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Einstein vs Newton

  1. Sep 14, 2013 #1
    Who would you choose as the superior physicist ,Einstein or Newton?(judging from their intellect and accomplishments),Russian physicist Lev Landau had a list ,in which newton was first .Is there an intellect superior to either of them?
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  3. Sep 14, 2013 #2


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    You cannot compare the two and obtain a meaningful answer. At least not in my opinion.
  4. Sep 14, 2013 #3


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    I will say Newton , just because I can.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  5. Sep 14, 2013 #4
    Newton would win in a fistfight. I think.
  6. Sep 14, 2013 #5


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    Well, how should one rank people like that in a meaningful way?
    Possibly, one might look at the sheer "distance" existing between the accomplishments between guy A and those of his contemporary peers, that is, how much farther ahead a person was than the rest of his time?

    My personal choice in that respect would be neither of the two mentioned (but I'd go for Newton if I have to), and I end up with Archimedes instead as an all-time winner.
  7. Sep 14, 2013 #6


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    You can't compare them until you've specified how you're going to parallel transport them to the same point in space-time.
  8. Sep 14, 2013 #7


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    They're too close to each other to compare. It would be easier to compare such people to your or me in which we can safely say that either of them are far superior physicists.

    But to compare them to each other would require such careful definitions of superiority that we would lose sight of the forest for the trees. They are equally large forests. A tree count may reveal one forest has slighlty more trees, but a biomass measurement may reveal the other has more mass. Any way you choose to score such differences will be at the mercy of subjectivity.
  9. Sep 14, 2013 #8
    Here's one data point: Newton and Galileo overthrew a theory that had been dominant for about two millennia. Einstein overthrew a theory that had been dominant for about two centuries.

    Here's another consideration: I think the ideas that motion is relative, objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and the earth is moving, are far more shocking to human intuition than Einstein's total reworking of the notions of space and time. The only reason we're not shocked by the former notions as much is because we've been brought up on them. Read the book "The Sleepwalkers" by Arthur Koestler to find out just how mind-blowing they were at the time, and what incredible ingenuity it took to come up with them.
  10. Sep 15, 2013 #9
    Thanks for the recommendation. Another book that makes the same point is The Clockwork Universe, by Edward Dolnick. Newton's 'Universal Gravitation' was a more shocking idea in it's day than Relativity was in Einstein's.
  11. Sep 15, 2013 #10

    jim hardy

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    It'd be interesting to follow Einstein's thought processes as he figured all this out.
    I never got past his concept of simultaneity.

    That clocks in motion slow down I can accept
    but that actual time progresses at a variable rate I cannot.

    So to me it's still an unsolved riddle. In my simple mind , time should be the 'universal frame of reference' he sought

    All observers have so far got the same answer for speed of light
    Has anybody measured it on the moon yet, or out where Pioneer spacecraft is?

    Not challenging relativity
    just i'd sure like to find a layman's explanation as to why time has to vary instead of c .. That'd be one less riddle on my bucket list.
    Surely there's a few out there ?

    old jim
  12. Sep 15, 2013 #11


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    It's a tough decision, I've watched a documentary on Newton and I've read Einstein for Dummies, very tough. :biggrin:
  13. Sep 15, 2013 #12
    My vote would be for Newton. Universal gravitation must have been very profound in his time. However, my opinion means very little because even though I have a good grasp on Newton's work my understanding of Einstein's work is lacking.
  14. Sep 15, 2013 #13
    When comparing two people like this you need to think about the possibilities that were possible at their respective times. It's so difficult to answer questions like this and usually I just avoid them but although my favorite person in history is Albert Einstein, I have to say that Newtons contributions were stronger than Einsteins.

    Both were great men, both accomplished great feats and I hate comparing the two, it's like we're trying to take something away from one of them, or credit one or the other. It's like asking who was better Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali. It just doesn't feel right.
  15. Sep 15, 2013 #14


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    Einstein; That haircut.
  16. Sep 15, 2013 #15
    Why don't you post a question on the relativity subforum?
  17. Sep 15, 2013 #16

    Oh wait...
  18. Sep 15, 2013 #17
    Now thats what I am talking about! ARCHIE ROCKS!!!
    Time is what a clock shows. :biggrin:
    Actually as far as I know universal frame of reference was supposed to be ether but that got disproved
    Admittedly they haven't but if it gave a different value then it would only prove that relativity works on only earth rather than those places; which gives Earth a some kind of mystical aura of greatness,( Laws here are special, Yippee!)
    It doesn't have to but it does all the same. Einstein just explained how.
    BTW as for understanding his thought process is concerned I think reading his original paper on SR and then Feynman's lecture on the topic might be helpful.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  19. Sep 15, 2013 #18
  20. Sep 15, 2013 #19


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    Assigning IQ scores to dead people? OY. If that doesn't prove how meaningless IQ ratings are, I don't know what would.
  21. Sep 15, 2013 #20
    Well, I guess she was just bored on a Sunday....
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