Way To Go, Einstein; His Time Spent Being Wrong

When you hear someone say “Einstein”, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Is it high IQ… genius… or maybe E=MC2? Do you picture his wild grey hair shooting in all directions as he peacefully folds the pages back from his favorite book?  You might even think of nuclear bombs, clocks and the Nobel Prize. It will come as a surprise to many that these accomplishments were a very small part of his life. Indeed, Einstein turned the world of classical physics upside down with his general theory of relativity. But he was only in his early twenties when he did so.

What about the rest of his life? Was Einstein a “one-hit-wonder”? What else did he put his remarkable mind to? Surely he tackled other dilemmas that plagued the scientific world during his moment in history. He was a genius after all… arguably one of the smartest people to have ever walked the earth. His very name has become synonymous with genius. He pulled the rug out from under Isaac Newton, whose theories had held the universe together for over 300 years. He talked about enigmatic concepts like space and time with an elegance that laid bare the beauty hidden within their simplicity. Statues have been made of him. His name and face are recognizable across the globe.

But when you hear someone say “Einstein”, do you think of a man who spent the better half of his life… being wrong?  You should.

Growing Up

It will not come as a surprise that Albert showed a propensity for the scientific arts at a young age.  He was around four or five years old when he became enchanted with his father’s compass, and the invisible force that kept its needle pointing North despite the compass housing’s position. His parents were Jewish and he went through a brief stint of religious practice beginning when he was eleven. But his increasing level of knowledge, most of which came from books he read outside of school, led him to reject all religious dogma by the time he was thirteen.

Einstein with his sister Maja via Time

At the age of 18, Albert entered a teacher’s training program at Zurich Polytechnic in Switzerland. Considering what he was to become in a few years, it’s difficult to say why he chose the path of a teacher. It is known that he was disillusioned with his formal school experiences and was largely self-taught. One could argue that maybe he wanted to become a teacher to teach the way he thought kids should be taught. On the other hand, his family was undergoing financial difficulties at the time and maybe he was simply trying to secure a steady income in a fail-safe way.

During his time in Zurich, he began to work closely with Heinrich Weber, a well-credentialed physics professor. In a bit of irony, he was taken aback by Weber’s refusal to accept new developments in the field of electromagnetism. This lead Albert to study the works of Maxwell, Hertz and Kirchoff. These studies would become instrumental in the shaping of his thoughts in the coming years.

Relativity

After graduating from Zurich, Albert found employment as a patent clerk, which left him ample time to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. On one particularly boring day, he causally observed a group of workers on scaffolding outside his office window. He imagined what it would be like from the point of view of physics if one of them fell from the scaffolding and entered a free-fall state. He would be, for all practical purposes, temporarily weightless. If he were to perform experiments during free-fall, would he not get the same results as someone floating in outer-space outside of any gravitational field? Taken further, if the man falling from the scaffolding was inside a windowless box, how would he know if he was in free-fall or in outer-space?

Einstein as a young man via Science Magazine.

A few hours later, he observed a large clock whilst on the train home, and watched the hands tick as his train accelerated away. What would happen if the train continued to accelerate? He sees the hands of the clock via the light coming from them. But light has a finite speed. Thus the faster he accelerates away from the clock, the slower the hands will appear to move. The faster he goes, the longer it would take for the light to reach his eyes. But how does that change time itself? After all, the clock on his wrist will still tick at the same rate. Two clocks that were in sync moments before are now out of sync when one of them is in motion? How does that even work?

And what would happened if the train accelerated to the same velocity as light? The large clock in the city would appear to stop ticking altogether… But what would the light rays look like? Maxwell says that light is an oscillating electric and magnetic field. Would the fields stop oscillating… frozen in time? Even though the clock on his wrist ticks at a normal rate?

These thoughts would eventually lead Albert Einstein, at just 26 years of age, to the ground breaking realization that all physical law must be the same to all observers despite their (non-accelerating) frames of reference. This includes the speed of light, which must be measured the same no matter how fast you’re going.

Fall From Grace

Albert’s special and general relativity theory would catapult him to fame. But a new challenge was brewing inside the mysterious world of incandescent light bulbs. Max Planck was trying to figure out how to make the things more efficient. They’re quite simple… pass electricity through a filament housed inside a vacuum. The filament gets hot and gives out light. But how this actually occurred did not match what current theory said should occur.

