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Asunto:[debunker] Anomalies in the History of Relativity-07
Fecha:Sabado, 17 de Noviembre, 2001  06:16:36 (-0500)
Autor:illu minati <illu03 @.......com>

 

In the autumn of the same year, in the same volume of the
Anna/en der Physik as his paper on the Brownian motion,
Einstein published a paper which set forth the relativity the-
ory of Poincaré and Lorentz with some amplifications, and
which attracted much attention.

Although the special theory did not have a very large
impact before the rapid rise of the general theory in 1919, the
events of 1919 caused it to become famous also, even though
it is a different theory. Here is what Cohen (1985, p. 405)
wrote about the way the events of 1919 contributed to the
rise of the special theory:

In considering relativity, we must keep in mind that there are
two different theories of relativity. . But what brought the
attention of the world to special relativity was the verification
in 1919 of a prediction of the general theory, that starlight
passing near the Sun is bent by the Sun’s gravity. This verifica-
tion, which occurred during a solar eclipse expedition, set into
being the relativity craze that swept the world and overnight
made Einstein a public figure.

It is time to realize that, even if the general theory were ver-
ified, that does not in itself verify the special theory. The two
theories are different; they do not use the same set of
axioms. The difference is shown by the following statement
by Stachel (1995):
“Theory of relativity” is an umbrella term, covering two quite
distinct theories, usually called “the special,” and “the general”
theory. The exact nature of the relation between the two is still
a subject of controversy, and both might well not bear the com-
mon appellation “relativity” if not so closely associated with
the work of one man, Albert Einstein, who developed the sec-
ond in attempting to extend the first to include gravitation.

Discussion
Various authors have tried to explain why the results of
the eclipse observations were announced as being decisive
when they were not. For example, Earman and Glymour
(1980) write that:
Eddington’s overenthusiastic advocacy may perhaps be
explained by his prior conviction that the theory was true and by
his interest in saving something from the vast work of the
Principe expedition. Dyson’s position might be understood in
part as the result of a reasonable evaluation of the evidence, and
in part as the result of Eddington’s advocacy. But one retains the
suspicion that besides these reasons, there was, especially for
Eddington, another: the hope that a British verification of


• . . The greatest scorn of the scientific
community is reserved for those who
would try to criticize either of Einstein’s
theories of relativity or to suggest alter-
native theories, and many mainstream
scientific journals reject papers critical
of either theory without review.
Einstein’s theory would force on British scientists a more open-
minded and generous attitude towards their German colleagues.

The enormous public reaction to the scientific announce-
ment appears to have been strongly influenced by the end-
ing of the war with Germany, and it may be noted that
another important historical event of 1919 was the signing
of the Treaty of Versailles, over German protest, in June.
Chandrasekhar (1987) has described how Rutherford attrib-
uted Einstein’s great fame to Eddington and explained the
public reaction in the following words:
The war had just ended; and the complacency of the Victorian
and the Edwardian times had been shattered. The people felt
that all their values and all their ideals had lost their bearings.
Now, suddenly. they learnt that an astronomical prediction by
a German scientist had been confirmed by expeditions to
Brazil and West Africa and, indeed, prepared for already dur-
ing the war, by British astronomers. Astronomy had always
appealed to public imagination; and an astronomical discov-
ery, transcending worldly strife, struck a responsive chord.
The meeting of the Royal Society, at which the results of the
British expeditions were reported, was headlined in all the
British papers: and the typhoon of publicity crossed the
Atlantic. From that point on, the American press played
Einstein to the maximum.

It may be argued that the inaccuracies in the 1919 eclipse
observations do not matter, since the same effect has suppos-
edly been verified by more accurate measurements such as,
for example, the measurements on quasars described by
Maddox (1995). This point of view is somewhat guardedly
espoused by the last paragraph of the critical discussion of
the 1919 eclipse expeditions by Earman and Glymour (1980):
This curious sequence of reasons might be cause enough for
despair on the part of those who see in science a model of
objectivity and rationality. That mood should be lightened by
the reflection that the theory in which Eddington placed his
faith because he thought it beautiful and profound—and, pos-
sibly, because he thought that it would be best for the world if
it were true—this theory, so far as we know, still holds the truth
about space, time and gravity.

That is at least debatable. For example, Chandrasekhar
(1990) made the following comments on a lecture in which
P.A.M. Dirac had claimed that there was a long and impres-
sive list of successes of Einstein’s theory of gravitation:
It does not seem to me that the successes of Einstein’s theory
are either long or impressive. It is true that his prediction of the
different rates of clocks in locations of differing gravity, his pre-
diction of the deflection of light when traversing a gravitational
field and resulting time delay. his prediction regarding the pre-
cession of the perihelion of Mercury, and finally, the slowing
down of a binary star in an eccentric orbit by virtue of the emis-
sion of gravitational radiation, have been confirmed quantita-
tively. But all these relate to the departures from Newtonian
theory by a few parts in a million; and of no more than three or
four parameters in a post-Newtonian expansion of Einstein’s
field equations. And so far, no predictions of general relativity in
the limit of strong gravitational fields have received any confir-
mation; nor are they likely in the foreseeable future.

It is also reasonable to ask whether the rapid and strong
entrenchment of the general theory that occurred as a
result of the eclipse announcement may have led experi-



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