Frequently Asked Questions
Series #5 -
Theories and Theories
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Question - (5-A)
involving relativity we use Einstein's equations. For
example, let us consider the advance of the perihelion of
Mercury. Einstein's equation leads to the observed
result. However, even before Einstein, Gerber in 1898 (1)
gave an equation giving also the correct prediction. After
Gerber and Einstein, several scientists used other
mathematical transformations that lead to the same
prediction. Some of those scientists are: Von Laue M 1917,
Oppenheim S 1917, Seeliger H 1917, Morgan H R 1930,
Idelstrom Alex 1948, Brown G B 1958, Nedved R 1994, Renshaw
R & Kallefitz W 1996.
Does that mean that we
A. - In order to understand the physics of
relativity, we must understand the main physical mechanism
that is responsible for "length contraction" and "time
dilation". Do you know which physical mechanism intervene in
the atoms of matter (or elsewhere) so that lengths are
contracted and time is dilated? Nobody knows. That is the
reason for which Einstein said that nobody understands
relativity (even if we can make numerical predictions).
Including Gerber and Einstein, absolutely none of the eleven
authors above give a clue. However, I heard this question
repeated so many times by hundreds of people. Anyhow, length
contraction and time dilation are considered as the basic
phenomena in relativity even if we do not know what happens.
Search for an Explanation.--------------
This question about what is going on inside the atoms of
matter, (so that we could find a logical and
satisfactory explanation to length contraction and time
dilation) is answered in the book: Einstein's Theory of Relativity
versus Classical Mechanics".
phenomena as suggested by the authors above, but no author
ever really explained what happens to the atoms. We must
conclude that we do not know what is going on.
no new hypotheses are needed and that the phenomenon can be
explained using Newton's mechanics. We also use the fundamental
principle of quantum mechanics, in which matter is formed of
matter-waves, as discovered by de Broglie around 1916. This
physical description shows how the interatomic distance changes
between atoms and also how atomic clocks run at a different rate
when we apply correctly the principle of mass-energy
Therefore, this book
provides the first (and only known) physical description
explaining the physics of length contraction and time dilation.
This description does not need any of the Einstein's relativity
principles, but leads to a realistic explanation of all the
phenomena usually explained by relativity.
This book does not
present "another" mathematical theory of relativity as done
sometimes in the past. This book gives a realistic
physical explanation compatible with Newton's physics.
Räumliche und zeitliche Ausbreitung der Gravitation. Von
Paul Gerber. Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik Vol.
43, Pages 93-104 (1898).
Also: Paul Gerber, Die
Fortplfanzungsgeschwindigkeit der Gravitation, Annalem der
Physik, Vol 52, p. 415-444, 1917
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Updated Sept. 1999