Alex

Copenhagen Interpretation

29 posts in this topic

I have recently finished my first course on quantum mechanics, and one of the postulates which was at the root of everything we learned was the copenhagen interpretation (CI). Our professor said something down the lines of how that it is the only model that is really worth considering for practical purposes.

The CI was summed up as something down the lines of: "All measureable quantities are eigenstates of the wave equation." I can no longer recall his exact wording, but I can look it up if need be.

I was wondering what the other interpretations are and how their models differ from the CI model.

Thanks,

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have recently finished my first course on quantum mechanics, and one of the postulates which was at the root of everything we learned was the copenhagen interpretation (CI).  Our professor said something down the lines of how that it is the only model that is really worth considering for practical purposes. 

The CI was summed up as something down the lines of: "All measureable quantities are eigenstates of the wave equation."  I can no longer recall his exact wording, but I can look it up if need be. 

I was wondering what the other interpretations are and how their models differ from the CI model.

The Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) is a metaphysical and epistemological perspective on the mathematical formalism and physical experimentation surrounding quantum mechanics. Contrary to what your professor asserted, the CI is not at the root of quantum mechanics; it is neither fundamental to nor required by quantum mechanics.

The CI is primarily the work of Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, who incorporated Max Born's probabilistic interpretation of the wavefunction with Bohr's own "complementary" view of particles and waves. This amounts to playing with mutually exclusive pictures of the supposedly strange reality lurking behind quantum matter and experiments. So according to CI, quantum events only have a certain tendency to occur (which is expressed in terms of probabilities) and the reality of quantum events only have meaning in terms of some measurement process. It simply makes no sense, says the CI, to even speak of what happens to particles in between measurments that are made. A particle makes the transition between the possible and the actual only when it is measured. Needless to say, the CI represents a rejection of identity and causality, the latter of which Heisenberg proudly proclaimed in his 1927 paper ("... it follows that quantum mechanics establishes the final failure of causality." Uber den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Machanik [The Physical Content of Quantum Kinematics and Mechanics)], Zeitschrift fur Physik, 43, pp. 172-198, 1927.)

There are many other popular metaphysical/epistemological interpretations of quantum mechanics, all of which suffer from most of the same contradictions, and some of which add their own. There is Cramer's nonlocal Transactional Interpretation which claims to preserve causality by having future waves interact with the past; Bohm's wholeness and nonlocal quantum potential which claims particle and wave reality while removing the basis for anything real; Everette's Many-World's interpretation which removes quantum randomness by having every measurement procedure result in every possible outcome, each outcome a different world; and dozens of bizarre others. For instance, a recent one is the Pondicherry Interpretation, according to which the very existence of objects is made possible by the fuzziness of internal parameters for which probabilities reign supreme.

There is one theory, however, that suffers from none of these contradictions, and provides a rational explanation of quantum mechanics. It is not really an "interpretation" per se, but rather a unifying theory for quantum mechanics which also provides a physical basis for special and general relativity. Since you are studying physics you might want to just quickly glance through my overview for the layman and then go directly to the source at Lewis Little's website for his Theory of Elementary Waves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the insight. I read over the laymen's version of the TEW, and I really like the new way to look at the problems I have spent the year looking at. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept, but it is starting to come together.

What I got from reading the papers was that the Schwatz inequality no longer inhibits our knowledge of the system and that it is our ignorance which inhibits our ability to make predictions. Is this right?

In the discussion about uncertainties it is stated that the uncertainties are no longer inherent in the theory, and thus it is our ignornace that inhibits our knowledge of the parameters involved. Does this suggest that as our knowledge base increases we would eventually be able to determine the path of a particle in the double slit experiment.

To correct my wording from last time, the definition fo the CI we were given was "The only allowed measurement of a physical observable are one of its eigenvalues". Our professor called this postulate 4 and it was introduced over halfway through the course. We had 3 fundamental postulates given at the begining of the course.

Also I read up a bit on the TEW and there was a claim that according to the TEW gravitational lensing would not occur (LINK). Is there legitamacy in such a claim?

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What I got from reading the papers was that the Schwatz inequality no longer inhibits our knowledge of the system and that it is our ignorance which inhibits our ability to make predictions.  Is this right?

