"I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses." -Johannes Kepler
There are a lot of myths we have in our society about how the greatest of all scientific advances happened. We think about a lone genius, working outside the constraints of mainstream academia or mainstream thinking, working on something no one else works on. That hasn’t ever really been true, and yet there are actual lessons – valuable ones – to be learned from observing the greatest of all scientists throughout history.
The greatest breakthroughs can only happen in the context of what’s already been discovered, and in that sense, our scientific knowledge base and our best new theories are a reflection of the very human endeavor of science. When Newton claimed he was standing on the shoulders of giants, it may have been his most brilliant realization of all, and it’s never been more true today.
"The gravitational behavior of the Earth around the Sun is not due to an invisible gravitational pull, but is better described by the Earth falling freely through curved space dominated by the Sun"
Ethan, Why is there no discussion in physics about the mechanics of "curved space" as a medium which guides planets in their orbits, applying force to keep them from flying off out of the solar system? Such a discussion would first require a serious ontology of what space IS besides (more or less) empty 3-D volume. The physics could then address how the mass of the Sun curves that medium and then how "empty space" exerts the required force on planets to keep them in orbit.
Ps: You still haven't clarified your take on how length contraction is just "apparent" for physical objects but "real" for cosmic distances.
5 Vital Lessons Have NOT Learned
1 – The Academic echo chamber is not a microcosm of the real world. A perfect example of how academics don’t understand this is encapsulated in the statement “You mustn't be ashamed to be wrong. It's one of the hardest things to learn, particularly in a society that values being right so highly.”
Scientists highly value being right. Their self-worth is often tied up in their knowledge and being seen as wrong translates in their mind to devaluing them personally. It is human nature to fill in the unknown parts of other people with your own traits, but that isn’t reality. Although every likes to be correct, it isn’t nearly the driving motivation in society that it is to academics. Bill Clinton summed it up perfectly with his observation that Americans would “rather have somebody that’s strong and wrong than somebody who is weak and right”.
2 – Sometimes life doesn’t let you set the problem up correctly. Recently we’ve been having a discussion on how Global Warming related to economics. Scientists are terrible at forming arguments when the discussion goes in this direction because mentally they like to focus with laser beam intensity on one specific aspect to really understand that aspect. They like to set the problem up. Some issues in life get too complicated with too many moving parts to do that. In those cases, scientists can push off understanding interrelated but complex subjects such as macroeconomics to instead gain a more thorough understanding of the molecular mechanism that causes greenhouse warming and how it relates to Earth’s atmosphere. In life, often it is better to have at least a high level understanding of all of the pieces than it is to have incredibly deep understanding of one piece with borderline ignorance of the interconnected stuff.
3 – Just because something is peer reviewed and published don’t assume it is correct. Academia churns out a lot of garbage that sails though peer review and gets published. Until it has been replicated it is wise to remain skeptical. In a pair of recent studies conducted by drugmakers Bayer and Amgen that fact was laid bare. Only 25% of the cancer papers Bayer studied had results that could be reproduced. The Amgen study was even worse with only 6 out of the 53 cancer studies it examined being successfully replicated.
4 – Sometimes you need to stop doing the math and follow your instinct. In business the concept is referred to ‘Paralysis by Analysis’. In the highly competitive real world, thoroughly evaluating every possibility is a good way to get dead. That isn’t to say that never doing the math is good either as ‘Extinct by Instinct’ is also a saying. It is best to strike a balance in decision making between analysis and speed. Get the best information you can quickly gather, make the decision and run with it.
5 – Degrees and credentials doesn’t mean society owes you anything. They can create opportunity but is it. Ultimately it is you, not a degree or certification, that has to close the deal. Scientists put a lot of time and money into getting their PhDs and value them highly, but getting that PhD will not guarantee you a job. In fact PhD employment rates are dismal. If you’ve got a PhD in Life Sciences the chances you have employment at graduation is less than 20%. In the real world outside of academia it is not uncommon for PhDs to leave the PhD off their resume for fear of looking over qualified for employment.
The lone genius myth is a holdover from the days of the Romantics and Naturphilosophie - the heroic individual, supremacy of feelings and nature as good and pure are all remnants of this body of thought. We need know the history of what and how we think in order to overcome our own biases.
Now that I've go that out of the way, the idea of the Sun and Earth falling through curved space as a definition of gravity is seriously messing with my mind. Good fun.
