The following is a more complete description of the refutation of the idea that there are logical contradictions that invalidate relativity. If you want to understand relativity, this is for you.
Over the past few years, while developing our Triadic Dimensional Distinction Vortical Paradigm dealing with the logical-mathematical nature of space, time, matter, energy and consciousness, along with continuing research and development, Vernon and I have reviewed a number of other theories that have at least some definable characteristics similar to TDVP, and we have entered into discussions with several of the authors of these theories. Most of the time, we find areas of both agreement and disagreement. One such theory is a theory put forth by a PhD engineer. To protect his privacy, I will refer to him here as Dr. X. While we find much to agree with, a key feature of Dr. X's theory that is, in my opinion, demonstrably wrong, is the complete rejection of both special and general relativity. In the course of the discussion, Dr. X has written:
“So before going further I need to present the argument that I consider shows special relativity to contain the internal contradiction that renders it invalid. There can be no partial compromise, both SR and GR need to be rejected and replaced by a theory that is internally consistent and compatible with quantum theory.”
Vernon asked me to respond because relativity is one of my special areas of expertise. Over the years, I have taught relativity, written about relativity, and discussed Einstein’s relativity with many people. It always surprises me how many many intelligent and well-educated people really don't understand relativity, even when they think they do. Based on his statement copied above, it looks like Dr. X is one of those people. Let’s look at his argument:
He describes a thought experiment beginning with two spaceships, A and B, stationary in a given reference frame. While one remains stationary, the other accelerates to a “high speed and then cruises at a constant speed.” Thought experiments involving spaceships are convenient because one can envision them moving in deep space, beyond the significant influence of any gravitational field.
“The observer in A, who has not moved, looks at B speeding away and therefore accords B a mass increase. This is correct since energy E has been added by the acceleration and m=E/c2, and so mass, has been added due to the acceleration. Then, with acceleration cut off, B becomes an inertial frame that allows special relativity to be applied. However, according to Einstein, observer B is equally entitled to be considered stationary when now travelling at constant speed in a straight line. So B looks back and sees A speeding away backwards. So according to Einstein's theory B has no mass increase, even though moving, but accords mass increase to A that has not moved!”
Actually, according to Einstein’s principles of relativity, there is no universal or preferred reference frame. If this is correct, B will not see any mass increase in his own spaceship or person because any means he has of measuring mass is travelling with him. He will, on the other hand perceive an increase in A’s mass because if there is no preferred reference frame, B moving away from A will have the same effect as A moving away from B. The acceleration between A and B is the same in either case; only in opposite directions.
The counter-intuitive idea that A and B will each see the other’s mass increased, length contracted and time slowed down has caused many an intelligent and well-educated person to think that there are logical paradoxes in relativity, e.g., the “clock paradox”, the “twin paradox”, etc. Anyone might see these “paradoxes” as contradictions invalidating relativity, were it not for the mathematics of the Lorentz transformations (based on the constancy of the speed of light) and a lot of empirical evidence.
Dr X rejects the relativistic principle of “no preferred reference frame”, which he has a perfect right to do. But he must then provide an alternate explanation for the things that are neatly explained by the theory of relativity, like the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, radioactive decay of particles travelling at near light speed, the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment, and scores of other things. Let’s suppose he does have a theory that can explain all of the hundreds of things explained by relativity. Even if he has provided such a theory, his last statement, a sort of summary of his argument, is erroneous and easily disproved, as I will show. So let’s carry on with his thought experiment. He says:
“Each observer carries a pair of oppositely charged spheres mounted side by side. Now a magnetic field is produced by charge in motion and the fields produced by opposite charges try to push them apart…
So if A and B start at rest with respect to the quantum vacuum then v = 0 and neither can measure any magnetic field or magnetic force.
When B is in motion then both the field and the force can be measured by anybody in the spacecraft and so they cannot claim to be at rest. Furthermore if the conditions at A are reported to B by radio they will still see a null result despite A having a relative speed.” Finally, he says: "Put another way, according to Einstein, two observers in relative motion would each see the other having a magnetic field whilst not having one themselves. It is a logical impossibility for anything to both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same place."
