By the way, I checked the history, and MatteeNeutra made the uncited statement above about needing a better source or removing the sentence. Teji 17:02, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

not "attributed" to Einstein.

isn't just "attributed" to Einstein. When someone says "attributed", they typically mean that someone is given credit for an idea somewhat apocryphally. Einstein obtained the relation in his Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper, in which, from the Lorentz transformations, he obtained the relations:

and then, as :

.

And these bizarre polemics are undermining what little credibility this encyclopedia has. Sneering at Einstein and glorifying the contributions of Ponicare makes all of the sense of arguing over whether Leibniz or Newton invented calculus, particularly since there are very palpable differences between Einstein and Ponicare's treatments of the subjects. And, I see someone has removed the "there is no evidence for the general theory", but I'm sure it will be back by this afternoon. That's ever weirder -- how on earth can someone say that "there is no evidence" and then, in the same article, link to black holes?

I'm not going to go back to that article on Dirac Notation to fill up all of those links with articles until I'm sure one of the administrators isn't going to replace them with accusations of quantum mechanics being tantamount to the Kabbalah, or something equally stupid. (unsigned)

It is a fact that Poincare published E=mc2 and most of the rest of special relativity before Einstein. Maybe you think that this is sneering or glorifying, but it is a fact, and there is no serious dispute about it. RSchlafly 20:17, 9 March 2007 (EST)
This is true, but what Poincare described was a specific case of E=mc2. An experimental result showed that there was momentum when a body ejected EM radiation, but the mass was unaccounted for. Poincare described the mass of the EM as m=E/c2. Einstein derived this formula from more fundamental assumptions, the speed of light is absolute, etc. This is why his work is so famous. In fact, in all of science, nothing belongs to any one person, even though they may get credit, but are supposedly discovered. Also do not forget that Einstein also published General Relativity.
Furthermore, while Poincare regarded it as superfluous, scientists of the day were still trying to work with the luminescent ether. Einstein's work proved this unnecessary.
Again this is a lesson in science. We are always trying to compress and refine our science. Einstein, while he of course drew on other's work and surely knew of Poincare's m=E/c2 paper, his work was more refined and simpler, deriving many principles, Poincare's and new ones, from a few fundamental principles. Poincare published a paper about a month before Einstein with similar work, but in science, no one person makes a discover. Don't forget, Newton has his Hooke. But like Newton, it was Einstein's derivation and formalizations that worked better. (unsigned)
Yes, Poincare described was a specific case of E=mc2, but so did Einstein. Einstein did not foresee particle annihilation or nuclear energy. Poincare's description of the ether as superfluous is nearly identical to Einstein's.
How was Einstein's work on special relativity any more refined, simpler, or better working? I deny this. Poincare showed a better understanding of the theory than Einstein. RSchlafly 14:16, 23 March 2007 (EDT)
Don't ask me, ask Lorentz. http://ia331314.us.archive.org/2/items/theeinsteintheor11335gut/11335-h/11335-h.htm
OK, I looked at your link. The first thing I saw was a claim that the 1919 eclipse proved the General Relativity. We now know that eclipse proved no such thing. So much for the credibility of that link.
The link does show that Lorentz and Einstein were patting each other on the back. That's fine, but it suggests a lack of objectivity towards the odd man out, Poincare. This dispute cannot be resolved by self-interested party, obviously.--Aschlafly 01:29, 5 April 2007 (EDT)
Can't get much more credible than a publication by Lorentz on Gutenberg, bud. It may be dated, but it is closer to the date of Einstein's work. As far as I see you, you have the burden to prove your claim as much as everyone else has to support the opposite claim. Where is your evidence of credible sources? Teji 18:45, 5 April 2007 (EDT)

Old version

I was just looking at an old version of this page, and the absurdity of the "scientific" claims made, combined with the low quality of the writing and blatant inaccuracies, make the article, quite frankly, almost intellectually offensive. I realize that this has since been rectified, but if this is the quality that is to be expected of Conservapedia articles, then I do not blame those who dismiss it as a failed attempt. Geekman314(contact me) 15:12, 9 March 2007 (EST)

be specific in your statements if you expect a response.--Aschlafly 19:04, 9 March 2007 (EST)

I find the content reverted to in the above edit to be quite disturbing.