Ethan, Why is there no discussion in physics about the mechanics of “curved space” as a medium which guides planets in their orbits
Oh good gracious. So Michael, in your 50 years of looking into SR, you never looked into GR? I think if you do, you might find a few articles on the mechanics of curved space time. One or two or who knows, maybe even more!
“The greatest breakthroughs can only happen in the context of what’s already been discovered, and in that sense, our scientific knowledge base and our best new theories are a reflection of the very human endeavor of science.”
I suppose that as it’s “just human,” this practical, social side of science gets less attention than its world – even Cosmos – changing results.
"5 Vital Lessons Have NOT Learned"
And you know all this because it must be true.
Now that I’ve go that out of the way, the idea of the Sun and Earth falling through curved space as a definition of gravity is seriously messing with my mind. Good fun.
If you want a good practical demonstration of how bending space can cause gravity to appear, see Edward Current on Youtube:
Does anyone here understand the relevance of ontology ("What IS it anyway?"... with the empirical epistemology to back it up)... to the math model of "curved space" with no clear definition (ontology) of space as a malleable medium?
I don't think so.
I forget which famous physicist said, "Philosophy is bullshit," but that attitude prevails here too. Don't ask "What is it in the real world?" because there is no "real world" in relativity theory. What you see/ measure is "what it is." No claims of a "real world independent of observation" allowed. Standard "mainstream" relativity. Critics will be shamed for their presumed ignorance for "questioning that authority."
The physicist may or may not have been correct, but the physics does provide a coherent framework to help understand the observations.
Does anyone here understand the relevance of ontology...to the math model of “curved space” with no clear definition (ontology) of space as a malleable medium?
I don’t think so.
Great. Sounds like you have found an under-explored research area. Go explore it. Publish your results. I look forward to reading your article in Philosophical Review.
But before you do that, you might want to research whether any of the 23,100 scholarly articles that Google pulls up for the search "ontology of curved space" meet your need.
re: 4 from D:
"Sometimes you need to stop doing the math and follow your instinct."
what can I say, but math inspires instinct, and instinct inspires math.
Making it a false dichotomy is path to ruin.
And speaking of math, from the actual article, section 3, so many of the names are ground breaking mathematicians.
Hermann Minkowski, Bernhard Riemann, Henri Poincare are the names I recognize more from my math background than physics.
What you see/ measure is “what it is.” No claims of a “real world independent of observation” allowed. Standard “mainstream” relativity.
This is actually a dictum more frequently associated with quantum mechanics and its various interpretations rather than relativity. Einstein’s dislike of quantum mechanics despite his significant role in its development is well known, when he famously declared: “I am convinced God does not play dice.” He later made very famous paper arguing this point.
@ M M
if you wanted to debate philosophy of objective realism.. here is some good readings
but the bottom line is what you argue as reality is not reality. Further you misuse physics and specially SR out of pure lack of basic knowledge and understanding of it. Then you introduce philosophy and argue realism. Your realism is dependent on conscious observer who sees or hears etc... physics observer is not THAT. Not relativity or theory... no.. in physics an "observer" is any interaction of any two physical entities. Interaction between a gluon and quark is an "observation" even if it happens somewhere across a universe 3 seconds after BB without any conscious or unconscious beings being there to witness it even in theory.
You are completely free to ponder whatever you want, but repeatedly being told by everyone here you're wrong doesn't really help you, does it? So if you thought you'd find some fertile ground here for your whack ideas, I think after 3 weeks I'm sure you realise you won't.
"Does anyone here understand the relevance of ontology (“What IS it anyway?”… with the empirical epistemology to back it up)… to the math model of “curved space” with no clear definition (ontology) of space as a malleable medium?"
Several people here do.
You just insist on not accepting their words, and incapable of doing the maths, Not to mention motivated to attempt neither.
Space isn't a medium. It isn't big. It's a place to be big in.
All information about where something else is in relation to anything else is called "space". And that changes due to relativistic (special or general) effects.
You could rewrite the maths (well, obviously, not YOU) so as to put "length" at a constant setting, but every other theorem of energy or velocity or time (yes, time, not merely clocks) has to now include relativistic effects depending on the velocity between the observer and the observed.
Like using cylindrical coordinate systems in either a rectilinear or spherically symmetrical system.
