Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Science is Relative?

The Big Bang Theory is a Situation Comedy

Sacred cows are made to be poked, and Albert Einstein is one of the most sacred of all.  A beloved scientist who sympathized with socialism and atheism and opposed World War I, it seems he nevertheless left an idealist legacy at odds with material reality.   Stephen Hawking is another sacred cow, less loved, but now the premier gnomic cosmologist, and a particular fan of mathematical descriptions of the universe that match science fiction.  Hawking is now treated like a crippled Oracle of Delphi, even though what he says seems absurd to many people, and even some (!) scientists.

As befitting any sacred cow or received orthodoxy, an intellectual opposition develops, per dialectics.  Marxists have been key in opposing religious/idealist methods hiding under the guise of science, and continue to do so.  Every time science heads in an idealist direction, it strays from material reality and becomes bad science.  The criticisms of Einstein and Hawking fit this role.  In essence, these two seem to represent a decay of scientific understanding under capital.

Michael Gimbel published a somewhat odd pamphlet in 2011 called “Dialectical Materialism vs. The New Physics,” almost 19 years after Alan Woods and Ted Grant’s book, “Reason in Revolt” (reviewed below).  Gimbel is a union activist in the U.S. Workers World Party, a split-off from the U.S. Trotskyist SWP in the ‘50s.  The WWP understood that Stalinism / bureaucratism would be attacked from the right, even within a workers state. I.E. every anti-bureaucratic movement was not progressive.

This pamphlet takes up some of the same themes as Woods’ book and those in the Glenn Borchardt book, “Ten Assumptions of Science”(also reviewed below).  It focuses on Einstein and Hawking, and some recent developments in physics and cosmology.  Gimbel especially highlights Lenin’s polemics in “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism” over very similar issues with earlier relativists like Poincare, Avenarius and Mach.

Essentially the theories of general and special relativity and the ‘new physics’ discussed in this pamphlet are incredibly fanciful, with little scientific logic or proof.  Yet they hold sway over the majority of the scientific establishment.   Gimbel holds them up to the light as a layman would do, but his main ammunition is quotes from scientists who carefully contest many of the suppositions of the ‘new physics’ - which might now be called the ‘old’ physics.  Gimbel quotes scientists like Glenn Borchardt, Dean Turner, Christoph Von Mettenheim, Halton Arp, Fred Hoyle, David Talbott, Josef Tau, Hilton Ratcliffe, Eric J Lerner, G. Sagnac and others that expose the weaknesses and contradictions of these mostly mathematical theories. 

Concepts such as the ‘heat death of the universe,’ mathematical string theory, multiple universes, time travel, the big bang and its dimensionless singularity, ‘infinite’ finitude, the red shift, curved space, perfectly ‘empty’ space, space-time, nuclear fusion, light ‘particles,’ light-bending by gravity, wormholes and the subjectivity of all observation are brought into question.  If you have any intellectual curiosity at all, I would begin to investigate the fraud which much modern cosmology has become.

Gimbel points out that Einstein was a founder of a liberal party during the period of the German Revolution in 1918-1919 and opposed the movement for workers councils in that country.  (See review of “All Power to the Councils,” below) He was to the right of the Social-Democracy during that period, which as we might remember was an organization that actually sent the Frei Corps to kill the leaders of the Spartacus League as part of an effort to stop the workers movement.  Gimbel notes that Einstein’s theories were declared ‘triumphant’ in 1919, when Marxism and revolution were sweeping the world.  This also at a time when thoroughly materialist ideas, as represented by Lenin's work, were the main ideological enemy.

