Einstein vs Newton

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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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  • #2
Drakkith
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You cannot compare the two and obtain a meaningful answer. At least not in my opinion.
 
  • #3
reenmachine
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I will say Newton , just because I can.
 
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  • #4
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Newton would win in a fistfight. I think.
 
  • #5
arildno
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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.
 
  • #6
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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?

You can't compare them until you've specified how you're going to parallel transport them to the same point in space-time.
 
  • #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.
 
  • #8
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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.
 
  • #9
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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.
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.
 
  • #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
 
  • #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:
 
  • #12
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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.
 
  • #13
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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.
 
  • #14
Akaisora
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Einstein; That haircut.
 
  • #15
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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 ?
Why don't you post a question on the relativity subforum?
 
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  • #16
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Leibniz.

Oh wait...
 
  • #17
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I end up with Archimedes instead as an all-time winner.
Now thats what I am talking about! ARCHIE ROCKS!!!
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.
Time is what a clock shows. :biggrin:
So to me it's still an unsolved riddle. In my simple mind , time should be the 'universal frame of reference' he sought
Actually as far as I know universal frame of reference was supposed to be ether but that got disproved
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?
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!)
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 ?
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.
 
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  • #19
Evo
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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.
 
  • #20
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Well, I guess she was just bored on a Sunday....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharine_Cox_Miles
She was a professor of clinical psychology at the Yale Medical School and affiliated with Yale's Institute of Human Relations. Earlier she worked at Stanford with Stanford-Binet creator Lewis Terman in issues related to IQ. She is also known for her historiometric study (1926) of IQ estimates of three hundred prominent figures who lived prior to IQ testing, a work which was one of the earliest attempts to apply social scientific methods to the study of genius and greatness.
 
  • #21
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If that doesn't prove how meaningless IQ ratings are, I don't know what would.

It's only those who already have a thing say that having it is meaningless...
:cry:
 
  • #22
arildno
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Only low-IQ'ers would try to assign IQ to people long gone&dead..:devil:
 
  • #23
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Garry Kasparov had an IQ of 190 and is one of the smartest people alive today in terms of IQ. Sure he is a chess genius and so he should do well on IQ tests anyway. While IQ doesn't accurately measure how intelligent someone is, it does give you a rough idea how smart someone is. This is not to say that someone with an IQ of 190 will be smarter than someone with an IQ or 160.

It just means that someone with an IQ of 190 should be better and faster at problem solving, finding patterns and have a better memory. What you use those abilities for is irrelevant, meaning that if Garry Kasparov had a passion for physics as a child instead of chess, he would have probably risen to the same level of excellence and genius as he did with chess.
 
  • #24
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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.

I am sure the OP is aware that the question can't be answered directly. But isn't it a great conversation starter?

As far as historical personages I've always felt more attuned to Einstein, who I perceive as somewhat more humble, imaginative, witty, irreverent, and whose genius I feel is a product of hard work more than "innate" talent. I find that very inspiring. But he is also historically more recent and thus, perhaps, easier to relate to.

As a historical personage, Newton was an arrogant fundamentalist that spent a great deal of his time doing pseudo-science. But what's amazing is the amount he accomplished despite spending so much of his time doing the wrong thing. What if he hadn't? What would he have accomplished then? I can't even conceive of it. Huge brain (metaphorically speaking).

-Dave K
 
  • #25
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'Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.' -Alexander Pope
' It could not last; the Devil shouting "Ho!
Let Einstein be!" restored the status quo.' -J.C.Squire
 
  • #26
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Newton.
 
  • #27
UltrafastPED
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Newton was great in many fields:

Optics - theory and experiment; designed and built the first reflector
Physics - systematized the laws of motion, and worked out the Universal Law of Gravitation
Wrote three volumes on the derivations and applications of mechanics & gravitation to real problems
Chemistry - spent a lot of time on chemistry, making his own stuff.

Mathematics - invented the calculus, and developed many useful theorems - didn't publish much because people would steal his ideas, and take credit for them.

Government - served as Master of the Mint, and reduced counterfeiting

In comparison, Einstein was a great theoretical physicist, with a number of accomplishments. But he was not an experimentalist, nor was he a mathematician. Was his work more important than Newton's? Was it better than Clerk-Maxwell's?
 
  • #28
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As a historical personage, Newton was an arrogant fundamentalist that spent a great deal of his time doing pseudo-science. But what's amazing is the amount he accomplished despite spending so much of his time doing the wrong thing. What if he hadn't? What would he have accomplished then? I can't even conceive of it. Huge brain (metaphorically speaking)
The big discovery that came out when they re-examined all the reams of writing he left is that the greater part of it was religious writings. And not about ethics, but about things like Bible codes, obscure messages he saw woven into the text. Also, in Opticks there is included a long passage of completely crazy stream of consciousness about light. He dropped all pretense of rigor and let loose with a new age sounding jumble of exited dreaming about light.

Learning these things, and let's not forget his extensive work in alchemy, I get a sense of Newton as a thorough lunatic who, unlike most lunatics, discovered he could hold himself together when needed by a strict adherence to rigor and logic.
 
  • #29
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The big discovery that came out when they re-examined all the reams of writing he left is that the greater part of it was religious writings. And not about ethics, but about things like Bible codes, obscure messages he saw woven into the text. Also, in Opticks there is included a long passage of completely crazy stream of consciousness about light. He dropped all pretense of rigor and let loose with a new age sounding jumble of exited dreaming about light.

Learning these things, and let's not forget his extensive work in alchemy, I get a sense of Newton as a thorough lunatic who, unlike most lunatics, discovered he could hold himself together when needed by a strict adherence to rigor and logic.

And that's what blows my mind. It's as if his full time job was being a total nutter, and he just happened to invent calculus and physics in his "spare time."

This raises interesting questions. My first notion was "he would have done even more if he dropped the nutty stuff." But now I question that. Perhaps his irrational/stream of consciousness work was just part of a total creative flow that allowed him to make the logical leaps necessary for the development of his more successful work.

-Dave K
 

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