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Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

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Steve3007
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Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Steve3007 » September 17th, 2018, 7:12 am

This is a continuation of a long-running conversation in another topic that started about here:

Time: is time a concept or a physical force and can we prove the arrow of time : viewtopic.php?p=317899#p317899

and, in that topic, primarily involved Halc, David Cooper and myself (with some posts from Eduk and others).

I believe that at the heart of the discussion is the question of what the subject of Physics does and doesn't do, and aspire to do. David Cooper's central thesis is that the theory of Special Relativity, most associated with the name of Albert Einstein, contains logical contradictions which, he says, are as clearly contradictory as the statement "1=2". He believes that the alternative Lorentz Ether Theory contains no such contradictions.

The argument is that an observer who makes measurements against one reference frame is asserting things that contradict the assertions of an observer who makes measurements against another reference frame which is moving relative to the first one. The argument (as I understand it) proposes that there is only one possible reference frame that allows an observer to "accurately represent reality" and that this reference frame is stationary relative to the aether. The aether is/was the proposed medium through which light and other electromagnetic waves propagate.

My argument (and I think Halc's argument, but I'll let him speak for himself) is that observers do not make these assertions. They make measurements. And measurements that contain no errors are not misrepresentations. They are simply the measurements of a particular observer. I maintain that the central business of Physics is to propose invariants. That means abstracting those things from the measurements of individual observers which are proposed to be the same for all observers. I sometimes refer to these as "patterns" in observations. The laws of physics represent these proposed invariants.

The Principle of Relativity (as expounded by such people as Galileo and Newton) proposes that measurements of the mechanics of moving objects are unaffected by the relative motions of the reference frames against which those measurements are made, so long as those relative motions are at constant velocity. And since the Newtonian laws of mechanics are generalisations abstracted from those measurements, it follows that the laws of Newtonian mechanics are invariant across all non-accelerating reference frames. The Theory of Special Relativity extends this to the measurements and associated laws of electromagnetism.

What do you think? Do you think that the Principle of Relativity, and its extension to the Theory of Special Relativity, contains contradictions? Do you agree with my description of what the laws of Physics do?

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Mark1955
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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Mark1955 » September 17th, 2018, 11:08 am

Steve3007 wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 7:12 am
I believe that at the heart of the discussion is the question of what the subject of Physics does and doesn't do, and aspire to do. David Cooper's central thesis is that the theory of Special Relativity, most associated with the name of Albert Einstein, contains logical contradictions which, he says, are as clearly contradictory as the statement "1=2". He believes that the alternative Lorentz Ether Theory contains no such contradictions.

I'd say the only problem with the Lorentz ether hypothesis is that the experiments always fail to find the ether, which in it's way is a pretty big contradiction and why it shouldn't really be described as a theory. Special relativity best explains the data we have. I suspect the problem with SR is that it explains through maths things that our brain is not really capable of actually understanding because they don't fall within our sensory reference framework. The obvious example of this is the idea that time is fluid and not fixed; because we don't live at near light speeds we have no concept of what the numbers explain.
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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Tamminen » September 17th, 2018, 11:30 am

Being only a philosopher, not a physicist, I think what David sees as contradictions can be summarized as the question of simultaneity and the question of time slowing as observed in different frames, and those two questions are linked to each other.

If we have two objects A and B and the distance between them is x, we can define what events are simultaneous at A and B using light beams and clocks. If we have two synchronized clocks at A and one at B, each of them showing 0, we can say that those 3 readings are simultaneous.

Now if one of the clocks at A starts to move at a high speed towards B, it may be that the first 4 seconds in the stationary clock are simultaneous with the 2 first seconds in the moving clock. This is what it means that the other clock runs slower.

But those two events are not simultaneous in the frame of the moving clock. Instead, the same 2 seconds that passed according to that clock are simultaneous with the first 1 second in the non-moving clock. So observers in both frames see the clock in the other frame run slower.

Where are the missing 3 of the original 4 seconds? They are real seconds, the clocks are ticking and observed as ticking. Because they are not simultaneous, they can only be in the future, seen from the moving clock's point of view. So what is the future?

Also, from the point of view of the moving clock, the reading of 0 at B is not simultaneous with the reading of 0 at A. The difference in simultaneity can be calculated using the Lorentz equations, and it is a function of x.

Are these logical contradictions? Can the reading of 0 at B be simultaneous with the reading of 0 in one frame and not simultaneous with the reading of 0 in another frame, being perhaps in the past as measured there? And is it possible that I observe 4 seconds have passed and you observe, simultaneously, that only 1 second has passed, in the same clock? All this may be counter-intuitive, but not logically contradictory, as I understand it. And all this follows from the simple principle that the speed of light is c in all frames. This is what the world is like.

Steve, Halc and David, do you think I have described the situation correctly?

