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Modern Einstein has an idea but needs your help

  1. Sep 8, 2014 #1
    This is not a joke.

    Suppose Albert Einstein was born in 1979, not 1879, and to date had not written any articles. Like the old Albert, modern Albert works for a government department. He assesses applications for arts grants. You see, unlike the old Albert, modern Albert studied art after doing a year of physics to please his father.

    The greatest puzzle of all time is still why the speed of light is constant no matter what. The established wisdom is that light is compressed when it moves, but no one can prove what it’s compressed against. The most popular theory was advanced by Arnold Atomsmasher, who won a Nobel prize for it back in 1945. It involves equations to do with quantum squashing which led to the end of the war in the Pacific. Let's imagine an entirely parallel theory to what we know today has widespread academic support.

    While daydreaming on vacation last year, Albert got an idea. So when he got home he did a bit of research and wrote an article along the lines of the relativity of time and space. He doesn’t want to give up his day job, but he feels his view could rock. His wife just rolls her eyes. She thinks “my husband is the wrong kind of artist!”

    Now, everything else about the world is how it is today except with more cranks. What advice would you give Albert about getting his article noticed? A web blog? Surely no self respecting physics journal would publish a non-peer reviewed submission on something so crazy. Should he enrol in an online university course and smuggle his idea into a student assignment? Any ideas? This is a serious question.
     
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  3. Sep 8, 2014 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    What do you mean by "non-peer reviewed submission"? Any physics journal will send a submission out to be "peer-reviewed".
     
  4. Sep 8, 2014 #3
    Except the last two digits in the year of birth, where are the similarities between the "old Albert" with a PhD in physics and the "new Albert" without physics training? Do at least both play the violin? While arguably being a ridiculous reason for making the comparison, it would probably be a more relevant similarity than "both work for the government, coming from a completely different background".
     
  5. Sep 8, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid that remains to be seen.

    Sorry, but your "Modern Einstein" has very few similarities with the historical Einstein. Einstein had a PhD in physics. He had published before working in the Swiss patent office. He was well versed in the state of the field, what had come before and what the present ideas were.
     
  6. Sep 8, 2014 #5
    I guess so. But doesn’t Albert have to be attending a university before the physics journal will even read it? And at least have a Phd? They must get zillions of submissions with the invention of the internet.
    I was just setting the scene. Actually both play the violin, thanks for mentioning that. Modern Albert made some different choices to old Albert, but he still came up with the same idea. He did a year of physics remember.
    So the modern Einstein would just get rejected then?
     
  7. Sep 8, 2014 #6

    Doug Huffman

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    Establish an informal correspondence with an established name-physicist that might be looking for a new idea. Perhaps Lee Smolin or one of his PI students that are working to get beyond Einsteinian space-time in their background-independent physics.
     
  8. Sep 8, 2014 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Your "modern Einstein" (a bad term, since as described he's not anything like the original) sounds kind of like a crackpot. He could get a PhD in physics, just like the real Einstein, but chooses not to? Choosing to remain ignorant of the field is not a mark of a good scientist.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2014 #8
    I only called him modern Einstein to convey his brilliance. His real name could be Mudd.

    I’d be interested if you agree with my approach. I think the modern guy’s first step should be to submit his theory to a university as part of a course (and to establish authorship). Then he should expect some feedback. If the feedback is positive, this might lead to getting supporters who might help him improve his article. A supporter may have a relationship with a publisher and put a word in. That’s what I was thinking. It’s not a joke. Somebody who has a good hypothesis might lack credibility and come across as a crank. But surely a good hypothesis can come from anyone...like Michael Faraday’s discoveries about electricity. He was relatively uneducated, but James Maxwell stepped in with his knowledge of mathematics to help.
     
  10. Sep 8, 2014 #9

    ZombieFeynman

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    A YEAR of physics? C'mon. At least make AlternateHistoryEinstein realistic with a graduate degree in physics and a fairly precocious talent for the natural sciences.
     
  11. Sep 8, 2014 #10

    Choppy

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    Well, here is a serious answer.

    I would recommend that this "modern Einstein" enroll in a university physics program.

    He likely won't get an opportunity to submit his idea for a course assignment any time soon. Instead, he should focus on learning the foundations of the field inside and out over the next four years.

    Then he can apply to graduate school in the subfield where his idea applies. After another year or so of course work, he will have a mentor with whom he can work with and learn about the scientific process that will allow him to rigorously and properly develop his idea.

    As a graduate student he will have the opportunity to conduct a proper literature review to understand precisely where his idea fits in the grand scheme of the field, as well as what work has been done in that area both recently and historically. He will then proceed to test and further develop that idea, giving presentations on his work within his department and at conferences.

    If after all of this, the idea (a) is novel, (b) has academic merit and, (c) has been properly developed, then he can write it up and submit it to a journal where he will be given full credit as the author.
     
  12. Sep 8, 2014 #11
    There are introductory undergraduate units where students are expected to write a scientific report, with full referencing. Would the tutor fail to get it? Or is it a case of having to go through educational red tape?

    What if the discovery wasn’t relativity? For example, a simple method to estimate crop yields based on a single soil sample. (If it were true). Would a Phd in agricultural science still be necessary?
    The established name physicist might be tempted to take all the credit!
     
  13. Sep 8, 2014 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    Good heavens.
     
  14. Sep 8, 2014 #13

    Evo

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    "What if" threads like this are pointless,especially when the "what ifs" keep changing. Closed.
     
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