Book Review: Questioning Einstein

“Questioning Einstein” by Tom BethellCall it my guilty little secret. Every now and then, I enjoy nothing more than picking up a work of crackpot science, reading it with the irony lobe engaged, and figuring out precisely where the author went off the rails and trying to imagine how one might explain to them the blunders which led to the poppycock they expended so much effort getting into print. In the field of physics, for some reason Einstein’s theory of special relativity attracts a disproportionate number of such authors, all bent on showing that Einstein was wrong or, in the case of the present work’s subtitle, asking “Is Relativity Necessary?”. With a little reflexion, this shouldn’t be a surprise: alone among major theories of twentieth century physics, special relativity is mathematically accessible to anybody acquainted with high school algebra, and yet makes predictions for the behaviour of objects at high velocity which are so counterintuitive to the expectations based upon our own personal experience with velocities much smaller than that they appear, at first glance, to be paradoxes. Theories more dubious and less supported by experiment may be shielded from crackpots simply by the forbidding mathematics one must master in order to understand and talk about them persuasively.

This is an atypical exemplar of the genre. While most attacks on special relativity are written by delusional mad scientists, the author of the present work, Tom Bethell, is a respected journalist whose work has been praised by, among others, Tom Wolfe and George Gilder. The theory presented here is not his own, but one developed by Petr Beckmann, whose life’s work, particularly in advocating civil nuclear power, won him the respect of Edward Teller (who did not, however, endorse his alternative to relativity). As works of crackpot science go, this is one of the best I’ve read. It is well written, almost free of typographical and factual errors, clearly presents its arguments in terms a layman can grasp, almost entirely avoids mathematical equations, and is thoroughly documented with citations of original sources, many of which those who have learnt special relativity from modern textbooks may not be aware. Its arguments against special relativity are up to date, tackling objections including the Global Positioning System, the Brillet-Hall experiment, and the Hafele-Keating “travelling clock” experiments as well as the classic tests. And the author eschews the ad hominem attacks on Einstein which are so common in the literature of opponents to relativity.

Beckmann’s theory posits that the luminiferous æther (the medium in which light waves propagate), which was deemed “superfluous” in Einstein’s 1905 paper, in fact exists, and is simply the locally dominant gravitational field. In other words, the medium in which light waves wave is the gravity which makes things which aren’t light heavy. Got it? Light waves in any experiment performed on the Earth or in its vicinity will propagate in the æther of its gravitational field (with only minor contributions from those of other bodies such as the Moon and Sun), and hence attempts to detect the “æther drift” due to the Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun such as the Michelson-Morley experiment will yield a null result, since the æther is effectively “dragged” or “entrained” along with the Earth. But since the gravitational field is generated by the Earth’s mass, and hence doesn’t rotate with it (Huh—what about the Lense-Thirring effect, which is never mentioned here?), it should be possible to detect the much smaller æther drift effect as the measurement apparatus rotates around the Earth, and it is claimed that several experiments have made such a detection.

It’s traditional that popular works on special relativity couch their examples in terms of observers on trains, so let me say that it’s here that we feel the sickening non-inertial-frame lurch as the train departs the track and enters a new inertial frame headed for the bottom of the canyon. Immediately, we’re launched into a discussion of the Sagnac effect and its various manifestations ranging from the original experiment to practical applications in laser ring gyroscopes, to round-the-world measurements bouncing signals off multiple satellites. For some reason the Sagnac effect seems to be a powerful attractor into which special relativity crackpottery is sucked. Why it is so difficult to comprehend, even by otherwise intelligent people, entirely escapes me. May I explain it to you? This would be easier with a diagram, but just to show off and emphasise how simple it is, I’ll do it with words. Imagine you have a turntable, on which are mounted four mirrors which reflect light around the turntable in a square: the light just goes around and around. If the turntable is stationary and you send a pulse of light in one direction around the loop and then send another in the opposite direction, it will take precisely the same amount of time for them to complete one circuit of the mirrors. (In practice, one uses continuous beams of monochromatic light and combines them in an interferometer, but the effect is the same as measuring the propagation time—it’s just easier to do it that way.) Now, let’s assume you start the turntable rotating clockwise. Once again you send pulses of light around the loop in both directions; this time we’ll call the one which goes in the same direction as the turntable’s rotation the clockwise pulse and the other the counterclockwise pulse. Now when we measure how long it took for the clockwise pulse to make it one time around the loop we find that it took longer than for the counterclockwise pulse. OMG!!! Have we disproved Einstein’s postulate of the constancy of the speed of light (as is argued in this book at interminable length)? Well, of course not, as a moment’s reflexion will reveal. The clockwise pulse took longer to make it around the loop because it had farther to travel to arrive there: as it was bouncing from each mirror to the next, the rotation of the turntable was moving the next mirror further away, and so each leg it had to travel was longer. Conversely, as the counterclockwise pulse was in flight, its next mirror was approaching it, and hence by the time it made it around the loop it had travelled less far, and consequently arrived sooner. That’s all there is to it, and precision measurements of the Sagnac effect confirm that this analysis is completely consistent with special relativity. The only possible source of confusion is if you make the self-evident blunder of analysing the system in the rotating reference frame of the turntable. Such a reference frame is trivially non-inertial, so special relativity does not apply. You can determine this simply by tossing a ball from one side of the turntable to another, with no need for all the fancy mirrors, light pulses, or the rest.

