Newton versus Einstein

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  • #51
WannabeNewton
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Well the people who developed the ideas deserve credit where it is due. I will agree that unifying gravity with riemannian geometry and tensor calculus was a stroke of genius and to this day it blows my mind how he even came up with the association of the equivalence principle with the locally euclidean property of manifolds. That is definitely worthy of great praise and it is what makes GR such a beautiful physical theory. Still this is a matter of semantics because while he was creative, his contributions cannot be placed on the same pedestal as those of Newton.
 
  • #52
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So, the point I'm trying to make here is that Lorentz had a good idea but didn't develop it, Reimann had a good idea but didn't develop it, M&M had a good experimental result and didn't develop it, etc. Einstein did, though, he "packaged" these concepts into a general model(s).
I make a loose association as follows:
Brahe collected the experimental data, Kepler came up with the formulaic expression of the data, Newton explained the physics behind the formulae.
Michaelson and Morley collected the experimental data, Lorentz and Fitzgerald came up with the formulaic expression of the data, Einstein explained the physics behind the formulae.
 
  • #53
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his contributions cannot be placed on the same pedestal as those of Newton.
I think the point you're missing is that Newton was a reluctant contributer to physics whereas Einstein was an active contributer. Newton was simply an intelligent man in the presence of swine, and developed a model of the world in course. I said earlier that mathematical physics was a reluctant burdon for Newton, he did revel in it. Einstein, on the same hand, hated the maths too, although he came to appreciate them more whilst developing GR. In any case, Einstein had a purity of focus that Newton semi-had, like Darwin he had to be pursuaded to write his great works. The Principia was motivated by a request to prove Kepler's law's, from what I understand.
 
  • #54
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I honestly don't even put Einstein in my top 10. If we were arguing who was 'better' I'd go with Newton, but your question is who revolutionized physics. For that reason, I'll be going with Einstein on this one.
 
  • #55
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I agree. Einstein has accomplished something amazing. But I find that he's been hyped by the media. A bit the same way as Stephen Hawking is called the smartest person alive by some.
There are many physicists out there who made remarkable discoveries and paradigms, some of which are on par with Einstein. For example, the physicists who developed QM were pure genius. People like Maxwell are entirely forgotten by the popular media, although their accomplishments are no less than Einstein.
The only difference is that QM was developed by many physicist over a large period of time while Einstein did it all by himself.
Yes he used concepts that were invented by other mathematicians but there is no physicist who haven't done that. You can't just start from 0 you have to use the knowlege that has been before you. " If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." even Newton said that. Lorentz infact did got to the Lorentz transofrmations but he didn't even know what they mean. He was thinking about the eather slowing objects and such things. No one at that time expect Einstein knew what was actualy happening. This is only special relativity. Even when mathematician like Hilbert tried to steal Einstein's GR and solve his problem Einstein managed to make it first.

Einstein did all this without performing a single experiment while QM get developed mainly by experimentations and then the scientist tried to fit the data.
Einstein came up with his math first then he was able to actualy predict real experimental data like the orbit of Mercury for example.
Not only he developed the most beautiful theory known by physics which led to the developement of modern cosmology but he left the world with so many new things to explore. Black Holes, Quantum Entanglement, Dark Energy, you name it.

If i follow the same logic as some of the other people Maxwell actualy used the work of others too. Michael Faraday actualy was the first to think about electromagnetic fields but he was not good at math. Maxwell took his theories and made a mathematical framework. He would not been able to do this without mathematicians like Gauss.

Most of the people just hate the fact that some scientists are hyped by the popular media.
Whats the point anyway? Most of the people of the general public think that the theory of relativity sums up to E=mc^2 and quantum mechanics is all about E=hv (or even worse some mystic paranormal stuff happening there like shown in some new POP-pseudosci movies).

The fact that someone is hyped by the popular media does not automaticly disproves him in anyway. Newton is pretty hyped too. I am sure that most of the people are more familiar with Newton than Einstein due to the fact that Newtonian's laws of motion is the first thing that school physics referes to.

Developing a theory is not the same as understanding it. Of course Albert Einstein kept pictures of Maxwell, Newton and Faraday on his working desk and Newton was his idol but you know that much often the student surpasses the teacher.