First, Einstein’s relativity does not imply that each observer would "see the other having a magnetic field whilst not having one themselves." It is not the magnetic field, but the measurement of the magnetic field from the reference frames of the two observers in relative motion that is different for observers A and B. If you assume that there is a universal reference frame associated with the quantum vacuum, as Dr. X does, you would of course expect to see the contradictory affects he describes. If Einstein is correct however, neither observer would see the spheres move apart, because there would be no repulsive force relative to their reference frames of measurement. If they communicate by radio, they would agree that the spheres were not moving apart. Their observations would not be in conflict.
Which result deduced from this thought experiment is the real result? If there is no preferred reference frame, is there a real conflict or not? Fortunately, the answer to this question is easily determined by a simple laboratory experiment that anyone can perform. This experiment is known as Faraday's Experiment. Einstein himself referred to his contemplation of Faraday’s experiment as a primary factor in his gaining an understanding of the Principle of Relativity. It provides a powerful demonstration of the Principle of Relativity that does not require imagining observers travelling on spaceships in deep space.
Faraday observed that the movement of a magnetized or charged object creates a field that can be measured. When he moved a magnet through a coil of wire held stationary on a laboratory table, a meter attached to the coil registered a current. He expected, because it was believed that a universal reference frame or “ether” had to exist as the medium through which electromagnetic energy, light, and everything else moved, that the same current would be detected when both magnet and coil were moving together along a track on the laboratory table, since the motion relative to the ether was the same in both instances. But this was not the case! No current was registered on the meter when both magnet and coil were moving with the same velocity in the laboratory. This greatly puzzled physicists at the time, but we know now that it demonstrates the fact that there is no universal reference frame, and it is the motion of the object in the reference frame of measurement that creates the field, not movement through an etheric universal reference frame. Now let’s apply this knowledge to Dr. X's spheres.
One must look at the whole picture. In Dr. X's thought experiment, each observer will detect a magnetic field generated by the motion of the other observer’s spheres relative to his frame of reference. Since the charges on the spheres are themselves also moving through the magnetic field resulting from the motion, that field also exerts a force on them, producing another magnetic field. So from either observer’s point of view, we have two magnetic fields: one induced by the motion of the spheres relative to the observer’s reference frame, and one induced by the motion of the charges in that magnetic field. Thus two forces are acting on the spheres. Calculations show that the strengths of these fields are exactly equal, in opposite directions, canceling each other.
Just as in Faraday’s experiment, for both A and B, even though they both will detect magnetic fields generated by the force of the motion pushing them apart, there will be no measurable electromagnetic force pushing the spheres apart. If we think of this as an experiment aimed at detecting motion in the quantum ether proposed by Dr. X, using a simple detector made from a magnet and a wire, and low velocities in an earth-bound laboratory, we find a null result, exactly as was found by the Michelson-Morley experiment. It is this knowledge that measurements and observations will necessarily be different for observers in relative motion, and mathematically dependent upon that relative motion, not motion through some fixed universal reference frame, that leads to an understanding of relativity.
To summarize: the problem with Dr. X's “logical impossibility” indicating unacceptable contradictions in relativity is that his reasoning is circular. Such reasoning is rooted in the belief in a universal reference frame and simultaneity. If you assume that simultaneity in such a universal reference frame exists, you will deduce contradictions in the theory of relativity. But the existence of such a universal ether is contradicted by the easily reproducible results of the Faraday experiment, as well as the Michelson-Morley experiment and a plethora of other data from experimental physics. Therefore, we have to reject Dr. X's argument.
The confusion of those who have not grasped this subtle difference between the observations and measurements of observers in relative motion can be excused. As Einstein said: “Rafinert is der Herr Gott, aber bohaft ist er nicht!” In plain English: God’s thoughts (i.e. reality) are subtle, but not malicious, i.e., not so convoluted that we can’t figure them out!
E.R. Close, December 15, 2013