Well, yes and no. The Schwarz inequality goes back to 1885 (H.A. Schwarz, Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae, V. 15, pp. 315-362, 1885) and applied by Hellinger right after the turn of the century to bounded quadratic forms of infinitely many variables, so it predates quantum mechanics by several decades. It is a purely mathematical formulation created and used before even von Neumann's theory. The mathematical formalism that is carried forth -- at least, that part of the standard formalism that is carried forth by the TEW -- has no inherent physical meaning apart from that lent by the theories.

In the discussion about uncertainties it is stated that the uncertainties are no longer inherent in the theory, and thus it is our ignornace that inhibits our knowledge of the parameters involved.  Does this suggest that as our knowledge base increases we would eventually be able to determine the path of a particle in the double slit experiment.

Assuming you mean the path starting at particle emission, then yes, in principle that is true. Afterall, that is what deterministic means.

Also I read up a bit on the TEW and there was a claim that according to the TEW gravitational lensing would not occur (LINK).  Is there legitamacy in such a claim?

Just like virtually every critic of the TEW, he has no idea what he is talking about. It is much easier for rationalists to manufacture things to argue about, rather than actually understand the physics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen I was wondering if there have been any experimental evidence that would suggest that the TEW is a more correct interpretation of QM?

It's resolution of many of the weird effects that have been widely preached, is quite satisfying in that we can now go back and trust our intuition, as opposed to trying to understand what a wave-particle is, or trying to grasp the weird action at a distance phenomena. So is the TEW currently just an alternative philosophic perspective, which resolves many of the philosophic problems in competing theories while concurrently explaining the same physical phenomena?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's resolution of many of the weird effects that have been widely preached, is quite satisfying in that we can now go back and trust our intuition, as opposed to trying to understand what a wave-particle is, or trying to grasp the weird action at a distance phenomena.

[bold added for emphasis.]

What do you mean by "intuition"? Do you mean it -- as possibly stated above -- as a contrast to understanding?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stephen I was wondering if there have been any experimental evidence that would suggest that the TEW is a more correct interpretation of QM?

To the degree that the TEW shares the same mathematical formalism of the standard theory, to that degree each experiment consistent with the formalism of one, is consistent with the other. But, the fundamental differences between the two theories in terms of physical structure opens the possibility, in principle, of experimentally distinguishing the two. Some thought has gone into such an experiment, but until it is practical to do an experiment such discussion is premature.

So is the TEW currently just an alternative philosophic perspective, which resolves many of the philosophic problems in competing theories while concurrently explaining the same physical phenomena?

Though I do not think it intended, your use of "just an alternative" does not do justice to what is involved. First, physics is the ideas that explain deterministic processes, so a local, causal theory preserving identity is not "just an alternative" to the rest. Second, the TEW is not simply an "interpetation" of quantum mechanics, but rather it is an truly explanatory theory in terms of causal principles providing an integrated view of the quantum and relativity. It also has profound implications in many other aspects of physics, which have yet to explicated or fully explored.

Would you also say that Objectivism is "just an alternative philosophic perspective?" I think not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What do you mean by "intuition"? Do you mean it -- as possibly stated above -- as a contrast to understanding?

By intuition I was referring to the fact that wave-particle duality and action at a distance are not intuitive concecpts. More correctly I was reffering to the fact that can now continue to classify something as either a wave or a particle and we can avoid having to label something as a wave-particle. As for action at a distance we no longer have to accept a cause effect event occuring instanteously over a distance, which is not intuitive when one considers the fact that the speed of light is an upper limit. TEW resolves these issues.

Would you also say that Objectivism is "just an alternative philosophic perspective?" I think not.

I will be the first to admit my understanding of Objectivism and the philosophy governing the issues of discussion are clearly lacking. But that I am really interested in the subject. I am just trying to get the most out of this forum, in terms the validity of the concepts I'm learning in school, and the assumptions they imply before I'm gone for the summer. Pretty much I want to get some direction for my reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am just trying to get the most out of this forum, in terms the validity of the concepts I'm learning in school, and the assumptions they imply before I'm gone for the summer.  Pretty much I want to get some direction for my reading.