To sum it up Einstein>Newton and the people who say that what Einstein did is not a big acomplishment obviously don't know what they are talking about.
 
  • #56
D H
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Einstein did it all by himself.
That's a myth promulgated by popular media. It's not true.


Yes he used concepts that were invented by other mathematicians but there is no physicist who haven't done that. You can't just start from 0 you have to use the knowlege that has been before you.
You can't start from 0 without the concept of 0. You need to thank Brahmagupta for that.

There are lots of physicists who did invent/discover new mathematical concepts. Brahmagupta and algebra. Newton and calculus. Gauss and differential geometry. Lagrange and variational calculus. Hamilton and quaternions. Einstein is not in that select group.

No one at that time expect Einstein knew what was actualy happening. This is only special relativity. Even when mathematician like Hilbert tried to steal Einstein's GR and solve his problem Einstein managed to make it first.
More nonsense. Einstein's contribution to special relativity is important, but there were plenty of others who working on the problem, and Einstein had read several of their writings. With regard to Hilbert trying to steal Einstein's GR, that too is dubious. What isn't dubious is that Einstein *needed* Hilbert's help; Einstein's math abilities were not near as strong as Hilbert's. Without that help, Einstein wouldn't have been able to complete his theory.
 
  • #57
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Not to talk about people like Gauss who are 10 times more brilliant than Einstein (in my opinion). Without Gauss, there would be no differential geometry and no GR. If there should be a comparison between scientists, then a more correct comparison would be Newton vs Gauss.
I wouldn't be surprised if Gauss has been under-appreciated by the general population because he didn't publish much of anything that would be accessible to the average layman. The same could go for many scientists. Einstein wrote myriad articles and essays on a variety of subjects that anybody can comprehend, thus more people can appreciate his intelligence. I have Ideas and Opinions and it's incredibly readable; he was a very good writer.

And hell, look at Michio Kaku: he's no longer a leading physicist in terms of practice (as far as I know), but he's ultra-popular because he writes a lot of accessible books on physics.
 
  • #58
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More nonsense. Einstein's contribution to special relativity is important, but there were plenty of others who working on the problem, and Einstein had read several of their writings. With regard to Hilbert trying to steal Einstein's GR, that too is dubious. What isn't dubious is that Einstein *needed* Hilbert's help; Einstein's math abilities were not near as strong as Hilbert's. Without that help, Einstein wouldn't have been able to complete his theory.
You guys are missing the point here, IMO. Not only is it arguable that Hilbert formulated the field equations before Einstein, he is also suspect for ripping off Lorentz and Poincare for special relativity, both of whom published before Einstein. Lorentz by several years and Poincare by a few months. But it is what it is.

My point is that there is something to say for actually crossing the finish line, and more importantly, crossing the finish line first. Lorentz, Planck, and Poincare sat around about 10 yards from the finish line but couldn't see it behind the Nascar mural. Einstein looked around the flyer, and said I'm going for it. Hilbert is only mentioned here because Einstein was stupid enough to show him where the goal line was before he put his shoes on.

BTW, Einstein didn't need Hilbert's help to develop the maths of GR, at that time he had paid "calculating horses" as he called them to help him with his maths, probably math grad students. In fact, there's no evidence that Einstein received any help from Hilbert here. Quite the contrary, Hilbert was trying to scoop Einstein and didn't let on to his trying to beat Einstein to the field equations. Although, again, I think the evidence is there that he actually did beat Einstein to it.
 
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  • #59
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Gauss has been under-appreciated by the general population because he didn't publish much of anything that would be accessible to the average layman.
Pure mathemeticians are always underappreciated by the public. I mean, differential geometry unfortunately is not as sexy as quantum wormholes and entanglement, although ironically enough they derive from it. Gauss, though, is recognized popularly as the greatest mathematician ever in most texts, popular and otherwise. Unfortunately, you're gonna have to look for that, you probably won't see it on the Science channel, just Brian Cox's Austin Powers teeth :)
 
  • #60
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You are trying to argue something that doesn't have an answer. These are all OPINIONS!
 
