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Is physics plain classical and Relativity an illusion?

  1. Jul 28, 2010 #1
    Is it possible that concepts of relativity are just a mathematical tool, but reality is simply classical if you understand one more piece of the puzzle?

    I'll try to explain. For example if somehow everything is made up of light processes (going at the speed of light), but if you accelerate these objects the light processes have to remodel and thus cause time dilation and length contraction.

    A simple model would be two parallel mirrors where light bounces back and forth. If these mirrors accelerate, the light effectively goes a different path and thus the time of one light ray round trip change. This causes the time dilation. Btw, for some orientation of the mirrors it actually yields exactly the Lorenz time dilation. So, accelerating the structure in absolute space changes the internals of objects which cause time and length changes.

    There would be absolute space and time travel wouldn't make sense.

    Is there an argument against the idea that everything is made up of light and relativity an illusion?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2010 #2


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    Yes: Things are not made up of light
  4. Jul 28, 2010 #3
    Sorry, but if you don't understand the question let others answer.
  5. Jul 28, 2010 #4


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    Are you just looking for someone to agree with you?
  6. Jul 28, 2010 #5
    No, I'm looking for someone who actually reads the question, then reflects what I mean and then writes arguments against it. Simply saying "You are just wrong" isn't exactly an argument as it neither refers to nor disproves the model I propose.
  7. Jul 28, 2010 #6


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    Time dilation works for clocks not based on measuring the travel time for light, like atomic clocks. All the fundamental laws we know of obey Lorentz-symmetric equations, any any physical clock obeying Lorentz-symmetric laws is guaranteed to exhibit time dilation.
  8. Jul 28, 2010 #7
    That's why I'm asking "What if actually internally just any process is based on clocks based on travel time?".
  9. Jul 28, 2010 #8


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  10. Jul 28, 2010 #9


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    If it were impossible to build a type of clock where this wasn't true, that would presumably imply the fundamental laws of physics are Lorentz-symmetric, meaning the laws of physics themselves don't distinguish between different inertial frames. If there were any non-Lorentz-symmetric laws, I'm pretty sure it would be possible to exploit those laws to construct a type of clock that didn't exhibit normal relativistic time dilation.
  11. Jul 29, 2010 #10
    One simple argument is that a clock in relative motion to an observer will run slow relative to the observer regardless of whether the relative motion is the result of acceleration of the clock or acceleration of the observer.

    It's hard to argue that the acceleration of an observer caused an unaccelerated clock to "slow down" its tick rate in the way you suggest. Ditto for length contraction.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2010
  12. Jul 29, 2010 #11


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    Science can't tell us what the universe is "really" like. Theories predict results of experiments. Experiments find out how accurate the predictions are. That's it.

    It's hard to argue against an idea. See e.g. my reply in the thread titled "Can science prove that God doesn't exist?". Link. If you develop your idea into a theory, we'll have something to talk about.
  13. Jul 29, 2010 #12


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    I think it's normal that you didn't understand my answer, as I was in no mood to explain it and get in lengthy philosophical arguments.

    There's a symmety in Maxwell's equations which is different from the symmetry in Newtonian mechanics.
    To reconcile both concepts, the Ether had to take the role of a preferred frame: one had to abandon the principle of relativity.

    Interestingly, the principle of relativity didn't go away. It was still there in all experiments and observation.
    It was Lorentz's suggestion at that time that, if the behaviour of bodies could be fully explained by Maxwell's equations, one could show that the two symmetries together with a (then unobservable) Ether could still hide the "true" times and lengths from physicicts in such a way that the broken principle of relativity would still appear in all obsevations.

    This is what you're proposing, and it was state of the art for some months in 1904.
    But it looks obviously highly contrived, so when Einstein showed that a single symmetry (Poincaré symmetry) - which includes the principle of relativity - can describe both mechanics and electrodynamics, it's clear that physicists adopted the latter view.

