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The Einstein Myths: Of Space, Time, and Aether
by Eugene F. Mallove, Sc.D.
First published in Inflinite Energy, #38, July-August, 2001
Einstein, the most celebrated scientist of the twentieth century, remains an icon of the power of human reason to penetrate mysterious nature. For billions of people who have been taught the essence of his relativity theories, he changed (or muddled) their very conceptions of time and space. He destroyed the common sense concept of a universal now-the absolute simultaneity of events in different relatively moving reference frames. Physicists grant Einstein full credit for having abolished, at least while his influence has reigned, the pervading "luminiferous aether," which was the medium for the transmission of light waves-universally accepted in the nineteenth century.
Will Einstein's stature extend far into the twenty-first century? Not likely.
Enduring will be his justified fame for:
For all their apparent predictive power, Einstein's relativity theories are deeply flawed, as the critical papers in this first of two Infinite Energy special "Einstein Reconsidered" issues will demonstrate formally. Einstein criticism is, of course, not new. (We are obviously not referring to Nazi-inspired, anti-Semitic tracts against relativity that were published in the 1920s, which disparaged his relativity theory as "Jewish science" or worse.) There are many sources of technical critiques of Einstein's work, such as the dissident journals Galilean Electrodynamics,1 Physics Essays,2 Apeiron,3 Journal of New Energy,4 etc., as well as books by thoughtful critics: Harold Aspden,5 Petr Beckmann,6 Peter and Neal Graneau,7 Ronald Hatch,8 Herbert Ives,9 Thomas Phipps, Jr.,10 and Franco Selleri,11 to name but a few. There is even an organization, the Natural Philosophy Alliance (NPA),12 which holds regional and national meetings devoted to critiquing modern physics, especially Einsteinian relativity. This community of dissidents and publications has been completely ignored by a self-satisfied Physics Establishment, which preserves its power and prestige, in part by mystifying veritable "scientific saints," such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
What is very new in Einstein criticism, however, is a body of emerging experimental evidence for an energetic aether, which could be tapped to run electrical machines and generate anomalous heat. Actually, it is the re-emergence of this evidence for an energetic aether after it was rejected by officialdom in the 1940s and 1950s. Also, a handful of theorists have come to believe that aether-based models of subatomic structures are necessary to explain the anomalies in the cold fusion/low-energy nuclear reaction field. The last issue of Infinite Energy featured the landmark article by Dr. Paulo and Alexandra Correa, "The Reproducible Thermal Anomaly of the Reich-Einstein Experiment Under Limit Conditions" (p. 12). This told of Albert Einstein's inappropriate explaining-away of an important thermal anomaly associated with Faraday cages (metal boxes) after the phenomenon was brought to his attention in early 1941 by Wilhelm Reich. If this and related electrical anomalies evidencing mass free charge from an energetic aether are real, as I for one am reasonably sure they are, then it is clear that the standard conceptions of physics, particularly Einstein's relativity theories, cannot be correct. This, despite their elegant foundation in only a few postulates, such as the relativity principle relating specifically to electromagnetism (which Einstein borrowed from Henri Poincaré) and the supposed constancy of the speed of light in vacuum with respect to any observer, which was his own invention.
In my estimation, Einstein was a person much more cautious about dogmatic expression than those who have claimed invincibility for his relativity theories. In a letter to J. Lee in 1945, Einstein wrote: "A scientific person will never understand why he should believe opinions only because they are written in a certain book. Furthermore, he will never believe that the results of his own attempts are final."15
On the other hand, Dr. James DeMeo has unearthed ambiguities in Einstein's reaction to the threatening experimental results from Dr. Dayton C. Miller, who in June 1933 published in Reviews of Modern Physics, "The Ether-Drift Experiment and the Determination of the Absolute Motion of the Earth."16 In the present issue, DeMeo (p. 72) provides an outstanding critique of the Miller work and its apparently glib rejection by others, such as Einstein's biographers, who dismiss Miller's work outright. Though Miller's extensive experimental work is not crucial to Einstein criticism, Einstein's and others' reaction to it is very telling.
