Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein

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  • #1
ZepTepi
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If both Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are still alive today, imagine the world we will be living in and the impact on all theories of physics! Can you imagine what the world will be like with them still around?
 

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  • #2
HallsofIvy
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I'm reminded of what a historian said when asked, "What if Stonewall Jackson had been alive at Gettysburg":

"He'd have smelled really bad, because he'd have been dead for two months!"
 
  • #3
humanino
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Can you imagine what the world will be like with them still around?
It's difficult to guess how they would have performed in different circumstances.

I'd rather like a world where Galois did not die so young for instance.
 
  • #4
Blenton
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I think they'd be posting on 4chan and the wonderful internets rather than 'wasting' their time developing theories.
 
  • #5
junglebeast
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I think many smarter people have come since then, but the fruit just gets higher and harder to reach
 
  • #6
waht
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Newton wrote more on religion than on science, and later in life turned to deciphering bible code. If he were alive today would have written volumes of nonsense.

Steven Weinberg said "that today any sufficiently good grad physics student" understands general relativity better than Einstein."
 
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  • #7
russ_watters
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I'm reminded of what a historian said when asked, "What if Stonewall Jackson had been at Gettysburg":

"He'd have smelled really bad, because he'd have been dead for two months!"[edited by Russ]
I think you probably worded that wrong...
 
  • #8
Raizy
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Imagine Tesla with his hundreds of patents ? I bet the oil company would of assassinated him. Poor guy, suppressed in his time, and yet again in the 21st century.
 
  • #9
russ_watters
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Unlikely since nothing Tesla did would have had any direct impact on the oil companies. :rolleyes: You're falling for a crackpot legend that defames a man who really was a great scientist.

That said, his feud with Edison/Westinghouse was a big issue at the time...
 
  • #10
humanino
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the oil company would of assassinated him.
It's "would have".
 
  • #11
zoobyshoe
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Newton wrote more on religion than on science...

Was this published? I've never heard about this.
 
  • #12
zoobyshoe
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Unlikely since nothing Tesla did would have had any direct impact on the oil companies. :rolleyes: You're falling for a crackpot legend that defames a man who really was a great scientist.

That said, his feud with Edison/Westinghouse was a big issue at the time...
It was Tesla/Westinghouse vs. Edison.
 
  • #13
waht
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Was this published? I've never heard about this.

“Newton’s religious writings constitute more than half of his entire written work” (2004, 430:819)

Brumfiel, Geoff (2004), “Newton’s Religious Screeds Get Online Airing,” Nature, 430:819, August 19.
 
  • #15
zoobyshoe
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“Newton’s religious writings constitute more than half of his entire written work” (2004, 430:819)

Brumfiel, Geoff (2004), “Newton’s Religious Screeds Get Online Airing,” Nature, 430:819, August 19.
No, I mean did Newton ever publish Principia Religiosa, or some such work?
 
  • #16
Hurkyl
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Newton wrote more on religion than on science, and later in life turned to deciphering bible code. If he were alive today would have written volumes of nonsense.
The fact that you have no interest in a particular field of study does not make it nonsense.
 
  • #17
waht
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No, I mean did Newton ever publish Principia Religiosa, or some such work?

I'm not sure how much of his religious work he published, he wasn't a famous theologian. But he did manage to predict the end of the world in 2066

http://www.christianpost.com/Education/General/2007/06/papers-show-isaac-Newton-s-religious-side-predict-date-of-apocalypse-19/index.html [Broken]
 
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  • #18
zoobyshoe
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I'm not sure how much of his religious work he published, he wasn't a famous theologian. But he did manage to predict the end of the world in 2066

http://www.christianpost.com/Education/General/2007/06/papers-show-isaac-Newton-s-religious-side-predict-date-of-apocalypse-19/index.html [Broken]
Someone should alert Dan Brown.
 
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  • #19
Werg22
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What a silly thread. The likes of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein still exist. Today's scientific scene is much richer and wider however, making the contributions of those people seem like drops in the ocean.
 
  • #20
zoobyshoe
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What a silly thread. The likes of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein still exist. Today's scientific scene is much richer and wider however, making the contributions of those people seem like drops in the ocean.
Or are you saying the current geniuses make Newton and Einstein look like drops in the ocean, or do you mean the opposite?
 
