Posts Tagged ‘Michelson-Morley’

Science: Progressing Wisdom

May 11, 2014

Abstract: Pseudo scientific considerations by one of the USA’s most famous pundits are demolished (with the help of Krugman). Science defines progress (all the more as it requires ever more conscience). An occasion is found to reveal that physics’ relativity theory is relatively old.

REASON IS NOT SPASTIC:

The continuity of science, or, more generally of natural observations, or even of the most atavistic wisdom, is not appreciated enough. To understand this is important: fast buck artists and the worst potentates, Caligula, Nero, or Putin style, and the most terrible errors of policies, says the lethally unsustainable energy or thoughts systems we are presently enjoying, generally relate from age old wisdom denied.

A particular example of this consists into dismissing the notions of scientific consensus, and scientific progress.

Extending Galileo's Relativity Experiments To Light

Extending Galileo’s Relativity Experiments To Light

Galileo had tried to determine the speed of light, but it was too fast. However, once one knows light is a wave, one realizes that, thanks to precision manufacturing, much can be done deep inside a ship, as Galileo used to.

An example I use all the time is that Buridan discovered inertia and used it for establishing the heliocentric system. In 1320 CE, two full centuries before Copernic… Copernic just studied Buridan’s theory. So what had happened in the meantime? The Catholic Church, with the collaboration of Louis XI (the encaging king), outlawed Buridan around 1470 CE. The truth came out, because greater Poland/Czech/Ukraine (at the time) was inimical to Rome’s religious fanaticism (so Buridan was mandatory in Cracow, where Copernic studied).

So reason is not spastic. It’s the active intervention of intellectual fascism that makes reason spastic.

DENYING REASON, A USA MAIN STREAM SPECIALTY:

Making reason spastic in appearance is useful to those who want to deny reason. Such as all those who depend for their comfort upon a small oligarchy holding the world in its talons.

Science, well done, is the temple of reason. Reason inconveniences plutocrats. This is why enormous propaganda, for decades, denied, in the USA, that evolution happened (something established by Lamarck and his colleagues before 1800 CE).

So it’s no wonder that one of the USA’s top gargoyles (festering at the Wall Street Journal and Fox) dismissed the global warming consensus. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is “not impressed by consensus.” Krauthammer is no dummy, he just plays one on TV. Like Goebbels, he has studied stuff. He is a trained psychiatrist.

Krauthammer appeared on Fox to heap spite on the Obama administration argument that the “97 percent of scientists who study this issue, who agree that climate change is real and it is the result of human activity.” The hammer of the Kraut retorted that:

“99 percent of physicists were convinced that space and time were fixed until Einstein working in a patent office wrote a paper in which he showed that they are not… I’m not impressed by numbers. I’m not impressed by consensus…These are things that people negotiate the way you would negotiate a bill, because the science is unstable…Because in the case of climate, the models are changeable. And because climate is so complicated,” Krauthammer continued, “The idea that we, who have trouble forecasting what’s going to happen on Saturday in the climate, could pretend to be predicting what’s going to happen in 30, 40 years, is absurd.

The answer to this is what I call “Catastrophic Logic” (which allows air travel). But let’s Krugman roll:

KRUGMAN: EINSTEINIAN EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION:

“As Chait notes, this logic would lead you to dismiss all science — hey, maybe tomorrow someone will write a paper showing that the germ theory of disease is all wrong, so why bother with sterilized instruments in the hospital? But there’s something else wrong here — the complete misunderstanding of what Einstein did.

Yes, Einstein showed that space and time were relative concepts. But did he show that everything physicists had been doing up to that point was all wrong? Of course not — classical physics was an incredibly useful and successful field, and almost none of what it said had to change in light of relativity. True, Einstein showed that it was a special case — but one that applied almost perfectly at the speeds and accelerations we encounter in normal conditions

So if we had an Einstein equivalent in climate science, he or she would find that existing models were right in 99.9% of what they assert, even though under extreme conditions they might be misleading.

Or maybe the simpler way to put it is, Dr. Krauthammer, you’re no Einstein.”

To be fair about climate science, it depends upon too many factors to be precise beyond the fact we are for sure, lest we do a few things real fast, and real ferocious, that we are facing one of the greatest catastrophe for a few million years, or maybe all the way back to Snowball Earth, more than 600 million years ago.

Now to expand on what Krugman said.

RELATIVITY RELATIVELY OLD:

Einstein’s work in Relativity was such a puny advance to what was known before that, nowadays, Einstein is not viewed by competent historians of science as the main architect of “Relativity”.

It’s also why Einstein did not get a Nobel for Relativity, but for the idea that light travelled as photons (and other contributions to physics)… An idea I do not believe, by the way, to be 100% correct, although Einstein was close enough to explain the photoelectric effect with it!)

