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1 freetoken  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 3:38:30pm

We’ve discussed Conservapedia’s mangling of Relativity before yet it never ceases to amaze how incredibly dense the authors of that site can be. They have problems with almost all of science since Newton.

2 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 3:41:21pm

Just mind boggling.

The theory of relativity is possibly the most consistently demonstrated theory of modern physics.

Every single time you turn on a light switch, or anything that is powered via AC, you instantly verify it. How is this?

It turns out that a magnetic field is an electric field that has been relativistically shifted in your reference frame. That may sound odd or bizarre, but the consequence is that all electrical power generation happens because relativity is true.

Of course, there are also direct measurements of time dilation in terms of particle lifetimes and even atomic clocks placed on aircraft. Under graduates across the nation, do muon counting experiments that repeat this observation thousands of times every year.

The Compton effect could not exist without it.

All modern particle physics - which has certainly produced results from the events in particle colliders to nuclear power would not work they way that they do if relativity were not true.

I could list thousands of examples.

Relativity - particularly special relativity - is as established a fact as the notion that the Earth is round or that the Earth orbits the sun.

It is something that is true in the Cartesian limit. What I mean by that is that for special relativity to be incorrect, everything else we know about the universe would cease to be true to such an extent, that the only way this could happen would be if all data were false, and “reality” was that everyone were being fooled by an evil genius. In less philosophical terms, if relativity were not true, so much else which is known would have to be untrue, that the only way such a thing could be possible would be that all of us were disembodied consciousness, who inhabited a much different universe than we seem to live in - being fooled about reality in a way akin to the Matrix.

The insanity and rejection of science by the wingnut types is something that runs beyond madness or simple ignorance. They fixate on misunderstood pieces of things they know nothing of with complete arrogance that somehow their ignorant rantings are equivalent to knowledge.

In this case, they are fixating on the notion that “relative” in relativity has something to do with human perception of social norms. From there, they spin conspiracies and imaginative, yet ill- conceived and intensely stupid ways that this supposedly interacts with their ignorant and narrow views of scripture.

In reality, the “relative” in relativity, refers to different reference frames as defined by relative motion. In other words, someone going past you in a car, is in motion relative to you, and his car represents a different reference frame.

The idea that something might be different in a different reference frame
should not be too hard to understand. If you get a car caught in your car with you, it flies around normally (this is because the air in your car is moving along with the car). Yet clearly house flies don’t normally fly around at highway speeds. For the cognoscenti, this is obviously a Galilean transformation. The point is to illustrate that different reference frames exist in reality with a familiar example.

When the relative motion between frames approaches the speed of light, very interesting things happen. That gets back to the list at the beginning of this post, of verifications of relativity.

One final quibble.

It isn’t E =mc^2

That is a limited statement only true in a rest frame.

In grown up units where c=1, the proper statement is:

E^2 - p^2 = m^2.

I suppose that early newsies decided that remembering the momentum term was just too hard. In the rest frame , p=0.

But back to the main point. These fools and twits need to be booted out of all forms of education. There is a difference between matters of opinion, and matters of simply teaching falsehoods that are demonstrably wrong. Just as one should never permit anyone to teach children that two and two sum to five, no one has the right to so utterly bungle relativity.

3 Bob Levin  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 3:50:16pm

re: #2 LudwigVanQuixote

It turns out that a magnetic field is an electric field that has been relativistically shifted in your reference frame. That may sound odd or bizarre, but the consequence is that all electrical power generation happens because relativity is true.

Could expand on this?

I mean, forget Conservapedia for a second and let’s just talk about physics. Thank you.

4 freetoken  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 4:05:16pm

re: #3 Bob Levin

Well, you could always go to the source… or at least a translation of the source:

It is known that Maxwell’s electrodynamics—as usually understood at the present time—when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. Take, for example, the reciprocal electrodynamic action of a magnet and a conductor. The observable phenomenon here depends only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet, whereas the customary view draws a sharp distinction between the two cases in which either the one or the other of these bodies is in motion. For if the magnet is in motion and the conductor at rest, there arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet an electric field with a certain definite energy, producing a current at the places where parts of the conductor are situated. But if the magnet is stationary and the conductor in motion, no electric field arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet. In the conductor, however, we find an electromotive force, to which in itself there is no corresponding energy, but which gives rise—assuming equality of relative motion in the two cases discussed—to electric currents of the same path and intensity as those produced by the electric forces in the former case.