Planck wrote about the Ultraviolet Catastrophe if you want some more light reading, but the short of the story is that he had to break the energy coming off the filament into little discrete packets in order to make the math work. When Albert caught wind of this, he realized he could use Planck’s new discrete energy packets to solve a nagging problem with something known as the photoelectric effect. With one simple equation — e = hf — , Einstein was able to explain why electrons could be removed from a metal surface with blue light, but not with red. He used Planck’s discrete energy packets to turn light into discrete energy packets, called quanta. He would receive the Nobel Prize in 1922 for this discovery.

Via Quartz

It would have been impossible for him to have known that his explanation of the photoelectric effect would lead to a battle for the definition of reality. A battle he would ultimately lose.

The problem with the light quanta idea is that light is most certainly a wave. It was proven to be so by Thomas Young in the early 1800s, and the nature of light was explained by Maxwell in 1865 — it was a wave composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields that propagated through space. So how then can it be packets of energy, what we call photons today? Packets should behave like particles. So is light composed of waves or a particles?

This question would dog the heels of physicists for the next several decades. Einstein would argue that the wave nature of light was due to statistical interactions between the photons. But the who’s who of Quantum Theory said that the wave nature of light was probabilistic because the locations of the individual photons was not known, that a light wave is simply a wave of probability that represents the probable locations of the photons. Both of these interpretations yield the same outcome, but the philosophical divide between them is great indeed. Einstein believed in a deterministic universe — meaning light quanta occupied a single point in space and time outside of a measurement system. Quantum theory is non-deterministic — meaning that so long as a light quanta is not being measured, one cannot determine if it’s a wave of light or particle of light.

Albert Einstein put the full force of his mind against quantum theory for the last decades of his life. He left no stone unturned and used every trick up his sleeve to circumvent quantum theory. But he could never find away around it. Today, advanced experiments have proven that he was wrong. Proven that quantum theory is true, no matter how unbelievable it might seem.

Albert Einstein was a great scientist. But his refusal to accept overwhelming evidence that quantum theory was real, that the heart of reality is non-deterministic, should go down in history as a disappointment. On the other hand, perhaps his constant challenges to the theory sharpened it to what it is today. I leave you to decide.

116 thoughts on “Way To Go, Einstein; His Time Spent Being Wrong

  1. In case someone wonders – the mentioned “Zurich Polytechnic” is actually the swiss federal polytechnic located in Zurich, which is now known as ETH Zurich (www.ethz.ch).

        1. Wasn’t Einstein a ‘C’ student in his early years?
          Anyhow, it’s common for a scientist to fail multiple experiments. They are scientists/researchers and they test hypothesis. It’s their hard work and dedication that we remember them for. Even after multiple failed attempts, their desire to find an answer/solution keeps them going. Einstien could have been wrong a million times, but the few times he was right helped shape our world. Wrong or not..I don’t think anyone can argue that he didn’t change the world for the better. My .02 cents.

          1. BINGO! You got it. Applies to everyone not just scientists. Applies to you! Sustained concentrated effort can raise any person to levels of greatness.

            Jugglers to scientists… this one principle applies across the board. Usually only thing lacking is the motivation. For Einstein it seems to have been simply “curiosity”.

          2. He was not a bad student. This is a widespread myth which exists for two reasons:
            1) In elementary school, the schools switched grading systems while he was attending. One semester, 1 was the highest grade and the next semester 6 was the highest grade. Einstein had top grades all around, but people have assumed that since he got 1’s for many years, those 1’s represented a failing grade.
            2) He did get grades corresponding to a C in his early university studies, but can be attributed to defiance against the university’s way of teaching rather than poor skill or laziness.

    1. Quantum mechanics still does not square with relativity or the laws of thermodynamics with big bang cosmology so claims as to who won are obviously premature. Pilot wave theory preserves determinism and traditional theory does not, yet traditional theory offers no advantage over pilot wave theory so why go with the non deterministic theory when science is founded on the concept of causality? The reasons were political, fashion turned against causality because it allowed magic to make a return, it became cool to evoke non causality despite claiming scientific credence.

      Not only might Einstein have been right about determinism, he may have been wrong about relativity, a possibility which can not currently be ruled out due to much apparent success so far due to relativity theories discrepancies with quantum theory. Einstein was just one man though, if Einstein was correct about deterministic quantum mechanics and wrong about relativity it means the entire scientific apparatus has been geared to promote and teach what has been wrong for over a century which is a much bigger story.

      1. Hmmm,
        My understanding is special relativity “pops out” of Quantum Mechanics (QM) whilst
        General Relativity does not – well not yet & maybe for good reason as QM with some
        minor additions suggests space-time is not real as such but, an emergent property from
        something far more fundamental,,,
        There’s a lecture series which touches on this before one gets into the
        really nitty-gritty stuff, my eldest son from Perth, Western Australia is at MIT for
        next few months deeply into QM in chemical engineering simulations whilst my youngest
        son is into QM also re naked carbon nuclei beams in cancer treatments. I’m however
        looking into QM too but at my own tardy pace, here’s the link to Nima’s lecture:-
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWWBuHszyD8

        It does suggest Musk’s view there’s a 1 in a billion chance we are *not* in a simulation
        to be “more” a valid probabilistic assessment thats more certain than ever, solipsism anyone ;-)

        1. The simulation argument is an ontological magic trick, or a play on the word “simulation”.

          There’s a problem of information content, because a simulation cannot contain more information than the system that is running it, so each nested simulation would have to be many orders of magnitude simpler than the one above it, and there we get into a “god of a god of a god” problem which would suggest that the fundamental ground of being is infinitely complex – but where does such infinite complexity come from? What grounds it?

          Also, as the simulation runs by some causal mechanism in the parent reality, the events within the simulation must run slower than the parent in order to have time to be processed by the mechanism. Even the fastest program cannot run in one clock cycle of a CPU, and the CPU cannot complete a cycle in the smallest possible time interval of its underlying reality. Therefore, if we place ourselves at a random point in the timeline of the complete reality, we are more likely to find ourselves in the reality which runs the fastest: the original one that isn’t a simulation. All the other simulations will have existed only for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that underlying reality.

          1. Being 3rd dimensional creatures we are. We can’t see the river of the 4th. Thus it may have taken a second to type this comment there could have been many different pauses in OUR universe that spanned centuries.

            You must have played or seen the game called The Sims. Well if you Alt-Tab out of the program you’ve frozen time of that instance. Those Sims DON’T have any clue that you’ve gone for coffee or anything until you tab back.

            Or more to the point. You have one machine. Said machine is running a hypervisor. Now you place a Userland/Kernel land Dom1. Say really optimized Linux, then install VMWare, then install windows 7, then install QEMU inside of Windows 7, then install Windows 95, then run Conway’s Game of Life. In such a multi-iteration and perfect time sharing environment how would any creation running in that Conway instance know if time was true or relative.

            Hence, The simulation where does the simulation end? The program instance? OR up to the De-construction of the bare metal. The room the machine was running in.

            If quantum theory is to be believed anything is possible. Even having a large room full of air filled with oxygen atoms decide to not be in that room, is the same as all the nitrogen in a room turning into condensed gold dust.

            To date. It is a well known fact; Clock on the Ground Control Tower loses Time Sync with International Plane (or does the Plane lose the time) Yes, NASA experiment with two Cesium Calibrated and NOAA certified; One ground and One in a plane. Plane Flew. Plane had a few seconds missing. Apparently more flying does equal being younger.

            To date? We have been able to echo/mirror/replicate the interaction between one photon between two plank constant gates at a distance of 1200km.

            If you really want to boggle yer noodle. Folks have been trying to write functioning and friendly programming languages for Q-bit systems. (The is a Minecraft Mod sponsored by Nasa if you want to see that rabbit hole.)

            Urban legend has a mention/echo that a researcher figure out how to perform a query for the probability of finding the answer to a problem and how long it would take. Due to entanglement how long being the error condition and validation kept throwing 0. As in program finished executing… He tried to trouble shoot why it was returning a completion code. Except it wasn’t a completion code. Then he looked a the problem set and result returned programmatically, somehow he bugged the way he wrote response for the probability and instead result answer appeared instead. A which point either he called 911 and said he was having a stroke OR a black bag was fitted over his head and he was never heard from since.