But as McCausland reveals, the 1919 eclipse observations were flimsy, indeed, and were in no sense a validation of General Relativity. But from that point on, it was impossible to stop the Einstein juggernaut, even in the face of alternative theories to relativity and experimental observations which contradicted it. Today, some physicists seem to believe that Special Relativity has been elevated to the level of fact, not theory-criticism of it is neither allowed nor respected. By implication, those who do criticize it are foolish incompetents. Witness Caltech Professor David L. Goodstein in his video-taped lecture, "Atoms to Quarks," part of "The Mechanical Universe and Beyond" video physics lecture series (generally an excellent overview of conventionally accepted physics):
No one who calls himself a scientist should ever declare that any theory is beyond future revision, even drastic revision, no matter how solid the support for the theory may seem to him. Goodstein has fallen into the trap of so many physicists today: They confuse the apparent mathematical fit of several or many of a theory's descriptive formulae with the right to conclude that the theory must be fundamentally correct and without contradiction. Those apparent contradictions that are admitted, are patched over with ad hoc arguments to save the epicyclic masterpiece. For example, Special Relativity can't properly deal with extended or rigid bodies (i.e. real bodies), though it is seemingly fine for point-particles. See comments about that topic in this issue by Thomas Phipps (p. 37) and William Cantrell (p. 12).
The certainty with which the physics establishment reveres Einstein's relativity theories has become a dominant feature of the intellectual milieu of our age. More examples: A brief passage from Marcia Bartusiak's Einstein's Unfinished Symphony:17 "'The worship of Einstein, it's the only reason we're here [working on an expensive federally funded device, LIGO, to test General Relativity by trying to detect gravity waves], if you want to know the truth,' says Rainer Weiss of MIT. 'There was this incredible genius in our midst, in our own lifetime. . .There's a mystique.'"
Ronald W. Clark, one of Einstein's most illustrious biographers, wrote, ". . .the unqualified acceptance and the experimental verification that had long ago put the Special Theory beyond all dispute were still lacking here [for General Relativity].18 Special Relativity "beyond all dispute"? Such incautious words.
It is well known that Time magazine emblazoned Albert Einstein on its December 31, 1999 cover, designating him "Person of the Century." Inside that issue he was called "first among the century's giants," "its greatest scientific genius," "the person who, for better or worse, personified our times and will be recorded in history as having the most lasting significance," "a symbol of all the scientists," "the world's first scientific supercelebrity," "the century's greatest thinker," and even ". . .the patron saint of distracted schoolkids."
Time et al. should have heeded this sentiment by Einstein himself:
Next in line for sainthood in physics has been Stephen Hawking, whose involvement with virtually mystical (unproved but highly mathematized "radiating black holes") has catapulted his A Brief History of Time book's sales into the high seven-figure range. In his "Brief History of Relativity" for Time's Einstein glorification issue, he declares that Einstein "cut through the ether and solved the speed-of light problem once and for all." Hawking states, "I still get two or three letters a week telling me Einstein was wrong. Nevertheless, the theory of relativity is now completely accepted by the scientific community, and its predictions have been verified in countless applications." This shows that even scientific "saints" such as Hawking, are fallible. Correction for Dr. Hawking: Just as the physics establishment refuses to fairly judge the cold fusion/low-energy nuclear reaction experiments of recent vintage, the historical record back to the turn of the century overflows with relativity-falsifying experiments that are marginalized as "unimportant" -just as no doubt are those Einstein-critical letters which Hawking likely does not read. Time magazine's editorializing suggested that Einstein's reputation would endure at least one thousand years. Hawking was much more bold: "The equations of general relativity are his best epitaph and memorial. They should last as long as the universe."
