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Belated Reply To Dick

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Posted by Aurino C Souza on August 7, 2002 16:25:26 UTC


I've been a little hard on you recently and I think I owe you some explanations. Since I don't know if you're still here I'll write something brief and see where it goes.

I'm a bit bothered by the bent your arguments started to take. What I used to perceive as a plea for rationality and common sense has turned into a bitter battle for whose ego is bigger, although I recognize you haven't started it yourself. If anything you can only be blamed of descending to the lower levels some of your opponents are. That is still bad enough though.

On a more technical aspect, I have studied relativity in Einstein's own words and was, I must confess, quite impressed by the man's clarity of thougt and sharpness of insight. Maybe he was not a god but he was certainly an extremely gifted individual. The one thing that stood out for me was his reluctance to give his theories any air of absolute truth, which is quite far from what some Einstenians think. I suspect your real trouble, like myself, is rather with the Einstenians than with Einstein himself, but I wouldn't wager on that.

Regarding the issue of clocks and time, I have to confess I think Einstein is right and you are wrong, but please allow me explain why. What I gathered from Einstein is that, like the rest of us, he doesn't claim to know what time is. All he did was find a way to reconcile the principle of relativity with the constant speed of light, and that he did quite brilliantly. He, and any sensible physicist as far as I can see, is not concerned about "what it is" that clocks measure, the only meaningful issue is what should we expect to read under specific conditions. As Bruce says, if Einstein made a mistake and you know what that is, you should be able to propose an experiment in which clocks won't read what Einstein says they're supposed to read. If you can't do that, then you're arguing philosophy, not physics. The point, clearly brought up by Patrick Reany, is that whatever name we give to that which clocks measure doesn't affect the mathematical accuracy of Einstein's equations. As far as physics is concerned, that is the end of the story.

I suspect you do have a valid point, although I have grown wary of claiming to have understood you as you often say I didn't. I suspect the point you are trying to make is that Einstein's usage of the word "time" is inconsistent with our ordinary usage of it, and that leads people to make absurd philosophical claims based on a misunderstanding of physics. That's what I think of it anyway, but I don't think the problem is with Einstein himself, I think the problem is with the people who parrot about physics without understanding it.

Again, that may be what you are talking about or not. If it is, then I think Einstein can be partially blamed for making his theories a bit difficult to understand. But, ironic as that might be, you don't seem like the right person to criticize others for coming up with difficult rationales. If for nothing else, a lot of people understand Einstein well enough to run experiments that validate his theory, while your ideas nobody even knows what they are about.

On a less important subject, I was shocked to read you saying that Einstein prohibits simultaneity to be defined, when I just learned, in his own words, the relativistic definition of simultaneity. All that Einsteins says is that simultaneity is relative, a fact which is not only logical and easy to understand but has also been confirmed by experiment. Your comment makes no sense and it does make you appear as someone who doesn't understand physics.

Sorry if I sound too harsh, but these are my honest opinions and I think being honest without being rude is far more important than being superficially nice.

Well, that was a lot after all. Have fun,


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