By all means feel free to ask whatever questions you want. Depending on your interests I can certainly direct you towards good supplementary reading material. But don't underestimate the value to be gained directly from your physics classes. You will not ordinarily get the deeper understanding in terms of causal principles for subjects like quantum mechanics, but the technical details of what you need to learn are usually there. Of course it varies from university to university, but I think most physics departments do a fine job of education, granted they most often lack a proper philosophic perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is really upsetting to see modern science magazines have cover stories like Discover has for June:

If an Electron Can Be in Two Places at Once, Why Can’t You?

I am sure Copenhagen Interpretation was at least respected by the rest of society before, but now it seems that its ideas are actually leaking out into popular culture, and its conclusions are taken as indisputable, and having the entire prestige of the last 500 years of science behind its assertions. For example, further in the article it says, that "[so many years ago] it was proved that an electron can be in two places at once". The article corrects itself and says that the electron can be in infinitely many places at once. And the worst part is, although the article does compare different (cookoo) interpretations such as CI or the "Multiple Universes" theory, it states that claim about proof of electron's multiplicity without qualification, as a fully accepted and undeniable fact, the validity of which was proved beyond doubt and is not dependent on whimsical claims of any particular interpretation. In other words, F=MA, the gravitational acceleration on Earth is 9.81 m/s/s, E=MC^2, electrons can be in two places at once -- regardless of whatever interpretation one may have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But don't underestimate the value to be gained directly from your physics classes. You will not ordinarily get the deeper understanding in terms of causal principles for subjects like quantum mechanics, but the technical details of what you need to learn are usually there.

The physics we learn in class is stimulating and exciting, and I love it. The courses have so much to fit in the 12 week terms that exploring the implications of concepts is not practiced to a wide degree nor can it be expected. I guess I shouldn't have used the phrase "validity of concepts" and instead used something down the lines of "bigger picture".

I emailed my professor and asked him about TEW about a week ago, and he had never heard of it, but he referred me to read some Leslie Ballentine to gain a better understanding of the notion of "measurements" which he said formed the base of our postulate. I was unable to find any of her books in our school library, plus I am heading off for the summer in less then a week. Do you know any good online resources on this subject?

On a separate note, what does TEW have to say about matter waves? I believe discovered by de Broglie, or at least largely associated with him.

I am sure Copenhagen Interpretation was at least respected by the rest of society before, but now it seems that its ideas are actually leaking out into popular culture, and its conclusions are taken as indisputable, and having the entire prestige of the last 500 years of science behind its assertions.

This is the position I am coming from. It kind of feels like I looking through a peep hole to see what lies on the other side of the door. Questioning how all the tools I've learned to use are going to help me, and what to expect. I definatly need to sharpen up on my craftsmanship, but it is exciting taking peeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I emailed my professor and asked him about TEW about a week ago, and he had never heard of it, but he referred me to read some Leslie Ballentine to gain a better understanding of the notion of "measurements" which he said formed the base of our postulate.  I was unable to find any of her books in our school library, plus I am heading off for the summer in less then a week.

Professor Ballentine will be very surprised to learn about his change of sex. B) ("Leslie" is also a man's name.) Ballentine's book, Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development, is used in a number universities, most often at the beginning graduate level. It is an interesting book, and it does strive to connect experiment with ideas, but the ideas that he presents are not of very great value. However, to the degree that Ballentine sticks to the facts, rather than interpetations such as his "ensemble" approach, this is decent book to study.

Do you know any good online resources on this subject?

There are a zillion quantum sources on the internet, but nothing that I know of that stands out above the others. What exactly do you want to learn? The foundational aspects of QM? The historical development? Different interpretations? Specific technical issues? There are wonderful books in all of these areas. And, I am personally quite fond of reading the original works rather than explanations of such work given by others. Often the original is much more insightful. Heisenberg, for instance, wrote many accessible books on his ideas of QM, philosophy and historical context included. Bohr has many essays available, and Schroedinger also wrote some fascinating material.

Maybe what you need is a broader perspective to get a better sense where everything fits into place. A short but interesting book that I often recommend for this is Jim Baggott's The Meaning of Quantum Theory, Oxford University Press, 1992/1997. If your library does not have it, it is available used and inexpensive from online book sources, such as this one. If you want a more ambitious read, try Helge Kragh's Quantum Generations, Princeton University Press, 2002. If you want something more specific, then ask.

