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Was Einstein wrong?

  1. Jun 7, 2007 #1
    Was Einstein Wrong?

    In Chapter 9, The Relativity of Simultaneity, of Einstein’s book Relativity (http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/einstein/works/1910s/relative/index.htm), Einstein said: “Hence the observer will see the beam of light emitted from B earlier than he will see that emitted from A. Observers who take the railway train as their reference-body must therefore come to the conclusion that the lightning flash B took place earlier than the lightning flash A.”

    Were these words wrong?

    We understand, in Einstein’s thought experiment, besides observers he also had a mid point on the long train like this: A__________M’__________B. Taking such a long train into our consideration, his words must mean: the beam of light emitted from B will reach the mid point M’ sooner than the beam of light emitted from A.

    I think such a meaning is wrong; Einstein was wrong in saying it because light will cover equal distances with equal time regardless how the train is moving. Taking equal time to cover equal distance means light from B and A will reach mid point M’ simultaneously, contrary to Einstein’s words.

    Furthermore, when he said “Observers who take the railway train as their reference-body……” my understanding of those words was: there is a mathematical way to support their conclusion. Since those observers and Einstein did not use mathematics to support their “…conclusion that the lightning flash B took place earlier than the lightning flash A”, I wish some one here could. Please oblige.

    I am a hobby reader. I have no formal training in physics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2007 #2

    Chris Hillman

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    Suggest studying a standard textbook rather than marxists.org

    Hi, longshinewoole,

    Before anyone says anything I'd like to make a rather obvious suggestion. Websites like marxists.org promote political agendas and have been known to mispresent scientific knowledge in order to pursue those agendas. So I'd suggest that if you want to understand what str says, you should study a standard textbook such as Taylor & Wheeler, Spacetime Physics. If you have studied "high school geometry" (more properly, euclidean plane geometry) and "high school trigonometry" (more properly, euclidean plane trigonometry), and if you have a strong visual imagination, you can really acquire solid intuition for Minkowski geometry from Taylor & Wheeler.

    Alternatively, some on-line resources are suggested in the website in my sig (see below).

    (Other readers, in search of amusement, may like to compare specific misrepresentations of relativistic physics found certain creationist websites with those found in marxists.org. In some cases these sites claim to be using the same phenomena to argue for very different politicized conclusions!)

    Einstein was not wrong, although these are tiny effects for velocities comparable to the speed of the TGV. But see the Hafele-Keating experiment! http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/relativ/airtim.html
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  4. Jun 7, 2007 #3
    Please verify before you make accusations

    The Einstein reference on Marxist.org simply contains the online book "Relativity: The Special and General Theory" written by Albert Einstein. You can even download the complete book in pdf format. Albert Einstein is simply included on Marxists.org because of his known sympathies with socialism.

    It is obvious that Chris Hillman did not even bother to verify that Marxists.org simply hosts the book "Relativity: The Special and General Theory" written by Albert Einstein. The website makes no comments whatsoever about the validity of the theory.

    The referenced quote is accurate by the way.

    It would be nice if people on this forum would refrain from making unfounded accusations, putting down people, insinuating that people are sockpuppets or that they are known crackpots. And refrain from putting down perfectly valid websites in order to self promote their own website.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  5. Jun 7, 2007 #4

    Doc Al

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    No, of course not.

    That's correct.

    Just because light takes equal time to cover equal distance doesn't mean that they arrive at the midpoint simultaneously. That would only be true if the two lights flashed at the same time. But the point of Einstein's argument is that whether the lights flash at the same time is frame dependent: train observers and embankment observers disagree.

    You really need to read the entire passage, not just pick out quotes. Just prior to your quoted sentences, Einstein gives a simple argument showing that the light from B must arrive at M' before the light from A. That's the key.

    There are plenty of modern, pedagogically-oriented books specifically for beginners; I recommend you get one and study it. Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler (which Chris mentioned) is one; It's About Time by N. David Mermin is another.
     
  6. Jun 7, 2007 #5
    longshinewoole


    A__________M’__________B.


    Your problem is you have not accurately represented what Einstein said in the problem. You need a Midway observer next to the train track at M. and the A & B you have listed are next to the track not on the train as well. I’m sure Einstein said the lighting strikes hit next to the track simultaneously or at the “same time” in the reference frame of A M & B. His point about simultaneity is that from the view of A’ & B’ (moving locations you do not show) the two strikes dot not happen at the same time. B’ can directly see the lighting hit the ground outside the train well before A’ sees the ground hit by the second bolt of lightning from there common frame of reference a synchronized time. Even though they can both see the observers out side also observing the same event are displaying large clocks that read the same time at both A & B.
    The point is only A & B see the events as simultaneous. A’ & B’ do not! And since B’ sees the strike well before A’ and both are the same distance from M’ moving in the same frame – of course M’ will se the forward A strike before the B strike.
     