  • The General Theory of Relativity does not reject Isaac Newton's "God-given" theory of gravitation, it simply provides an explanation for why it functions.
that was obviously vandalism.--Aschlafly 19:04, 9 March 2007 (EST)
  • It is most certainly not a problem that the General Theory of Relativity is based upon mathematics as opposed to empirical evidence, as seems to be insinuated by this version.
mathematics is mathematics, and unless there is empirical evidence it is not science.
Mathematics describes physics. Geekman314(contact me) 22:33, 9 March 2007 (EST)
  • Albert Einstein's work did contribute to the development of the nuclear bomb. E=mc2 describes the duality between matter and energy, the principle upon which the nuclear bomb, and all other nuclear devices, functions.
nope. E=mc2 is a statement of relativistic effect, not atomic power.
Yes, but the mass lost in the nuclear reaction is converted to energy, which is the fundamental power of the weapon. Geekman314(contact me) 22:33, 9 March 2007 (EST)
  • "Nothing useful has even been built based on the theory of relativity." Sure, sure… nuclear power plants aren't useful at all, are they? GPSs aren't useful at all, are they?
GPSs are useful, but they weren't built using General Relativity.
Without realativity describing gravitation redshift, the timing for the GPS satelite would be off by about 45 microseconds/day. Further reading on the matter at http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html --Mtur 19:08, 9 March 2007 (EST)
I think Lorenzian relativity accounts for the GPS time dilation more precisely. But that isn't really my point. The GPS clocks are updated based on communications between the satellites and ground stations, not based on any theory. If you claim that GPS is built based on relativity, then you should be able to prove your case with an historical reference. No such proof exists.--Aschlafly 20:39, 9 March 2007 (EST)
That observation does not support the false claim that GPS is based on General Relativity. Other theories predict a dilation of time, and satellites are obviously synchronized based on communication, not theory.--Aschlafly 19:11, 9 March 2007 (EST)
No, they have GR corrections built in. Tsumetai 19:15, 9 March 2007 (EST)
Can you please cite an alternate theory that accounts for the time dilation experiecned by the GPS satelites along with the math that matches that of relativity? --Mtur 19:17, 9 March 2007 (EST)
  • "Most conservatives are skeptical since science is supposed to be about finding proof before a theory becomes a fact, not after." And where are the statistics that show this?
Don't know who wrote that statement, but it's a correct statement of what science means.
I was refering to the claim that "most conservatives are skeptical since science…" (emphasis added) Geekman314(contact me) 22:33, 9 March 2007 (EST)
  • Gravitons are not predicted by general relativity; much to the contrary, the two have not been reconciled.
  • It is currently believed that space does indeed have curvature, what is described as "negative" curvature, giving it a saddle-like shape overall, but curvature nonetheless.

The denial of demonstrated principles because they do not coincide with your worldview is not scientific, it's purely reactionary nonsense. I'm not impressed by Examples of Bias in Wikipedia citing Wikipedians taking issue with this as a "bias". Geekman314(contact me) 16:11, 9 March 2007 (EST)

OK, fine, no one is trying to impress you. The Wikipedia entry was biased and demonstrably false, as explained in Bias in Wikipedia.--Aschlafly 19:04, 9 March 2007 (EST)
Oh, and I mean no offense to Aschlafly. Although I do not necessarily agree with all his views, I do not wish to disparage him, and I recognize his value as a contributor. I've reconciled with him on this issue, and want to make clear that I do not mean this comment as an attack. Geekman314(contact me) 22:44, 9 March 2007 (EST)
I just realized that I had somehow managed to fail to see that Aschlafly's edit was a simple revert to a previous version. I don't necessarily agree with the decision, and I don't retract the points with which I take issue, but Aschlafly is not responsible for the content, and I'm sorry for insinuating that he was. I've changed some of my comment to reflect the fact that the edit was simply a revert. Geekman314(contact me) 23:29, 9 March 2007 (EST)

