The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » sci.math.* » sci.math

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Le destin douloureux de Walther Ritz (1878-1909), ph
ysicien théoricien de génie

Replies: 5   Last Post: Sep 26, 2013 1:40 AM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Pentcho Valev

Posts: 6,212
Registered: 12/13/04
Re: Le destin douloureux de Walther Ritz (1878-1909)
, physicien théoricien de génie

Posted: Sep 22, 2013 1:56 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

IN 1908 Walther Ritz rejects the field concept (light as a continuous field of waves) because it introduces absolute motion:
Walther Ritz 1908: "The only conclusion which, from then on, seems possible to me, is that ether doesn't exist, or more exactly, that we should renounce use of this representation, that the motion of light is a relative motion like all the others, that only relative velocities play a role in the laws of nature; and finally that we should renounce use of partial differential equations and the notion of field, in the measure that this notion introduces absolute motion."

In 1952 Einstein still advocates the field concept of light:
Relativity and the Problem of Space, Albert Einstein (1952): "During the second half of the nineteenth century, in connection with the researches of Faraday and Maxwell it became more and more clear that the description of electromagnetic processes in terms of field was vastly superior to a treatment on the basis of the mechanical concepts of material points. By the introduction of the field concept in electrodynamics, Maxwell succeeded in predicting the existence of electromagnetic waves, the essential identity of which with light waves could not be doubted because of the equality of their velocity of propagation. As a result of this, optics was, in principle, absorbed by electrodynamics. One psychological effect of this immense success was that the field concept, as opposed to the mechanistic framework of classical physics, gradually won greater independence. (...) Since the special theory of relativity revealed the physical equivalence of all inertial systems, it proved the untenability of the hypothesis of an aether at rest. It was therefore necessary to renounce the idea that the electromagnetic field is to be regarded as a state of a material carrier. The field thus becomes an irreducible element of physical description..."

In 1954 Einstein suddenly becomes honest (people often do at the end of their lives) and warns the world that the field concept might have killed physics:
Albert Einstein (1954): "I consider it entirely possible that physics cannot be based upon the field concept, that is on continuous structures. Then nothing will remain of my whole castle in the air, including the theory of gravitation, but also nothing of the rest of contemporary physics."

Sixty years later one can ask: Is physics dead? The answer seems to be "yes", although euphemisms like "crisis within the deepest foundations of physics" are often used:
Steve Giddings, theoretical physicist; Professor, Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara: "What really keeps me awake at night (...) is that we face a crisis within the deepest foundations of physics. The only way out seems to involve profound revision of fundamental physical principles."
Neil Turok: "It's the ultimate catastrophe: that theoretical physics has led to this crazy situation where the physicists are utterly confused and seem not to have any predictions at all."
Mike Alder: "This, essentially, is the Smolin position. He gives details and examples of the death of Physics, although he, being American, is optimistic that it can be reversed. I am not."
"Britain was the home of Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and Paul Dirac, and Brits made world-class contributions to understanding gravity, quantum physics and electromagnetism - and yet the British physicist is now facing extinction. But so what? Physicists are not as cuddly as pandas, so who cares if we disappear?"
"Physicien au CEA, professeur et auteur, Etienne Klein s'inquiète des relations de plus en plus conflictuelles entre la science et la société. (...) « Je me demande si nous aurons encore des physiciens dans trente ou quarante ans », remarque ce touche-à-tout aux multiples centres d'intérêt..."
Hilton Ratcliffe: "Physics is dying, being suffocated by meta-mathematics, and physics departments at major universities with grand histories in physical science are closing down for lack of interest. It is a crisis in my view. (...) If, as in the case of GTR and later with Big Bang Theory and Black Hole theory, the protagonists have seductive charisma (which Einstein, Gamow, and Hawking, respectively, had in abundance) then the theory, though not the least bit understood, becomes the darling of the media. GTR and Big Bang Theory are sacrosanct, and it's most certainly not because they make any sense. In fact, they have become the measure by which we sanctify nonsense."
"However, for the past century, theoretical physicists have been sending a different message. They have rejected causality in favor of chance, logic in favor of contradictions, and reality in favor of fantasy. The science of physics is now riddled with claims that are as absurd as those of any religious cult."
Marc Lachièze-Rey: "La physique est schizophrène (...) ...relativiste le matin, quantique le soir... mais schizophrène lorsqu'il tente de concilier les deux visions. C'est là que réside le problème fondamental de la physique d'aujourd'hui."
"Looking at the past we can date and understand the reasons for the birth of science. We do not know when its twilight will occur, but the reasons for it are already in the air: after a very hot summer always come the season for the drop of leaves. (...) Science is becoming a nonsense for humanity. (...) Our science has become an animal without a soul, or it might be better to say, a colony of animals, a group of organisms which devour human efforts and do not offer anything but growth for the sake of growth."
Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond: "La science souffre d'une forte perte de crédit, au sens propre comme au sens figuré : son soutien politique et économique, comme sa réputation intellectuelle et culturelle connaissent une crise grave."
"Nous nous trouvons dans une période de mutation extrêmement profonde. Nous sommes en effet à la fin de la science telle que l'Occident l'a connue », tel est constat actuel que dresse Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond, physicien théoricien, épistémologue et directeur des collections scientifiques des Editions du Seuil."
Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond: "Il est peut-être trop tard. L'histoire, précisément, nous montre que, dans l'histoire des civilisations, les grands épisodes scientifiques sont terminés... (...) Rien ne garantit donc que dans les siècles à venir, notre civilisation, désormais mondiale, continue à garder à la science en tant que telle la place qu'elle a eue pendant quelques siècles."