            Tl;dr “It’s all relative, even time itself.”

      1. Yes, this is Joe Kim’s work. If it’s posted in the Original Art category it is his work. I’ll keep it in mind that an artwork attribution would be a fantastic feature to add when we have the opportunity, good suggestion!

  2. You realize skepticism is integral to the scientific process, right? Despite being wrong, he was still a great scientist even in his later years. The title of this article seems to paint Einstein in a negative light despite that fact that he was attempting to prove a new theory wrong, as any scientist would, using math and experimentation. Painting an objectively competent scientist in a negative light due to be wrong in retrospect is a disgraceful act, even if your only intention was to create click-bait.

    1. I don’t see the article painting Einstein in a negative light. I see it as just stating facts that a lot of people don’t know. Your deification of a scientist is clouding your objectivity to the point that you are doing what you are accusing the author of the article of doing.

      1. “But his refusal to accept overwhelming evidence that quantum theory was real, that the heart of reality is non-deterministic, should go down in history as a disappointment.”
        Pretty hard not to read that as a jab. He was a scientist who decided to exhaustively test every counter to quantum theory, how is that disappointing?

  3. In the end, Dr. Einstein became a victim of the same failing as his mentor, Dr. Weber. He also refused to accept new developments in the field of electromagnetism: quantum theory. Perhaps this is a failing of human nature – to become, over time, resistant to new and alternative ideas as ones personal belief system(s) become ingrained. Over the years, I have tried to resist this and be open to new and alternative ideas, with varying degrees of success.

    1. Quantum mechanics isn’t pretty and it isn’t (unlike the rest of physics known at that time) deterministic at least in theory. Both of those were strong indications that the theory could be wrong – as similar cases had in the past. Thinking there is something pretty and deterministic behind the (quantum) curtain wasn’t an idea of a stagnant mind rather than a rational and realistic one. Trying to find some way to explain the quantum phenomena in a better theory is what doing (theoretical) physics is all about.

      But in the end we have enough evidence that quantum mechanics is indeed the real thing and that God does indeed like throwing the dice. And cheating at that.

    2. Weber disregarded what was already proven in his lifetime, while Einstein was not provided with such proof, so he remained unconvinced.

      Einstein did what was expected: his objection was that there are three reasonable demands of a system that describes physics; that it’s local, causal, and real. Objects exist here and not everywhere, events have causes, and the thing you are measuring actually is instead of being an artifact of the measuring aparatus. He correctly pointed out that no quantum theory could satisfy all three at the same time, and in the lack of plausible explainations as to why you’re allowed to break any one of them, he rejected quantum theory.

      Only later on a fellow named Bell came up with mathematical proof that no system which satisfies all three can explain real observations, and only in recent years have they come up with the actual empirical tests to prove that there are no loopholes in the observations that would explain the anomaly.

  4. Einstein’s dislike of quantum gave rise to one of his more famous (and misunderstood) quotes ‘God does not play dice with the universe’.

    Interesting that his dismay with Weber did not teach him to be more open to new theories such as quantum. But he was, after all, human, with human failings.

    1. Einstein was open to new theories. He wasn’t open to theories which sounded batshit crazy and had no real formalised proofs (that came much later). Einstein did what he was supposed to, try to rationalise the differences and not blindly accept {new thing}.

  5. Constant challenge IS what ‘sharpens’ theories into something better. That’s how the scientific method works.

    So long as one doesn’t go “full retard” and start dogmatically rejecting evidence that is contrary to their expectations applying critical thinking to theories is a good thing.

    Well done Einstein!

    1. In light of what you wrote, I wish Climate Change experts would be more open to questions raised about their “settled science”. But, it seems that anyone who would dare to question even an iota of their pronouncements, triggers ad hominum attacks against the questioner. Real Science is open to civil discussion,

      1. You know that the science is challenged continually by those in climate science? Things that have overwhelming masses of physical evidence from multiple sources tend to be taken as scientific “fact” – but those are always open for challenges.

        But you don’t like that right? You have to make up a complicated and illogical conspiracy instead of accepting reality. That’s not science – that’s religion.

        1. No. It is because the climate change ideas can not be proven and experiments to verify can not be performed. It is trend watching, not unlike stock marker charters. So, it remains open to challenge by any reasonable person (who is willing to be attacked).

          1. It’s pretty hard to definitively prove anything. There’s plenty of data supporting current theories on climate change, and while you obviously can’t do full-scale-experiments, that’s true for many things generally accepted as fact.
            It’s all open to challenge, but the challenge still needs some kind of credible evidence which doesn’t fit the theory.

            You can’t just deny because there isn’t absolute proof.

      2. I think (as someone who’s worked on CC since the mid-60s) that climatologists are happy to discuss (not argue) with anyone who’ll come up with a new objection to the consensus view. Consider Rick Perry’s contention that we ought to have a GOP red team take on the climatologists in some kind of government-sponsored gladiator match. There’s a man who doesn’t know that exactly that sort of match is held every day because it’s the way that science functions.

        Every time a new “skeptical” book is published (“Lukewarming” is a a recent example) the same old assertions (climate has always been changing, warming will benefit agriculture, etc.) are trotted out, assertions that have been thoroughly considered quantitatively and rejected in the mainstream climatological literature years ago. The situation is that the critics are largely ignorant of the basic physics of CC and completely ignorant of the history (>120 years) of the subject as an object of formal scientific research.

        Sad to report, there are many people nowadays who think that professional-level education in a subject is automatic disqualification for bias and that any opinion, no matter how naive its basis, is of equal standing with an opinion based on objective science. These alternative truths flourish until they collide with reality and the tuition for this lesson is often very high. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Texas government had ever heard of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation (evaporation increases exponentially with temperature)?

        1. An approximation for certain conditions. The approximation is a first order DEQ and all first order DEQ’s have an exponential solution. This is the source of gloom and doom so often, that predictions of this sort are routinely ignored.

          1. Some of the first order DEQ have sub atomic particles and some are actually second order but depicting themselves as first order just to get some attention.

        2. First, Thank you for your measured response.

          Second, I too, have worked in atmospheric research, not as a scientist, but with them for a number of years.
          I recall a departmental meeting in the late 1990’s where the department head, passing down information he had received from his superiors, said, that if anybody in our group expected (U.S.) government funding for a research proposal, the proposal needed to include a link to “global warming” if they expected it to get funded.

          Third, as a Catholic, I commiserate with your statement “the same old assertions […] are trotted out,”, as anti-Catholic hate speech has for centuries trotted out the same old assertions all the while that measured responses have been around since they were first proclaimed.

          People have seen and tried to report the discovery of “massaged” data, and the CC community doesn’t admit or acknowledge such occurrences, but ignores or vehemently denies them in a “most religious way”.

          I got sick of reading National Geographic 4 years ago, because almost every story was linked to “doom and gloom”
          about how CC is destroying this beautiful planet…

          1. the CC community doesn’t speak as one, not does the other side. There are certainly a bunch of vocal non-scientists who have chosen their side and will fight against any assertions they see as contrary to their side.
            Discovery of manipulated data discredits that data, and unfortunately anything else based on that data will need to be checked to see if it is still valid as well.

            Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature to oversimplify it to good guys vs bad guys, especially when discussing something that agrees with your “team”.
            When an enviro-zealot sees that a denier’s evidence can be discredited, they take that as evidence that their side is correct, and the other side is incorrect.
            When a denier sees that an enviro-zealot’s evidence can be discredited, they take that as evidence that their side is correct, and the other size is incorrect.

          2. >the CC community doesn’t speak as one

            Then why the consensus argument? 97% of climate scientists agree, but what exactly do they agree on?

            The problem with a consensus argument is that it’s exclusive to those who disagree. You ask the question, find that 9 out of 10 agree, then you take those 9 and ask what it means, so 8 out of 9 agree that things are happening and they’re happening like this. Then you ask what “this” means, and 7 out of 8 agree that it means “that”… and so-on until you come to a point where you got only 2 out of the original 10 locked in battle about what should eventually be done about it, both representing a minority of all opinions.

