Archive for the ‘length contraction’ tag

Oct 17, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 1)

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To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In Part 1 of this post I will explore Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. Not theoretical relationships, not empirical relationships but theoretical-empirical relationships. To do this let us remind ourselves what the late Prof. Morris Kline was getting at in his book Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, that mathematics has become so sophisticated and so very successful that it can now be used to prove anything and everything, and therefore, the loss of certainty that mathematics will provide reasonability in guidance and correctness in answers to our questions in the sciences.

History of science shows that all three giants of science of their times, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton & Christiaan Huygens believed that light traveled in aether medium, but by the end of the 19th century there was enough experimental evidence to show aether could not be a valid concept. The primary experiment that changed our understanding of aether was the Michelson–Morley experiment of 1887, which once and for all proved that aether did not have the correct properties as the medium in which light travels.

Only after these experimental results were published did, a then unknown Albert Einstein, invent the Special Theory of Relativity (SRT) in 1905. The important fact to take note here is that Einstein did not invent SRT out of thin air, like many non-scientists and scientists, today believe. He invented SRT by examining the experimental data to put forward a hypothesis or concept described in mathematical form, why the velocity of light was constant in every direction independent of the direction of relative motion.

But he also had clues from others, namely George Francis FitzGerald (1889) and Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (1892) who postulated length contraction to explain negative outcome of the Michelson-Morley experiment and to rescue the ‘stationary aether’ hypothesis. Today their work is named the Lorentz-Fitzgerald transformation.

So Einstein did not invent the Special Theory of Relativity (SRT) out of thin air, there was a body of knowledge and hypotheses already in the literature. What Einstein did do was to pull all this together in a consistent and uniform manner that led to further correct predictions of how the physics of the Universe works.

(Note: I know my history of science in certain fields of endeavor, and therefore use Wikipedia a lot, not as a primary reference, but as a starting point for the reader to take off for his/her own research.)

Previous post in the Kline Directive series.

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Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.