This article was sent to me by a friend, who is passionate about Einstein’s theories and very hurt by some of the recent criticisms of his work, which can be safely dismissed as antisemitism and jealousy. Enjoy!
Albert Einstein was one of the most imaginative physicists of our time and has opened an important new chapter in the body of scientific knowledge with his brilliant work, dispelling the inaccurate old-world theories of his predecessors like Newton and Maxwell with a new, more complete vision of the universe. His theories have seduced politicians and sponsors with fantastical visions of slowing clocks and worm-holes through space-time, and have inspired them to grant vast sums of money to the many scientific research projects dedicated to proving him right. These grants have provided jobs for thousands of scientists who would otherwise have to find jobs as teachers and waiters. Continued research into his theories is critical, not just to the job security of scientists, but to the future of mankind, with projects like the NASA Warp Drive that will transport us to other planetary systems when ours has been destroyed by global warming and the LIGO that will warn us of gravitational events in faraway galaxies.
Einstein’s genius was not recognized by all. Many claim that he stole his ideas from his wife then dumped her. They claim that although Special Relativity was Einstein’s (or his wife’s) attempt to explain the null result of the famous Michaelson Morley experiment (to detect the medium in which light travels), it fails to do so. They claim that his time-dilation theory (borrowed from Lorentz) goes part of the way to explaining the result, but only in the lateral direction. Recently, however, it has been proved that the Michaelson Morley experiment was faulty anyway, so if Special Relativity had exactly explained its strange result, it would have been proved faulty as well. So because Einstein’s theory failed to explain the faulty null result, it must be correct.
His theory shows clearly that when a spaceship travels at high speed, the occupants will age more slowly than those left behind. It also states that you can’t tell who is travelling and who is standing still because all movement is relative. His opponents say that this causes contradictions because both groups can be considered to be travelling and would therefore both be younger than each other at the end of their journeys. These people probably just don’t realise that some things are too complex for them to understand! We all know that Einstein has thought these issues through and has solved them in ways that we cannot comprehend.
Einstein’s General Relativity extends his Special Relativity to include gravity, and is based on his brilliant insight that gravity and the force due to acceleration are indistinguishable and therefore the same thing. His theory shows that when we fly past a large planet, we feel a gravitational pull, not because the planet has gravity, but because space has been bent into a curve by its mass and although we think we are travelling in a straight line, we are actually swerving. This also means that what we feel as ‘gravity’ when we stand on the earth is an illusion and is just a force caused by the fact that we are actually accelerating upwards all the time. The earth’s mass has distorted space and time so even though we feel that we are standing still, we are actually moving. Critics complain that Einstein has never provided a scientific definition of ‘space’ or ‘time’, but it is obvious what he means when he says that they can be distorted (A true genius should never get bogged down in petty detail when dreaming up his theories!) In special relativity he proved that light does not need a medium (the Aether) because the Michaelson Morley experiment had failed to detect one. But when he introduced General Relativity, he realised that light follows the curvature of the absolute medium of space-time. His detractors claim that this makes the two theories incompatible. Once again, they must be wrong because they are clearly not clever enough to grasp the complexities of Einstein’s genius.
His General Relativity theory also predicts that clocks run faster when further from the earth’s gravity and a sundial (the simplest of all clocks) on a very tall tower will, over a long period of time, get significantly ahead of a sundial at the base even though the sun’s position will always be the same for both of them at the same point in time! So the clock on the tower will, given enough time, be 12 hours ahead, in the middle of the night, when it is 12 noon for the clock on the ground! This highlights the true magic of Einstein’s theories, which seem to defy normal logic, but are nonetheless absolutely 100% correct!
Einstein extended these advanced theories to predict ‘gravity waves’ by adding layers of very complex mathematics with the help of one of his friends who was a mathematical genius (Einstein was a genius at maths himself, so didn’t really need help). His calculations show that Gravity Waves travel at the speed of light, just like light. So a team of dedicated scientists and engineers built a system called the LIGO to detect gravity waves. Although this has so far cost 1.1 billion dollars, it has already detected an ancient gravity wave from a faraway galaxy, justifying the high cost and vindicating the researchers’ faith in Einstein.
Einstein has enjoyed the support of many famous people over the years. Sir Arthur Eddington, the famous astronomer decided in 1919 to promote Einstein’s theories because he was a pacifist who wanted to promote a German scientist as an act of reconciliation after the first world war. Eddington managed to avoid fighting himself by planning an expedition to the island of Principe to test Einstein’s theories, an undertaking that he said was in the national interest. His experiment, to measure the deflection of starlight by the sun’s gravity during a solar eclipse, was very difficult to perform accurately in those days, especially as it was cloudy, and he was forced to discard most of his results. Fortunately the ones he kept supported Einstein’s theories. He had been determined to prove Einstein correct and his announcement that he had done so was the reason for the wide acceptance of Einstein’s work. Eddington used his fame as an astronomer and mathematician to propel Einstein to the world stage. He risked his career and reputation for a nobler cause: to promote international reconciliation and to show that he was not anti-Semitic. He put aside petty issues of scientific rigour and accuracy for a greater ideal and should be applauded for this.
The vast majority of scientists correctly believe in relativity although very few actually understand it, and they are not put off by the apparent weaknesses and contradictions that it gives rise to because they know that Einstein was a genius. Most recognize their intellectual inferiority to the great master, and go along with it in order to keep their jobs and to protect funding streams from sympathetic politicians. There are many detractors, but these are usually individuals with personal issues, like anti-Semitic views or competing ideas.