That attempt to place some sort of absolute frame in things is why we have the centripetal force: to account for the fact our preferred observation is stationary on the earth's spinning surface, not some stationary point that the earth is moving away from at many kms per second.
You could do the maths, if you were competent, but the maths would be horrible.
Note too you'd either have to use vector math and ignore that the physical laws depend on whether it's observed in the direction of motion or off from it, OR that the laws are no longer symmetrical, they have the axis of the relative motion changing things.
@Anonymous Coward, I think Niels Bohr's reply to Einstein was quite good.
Stop telling God what to do with his dice.
Yeah, but he's saying he was rolling them in his pocket.... I had to ask him to stop rolling it "in private" and throw them on the table like everyone else playing Monopoly.
Yeah, not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen. (Stephen Hawking)
[MM]What you see/ measure is “what it is.” No claims of a “real world independent of observation” allowed. Standard “mainstream” relativity.
[AC] This is actually a dictum more frequently associated with quantum mechanics and its various interpretations rather than relativity.
Yes, instrumentalism's "shut up and calculate" springs to mind. Even so, it's kinda cranky to complain that other people aren't investigating your pet peeve. Science is very much a 'your hypothesis, your responsibility' sort of enterprise.
Perhaps the confusion about "God playing dice" is that everyone is implicitly assuming he's using the traditional six-sided dice we're familiar with.
If god used dice, it would be d20 'cause they are so much cooler :) Het gets a +bonus Universe whenever he crits :D
Yes, MM, relativity is not the theory you have a problem with. Both SR and GR imply universal invariants; ie. what you would call "objective reality". Prior to Galileo, being "at rest" or "in motion" were things that people would have considered part of an objective reality in the sense you are using the term. You either were moving or not. Galileo, with his actual experiments and thought experiments blew this up. You are only "at rest" or "in motion" relative to some other observer/body/etc. Newton formalized all this and what arose was what we now refer to as classical physics. In it, motion is not absolute, but time and distance is.
Einstein did not overthrow the notion of an objective physical reality; he merely extended the notion of what is relative to distances and times. The spacetime interval, and by consequence the 4-velocity of bodies and the speed of light, are now seen to be invariants, the same for all observers. That's your objective reality. It's not what you find intuitive or what you are used to thinking, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.
In fact, unless you reject one of the assumptions of relativity, then it's absolutely guaranteed to be right. These conclusions follow from the assumptions. The assumptions are that the laws of physics are the same for all observers, that the speed of light is the same for all observers (really that one is not independent of the first; Maxwell's equations give a value for c, and if they hold in all reference frames, then c must be the same in all reference frames), and that there is a limit on how fast interactions can occur between spatially separated objects, namely the interaction can't occur at a speed faster than c (this one implies that no physical object can travel faster than light).
You don't have to just accept these; they are all experimentally testable. Set up conditions somewhere such that you believe that one or more laws of physics might be shown to differ between observers. Your "earth is really round" vs. "earth is flattened" is not a good example, BTW. The moving observer would measure differences in the gravitational force that would change the equilibrium shape that he calculates. The most famous experimental test of these assumptions was one that tested the second, namely the Michelson Morley experiment. This wasn't truly even intended to prove relativity; they actually were trying to measure the speed of the earth through the luminiferous aether by noting the difference in light speed in the direction of earth's orbital motion and that in the perpendicular direction. They were quite shocked by the finding that the two speeds were the same. For the third, find an interaction that occurs faster than c.
All experimental attempts to find such contradictions to the relativity postulates have failed. There are no experimental results that contradict relativity, and when relativity makes predictions different from what classical physics predicts, it has always been the prediction of relativity that has been found to be true.
That's why relativity is universally accepted in the scientific community; it jives perfectly with experiment. Whatever philosophical implications you see are irrelevant. Science isn't philosophy. We'll gladly leave the question of whether all that is real is what is measured or not in the hands of others.
However, one question: if there is some reality that is something other than what we measure, how can we know what that reality is? If you can't find it by measuring, how do you find it? It can't be by deductive logic; deductive logic is barren. The only thing you can establish from logic alone is hypotheticals; i.e. IF these premises are true, what else must be true. You can never establish the truth of premises from logic alone; you again are reduced to experimental verification, i.e. measuring. What else can you do to establish what is truly real?
if there is some reality that is something other than what we measure, how can we know what that reality is?
