Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Something absolute may be lurking beneath relativity theory”

“EINSTEIN’S work on relativity was not yet completed when it began to be taken for the scientific proof of the view that everything is relative. Such a view, widely entertained on the popular as well as the academic level, is now a climate of thought. A stunning proof of this is a full-page advertisement in the September 24, 1979 issue of Time magazine. It proclaims, under the picture of Einstein, in bold-face letters the message: EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE. The basic rule of in advertising, it is well to recall, is a reliance on commonly accepted beliefs, on generally shared cravings, hopes, and fears, or, in short, on the prevailing climate of thought.

“The claim that something absolute may be lurking beneath relativity theory, may therefore be surprising, though not original at all. That Einstein’s Relativity Theory implies elements and considerations that are absolutist in character was voiced by Planck as early as 1924 in an address “From Relativity to the Absolute,” which quickly acquired world-wide publicity. 

“. . . For us, late twentieth-century men, Newtonian science is a thing of the past. Everybody knows that Newton has been superseded by Einstein, but very few people know the true reason for this. The usual reason given is that Einstein showed everything to be relative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity is the most absolutist theory ever proposed in the history of science. In fact, the entire success of Einstein’s theory is that it is absolutist. According to it, the value of the speed of light is independent of any reference systems and therefore has a value which is absolutely valid. According to the same theory, all inertial and accelerated reference systems are absolutely equivalent.”

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays, pp. 1-2, 65. (1988)