Merge with draft

There is a draft for this article here. Surely it's about time these two were merged together or at the very least decide which one is to be continued. I will continue to work on Theory of Relativity/draft as I feel it is a much clearer article. What does everyone else think? MatteeNeutra 07:33, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Your draft article has some great stuff in it. Would you like to merge it into the main article now? However, please do not delete anything from the main article as part of the merge. Thanks and a good Easter to you.
By the way, it appears that relativity is taught in college without using the concept of relativistic mass. But let's go with your relativistic mass as you wrote it.--Aschlafly 20:06, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, I'll take a shot at a merge now. Relativistic mass is quite important to the theory, as from it we can determine that matter cannot travel faster than the speed of light. MatteeNeutra 18:17, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

This isn't Wikipedia

Teji, don't delete facts here that liberals don't like. This isn't Wikipedia.--Aschlafly 13:02, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Please read my explanation above. I don't think anyone likes unsourced information that is in the wrong topic. Please contribute to Moral relativity. I had to create that page while someone was adding information about it to the this topic. Teji 13:10, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Furthermore, that link is about moral relativity, not special relativity. It belongs in Moral relativity. It is shocking that someone so interested in that topic didn't even think to make the article. In fact, I started that article! Teji 13:12, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Here is what I said above in case you didn't catch it: No reputable explanations of relativity mention moral relativity. Find a reputable one. Don't look for moral relativity explanations that include physics relativity, because that information belongs in Moral relativity, not here. You are researching the wrong topic. Repeat: look for information about the physical theory of relativity and see if you can find one that mentions moral relativity (not pages that talk about moral relativity and mention physical relativity). Furthermore, anyone can set up a web page and say whatever they want, so web pages are generally not a very good resource (unless it's the physics department website at MIT, for instance, because it has credibility in this field). You should find reputable scientific texts. And, please, stick the topic at hand: physical science topics needs physical science resources. There is ample room in the Moral relativity article to discuss. In fact, I'm surprised you aren't contributing more to that article (especially compared to how much you try add to in this article), since you seem to be very interested in the topic and are more knowledgable about it than physical relativity. Teji 13:08, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
I find it interesting that when you cannot support your information you resort to name-calling and statements about wikipedia. Does this site want credible and accurate information or information with an agenda? Because if it is the latter, please make a statement to that effect in your policy pages, or would that make this website too credible and accurate? Teji 13:16, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Teji, the statement does not claim that the theory of relativity supports moral relativity, but merely that supporters of moral relativity seized upon the theory of relativity to justify their views. "Advocates of moral relativity seized on the theory of relativity to legitimize their views.[3] Historians such as Paul Johnson wrote about how the theory of relativity caused a sea change, justified or not, in 20th century thought." That statement is correct and should not be deleted. Read it, and reread it, and only comment further here if you can provide something that specifically refutes that statement. Thanks.--Aschlafly 13:18, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

It is in the wrong place. The statement is clearly about Moral relativity. This statement is also correct: Jesus is God, does it belong in this article? No. Here is another correct statement: morality is "what is the good" and ethics is "how do I practice it" from the moral relativity site. Does it belong in this artcle? Certainly not. Teji 13:21, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Correctness is not enough. There also must be accuracy. Information about Moral relativity belongs in that article. Teji 13:22, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Maybe you should change the title to just "Relativity". RSchlafly 14:03, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Okay, how do I do that? We could also make a disambiguation page, but I don't know how to do that either. Teji 14:28, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
RSchlafly, you've missed the point. This article is about the Theory of Relativity as a scientific theory. As such, the article should not talk about Moral relativity which, apart from sharing using the same word, is absolutely nothing at all to do with the Theory of Relativity. I also, do not think that the sentence about Moral relativity should be put on this article. At the very most a link at the bottom of this article to Moral relativity, but you may as well link it to a page on forestry for all the relevance it has. MatteeNeutra 05:04, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
Exactly, if you want to speak about moral relativists using special or general relativity as validation for their philosophy then it should be placed in an articlea bout moral relativism. It should not be here. Perhaps - perhaps - it could go in a section on the influence of the theory of relativity on 20th century culture.Airdish 05:35, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

Why was quote about Dicke removed?

