Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where Do People Conjure This Stuff up? (1)

Once more, another half-baked "new theory" - purportedly designed to "revolutionize physics". This despite the fact the guy has likely never taken a single college level physics course, yet fancies himself a superior expert to Einstein! I want to explore again this 'special theory" syndrome which appears to have captivated a certain subset of the populace that now consumes its time dreaming up these things. The problem, as I noted in previous blogs, is these concoctions are not theories! More exactly they're way out conjectures: mostly descriptive, and without a single prediction to be made far less any quantitative ballast. They also include many errors to do with basic physics concepts, such as mixing up velocity with mass. In all, they disclose the person hasn't a remote clue about doing real physics.

Let's look then at this most recent example. Our "theoretician" writes:

I have had some physics in the past. I am looking forward to taking more physics courses as soon as I can. I have two theories I’m not sure I have the right idea what is happening. One is on the true velocity of light. The other is a theory I came up with after a thought experiment. Trying to prove space is relative. Obviously expanding on Relativity. Any feedback giving me a better understanding of the topics would be much appreciated. I originally wrote these theories out for a couple of friends of mine. So I apologize if I am stating the obvious at different points.

His first mistake is to admit he's physics deficient, which means I will then be on 'red alert' for these deficiencies, the same as if I see a fundie who's never taken a biology course trying to discourse on evolution.

His second mistake is asserting he has "two theories". Most normal humans, especially those who've had minimal exposure to physics, are lucky to come up with ONE original theory in a lifetime. Einstein was exceptional since, despite working in a Swiss Patent office, he arrived at the special theory of relativity. But he managed this because he used three-fourths of his employer's time each day working exclusively on physics!

His third error is referencing the "true velocity of light" without defining it or showing how or why the Michelson-Morley experiment was wrong. Indeed, there is only one "true velocity of light": c!

His fourth error is "trying to prove space is relative" which Hans Reichenbach already dealt with at length in his wonderful monograph The Philosophy of Space and Time ('The Relativity of Geometry', pp. 30-37) which discloses he hasn't even read the basic scientific literature before launching into his own claimed 'theories'!

With these 4 strikes against him, there is about zero chance he will elicit my attention in any positive way, but I am curious to ascertain how many other errors (or omissions), he will commit before he's done! He writes:


Light is simply the name for the electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the human eye. It ranges from 390 to 740 nm. All parts of the EMS travel at C (the speed of light, 186,282 mps) in a vacuum. We have proven light always travels at this speed. Your velocity doesn’t appear to matter to the speed of light. If you were traveling at 99% the speed of light and you turn on a headlight the light would travel away from you at the FULL speed of light.

Here, he merely wastes time regurgitating known facts about light. His last sentence would expose more insight into his 'theory' if he actually explained the consequence of shining a beam of light toward an oncoming ship or observer travelling at velocity c. (Which by standard relativity, shows the relative velocity is still less than c!)

He goes on:

Currently we believe it’s impossible to travel faster than light because as we travel faster this extra velocity makes your ship more massive. Requiring more and more energy to accelerate until it takes infinite energy. But as your ship accelerates it would increase in mass uniformly. Your internal fuel source would also become more massive. The earth is not stationary. We are currently traveling at an estimated 1,894,062 mph. Einstein’s first postulate is that the physical laws of nature are the same in all inertial reference frames. So if you have a ship that can accelerate from our current place in space. Then due to an increased velocity it becomes more massive uniformly. Physics for that ship would stay the same and it would still be capable of accelerating.

Here, he totally misses the point concerning the principle of inertia. This tells us he hasn't the foggiest clue what it is, or how it works. He seems to think that merely increasing velocity causes all parts of ship to "increase uniformly" - including fuel, so there's nothing stopping it from accelerating ad infinitum.(This, btw, is a typical quirk of newbies who believe their "common sense" impressions pass muster as valid physical insights! But the point of Einstein's mass-energy equation is that as the velocity increases (specifically approaching c) so does the inertia - which means its ever more difficult to go faster.

Special relativity only addresses the increase in mass as a vehicle approaches c, the speed of light. The closer one gets to c, in other words, the more massive the object or vehicle gets compared to its “rest mass” (the amount of inertia, or resistance to change in position or motion recorded while stationary).

As an example, an astronaut of rest mass 100 kg will have a mass of 109 kg, when traveling at 40% of the speed of light (e.g. 0.4c).

We can confirm this using the relativistic mass equation:

m = m(o)/[1 – v^2/c^2]^ ½

where m(o) = 100 kg, the rest mass

Then: m = 100kg/ [1 – 0.16c^2/c^2]^ ½ = 100 kg/ [0.84]^ ½

= 100 kg / 0.916 = 109 kg

We already see from this that his inertia's increasing, and he's effectively becoming MORE DIFFICULT to move, not less!

What about at speed c?


m = 100kg/ [1 – c^2/c^2]^ ½ = 100 kg/ [1 - 1]^ ½ = 100kg/0

m = oo (Anything divided by zero is operationally defined as infinity!)

In other words, an infinite mass

But what does this MEAN? It doesn't mean that his mass "increases uniformly along with the fuel" to allow him to keep moving, it means he can't move at speed c because his iniertia (resistance to motion) is INFINITE!

Thus, his claim that "Physics for that ship would stay the same and it would still be capable of accelerating" is totally wrong!

He goes on, unperturbed or even aware of this colossal error:

Light is constant and always stays the same speed. Therefor light is no longer a finite speed of 186,282 miles per second rather it is the barrier speed from our current energy level (perspective). The maximum possible velocity an observer can perceive till time turns into a singularity relatively.

Of course, this is all nonsense, gibberish. The conclusion is also way false because as I demonstrated his leading premise (e.g. "it would still be capable of accelerating") is patently false. It can't accelerate because ALL the mass of the universe would be needed and then some!

Also, 'barrier speed' is gibberish. There's no such thing. He obviously is thinking of light speed with a 'light barrier' analogous to how sound has a 'sound barrier'.

It is also dangerous talking about the "maximum possible velocity an observer can perceive". We are not into perceptions, but measurements!

More codswallop:

All time for an object happens at once from the perspective of an object on a different energy level (time dilation).

Here, he mixes up the concept of energy levels (as in quantum mechanics) with time dilation, a specific feature of special relativity. For example, as I already showed with muons in a previous blog.

Time dilation emerges when two systems, S and S', are considered with S' moving at velocity v relative to S. Each system has affixed within it clocks that can be compared. Suppose there is a clock c' in system S'. An observer in S (stationary frame) sees this clock moving with velocity v and thus at any time t the position of c' with reference to his (stationary) system is given by: x = vt.

If the length of time between two ticks of the clock c' is T' in the moving system S', then the time between two ticks of c' for the observer in S will be:

T = T'/ [1 – v^2/c^2]^ ½

For example consider a time interval T' = 1 minute. Let v = 0.6c.


T = (1 min.)/ [1 – 0.36c^2/c^2]^ ½

T = (1 min.)/ [0.64]^ ½ = 1 min. / (0.8) = 1. 25 mins. = 75 secs

Now, since T is longer than T' (by 15 seconds) it appears to S that S's clock (c') is running SLOWER (e.g. than it does to S').

This applies, of course, not just to the clock c' but to all events, processes that are clock-time-contingent, including vibrations of electrons in atoms, rates of chemical reactions, and the rates of energy conversions etc.

Thus, time dilation is not coincident with energy but does impact rates of energy conversion for a specific inertial observer.

More to come!

No comments: