Home » science » Weird Science Day 26: Is Special Relativity Wrong?

Weird Science Day 26: Is Special Relativity Wrong?

The Natural Philosophy Alliance (NPA) doesn’t like 20th Century science, specifically relativity (special and general), quantum physics, the big bang and other cosmological disciplines. The members of the NPA feel that modern physics is “in dire need of a thorough overhaul, and that a much more tolerant spirit than has recently been shown in these fields must be practiced in order to achieve the needed changes.”

The Alliance includes hundreds of members from all over, mostly older folks as far as I can tell. Which makes sense, budding physicists do well to stay away as their reputation will be tarnished if they are seen in the company of these anarchists. Unfairly I might add. Science is supposed to be open to question. Theories knocked about. But sadly NPA members’ objections to current physics dogma are not allowed consideration.

Not only do the members not agree with established physics, they do not agree on what modern physics should be. They openly argue with each other at their conferences. Disagreement is encouraged. Take a look at the list of topics covered in this year’s past NPA conference. You’ll see things like:

Neo-Newtonian Theory
Failure of the Relativistic Hypercone
The Neutron: Modeled as a Fieldstructure
The True Direction of Gravitational Force
The Neutrino: Doomed from Inception

The  members are considered by mainstream physicists as cranks, their ideas crackpot. They may very well be, but when you visit the site you get the feeling that these people have thought long and hard about modern physics, that they understand it, and find fault with it. Even if they are dead wrong, they are eloquent and that makes them hard to ignore in my opinion.

Are they dead wrong? Dunno. Would love to find out.

As a starting point, the group is  concentrating its efforts in one area: special relativity. NPA founder, John E. Chappell, is particularly annoyed with special relativity. “I agree with most of my NPA colleagues that SR never was valid, never will be valid, and in fact cannot possibly be valid,” he says.  “There is no other issue on which the authoritativeness of modern physics can be more effectively challenged; and so I have urged my NPA allies to concentrate our efforts most intensely on criticizing and replacing SR.”

Presumably what the Alliance is annoyed with is that physics seems to be defined by the mathematics, not by observation of reality. The same sort of thing I wrote about in regards to the Multiverse Theory. Einstein came up with special relativity so Maxwell’s equations would work. The Alliance members feel we don’t need to throw out Newton because of Maxwell. We don’t need to have two physics,  one for the macro world, one for the micro.

It’s the sort of thing that always bugged me about Shroedinger’s cat. Theoretically it’s both dead and alive. But that has no meaning for us and is surely not the case. It has to be one or the other at any point in time. And once it’s dead it can’t be alive later. That’s the nature of being “alive.” But it’s one of those things in modern physics that you have to accept on faith and go from there. Really what good is that? Because I can’t conceive of it means there’s a deficiency in me.  Yes, true enough, but it also might mean there’s a deficiency in the definition of reality. Making something up so it works with previous assumptions doesn’t make it or the previous assumptions true. That puts it in the realm of mysticism. Only the truly faithful will understand, the rest of us don’t count because we can’t see.

I’ll buy that, but that doesn’t make it so. I think what the Alliance is trying to do is make modern physics come clean. Admit that there is no hard and fast proof for certain assumptions; that the proof modern physics relies on has a basis in faith.

I don’t know if they’re right, but I do know that these people’s ideas are treated the same way believers of perpetual motion are treated. And I suspect they are a long way from that.

I firmly believe in the laws of thermodynamics, even if they were never proven. It’s intuitive that perpetual motion machines will not work. I’m not as sure about the laws of special relativity, quantum mechanics, and Shroedinger’s dang cat, but that’s just me. The question I’m left with is: if the NPA is right and special relativity is wrong, what will be the consequences for the standard model of particle physics and other areas of modern thought? What gets thrown out the window? I’ll be watching the skies for hints.

Thanks for reading.

Sue Lange


7 thoughts on “Weird Science Day 26: Is Special Relativity Wrong?

  1. Sue,

    You said: “The (NPA) members are considered by mainstream physicists as cranks, their ideas crackpot. They may very well be, but when you visit the site you get the feeling that these people have thought long and hard about modern physics, that they understand it, and find fault with it. Even if they are dead wrong, they are eloquent and that makes them hard to ignore in my opinion.

    Are they dead wrong? Dunno. Would love to find out.”

    I am a member of the NPA. Would you really love to “find out” if the NPA is dead wrong? First, I will tell you that the question “Are they dead wrong?” is too much of a generalization. Some of the NPA members are right about some of their criticism of Special Relativity Theory (SRT) and some of the mainstream’s faith that SRT can always be used to reliably predict relativistic phenomena is not supported by proof (exhaustive testing and accurate measurements). To the contrary, for example: the SRT Stellar Aberration prediction equation is a very unreliable predictor of Stellar Aberration which can be easily observed by anyone with a good computerized telescope. So, if you really would love to “find out” if any of SRT’s predictions about a relativistic phenomenon is wrong and are willing to spend the time and energy to “find out” I suggest that Stellar Aberration would be an excellent place to start.

    Ken More

    • My area of interest in the NPA is Special Relativity Theory (SRT). I am specifically targeting Stellar Aberration because Einstein’s 1905 Stellar Aberration equation is at the foundation of SRT and it is the Achilles heel of SRT because it can be easily proven that his Stellar Aberration equation does not accurately predict stellar aberration. This claim can be confirmed by comparing the Astronomical Almanac’s Annual Stellar Aberration equation predictions against the predictions of the SRT Stellar Aberration equation (see http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_5983.pdf ) as well as by direct telescopic observation and by empirical stellar aberration measurements published by astronomers.

  2. Suelange,

    You are very perceptive, how did you know mainstream physicists will try to “get around it”. I have tried to shatter the faith of some mainstream physicists who claim to understand and “believe in” SRT by hitting them with some of my Stellar Aberration arguments. Much to my surprise they “cop out” of debating the issues with the “I don’t understand Stellar Aberration” defensive mechanisms. They have PhD’s in physics and claim to understand SRT but they admit that they do not understand Stellar Aberration which is caused by and explained by the relationships between the kinematical and dynamical building blocks that are the foundation of SRT.

  3. I think you’re hitting on one of the problems with modern physics. It is very hard for someone like me to make a decision on what might or might not be true. I have to go with a consensus of people I trust to have done the homework. If they don’t do the homework, then they have no knowledge beyond what I have and yet I’m putting my faith in them.

    Good luck with the debate. I’ll be watching the skies.

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