Recovering the Lorentz Ether - Can Einstein's Relativity be Saved?
The hundredth anniversary of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity has brought celebrations, but also attacks on the legacy of a man whose name has become - for most of us - to be seen as synonymous with "genius". Discontent with relativity's unresolved paradoxes and the lack of a link-up of its basic postulates with physical reality seems to have been increasing in the last two decades.
Image credit: Austrian Central Library for Physics
Franco Selleri of the Physics department of Bari University in Italy has a different approach. He is critical of Einstein's Special Relativity Theory, but he believes that - with a change from the Lorentz transformations to what he calls "equivalent transformations" and by postulating a privileged frame of reference, one that is "at rest" with regard to the rest of the universe - much of the theory can be saved.
Noting that even Einstein himself in the later part of his life was not convinced that his relativity would hold up to the scrutiny of time, Selleri says we can use what's good in relativity while doing away with the contradictions and paradoxes that are plaguing it and that are increasingly seen as fatal weaknesses.
If nothing else, this is an interesting proposal.
Here the first part describing the problems with relativity. For the full paper, see the PDF linked here above and at the end of the introductory part...
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Recovering the Lorentz ether
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Bari
INFN, Sezione di Bari
The description of natural phenomena by observers in motion is a problem that many consider solved once and for all by the Lorentz transformations of the Theory of Special Relativity (TSR), but that actually was left open. Consequences of my alternative transformations of the space and time variables are: (i) an explanation of the empirical data better than provided by the TSR; (ii) the elimination of those features of the TSR which give rise to paradoxes. This is obtained thanks to the recovery of a privileged inertial frame in which the Lorentz ether is at rest. In the present paper I expound the basic ideas of the research leaving aside its mathematical parts.
1. Difficulties in relativity
The theories of special and general relativity had great success in explaining many known phenomena and in predicting new unexpected effects. They constitute so important advances in our knowledge of the physical world and belong forever to the history of the natural sciences, similarly to Newton's mechanics and Maxwell's electromagnetism. It is however very difficult to believe that they are forms of final, not modifiable knowledge. On the contrary, if there is an important lesson to learn from epistemology (Popper, Lakatos, Kuhn) it is about the conjectural, provisional, improvable nature of the foundations of the physical theories of the XXth century.
In March 1949, answering his friend M. Solovine who had sent him an affective letter for the seventieth birthday, Einstein wrote: "You imagine that I look backwards on the work of my life with calm satisfaction. But from nearby it looks very different. There is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will resist firmly." [LS] Einstein did not hide the probable transitoriness of his creations. On April 4, 1955, he wrote the last paper of his life. It was a three pages long preface (in German) to a book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the theory of relativity. It ended with the following words: "The last, quick remarks must only demonstrate how far in my opinion we still are from possessing a conceptual basis of physics, on which we can somehow rely." [EF] One could speak of a solemn declaration of failure, but above all one has to admire not only the scientific, but also the ethical dimension of the great scientist, who had devoted the superhuman efforts of an entire lifetime to the attempt of reaching the deepest truths of nature and now, arrived at the end, declared to posterity: "I did not succeed."
The successes of the relativistic theories are very well known. The reciprocal convertibility of energy and mass, the effects of velocity and gravitation on the pace of clocks, the weight of light and the precession of planetary motions, provide only a partial summary of the great conquests of Einsteinian physics. Nevertheless, it would not be correct to conclude that every comparison of the theoretical predictions with experiments invariably led to a perfect agreement. Physics is a human activity and from us inherits the habit to parade the successes and to hide difficulties and failures. Thus only silence surrounded the Sagnac effect (discovered in 1913) for which there is a veritable explanatory inability of the two relativistic theories, the attempts by Langevin, Post, Landau and Lifshitz notwithstanding. There are, furthermore, the half explanations of the aberration of starlight and of the clock paradox, phenomena for which the mathematical formalism of the theory can reproduce the observations, at the price of twisting the meaning of symbols beyond righteousness.
