With the interaction interpretation, the Lorentz transformation of a system arises with selection from a superposition of its states in an observation-interaction. Integration of momentum states of a mass over all possible velocities gives the rest-mass energy. Static electrical and magnetic fields are not found to form such a superposition and are to be taken as irreducible elements. The external superposition consists of those states that are reached only by change of state of motion, whereas the internal superposition contains all (...) the states available to an observer in a single inertial coordinate system. The conjecture is advanced that states of superposition may only be those related by space-time transformations (Lorentz transformations plus space inversion and charge conjugation). The continuum of external and internal superpositions is examined for various masses, and an argument for the unity of the super-positions is presented. (shrink)
Universally recognized as bringing about a revolutionary transformation of the notions of space, time, and motion in physics, Einstein's theory of gravitation, known as "general relativity," was also a defining event for 20th century philosophy of science. During the decisive first ten years of the theory's existence, two main tendencies dominated its philosophical reception. This book is an extended argument that the path actually taken, which became logical empiricist philosophy of science, greatly contributed to the current impasse over (...) realism, whereas new possibilities are opened in revisiting and reviving the spirit of the more sophisticated tendency, a cluster of viewpoints broadly termed transcendental idealism, and furthering its articulation. It also emerges that Einstein, while paying lip service to the emerging philosophy of logical empiricism, ended up siding de facto with the latter tendency. Ryckman's work speaks to several groups, among them philosophers of science and historians of relativity. Equations are displayed as necessary, but Ryckman gives the non-mathematical reader enough background to understand their occurrence in the context of his wider philosophical project. (shrink)
This paper looks at the relationship between spacetime functionalism and Harvey Brown’s dynamical relativity. One popular way of reading and extending Brown’s programme in the literature rests on viewing his position as a version of relationism. But a kind of spacetime functionalism extends the project in a different way, by focussing on the account Brown gives of the role of spacetime in relativistic theories. It is then possible to see this as giving a functional account of the concept of (...) spacetime which may be applied to theories that go beyond relativity. This paper explores the way in which both the relationist project and the functionalist project relate to Brown’s work, despite being incompatible. Ultimately, these should not be seen as two conflicting readings of Brown, but two different directions in which to take his project. (shrink)
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in (...) motion in the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)
This article provides a non-technical overview of the conflict between the special theory of relativity and the dynamic theories of time. The chief argument against dynamic theories of time from relativistic mechanics is presented. The space of current responses to that argument is subsequently mapped.
Harvey Brown’s Physical Relativity defends a view, the dynamical perspective, on the nature of spacetime that goes beyond the familiar dichotomy of substantivalist/relationist views. A full defense of this view requires attention to the way that our use of spacetime concepts connect with the physical world. Reflection on such matters, I argue, reveals that the dynamical perspective affords the only possible view about the ontological status of spacetime, in that putative rivals fail to express anything, either true or false. (...) I conclude with remarks aimed at clarifying what is and isn’t in dispute with regards to the explanatory priority of spacetime and dynamics, at countering an objection raised by John Norton to views of this sort, and at clarifying the relation between background and effective spacetime structure. (shrink)
I argue that the best interpretation of the general theory of relativity has need of a causal entity, and causal structure that is not reducible to light cone structure. I suggest that this causal interpretation of GTR helps defeat a key premise in one of the most popular arguments for causal reductionism, viz., the argument from physics.
Shannon's notion of relative information between two physical systems can function as foundation for statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, without referring to subjectivism or idealism. It can also represent a key missing element in the foundation of the naturalistic picture of the world, providing the conceptual tool for dealing with its apparent limitations. I comment on the relation between these ideas and Democritus.
Stephen Hawking, among others, has proposed that the topological stability of a property of space-time is a necessary condition for it to be physically significant. What counts as stable, however, depends crucially on the choice of topology. Some physicists have thus suggested that one should find a canonical topology, a single ‘right’ topology for every inquiry. While certain such choices might be initially motivated, some little-discussed examples of Robert Geroch and some propositions of my own show that the main candidates—and (...) each possible choice, to some extent—faces the horns of a no-go result. I suggest that instead of trying to decide what the ‘right’ topology is for all problems, one should let the details of particular types of problems guide the choice of an appropriate topology. (shrink)
With scale relativity theory, Laurent Nottale has provided a powerful conceptual and mathematical framework with numerous validated predictions that has fundamental implications and applications for all sciences. We discuss how this extended framework reviewed in Nottale (Found Sci 152 (3):101–152, 2010a ) may help facilitating integration across multiple size and time frames in systems biology, and the development of a scale relative biology with increased explanatory power.
The social reaction to the recent detection of the Higgs boson and gravitational waves provided evidence that public interest in modern physics has reached a high point. Although these modern physics topics are being introduced into the upper secondary physics curricula in a growing number of countries, their potential for teaching various aspects of scientific practice have yet to be explored. This article responds to this call by providing an analysis of new South Korean high school (...) class='Hi'>physics textbooks’ representations of nature of science, particularly as reflected in their general relativity theory section. Chapters from textbooks by five publishers are analyzed through the lens of the expanded family resemblance conceptualization of NOS. The results indicate that textbooks’ references to NOS are concentrated on aspects related to scientific knowledge, scientific practice, scientific methods, and professional activities of scientists, whereas the characteristics of science as a social-institutional system are underrepresented. In addition to this generic description, we also present a closer examination of how physics textbooks portray the story of the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration’s gravitational-wave detection in 2015, and discuss implications for how the affordances of contemporary scientific domains such as general relativity and gravitational-wave physics for NOS instruction should be substantiated and supported by textbooks. (shrink)
Collaboration on the First Edition of Spacetime Physics began in the mid-1960s when Edwin Taylor took a junior faculty sabbatical at Princeton University where John Wheeler was a professor. The resulting text emphasized the unity of spacetime and those quantities (such as proper time, proper distance, mass) that are invariant, the same for all observers, rather than those quantities (such as space and time separations) that are relative, different for different observers. The book has become a standard introduction to (...)relativity. The Second Edition of Spacetime Physics embodies what the authors have learned during an additional quarter century of teaching and research. They have updated the text to reflect the immense strides in physics during the same period and modernized and increased the number of exercises, for which the First Edition was famous. Enrichment boxes provide expanded coverage of intriguing topics. An enlarged final chapter on general relativity includes new material on gravity waves, black holes, and cosmology. The Second Edition of Spacetime Physics provides a new generation of readers with a deep and simple overview of the principles of relativity. (shrink)
The structure of the Lorentz transformation depends intimately on the conventional operations for measurement of lengths (L) and time intervals (T). The prescription for length measurement leads to justifiable utilization of Euclidean geometry over finite values of the coordinates. Then T-values can be regarded as ratios of length measurements within a suitably defined clock. In certain cases the synchronization process should be supplemented by measurements providing position certification. The Lorentz transformation emerges from three specific symmetry statements, assured by the nature (...) of the L and T operations: (1) one-one correspondence of finite values of the coordinates of two inertial frames, (2) frame reciprocity, and (3) spatial isotropy. (Light signaling is not needed in this derivation. Afterward, it is assumed that light is indeed an agent moving with the common speed revealed by the transformation.) When rest masses have been determined in the conventional fashion, the conservation of momentum and of energy follow from the kinematics—a result due to Einstein. (shrink)
This high-level study discusses Newtonian principles and 19th-century views on electrodynamics and the aether. Additional topics include Einstein's electrodynamics of moving bodies, Minkowski spacetime, gravitational geometry, time and causality, and other subjects. Highlights include a rich exposition of the elements of the special and general theories of relativity.