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Tamminen » September 17th, 2018, 2:56 pm

Tamminen wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:30 am
And is it possible that I observe 4 seconds have passed and you observe, simultaneously, that only 1 second has passed, in the same clock?
Simultaneuously from my perspective.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Halc » September 17th, 2018, 3:09 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 7:12 am
My argument (and I think Halc's argument, but I'll let him speak for himself) is that observers do not make these assertions.
One argument I've seen from David is the assertion of only one real ordering of events, and that SR in particular claims that different frames order events differently (it does claim this), and since it posits that any frame is as good as another, it must be making a claim about reality (despite a disclaimer that it is a special case that doesn't reflect reality anywhere), and thus is contradictory.

Event A is before event B in one frame (this preferred frame in particular), but after B in some different frame, therefore contradiction. The 1=2 could be had from a fast object having a length of 1 meter in the preferred frame, but a length of 2 meters in the frame in which it is stationary. But it is two different things, not the same thing.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Halc » September 17th, 2018, 3:34 pm

Tamminen wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:30 am
Steve, Halc and David, do you think I have described the situation correctly?
Not correctly, but understandably yes. I know at least what you're trying to say.
Lack of frame specifications is notable.
If we have two objects A and B and the distance between them is x, we can define what events are simultaneous at A and B using light beams and clocks. If we have two synchronized clocks at A and one at B, each of them showing 0, we can say that those 3 readings are simultaneous.
What you're apparently describing is two objects, both stationary in some frame S. In that frame S, their separation is x (not necessarily in other frames). You speak of 3 simultaneous events but specify none of them. We have apparently a clock at each object, and they are in sync in S. The two events of each clock hitting 0 is simultaneous. Not sure where a third event might be. Not sure what the light beams are doing. The clocks can be synchronized by a signal that comes from halfway between the two objects in S, and each clock zeroes itself when it gets the signal.
Now if one of the clocks at A starts to move at a high speed towards B, it may be that the first 4 seconds in the stationary clock are simultaneous with the 2 first seconds in the moving clock. This is what it means that the other clock runs slower.
No frame specifications again. Yes, B seems to remain stationary in S, and A is stationary in some new frame T. Each clock is dilated in the frame of the other clock as you say:
"Also, from the point of view of the moving clock, the reading of 0 at B is not simultaneous with the reading of 0 at A. So observers in both frames see the clock in the other frame run slower."
For discussion purposes, we can assume that clock A makes this abrupt change in velocity when it reads time 0. At that instant, in the new frame T for A, clock B already reads something larger than 0, as you point out here:
"The difference in simultaneity can be calculated using the Lorentz equations, and it is a function of x."
But those two events are not simultaneous in the frame of the moving clock.
What two events? The event where A makes the abrupt velocity change, but I didn't see a second event specified.

Are these logical contradictions? Can the reading of 0 at B be simultaneous with the reading of 0 in one frame and not simultaneous with the reading of 0 in another frame, being perhaps in the past as measured there?
David asserts that these are contradictions, but law of noncontradiction says that the two things must be both true and false in the same way, and this is not in the same way. Relativity very much says that different frames order events differently, so pairs of events simultaneous in one frame are not going to be simultaneous in all others.
And is it possible that I observe 4 seconds have passed and you observe, simultaneously, that only 1 second has passed, in the same clock?
This comment mixes frames and makes little sense. You had a 1-2 ratio going on in your example, not 1-4.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Tamminen » September 17th, 2018, 4:21 pm

Halc wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 3:34 pm
What you're apparently describing is two objects, both stationary in some frame S. In that frame S, their separation is x (not necessarily in other frames).
Yes.
You speak of 3 simultaneous events but specify none of them.
They can be the synchronizing events.
We have apparently a clock at each object, and they are in sync in S.
Yes, 2 clocks at A and 1 at B.
Not sure what the light beams are doing. The clocks can be synchronized by a signal that comes from halfway between the two objects in S, and each clock zeroes itself when it gets the signal.
The "light beam" is the signal.
Yes, B seems to remain stationary in S, and A is stationary in some new frame T.
A and B are stationary, the third clock starts moving from A.
What two events? The event where A makes the abrupt velocity change, but I didn't see a second event specified.
The first event is the stationary clock's running for 4 seconds and the second event is the moving clock's running for 2 seconds.
This comment mixes frames and makes little sense. You had a 1-2 ratio going on in your example, not 1-4.
If I observe my clock running for 4 seconds and the moving clock simultaneously running for 2 seconds, and the observer at the moving clock, seeing his clock running for 2 seconds, simultaneously from my point of view, sees my clock running, simultaneously from his point of view, for 1 second, the ratio is the same in both frames, as it should be. But the 4 seconds and the 1 second belong to the same period of time in the same clock. Therefore my conclusion that the missing 3 seconds must be in the future from the moving clock's point of view. And probably this can be shown with mathematics, but I am not good at it.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Greta » September 17th, 2018, 7:01 pm