I’m just accepting that the translation from German is correct. Special Relativity can be viewed as an attempt to make the theory of Electricity & Magnetism work.

5 Bob Levin  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 4:29:13pm

Thank you, but here’s where I am. I know the history of the science, and I have a pretty solid background in epistemology. So I know of the problems that Newton ran into with light and magnetism, the search for the ether, the Michelson-Morley experiment, and eventually Einstein’s reinterpretation of the Michelson-Morley results. My understanding is that Maxwell made a valiant effort to reconcile the behavior of light/magnetism with Newton’s universe. I think that Einstein superseded Maxwell.

So for me, Einstein was just saying what everyone saw, but weren’t quite prepared to accept, because they were heading toward a theoretical desert.

But I have to keep checking this out.

6 freetoken  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 4:36:04pm

re: #5 Bob Levin

So for me, Einstein was just saying what everyone saw, but weren’t quite prepared to accept, because they were heading toward a theoretical desert.

Since Einstein did not get the Nobel for SR but rather for his Photoelectric Effect, some have thought that the establishment at the time were not ready to accept the consequences of SR.

I wasn’t there and can only speculate on why the Nobel committee made their decision.

SR isn’t really so spooky, but since everyone intuitively apply Galilean type of physics (e.g., the example given by LVQ about an insect flying inside a moving car) all the time, SR gets some mystique. Yet anyone who works with light/E&M becomes accustomed to SR because that is simply how the universe works.

7 Bob Levin  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 4:42:25pm

re: #6 freetoken

I get that. I’d like to change my intuitive response to fit the way the universe works—you know, the next step from the intuitive shift to the earth revolving around the sun.

If you think about it, that first shift, what you call Galilean, was a huge leap, and yet it now seems so natural.

8 freetoken  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 5:11:32pm

re: #7 Bob Levin

Intuition is a tough one… mine, as far as the physical universe goes, isn’t so great - in school I was better at mathematics than physics partly because the universe doesn’t act like the way I think it should.

As far as SR is concerned, even though Einstein claims the Michaelson-Morley experiment result was not the inspiration for his “Electrodynamics” paper, for me as a young student learning of the M-M experiment, and then learning that light changes in frequency when the light source moves relative to me (the observer), helped me get used to the notion that the Galilean type of transformation is not quite right and only works as an approximation for us.

Accepting that the old way of thinking really does fail, I suppose it becomes easier to reprogram oneself… to change the “intuition”.

Here’s how I think of it: if I wanted to generate a magnetic field I would need to have a source of electric charge, say an electron, and make it move relative to me. This can readily be demonstrated with simple equipment (and is done all the time in physics labs.) Yet if I only get the magnetic field when I and the electron are moving relative to each other, if I accelerate myself to move at the same velocity as the electron then the magnetic field I had measured from the electron’s motion earlier disappears. Thus this phenomenon called the “magnetic field” really is a phenomenon dependent upon relative motion, in this case between an electron with the electric field it generates, and another reference frame (the one in which I happen to exist.)

That, anyway, is how I intuitively come to accept that magnetic fields are due to (relativistic) transformations of electric fields. Others probably have more eloquent and insightful ways of viewing these things.

Historically since magnetism was a phenomenon discovered on its own, and thought a property of rocks, it came as a surprise to many later that magnetism really is another manifestation of the phenomenon we call “electricity.”

9 Irenicum  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 6:49:00pm

Wow. You guys are smart. I got a headache just reading a little of Ludwig’s sentences. Glad to have lizard friends who know their stuff.

10 Bob Levin  Mon, Aug 9, 2010 7:21:18pm

re: #8 freetoken

Thank you sir! I regret that I can only give you one upding, because you’ve just given me hours of meditation.

11 Bob Levin  Tue, Aug 10, 2010 2:24:45am

re: #8 freetoken

You may not see this, but I have been thinking about that for a while. Here’s a question. How does relativity affect the other three forces?

12 Bob Levin  Tue, Aug 10, 2010 2:52:04am

Whoops. Let me modify that question. I have a picture of how it affects gravity. I was thinking more about the strong and weak forces.

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