This paper aims to discuss two realist conceptions about causation in the light of the general theory of relativity. I first consider the conserved quantity of causation, which explicitly relies on the energy conservation principle. Such principle is however problematic within GTR, mainly because of the dynamical nature of the spacetime structure itself. I then turn to the causal theory of properties, according to which properties are such that insofar as they are certain qualities, they are powers to produce (...) certain effects. In order to be compatible with GTR, such theory has to assume non-trivial global conditions on the spacetime structure; such assumptions seem to deprive the „singularist‟ non-Humean feature of this theory of causation. The question of the possible causal nature of spacetime properties is addressed in the conclusion. (shrink)
The two books discussed here make important contributions to our understanding of the role of spacetime concepts in physical theories and how that understanding has changed during the evolution of physics. Both emphasize what can be called a ‘dynamical’ account, according to which geometric structures should be understood in terms of their roles in the laws governing matter and force. I explore how the books contribute to such a project; while generally sympathetic, I offer criticisms of some historical claims (...) concerning Newton, and argue that the dynamical account does not undercut ontological issues as the books claim. *Received January 2009; revised March 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, 1423 University Hall MC 267, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607; e‐mail: [email protected] (shrink)
This excellent, semi-technical account includes a review of classical physics (origin of space and time measurements, Ptolemaic and Copernican astronomy, laws of motion, inertia, and more) and coverage of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, discussing the concept of simultaneity, kinematics, Einstein’s mechanics and dynamics, and more.
Quantum theory and relativity -- Some problems about restricted relativity -- Gravitation and relativity quantized atomic clocks -- A badly needed distinction between mathematical sets of coordinates and physical frames of reference -- Special relativity Doppler effect -- Relativity and gravitation -- A gravistatic problem with spherical symmetry -- Remarks and suggestions.
The latest astrophysical data on the Supernova luminosity-distance—redshift relations, primordial nucleosynthesis, value of Cosmic Microwave Background-temperature, and baryon asymmetry are considered as evidence for a relative measurement standard, field nature of time, and conformal symmetry of the physical world. We show how these principles of description of the universe help modern quantum field theory to explain the creation of the universe, time,and matter in the way compatible with the Biblical Scenario.
Dennett's intended rapprochement between physical realism and intentional relativism fails because it is premised upon conflicting arguments governing the status of design. Indeed, Dennett's remarks on design serve to highlight tensions buried deep within his theory. For inasmuch as Dennett succeeds in objectifying attributions of design, attributions of intentionality readily follow suit, leading to a form of intentional realism. But inasmuch as Dennett is successful in relativizing attributions of design, scientific realism at large is subject to renewed anti-realistic criticism. Dennettian-inspired (...) considerations of adaptationism substantiate the former move towards intentional realism, while considerations of the relativity of artifactual design encourage the latter move towards physical relativism. The ambivalence intrinsic to Dennett's ``mild realism'' can be viewed as a function of these two conflicting positions on design, for Dennett can no more avoid objectifying intentionality when he is realistic about design than he can avoid relativizing physical causality when relativistic about design. (shrink)
This paper presents a qualitative comparison of opposing views of elementary matter—the Copenhagen approach in quantum mechanics and the theory of general relativity. It discusses in detail some of their main conceptual differences, when each theory is fully exploited as a theory of matter, and it indicates why each of these theories, at its presently accepted state, is incomplete without the other. But it is then argued on logical grounds that they cannot be fused, thus indicating the need for (...) a third revolution in contemporary physics. Toward this goal, the approach discussed is one of further generalizing the theory of general relativity in a way that incorporates the inertial manifestations of matter in covariant fashion, with quantum mechanics serving as a low-energy, linear approximation. Such a theoretical extension of general relativity will be discussed, with applications in elementary particle physics, such as the appearance of mass spectra in the microdomain, as an asymptotic feature of matter, mass doublets (electron-muon and proton-heavy proton), the explanation of pair annihilation and creation from a deterministic field theory, charge quantization, and features of pions. (shrink)
Weinberg's 1972 work, in his description, had two purposes. The first was practical to bring together and assess the wealth of data provided over the previous decade while realizing that newer data would come in even as the book was being printed. He hoped the comprehensive picture would prepare the reader and himself to that new data as it emerged. The second was to produce a textbook about general relativity in which geometric ideas were not given a starring role (...) for (in his words) too great an emphasis on geometry can only obscure the deep connections between gravitation and the rest of physics. (shrink)