Confabulations now, after Einstein, becoming so farfetched that I cannot help but agree with W.R. Corliss: “As the structures of the cosmos and the subatomic world become more and more foreign to everyday experience, we have to ask whether such bizarre constructions may not be the consequence of incorrect physical theories, such as Relativity, the Big Bang hypothesis, and so on”. Courageous words, to which he in his newest book adds support by means of an impressive collection of anomalies that are troubling theorists, but are seldom rightly given their due by the populizers of the Universe we are expected to believe in.(61)
Be this as it may, there is one result of these “free creations of the human mind”, to borrow a phrase from Einstein(62) that concerns us here from the first to the last sentence. To wit: Sir Fred Hoyle’s “as good as, but no better”. It is, in the light of the foregoing, not difficult to become aware how that assertion implies an unspoken conditional clause: “provided that Newton has been practically right about the mechanics of the Solar System, but the therefore real motion of the Earth is not straightforwardly observable, a curious but undeniable fact, successively explained by Fresnel, by Stokes, by Lorentz, and now completely and finally by Einstein’s cure-all”. To quote the latter great man himself: “According to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there would not only be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it.”(63) Or, as Martin Gardner puts it: “Indeed from the standpoint of relativity the choice of reference frame is arbitrary. Naturally, it is simpler to assume the universe is fixed and the Earth moving than the other way around, but the two ways of talking about the Earth’s relative motion are two ways of saying the same thing.”(64) For him: yes, but also for an “outside observer”?
Well, simpler is not always better, Occam’s razor notwithstanding. Many things dubbed at first sight simple appear, more closely scrutinized, to be complex. Newton’s solid atomic pellets have now been dissolved into quirky particles and his kinematics, for low velocities still approved by Einstein, may – who knows? be influenced by the starry dome above us in a Machian manner not yet generally acknowledged or fully understood!
Before continuing the argument I first, however, have to dispose of a red herring. A third apparent possibility, moving the “Flatland Universe” around the pencil point, representing our globe at rest relative to us, does not work – it is an untenable model. For then, viewed by Earthlings, the Sun will remain in the constellation of the Zodiac that it occupied when we began to shift the paper.
- The Unfailing Import of Airy’s Failure
- Some Desiderata Not to be Overlooked