Back to Einstein's 1954 confession. Needless to say, "based upon the field concept, that is on continuous structures" is a euphemism. Theoretical physics, being a deductive science, is actually based on well-known assumptions, some possibly related to "field concept" and "continuous structures". So if physics is going to crumble, as Einstein suggests, one of those assumptions must be false. Which one? Is there an assumption in modern physics which, on the one hand, is closely related to "field concept" and "continuous structures", and, on the other, is so important and indispensable that its falsehood can destroy a whole branch of science? The only such assumption is Einstein's 1905 light postulate according to which the speed of light is independent of the speed of the emitter:
"The two first articles (January and March) establish clearly a discontinuous structure of matter and light. The standard look of Einstein's SR is, on the contrary, essentially based on the continuous conception of the field."
"And then, in June, Einstein completes special relativity, which adds a twist to the story: Einstein's March paper treated light as particles, but special relativity sees light as a continuous field of waves."
"Relativity and Its Roots" by Banesh Hoffmann, p.92: "Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether." [That is, Einstein based the second postulate on the concept of light as a continuous field of waves.]
Joao Magueijo: "In sharp contrast, the constancy of the speed of light has remain sacred, and the term "heresy" is occasionally used in relation to "varying speed of light theories". The reason is clear: the constancy of c, unlike the constancy of G or e, is the pillar of special relativity and thus of modern physics. Varying c theories are expected to cause much more structural damage to physics formalism than other varying constant theories."
Bryan Wallace: "Einstein's special relativity theory with his second postulate that the speed of light in space is constant is the linchpin that holds the whole range of modern physics theories together. Shatter this postulate, and modern physics becomes an elaborate farce! (...) The speed of light is c+v." [Note: Bryan Wallace wrote "The Farce of Physics" on his deathbed hence some imperfections in the text!]

Einstein's 1905 constant-speed-of-light postulate is false. The speed of light does depend on the speed of the emitter - a tenet of Newton's emission theory of light adopted by Ritz. Yet Ritz died and the false postulate killed physics in the end. Nowadays scientific rationality is completely destroyed and to show that physics is dead is virtually impossible. Arguments of the type "I know a dead science when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now" simply don't work. Those who try sooner or later find themselves in Mr. Praline's silly situation:
Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?
Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.
Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Pentcho Valev

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.