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PF’s policy on Lorentz Ether Theory and Block Universe

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What is the PF’s policy on Lorentz Ether Theory and Block Universe?

Debates about the superiority or “truth” of modern Lorentz Ether Theory (LET) and the Block Universe (BU) concept are outside the scope of PF because:

  • There is little or no debate among professional physicists about these issues (as opposed to e.g. interpretations of quantum mechanics)
  • Positions on these issues are based on personal philosophical preferences and cannot be addressed (even in principle) by experiment.

The core of a scientific theory is a mathematical model which can be used to predict the outcome of experiments, i.e. in addition to the model there is a mapping between elements of the model and outcomes of experiments. This mapping is sometimes called the “minimal interpretation”. Scientifically, theories are judged on how complicated their mathematical models are and on how well they predict the outcomes of experiments, with the best models being both simple and applying to a wide variety of phenomena.

There is often a desire by the philosophical community to add more structure to a scientific theory than what is represented by the “mathematical model and minimal interpretation” described above. These structures are also generically called “interpretations”, and are most prolific in the field of quantum mechanics. Interpretations typically include some postulates which can be used to justify the mathematical model, as well as some statements about which items in the derived model are “real” and which are measurement artifacts or limitations on our knowledge.

Often a single theory is compatible with many different philosophical interpretations. There is no possible way to resolve a dispute between different philosophical interpretations through appeal to experiment because all of them make the same predictions for all experiments. The choice between philosophical interpretations is therefore entirely a matter of personal philosophical preference.

For special relativity (SR), the mathematical model is the Minkowski space, a four-dimensional pseudo-Euclidean affine manifold. The symmetry group determining this structure is the proper orthochronous Poincaré (or inhomogeneous Lorentz) group which includes the Lorentz transform.

There are two primary philosophical interpretations: the Block Universe (BU) and Lorentz Aether Theory (LET). The BU considers the universe to exist as a single fixed 4D geometric structure which is not dynamically evolving over time since time is one of the dimensions of the structure. The LET considers the universe to be a 3D world evolving over time and with a single undetectable “true” rest frame.

Both BU and LET use the Lorentz transform, etc., to make all of their experimental predictions, and therefore they are scientifically indistinguishable, making the same experimental predictions in all cases. Because of this experimental equivalence, there is little if any serious ongoing debate between the two in professional physics circles (although the philosophy literature does have ongoing debate). Professional physicists are generally content with the minimal interpretation and uninterested in philosophical interpretations.

Because there is little debate among modern scientists on this topic, and because such debates cannot be settled by appeal to experiment, and because such debates tend to degenerate into acrimonious and repetitive shouting matches, and because discussions of LET tend to attract crackpots, it is the policy of the PF Mentors who moderate the relativity forum that threads attempting to argue the superiority or veracity of either BU or LET will be closed with reference to this FAQ.

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Education: PhD in biomedical engineering and MBA

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  1. atyy
    atyy says:

    I saw your post #17, but here is the count anyway.

    Not published in peer-reviewed journal
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1508.00276[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1507.06618[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1412.2778[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1311.0437[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1310.2144[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1309.0907[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1109.5654[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1105.4845[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1102.5002[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1012.5348[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1004.2901[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1003.5366[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0801.1547[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0711.3822[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0412086[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0410001[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0109215[/URL]

    Published in peer-reviewed journal
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1504.03305[/URL], [URL]http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1475-7516/2015/08/016/meta[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1503.08911[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1409.2687[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1408.4774[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1407.6014[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1312.0405[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1311.7144[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1310.5338[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1310.5115[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1309.4778[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1302.6965[/URL] (not a journal, but edited by Ashtekar and Petkov)
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1302.4189[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1301.7122[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1211.4402[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1210.4940[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1207.6530[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1206.6296[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1201.2882[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1110.3753[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1109.4495[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1109.0823[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1108.1835[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1107.1892[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1106.3955[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1104.2889[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1103.2197[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1011.6466[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1008.4351[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1007.4572[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1007.2594[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1003.1283[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1001.4823[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0907.3180[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0905.2446[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0905.0328[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0812.1050[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0811.2797[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0807.2639[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0806.4319[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0805.4067[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0802.0521[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0801.0516[/URL], [URL]http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10714-008-0648-y[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0709.1011[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0706.0704[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0705.1565[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0703093[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0608052[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0605082[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0604088[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0603058[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0602004[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0509121[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0507059[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0505211[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0504005[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0502066[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0402005[/URL]
    [URL]http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0108097[/URL]

  2. Dale
    Dale says:

    As you say, Einstein aether is not relevant to LET. Of the ones in peer reviewed journals, not one of the first 10 was actually about LET. “Little or no debate” is looking pretty well substantiated.

  3. Demystifier
    Demystifier says:

    Note that the vast majority of those never made it through peer review in a reputable journal.

    To check this claim, I have done the actual counting. I have discarded the first 10 papers because they are still relatively new, so some of them may become accepted for publication later. The result of my counting is:
    Out of 68 papers having “aether” in the title, 42 are published in a peer reviewed journal.

    Do you still stand with your claim above? Or do you want me count the number of papers in reputable journals such as Phys. Rev. D, Phys. Lett. B, etc?

    EDIT: Now I saw that atty also made the counting.

  4. Demystifier
    Demystifier says:

    As you say, Einstein aether is not relevant to LET. Of the ones in peer reviewed journals, not one of the first 10 was actually about LET. “Little or no debate” is looking pretty well substantiated.

    So, shell we allow discussions about Einstein aether? If yes, then I will make no further complaints in this thread.

    It’s not that I particularly like Einstein aether. (As a matter of fact, I like block universe much more [URL]http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/259[/URL] .)

    It’s that I generally don’t like banning.

  5. harrylin
    harrylin says:

    That is a good idea. Most of those threads end in a closure and/or a ban. If you remember one that didn’t end like that then it might be a good one to point to.

    I think that they all were closed, for obvious reasons; a thread being closed to further discussion doesn’t mean that it is void of useful information!

  6. Dale
    Dale says:

    Note that the vast majority of those never made it through peer review in a reputable journal.

    Do you still stand with your claim above?

    No, I don’t. My claim was based on a biased sample.

    I do stand by the original claim in the article that there is “little or no debate”. The search you did is not particularly relevant since it contains many theories that are not LET but have the word aether in them.

    And even so, even the inflated total “aether” number of 42 is still small. Professional science has simply moved on past the LET vs block universe argument.

  7. Dale
    Dale says:

    So, shell we allow discussions about Einstein aether? If yes, then I will make no further complaints in this thread.

    It’s not that I particularly like Einstein aether. (As a matter of fact, I like block universe much more [URL]http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/259[/URL] .)

    It’s that I generally don’t like banning.

    Did you read the article? It doesn’t even discuss Einstein aether, just LET and block universe, which are non gravitational theories. Also, discussions of LET and block universe are not banned, only assertions that one or the other is “true”.

  8. vanhees71
    vanhees71 says:

    I agree. But one cannot become aware of these if one bans discussions about interpretations.

    Well, it is still my dream to split the quantum forum into separate physics and interpretation parts. This would be great!

  9. atyy
    atyy says:

    Well, it is still my dream to split the quantum forum into separate physics and interpretation parts. This would be great!

    I think it is dangerous and counter to good physics. Good physics starts with interpretation. Among the books in this tradition are Landau and Lifshitz and Weinberg.

    Another example is Wilson’s contribution. It is true that Wilson’s contribution was in large part calculational, but his stature would not be so great if it were not for his interpretational contributions. Before Wilson we did not understand QED although it was already known to be the most accurate theory we have. After Wilson, we understand QED.

    And this is not counter to the spirit behind the ban on LET versus block universe (for classical physics). In that case, interpretation is important, but it is already settled and understood, and discussed in standard references like Rindler.

  10. vanhees71
    vanhees71 says:

    Landau and Lifshitz as well as Weinberg all stick to physics. I want to separate off philosophical debates from the physics part of the quantum forum. That’s of course difficult, because you cannot draw a sharp boarderline between the two realms, and I guess we should open another thread about this debate.

    I don’t know to which Wilson you are referring to. Do you mean Kenneth Wilson and his renormalization group. That’s also (in fact very important) physics, but not an interpretational issue at all. Admittedly it brought renormalization theory from a mathematical trick (Feynman once said something like “sweeping the garbage under the rug”) to a physical insight and an application to the field of many-body QFT and the physics of phase transitions, where it is still a very hot topic (and becomes even hotter for quite a while recently).

  11. Demystifier
    Demystifier says:

    Weinberg all stick to physics

    I think atty meant this book
    [URL]http://www.amazon.com/Lectures-Quantum-Mechanics-Steven-Weinberg/dp/1107028728[/URL]
    which does contain a discussion of interpretational issues (Sec. 3.7). In particular Weinberg claims explicitly that (in his opinion) Copenhagen interpretation doesn’t make sense.

  12. vanhees71
    vanhees71 says:

    Yes, and this is a debate on the physics interpretation, not on philosophy. BTW it’s one of the best QM books, I’ve ever seen (but that’s true for all textbooks by Weinberg; very close to the physics without unnecessary mathematical and philosophical balast).

  13. atyy
    atyy says:

    Landau and Lifshitz as well as Weinberg all stick to physics. I want to separate off philosophical debates from the physics part of the quantum forum. That’s of course difficult, because you cannot draw a sharp boarderline between the two realms, and I guess we should open another thread about this debate.

    L&L begin with interpretation. They are brief but to the point. Weinberg also begins with interpretation.

    But there is one upside to banning interpretation. We’d have to ban Ballentine, who spend pages and pages on interpretation and gets it completely wrong. :biggrin:

    I don’t know to which Wilson you are referring to. Do you mean Kenneth Wilson and his renormalization group. That’s also (in fact very important) physics, but not an interpretational issue at all. Admittedly it brought renormalization theory from a mathematical trick (Feynman once said something like “sweeping the garbage under the rug”) to a physical insight and an application to the field of many-body QFT and the physics of phase transitions, where it is still a very hot topic (and becomes even hotter for quite a while recently).

    Yes, I mean Kenneth Wilson. His contribution was to the interpretation of QFT. His insight changed renormalization from an unmathematical trick to a physical argument.

  14. vanhees71
    vanhees71 says:

    LOL, you got me, but I admit that I like Ballentines book very much and I’m a clear proponent of the minimal interpretation. There’s Born’s rule, and that’s it. It’s an additional postulate you have to live with. Maybe there’s a future theory that derives it from something simpler, but that’s not there yet, and this is what Weinberg concludes in his book. Admittedly the interpretational chapter in Weinberg’s book is way better than the lengthy interpretational part in Ballentine’s :-).

  15. Demystifier
    Demystifier says:

    Yes, and this is a debate on the physics interpretation, not on philosophy.

    I am glad that you think so, but then, if Sec. 3.7 of Weinberg is physics rather than philosophy, then most of interpretational discussions on this forum are also physics rather than philosophy. Or to put it in different words, if you give Sec. 3.7 to physicists without telling them that it was written by Weinberg, I would bet that most of them would say that it was more philosophy than physics.

  16. atyy
    atyy says:

    Yes, we can ban all books except L&L and Weinberg :) Maybe Cohen-Tannoudji might be allowed, because they have a very subtle discussion of the interpretation of collapse. One of the pleasures of being a neurobiologist is that I get to talk to many physicists, and discuss things like the subtle differences in how L&L and Cohen-Tannoudji, Diu and Laloe present Copenhagen.

  17. Demystifier
    Demystifier says:

    One of the pleasures of being a neurobiologist is that I get to talk to many physicists, and discuss things like the subtle differences in how L&L and Cohen-Tannoudji, Diu and Laloe present Copenhagen.

    I think being neurobiologist is not essential for this. Speaking of Laloe, I think he wrote the best technical book specialized strictly in conceptual aspects of QM:
    [URL]http://www.amazon.com/Do-Really-Understand-Quantum-Mechanics/dp/110702501X[/URL]

  18. harrylin
    harrylin says:

    Landau and Lifshitz as well as Weinberg all stick to physics. I want to separate off philosophical debates from the physics part of the quantum forum. That’s of course difficult, because you cannot draw a sharp boarderline between the two realms, and I guess we should open another thread about this debate. [..]

    Continuation of that discussion about quantum physics would indeed belong to another thread, even in a different forum. Just a little remark about definitions: I reckon interpretations as an important part of explanations, and therefore as definitely belonging to physics. What you call “sticking to physics” I would call “sticking to discussions about predictions”. Probably everyone will be on the same wavelength when formulated like that.

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