The inventor of the idea of Relativity is Galileo, who described it in great detail in the early Seventeenth Century. Galileo observed that, inside a cabin deep in a ship one cannot tell if the ship is moving or not. Galileo suggested in a long list, all the experiences one can think of. Observe the connection between new technology and new science: the ship itself is the (non-) accelerator of the 17C.

For a while, in the late Nineteenth Century, some physicists thought that light was not respecting Relativity.

However, when that was tested by American physicists Michelson and Morley with an interferometer, it was found that light could not detect absolute motion.

The mystery was explained when it was found by Lorentz and Fitzgerald that length contracted in the direction of very high speed motion. That the laws of electrodynamics (summarized and completed by Maxwell) did not respect normal space-time transformations was made amply clear by Poincare’, who proclaimed the “Principle of Relativity” (1904), after publishing the mass equal energy relation in 1900, and discovering the “Poincare’ group”.

Poincare’, the most famous mathematician, insisted that Lorentz get the Nobel Prize in physics. Later, Einstein resumed all this in 1905, starting from Poincare”s idea that the fact that the speed of light was constant was a fundamental law of nature (as the work of Einstein was published by Planck in German rather than French, Dutch, or English, it got great renown).

Thus Relativity Theory was fully in a continuity inaugurated by Galileo 400 years ago. Indeed.

SCIENCE DEFINES PROGRESS:

We still use the optics found by the Greeks, and, the idea of numerals, including the zero, was developed by them and the Indians.

Greek thinkers also discerned the idea of evolution, suggested we evolved from fishes, an idea Lamarck revived by ascertaining that apes were our direct ancestor (to the hatred of the church).

In truth, science is as old as our species. We always add new layers. That’s why we have to be suspicious when some come, and claim that all what we knew before is wrong (as the cackling Multiverse turkeys do with both physics and philosophy).

The progress the genus Homo has made, is, first of all, defined by the science we have. All the more as it requires an ever more sophisticated conscience.

Patrice Aymé

Philosophia Naturalis I

March 13, 2014

Philosophy is what inquiring minds have to do when we don’t know for sure, and before we know for sure. The latter is called science (OK, sometimes we have to revise our opinions drastically, as new axioms supersede the old ones).

I have sharply differed with professor Strassler in the past (he wrote at some point that physics was strictly defined by equations, and I sharply debunked that myth: it is obviously not even the case of mathematics; to his honor, he published my brutal objection).

My position, same as Archimedes,  Newton or Descartes, is that philosophy comes first. When a dashing scientific advance does not require new philosophy, it means it’s not that deep.

New Physics Principles Are Always Born From Philosophy

New Physics Principles Are Always Born From Philosophy

I have my own possible insights to propose in physics, but before I get there, let Matt Strassler expose the problem. I have done so myself in similar terms, but it’s refreshing to read a top professional do it so well, and to the point.

In a magnificent essay, “What if the Large Hadron Collider Finds Nothing Else?”, wonderfully philosophical, for a professional physicist, Mr. Strassler ponders how future science is guessed by exploring how we established our beliefs. That’s my kind of science:

“What will it mean, for the 100 TeV collider project and more generally, if the LHC, having made possible the discovery of the Higgs particle, provides us with no more clues?…

Before we go any further, let’s keep in mind that we already know that the Standard Model isn’t all there is to nature. The Standard Model does not provide a consistent theory of gravity, nor does it explain neutrino masses, dark matter or “dark energy” (also known as the cosmological constant). Moreover, many of its features are just things we have to accept without explanation, such as the strengths of the forces, the existence of “three generations” (i.e., that there are two heavier cousins of the electron, two for the up quark and two for the down quark), the values of the masses of the various particles, etc. However, even though the Standard Model has its limitations, it is possible that everything that can actually be measured at the LHC — which cannot measure neutrino masses or directly observe dark matter or dark energy — will be well-described by the Standard Model. What if this is the case?

Michelson and Morley, and What They Discovered

In science, giving strong evidence that something isn’t there can be as important as discovering something that is there — and it’s often harder to do, because you have to thoroughly exclude all possibilities. [It’s very hard to show that your lost keys are nowhere in the house — you have to convince yourself that you looked everywhere.] A famous example is the case of Albert Michelson, in his two experiments (one in 1881, a second with Edward Morley in 1887) trying to detect the “ether wind”.

Light had been shown to be a wave in the 1800s; and like all waves known at the time, it was assumed to be a wave in something material, just as sound waves are waves in air, and ocean waves are waves in water. This material was termed the “luminiferous ether”. As we can detect our motion through air or through water in various ways, it seemed that it should be possible to detect our motion through the ether, specifically by looking for the possibility that light traveling in different directions travels at slightly different speeds.  This is what Michelson and Morley were trying to do: detect the movement of the Earth through the luminiferous ether.