  7. Jun 7, 2007 #6
    I haven't followed this conversation regarding Einstein's errors but I do know that Einstein sure knew what he was talking about. But like all people, he was falible. There will be a new book comming out by Ohanian in a few weeks about about Einstein's mistakes. I'll be getting a chapter of it soon and can let you know more about Einstein's errors and will check to see if this is mentioned.

    Pete
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  8. Jun 7, 2007 #7
    That sounds interesting.
    Do you know any details like does it address Special Relativity as having errors? Doesn’t seem like Einstein could have any error there, that one seems pretty solid.

    Or is it focused on GR having errors? Which might be more plausible since modern physics seems to divide between Particle Physics and Astrophysics based on QM vs. GR. Since the two theories seem to be irreconcilably different (100% particle exchanges vs. Space time warps) they cannot both be right, so one must be wrong.

    For all the testing that has been done on GR I assume the argument must be a theoretical or thought proof / explanation?

    Do you know any other details like Publisher or likely title? Or do they want you to just leave it as someone from Ohio.

    Edit below: OOPS not "from Ohio" but the author of :

    “The role of dynamics in the synchronization problem”,
    by Hans C. Ohanian
    Am. J. Phys. 72 (2), 141-148 (2004)

    I found where Alan Macdonald of the Department of Mathematics, Luther College, Decorah IA, criticized the above paper issues about “clock synchronization”.
    Which means if H. C. Ohanian is publishing the book on the same issue, it would be directed against SR. If so, it seems to me Ohanian may not be dealing with simultaneity any better than “longshinewoole”. If so I don’t see where the book will be very productive. But that’s just a guess from the journal pages. I’m sure more papers can be found but I’ll wait for the book before calling it wrong.

    Longshinewoole : Just a tip - - stick with getting to really understand the point of simultaneity. It impacts every SR paradox, twins etc.
    If you do not understand simultaneity; you do not understand SR. Which can only make GR near impossible.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  9. Jun 7, 2007 #8
    I don't know any details as of yyet. I'll have some when he sends me a chapter or two. I expect he'll have the error in Einstein's original 1905 special relativity paper. I mentioned it to him when I first noticed it several years ago. The error I speak of I recorded here
    The term locally flat refers to a system of coordinates

    Don't know. All I know is its about Einstein's errors.
    Actually the author of this paper is the same as the author of the book comming out.
    Why? I've known Ohanian for many years and have read many of his texts. He's very sharp man in my opinion.

    Pete
     
  10. Jun 8, 2007 #9
    I don't know where "here" is - I expect you had intented a link hooked to that word. You should still be able to edit the post, or PM it to me.
    As I said, (I’ll wait for the book before calling it wrong) rather than try to figure out what papers he may be including in the book. I only skimed Alan Macdonald comments on just that one paper by Ohanian. But I've never seen anything to make me question Einstein's SR. And I have seen very sharp people argue against it but always found Einstein to have been just a little sharper with his original 1905 idea.
    But I'll take an open minded look at anything presented rationally.
     
  11. Jun 8, 2007 #10
    Sorry for the confusion. By "here" I was refering to this forum.

    As I mentioned above there is his 1905 paper. See
    http://www.geocities.com/physics_world/sr/ae_1905_error.htm

    Then there is the well known error in his 1911 paper. At that time he had not thought of working spacetime curvature into such a problem. The end result was that his calculation of the deflection was off by a factor of two. He got the value correct in 1915 when he finished creating GR.

    Pete
     
  12. Jun 8, 2007 #11
    Wow
    - An argument that complains about Einstein saying “it was not good to introduce the quantity m=ym0” (relativistic mass)
    - Arguing for the use of mrel (relativistic mass) while everyone is settled on using m0 (intrinsic rest mass).
    - And making a big deal out of a 1911 error, but corrected by Einstein in the final 1915 submission of his GR theory.

    Not much to write a book about in my view.

    No need for us to get into a debate – as I said I’ll wait for the book to look at it.
     
  13. Jun 8, 2007 #12
    That's because you seem to believe that is all the book is about. I was merely speculating about the kind of things that the book might contain.

    Best wishes

    Pete
     
  14. Jun 9, 2007 #13
    I certainly did read the whole chapter, and I found it was impossible to understand. Einstein first said: "People travelling in this train will with advantage view the train as a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system); they regard all events in reference to the train......" Then he changed his position and said something completely on the constrary; see his words in the parenthesis such as (as judged from the embankment), and (considered with reference to the railway embankment). This of course is contrary to his opening statement: "People travelling in this train will with advantage view the train as a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system); they regard all events in reference to the train......"

