Questioning Relativity 18: Textbook Truth

· theory of relativity
Authors

Is Einstein’s special theory of relativity an empty non-physical mathematical theory which is true by definition? Let us see what text books say:

W Rindler in Introduction to Special Relativity, chapt 1 (1982):

  • In 1905 Einstein proposed the principle of relativity. Actually Poincare had discussed essentially the same principle during the previous year, but it was Einstein who first recognized its full significance and put it to brilliant use. in out, he elevated the complete equivalence of all inertial systems to the status of an axiom or principle, for which no proof or explanations to be sought.
  • …to derive from it the so-called  Lorentz transformation equations, which are the mathematical core of the special theory of relativity.

R. Henriksen in Practical Relativity, chapt 3 (2011):

  • We have argued in the last chapter that the Lorentz transformation must replace the familiar Galilean transformation.

Herbert Dingle in The Special Theory of Relativity, Chap 1 (1940):

  • The principle of relativity is purely negative in character: it asserts merely that “absolute motion” is a meaningless succession of letters. How can such a principle lead to anything significant? Nothing can come out of nothing. We should not an important branch of physics to originate in the recognition that “the universe is tradified” means nothing: why, then, should the case be be altered when the meaningless symbol is given another form?

Robert Geroch in Albert Einstein Relativity, Commentary (2005):

  • Indeed, it could be argued that a better perspective is to regard the principle of relativity, not as a general principle of nature at all, but rather as a guideline for distinguishing between those phenomena that are to be taken as “physical laws” and those that are not…This is not a purely philosophical distinction..
R. Katz  in Introduction to the Special Theory of Relativity, Chapt 1 (1964):
  • We propose, as a fundamental postulate of the relativity theory, that physical law must have the same meaning in all inertial frames.

Steven Weinberg in Dreams of  Final Theory (1992):

  • The important thing for the progression of physics is not the decision that a theory is true, but the decision that it is worth taking seriously–worth teaching to graduate students, worth writing textbooks about

Lorentz in Das Relativitätsprincip (1920):

  • The acceptance of these concepts of relativity belongs mainly to epistemology.

This is a glimpse of massive evidence that relativity theory is a theory about physicists and their epistemology rather than about physical reality.

1 Comment

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  1. Richard T. Fowler

    I think I see the makings of another book, with all of these posts of yours about Einsteinian relativity.

    RTF

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