I added this quote about the Francis Dicke's theory. Aschalfy, why did you remove it without any comments? It is from the same time magazine article that is already cited in this article. It clarifies why Dicke's theory is less professionally accepted! Please read the article yourself. It shows that Einstein's theory was closer than Dicke's.

But the J.P.L. experimenters reduced the margin of error to 4% or less by locating the distant spacecraft within 100 ft. of their actual position. Thus, when they calculated that the signal to Mariner was slowed down by 204 millionths of a second on its round trip, they dealt the Brans-Dicke theory a sharp if not decisive blow. Their measurement was only 4 millionths of a second off the Einsteinian prediction, but 18 millionths of a second off the Brans-Dicke figure. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,943324,00.html

This is the same article that that is cited for the statement Physicist Robert Dicke of Princeton University was a prominent critic[7]. The same article that shows why Robert Dicke's theory is not accepted among scientists. Dicke suffered not just because he criticized Einstein's theory, but also because his theory was not as accurate. Teji 14:41, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Time magazine is not an authority on whether Dicke's theory is better than Einstein's. Our rules are very clear not to cite journalists as authorities beyond their expertise. A scientific citation that I added shows that Dicke's theory is held in high regard to this day.--Aschlafly 14:50, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
The JPL isn't?
You've got to do better than that if you want a response.--Aschlafly 16:13, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
And a link from the JPL http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/70s/release_1970_0566.html --Mtur 16:15, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
That's an old self-serving press release about only one study. My footnote about relativity, citing a renaissance in Dicke's theory, is more recent and more comprehensive, and is based on a astrophysics encyclopedia. So your cite is not appropriate.
And another article http://www.astrosociety.org/pubs/mercury/9404/dicke.html about Dicke's critique of relativity and where it failed to produce a better answer. Tests included sodium lines in the sun, distance to the moon, and precession of Mercury. I do not believe that it is fair to say that the theory is held in high regard today. --Mtur 16:28, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
I'll take a look at this. I must say, however, that any article that starts out by calling its opponent a "crank" lacks credibility. But this cite is worth including to reflect the political bias against Dicke, resulting in his being denied the Nobel Prize.--Aschlafly 17:31, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
It actually specifically says that Dicke was not a "crank." Murray 17:37, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
Ah, yes. The author charitably concedes that Dicke himself was not a crank, just anyone who supported Dicke's view was.
This article, which I'm reading now, is incredibly biased and one-sided. It declares the "General Theory" to be possibly the "greatest single achievement in physics ... of all time." And the author states his extremely biased view before telling us about testing results. Too bad this conflicts with the encyclopedia I cite in the content page. The value of this article is to show how intolerant supporters of the "General Theory" are of any criticism, including that by Dicke.--Aschlafly 17:58, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
If Dicke's results were as good or better than General Relativity, then there would be no issue at all. It also addresses reference #8 about not getting a Nobel Prize - that is because the prize is for discovery, not interpretations. He wasn't a theoretician and thus didn't have other theories and discoveries. The individual Dicke is held with high regard in the community - his theory is not (though it is respected in developing the framework for relativistic events). I am curious to see a citation that shows his theory as being respected for the results it gives. --Mtur 19:16, 9 April 2007 (EDT)


