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Was Einstein wrong?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   David Lawson

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Posted August 08 2002 - 06:51 AM

http://www.wired.com....,54394,00.html

Discuss.
He obviously misinterpreted what it means to "be bullish."

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted August 08 2002 - 07:06 AM

I don't think it should be viewed as Einstein being "wrong", any more than Einstein made Newton "wrong". As the article states,

Quote:
"But of course it doesn't mean we just throw the books in the bin, because it's in the nature of scientific revolution that the old theories become incorporated in the new ones."


Which is what happened with Newton with respect to Einstein. Relativity could still be applicable locally, just as Newtonian physics can be considered a special case within Relativity. Again, as the article states:

Quote:
It could be that the possible change in light speed will only matter in the study of the large scale structure of the universe, its origins and evolution.


#3 of 14 OFFLINE   Shawn C

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Posted August 08 2002 - 07:30 AM

Nah, I don't think he was wrong. I think it's just that the more we learn, the more past theories must be 'tweaked'.

I suppose that if Einstein had the same information available to him back then that we have now, alot of theories and ideas would have been different.

I think that it would be irresponsible to treat all of his theories and ideas as 'gospel'. Sure, he was a smart guy but he based his opinions and theories on the information that was currently available to him.

Who knows, maybe 1000 years from now he will be considered a crackpot since all of his theories had been shot to hell.


#4 of 14 OFFLINE   Max Leung

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Posted August 08 2002 - 08:23 AM

Quote:
Who knows, maybe 1000 years from now he will be considered a crackpot since all of his theories had been shot to hell.

Ain't gonna happen, because his theory has a huge (HUGE!) amount of experimental evidence that support it. Just because the speed of light may not be constant doesn't mean all of a sudden that atom bombs will stop working.

It is annoying that the article uses silly words like "dogma" and "sancrosanct" and "violating laws". Obviously written by a journalist who has no clue what science is. Must have been a slow news day at Wired. Posted Image
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Julie K

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Posted August 08 2002 - 09:00 AM

I agree with Max and Robert. The development of Einsteinian physics did not mean that Newtonian models stopped working on the scale that we are accustomed to nor is Newton considered a crackpot today. Should our understanding of Einsteinian physics needs tweaking (and it very likely does - as we gain more observations our models must be refined), then it will be a tweak under certain very special conditions. It will certainly not mean throwing out all the text books and considering Einstein a kook.

Piss poor journalism is what this is.
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#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted August 08 2002 - 09:10 AM

Agreed--the first occurrence of the word "dogma" put me on edge. And I am loathe to criticize journalists and journalism, but this was one poorly written story cranked out by a badly informed writer.

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted August 08 2002 - 09:16 AM

I'm not really sure any of us can discuss it adequately. I've read, studied, and lived the theory of relatively, and split atoms for a living for a time, and I don't think I have enough info in my head to discuss it intelligently.

But the concept of light traveling at a constant speed, regardless of the speed of the object emitting it, is something I could never REALLY wrap my brain around totally.
Quote:
The suggestion that the speed of light can change is based on data collected by UNSW astronomer John Webb, who posed a conundrum when he found that light from a distant quasar, a star-like object, had absorbed the wrong type of photons from interstellar clouds on its 12 billion year journey to earth.

Davies said fundamentally Webb's observations meant that the structure of atoms emitting quasar light was slightly but ever so significantly different to the structure of atoms in humans.

The discrepancy could only be explained if either the electron charge, or the speed of light, had changed.
Anybody want to try and disect what he's speaking of here? I don't get it.

Are they taking into account that the speed of light is constant only in a vacuum, and that it varies when traveling through "stuff" (e.g. water)? Surely, they've done their homework, and accounted for all the dark matter between said quasar and here (where they measure it)?

Hmm...not ready to give up on Einstein yet.

Todd
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#8 of 14 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted August 08 2002 - 09:20 AM

Quote:
Hmm...not ready to give up on Einstein yet.

Smart! Posted Image

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted August 08 2002 - 09:27 AM

Somebody alert Dr. Joe to this thread. He's the only one who can probably make sense of what is trying to be said.Posted Image

Can anyone else?
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#10 of 14 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted August 08 2002 - 11:00 AM

This quote doesn’t make sense:
Quote:
The suggestion that the speed of light can change is based on data collected by UNSW astronomer John Webb, who posed a conundrum when he found that light from a distant quasar, a star-like object, had absorbed the wrong type of photons from interstellar clouds on its 12 billion year journey to earth.
I believe that what John Webb discovered is that the intervening clouds absorbed unexpected wavelengths of light, not that the light “absorbed” photons as it passed through the intervening clouds, as the writer suggests.

If this is the case, then the problem is fairly easy to understand. If you’ve ever played with a glow-in-the-dark toy or sticker, you’ve seen this phenomenon, at least indirectly. When you hold the glow-in-the-dark toy up to a light, it absorbs a certain frequency of light that excites the electrons into a higher-energy orbit. When the toy is placed in the dark, the electrons release that energy, giving off light as the electrons fall into a lower-energy orbit. Although we can’t directly measure the frequency of light our toy absorbs, it’s easy to determine the frequency of light being emitted by our toy. (Mine’s green!). While you can’t readily detect the frequency of light being absorbed, it is not hard to imagine what could be determined if you could. By determining the frequency of light being absorbed, you could calculate the amount of energy required to rip the electrons from their orbits. And that energy is directly proportional to the charge of the electron (and of the proton, though the article fails to mention that fact). The higher the frequency, the more energy required to displace the electron. If we place our glow-in-the-dark toy in intergalactic space and allow photons from distant quasars to pass through it, we could determine what frequencies of light are absorbed by the toy, and we’d expect the frequencies to be the same as those measured here on Earth using a similar toy and a flashlight.

Ah, but it’s not at all that easy. With light being red-shifted both from the relative movement of distant objects and from the expansion of space that’s occurred over the past 12 billion years, it’s difficult enough just to know what to account for in both emission and absorption spectra frequency shifts. Add to that the fact that the relative motion between the quasar and intervening clouds will shift the absorption spectra independent of whatever red shift is introduced to the emission spectra. If the cloud and the quasar are moving toward each other, then the absorption spectra will be red-shifted to us (since the light is blue-shifted relative to the cloud). If they are moving away from each other, the absorption spectra will be blue shifted. To me, this alone could account for any discrepancy between emission and absorption spectra shift we might detect. So I can’t begin to imagine how to determine what component of shift or lack of shift of absorption spectra could be due to a change in the speed of light when so many other factors causing/mitigating frequency shift come into play. I’m sure Mr. (Dr.?) Webb knows what he’s doing, but his research is definitely out of my league.
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#11 of 14 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted August 08 2002 - 11:16 AM

I thought that this "theory" about the slowing down of the speed of light has been around for about a year now. I know I have something about it in some notes from one of my classes (philosophy of science). Again, not sure about this point either, but didn't Dr. Hawking recently propose an explanation for this so-called slowing down in his Universe in a Nutshell book? I believe it had something to do with dark matter (of course) and its absorbtion of energy or something. Anyone confirm this?

cheers!

Josh

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   MickeS

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Posted August 08 2002 - 11:40 AM

How the hell do I know?

/mike
/Mike

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Shawn C

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Posted August 09 2002 - 06:02 AM

Um, I like pizza.

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted August 09 2002 - 10:49 AM

I believe this will validate him again....or prove he wasn't some all knowing alien

http://einstein.stan....b/gpbsty1.html
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