One should never forget that behind the equations of a theory there is a huge qualitative structure made of empirical results, generalizations, hypotheses, philosophical choices, historical conditionings, personal tastes, conveniences. When one becomes aware of this reality and compares it with the little portrait of physics handed down by logical empiricism, which is worth less than a caricature, one easily understands that relativity, not only can present weak points side by side with its undeniable successes, but can also survive some failures. The correctness of the mathematical formalism is not enough to validate a scientific structure as coherent and not contradictory. I might add that not even unconditional support from hundreds of physicists can ensure that a theory is free of unsolved problems, because far too often, from the time of their university studies, their thinking is oriented toward uncritical acceptance of the dominating theory. Rationality and consent are also different matters in the world of research.
In reality the two relativistic theories are crammed with paradoxes. Let us make a list, with no claim of completeness, limited to the TSR: the velocity of a light signal, which the theory considers equal for observers at rest and observers pursuing it with velocity 0.99 ; the idea that the simultaneity of spatially separated events does not exist in nature and must therefore be established with a human convention; the relativity of simultaneity, according to which two events simultaneous for an observer in general are no more such for a different observer; the contraction of moving objects and the retardation of moving clocks, phenomena for which the theory does not provide a description in terms of objectivity; the asymmetrical ageing of the twins in relative motion in a theory waving the flag of relativism; the hyperdeterministic universe of relativity, fixing in the least details the future of every observer; the conflict between the reciprocal transformability of mass and energy and the ideology of relativism, which declares all inertial observers perfectly equivalent so depriving energy of its full reality; the existence of a discontinuity between the inertial reference systems and those endowed with a very small acceleration; the propagations from the future towards the past, generated in the theory by the possible existence of superluminal signals.
How is it possible that respected experts of relativistic physics believe that these are not real paradoxes? The answer is not difficult and is based on what in Italian is called "buon senso" (literally: good sense). This expression is easily translated in all neo-Latin languages, but is absent in other languages. English speaking authors use sometimes "common sense", which carries however a very different idea because the common sense is that of the majority and the history of science teaches that in scientific matters the majority is rarely right. On the other hand "buon senso" relates to the "sensate esperienze" of Galilei. Well, if good sense tells us that a certain prediction of a theory is unreasonable, there are two possibilities. Firstly, it is possible that the good sense misleads us, secondly that in the theory there are more or less explicit hypotheses contrary to the natural order of things giving its predictions an incorrect meaning. Many physicists and philosophers of the XXth century followed the fashion of declaring good sense obsolete, but the second road can easily be traveled over and allows one to get rid of all the paradoxes of relativity.
Naturally, it is not a priori obvious that the paradoxes can be eliminated without spoiling the successes of the theory. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the theory reviewed in the present article, based on the replacement of the Lorentz by the "inertial" transformations, not only explains all what the TSR does, but succeeds also where the latter does not. It explains the Sagnac effect, for example.
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2. Conventional simultaneity
3. Two empirical facts
4. The "equivalent" transformations
5. Relativism and the energy idea
6. Einstein's ether
7. The twin paradox
8. The aberration of light
9. The Sagnac effect
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Another, more recent paper by Franco Selleri is also available here (PDF file - 4.6 MB):
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Franco Selleri - Weak Relativity
the physics of space and time without paradoxes
Available as a PDF file. The book has 180 pages and the PDF weighs 12.9 MB so if you decide to download, you may need to have some patience, depending on how good your connection is and how busy the server might be ...
In February 2009, Franco Selleri, who is a professor at the Bari University physics department, has published a book titled "WEAK RELATIVITY - the physics of space and time without paradoxes". It is a collection of what Selleri has found and published in papers on relativity, with arguments and results put together all in one place.
The chapters are
1. Einstein positivist/realist
2. Relativistic paradoxes
3. Relativism and the nature of energy
4. Einstein's relativistic ether
5. Simultaneity, the key idea?
6. The basic empirical evidence
7. The new transformations
8. Synchronization independence
9. The Sagnac effect: e1=0
10. The rotating platform: e1=0
11. Linear accelerations: e1=0
12. Overcoming the block universe: e1=0
13. The aberration of starlight: e1=0
14. The differential retardation of clocks
15. The Lorentz ether
16. The cosmological question
17. Superluminal propagations: e1=0
18. Weak relativity
Some background that came with a letter in the book:
That, which you hold in your hands is version zero of the book. It contains the premises, the proofs and the results. There is a version 1 coming up soon, which will be published by Apeiron publishers in Montreal. Added material is mainly comparisons with the research of other authors. Other versions - two, three, ... are possible in the future, but will depend on the interest that version zero and one will find.