Other claims of Beckmann’s theory are explored, all either dubious or trivially falsified. Bethell says there is no evidence for the length contraction predicted by special relativity. In fact, analysis of heavy ion collisions confirm that each nucleus approaching the scene of the accident “sees” the other as a “pancake” due to relativistic length contraction. It is claimed that while physical processes on a particle moving rapidly through a gravitational field slow down, that an observer co-moving with that particle would not see a comparable slow-down of clocks at rest with respect to that gravitational field. But the corrections applied to the atomic clocks in GPS satellites incorporate this effect, and would produce incorrect results if it did not occur.

I could go on and on. I’m sure there is a simple example from gravitational lensing or propagation of electromagnetic radiation from gamma ray bursts which would falsify the supposed classical explanation for the gravitational deflection of light due to a refractive effect based upon strength of the gravitational field, but why bother when so many things much easier to dispose of are hanging lower on the tree. Should you buy this book? No, unless, like me, you enjoy a rare example of crackpot science which is well done. This is one of those, and if you’re well acquainted with special relativity (if not, take a trip on the C-ship!) you may find it entertaining finding the flaws in and identifying experiments which falsify the arguments here.

Bethell, Tom. Questioning Einstein. Pueblo West, CO: Vales Lake Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-971-48459-7.

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Petr Beckmann’s Book, Einstein Plus Two – Equivalence vs Truth

Petr Beckmann, Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado

I have thought about a post like this for some time. And I meant to do it on Ricochet but just never got around to it. The other night we were talking on the RAMU and John Walker and I were debating Einstein and his relativity theories. We cut it short because people were snoring but I said I would write up something to at least discuss the topic so I can explain what I think is an important thing to deal with. There are many dissident physicists, presently living, who don’t believe these theories are describing reality and who aren’t afraid of saying so. But most skeptics who are in the academy or are in the scientific field of some sort, are not anxious to get into the debate because it can have negative effects on their careers.

I personally have always appreciated Petr Beckmann‘s book, Einstein Plus Two, so I want to start with a couple things from it. First is his Preface which is short and second is a perspective for the layman about what his criticism is (or a way to explain it, anyway).

Later, if this goes well, I then want to go into the change of Mercury’s orbit, an early claim for a proof that Einstein’s theories were correct.

I’m a layman in this field and I am not at John’s level of education on this field (but I hope he will weigh in here) and we also have @drlorentz here and a few others brainiacs, too, that I suspect don’t buy into the dissident physics that I am discussing here.

My only interest is to try and explain the dispute generally so that people can get a purchase on just what the fuss is all about. Beckmann sets the stage rather well – for how to think of this. So, here are these two items from the book:

************************

Item 1: Preface

When I run, I feel a wind; but not one that will make a windmill turn.

As long as an observer is at rest on the ground, it does not matter whether the velocity of the wind is referred to the observer or the windmill. A physicist who falsely assumes that the effect-producing velocity (that makes the windmill turn) is that with respect to the observer, but correctly applies the relativity principle, will expect the windmill to turn when he is running. The experimental evidence will contradict his expectation, and he can then either abandon his false premise, or he can so distort space and time that the observer’s motion produces two exactly equal and opposite forces on the windmill, keeping the mill motionless as observed. The Einstein theory, in effect, takes the latter road; but I believe the laws of physics, including the relativity principle, must hold regardless of any observer, who should do nothing but observe.

An electric or magnetic field will accelerate an electron. Its magnetic field will therefore increase, which causes the induced electric field to decelerate it. That will decrease the magnetic field and the induced electric field will accelerate the electron again. The resulting oscillations are derived from the Maxwell equations in Part Two of this book. They explain the quantization of electron orbits, the de Broglie relation and the Schrödinger equation simply and without further assumptions.

