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Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion

  1. Oct 7, 2012 #1

    bcrowell

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    "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    https://www.amazon.com/Einsteins-Je...229&sr=1-1&keywords=einstein's+jewish+science

    Review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/b...nce-by-steven-gimbel.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 The review explains the historical context being referred to by the title, for those who are unfamiliar with it.

    I spent some time flipping through a copy at Barnes and Noble this morning. He seems to get to the meat of his thesis around p. 95, with a discussion of the intellectual tradition of Talmudic interpretation, which he characterizes as being opposed to Christian tendencies toward a belief in "absolute" truths. Amazon will let you view at least some of the book through the "look inside" feature

    He seems to get the physics right, and I even got some new physical insights. For instance, it had never occurred to me that there was a logical link between the paper on the photoelectric effect and the relativity papers from the same year; relativity gets rid of the ether, and if one conceptualizes light as having a particle nature, that shakes up the conception of light as a wave disturbance propagating in the ether.

    Of course, this is likely to start a lot of screaming matches. Probably only a matter of time before this thread degenerates into an example of Godwin's law.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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  3. Oct 7, 2012 #2

    haushofer

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    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    This is also what I've heard doing a course on Judaism by a (female :P ) rabbi. It makes sense, but perhaps there are also other reasons why Jews are relatively seen so succesful in science.
     
  4. Oct 7, 2012 #3

    pervect

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    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    So, can we perhaps tie the notion of "an observer" to "God's view?" And perhaps say that there are religiously based psychological arguments for believing in "absolute time"?

    Perhaps we can also relate this to the frequent arguments that if the observer at infinity can't see something, it can't exist.

    Sometimes, some of the physics arguments seem to have a "religious" feel to them (when they wind up being more about abstract concepts and less about what you'd actually measure), but I never considered there could be an actual tie to actual religion.
     
  5. Oct 7, 2012 #4

    bcrowell

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  6. Oct 7, 2012 #5

    bcrowell

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    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    Gimbel associates the linear, as opposed to cyclic, picture of time with the Abrahamic religions, which have a beginning to time in the Genesis myth. (IIRC the official Catholic reaction to the Big Bang theory was, "Of course time had a beginning -- we knew that based on theological grounds.") This may be an example of how poorly the physics concepts map onto the religious ones, since GR does allow CTCs.
     
  7. Oct 8, 2012 #6
    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    Maybe someone else knows more about his childhood than me, but I have the impression he was never much exposed to Jewish teaching. In so far as this kind of thinking is intrinsic in Jewish culture (if it is) then you might suppose it was more likely for a Jew to think of Relativity, but if this kind of thinking really only emerges from the practice of religion, then we know this isn't where Einstein started thinking this way. He was very secular.
     
  8. Oct 8, 2012 #7
    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"

    @bcrowell Any attempt to correlate modern science with abrahamic religions is certainly doomed to fail. ESPECIALLY abrahamic riligions which preach an ABSOLUTE anthropomorphic god.

    If you are interested in adding colour to your scientific thoughts, I guess there are plenty more decent philosophies out there.
     
  9. Oct 9, 2012 #8
    Re: "Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion"


    He was very secular at first, but he played a big role in the founding of Israel.
     
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