Obvious Leo's Ghost wrote:For the past century the physics orthodoxy has stumbled haphazardly into a metaphysical quagmire and all of this unholy mess can be attributed to Special Relativity, which is emphatically NOT a model of our physically real universe. The utility of the model is beyond question, and its predictive authority quite breathtaking, but SR is not logically kosher. Minkowski made a godawful mess of Einstein's astonishing insight, which is only to be expected when we allow mathematicians to try and explain our universe to us.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time to model time as a spatial dimension orthogonal to the three Cartesian dimensions of space but that doesn't mean that we need to keep buying this ******** a hundred years later. Cartesian dimensions are bi-directional mathematical co-ordinate systems. A moving entity in a Cartesian space can move either backwards or forwards along the x, y, and z axes. However time is a stubbornly uni-directional dimension in a universe where we can reasonably expect that effects will always be preceded by causes in an orderly and self-generative fashion. Time is nothing more than a convenient metric by which we can measure the rate of change in a physical system but the arrow of time always points steadfastly from the past into the future via the nexus of the present. This defines time as a fractal dimension and that our universe must therefore be defined as an event rather than as a place.

GR is a theoretical model of spectacular mathematical virtuosity but it also makes perfectly logical sense when we model time as a fractal dimension, which is a perfectly legitimate way of interpreting the empirical evidence. This has interesting consequences.

Einstein showed in GR that time does not pass at a constant speed because it bears a precise mathematical relationship with gravity, a relationship which is inversely logarithmic in its nature. Simple logic requires that this mathematical relationship must obtain all the way down to the most fundamental units of physical reality within the atom as well as on the cosmological scale in the relative motion of stars and galaxies.

We are watching the world go by at a non-constant speed and it is this which we perceive as motion. However what we're also seeing is reality literally making itself at the speed of light right before our eyes. In a fractal dimension the universe is defined as a reality MAKER and from this perspective we can then properly understand the nature of our observation. The speed of light is finite and thus what we're actually observing is a holographic image being projected through time to our senses. Because the speed of light is finite it is physically impossible for the observer to observe the real world.

What he does instead is to "collapse a wave function", a cunning act of cognition which allows him to comprehend his external world. When the observer make his observation what he does is apply a spatial reference frame to what is purely a temporal phenomenon. We live in the wake of the past and the only reality which we can observe is a reality which exists no longer.

It is this no-longer-existing universe which spacetime physics is modelling and that's the sole reason why the current models of physics make no sense.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Steve3007 » September 18th, 2018, 2:11 am

To Obvious Leo's ghost (via the medium of Greta): Never shake thy gory locks at me! :D

I think Obvious Leo's thesis was very different from David Cooper's. Leo had decided to treat time as a fractal dimension. Leo is one of the people I had in mind when David first started telling us his objections to SR and made it clear how much he's written on the subject by pointing to his website:
Steve3007 wrote:Over the years I've read the words of many, many people who were convinced that the mainstream view on various subjects is a conspiracy of vested interests followed blindly by sheep. For sure, sometimes the most widely accepted view on a subject is rightly overturned by a revolution. But often, the most widely accepted view on a subject is widely accepted because it has been shown to work.
viewtopic.php?p=318770#p318770

There are a fascinatingly large and diverse number of people who have various very different views on physics-related subjects and are utterly convinced that they've shown some "establishment" to be stubbornly refusing to accept the truth.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by LuckyR » September 18th, 2018, 2:47 am

Just to be clear the time dilation on the moving clock is not theoretical. It is measured routinely, right here, right now.
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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Burning ghost » September 18th, 2018, 3:04 am

Forgive me but this is sounding more like an argument over the nuances of physical laws. What is the maim philosophical proble being presented here?

If someone wishes to dispute SR I’d imagine a science forum to be a fitting setting. If the issue is philosophical then what is the underlying issue here? I cannot see it.

It appears that there is some confusion over the distinctions between the Special Theory of Relativity and philosophical relativism? If that is the problem why isn’t it resolved already?

Anyway I’d like to get a little involved so if someone could shed some light on this it would be nice. I’ve attempted to read the previous thread (bit part) but still find myself unsure as to what the heart of the discussion actually is.

