Albert Einstein and Space-Time, Part Two

6 Mar

From .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

“The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” This is how Albert Einstein placed the question. And there is little dispute that past or present time is inextricable bound up in passage through space. Thus the recognized relationship of space-time is a part of all musings about either space or time.

Time and space are elusive concepts. Here on earth the past was essentially described by notations in the historical record, and these notations occurred at a particular space or location on the ground. The massive swaths of historical time claimed by scientists in the past hundred years or so don’t really exist except as “concepts.” They have no tangible reality. Cosmological time is no more real than my thought-dream of flying among the stars and landing in distant galaxies where proto-humans live.

Yet scientists insist that they know with certainty the amount of distant or cosmic time which has passed for one entity to progress into another entity. Let’s look at the most recent issue of the magazine Scientific American, March, 2013. I regularly read almost every page of each issue of this magazine, and I recommend it to others. I can find the magazine fascinating without agreeing with every statement made by every author:

Page 38: “Although our human lineage emerged in Africa around six million years ago….” Page 44: “All stars are born in groups… a new theory seeks to explain how these groups form and… persist for hundreds of millions of years.” Page 59: “Recent research suggests it [the genus Citrus] first appeared in Australasia some 35 million years ago and spread to Asia.” Page 61: “Bees have been sculpted by millions of years of evolution into incredible flying machines.” Page 67: “Ten thousand years ago, when smallpox first emerged….”

All these statements are technically false. They are the product of twentieth century magical thinking carried over into the twenty-first century. Absent the existence of historical data, the past does not exist, either on earth or in the cosmos. At the most there are a series of probabilities about the past, all of which may or may not have occurred. The past at best is a sum over many, many histories, none of which can be separately tracked with any degree of certainty.

The Big Bang as myth, occurring 13.77 billion years in the past, can be thought of as an unintentionally anthropomorphic description of the universe. The meaning of anthropomorphic is: “ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human.” In other words, creating a metaphor for the development of non-organic matter, by using what we actually know about the human organism.

Science NetLinks, a resource for science teachers, states that there are approximately “ten to the 14th power” (that’s 100 trillion) cells in the human body. Others say there are about 50 to 75 trillion cells in the average human body.

With our definition, and these numbers, we can begin to see the anthropomorphic basis for the Big Bang. Each human being starts as nothing, then a single pluripotent microscopic cellular structure unleashes an unfathomably complex process. Over a period of time, from the “Big Bang” of conception, through the afterglow of love and beyond, until maybe age eighteen, a single human body develops explosively from a single cellular structure to a large and coherent bodily universe, literally as much as 100 trillion times the size of the singularity from which it began, that pluripotent stem cell. And no one can say where the energy driving the singularity of human conception came from. So the metaphoric content of cosmology recapitulates the actual process of the creation of each individual human body.

It doesn’t take much imagination to describe this ordinary and daily bodily process on a cosmic scale. What it takes is the ability to be in denial that one is using one’s imagination, and to pretend that one’s abstract paper and pencil mathematics depicts the entire universe, rather than depicting the commonplace expansion of a single microscopic pluripotent cell into a big and burly stomping around human adult. Or expands into a petite and lovely delicate human adult.

Let me tell you a story which could open your thinking to the possibility of the scientific imagination getting ahead of scientific reality. In 1905 a young man by the name of Albert Einstein published a series of papers where he actually uncovered significant aspects of reality which were unknown up until then.

Essentially he found that each unit of matter, no matter how small, contains an enormous amount of energy, using the formula E = MC squared. He also verified that the speed of light was always constant, no matter what were the circumstances under which we observed the light. He also accurately described the photoelectric effect. This series of historically important discoveries in 1905 became known as Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Dr. Einstein at the time was 26 years old, and he was recognized as a first class genius for his special theory of relativity. He would have had a place in the history of science even if he had stopped with these accurate observations of the material world around us. Yet he was not yet world-renowned, not yet accepted as the greatest scientific genius of the time. He wanted more.

“Try not to be a man of success, but rather a man of value,” is one of his quotes. He wasn’t yet sure at that time that he was truly a “man of value.” Maybe he was just a flash in the pan. Yet he was sure enough of himself to believe he had what it took to go further as a founder of scientific principles, and that people would listen to the things of value he could provide.

