Einstein, Time, Relativity

Even Einstein made mistakes, from Physics Today in 2005 Einstein’s Mistakes by Steven Weinberg:

In thinking of Einstein’s mistakes, one immediately recalls what Einstein (in a conversation with George Gamow2) called the biggest blunder he had made in his life: the introduction of the cosmological constant. After Einstein had completed the formulation of his theory of space, time, and gravitation—the general theory of relativity—he turned in 1917 to a consideration of the spacetime structure of the whole universe. He then encountered a problem. Einstein was assuming that, when suitably averaged over many stars, the universe is uniform and essentially static, but the equations of general relativity did not seem to allow a time-independent solution for a universe with a uniform distribution of matter. So Einstein modified his equations, by including a new term involving a quantity that he called the cosmological constant. Then it was discovered that the universe is not static, but expanding. Einstein came to regret that he had needlessly mutilated his original theory. It may also have bothered him that he had missed predicting the expansion of the universe.

For those reading who are prone to eye rolling, I would never presume to compare anyone in climate science to Einstein, but there’s an important and germane science history lesson here worth noting that parallels what has happened with the Spencer and Braswell paper challenging climate models and climate sensitivity.

Consider Edwin Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe based on observational evidence. Einstein created a mathematical model of the universe, and as Wikipedia reportsEarlier, in 1917, Albert Einstein had found that his newly developed theory of general relativity indicated that the universe must be either expanding or contracting. Unable to believe what his own equations were telling him, Einstein introduced a cosmological constant (a “fudge factor“) to the equations to avoid this “problem”.

Einstein didn’t launch a tirade in the press. Instead, Einstein was humble enough to consider that he’d made a mistake and modified his mathematical model to fit the new observation. He later came to regret the cosmological constant, but it demonstrates his ability to assimilate new observational evidence.

Like Spencer and Braswell, Einstein too got his share of public drubbing for his work. Hitler commissioned a group of 100 top scientists in Germany write a book called “Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein” (Hundred authors against Einstein).

Einstein was asked: `Doesn’t it bother you Dr Einstein that you’ve got so many scientists against you?’

And he said: `It doesn’t take 100 scientists to prove me wrong, it takes a single fact’. Source


‘Time Crystals’ Could Upend Physicists’ Theory of Time

Time might not exist, according to physicists and philosophers – but that’s okay”
To a human, time is experienced as variations in the environment. When conscious, there is an awareness of these variations, there being movements of self or others, a progression of weather changes, actions such as eating, dressing, driving, walking, viewing changes, sounds coming and going, the Sun appearing to skyward move around one’s location, seasonal changes, etc.
When  unconscious or sleeping, these relative changes appear as new observations compared to our memory of earlier consciousness.

If there were no environmental motion, everything stationary and static, we would have only our own local conceptions of changes, but how would we perceive the passing of “time”? We could view an hourglass emptying and call it 1 hg, manufacture a rotating mechanism, naming it a clock whereby 1 rotation could be called 1 R, and a counter to sum the “R”‘s, but what would all that mean?
Because of our biological characteristics, we would still be born, grow, mature, age and die. Introducing another parameter – generations, but there would be no yardsticks, not even the once meaningful “moons”,

Without motion there would be no ‘time’ conceivable to man, only birth, development, degradation and death.
No years, days, both derived from our spatial motions, and certainly be no human, theoretical, mathematically concocted classifications  – hours, minutes, seconds etc.!
Therefore, what we call  ‘time’ is a man-made mental construct, based on our observed and perceived relative motions.
Mentally position yourself on an otherwise unpopulated planet and survey the universe  –  you would see positional changes galore, be aware of relative positional changes, realize that they are obviously varying in location, but what else?
Take away the presence of an intelligent presence such as “man”, and “time” becomes meaningless!

About Ken McMurtrie

Retired Electronics Engineer, most recently installing and maintaining medical X-Ray equipment. A mature age "student" of Life and Nature, an advocate of Truth, Justice and Humanity, promoting awareness of the injustices in the world.
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1 Response to Einstein, Time, Relativity

  1. Some more thoughts:
    Difficult to describe, is it not? Time is a good description for there being no constants in the universe in existence. A mass in space may be a “constant” but is always “moving” and is itself consisting of moving atoms, electrons etc. Everything is in motion , thereby creating separate, changed parameters. As they change, they do have a ‘relative’ rate of change which humans elect to define with our own mathematics using an observed yardstick based on earth’s rotational and orbital movements.

    Separation of events in space and “time” ie, non-simultaneousness(?), or non-stationary, establishes time as a reality, something that exists in some form, but a form impossible to define except using man’s mathematics, which exist purely in our own minds.

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