Note: Obvious Leo as arguing a philosophical position. He was looking at the grounding of physics. That seems to be the underlying question here but I am at a loss as to everyone’s propositions.
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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Greta » September 18th, 2018, 3:28 am

Steve3007 wrote:
September 18th, 2018, 2:11 am
To Obvious Leo's ghost (via the medium of Greta): Never shake thy gory locks at me! :D

I think Obvious Leo's thesis was very different from David Cooper's. Leo had decided to treat time as a fractal dimension. Leo is one of the people I had in mind when David first started telling us his objections to SR and made it clear how much he's written on the subject by pointing to his website:
Steve3007 wrote:Over the years I've read the words of many, many people who were convinced that the mainstream view on various subjects is a conspiracy of vested interests followed blindly by sheep. For sure, sometimes the most widely accepted view on a subject is rightly overturned by a revolution. But often, the most widely accepted view on a subject is widely accepted because it has been shown to work.
viewtopic.php?p=318770#p318770

There are a fascinatingly large and diverse number of people who have various very different views on physics-related subjects and are utterly convinced that they've shown some "establishment" to be stubbornly refusing to accept the truth.
I think Leo's was a cracker of an observation and well expressed, very much in line with his oft-stated preference for the bleeding obvious - in this case that time can't logically be treated like a spatial dimension because it only runs one way.

What is fascinating here is that the math when modelling a block universe must work out. I don't know physics but, given the competitive rigour with which these things tend to be checked by the boffins, SR must have ticked a lot of boxes when measured against observations and predictions based on it.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Mark1955 » September 18th, 2018, 4:57 am

Obvious Leo's Ghost wrote:For the past century the physics orthodoxy has stumbled haphazardly into a metaphysical quagmire and all of this unholy mess can be attributed to Special Relativity, which is emphatically NOT a model of our physically real universe. The utility of the model is beyond question, and its predictive authority quite breathtaking, but SR is not logically kosher. Minkowski made a godawful mess of Einstein's astonishing insight, which is only to be expected when we allow mathematicians to try and explain our universe to us.
I think this proves my point, the argument effectively being I can't conceptualise what the maths shows so the maths must be wrong, rather than 'the maths all adds up but my brain can't understand this'.
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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Mark1955 » September 18th, 2018, 4:59 am

Burning ghost wrote:
September 18th, 2018, 3:04 am
What is the main philosophical problem being presented here?
That philosophy can't address special relativity?
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Does Special Relativity contain contradictions?

Post by Steve3007 » September 18th, 2018, 5:10 am

Greta wrote:I think Leo's was a cracker of an observation and well expressed, very much in line with his oft-stated preference for the bleeding obvious - in this case that time can't logically be treated like a spatial dimension because it only runs one way.

What is fascinating here is that the math when modelling a block universe must work out. I don't know physics but, given the competitive rigour with which these things tend to be checked by the boffins, SR must have ticked a lot of boxes when measured against observations and predictions based on it.
If Leo's and David's thoughts on this subject have something in common, then I think it's a philosophical dissatisfaction with what is sometimes called (in a different context) the "shut up and calculate" view of the role of the laws of physics. Leo used the term "mistaking the map for the territory" to describe this concept. That term is, I think, where Leo's objections come closest to those of David.

In a recent post in the dying embers of the old topic from which this new topic sprang, David Cooper has indicated to me that he disagrees with my description of the laws of physics as:

"Generalisations which we have created as a result of various measurements and observations."

He prefers this:

"Laws of physics are actualities of nature. Proposed laws of physics are attempts to reproduce them within theories."

This suggests to me that he thinks (to use Leo's phrase) that my definition mistakes the map for the territory.
Burning ghost wrote:Forgive me but this is sounding more like an argument over the nuances of physical laws. What is the maim philosophical proble being presented here?
I would say that the root philosophical problem, as discussed with Greta above, of which all the specific talk about physics is a symptom, is the question of what exactly physics (and science in general) does and doesn't do, and aspire to do. I propose that physics discovers invarients in the different measurements of individual observers. It calls those invariants laws. This is related to the question of whether the laws of physics are deemed to be created or discovered.
LuckyR wrote:Just to be clear the time dilation on the moving clock is not theoretical. It is measured routinely, right here, right now.
Everything that is theoretical, if it is meaningful to science, is derived from something that is measured; it is empirically falsifiable/verifiable. The theories are the proposed invariants that are distilled from the different observers' measurements. So yes, time dilation is measured.
Mark1955 wrote:I'd say the only problem with the Lorentz ether hypothesis is that the experiments always fail to find the ether, which in it's way is a pretty big contradiction and why it shouldn't really be described as a theory. Special relativity best explains the data we have. I suspect the problem with SR is that it explains through maths things that our brain is not really capable of actually understanding because they don't fall within our sensory reference framework. The obvious example of this is the idea that time is fluid and not fixed; because we don't live at near light speeds we have no concept of what the numbers explain.
I think David Cooper's answer to this would be to say that the aether is not so very different from the concept of a "fabric of spacetime". I think he would say that concepts should not be abandoned just because they do not directly correspond to a possible empirical observation. I think he would say that some concepts exist in order to "make sense" of things.

This probably leads into a discussion of the definition of metaphysics and the role (if any) that it plays in science. I'll leave that for a separate post, and just leave this here as a placeholder.

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