Both of Michelson’s measurements failed to detect any ether wind, and did so expertly and convincingly. And for the convincing method that he invented — an experimental device called an interferometer, which had many other uses too — Michelson won the Nobel Prize in 1907. Meanwhile the failure to detect the ether drove both FitzGerald and Lorentz to consider radical new ideas about how matter might be deformed as it moves through the ether.”

So far so good. Then Strassler deviates from reality with a bout of Einstein religion (attributing Relativity to Einstein, because the real discoverer was French)

It’s Poincare’ who invented and named the “Principle of Relativity”, and insisted that Lorentz get the Nobel  for the Lorentz transformation-Poincare’ Group; the only reason Poincare’ did not get the physics Nobel for Relativity is that he died in 1911: no Nobel was given for Relativity, as a result: it could not be given for the parrot because he parroted!

It’s not just a question of anti-French hatred, or scientific priority, but of logical causality (thus Poincare’ versus Einstein is a scientific problem of the most subtle type!).

Strassler: “In Michelson’s case, the failure to discover the ether was itself a discovery, recognized only in retrospect: a discovery that the ether did not exist. (Or, if you’d like to say that it does exist, which some people do, then what was discovered is that the ether is utterly unlike any normal material substance in which waves are observed; no matter how fast or in what direction you are moving relative to me, both of us are at rest relative to the ether.) So one must not be too quick to assume that a lack of discovery is actually a step backwards; it may actually be a huge step forward.”

After he published the proof of E = mcc in 1900, Poincare’ pondered a lot about the part in parenthesis above. So did I. My conclusion? Particles create space, that’s why they are always at rest relative to it. (This is a glimpse to a possible future explanation, I do not claim it’s obvious.)

Strassler: “Epicycles or a Revolution?

There were various attempts to make sense of Michelson and Morley’s experiment.

Some interpretations involved  tweaks of the notion of the ether.  Tweaks of this type, in which some original idea (here, the ether) is retained, but adjusted somehow to explain the data, are often referred to as “epicycles” by scientists.   (This is analogous to the way an epicycle was used by Ptolemy to explain the complex motions of the planets in the sky, in order to retain an earth-centered universe; the sun-centered solar system requires no such epicycles.) A tweak of this sort could have been the right direction to explain Michelson and Morley’s data, but as it turned out, it was not. Instead, the non-detection of the ether wind required something more dramatic — for it turned out that waves of light, though at first glance very similar to other types of waves, were in fact extraordinarily different. There simply was no ether wind for Michelson and Morley to detect.

If the LHC discovers nothing beyond the Standard Model, we will face what I see as a similar mystery. ”

The reason why Ptolemy could get away with epicycles is that any periodic motion can be decomposed in a sum of circular motions. The mathematician Fourier, born in Grenoble, proved this, and used it to solve a lot of things.

Notice that the problem with Ptolemy was philosophical implausibility: the Greeks knew that the Sun was very far (say more than 30 million kilometers). Thus the Sun had to be enormous.

Sitiing on their bottoms, Greeks astronomers could have been asked the following question: “Hey guys, do you think it’s more likely that something as enormous as the Sun turns around tiny Earth once a day, at an enormous speed, or that the Earth rotates around itself, once a day, and around Sol, at a much more sedate way?”

Of course the latter.

To get an even stronger feeling that way, one had to have a feeling for inertia, which Buridan, contradicting Aristotle, discovered around 1320 CE. This is exactly the reasoning Buridan made when he published his heliocentric theory (misattributed to Copernic, because Buridan was French, and the Church mighty).

Amusingly a mathematician, Steward, published a list of “the 17 equations that changed the world”. He shows his ugly pro-plutocratic face, by mentioning an equation about the pricing of derivatives in the financial markets, as one of the 17.

Steward claims Newton found two of the 17 equations. The first one, the definition of a derivative, was found by Fermat (a Frenchman, thus incapable of science). The second one, that of the gravitational force was, according to Isaac Newton himself, discovered by another Frenchman (Newton wrote this under oath, in his fight about that equation, with Hooke… a physicist still famous for the elastic force law).

Mr. Steward forgot, among his equations, to mention the Quantum equation: E = hf (Planck-Einstein-De Broglie). There is more money in flattering hedge fund managers, than in remembering Quantum Physics.

In the next essay, why Matt Strassler feels one needs to think out of the box, and I will roll out my own type of experiments to keep on pushing, until we get a different worldview. Whereas nobody can be sure about the Standard Model approach giving birth to something interesting, I will explain my proposed approach is guaranteed to be fruitful (at least at some point).

Patrice Aymé


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www.grrrgraphics.com

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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

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Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

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an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Rise, Republic, Plutocracy, Degeneracy, Fall And Transmutation Of Rome

Power Exponentiation By A Few Destroyed Greco-Roman Civilization. Are We Next?

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

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in truth, only atoms and the void

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Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

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The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

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Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century