Of particular interest are these points made by Gimbel and others: 
  1. Fred Hoyle, who discovered what was called the ‘red shift,’ never endorsed his own theory as saying that the universe was expanding. 
  2. If everything is flying away from the earth, then the earth is the center of the universe.  (See Catholic Church for more info on this position.) 
  3. Einstein’s theory that space is absolutely empty was partly based on the so-called failure of the Michelson-Morley experiments in 1887.  However, recent analysis of the data, correcting for flawed instruments, show them to be correct.  Light travels in waves, through a plasma of sorts, according to these tests.
  4. Gravity acts more quickly than light, yet Einstein maintained that light was the fastest speed available.
  5. Large complex galaxies now discovered are older than the dated big bang ‘origin of the universe.’  (See Bible for more info on this position.) 
  6. Can a dimensionless singularity containing the whole universe exist?  Really?  (See Bible for more info on this theory.)
  7. The fact that the sky is not ablaze with light at night indicates that Einstein’s theory that light is a particle traveling through a ‘void’ is false.  Light gets weaker as it travels, which means there is resistance in the so-called void.  
  8. Einstein believed that time was relative, all periods exist at the same instant, and if you move, time changes.  Yet time is a main scientific marker for matter in motion.  How can one make scientific calculations without real time?  An experiment was done in which atomic clocks were carried on jets flying in different directions.  Time gained going westward, and slowed going eastward.  Special relativity demands all time must be slower, no matter which way it goes.
  9. Einstein believed that the only reality is the observer’s reality.  The latter, of course, is simply solipsism, and if true, would render science nonsense. 
  10. Hawking maintained that one could not investigate anything prior to the ‘big bang.’  It was supposedly not a fit topic for scientific interest.  This is the same guy who ‘debated’ the Catholic Church.  (See Catholic Church for more info on this position.)
  11. Bodies in the same stellar groups show different red-shifts.  It is possible that what is being seen as a ‘red shift’ is not a body’s distance but a body’s age-relation. 
  12. The Andromeda galaxy, the closest to the Milky Way, shows a blue-shift, as do some others.
  13. The main proof for Einstein’s theory that light curved due to gravity was through looking at the ‘Einstein Cross,’ in which a quasar was supposedly distorting the image of the galaxy in front of it into 4.  However, connections between 4 real quasars and the galaxy were found, which means they were part of the same system, and not a refraction.   The measurement of vast distances was at fault.
  14. Space is not a ‘thing,’ so it cannot be curved.  It is infinite.
  15. Zeno’s Paradox is a math trick.
  16. Einstein thought time disappeared at the speed of light.  Then what time is it for light itself?  We know it takes a bit more than 8 minutes for light from the Sun to reach Earth. 
Gimbel himself focuses on the gravity experiments of George-Louis Le Sage in the 1700s.  Le Sage theorized that ‘gravitons’ were the cause of gravity – actual matter pushing on a body – which would weaken at distance as they meet more resistance in space.  This gives gravity a material cause, as Newton had not explained the cause, only the effect of gravity.  Most scientists still consider gravity a mysterious ethereal ‘force.’ 

Gimbel ends his book with quite simply hilarious quotes from two of the most prominent relativists – Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku.  Hawking’s quotes, besides not having objective proof, show a remarkable ability to demean the scientific method:  

1.         “The lack of an absolute ‘standard of rest’ means that we cannot determine whether two events … occurred in the same position in space.’ (It is not possible to measure location.)
2.         “…the length of time between events, like the distance between two points … depends on the observer.”  (It is not possible to independently know something.  Objective reality does not exist.)
3.         “With no absolute standard of rest, you cannot assign … an absolute speed.”  (Absolutes!  You cannot measure the movement of matter – or much of anything!)
4.         “…all solutions to Einstein’s equations in which the universe has the amount of matter we observe (now) share one important matter - at some time in the past … the distance between neighboring galaxies was zero.”  (Which is really small!)
5.         “The entire universe was squashed into a single point with zero size, like a sphere of zero radius.”  (Ex nihilo…sprang the odd sphere and odd radius.)
6.         “At the time, the density of the universe and the curvature of ‘space-time’ would have been infinite.”  (Infinite density - chew on that.)
7.         “Events before the Big Bang can have no consequence, and so should not form part of a scientific model of the universe.”  (Again, the absolute limitations of science. Here be monsters!)
8.         “Light energy comes in the form of .. a massless particle called a photon.”  (It exists yet it doesn’t…)
9.         “It is possible to travel to the future.”  (See movie, “Back to the Future” for more references)
10.       “The first indication that the laws of physics might really allow people to travel backward in time came in 1949, when Kurt Godel discovered a new solution to Einstein’s equations.” (See same movie, above.)
11.       “It might be that you could warp ‘space-time’ so that there was a shortcut between A and B.  One way of doing this would be to create a wormhole.” (Remember, this is a serious bourgeois cosmologist.  See latest science fiction novel for further references.)
12.       “In string theories, the basic objects are not point particles, but things that have a length but no other dimension…” (Again, something seems to be missing…)
13.       “String theories … seem to be consistent only if ‘space-time’ has either ten or twenty-six dimensions…” (Well, which is it?  Or perhaps it needs 26 angels?)
14.       “Imaginary numbers can be thought of as a new kind of number at right angles to ordinary real numbers.”  (Lets see you do math with imaginary numbers at a slant.)
15.       “If one takes Einstein’s general theory of relativity seriously, one must allow the possibility that ‘spacetime’ ties itself in a knot and information gets lost in the folds.” (Or in your blanket.)
16.       “At the big bang and other singularities, all the laws would have broken down, so God would still have a complete freedom to choose what happened and how the universe began.”  (Well, the truth finally comes out.)

These selections should disabuse you of the idea of the genius of Hawking, except as infotainment.  He is a mathematical cosmologist, so his theories are based, not on experimentation but math formulas.  Infinity is a property that math finds difficult to comprehend, which accounts for some of his ideas.  Nor is math at all times based on the behavior of matter, which used to be the point of science.  The rest of this intellectual nonsense is accounted for by the embrace of the bourgeois class - its money, its prestige, its adulation, its conformity.

At any rate, Gimbel’s slightly weird pamphlet contains some neat bits and pieces of an assault on idealism in science.  Fighting this kind of idealism should be part of any rejection of capitalist ideology. 

And I got it at Mayday Books!
Red Frog
January 1, 2014   
Happy ... New Year?         

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