  • #21
deferro
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What Newton's insights into gravity and optics, or "the universal Lord of the Lords" and "Opticks" is prosaic today, but lead to calculus and modern impossibilities like powered flight, computers, and the electricity to make them go.

Einstein opened a door that, either he didn't look as closely through as he might have, or couldn't stop himself breaking into hysterics. But his insights led to modern particle physics and he was the (reluctant) father of Black Holes, the densest objects possible (if the tensor equations say so).
 
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  • #22
WhoWee
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How could anyone not want to communicate directly with these 2 men?
 
  • #23
rootX
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Or are you saying the current geniuses make Newton and Einstein look like drops in the ocean, or do you mean the opposite?

I don't think there's any distinction between "current geniuses" and "Newton and Einstein". Both had excellent contributions but there wouldn't have been any change in science without their existence. Newton himself said:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

So, there would have been no change at all if they existed now. They would have been living lives like all other dedicated researchers.
 
  • #24
zoobyshoe
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I don't think there's any distinction between "current geniuses" and "Newton and Einstein". Both had excellent contributions but there wouldn't have been any change in science without their existence. Newton himself said:



So, there would have been no change at all if they existed now. They would have been living lives like all other dedicated researchers.

I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.
 
  • #25
arunbg
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Me neither.

@zooby: I think werg22 is trying to say that contemporary physics has grown so much that contributions of "geniuses" today don't matter as much as those by Einstein and Newton. This also implies that had these "geniuses" been in the same time period, they might have been just as good as these two guys. Which also seems to imply that the human race is getting smarter(comparing people with the two greatest physicists before the 21st century)!
 
  • #26
f95toli
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Me neither.
Which also seems to imply that the human race is getting smarter(comparing people with the two greatest physicists before the 21st century)!

No, but physics is getting more and more complicated and today it would be impossible to be active in as many different areas as e.g. Newton was. It has nothing to do with intelligence, there just wouldn't be enough time.
A 100 years ago the total number of full time physicists in the world was probably about a hundred or so (at most); i.e roughly the number of people that belong the physics department at a major university today.
Another example: at the turn of the century Kammerling Onnes had the biggest and best research lab in Europe (probably the world), most of the time he had 4-5 people working for him (most of which became famous).
Compare that to modern projects like e.g. the LHC.

The point is that there are plenty of very intelligent and dedicated researchers around; it is just that in order to get somewhere today you have to focus on an extremely narrow field and you need a LOT of resources. Hence, no single physicist working today could even have the kind of impact on science Newton and Einstein had in their days.
 
  • #27
deferro
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Most discoveries have implications that at the time aren't seen.
Shannon for example, blithely calculated that space and time, or rather the information we see in it, is exactly like thermal entropy when we "encode" them with "messages"; this is modern communications and computers. But space and time existed in Newton's and Einsteins paradigm.

There may be something deep about the 5/2 anyon state and BEC and other condensates that we "only just invented". It may be a connection to the 2,3 symmetry of Cartesian dimensionality (here in our space and time paradigmatic universe).

Galileo didn't see what Newton did, about inertia, Newton didn't connect visible light to electromagnetism because there wasn't any science for the latter, at the time.
Maxwell didn't realize something, Einstein spotted it though; that's how it happens, usually.
 
  • #28
arunbg
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No, but physics is getting more and more complicated and today it would be impossible to be active in as many different areas as e.g. Newton was. It has nothing to do with intelligence, there just wouldn't be enough time.
This is exactly my point of view too. I was just being sarcastic in the part you quoted.

The likes of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein still exist. Today's scientific scene is much richer and wider however, making the contributions of those people seem like drops in the ocean.
Simply because the field of physics has grown significantly, does not validate comparisons of today's physicists with Einstein and Newton. We can never know unless we could resurrect the two of them in their prime today and see what they do with modern technology.
 
  • #29
Werg22
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This is exactly my point of view too. I was just being sarcastic in the part you quoted.


Simply because the field of physics has grown significantly, does not validate comparisons of today's physicists with Einstein and Newton. We can never know unless we could resurrect the two of them in their prime today and see what they do with modern technology.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if it hadn't been Newton or Einstein, it would have been someone else. They aren't gods. It's common sense that with the advent of better and more widespread education that people like those two are even more common today than in their time. People aren't getting any dumber, and the far larger number of physicists today make the last claim almost certain.
 