            For climate change it goes like:
            Is the climate changing: yes/no.
            Is climate change a bad thing: yes/no
            How bad is it? very/slightly
            Can we do anything about it? Yes/no
            What should be done about it: this/that
            How do we implement it… etc. etc.

            This “democratic” approach to science simply leads further and further away from the truth into hallucinations, because at each step we accept what is popular without adressing whether it’s actually true. This is however very expedient to the politician who represents a minority interest (typically of himself) and wants to find a “scientific” reason to eg. why we should implement a totalitarian system of government to serve it.

          3. ” as anti-Catholic hate speech has for centuries trotted out the same old assertions ”

            Yah…people say shit but in the good old days the priests really had the last laugh as they tortured those people to death didn’t they?!? Don’t worry yourself though. It may not be legal to draw and quarter someone anymore but they can still get their revenge by buggering their opponents children!

      3. @Ren – The problem is that climate change deniers, much like anti-vaxers and young-earth creationists keep coming back with the same flawed arguments time and time again that have already been refuted. Being open to new information and being open to just any fool spouting off the same crap that has already been shown to be false are two very different things. One could waste all of one’s time and therefore accomplish nothing just cutting and pasting answers to these same claims over and over. At some point to make any progress it is necessary to just stop listening.

  6. “Albert Einstein was a great scientist. But his refusal to accept overwhelming evidence that quantum theory was real, that the heart of reality is non-deterministic, should go down in history as a disappointment. On the other hand, perhaps his constant challenges to the theory sharpened it to what it is today. I leave you to decide.”

    The later because it’s as much a human failing to accept things without thorough testing (open till brains fall out) as it ‘s resistance to change.

  7. And it turns out that Einstein was right after all: the God doesn’t play dice. The randomness doesn’t come from which of the possible things happen — since all of them happen, it comes from in which variants of the history the observer happens to find themselves — and since there is an identical observer in each of the variants, there is no randomness.

  8. I thought the “one-hit wonder’ comment was interesting. He is best known for this four 1905 papers:
    – Photoelectric effect (got the Nobel prize for that)
    – Brownian movement
    – Special relativity
    – Mass-Energy Equivalence (people merge that famous equation into relativity).

    Any one would make a Physicist famous. He did four in one year. It is sort of like looking at 1964 and calling the Beatles a one-hit wonder.

    General relativity came in 1915.

    1. Annus Mirabilis. Any freshman or sophomore physicist would know about it from their modern physics class. GR was largely his conceptually, but he had to bring in a heavy hitter, mathematics-wise to make it acceptable to publish. I can sympathize as differential geometry is a bear :( Oh, and don’t forget Einstein notation. Repeated indexes are summed over.

  9. No mention about how he divorced his first wife, neglect his child, married with his cousin, then cheat her with his secretary, and so on? The guy was as interesting with his relatives as he was with his relativity. Great stories, love them.
    :o)

  10. You folks talk about this like all that quantum stuff is “proven”. Ha, that’s a good one. Quantum theory is the engineering discipline of measuring things that seem weird. It is not the scientific discipline of explaining how anything works.

    Now someone is bound to mention Bell’s theorem and how it has been used to finally “prove” quantum is right. But Bell’s theorem is yet another statistical argument.

    1. All of semiconductor physics is explained with quantum mechanics. The computer you used to make your commment was designed using principles of quantum physics and could not have been made without them.

          1. hah! gravity, universally accepted! the fact that the earth sucks in a basic newtonian sense is certainly hard to question, but the wider question of “gravity” isn’t whether it exists but what is its nature? is it quantized, does it frame-drag (gravitational magnetism), what happens in a black hole, what is dark matter, what is dark energy? these are all questions that are only beginning to be explored. even simple stuff like what kind of narrative should we use to describe why gravity interacts with light bring up subtle disagreements. i mean, speaking of einstein’s mistakes, we’ve got the cosmological constant – pure gibberish, IMO. but “dark matter”, depending on who you listen to, is no better. the one thing all cosmologists know for certain is that our current models are going to need to change dramatically as more of the universe is understood.

          2. How about, are there any real black holes? It takes an infinite amount of time for a black hole to form. How can there be anything but proto-black holes?