    My quote "Hence the observer will see the beam of light emitted from B earlier than he will see that emitted from A." was an independent statement. Together with its follwoing sentece "Observers who take the railway train as their reference-body must therefore come to the conclusion that the lightning flash B took place earlier than the lightning flash A", I would say Einstein reversed back again, meaning "People travelling in this train will with advantage view the train as a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system); they regard all events in reference to the train......".

    This flipflop by Einstein gave us an impression that Einstein even did not know what he was proposing.

    It seemed so far nobody could give mathematics to support that light from B will reach M' sooner than that from A.

    When you said "But the point of Einstein's argument is that whether the lights flash at the same time is frame dependent: train observers and embankment observers disagree", the frame dependent nature was what the thought experiment wanted to establish by showing that lights will not arrive simultaneously at M'. Now I am asking you people use meth to show this un-simultaneous arrivals. If you cannot, then the frame dependent nature is in doubt.
     
  15. Jun 9, 2007 #14

    Doc Al

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    Events can be viewed from either frame of reference. There is no contradiction in viewing events from one frame for convenience and then deducing what the other frame must see. But nowhere does Einstein contradict his statement that people traveling on the train view things from the train frame, while those on the embankment view things from the embankment frame.

    Obviously a statement beginning with "Hence..." is not an independent statement, but a deduction from previous statements.

    What flipflop?

    I suppose Einstein thought this example simple enough that translating it into mathematical language was unnecessary. But if you insist:

    Let's examine things from the viewpoint of the embankment observers. According to them, the lights flash simultaneously and are (say) a distance L apart. Let's say that the lights both flash at time t_0 = 0 (according to embankment clocks). Let's further call the time that the light from B arrives at M' to be t_1. During that time how far did the train move? If the speed of the train is v, the distance the train moved is v*t_1. So how far did the light have to travel in getting from B to M'? Not the full length of half the train (L/2), but only a distance equal to L/2 - v*t_1, since the train (and M') moved towards B.

    Of course, during that same amount time the light from A also travels the same distance. But since M' has moved a distance v*t_1 towards B, the light from from A has not yet reached M'. The light moved a distance of L/2 - v*t_1 from A, but M' is already at a distance of L/2 + v*t_1.

    So it should be clear, from our analysis of events seen from the embankment, that the light from B must arrive at M' before the light from A does. Got it?

    What might not be clear is the fact that EVERYONE in ANY FRAME must agree that the light from B arrives at M' first. It's a fact independent of any reference frame.

    Now Einstein uses this fact to deduce that according to the train frame observers the lights did not flash simultaneously: B must have flashed before A.

    See the above.

    Only in your mind. :wink:
     
  16. Jun 10, 2007 #15
    Your meth analysis was completely false. Let me redraw Einstein thought experiment.

    A__________M__________B.
    A__________M'__________B.

    Einstein's thought experiment stupilated that lightning stuck simultaneously at both ends A and B. Further it said "Then every event which takes place along the line also takes place at a particular point of the train." Therefore the events on the embankment were designated as A and B, and the events on the train were also designated as A and B. I said this (4 events) because of the fact that a long train was used by Einstein. That is, the train has both ends. The lightning struck at both ends of the embankment, also struck at both ends of the train, resulting in A and B on the embankment as well as A and B on the train. Now as the train moved to the right, after the lightning strikes, the thought experiment should look like this:

    embankment: A__________M__________B.
    the train:.............A__________M'__________B.

    When you said "But since M' has moved a distance v*t_1 towards B, the light from from A has not yet reached M'." , the A and B in your sentence was the A and B events on the embankment, not the events A and B on the train.

    M' can have motion relative to the events on the embankment, but cannot have motion relative to the
    events on the train. Therefore your meth analysis was only correct provided you were talking about M' moving relative to the embankment events.

    But, why there was a long train? why there were observers on the train? We must therefore obey Einstein's words "People travelling in this train will with advantage view the train as a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system); they regard all events in reference to the train."
    That is, we cannot talk about M' moving relative to the embankment events. Since you were, your meth were false.
     
  17. Jun 10, 2007 #16
    As I said back in post 5; your still not representing what Einstein said. Where is A' and B' on the train?? As vector distances from the M's; A = -B and A' = -B' but you seem to be saying here that A = A' and B = B'. You will never get anywhere if you think that is true.

    As to Einstein "flip flop" just how do you think he was saying "first from the view of the train" (train ref frame) and "then from the view of the Embankment and train stations" (station ref frame). You need to translate his statements correctly or agaiin you will not get far.
     
