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  1. #1
    CC Grandmaster Ian Murray's Avatar
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    Physics: Einstein vs Newton

    Putting Einstein first: It's time to stop lying to our children about physics

    ABC Science
    By David Blair for Ockham's Razor

    Isaac Newton is a physics icon, but he was wrong.

    Sure, three hundred years ago, his discoveries about gravity and the laws governing motion revolutionised the world.

    And yes, sure, those discoveries led to an incredibly useful mechanistic, deterministic view of the universe – in which one thing causes another.

    It's the story we all still learn in school. But Einstein proved it was wrong a century ago.

    What did Newton get wrong?

    While Newton saw time and space as absolute, Einstein proved that time is relative – it depends on height and speed.

    And space? Einstein said that space is curved by matter. So parallel lines will always cross, because space is never flat.

    It's mind blowing. And it's not what we're taught in school. ...

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    CC Grandmaster Ian Murray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    I went to school probably years after yourself and I wasn't taught any Newton or Einstein - good Catholic curriculum that was. But there was the great revelation that stars were holes in the floor of Heaven that is yet to be disproved I believe.
    You didn't learn that g = 32 ft secˉ² on Earth, and one-sixth of that on the moon? I got it all from the Brothers.
    Last edited by Ian Murray; 18-12-2019 at 08:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Murray View Post
    You didn't learn that g = 32 ft secˉ² on Earth, and one-sixth of that on the moon? I got it all from the Brothers.
    He's made similar claims before, and I find this one just as unbelievable. I went to a Catholic school about 50 years ago, and they definitely weren't teaching medieval cosmology - we even watched the moon landing

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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Newton is fine for most applications

    I was asked about this article in my professional capacity, and my response was:

    The problem is not that it is wrong, but that it's over the top. One thing he omits is called the correspondence principle. That is, Newtonian physics works so well for most situations that relativistic and quantum mechanics must produce the same predictions for the same conditions. In particular, at speeds much less than that of light and at relatively low gravity, Einstein's equations approach asymptotically to Newton's equations. Similarly, the equations of quantum mechanics become those at classical mechanics at the limit of very large quantum numbers, usually anything larger than molecular size. E.g. a flying mozzie is so much slower than light and so much bigger than an atom that it would be crass to use anything but Newtonian physics.

    Also, Newton was one of Einstein's scientific heroes.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Murray View Post
    You didn't learn that g = 32 ft secˉ² on Earth, and one-sixth of that on the moon? I got it all from the Brothers.
    Of course! I wouldn't be surprised if you learned more about physics back then than most kids learn today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Byrom View Post
    He's made similar claims before, and I find this one just as unbelievable.
    Yes, he is often over-the-top, even for most of the atheists here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Byrom View Post
    I went to a Catholic school about 50 years ago, and they definitely weren't teaching medieval cosmology
    They probably did teach some medieval cosmology: that the earth is a globe, that it was just a speck compared to the vast distance to the stars, and that the sun and every star we see is bigger than the earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Byrom View Post
    — we even watched the moon landing
    In my experience, moon-landing hoaxers tend to be too young to realize that it was impossible to fake with the film or computer technology of the day, while rockets of the day definitely were powerful enough. I wrote an article for the 50th anniversary of the first landing that addressed some denialist claims, and even put a little chess history in. Someone commented that this was a switch from my usual writings in apologetics to one on apollogetics.
    Last edited by Capablanca-Fan; 19-12-2019 at 07:22 AM.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    When I moved to Townsville in 71 and worked in PMG a guy there couldn't use the telephone - maybe he was taught by Capa's mob.
    You mean, my mob that teaches that quantum mechanics, relativity (both special and general), and Newtonian physics are good science?

    We can even use computers and the Internet
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    Does Mr Christ rising up to Heaven comply with Newtonian and Einstein's theories? Does feeding the masses with all those extra loaves and fishes break the Laws of Thermodynamics , or quantum mechanics,
    Miracles don't violate these laws and theories; rather, they are additions to them. See for example Miracles and science.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    Capa Fan, I can be considered over the top (and other things) but I was not lying about being taught that stars were holes in the floor of Heaven.
    As a joke maybe, not as science, judging by what IM and PB say they were taught.

    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    But I reminded him of Yuri Gagarin's famous words - now you recite them for me please.
    What? Поéхали! (Poyekhali! = Let's go!)
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    CC Grandmaster Ian Murray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capablanca-Fan View Post
    Of course! I wouldn't be surprised if you learned more about physics back then than most kids learn today.
    I still have trouble getting my head around the idea that gravity is not a force but a result of space-time warp


    ...Someone commented that this was a switch from my usual writings in apologetics to one on apollogetics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Murray View Post
    I still have trouble getting my head around the idea that gravity is not a force but a result of space-time warp
    You can treat it as either of these. In most normal applications, it's fine to treat it as a force F = –Gm₁m₂/R². For very large gravitational fields, it needs to be treated as warping in spacetime, where particles follow ‘straight’ paths (geodesics) through this curved spacetime.

    Because of the correspondence principle, in the limit of low gravitational fields, the spacetime warp equations will provide identical results to the force equations. That's why I thought that the article was not wrong per se but over the top. Physicists and chemists make approximations all the time, and know that Newtonian physics is an excellent approximation most of the time—so good that the deviation from reality is too tiny for most measurements.

    Probably the most practical example of where relativity is needed is the GPS or SatNav system. This is based on satellites in a semi-synchronous orbit (two orbits per day). First, there is the effect of gravitational time dilation by earth's gravitational field (part of general relativity), which weakens at a greater distance. The result is that the satellite clocks are ~2 microseconds faster per day than clocks at sea level. And they are travelling at 12,000 km per hour, which means there is time dilation (part of special relativity), by ~ 5 microseconds slower per day than clocks. Evidently they balance out to GPS clocks being ~38 icroseconds faster per day than clocks on earth. If this were not taken into account, the position errors would build up at a rate of about 400 metres per hour, so would quickly become unusable.