    2. Nope. Quantum mechanics is used not only to predict new phenomenon but also to predict new particles and other things no other explanation (and there have always been competing theories) comes close to. It is used to predict how electronics work and it is used to explain chemistry.

      If you think the field of theoretical and applied physics have stood still since the idea of quantum mechanics were first conceived your post could be excused. But they haven’t.

      1. yes, quantum mechanics has stood the test of time as a predictive method, and many people have even come to say that prediction is of value and description is not. of course, they only do that because everyone that works with quantum mechanics finds the lack of description to be an intense and constant source of disappointment.

        before newton, even before copernicus, there were adequate predictive models for the movement of the planets. but philosophers who came across them found them to be poor descriptions. “retrograde motion” ugh! eventually, the same data was explained with better models that provided satisfying descriptions. we can’t tell what the future brings but i’m one of the people hoping someone comes along with a theory that has more descriptive value than current phrasings of quantum mechanics. if that happens, those people will look back on today’s science the same way we look back on geocentrism today.

        of course, whether that breakthrough will “validate” einstein’s aversion is an open question, and probably a subjective one as well.

    3. A lot of the fundamental ‘rules’ of quantum mechanics are basically just postulates that seem to work out. They explain the empirically observed facts, which is the first thing any decent theory needs to do.

      “If you think you understand quantum mechanics then you don’t understand quantum mechanics” (or something like that)

      Richard Feynman (or somebody else).

  11. Huh. That’s a very uninformed take on Einstein’s contributions to quantum mechanics. Even though he thought that quantum mechanics was incomplete, he wasn’t doctrinaire in his opposition. He wrote a number of extremely influential papers that helped to define and (YES!) move the entire field forward. Most significantly was his paper with Podolsky and Rosen in which they set out the conditions for locality of measurement, called the EPR paradox. It is the very basis of modern quantum cryptography.

    It is always useful to note when someone mentions that Einstein was wrong that that is what scientists ARE. Wrong. Always. The important part is how we are wrong. Einstein was wrong in the very best way, pointing out possible issues with a new theory and developing the implications to allow future generations to build on his work.

    Oh, and he invented the Einstein Refrigerator. A fridge that required no electricity, had no moving parts and was orders of magnitude safer than the alternatives at the time.

    1. Oh, and Einstein also formulated the idea for and theory behind the LASER. An inherently quantum mechanical process. He did this work in 1917. It wasn’t until the 1940s when an actual LASER (well, actually MASER first) was produced.

      There are very few people as productive being “right” as Einstein was being “wrong”.

        1. Propane “powered” refrigerators have always been around. They are available today, and my uncle had one in his school bus converted to an RV in the 1960’s. They probably are similar, but not the same as Einstein’s patent.

  12. With all due respect to Einstein, I think the future will show that, although very creative and witty, Einstein’s theories, including his adoption of FitzGerald’s space contraction/dilation and Lorentz’s time contraction/dilation were most likely inaccurate, and mysteriously Einstein was thrust into the spotlight – for example the cover of Time magazine- that takes serious $$$. Many smart scientists rejected FitzGerald’s, Lorentz’s and Einstein’s theories- for example the Deseret News published an article with an image of Tesla capturing images of thought on 07/11/1935 where Tesla rejects the theory of relativity as being “a mass of error and deceptive ideas violently opposed to the teachings of great men of science of the past and even to common sense.” – was the theory of relativity a massive fraud perpetrated by wealthy tricksters, like the “single-bullet theory” or “piltdown man”? Interesting history- great to think about- great to keep an open discussion- there is a theory that all matter is made of material light particles- not many people believe it- but the theory still persists it could be argued since ancient Greek times.

    1. Idiot. You deserve to be called that as there are a lot of information available for you to learn about the real world rather than your fantasy one.

      Or perhaps not – the scramble of incoherent words hastily glued together into a pile of excrement indicates you have mental problems.

    2. The rail car, light source, and two mirrors thought experiment should have been enough to convince anyone. And the contraction emerges from the geometry in a straight forward way.