The hyperbolic adulation heaped on Einstein's achievements might have been a hint that something was seriously amiss. Personally, I had been brow-beaten into unquestioning belief in Special Relativity, until in the 1990s I began to question much that is taken for granted by the physics establishment and its army of journalist sychophants. Note these commentaries in books that I have examined over the years:
Perhaps the best interpreter of this institutionalized arrogance has been Thomas Phipps.10 This passage from his paper in this issue bears repeating: "Toward the end of his life Einstein remarked that he wouldn't want to be starting over again. He died in 1955, at which time he didn't know the half of it. Had he lived another fifty years, he wouldn't have wanted to start to be starting over. For by that time the character of physics had changed: The Einstein doctrines had been set in concrete and the kind of heretical departure from the status quo that his special relativity theory (SRT) originally represented had become 'dissidence'-despised, ridiculed, and banned from the literature by all properly indoctrinated, right thinking physicists. In that short but fateful interval of time Albert Einstein had become the new Claudius Ptolemy and the little world of professional physics had voluntarily condemned itself to a thousand years of trimming down the great world to fit into a bed of 1905 philosophical truth."
To all this Einstein might have replied with good humor, as he did to a friend in 1930, "To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself."15
Conservation of Paradox
The spirit in which Einstein put forth Special Relativity is best captured in his statement, "Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the physical world." (1938, in a book with his associate Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics.) A bad beginning, or so it transpired, to have placed a bet on a mental construct without tethering it firmly to the experiments of others. His theory, which (it was later said) attempted to explain the experimental record of the late nineteenth century by a novel combination of postulates, was but one of several possible theoretical alternatives that might have preserved invariance of physical laws within frames of reference moving at constant relative velocity (see William Cantrell's "Commentary on Maxwell's Equations and Special Relativity," (p. 12). Heinrich Hertz, Hendrick A. Lorentz, and Henri Poincaré had already developed mathematical structures that could have been applied more judiciously over a longer period of time to evolve an appropriate and non-paradoxical theory to deal with the admitted non-invariance of Maxwell's equations. Instead, Einstein with his two postulates made what amounted to an untested, brilliant gamble or guess. He proudly termed it a "free creation of the human mind"-so ambiguously connected with past experiment to the extent that historians continue to debate what Einstein knew or did not know of Michelson-Morley et al. and when did he know it.22,23 Einstein's lucky guess applied the sledgehammer of the Lorentz transformation (the multiplying factor g = (1-v2/c2)-1/2), where v is the relative velocity of two inertial frames) to time and space. When the world of physics prematurely latched onto this "ingenious" formalism, the rush-to-judgment bypassed the careful consideration of alternatives.
The several alternatives to SRT, which are by now substantially developed, do no violence to our basic concepts of time and space as distinct entities. As William Cantrell states eloquently: "Einstein's SRT tampers with space and time in order to force the speed of light to be constant with respect to all observers. And it pays the price. The theory is reminiscent of a balloon animal. If squeezed at one end, it expands at the other, yielding an overall conservation of paradox." And as the Correas point out in their paper in this issue, "Consequence of the Null Result of the Michelson-Morley Experiment: The Demise of the Stationary Aether, The Rise of Special Relativity, and the Heuristic Concept of the Photon" (p. 47), the Albert Michelson-Edward Morley experiment of 1887 (at the Case Institute in Cleveland, Ohio) appeared to rule out a static aether. But certainly, this experiment did not eliminate a dynamic aether of some kind that might form something like an "aetherosphere," which was, at least near the surface of our planet, nearly in rotation with it.
It is not the aim of this short editorial space to discourse extensively on the manifold failings of relativity theory, or to detail the alternative theories to SRT which address these. The papers and references we have noted and selected for this issue and the next serve that function well; they are among the best of that technical criticism, but they are just a beginning. (Our apologies to all those other critics of relativity whose excellent work is not showcased.) Our central objective is to show that such criticism does exist, that it is reasoned, and that there have long been open questions about relativity, which have been deliberately ignored by the Physics Establishment. We hope that this coverage will inspire those who remain free-thinking and who are not intimidated by the prevailing intellectual tyranny that passes for physics today. We hope especially to reach the uncorrupted-young students of physics who may help pioneer new ways of experiment and understanding.