Also the article you misuse by taking the whole renaissance statement out of says this in the same paragraph before your quote!
Initially a popular alternative to General Relativity, the Brans-Dicke theory lost favor as it became clear that omega must be very large-an artificial requirement in some views. Nevertheless, the theory has remained a paradigm for the introduction of scalar fields into gravitational theory, and as such has enjoyed a renaissance in connection with theories of higher dimensional space-time.
Teji 16:57, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

Muon experiment from another point of view

From the point of view of the muon in the experiment mentioned, time is not slowed down, but rather distance is compressed. So instead of dilating time 5x across 10km of travel at relativistic speed, the muon saw that space had compressed from 10km to 2km (also 5x) and it was still traveling that distance. Thus, the same result - just different perspectives. --Mtur 20:50, 27 April 2007 (EDT)

Ref: Despite being one of the most accomplished physicists in the 20th century, Dicke was never given a Nobel Prize.

I would like to remove this reference. Nobel Prizes are given for discoveries and advancements. Dicke was an experimentalist - not a theorist. He didn't make discoveries or advancements but rather proved or disproved what the theorists came up with. As such, the work he did was not something that was noted by those nominating for the Nobel Prize. Likewise, you won't see a book critic get a Nobel Prize for literature, no matter how good of a critic he or she may be. --Mtur 21:02, 27 April 2007 (EDT)

Given that there has been no comment on this in opposition, I am removing the reference until someone can dispute the question of if any of Dicke's work was the type for which a Nobel Prize would have been given. --Mtur 15:46, 30 April 2007 (EDT)
I'm reverting your change. Experimentalists win the Nobel Prize all the time. A prize was given to someone else for work Dicke was doing. In fact, experimentalists probably win the prize more than theorists. The deletion of that sentence is for liberal purposes, and we don't allow that here.--Aschlafly 15:50, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

Government support of relativity research problems

The section on government support of relativity research needs a big re-write, but it needs to be clear what is intended first. There are several specific complaints which seem to have been jumbled together:

  1. LIGO was a failure, and the money could have been spent elsewhere.
  2. Too much money is spent on string theory and similar theories.
  3. The government does not support research into (unspecified) alternate theories.
  1. This is just liberal crybabying. Not all experiments work, and you can't know ahead of time which ones will. Most such complaints about too much money being spent on some experimental program are based on the idea of government as sugar-daddy, and whining when sugar-daddy likes someone else best.
  2. This complaint is more legitimate, as there are serious claims that string theory is not a scientific theory. However, this complaint doesn't belong in this article, because string theory is not relativity; it's an attempt to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. String theory would replace general relativity, if a coherent theory were formulated, and then tested.
  3. This complaint seems ridiculous, as the government has funded plenty of tests to verify general relativity; any experimenter who wants to test an alternate theory can devise a test which would produce one result if GR is correct, and another if the alternate theory is true, and ask for funding for a test to verify GR.

On the other hand, perhaps the section could be deleted altogether. Ultramontanist 02:02, 23 June 2007 (EDT)

Relativistic mass

This paragraph is nonsense:

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. But mass is not a vector, and the notion of the mass of an object having different values depending on the direction of an applied force is unacceptable.

The relativistic mass applies no matter what the direction of the force is. Some don't like the term "relatvistic mass", but for other reasons.

This is also nonsense:

In layman's terms, these two assumptions can be restated as:
1. It is impossible ever to transmit information faster than the speed of light.
2. The laws of physics are identical, without any variation, in every location throughout the universe.
3. The laws of physics are identical, without any variation, no matter how fast something is traveling (in the absence of acceleration).

This is not a restatement. Relativity says masses cannot for faster than light. Probably not information either, but that is another principle. Parts 2 and 3 are confusing and misleading, at best. Relativity teaches that there are no inertial frames in the universe. The laws of physics apply throughout the universe. They apply whether there is acceleration or not. But special relativity has more to do with inertial frames.