[

On a separate note, what does TEW have to say about matter waves?  I believe discovered by de Broglie, or at least largely associated with him.

Well, not "discovered," since "discovered" usually implies finding something that exists. de Broglie did consciously attempt to rescue the causality of classical physics in the mid 1920s, but he lacked sufficent insight and backbone to stick with his work and have it develop into something real and useful. He abandoned his approach in 1928 and spent the next 25 years of his life spewing out papers and educating others in the statistical interpretation of Max Born. There are certain superficial similarities between some of de Broglie's work and the TEW, but nothing really fundamental.

This is the position I am coming from.  It kind of feels like I looking through a peep hole to see what lies on the other side of the door.  Questioning how all the tools I've learned to use are going to help me, and what to expect.  I definatly need to sharpen up on my craftsmanship, but it is exciting taking peeks.

What a lovely way of expressing yourself that is. If your goal is understanding and if you are willing to work hard, then with the attitude you express it will all come in time. It is not just the learning -- historical, technical, philosophical -- but the integration of it all that is the real payoff, and it is usually sometime after all your schooling is done that you can begin to put all the pieces together. If you love what you are doing, then you have a lifetime to accomplish what you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Professor Ballentine will be very surprised to learn about his change of sex.  ("Leslie" is also a man's name.)

This is not the first time I've fallen into this trap. My sister's name is Leslie, so my initial impressions are often guided by my familiarity. I was quite intrigued to see a womens name associated with QM. Not to say women are uncapable, it just isn't a common sight.

Maybe what you need is a broader perspective to get a better sense where everything fits into place. A short but interesting book that I often recommend for this is Jim Baggott's The Meaning of Quantum Theory, Oxford University Press, 1992/1997.

This sounds down the line of what I am looking for thanks. I understand that original work, and books are generally more insightful then online resources. My dilemma is that I leaving for work next Wednesday, and space is limited. I heading out to work in British Columbia where I'll be working out of logging camps. The scenery is breathtaking, and the time available to indulge in reading is available. I'm bringing one of my textbooks "Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles Second Edition by Robert Eisberg and Robert Resnick" which I plan on reading cover to cover and doing many if not all of the given problems. Along with that I am currently reading Atlas Shrugged which I would like to finish within the first week of work. I also recently got an ipod mini which allows for viewing text files, so on there I have copied your three papers on the laymens version of the TEW, and I am trying to find anything else that may be of value.

If you love what you are doing, then you have a lifetime to accomplish what you want.

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I heading out to work in British Columbia where I'll be working out of logging camps.  The scenery is breathtaking, and the time available to indulge in reading is available.  I'm bringing one of my textbooks "Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles Second Edition by Robert Eisberg and Robert Resnick" which I plan on reading cover to cover and doing many if not all of the given problems.

Sounds like an interesting summer to me. B) Note that the Eisberg & Resnick book is sorely in need of an update. Also, if that is the book you will be spending time on, then the Baggott book is not the right one for you. It is neither technically detailed nor does it present the history in sufficient detail that would make it worth you while above what you are reading. I would go instead with the Kragh book I referenced, which should be in any decent technical library. And, if you want a really first-class introduction to the historical development of QM, at a decent technical level, the best single source is Max Jammer's The Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1966. An older but more in-depth analysis and historical perspective, but not an easy book to find.

Along with that I am currently reading Atlas Shrugged which I would like to finish within the first week of work.  I also recently got an ipod mini which allows for viewing text files, so on there I have copied your three papers on the laymens version of the TEW, and I am trying to find anything else that may be of value.

I think you would do much better reading Little's papers directly. My articles are good for a layman, or for a quick overview by the technically minded, but Little's papers should be read by someone who is familiar with QM. You can print out the pdf of the 1996 paper. That would be my recommendation.

Enjoy your summer and we will look forward to your return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Note that the Eisberg & Resnick book is sorely in need of an update.

That's the same book we used in my QM class in '96, and as I recall, the book hadn't had a new edition in a few years. (I don't have my copy handy at the moment to check.) Personally, I thought the book was well written with clearer explanations than some other QM books at the same level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Note that the Eisberg & Resnick book is sorely in need of an update.