    But the final blow to the Lorentz Ether is this: the behaviour of things is not only dictated by electrodynamics. There are two other forces known today, independent of it, and both obey the same symmetry.
    That's why the status of said symmetry as a fundamental symmetry of nature is cemented. Denying it and inventing more complicated things that work totally different but conspire to make it look like they were not existent does certainly not look like "understanding one more piece of the puzzle".
  14. Jul 29, 2010 #13
    1) The GPS satellite clocks do "slow down" compared to their twins on the Earth

    2) Michelson-Morley in their three experiments ending in 1887 experimentally demonstrated that light roundtrip travel time was independent of direction, yet the apparatus was moving towards or away from a light source and also perpendicular to it. Made no difference. This could not be explained with closure speeds as known then. This required an adjustment from an 1898 experiment ?Lorentz-Fitzpatrick? which postulated length contraction in the direction of motion. This correction factor did make the light roundtrip times come out the same no matter what the angle of approach or recession from the light source was in the MMX apparatus. Time dilation introduced in Relativity easily explained ALL this phenomena. I am sure there have been other experiments which have shown this since then.

    3) Einstein, Hilbert, Eddington et al showed and explained that light bent when traveling past a large mass object.

    4) Atomic and other small particles do gain mass the faster they go especially near the speed of light.

    5) The old hummingbird-train riddle puts the kibosh on the mirror postulation:

    Two trains are approaching each other from East and West. They are 240 miles apart. the eastbound train (call it E) is moving at 30 mph while the westbound train (W) is moving at 50 mph. A hummingbird flies at 60 mph with respect to the Earth starting at E, the eastbound train and flying to W, the westbound train and reversing and so on. Thus it travels back and forth between the trains in ever decreasing paths until the trains cross each other.

    How far will the bird fly until the trains do cross?

    A light is shined from one mirror to another 2 lt-years away. The mirrors approach each other at 0.5c (relative speed of what?) The light beam is shot out when the mirrors are 2 ltyr apart.
    |------------------------------------------------|at beginning of flash
    |>-------------------------------------><| going
    |><--------------------------------<| coming back
    How long does it take for the light to return to the, say, left mirror?

    That is your question...

    Now what are your answers to the train-bird and approaching mirror questions?

    In no way can you explain this without the Einstein-Lorentz equations.

    Just as Newtonian physics was a microcosm of Einsteinian Relativity, so may Einsteinian Relativity be a small microcosm of a greater reality but, so far, we haven't seen it. Your postulation of changing the nature of light, etc. is conjecture. Conjecture may be true but there, so far, is no data to support it.

    PS - Accelerating the mirrors as proposed does not increase the speed of light
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  15. Jul 29, 2010 #14


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    I would recommend that you read the FAQ about the experimental evidence for SR. If it is an illusion it is a pretty pervasive one. So pervasive that there is not a single case of an experiment being wrong by accepting the illusion.
  16. Jul 29, 2010 #15
    I think many people are fixated on closing velocities and cannot grasp the constancy of the speed of light no matter what velocity is added to or subtracted from it.

    That is a very hard nut to grasp and took me months, as you well know, by prior postings.
  17. Jul 29, 2010 #16


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    Yes, but the difference with you is that you were always trying to crack the "hard nut" and not trying to make-believe that it is all an illusion. Ultimately that is why you are successful.
  18. Jul 30, 2010 #17
    The easiest path to non-success in this endeavor is to not believe it, act like it isn't there, and then find one' GPS system is continually leading one to Timbuctoo instead of London, one's particles in linear accelerators or whatever not behaving correctly and busting out through the side walls and then wonder why this all happened. After all, relativity is all an illusion...

    Now, DaleSpam, back to matrices for me... Ha!
  19. Jul 31, 2010 #18
    To some guys: read the question. The topic is not whether your notion of classical physics is exact.
    I told an idea which could exactly replicate all results from relativity. And the question was if such a proposal is possible.

    So only if you refer to the proposed model, then you are actually answering the question.

    The hummingbird setup actually refers to the question, but doesn't help much. The parameter of interest is the frequency at which the hummingbird meets the mirrors. And that changes depending on how the mirrors move, so there is a mirror movement dependent change which can be tailored to be the time dilation of relativity.
  20. Jul 31, 2010 #19
    I've heard similar attitudes before, but I think that is bad science. A lot of people say "I'm not talking to you unless you provide a fully developed water-proof theory" Instead of trying to develop a theory together they are rather interested in spoiling an emerging proposal.
    This competitive view hampers all cooperation on half-baked ideas.
  21. Jul 31, 2010 #20


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    Well, this is a forum about scientific theories and experiments, not about half-baked ideas. And I was just trying to get you to see that you can't argue against an idea.

    Did you expect us to develop your idea into something that can be argued for or against? That seemed like a pointless thing to do, since if I did that, I'd be arguing against a specific version of your idea that I invented, so even if my argument refutes it thoroughly, it's not an argument against your idea.
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