I suggest getting rid of these "layman's terms". They aren't. They don't clarify anything for anybody. RSchlafly 02:29, 8 July 2007 (EDT)

GPS edit

Bayes, your claim that GPS is based on the Theory of General Relativity is not correct. GPS synchronization can be done directly, and has never relied on the theory. Your edits should be reverted.--Aschlafly 19:37, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

My apologies. I didn't mean to edit recklessly; I thought I was correcting a typo. In fact, the source cited by that sentence before I made my edit (and many other sources as well) indicate that relativistic corrections are, in fact, taken into account by GPS receivers. Clocks on the satellites run at different rates than those on the ground due to the fact that they are at a higher altitude, where gravity is weaker; hence the need for a correction for gravitational time dilation, as predicted by general relativity. Yes, that means that clocks in Denver tick slightly faster than clocks in New York. I would be happy to look at any sources you can provide that show how GPS keeps accurate time without those corrections.--Bayes 20:30, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
Your citation is to a silly, unsupported and off-hand remark by a professor of astronomy. GPS was built by engineers in the 1970s, who would not have even attempted to calculated the time dilation using relativity. There would be no reason to rely on relativity, since the clocks can be and were synchronized more directly, more simply and more accurately by communicating with them.--Aschlafly 22:09, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
1. Let me reiterate that the citation was there before I made my edit. The previous version denied that relativistic corrections are necessary, and then cited a source to the contrary. Your recent edit makes a similar claim, but cites a source that doesn't delve deeply into technical aspects of how GPS actually works, and is therefore irrelevant to the claim.
2. You can dismiss the citation in question if you like, but it seems that the overwhelming majority of experts disagree; consider 1 2 3, which I doubt would be considered "silly, unsupported and off-hand remark[s]."
3. GPS designers in the 1970s certainly knew about relativistic effects. Here's an exerpt from 3:
[B]efore the first GPS satellite was launched in 1977, although it was recognized that orbiting clocks would require such a relativistic offset, there was uncertainty as to its magnitude, and even its sign. So correcting frequency synthesizers were built into the clocks, spanning a large enough range around the nominal 10.23 MHz clock frequency to encompass all possibilities. After the satellite's cesium atomic clock was turned on, it was operated for three weeks to measure its rate. The frequency shift measured during this initial period was found to be 4.425 parts per ten billion, agreeing with the relativistic calculation to better than 1%.
4. Yes, communication with the satellites is possible. That doesn't change the fact that satellite clocks run at different rates than ground-based clocks, which would result in huge errors if the satellite clock frequencies weren't compensated for time dilation effects.--Bayes 15:17, 24 July 2007 (EDT)

Criticism of LIGO

The criticism of LIGO under the heading "Government funding..." should be viewed in context. The observatories are not yet operating at their maximum level of precision. The usual procedure when building large projects like this is to make sure they work at more imprecise levels, and then "tune" them closer and closer to their limits. It isn't surprising that LIGO has not yet detected gravitational waves, and the consensus is that such waves will be detected in the future. The cource cited for that criticism even mentions that physicists are "confident" that LIGO will be successful. After all, the NSF doesn't shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money on a coin flip; they were/are convinced that getting results is a slam dunk.--Bayes 20:48, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

Hope springs eternal. I'm afraid you sound like an oil-well driller (wildcatter) who, after encountering one dry well after another in a region, says "just spend a little more money and drill again!"
LIGO has been a disappointment so far, and there is no sign of success right around the corner. At some point accountability is in order, even if more money is to be spent searching gravity waves. Realize that this search has been ongoing for 100 years, without any detection. How many more years are necessary?--Aschlafly 22:12, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
While I fully agree that accountability for all major budget items is in order at some point, I don't think the oil-driller analogy is valid in this context. LIGO is still far from its designed sensitivity, as mentioned here. Plans are already underway to do go beyond merely detecting gravitational waves to doing astrophysics with them. Furthermore, detection of gravitational waves requires extreme sensitivity that can only be achieved with modern technology. Serious efforts to detect them didn't begin until the 1960s, when Joseph Weber built his bar detectors, and even then the scientific consensus was that his detectors weren't sensitive enough. Some scientific advances just have to wait for technology to allow their discovery. Tell you what, if LIGO is considered a failure in 10 years, I owe you a Coke.--Bayes 15:40, 24 July 2007 (EDT)

Other issues

There are some other aspects of this article that I would like to consider adding to or changing.

