How Einstein Ruined Physics

How Einstein Ruined Physics: Motion, Symmetry, and Revolution in Science, by Roger Schlafly.

There are many books on Albert Einstein, the history of science, and the topics in this book. But this book explains many things that are not easily found elsewhere. Here is a sample of what you will learn.

  • Nobody thought that Einstein’s famous 1905 relativity paper was any big deal, until the Poincare-Minkowski approach became popular.
  • Einstein is credited with abolishing the aether, but he believed in it as much as his predecessors.
  • Einstein only succeeded with relativity in 1905 by postulating what Lorentz had proved. Lorentz, Einstein, and Minkowski all said so.
  • Einstein’s big achievement in 1905 was to derive the Lorentz transformations from the speed of light being constant for all observers. But that is exactly how Lorentz derived them in 1892, and how FitzGerald derived the length contraction in 1889.
  • Einstein blamed Lorentz for believing in an immobile aether, but Lorentz explained that he only meant that he was rejecting the aether drift theories of his predecessors.
  • Why people said that Einstein was the new Copernicus, and why Copernicus and Galileo were not so scientific.
  • The essence of special relativity is the four-dimensional geometry of spacetime and the electromagnetic covariance, and Einstein had nothing to do with the discovery or early popularization of these concepts.
  • Einstein is most famous for his 1905 relativity paper, but it was not even the best paper on the subject that year. It had very little influence on subsequent developments.
  • Relativity and quantum mechanics are taught as being strange and counter-intuitive, but the world would be stranger without these theories.
  • How scholars in the history and philosophy of science have based whole theories on a mistaken view of the origin of relativity.
  • Einstein was not humble. He spent his whole life hiding his sources, promoting himself to the public, and claiming exaggerated credit for himself. He is famous because his rivals were much more modest.
  • Acceptance of relativity was not based on older scientists being replaced by younger ones, but by older scientists telling the younger ones that they were wrong.
  • Poincare made symmetry a guiding principle for constructing relativity theory, and symmetry became the most important principle in 20th century physics.
  • Detecting the motion of the Earth puzzled smart men for millennia, until 1900. Relativity was invented to explain why an experiment failed to detect the motion of the Earth.
  • The first three formulations of general relativity, suitable for the foreseeable observations, were by Grossmann, Hilbert, and Schwarzchild.
  • Einstein opposed the major consequences of general relativity, namely the big bang, black holes, and gravity waves.
  • Historians now describe science in terms of Kuhnian paradigm shifts, which are not advances at all in any measurable or rational sense.
  • Theoretical physics today is dominated by professors who have a misguided Einsteinian belief in ignoring experiments and relying on philosophical beliefs instead.
  • Einstein’s Nobel Prize conspicuously avoided mentioning relativity, but about 20 other Nobel prizes were given for relativity-related work.
  • Modern astronomy uses epicycles in the same way that Ptolemy and the ancients did.
  • How theoretical physicists have switched to selling ideas based on what is popular with their colleagues, rather than what explains experiments.
  • Hawking’s latest book claims that a theory of everything replaces God, but the theory explains no actual observations or experiments.
  • Einstein is praised partially because of the perception that he ignored experiment and theorized about how the world ought to be.
  • America had a role in the history of relativity with the most convincing experimental evidence (Michelson-Morley in Cleveland 1887), the first paper on velocity causing a spatial contraction (FitzGerald in AAAS Science 1889), and the first announcement of a new mechanics based on all velocities being limited by the speed of light (Poincare in St. Louis 1904).

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