  • #61
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You are trying to argue something that doesn't have an answer. These are all OPINIONS!
That's absurd, Woop. That's like pointing out two girls in a nightclub and asking which do you think is hotter? Maybe there isn't an objective answer, I like blondes and you like brunettes. But, we can operationalize the accomplishments of scientists better than we can girls in a bar, and it definitely is not a waste of time to do so.
 
  • #62
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That's absurd, Woop. That's like pointing out two girls in a nightclub and asking which do you think is hotter? Maybe there isn't an objective answer, I like blondes and you like brunettes. But, we can operationalize the accomplishments of scientists better than we can girls in a bar, and it definitely is not a waste of time to do so.
By the way, the Beautiful Mind movie got it wrong during that scene because while all the guys agree not to fight for the blonde and instead go for her brunette friends one of the guys could still switch to the blonde at the last minute.

I think the discussion has about run its course.
 
  • #63
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Well, maybe THIS discussion has run it's course, but I think we are still at 50-50 as to who is the more significant physicist. Did we get your vote Jedi?
 
  • #64
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Newton wins hands down for the most significant physicist for all time closely followed by Maxwell. Einstein is not even in my top 5 list.

@DiracPool - If only amazingness of the discovery is considered, Feynman will rank higher compared to Einstein.
 
  • #65
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In youth I was extremely impressed by both Newton and Einstein. But later I have understood it is unfair regarding them as single bright shining stars of their time.

Consider Newton: As I now understand most of his concepts were originally ideas from Robert Hooke. But Hooke did not have sufficient mathematical skills and knowledge to express them as stringent mathematical formulas. But Newton did have the mathematical skills demanded and was therefore awarded honour for creating these theories. So in that case it was not the "philosopher" behind theories who became world famous, but the mathematician having ability translating theory into mathematics.

Then consider Einstein: He had philosophical theories, but not sufficient mathematics skills to solve and express them by himself. It appears as if he needed help both regarding elementary mathematics (algebra etc) and more advanced mathematics (Riemann etc). But he was still regarded as single creator of "Theory of Relativity" just because of his
philosophical insight. So in that case it was the philosopher, not the mathematician, who
got the Medal of Genius.
 
  • #66
I would say Einstein. He was the one after all that did not discredit Newton, but further build on it. he questioned Gravity. As a result we have a deeper understanding that Gravity as a force is an illusion and in fact we are subject to gravitational fields instead. Until this breakthrough and what has become the theories of relativity we were operating in 'absolutes'
 
  • #67
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Well, maybe THIS discussion has run it's course, but I think we are still at 50-50 as to who is the more significant physicist. Did we get your vote Jedi?
Did you not remember I was the first to post here and cast my vote at that time?

The thread has run its course you have your answer 50-50 and the reasoning for it so why not thank everyone and end it now.
 
  • #68
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I'd say they can not be compared simply because what they discovered is really quite different from each other.

If I had to say which one contributed more to humanity I would say Newton hands down.

But when we invent interstella space travel and start travelling huge distances at extreme speeds. Then you can ask this question again.
 
  • #69
WannabeNewton
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It is pretty clear that if you don't know GR formally or classical mechanics formally then you cannot make a proper judgement of the question being asked. Sayajin I have no idea why you are being defensive of a historical figure that you didn't even know personally but there is no reason to start being so contentious. DH knows the formalism of GR and if you did too then I don't think you would be so sensationalist. It is clear from your statements of you think Einstein was better at math than David Hilbert (Hilbert developed an action and used the variational principle to derive the EFEs much more elegantly than Einstein's guess and check) that you do not really know the formalism of the theory nor its history. I don't think you have any place to insult DH in such a way. At this point it seems like this topic has been saturated enough.
 
  • #70
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He have shown that his math skills surpass Hilberts in 1v1 competition.
Seriously?? Do you even know who Hilbert is?? He's one of the most genius mathematicians who ever lived. Einstein most certainly did not surpass Hilbert at all. In fact, it is quite well known that Einstein his math skills were pretty weak. Einstein knew that himself and often joked about it.
 
  • #71
Evo
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Did you not remember I was the first to post here and cast my vote at that time?

The thread has run its course you have your answer 50-50 and the reasoning for it so why not thank everyone and end it now.
It's over.
 

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