That's the same book we used in my QM class in '96, and as I recall, the book hadn't had a new edition in a few years. (I don't have my copy handy at the moment to check.) Personally, I thought the book was well written with clearer explanations than some other QM books at the same level.

It is a decent book, but at twenty years old and being used as an elementary text in such an active field as this, it really does need to be updated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought the book was well written with clearer explanations than some other QM books at the same level.

I agree, it is very well written.

It is a decent book, but at twenty years old and being used as an elementary text in such an active field as this, it really does need to be updated.

I also have two other text books, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by French and Taylor and Modern Physics by Serway, Moses and Moyer (SMM). I don't have room for them all, right now Resnick and French & Taylor are packed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't feel hat it was worth starting a new thread for this post, and it does fit along the line of discussion in here. Stephen I guess this is mainly directed at you, unless someone else could enlighten me.

In our QM class in school this year we've learned about the generalized uncertainty principle relating the variance of two observables with the expectation value of their commutator. In class a proof of this was given. I was wondering, if the TEW is able to get rid of the uncertainty principle, or rather make it a restriction of our knowledge as opposed to it being a physical limit, what changes in the uncertainty relation?

So far the only conclusion I have been able to come to was that something in the derivation of the momentum operator implies intrinsic waves. If this is the case, is the momentum operator not actually (h-bar)/i grad()? Or how else can the uncertainty principle be attributed to knowable variables of a particle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In our QM class in school this year we've learned about the generalized uncertainty principle relating the variance of two observables with the expectation value of their commutator.  In class a proof of this was given.  I was wondering, if the TEW is able to get rid of the uncertainty principle, or rather make it a restriction of our knowledge as opposed to it being a physical limit, what changes in the uncertainty relation? 

So far the only conclusion I have been able to come to was that something in the derivation of the momentum operator implies intrinsic waves.  If this is the case, is the momentum operator not actually (h-bar)/i grad()?  Or how else can the uncertainty principle be attributed to knowable variables of a particle?

The source and meaning of the uncertainty relations seem problematic only when looked at from the perspective of the standard theory. As Heisenberg learned from Bohr -- and, in fact, as Heisneberg acknowledged in an "Addition in Proof" to his 1927 indeterminancy paper (note Heisenberg's often used "indeterminancy" rather than "uncertainty" -- the indeterminancy (uncertainty) relations were just a special case of Bohr's more general complementarity principle, i.e., the wave-particle duality. Heisenberg notes:

"[the uncertainty] is tied directly to the demand that we ascribe equal validity to the quite different experiments which show up in the corpuscular theory on one hand, and in the wave theory on the other hand." [*]

Once the wave-particle duality evaporates, once a rational theory is developed in which there exist real particles and real waves, then so too does concern of indeterminancy evaporate. I devoted the first one-third of Part 2 of my three-part non-technical article on the TEW to this issue. I suggest first reading at least that section, and then read Section 5, "The Uncertainty Principle," of Lewis Little's 1996 paper, available here. If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to ask them here.

[*] Werner Heisenberg, "Uber den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantenttheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik" ("The Physical Content of Quantum Kinematics and Mechanics"), Zeitchrift fur Physik, 43, pp. 172-198, 1927, reprinted in Quantum Theory and Measurement, edited by John Archibald Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek, Princeton University Press, 1983.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Stephen,

I've forgotten much of what I've read of TEW which was just before the summer. Looks like some re-reading is needed. I've approached a couple of my professors about the TEW and it seems that the common attitude is that they encourage reading and learning more about it, but they seem content with the standard theory because it yields results. I guess this can be understood by the fact they use QM as a tool, as most of our physics profs are condensed matter physicists, and only care if the tool works not of the implications of the assumptions they make.

I must say that the stance they take is frustrating. While it isn't hard to understand where they are coming from, I can see how tough it is for an idea to spread in academia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Stephen

You're welcome.

... as most of our physics profs are condensed matter physicists ...

As a group, the condensed matter community are very interesting. They tend to look for underlying physical causes, even in seeking a physical base for abstractions such as spacetime. There are groups working with analog models for general relativity, elements coming out of such phenomena as quasi-particles in superfluids and flowing Bose-Einstein condensates. They are not content with a background-free model, and rightfully so. I think they are all wrong in their particular solutions, but I applaud the approach.