  • #30
arunbg
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Sorry to burst your bubble, but if it hadn't been Newton or Einstein, it would have been someone else. They aren't gods. It's common sense that with the advent of better and more widespread education that people like those two are even more common today than in their time. People aren't getting any dumber, and the far larger number of physicists today make the last claim almost certain.
What bubble? I am not saying that I am Einstein or Newton!
Again all I am saying is that there is no way you can prove that people like Einstein and Newton exist today. Also bear in mind these two didn't have the best education, as say compared to most of their peers.
I have heard arguments that Special Relativity would have been discovered quite soon, even if Einstein had not come up with it. But General Relativity was at least several decades ahead of its time. I agree that education has made people "smarter" in some sense, but the fact that a large number of physicists exist today does not convince me that even a few of them may be as good as Einstein or Newton. There is no way to know.
 
  • #31
zoobyshoe
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Sorry to burst your bubble, but if it hadn't been Newton or Einstein, it would have been someone else.
Probably not. It was 2000 years between Aristotle and Newton during which time there was nothing preventing anyone from seeing and explicating what we know as Newton's Three Laws of motion. Why didn't, for instance, Archimedes arrive at the equivalent of these? Newton's 3 laws can be read, understood, and accepted by any reasonably bright person in a few minutes, so they seem trivial and even obvious, but that is deceptive: failure to arrive at this way of analyzing motion lingered, literally, for millenia, with only parts of it cropping up rarely here and there.

Has modern education really generated huge numbers of people making such massive cognitive leaps all over the place that we just don't know about because their field is too narrow and specialized to get public attention? It's obvious there are more educated people, and it can be argued that people aren't getting any dumber, but are people actually getting smarter, such that there are considerable numbers of Newtons and Einsteins today? I don't think so. What we have are far greater numbers of educated people each contributing much smaller insights to the pool.
 
  • #32
Werg22
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What bubble? I am not saying that I am Einstein or Newton!
Again all I am saying is that there is no way you can prove that people like Einstein and Newton exist today. Also bear in mind these two didn't have the best education, as say compared to most of their peers.
I have heard arguments that Special Relativity would have been discovered quite soon, even if Einstein had not come up with it. But General Relativity was at least several decades ahead of its time. I agree that education has made people "smarter" in some sense, but the fact that a large number of physicists exist today does not convince me that even a few of them may be as good as Einstein or Newton. There is no way to know.

Yes I am aware that the statement is not a logically necessary one, if this is the only point you're advancing. Neither is the statement that today's athletes are better than those who lived three and half century ago.

Probably not. It was 2000 years between Aristotle and Newton during which time there was nothing preventing anyone from seeing and explicating what we know as Newton's Three Laws of motion. Why didn't, for instance, Archimedes arrive at the equivalent of these? Newton's 3 laws can be read, understood, and accepted by any reasonably bright person in a few minutes, so they seem trivial and even obvious, but that is deceptive: failure to arrive at this way of analyzing motion lingered, literally, for millenia, with only parts of it cropping up rarely here and there.

Has modern education really generated huge numbers of people making such massive cognitive leaps all over the place that we just don't know about because their field is too narrow and specialized to get public attention? It's obvious there are more educated people, and it can be argued that people aren't getting any dumber, but are people actually getting smarter, such that there are considerable numbers of Newtons and Einsteins today? I don't think so. What we have are far greater numbers of educated people each contributing much smaller insights to the pool.

Newton is a product of his time, as Aristotle was. Had it not been for the likes of Copernicus, Descartes, Galileo and Kepler who came before him, Newton would not have been able to state his laws of motion or gravity. This is why there aren't many Western scholars in the domain of science that we remember from, say, the Middle Ages; those were times where people like these were unlikely to live. Putting it like you did is absurd; Newton stood on a higher mountain than did those who lived before him by as little as a century.
 
  • #33
DaveC426913
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The fact that you have no interest in a particular field of study does not make it nonsense.
True in principle, but what is "Bible code"?
 
  • #34
tribdog
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If Einstein were alive today he'd still be getting nowhere on his Theory of Everything.
 
  • #35
CRGreathouse
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If Einstein were alive today he'd still be getting nowhere on his Theory of Everything.

If Newton were still alive today he'd still be working on charting Hell based on its biblical descriptions.
 

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