The natural frequency of these oscillations depends on the velocity of the electron. but the velocity with respect to what? The velocity that will make the Lorentz force and the Maxwell equations valid, claims the Einstein theory, is the velocity with respect to the observer. But if so, does the electron oscillate for me because I am moving past it, but not for you because it lies still in your rest frame? To answer yes is to kill the relativity principle.

As I will attempt to show, the velocity that makes the Maxwell-Lorentz electrodynamics valid is that of charges with respect to the local fields they traverse. flat squares with the experimental evidence in electromagnetics and optics, and it leads to the derivation of two phenomena for which no explanation other than ad hoc postulates has hitherto been available: the quantization of electron orbits and in the realm of gravity, the Titius series.

Why, then, has the Einstein theory celebrated an uninterrupted series of brilliant successes for more than 80 years?

Because in all past experiments the observing instruments have always been nailed to the local field, so that they could not reveal whether the observed effect was associated with an observer-referred or a field-referred velocity. The technology for testing that difference may not be available for some time.

But if it is field-referred velocities that are the effect-producing ones, then the Maxwell equations automatically become invariant to the Galileian transformation; the undisputed fact that the Lorentz force and the Maxwell equations with observer-referred velocities are Lorentz-invariant is one that becomes both trivial and irrelevant.

I am not so naive as to think that the first attempt to move the entire Einstein theory en bloc onto classical ground will turn out to be perfectly correct. What I do hope is that the approach will provide a stimulus for the return of physics from description to comprehension. Attempting to redefine the ultimate foundation pillars of physics, space and time, from what they have been understood to mean through the ages is to move the entire building from its well-established and clearly visible foundations into a domain of unreal acrobatics where the observer becomes more important than the nature he is supposed to observe, where space and time become toys in abstract mathematical formalisms, and where, to quote a recent paper on modern approaches to gravitation theory, “the distinctions between future and past become blurred.”

This book is for those who do not wish to blur such distinctions (“He will commit posthumous suicide yesterday”?). It is for those who seek to understand rather than merely to describe; for those who will accept the Einstein theory as a brilliant, powerful and productive equivalence, but not as a physical reality.

It is for those who are prepared to sacrifice a lifetime’s investment in learning; and perhaps more importantly, for the young students who have not yet made such an investment.

Boulder, Colorado                                                                                                      P.B.
1983-1987

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And this graph is from his introduction (titled Truth and Equivalence). With this graph and explanation in the caption, Beckmann summarizes his main point. He believes that the math that Einstein’s theories uses describes reality but that the explanations given by him do not. It’s that simple.

The graph shows (by analogy) that it is possible to not know exactly why the math works in something and that for the purpose of calculating the transit time in this example one can just act as though the signal reflects off a mirror located at the top of the triangle. With better understanding, one can determine what actually happens up in the ionosphere by further studies and measurements.

Item 2:
Truth vs Equivalence – Image is from Petr Beckmann’s book, Einstein Plus Two

Here’s a link to my full scan of the introduction if you want to read in more depth.

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Einstein Sails, Cuomo Doles, and Montesano Feeds Cat ONLY IN NEW YORK

Einstein was in Saranac Lake the summer of 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; he was in the kitchen at Knollwood’s Cabin Six when he heard the news on the radio. Albany Times Union reporter Richard Lewis, who interviewed him at Knollwood, quoted him saying

“In developing atomic or nuclear energy, science did not draw upon supernatural strength, but merely imitated the reaction of the sun’s rays.

Atomic power is no more unnatural than when I sail my boat on Saranac Lake.”  1

— Einstein, Saranac Lake, New York 1945

To me this is evidence that even the keenest intellects can make mistakes, (particularly when on a vacation and the media is within earshot). Note: This type of news media “treatment” can be done at any time to Millenials that use Google Home or other snooping devices — they by design are always listening. *

But what of the “Einstein” running New York State?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a graph representing ethics reform during a meeting with the New York Post Editorial Board Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in New York. (New York Post/Chad Rachman)

The governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, gave a speech Saturday, February 17th at the very same lake, Lake Saranac.  3  He doles out $Billions of the peoples money, centrally plan economic development via https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov

Wage slave, senior engineer, Ronald Montesano was recorded via Google Home NSA stream as stating:

“Cuomo’s power  in New York State, is no more unnatural than when I feed Schrödinger’s cat.”4

— Ronald Montesano, Highland, New York 2018

 

Sources:

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn86033360/1948-12-29/ed-1/seq-1/

*  Reference removed to instigate readers.

https://t.co/ehETMYwkQX

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat

 

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