  18. Jun 10, 2007 #17

    Doc Al

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    An event is something that happens at a particular time and place. In this scenario there are two events: a light flash at A and a light flash at B. A & B are the locations at the ends of the embankment where the events took place, not the events themselves. Note how you added labels A & B to the train, which Einstein does not do. If you wish to label the ends of the train, do it this way so no one gets confused:

    A__________M__________B.
    A'_________ M'__________B'.

    Realize also that this diagram is drawn from the viewpoint of the embankment observers, since according to them the ends of the train (A' & B') coincided with the ends of the platform (A & B) at the exact moment that the two flashes occurred. According to the embankment observers, the events happened simultaneously at locations A & B; According to the train observers, the events occurred at the ends of the train at locations A' & B' (but happened at different times).

    Right: According to embankment observers.
    The ends of the train are labeled A' & B', not A & B which are locations on the embankment. (Note that Einstein does not label the ends of the train at all.)
    Again, there are only two events. But both events are observed by both train and embankment observers.
    Again, a less confusing way of drawing this diagram (which describes what is seen by embankment observers) would be:

    embankment: A__________M__________B.
    the train:.............A'__________M'__________B'.

    Again, there are only two events, not four. According to the embankment observers--who drew this diagram (a diagram drawn by the train observers would be very different!)--the events took place at A and B. (Note how M' gets closer to B and further from A.)

    Almost right: M' moves with respect to the embankment, not with respect to the locations A' & B' where train observers saw the events to occur.
    Which is exactly what I (and Einstein) was talking about. Note where I made it clear by saying:

    Nonsense. M' is the location of an observer on the train--of course he moves with respect to the embankment. Think of M' as a person in the middle of the moving train--embankment observers can certainly observe and study his movements over time.

    Try again!
     
  19. Jun 11, 2007 #18
    I believe there were four events because Einstein finally concluded that: "Events which are simultaneous with reference to the embankment are not simultaneous with respect to the train, and vice versa." This vice versa means there were two event A' and B' on the train and another two A and B on the embankment. Earlier he also said that "Then every event which takes place along the line also takes place at a particular point of the train." This "at a particular point of the train" must mean A' and B'. If Einstein did not show A' and B', he did show them in his statements. I would say, it was another flipflop by him.

    In both cases, it means there were four events like this (if you like I shall use primed letters):

    embankment...A__________M__________B.
    the train.................A'__________M'__________B'.

    According to Einstein, "People travelling in this train will with advantage view the train as a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system); they regard all events in reference to the train." According to such a rule, M' on the train must view A' and B', not A and B. Furthermore, when the train is a "rigid reference-body", how can people in a rigid system observe events outside of this system? To say M' view events on the embankment must be wrong.

    When M' view things in his own system, he will find A' and B' happened simultaneous, namely A'M'/c = M'B'/c. Einstein's thought experiment showed simultaneity is absolute, not relative.

    Even if M' is able to view things outside of his system and is able to tell which of those outside light arrives at his eyes sooner or later, this same ability must also enable him to see that he is no longer midway between A and B. As such (not located midway between A and B), he must know he could not use the sooner and later arrivals of light to conclude that A and B are not simultaneous. Let us draw this picture:

    A__________M___M'_______B.

    It shows, when lightning strikes happened simultaneously at A and B, M' is able to see light from B and A, but also able to tell he is no longer midway between them. If M' is a good physicist, would he say lightning did not stike simultaneously at A and B? No way.
     
  20. Jun 11, 2007 #19

    cristo

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    What is your definition of an event? What are your four events in this scenario?
     
  21. Jun 11, 2007 #20
    No, its two events seen from two reference frames give four observations,

    And if M’ is such a good physicist what is the explanation for the two light flashes arriving at different times to his view when he knows that one occurred at exactly the same distance of train of car lengths ahead of him as the distance of car lengths for the one behind him. If light travels at the same speed over his distances measured the only way the two strikes could be simultaneously in the train reference frame is if the flashes did arrive together at M’.

    You need to do as Doc Al suggested and try again with real numbers:

    Recommend you use Speed as 0.6c with Gamma factor1.250 and dilation factor 0.800

    Set t=0 for A M and B and t’ =0 for M’

    Use an easy distance like 10 light seconds (that is distance not time) for B. remember A = -B.
    What is the distance for A’ & B’ ?
    Give us times for;
    t’ at A’(when t =0 at A)= Strike time’ for A’
    t’ at B’(when t =0 at B)= Strike time’ for B’

    Does Strike time’ for A’ = Strike time’ for B’ ………”No Way”
    just as Einsein said.
     
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