Theory #550 comes up with predictions A-Z. So you test A, B, C....all the way to W and lo and behold, #550 turns out to be accurate. Not just accurate - highly accurate. And no other theories (thought of yet) are anywhere near as accurate about A-W at all. Let's also say that A-W are extremely useful; they help us do things like cure cancer, and build starships. So 550's isn't just some dusty musty old academic idea, it does stuff. It performs work in human society, and it's predictions A-W are confirmed thousands a times a day via the reliable use of technology that is only expected to work if 550 is an accurate description of reality.
But #550 also makes predictions X, Y, and Z, and these are untestable. They're direct inferences from 550, but not with any observable component that you can tell. Wouldn't you still have warrant to believe propositions X, Y, and Z? At least provisionally, until some evidence comes along that leads you to believe theory 550 is only true in some cases?
That's how you do it. And in fact scientists kind of do that every day, out of necessity. Standard physics theories predict that what Ethan had for dinner last night won't have a measurable effect on my next experiment. But we've never tested that prediction! Its an X to my theory 550! So do I need to test whether Ethan's dinner choice affects my experiment before I claim to provisionally know it doesn't? Or can I leave this X untested and still have a reasonable confidence 550 is accurate?
Eric (#14) on the ontology of curved space:
One of my favorite scholarly articles on the subject for many years was by Kelley Ross ... http://friesian.com/curved-1.htm
Here is my longtime favorite quote from that piece:
"Just because the math works doesn't mean that we understand what is happening in nature. Every physical theory has a mathematical component and a conceptual component, but these two are often confused. Many speak as though the mathematical component confers understanding,...
Nevertheless, there is often still a kind of deliberate know-nothing-ism that the mathematics is the explanation. It isn't. Instead, each theory contains a conceptual interpretation that assigns meaning to its mathematical expressions"
I continue to challenge the assumptions of the math and the ontology of space as malleable medium. "What is it in the Real World?" remains a valid yet unanswered question.
each theory contains a conceptual interpretation that assigns meaning to its mathematical expressions
I suspect the reverse is more true; humans aren't happy until they've assigned a normal language conceptual interpretation to a relationship better represented by math.
The universe didn't promise us theories that could be parsed in normal English. So on what basis can you or Prof. Ross claim that the math is the derivative interpretation of the underlying thing, while a normal English conceptual description is the more fundamental or deeper understanding of the thing?
Maybe the reason SR calculations are pretty straightforward while SR discussions get tied up in knots is because the mathematical expression is the better description of fundamental reality than any English language word-based description of the same. "The map is not the territory," but neither is a verbal description of the territory the territory either...so on what basis can you claim the verbal description is better than the map?
Eric (#14) on the ontology of curved space:
One of my favorite scholarly articles on the subject
So when you claimed "I think not" you were lying.
Fair enough. I'll note that down for future reference.
"so on what basis can you claim the verbal description is better than the map?"
And in what way is his vague ramblings a better description than the ones he's refusing to hear?
In #31 Wow accused me of lying. That is abusive/ insulting, and I register another complaint... under the new rules. (Note to Ethan.)
Ps: I have no clue about the "I think not" quote.
This is a FLAG comment.
Eric (#30): “The map is not the territory,” 'but neither is a verbal description of the territory either.'
The quote is just as true for math models as it is for verbal descriptions. But the latter have the advantage of conveying concepts about underlying assumptions, like Euclidean vs non- Euclidean, which the latter just assumes as the best model to fit the math for "curved space" (in what context?)
The paper bears re-reading. It's complicated. It's not just that GR's curved (non-Euclidean) space is the "proven truth" because math trumps objective realism.
Also, parallel lines never cross... by Euclid's definition of "straight lines." And, there is a" real world"* * independent of all types of conceptual geometry and mathematical assumptions. **(Verified by an immense body of empirical knowledge... Epistemology.)
"In #31 Wow accused me of lying."
Others can read.
Yes. Yes I did.
Given you have not given any other explanation for your two posts being incompatible and the second one being saying it was your all time fav, therefore not a new thing for you when you made the earlier post, you therefore concede the point.
"Also, parallel lines never cross"
They definitely do on a sphere.
So, again, you are wrong.
