Einstein… John D. Norton Department of History and Philosophy of Science Center for Philosophy of Science University of Pittsburgh http://www.pitt.edu Rotman Institute of Philosophy March 14, 2013
A Well-Deserved Honor 1902-1904 Independent discovery of Gibbs framework of statistical mechanics. Brownian motion, the reality of molecules. Special relativity. E=mc2. The light quantum 1905 1907-1915 The general theory of relativity 1916 A and B coefficients. Basic principles for LASERs. 1917 Relativistic cosmology. 1919-1955 Attempts at a unified field theory. 1924 Bose-Einstein statistics 1935 EPR: Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen critique of completeness of quantum theory. …and a lot more.
Cornelius Lanczos “…if somebody asked: “Who is the greatest modern physicist after Einstein?” the answer would be: Einstein again. And why? Because although the theory of relativity in itself would have established him fame forever, had somebody else discovered relativity, his other discoveries would still make him the second greatest physicist of his time.”
But his thought lives on... 18 April 1955
Advertisement for GMC Terrain SUV in “Sexiest Man Alive” issue of People Magazine, November 30, 2009. $$ $$ $$ $$ Einstein is No.7 in Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning dead celebrities. $10 million for October 2010 – October 2011. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mfl45hggm/no-7-albert-einsetin/#gallerycontent Downloaded April 27, 2012
Huffington Post May 27, 2010
Gravity Probe B vindicates geodetic and frame dragging predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Neutrinos do not travel faster than light. BUT… Tachyons are compatible with special relativity (Einstein’s theory). They are just odd. Tachyons are not compatible with (relativistic) quantum field theory (not Einstein’s theory).
BUT… Einstein’s 1917 cosmology was not expanding. Cosmological constant l (“dark energy’) introduced to enable matter in a static cosmology. 1918: l “gravely detrimental to the beauty of the theory.” 1932: l retracted with discovery of the expansion of the galaxies. (to Gamow) his “greatest blunder”
Historically the term containing the “cosmological constant” l was introduced into the field equations in order to enable us to account theoretically for the existence of a finite mean density in a static universe. It now appears that in the dynamical case this end can be reached without the introduction of l.
…fulfillment of Albert Einstein’s lifelong dream of a Theory of Everything, uniting the laws of physics into a single description… String theory is Einstein’s nightmare, antithetical to his program: a fundamentally quantum theory on a Minkowski spacetime background.
BUT… Einstein was an outspoken critic of standard quantum theory and urged that the non-locality of the theory was an illusion deriving from its incompleteness. …coincidentally proves that Albert Einstein was right when he thought he was wrong…
Albert Einstein, who liked to make bold claims (often wrong), famously said that “if the bee disappears off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live.
! ! This Talk ! A proposal that we recalibrate our understanding of Einstein’s work and achievement.
Major Parts of Einstein’s… science the reality of atoms special relativity methods finding quantageometrizing physics outlook unificationcausation …are 19th Century.
Science: Reality of Atoms 19th Century Maxwell-Boltzmann’s statistical physics. The behavior of thermal systems IS explained by their consisting of very many components (atoms, molecules, modes…) that tend towards the most probable. Einstein 1905 Brownian motion. The thermal motion of microscopically visible particles can ONLY be explained if thermal systems consist of very many molecules.
Science: Special Relativity 19th Century Maxwell-Boltzmann’s electrodynamics. The first theory to give reliable results on how things behave when they are moving at or near the speed of light. Einstein 1905 special relativity. The kinematics that extends up to speeds near or close to the speed of light. Einstein extracts the kinematics as an independent theory. Lorentz transformation is already “in” the electrodynamics.
Methods: Constitution of Thermal System 19th Century Einstein’s method for vindicating a 19th century result Fluctuation phenomena reveal the discrete components (molecules) that comprise ordinary thermal systems. Einstein 1905 The light quantum. Fluctuation phenomena reveal the discrete components (quanta) that comprise systems of thermal radiation.
Methods: Geometry 19th Century The century of new discoveries in geometry Non-Euclidean geometry, projective geometry, Klein’s Erlangen Program, group theory, Ricci and Levi-Civita’s absolute differential calculus (“tensor calculus”) Einstein 1912-15 General Relativity… …results when these new geometric and other methods are applied to gravity. Lobachevsky geometry
Outlook: Unity of Forces 19th Century Unity of Forces Light, electricity, magnetism are not distinct but manifestations of different states of an underlying electromagnetic ether. Einstein Unified Field Theory Electromagnetism and gravity are not distinct but manifestations of different states of an underlying spacetime geometry (Einstein’s new “ether”). Aether und Relativitätstheorie. Rede gehalten am 5. Mai 1920 an der Reichs-Universität zu Leiden. Faraday’s magnetic rotation apparatus
Outlook: Causation 19th Century Causation is Determinism "...the laws of the external world were also taken to be complete, in the following sense: If the state of the objects is completely given at a certain time, then their state at any other time is completely determined by the laws of nature. This is just what we mean when we speak of 'causality.' Such was approximately the framework of the physical thinking a hundred years ago." Einstein Against the Completeness of Quantum Theory “The theory yields much, but it hardly brings us closer to the Old One's secrets. I, in any case, am convinced that He does not play dice.” To Born, Dec 4, 1926 “It is hard to sneak a look at God's cards. But that he would choose to play dice with the world...is something I cannot believe for a single moment.” To Lanczos, Mar 21 1942 Albert Einstein, "Physics, Philosophy, and Scientific Progress," International Congress of Surgeons, Cleveland, Ohio, 1950; printed in Physics Today, June 2005, pp.46-48. Probabilities arise from ignorance of the complete state, just as in Maxwell and Boltzmann’s 19th c. physics.
“belongs equally to both … or … to neither” “To ask whether his [Copernicus’] work is really ancient or modem is rather like asking whether the bend in an otherwise straight road belongs to the section of road that precedes the bend or to the portion that comes after it. From the bend both sections of the road are visible, and its continuity is apparent. But viewed from a point before the bend. the road seems to run straight to the bend and then to disappear; the bend seems the last point in a straight road. And viewed from a point in the next section, after the bend, the road appears to begin at the bend from which it runs straight on. The bend belongs equally to both sections, or it belongs to neither.” T. S. Kuhn, Copernican Revolution, p. 182.