    3. Probably all 3 responses were either paid for by those perpetuating the fraud- note how most only have insults and appeal to psychology bs- facts cannot win for them. We are in good company in rejecting the theory of space and/or time dilation and/or contraction and relativity: Albert Michelson, Nikola Tesla, William Pickering- many great thinkers doubted it and told the truth. Yes definitely I am a 9/11 “troofer” – take a second and look at WTC7- it does not take a genius to see that is demolition. So clearly at least two paid-for $hills and probably 1 d2bw denied victim. Still I’m hopeful for the future- we’ll eventually collect that star cluster exposing bs all the way probably!

      1. Hey SHITler for brains, why are there so many 9/11 “explanations”?

        No planes, just CGI, planes with no windows, planes with bomb pods under wings, remote controlled planes, still alive hijackers (who have only been heard from once), thermite.

        Do you doubt the Moon Landings too? How about the “fake: Pearl Harbor attack?

        I wish you could be put in stocks so we can throw rotten vegetables at your face.

        Please FOAD you ignorant Sack of SHITler.

    1. No. Non-locality would mean violating the speed of light limit, which would break physics as we know it.

      What QM is is non-real – the things that you measure only pop into existence when you measure them, if at all, because only the information about the measurement ever exists. Effects such as entanglement are then explained as the interaction of two information systems such that they always agree after the fact, regardless of what “really” happened.

      1. This is actually proven by a simple thought experiment.

        To put something into quantum superposition means isolating it from the environment so that nothing interacts or interferes with it. This has the effect of erasing the thing out of existence because we cannot feel it in any ways, which would be a violation of the conservation of energy. Therefore the energy, or more precisely the information about the thing must be transferred somewhere else, and then returned upon measuring the thing.

        So when Shrödinger puts his cat in the box and tries to close the lid, a brilliant light emerges and blows up his lab to atoms because the entire mass-energy of the cat must escape the box the instant it closes.

  13. Surprised nobody mentioned how he hated peer review so much that refused to publish in a journal when they sent him corrections regarding his paper on gravity waves. He then fixed the mistakes and went from gravity waves do not exist to “proving” gravity waves exist all thanks to the peer reviewer (which he gave no credit for). I first heard about this listening to a lecture by the head of the LIGO experiments. Interesting stuff.

    It appears there are some details about it in a write-up here
    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1602.04674

    1. Landau used to rate Einstein as one of the greatest physicists (second greatest after Newton?) but he also called him “lucky” in a somewhat negative sense. Perhaps it was because he was fascinated with Einstein’s physical intuition, but he wasn’t as impressed with mathematical skills. If I understand correctly, Einstein was great with math, but not as great as many other famous theoretical physicists including Landau himself.

  14. It pretty was bad in the middle ages to propose something against the mainstream thinking.
    It was not too welcome to propose something against the mainstream in the early 20th century.
    But if Einstein was doing his work now.. Well, he’d be triple crucified daily by the good people of the internet and the popular media and their puppet-masters, and he’d not be having fun.

  15. I have to say, so of the comments here are amongst the most interesting and measure responses to modern scientific theories (including climate change, QM, and GR). I rarely post comments on here because there often a number of snooty “well clearly I must educate you in such matters” posts, which turn me (and I assume, others) off. But its refreshing to see people actually responding to comments, questions, and opinions in a coherent, balanced way. Tis so rare on the web these days..

  16. I own a book “EINSTEIN – the LIFE of a GENIUS” ISBN 987-0-06-189389-6 which contains facsimile of original letters, handwritings and even the letter he wrote to F.D. Roosevevelt in August 1939 to warn for the possibility of building a bomb with uranium. A very nice book if you’re interested in the life of dr. Einstein.

  17. People know about his other work about as much as they know about Oppenheimer’s astronomy work.. Like Einstein, Oppenheimer is symbolic of applied science and objects.. Shiny things.. My ferret theory

  18. A binary star is a system that can serve as a model for light’s wave particle enigma. The speed of the occultations observed correlates to the frequency of light. Imagine 2 particles (I opt for electrons with opposite spins) spinning around each other on their own axis yet traveling through a medium like space and you can “see” the model. You also get the electron hole effect upon “absorption/injection” into a substrate like a semiconductor. The electromagnetic effects “rules” of electron flow also follow although I am having trouble visualizing how this superconducting particle (cooper?) pair forms the magnetic poles…must be somehow related to the alignment of their 3 dimensional spin properties.

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