    As far as quantum mechanics are concerned, they have been shown to be relevant even to something as large as buckyballs (buckminsterfullerene C₆₀ molecules)—even they have wave properties that could be detected by diffraction patterns through very fine gratings.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    Your mob that the world was created by God at 6pm Saturday 23 rd October 4004 BC.
    I don't believe that. I calculated a different creation date in my Genesis 1–11 commentary The Genesis Account, not thinking we could narrow it down to as much precision from the biblical data as Ussher did. The uncertainty is decades not an hour.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capablanca-Fan View Post
    You can treat it as either of these. In most normal applications, it's fine to treat it as a force F = –Gm₁m₂/R². For very large gravitational fields, it needs to be treated as warping in spacetime, where particles follow ‘straight’ paths (geodesics) through this curved spacetime.

    Because of the correspondence principle, in the limit of low gravitational fields, the spacetime warp equations will provide identical results to the force equations. That's why I thought that the article was not wrong per se but over the top. Physicists and chemists make approximations all the time, and know that Newtonian physics is an excellent approximation most of the time—so good that the deviation from reality is too tiny for most measurements....
    Agreed. Newton is certainly good enough for the day-to-day stuff, but if it's true as the article says that kids lap up quantum theory in school then they should learn the basics rather than have to wait till uni.

    I tried dipping into astrophysics in my dotage, but found it too hard to do the sums in orbital mechanics (all those big numbers!)

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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antichrist View Post
    Getting back to gravity — if the world is only 6,000 years would that be sufficient time for yellow clay beneath my premies to compact as hard as it has. My consultant building engineer assures me that it is due to the earth billions of years old?? Otherwise the formula for gravity must be very incorrect and Newton wrong.
    False dilemma. Another possibility: the process of hardening is much quicker and involves other processes. Even if we just take gravity, we need to know what mass has been on top of this soil at different times.

    I also doubt that any engineer would claim that the top or near-top layer of clay is billions of years old or even millions.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Murray View Post
    Agreed. Newton is certainly good enough for the day-to-day stuff, but if it's true as the article says that kids lap up quantum theory in school then they should learn the basics rather than have to wait till uni.
    No problem with that. At least they should learn that Newton's laws break down at very high speed and high gravity and at atomic scales.

    When it comes to relativity, maybe in the senior years at highschool, they should learn about the thought experiments that Einstein used to deduce length contraction and time dilation. Then even if they don't learn how to derive it, they should have some idea of the Lorentz factor, and how it doesn't usually deviate much from 1 until the speed is a significant fraction of lightspeed. So kids will realize that Newton's equations don't need much modification at more familiar speeds.

    Since chemistry deals with atoms, kids should learn some QM concepts earlier than they do. E.g. they could probably skip the octet rule that is very limited in application and learn the basics of atomic and molecular orbitals.

    I also think it's good to learn some of the history. E.g. they should learn about how people explained observations, then further observations that required modification or even discarding old theories. E.g. atoms were thought to be indivisible, then electrons were discovered. The discoverer J.J. Thomson thought they could be like plums in a pudding. But then his student, the Kiwi Rutherford, realized that most mass of an atom was concentrated in the positively charged nucleus, so proposed that electrons orbited like planets around the sun. But then, why didn't they radiate energy as electromagnetic radiation so their orbits decayed? This led to quantum mechanical models. Spectroscopy was also an important tool. That way, students see the connection between observations, models, experiments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Murray View Post
    I tried dipping into astrophysics in my dotage, but found it too hard to do the sums in orbital mechanics (all those big numbers!)
    Not a bad idea though. This might be considered a historically foundational science. Working out the motions of planets, and testing them against various models, led to Newtonian physics. A small anomaly in Mercury's orbit led to general relativity.
    “The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.”
    “There’s no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over others is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.”—Thomas Sowell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capablanca-Fan View Post
    No problem with that. At least they should learn that Newton's laws break down at very high speed and high gravity and at atomic scales.

    When it comes to relativity, maybe in the senior years at highschool, they should learn about the thought experiments that Einstein used to deduce length contraction and time dilation. Then even if they don't learn how to derive it, they should have some idea of the Lorentz factor, and how it doesn't usually deviate much from 1 until the speed is a significant fraction of lightspeed. So kids will realize that Newton's equations don't need much modification at more familiar speeds.

    Since chemistry deals with atoms, kids should learn some QM concepts earlier than they do. E.g. they could probably skip the octet rule that is very limited in application and learn the basics of atomic and molecular orbitals.

    I also think it's good to learn some of the history. E.g. they should learn about how people explained observations, then further observations that required modification or even discarding old theories. E.g. atoms were thought to be indivisible, then electrons were discovered. The discoverer J.J. Thomson thought they could be like plums in a pudding. But then his student, the Kiwi Rutherford, realized that most mass of an atom was concentrated in the positively charged nucleus, so proposed that electrons orbited like planets around the sun. But then, why didn't they radiate energy as electromagnetic radiation so their orbits decayed? This led to quantum mechanical models. Spectroscopy was also an important tool. That way, students see the connection between observations, models, experiments.


    Not a bad idea though. This might be considered a historically foundational science. Working out the motions of planets, and testing them against various models, led to Newtonian physics. A small anomaly in Mercury's orbit led to general relativity.
    Sounds good. For a long time I've been intrigued by the General Theory concept that at the speed of light time stops, mass expands to infinity and length contracts to zero. Science fiction writers have had no trouble getting around that to achieve interstellar travel - the warp drive!

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