Yet here lies a central problem and a paradox in its own right. Some critics of Einsteinian relativity have correctly observed that their criticism is weak, because it has lacked a generally accepted replacement theory that could satisfy most critics. There are, to be sure, too many competing dissident theories. Thus, the single rallying point of the mainstream, SRT, has triumphed by default. Yet, in striving for a new corrective point of view, one should be cautious not to sanction a new dogma.
The Path Beyond Relativity
Many may be surprised to learn that the most perceptive critics of Einstein's
relativity theories employ rational methods of scientific argument and analysis;
they have performed the essential mathematical treatments. It is natural that
newcomers may have misgivings about these critics, because they have been bludgeoned
with what have been claimed to be iron-clad proofs of SRT predictions, such
as length contraction and time dilation. In truth, the experimental record contains
no proof of length contraction and it has a highly muddied collection
of "proofs" of time dilation per se. No, the existence of altered
decay of subatomic particles such as muons does not prove time dilation, no
matter how often that canard is repeated in textbooks (see, for example the
critique by Cantrell). Even the famous E=mc2 formulation, supposedly
one of Einstein's most original concepts, has alternative derivations, some
of which were in an advanced state by the time SRT burst forth onto the scene.
And, SRT's famous mass increase with velocity can be viewed quite differently.
The infamous "twin paradox" can be abolished. Not only that, there
is no reason why advanced space ships could not far exceed light velocity (see
Dr. Cynthia Kolb Whitney's papers and conclusions, referenced and summarized
on p. 65-66). She notes, ". . .long-distance space travel is seen to be
not impossible in principle. We are now limited not by the speed of light, but
rather by the speed of thought, which the present author submits is actually
infinite when thought is liberated from dogma."
They summarize the essence of their new direction in their current paper: "The authors propose that Einstein's heuristic hypothesis be taken as factual-the result being that electromagnetic radiation becomes secondary to an energy continuum that is neither electromagnetic nor amenable to four-dimensional reduction. It follows that the second principle of SR only applies to photon production, which is always and only a local discontinuity. It does not apply to non-electromagnetic radiation, nor, a fortiori, to the propagation of energy responsible for local photon production." [Editor's note: Einstein's "second principle" is the postulate of the supposed constancy of light speed in vacuo to all observers.]
In another profound assertion, which goes directly to the heart of unraveling the mystery of E=mc2, they state: "We have proposed our own aetherometric analysis of these type of experiments, where it it shown that the experimental velocities of massbound charges are predicted by a theoretical model that does not take recourse to any of the Lorentz transformations. That means-no time dilation and no relativistic mass increase with acceleration of inertial mass. The inertial mass of a system is only a measure of its rest energy, unlike what SR proposes it is." They have contempt for the relativistic and other orthodoxies that presume to have abolished the aether: "Having become the official logico-mathematical theory of physics, relativistic orthodoxy, as much as quantum and wave mechanics, refuses to conceive of any form of energy that is not electromagnetic or associated with mass-energy. To speak of the aether these days only brings smiles of contempt from institutional physicists-they have already found something better: the intangible 'swarming of virtual particles'." So, will the aether return with a vengeance and an Aether Energy Age soon begin? We shall see.
Finally, what shall we take as the most important thing to be learned from the almost century-long Einstein hiatus in physical theory? As with cold fusion and LENR, which is for all practical purposes the return of alchemy-proved this time in scientific studies-is that even the most sacrosanct of ideas, Einsteinian Relativity, can be dead wrong. In fact, the late Richard Feynman may have said it best when he identified what he considered to be the most important implication of Relativity, though in the context in which he voiced this, he certainly did not mean that he thought Relativity itself was wrong!:
As regards physics of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first, Feynman (a.k.a. "Genius," so-called by author James Gleick) was profoundly wrong about the "humble" part. But indeed, almost everything was wrong, and we must begin anew to correct it, with arduous experiment and new theory.
Other Works Consulted