  • A fair amount of text is dedicated to Eddington's findings and not many other astronomical observations. Eddington published his results in 1919; obviously, since then, there have been many others who have improved on his observations.
  • The "Ostensible Paradoxes" section should be heavily altered or removed; there aren't any paradoxes listed there. First, the SR postulates don't offer any opinion on whether physical constants have had the same value throughout the history of the universe; they state that all inertial observers get the same answer when they measure the speed of light. Second, there are several ways to measure wave velocity; some of the most common are group velocity and phase velocity. Both types of velocities can exceed the speed of light (c) without violating special relativity. However, the energy velocity and information velocity do not exceed c, also in accordance with SR. There is nothing mysterious or sinister going on here; these concepts are addressed or at least mentioned in many undergraduate courses. Third, the universal constant c is the speed of light in vacuum; the speed of light in materials is less than than c since the electric permittivity and magnetic permeability of materials are different than those of vacuum. That means that matter can travel faster than light in a material without violating SR; try Googling Cerenkov radiation.--Bayes 18:28, 24 July 2007 (EDT)


I'm concerned about the use of some citations, which seem to be misrepresented in order to discredit relativity. For instance:
  • The Economist article cited does not attack relativity; it's a discussion of how GR is being tested to its limits, like any other theory. If any improved theory of gravity is found, GR is likely to be a useful subset of it, in the same way that Newtonian gravity is a useful subset of GR. And anyway, I thought non-scientific sources weren't supposed to used in these situations.
  • The new cite for the statement There is a correlation between enthusiasm for the theory of relativity and political views is an opinion piece about how moral relativists hijacked scientific relativity for their own purposes. The cite doesn't make that claim, and it doesn't show any data to support it. Frankly, I'd be very surprised if any such correlation existed. Even IF that kind of correlation existed, it doesn't belong in a scientific article.
The overall tone of the article seems to try to convince the reader to be skeptical of relativity. It appears to me that such skepticism is ideologically motivated, e.g., Although the liberally biased Wikipedia contains lengthy criticisms of the subjects of many entries..., The Democratic Congress insisted on the $250 million LIGO project..., There is a correlation between enthusiasm for the theory of relativity and political views. I don't fully understand the motivation, but it bears repeating that good science (of which relativity is a part) is independent of ideology.--Bayes 17:54, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
You're not the first to deny a liberal bias in science. But surely you would agree that the following areas of science, and perhaps nearly of all science, are susceptible to political bias:
--Aschlafly 18:11, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
I absolutely agree that deciding what science to fund, implementation of policies pertaining to scientific findings, or practical use of scientific results (like nuclear weapons), and perhaps some other issues not mentioned are or can be politicized. But I stand by my basic point: if you get a liberal to measure acceleration due to gravity on Earth's surface, and then get a conservative to do the same thing, they'll both get 9.8 m/s^2. Similarly, relativity has been around long enough, has useful applications, and is so successful in predicting experimental outcomes that it should not be subject to the same treatment as the more controversial topics you mention.--Bayes 18:24, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
You apparently don't concede the liberal bias in the majority of my examples above, such as global warming and SDI. When I worked as engineer at a research facility in the 1980s, we had an IBM scientist with impeccable credentials give a presentation claim that SDI was impossible, dangerous, and bad politics. It's silly to pretend that his claim of impossibility of SDI was unrelated to politics. Likewise, it's silly to pretend there is no political bias in global warming theories. But if we can't agree on that, then there is little point in discussing this further. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 18:33, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
Did you read the first sentence of my post above? Global warming is an example of tough policy decisions that could be implemented based on scientific findings. Surely both conservatives and liberals agree with the basic finding that the earth is warming. Similarly, the political debate over SDI was about the USE of science and technology, not the FINDINGS of science and technology. Sure, scientists can have opinions about what to do with their findings, but presumably the experimental results are valid across political lines. In any case, this is an aside; my specific concerns with the article, as addressed on this page, still stand. I assume by your willingness to exit the conversation that you don't have any problems with me addressing them?--Bayes 18:48, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
Your first sentence omitted any reference to global warming. Global warming is a liberal scientific theory about if and why the earth is warming. Yes, there are political biases in many scientific theories. If you can't accept that, then I urge you to become more open-minded first before trying to pretend that something is immune from politics.
I have no objections to factual edits of this article that add information. I do object to pushing a liberal point of view by deleting factual information. Thanks and Godspeed.--Aschlafly 19:02, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
Sounds good. However, the fact that GPS satellite clocks have built-in corrections for relativistic effects is something I inserted previously, and it was reverted. I hope you understand that I brought up these issues in an effort to accurately represent the science, and not because of some agenda. As I've said, I don't think special and general relativity are associated with political controversy.--Bayes 19:12, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
Bayes, you continue to insist on a falsehood, and I attribute that to liberal distortions in what you've read elsewhere. Please recognize that politics does distort science. GPS satellite clocks were not built based on predictions made by the theory of relativity.--Aschlafly 19:38, 26 July 2007 (EDT)