I must say that the stance they take is frustrating.  While it isn't hard to understand where they are coming from, I can see how tough it is for an idea to spread in academia.

At Caltech my mailbox was always stuffed with some latest and greatest crackpot theory, from curing cancer to replacing general relativity. I am actually sympathetic to the reluctance of many to simply entertain every alternative theory that is presented. I have become convinced that the only way to overcome the current inertia is through a spectacular experiment whose result is not consistent with current theory, but is predicted by the alternative one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess this can be understood by the fact they use QM as a tool, as most of our physics profs are condensed matter physicists, and only care if the tool works not of the implications of the assumptions they make. 

I must say that the stance they take is frustrating.  While it isn't hard to understand where they are coming from, I can see how tough it is for an idea to spread in academia.

I had a brief conversation once with Leon Lederman, a physics Nobel prize recipient who was giving a talk at a local university, years ago. I asked him if he thought that electrons were real. He smiled and said, in essence, that the mathematics was good enough for him. The attitude that "the math is all" is, as far as I can tell, extremely prevalent among physicists, even among, unfortunately, some very intelligent and otherwise rational ones. How mathematical concepts actually connect to reality often seems either unimportant, of secondary importance, or literally of no meaning. I personally think that's why a theory such as TEW hasn't received more attention - its primary differentiation isn't mathematical, it's metaphysical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The attitude that "the math is all" is, as far as I can tell, extremely prevalent among physicists, even among, unfortunately, some very intelligent and otherwise rational ones.

I think that this can be attributed to struggle to understand some of the concepts of the standard theory. When your mind says one things can't be in two places at once and your experiment appears to disagree, you need to believe in something and that tends to be the math. I couldn't imagine spending 10-15 years learning QM then proceeding on advanced applications of it in an experimental setting where it yielded me results, then being told that it my tool really doesn't work right. But as Stephen said,

I have become convinced that the only way to overcome the current inertia is through a spectacular experiment whose result is not consistent with current theory, but is predicted by the alternative one.
as most of our physics profs are condensed matter physicists

This statement was misleading and just wanted to clarify that my quantum prof isn't in this category, he a subatomic physicist. He actually just received the Tom W. Bonner Prize in nuclear physics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

At Caltech my mailbox was always stuffed with some latest and greatest crackpot theory, from curing cancer to replacing general relativity....

Here's something I've been wondering about: why are there so many people trying to refute the theory of relativity and replace it with something else? I've come across this, but I've never understood why it's this way. Are these people so bothered by some aspect of relativity that they feel the theory just can't be right, so they have to try to refute it? Are they just pseudoscientists looking for a following that they can't get legitimately? Are they people who are trying to use science to support some kind of supernatural fraud?

I can understand why crank cures for cancer would be popular. People are in a desperate situation and are sometimes willing to try just about anything to cure their disease. And, they'd probably be willing to spend a lot of money "just in case."

But it doesn't seem that there would be much of a popular market for alternative physics theories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's something I've been wondering about: why are there so many people trying to refute the theory of relativity and replace it with something else?

Eighty-five to ninety years ago, the original anti-relativity crowd was motivated by anti-Semitism, seeking to replace the "Jewish physics" of Einstein. Though in greatly reduced numbers today, surprisingly this anti-Semitism shows its racist fangs periodically, cloaking itself in pseudo-scholarly robes.

But I have identified the basis of the more common anti-relativity sentiment of today, and it is sheer ignorance. Whether it is those who rationalistically deduce their physics from philosophy, or those who hold on tenaciously to a world gone by, the commonality they share, virtually to the man, is an abject ignorance of the physics involved. Some say they have studied the theory, and some even claim to have done well with it in school, but when confronted with the facts they always reveal a profound ignorance of the principles involved.

Anti-relativists are motivated by many different reasons, but it is their ignorance that makes their actions possible. Regardless of the reason that they hold onto their pet theory, their lack of understanding, not their insight, forms the foundation of what they hold. And since the public in general does not really appreciate the facts that are involved, these anti-relativists have a ready-made audience to peddle their wares. Einstein achieved world-wide popular fame as the result of his accomplishment, and whatever little piece of fame the anti-relativist can chip off and claim as his own, he does so out of sheer ignorance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites