Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can we understand Einstein?

  1. yes

    19 vote(s)
  2. no

    3 vote(s)
  1. Sep 20, 2004 #1
    Hi friends! Can we understand what he meant about his theory?

    Or did he want to tell us such different things?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If your question were a bit more specific we may be able to answer it. As it stands it is nearly meaningless.

    Which Theory? What make you think it might not be understood?
  4. Sep 20, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    And what do you mean by we? Some can and, as is evident from this board, some can't.

    (I read a newspaper review of Hawkings little book "A Brief History of Time" which was a popularization with precious little "mathematics" in it. The reviewer said he was unable to get through it because it used negative numbers!

    Yes, that's right- negative numbers. When I first read it I thought he must have meant imaginary numbers- even a newspaper reporter ought to have no problem with negative numbers!)
  5. Sep 20, 2004 #4
    Even though Einstein came from Germany, his accent was not that bad !
  6. Sep 20, 2004 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor


    I think the question is probably a question about whether the modern understanding/interpretation of SR or GR is correct. Possibly related to that "ether" quote from Einstein. If that's the question (can we (the scientific community +) understand Einstein's intent), the answer is certainly yes.
  7. Sep 21, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    :rofl: :rolleyes:

    Yeah, what's the deal with this poll? SR and GR are well established theories. I thought, if anything, that we have expanded them beyond the scope of Einstein's original work.

    Now, can I understand relativity? That's a no...
  8. Sep 22, 2004 #7
    I think I did not asked a wrong question.Because both of the choices are answered.

    And I meant humanhood,by "we".

    I see many people who say Einstein is the greatest physicist,but some of them knows what he did.
  9. Sep 22, 2004 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    If you mean can everybody in the human race understand Einstein, the answer is no. But if by humankind understanding Einstein you mean that there is understanding, that some of them do, then the answer is yes.

    Can "we" climb Everest? Some of us can, but not all of us.

    It's not enough to define "we"; you have to define "We understand".
  10. Sep 22, 2004 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think what you are getting at is: was Einstein so much smarter than the rest of us that no one will ever understand his theory as well as he did. The answer is no: now we (or rather, the scientific community) understand his theory better than he did!
  11. Sep 24, 2004 #10
    I think that BOOKS have all-and-all done a LOUSY job of explaining relativity, and I've read scores of them on the subject. Fortunately, there is now the Internet, which allows for far far better communication of Relativity's essence.

    The biggest hang-up with books is that they have to fill one or two HUNDRED pages to warrant publication. Relativity is BEST grasped in a brief pamphlet! I've taken a stab at it -- see my website.
  12. Sep 24, 2004 #11
    You are calling classic books "lousy" and then you are promoting yourself. Now put yourself in my shoes and and ask yourself whether you are the slight bit curious as to what this website is about.
  13. Sep 24, 2004 #12

    The greatest geniusses have the ability to make something extremely difficult look very simple. "Explaining something difficult in a difficult way is easy. explaining something difficult in an easy way is difficult."

    Physics is constructed so that we would understand the world. There is nothing difficult about that.

    Sure we understand Einstein and his great minded friends... :wink:

  14. Sep 27, 2004 #13
    It didn't even use imaginary numbers.

    I despise such cretins. (pronunced kreh-tin, not cree-tin, for my fellow americans)

    My local newspaper once did an articla on a lcoal engineer(aerospace industry is HUGE where i live, or rather lived, just moved to college) who tried to disprove einstein. The engineer admitted to having difficulty with some of the "algebraic equations"...i don't know if that was the reporter's stupidity or the engineer's, or both (neither seemed knowledgeable in anyway about the subject) but it jsut goes to show the general population is a grand mass of idiocy with a few smart gems...sor of like the plum-pudding model (not too esoteric i hope?).
  15. Sep 27, 2004 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Elitist perhaps... :tongue2:

    ...but not too esoteric no.

    This thread cracks me up. I'd like to see the "Relativty pamphlet". :rolleyes: *wonders if it is circulating on campus*.
  16. Sep 27, 2004 #15
    Fellow Americans?? kreh-tin is the chiefly British pronunciation; kree-tin is the accepted pronunciation in the States. And BTW the word derives from the term, Christian.

    Your post, franznietzsche, reminds me a little of a quote attributed to Sigmund Freud (in a book of quotes by famed author Robert Byrnes):

    "I have found little that is good about human beings.
    In my experience, most of them are trash."​
    So perhaps your calling in life is that of psychologist.
  17. Sep 27, 2004 #16
    I agree franznietzsche, even though it is difficult to admit it, in this case the journalist is an insult to Hawking. His paper with Penrose is a wonder to read. One cannot expect such scientist to go back to every little elementary detail. Perhaps in his next lecture, he will first teach the people to read.
  18. Sep 27, 2004 #17
    1) Monty Python fan.
    2) Irony intended.

    Elitist yes, but also honest, if nothing else.

    In a hurry, no time to add anything else.
  19. Sep 27, 2004 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Back to the original question. I was reading Schroedinger's "The Structure of Space-Time" (sic) which I think is actually a collection of papers. I don't know whether it was bad trnaslation, but it was almost impossible to read. It would of been very dififcult to learn anything from the book unless you knew it already! So the point is that the way that Einstein's theories (i.e. relativty) are taught has come along way since their early days.
  20. Sep 27, 2004 #19
    Thank heaven for that! :wink:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook