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

Formalont-Kopeiken experiment

  1. Jan 22, 2007 #1
    Does anyone have any information on this experiment involving Einstein's prediction of the speed of gravity? Was it shown that it proved Einstein's prediction or if the experiment just measured the speed of light in a round-a-bout way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2007 #2

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In a previous post, I gave a link to Steve Carlip's paper on this.
  4. Jan 22, 2007 #3

    Chris Hillman

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Kopeikin: right or wrong?

    Hi, fauyd,

    I wish to avoid "debunking" at PF, so I won't argue with supporters of some "dodgy" claims mentioned below, I just want to provide a few relevant links for you.

    As you probably know, Clifford M. Will, an internationally recognized authority on testing theories of gravitation (he is the author of several books on this and some much cited review papers), and other experts contend that Kopeikin misanalyzed the data of Fomalont. Their arguments are summarized at http://wugrav.wustl.edu/people/CMW/SpeedofGravity.html. Kopeikin and Fomalont continue to insist that they are correct, but AFAIK they are almost alone in that viewpoint.

    I add a general comment about lessons which can be drawn by inexpert observers: Kopeikin chose the unorthodox route of announcing his results at a news conference (to be sure, his news confereence was held during a general astronomy conference in Seattle, although I believe it was not part of the official conference proceedings), rather than following the more sober and traditional route of writing and submitting a paper to a high quality journal in the usual way. Such a procedure seems to be something of a "warning flag".

    To recall some other gtr-related incidents in the past two years:

    1. one Franklin S. Felber, who apparently formerly worked in the U.S. Defense industry and who may have some kind of physics degree, formed a company called Starmark and widely disseminated press releases claiming discovery of a revolutionary spacecraft propulsion technique based on supposed "antigravity beams". But his eprints gr-qc/0505099, gr-qc/0505098, gr-qc/0604076 appear never to have been published (with good reason; Felber was terribly confused on several basic points, but his essential goof was mistaking coordinate phenomena for a phenomenon having physical significance, which led him to conclude, incorrectly, that moving objects emit an "antigravity beam" in their direction of motion).

    2. one Alexander Franklin Mayer, who has apparently formed a company called Mirusoft, and who describes himself as a "cosmologist" (I was never able to verify that--- as far as I could tell, he apparently previously worked as a patent examiner, which might meant that he did earn some kind of graduate degree in some technical field) and who was very briefly a visiting scholar at Stanford, claimed that something was wrong with GPS, but he appears to have misanalyzed his data, and nothing seems to have come of his claims, which were widely discussed on the cranknet, but never published. Two mainstream surveys of relativistic physics in GPS are http://relativity.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrr-2003-1/index.html and http://www.arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0507121

    3. one Ronald M. Hatch, an engineer (he did earn an undergraduate degree in physics) who says he worked on satellite navigation for Boeing and other companies, formed a company called NavCom Technology and proposed his "Ether Gauge Theory", which has been widely discussed on the cranknet. Hatch, who is allegedly a member of the Natural Philosophy Alliance (a "fringe science" organization), also claims that NASA's model for satellite navigation resembles his own theory, not special relativity, and he has apparently claimed that the mainstream analysis of GPS above is wrong. These claims have apparently not been published except in such places as the "new energy" newsletter Infinite Energy Magazine, which was founded by cold fusion proponent Eugene Mallove (who has since died--- there seems to be a conspiracy theory regarding the manner of his death).

    4. one Roger Shawyer, a microwave engineer, formed a company called SPR, Ltd. and inveigled New Scientist into publishing a cover story claiming that Shawyer had demonstrated what would amount to another alleged method of spacecraft propulsion which would have violated conservation of momentum. After an outcry from physicists, he released a crude "theoretical analysis" which was quickly and independently debunked by several physicists, including Greg Egan (best known as a science fiction author, but he is a physicist by training) http://gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au/SCIENCE/Cavity/Simple.html. Another feature of this affair was that someone in the British government apparently approved giving Shawyer a sizable sum without first consulting a physicist to review his grant application.

    From this list, I think the point about the importance of refereed papers appearing in top quality journals is clear. The remarkable feature of the Kopeikin affair is that he does have a previous record of respectable publications; a common denominator of many wild claims discussed on the crankweb is that the protagonists often have an unimpressive record of prior scientific publications, and often possess somewhat dubious scientific credentials. (In particular, engineers are not trained to perform basic scientific research.) Another common denominator of many of these claims is that the protagonist has formed a company, perhaps to seek private investment in his schemes.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  5. Jan 22, 2007 #4
    In all fairness Kopeikin did get published in mainstream journals (this should tell us siomething about the quality of the reviewers, eh?). The ones that you mentioned (and many more), are pure cranks, Kopeikin is not a crank.

    I am surprised you did not add the all time favorites to the list:

    Tom Van Flandern
    Reg Cahill
  6. Jan 22, 2007 #5

    Chris Hillman

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I am trying to avoid debunking, and suggest others follow suit

    You quoted my remarks in their entirety (why?-- isn't that redundant?), but I am not sure how carefully you read them.