"Verified by an immense body of empirical knowledge… Epistemology"
But empirically, there genuinely is a shortening of the distance and the depth of an object is less to an approaching object. Verified as correct.
Muons. You have already been told about it.
The expression and idea, "dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants" was penned by Bernard de Chartres, more than five centuries before Newton. It was extremely well known and commented upon during the entire Middle Ages:
Similarly, much of Newtonian mechanics was discovered earlier, especially by Buridan, around 1350 CE, three centuries before Newton. (Complete with inertia and heliocentric system.) That too was widely known: Buridan was adviser to no less than four French kings, and head of the University of Paris. Besides being a philosopher, mathematician and logician of great fame.
This is for clarification of two of my statements which may have sounded contradictory: In my opening comment (#1) I asked,
"Ethan, Why is there no discussion in physics about the mechanics of “curved space” as a medium which guides planets in their orbits, applying force to keep them from flying off out of the solar system?" The emphasis was on *no discussion in physics."
Then in #29 I said, "One of my favorite scholarly articles on the subject for many years was by Kelley Ross … http://friesian.com/curved-1.htm "
The "subject" of that paper is the philosophy of science , specifically the ontology of "curved space."
Physics has nothing but disdain for philosophy, including ontology. Reference the quote, "Philosophy is bullshit." That is especially true for comments on Ethan's "Starts With A Bang.
"Why is there no discussion in physics about the mechanics of “curved space” as a medium which guides planets in their orbits, applying force to keep them from flying off out of the solar system?” "
"Physics has nothing but disdain for philosophy"
So what? You disdain reality. Sucks to be you.
And please show this evidence of "nothing but disdain".
Complaint number 3 against Wow's insults: #40: " Sucks to be you."
OK, so since you seem to think that compassion against you is insulting, I won't bother, mooney. Or you''re just a whiney little asshole.
No, that is an apt description. Not an insult.
So, absent that whining, you still have nothing about proving your claim that science has nothing but contempt for psychology?
Because that's an insult too.
Oh, I get it, you only care about people not being super special nice to you, amirite?
Aw, snowflake, nobody gives a rats ass. Either put up or shut up.
And here's a tip for you mooney. If you listened to others, maybe they'd listen to you. But all you've done is ignore others and call them "true believers" and ignorant.
@ #42 Michael Mooney,
Welcome to SWaB.
This will be my last complaint against Wow: His comment #43. It's time to enforce your new rule, Ethan.
If no one here is interested in the ontology of "curved space"... like 'it's all in the math and imaginary geometry'... I'm done with it.
Same goes for length contraction if Ethan continues to refuse to address his distinction between contracted physical objects (not physical shrinking) and contracted distances between stars ("real.") Like 'forget about it... on to new subjects.'
"‘it’s all in the math and imaginary geometry’"
It is clear you don't understand that every geometry, Euclidean and others, is "imaginary". Euclidean geometry is not a perfect description of the world, it is a local description.
The fact that your heart yearns for one description over all others, especially against those that are shown through repeated experiment to valid, doesn't say that they are wrong: it says that you are unwilling to understand.
"This will be my last complaint against Wow:"
But you complain about everything when you're not being agreed with, mooney.
"If no one here is interested in the ontology of “curved space”"
It's already been discussed decades ago (nearly a century). And you've not yet listened to anyone else anyway, except to scream "INSTULT!!!!", which indicates you weren't listening to what was there but what you could imagine.
"Same goes for length contraction if Ethan continues to refuse to address"
You've not listened to anyone else address it. So why would it change if ethan did turn up? PM him if you solely want his word.
@#45, could have been worse, it could have been when you were spamblocking every discussion.
"If no one here is interested ...I’m done with it. Seriously, folks."
Thank you! Bon voyage!
Please don't try to engage with me.
I posted nothing to you.
Some other time perhaps...
Nah, feel free not to read it, but you do you. BTW what happened to "some other time" as your only recourse to posts you can't respond to?
Please stop trying to engage with me.
I posted nothing to you
Stop harassing me.
Well you can continue to read them if you want. I'm not going to tell you what you should do. If only I could get the same courtesy....
Stop harassing me.
MM @39: there is plenty of discussion in physics about the mechanics of curved space. There is not much discussion about the ontology of curved space because ontology is a branch of metaphysics - i.e., it's a subject of philosophy. That's why philosophers have written thousands of articles on it.