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EINSTEIN'S SCHIZOPHRENIC WORLD
Lee Smolin: The consequences of Einstein's 1905 postulates are "dead wrong" and "a logical and metaphysical dead end":
"Was Einstein wrong? At least in his understanding of time, Smolin argues, the great theorist of relativity was dead wrong. What is worse, by firmly enshrining his error in scientific orthodoxy, Einstein trapped his successors in insoluble dilemmas..."
"And by making the clock's tick relative - what happens simultaneously for one observer might seem sequential to another - Einstein's theory of special relativity not only destroyed any notion of absolute time but made time equivalent to a dimension in space: the future is already out there waiting for us; we just can't see it until we get there. This view is a logical and metaphysical dead end, says Smolin."
Lee Smolin: Both Einstein's 1905 postulates and their consequences "hold remarkably well":
QUESTION: Setting aside any other debates about relativity theory for the moment, why would the speed of light be absolute? No other speeds are absolute, that is, all other speeds do indeed change in relation to the speed of the observer, so it's always seemed a rather strange notion to me.
LEE SMOLIN: Special relativity works extremely well and the postulate of the invariance or universality of the speed of light is extremely well-tested. It might be wrong in the end but it is an extremely good approximation to reality.
QUESTION: So let me pick a bit more on Einstein and ask you this: You write (p. 56) that Einstein showed that simultaneity is relative. But the conclusion of the relativity of simultaneity flows necessarily from Einstein's postulates (that the speed of light is absolute and that the laws of nature are relative). So he didn't really show that simultaneity was relative - he assumed it. What do I have wrong here?
LEE SMOLIN: The relativity of simultaneity is a consequence of the two postulates that Einstein proposed and so it is deduced from the postulates. The postulates and their consequences are then checked experimentally and, so far, they hold remarkably well.
"Smolin was named as #21 on Foreign Policy Magazine's list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals. He is also one of many physicists dubbed the "New Einstein" by the media":
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