So Einstein spent the next ten years searching and searching, largely in silence, trying to find another theoretical breakthrough, a next step which he hoped could top his original stunningly valuable observations from 1905.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination,” is another of Einstein’s sayings. Did anyone ever consider that the man was telling the rock-bottom truth when he said things such as this?

Einstein was unable to find any further insight by sticking with the reality of what was around him. So he resorted to his imagination to fabricate new deep cosmological theories. His general theory of relativity, published in 1915, was expressed entirely through mathematics and could hardly be proved or disproved by experiment or observation. Even today, no one has been able to reconcile his general theory of relativity with other mathematical models of the universe.

He strong-armed the math to fit what he imagined was true about the universe. By doing so inventing something spectacular and illusory, and presented it as a factual description of the universe. After this time he was for the rest of his life a man of value. The equations shown below, from the imagination of a brilliant man, are the basis for the general theory of relativity; they are called Einstein’s (field) equations. Even today, almost no one fully understands general relativity. Have a go at it yourself:


Equation 01

On the left-hand side is the Einstein Tensor, a specific divergence-free combination of the Ricci Tensor R/ab and the metric. In particular,


Equation 02

is the curvature scalar. The Ricci tensor itself is related to the more general Riemann curvature tensor as


Equation 03

On the right-hand side, Tab is the energy–momentum tensor. Matching the theory’s prediction to observational results for planetary orbits, the proportionality constant can be fixed as κ = 8πG/c4, with G the gravitational constant and c the speed of light. When there is no matter present, so that the energy–momentum tensor vanishes, the result is the vacuum Einstein equation


Equation 04

So in 1915 Albert Einstein used abstract pencil and paper mathematics as a substitute for reality, and created something entirely the product of his imagination. It looked good on paper, so it must be true. Scientists have taken it as truth from 1915 to the present, even though they don’t fully understand the stated principles.

The Nobel Committee refused to award him a prize for his work on general relativity, saying it was unproven (He did receive the prize for other work). The only “evidence” in support of this theory is from one scientist in about 1919, who saw fleetingly in a telescope that light curved as it passed the sun. This observation occurred inside our solar system. So, light does not always travel in a straight line. Does this one fact mean that all the magical scientific stories about the universe generated in the past hundred years are true?

This set of formulas, though, is the Eucharist of the New Testament of cosmological science. We are asked to believe that these abstract letters and numbers on a paper are the same as, or even identical with, the actual conditions in the past outside our solar system, in outer space; or even in the past of the earth. In the Eucharist, the substance of bread and wine changes into, and is identical with, the body and the blood of Jesus. Scientists are, through the rigors of education, indoctrinated in the belief that letters and numbers spread on paper in a certain order are identical with the actual contents of the universe.

As we shall see, this set of formulas almost single-handedly unleashed the greatest period of imaginative science-fiction the world has ever seen, all of it cast as definite scientific truth. Almost everything we all now believe about the universe beyond our solar system flows from the vivid imagination of Dr. Einstein.

If you’re not sure Albert Einstein was the source of the current speculations on the origins and content of the universe, see . (I checked the facts in this chart with other sources, and used Wikipedia because the facts were confirmed elsewhere, and their timeline is the best way of graphically displaying the point to be made.) Before his general theory of relativity in 1915, there were no real attempts by scientists to look or think beyond the realm of our solar system. Even as Einstein made up his abstract, imaginary formulas from nothing, he became the preeminent myth-maker of his day. The myth of cosmological space-time has been spun into scientific fact by those who followed the myth he made.

As we shall see in the next blog entry, other prominent twentieth-century scientists grabbed hold of Einstein’s imaginary formulas and developed whole imaginary theories of the universe by adding their own touches of myth. It is important that we not carry the twentieth-century mythical methods into the twenty-first century. The lack of accuracy and mythical content will get in the way of or slow down scientific breakthroughs which made the useable science of the twentieth-century greater than that of any time in the earth’s historical record.

2 Responses to “Albert Einstein and Space-Time, Part Two”

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