Theory of Relativity (moved from User talk:Aschlafly)

I found it offensive that you labelled my edit a "liberal edit". I was not aware of the Corpuscular Theory of Light, and therefore I did not know what "Newton's theory" in that sentence was referring to. Since there was no link (as there is now) to a page which shows Einstein's formula being two times more than his previous one, which was stated to be same as Newton's, I changed the sentence to the best of my knowledge - that light was viewed as a wave through ether at Newton's time, and therefore his theory of gravity does not apply.

How my mistake is a "liberal edit" is beyond me. ATang 09:47, 26 July 2007 (EDT)

Please accept my apologies. By way of explanation, not as justification, liberals love relativism and their spin on the theory of relativity, and exaggerate everything associated with it. Claiming that relativity predicts the bending of light while Newton did not is one of those exaggerations. A simple search on the internet before deleting something here is always advisable, and that simple search reveals how Newton's theory predicts the bending of light too (though not by as much). I think this Newtonian prediction is in high school physics problem books, so it is not obscure.
Regardless, thanks for your efforts and I look forward to more additions by you here.--Aschlafly 10:43, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
I'll search the internet before making changes next time. ATang 14:04, 26 July 2007 (EDT)
Ashlafly, I am concerned about the overall tone of the relativity article. Some statements suggest the presence of an anti-relativity agenda. Am I correct in guessing that this stance is due to a perceived link between moral relativism, the Democratic party, and the scientific concept of relativity? If so, I'd like to point out that while scientific funding by the government is certainly a political issue, actual scientific research is a separate issue and is independent of political leanings. The outcome of a proper experiment does not depend on whether the scientists conducting it are conservative or liberal. You are indeed justified if you are objecting to overzealous extrapolations based on scientific findings (such as moral relativism being based on scientific relativity), but such extrapolations have absolutely nothing to do with the scientific findings themselves. IMHO, encyclopedic articles on the scientific concept of relativity should stick to the science and not go into philosophy or politics. Furthermore, criticism of concepts such as moral relativism should be concerned with the merits (or lack thereof) of the concepts themselves, not on sound science that has nothing to do with it. Attempts to discredit relativity because of perceived links to philosohical or political positions that one disagrees with are not scientific, and fly in the face of undeniable experimental verification, basic facts (like how GPS satellite clocks function) and essentially universal acceptance of at least the basic principles. If you would like to incorporate some of the material on the current relativity page into a separate article, such as Historical views of relativity, a personal essay, or something similar, then I would be all for it. I have not yet edited the relativity article heavily, but please see Talk:Theory of relativity for some of my specific conerns.--Bayes 17:56, 26 July 2007 (EDT)