    It would take a long post indeed to list even the most voluble of the hundreds of anti-relativity cranks on the web. PF is probably not the place to do any more debunking than is absolutely neccessary.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2007
  7. Jan 22, 2007 #6
    Cranks on the web exist because the scientists allow them to!
    In biology, these cranks are never given a chance.
    Where is the Richard Dawkins of relativity?
  8. Jan 23, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In biology there are hundreds of anti-evolution cranks on the web, have you never heard of literal creationism? :confused:

  9. Jan 24, 2007 #8
    But Richard Dawkins never gave them any change. Evolutionary biologists even bring the cranks to court with a point by point rebuttal. I have yet to see relativists do that! The Internet community is totally - I say again, totally - anti-relativity - because you relativists are too proud and can't be bothered about educating the public.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2007
  10. Jan 24, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are lots of sound physics websites, PF for one.

    You cannot delete other people's websites because you disagree with them, even if you wanted to.

  11. Jan 24, 2007 #10
    I am not asking you to burn their houses or their bodies. All I am asking is for you to prove them wrong. If you can't do that, it adds supports to their claim that relativity is simply a dogmatic religion. And they are really very very credible because they can explain concepts in a way that can be understood by the laypublic - unlike real scientists who are too proud and can't be bothered.
  12. Jan 24, 2007 #11
    You can never get a crank to admit that they are wrong.

    You can never get a crank to admit that they are wrong.

    You can never get a crank to admit that they are wrong. Their "explanations" are only credible to themselves. Even other cranks don't accept them (because they have their own , competing "explanations")
  13. Jan 24, 2007 #12


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That happened because the creationists went so far as to try to change public-school curricula. Has anyone managed to get a school board to paste stickers on physics textbooks saying that "relativity is only a theory" and instruct teachers to give equal time to ether theories? :rolleyes:
  14. Jan 24, 2007 #13


    User Avatar

    Please don't give them ideas.:frown:
  15. Jan 25, 2007 #14
    One of the basic problems is that there are two major schools of thought on SR - in particular the twin paradox - and while adherents of SR claim loudly that GR is not needed - there are some well respected writers (Born, Lederman, Scima and in 1918 Einstein himself) that claim otherwise. So why is it so contemptable for a layman to adopt an ether approach and fall back upon Lorentz's original explanation that involves some physical change - it is easy to form a visual image of clocks running slow or rods shrinking because an object moves through some etheral substance. However, when laymen go astray in the area of relativity - nobody really gets hurt - frustrated maybe, but no real damage ...but when we have church idology dictating when and how life begins and evolves - forcing those ideas upon others by enacting anti abortion laws and anti right to die laws - then it does impact others, and should be a concern. That's my 0.02 cents
  16. Jan 25, 2007 #15
    That is what the internet communitiy is saying: relativists through their religious worship of Einstein, dogmatic and stubborn refusal to even consider ingenious alternate theories, block all funds from doing open-minded research, stopping the progress of science, fake all their relativity experiments, patched a broken big bang theory with dark this and dark that - it is a matter of time someone from the leadership get convinced and begin sacking one or a few relativity professors or closing a few departments.
    It is really strange that quantum theory suffers no such attacks.
  17. Jan 25, 2007 #16
    Turns out that it has demonstrated that both SR and GR give the same, correct answer.

    It is not contemptible, it is just plain wrong. You cannot get the correct solution by using Lorentz's "original explanation". Try it, you will not manage.

    The only "church" is the small community of people clinging onto a theory refuted about 100 years ago.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  18. Jan 25, 2007 #17
    You mean "the internet community" made up of a few crackpots? No one pays any attention to these deeply deluded people. Sorry to disappoint you, there is no "conspiracy" by any "relativists" and the "ingenious alternate theories" turn up to be pure crackpottery. By contrast, SR/GR are one of the most thorougly tested theories. See here.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  19. Jan 25, 2007 #18
    You get the right answer if you include both time dilation and physical length contraction - which admittedly was not the first proposal - but a modification that was consistent with Kennedy - Thorndike

    Both SR and GR give the same correct answers to the twin aging scenerio, but the answers are based upon different physics - and that needs to be addressed. Moreover,even if you adopt the view that only SR is needed to explain the aging difference - the various treatments of how the time loss occurs is bound to confuse almost anyone - even Einstein gave the impression in his 1905 paper that a clock in motion (at the equator) would run slower. Later he attempted to find a physical justification for the time difference and turned to rationale based upon a pseudo G field (I know it gives the right answer - that is not the point.

    Unfortunately, it is not a small community -

    There have been thousands of articles written to explain SR - most of the alternative theories recogonize the reality of time dilation Many of the so called crank theories are fueled by Einstein's own doubts - that he could not think of a single one of this contributions that would survive the test of time. Would you call Selleri a crank because he questioned Einstein's formalism re synchronization.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  20. Jan 25, 2007 #19

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Mathematics is one of the reasons. There are probably at least a 100 times more people who possess the mathematics skills necessary to do calculations in special relativity, than who possess the mathematics skills necessary to do calculation in quantum theory.

    In order to do basic spacetime calculations in special relativity, competency with first or second year high school mathematics is needed.

    In order to do calculations in quantum theory at a similar level, first or second year university calculus is required.

    There are probably other reasons as well, but I think that this is one factor that comes into play.
  21. Jan 25, 2007 #20
    Umm, no. Care to show your calculations?
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Formalont-Kopeiken experiment
  1. An experiment. (Replies: 4)

  2. Muon Experiment (Replies: 2)

  3. The eotvos experiment (Replies: 2)

  4. A thought experiment (Replies: 1)