Friday, 26 July 2013

Criticism of Theory of Relativity

Theory of Relativity has been hugely criticize as soon as it was published in early 20th century. Some of these were contradictory with modern theory, others were based on philosophical and ideological ideas. Besides those reasons, antisemitic objections to Einstein's Jewish heritage occasionally played a role as well. Even today such critics exists who are called the anti-relativists.

Some grounds of criticism are :

1. The Special Theory of Relativity clashed with the earlier theories like Maxwell's electromagnetism, STR cannot explain acceleration in frames. Some physicists were not ready to reject the idea of existence of ether. Some didn't accept the fact that Speed of light is absolute in all frames of reference. Insufficiency of knowledge of basics of STR led to development of paradoxes - Twin paradox ( If two twins move away from each other, and one of them is accelerating and coming back to the other, then the accelerated twin is younger than the other one, since he was located in at least two inertial frames of reference, and therefore his assessment of which events are simultaneous changed during the acceleration. For the other twin nothing changes since he remained in a single frame.) and Ehrenfest paradox (rotating rigid body would, according to Born's definition, undergo a contraction of the circumference without contraction of the radius, which is impossible).

2. The General Theory of Relativity too clashed with earlier and modern theories. It dealt with gravity so it was difficult to be verified. Ludwik Silberstein, who initially was a supporter of the special theory, objected at different occasions against general relativity. In 1920 he argued that the deflection of light by the sun, as observed by Arthur Eddington et al. (1919), is not necessarily a confirmation of general relativity, but may also be explained by the Stokes-Planck theory of complete ether drag. However, such models are in contradiction with the aberration of light and other experiments.

3. Many other physicists such as Johann Georg von Soldner (credited for calculation of deflection of light), Woldemar Voigt (derived a transformation similar to Lorentx transformation), Friedrich Hasenöhrl (applied the concept of electromagnetic mass and momentum (which were known long before) to cavity- and thermal radiation) and Menyhért Palágyi (developed Space Time in 1901) were not mentioned by Einstein in Special or General Theory of Relativity.

4. Some academic scientists, especially experimental physicists such as the Nobel laureates Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark, as well as Ernst Gehrcke, Stjepan Mohorovičić, Rudolf Tomaschek and others criticized the increasing use of Maths in Physics. In fact modern Physics is based on Maths. They were afraid that the development of Maths in Physics would push out common sense in Physics. After relativity and quantum mechanics these philosophers were the major critics.

A collection of various criticisms can be found in the book Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein (A Hundred authors against Einstein), published in 1931. It contains very short texts from 28 authors, and excerpts from the publications of another 19 authors. The rest consists of a list that also includes people who only for some time were opposed to relativity. Besides philosophic objections (mostly based on Kantianism), also some alleged elementary failures of the theory were included, however, as some commented, those failures were due to the authors' misunderstanding of relativity.

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