Since 1995 I have been publishing the results of my research in journals such as Foundations of Physics and in collections of articles of different authors, or in conference proceedings, etc. Due to this fractioning it was practically impossible that even one physicist could have read all the more important articles without falling prey to superficial or partial evaluation. That is what stimulated the idea of a book to review and organize the results obtained in the various articles. The strong part of the book is made up of 5 or 6 independent demonstrations of absolute simultaneity - which exorcised the curse of Poincaré.
The concluding part of the book was written while under attack by a group of inbecile computer hackers who somehow took a dislike to me without my really being able to find out why. Almost every day I have strange invasions into my computer with files vanishing, documents modified, and other trouble. A few days ago, the folders vanished, while the files remained, causing an organizational disaster. To finish the work I had to make several tactical moves. One of those was to take refuge, with my computer, in a distant country estate. Distance has finally put an end even to the most pernicious minor systems of computer-to-computer connection (wireless, LAN, 1394, ...). And in this way, WEAK REALISM has found its conclusion.
Copies of the book can be obtained from
Via Albanese 61, Bari
telephone: +39 080 5422849
See also related:
WHERE DR. EINSTEIN WENT WRONG
Finding the Virtual Velocity of Light, Solving the Mystery of the Failed Michelson-Morley Experiment
A theory of Einstein the irrational plagiarist
The fact that Einstein was a plagiarist is common knowledge in the physics community. What isn't so well-known is that the sources Einstein parroted were also largely unoriginal. In 1919, writing in the Philosophical Magazine Harry Bateman, a British mathematician and physicist who had emigrated to the United States, unsuccessfully sought acknowledgment of his work.
"The appearance of Dr Silberstein's recent article on General Relativity without the Equivalence Hypothesis encourages me to restate my own views on the subject," Bateman wrote.
"I am perhaps entitled to do this as my work on the subject of general relativity was published before that of Einstein and Kottler, and appears to have been overlooked by recent writers."
Herbert Dingle Was Correct!
An Investigation of the First Refutation of Relativity - By Harry H. Ricker III
This is a series of articles that looks into Herbert Dingle's claim that Einstein's Special Relativity is inconsistent .
"One of the most interesting of Dingle's arguments appeared in the September 8, 1962 issue of Nature under the title "Special Theory of Relativity"1. This short note by Herbert Dingle points out "what appears to be an inconsistency in the kinematical part of Einstein's special theory of relativity." Here the thesis is presented that Dingle's modest claim is based upon a mathematically correct derivation of the transformation of time from a moving frame into a rest frame following Einstein's methods. It is concluded that Dingle's assertion of an inconsistency in Einstein's 1905 paper on relativity is correct."
On the Nonlinear Continuum Mechanics of the Luminiferous Medium
by Christo Christov
In this work, we argue that adding the displacement current in Ampere's law by Maxwell was equivalent to considering the field as an elastic continuum. To corroborate this point, we prove that, when linearized, the governing equations of an incompressible elastic continuum yield Maxwell's equations as corollaries. The divergence of the deviator stress tensor is analogous to the electric field, while the vorticity (the curl of velocity field) is interpreted as the magnetic field. The nonlinearity of the material time derivative (the advective part of acceleration) is interpreted as the Lorentz force. Thus we have established that the electrodynamics can be fully explained if one assumes that it is the manifestation of the internal forces of an underlying elastic material which we term the metacontinuum.
The possible detection of the absolute continuum is also discussed. First, a new interferometry experiment is proposed in which the first-order Doppler effect can be measured and thus the presence of a medium at rest can be unequivocally established. Second, the famous experiment of Ives and Stilwell is reexamined with a modified Bohr-Rydberg formula for the emitted frequencies from a moving atom, and it is shown that the results of Ives and Stilwell are fully compatible with the presence of an absolute medium.