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(Big Think)   If Einstein never existed, would we still have relativity, and more?   (bigthink.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, General relativity, Albert Einstein, Special relativity, Spacetime, Quantum mechanics, Photon, speed of light, moving train  
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419 clicks; posted to STEM » on 07 Dec 2021 at 11:33 AM (7 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2021-12-07 10:50:46 AM  
The article starts with the false premise of Einstein as the greatest of all time. The Rutherford model of nuclear atom and Planetary model that Einstein used would have been used by someone else.
 
2021-12-07 10:59:40 AM  
LaPlace and Minkowski and Maxwell made relativity inevitable.  Einstein got there first by carrying less baggage.
 
2021-12-07 11:09:41 AM  

eurotrader: The article starts with the false premise of Einstein as the greatest of all time. The Rutherford model of nuclear atom and Planetary model that Einstein used would have been used by someone else.


Maybe.  They definitely understood the problems with classical physics, and others had made partial work along the lines of Einstein.  But there is no way to say if someone else would have made the exact same leaps he did.  I mean, we probably would have gotten there eventually, but it might have taken a few more heads to pass through and a couple of blind allies.  We might still be just at the point of the 1940s right now, for instance.

Great Man Theory is generally a pile of bullshiat, but acting as if all humans are fungible, nameless cogs in the Great Machine of Society, is also as bad.  Would we eventually figure it out from just trying to fix classical mechanics?  Almost certainly - the problems were just too glaring not to be fixed somehow.  Would several mid-century leading lights have been toiling away on things that ended up being different from their own work because they were farther behind us?  Also, almost certainly because they didn't have the Einstein shortcut.  Would we still be using the Plum Pudding Model?  Fark no.
 
2021-12-07 11:11:09 AM  
Science is science.  The laws of the universe exist, immutable, whether someone discovers them or not.  But they are there to be discovered, and remain so until someone else, so if not Einstein, Feinman, Bohr, Newton, Curie, Faraday, etc., then they'd still be there to be discovered by someone else.  Maybe we'd be a little behind where we are now in our knowledge of science, but we'd still get there.
 
2021-12-07 11:17:56 AM  
Uhh, nothing is real unless Some Facebook Rando declares it is so..

Now excuse me while I go inject horse bleach to cure my hangnail.
 
2021-12-07 11:26:22 AM  

phalamir: eurotrader: The article starts with the false premise of Einstein as the greatest of all time. The Rutherford model of nuclear atom and Planetary model that Einstein used would have been used by someone else.

Maybe.  They definitely understood the problems with classical physics, and others had made partial work along the lines of Einstein.  But there is no way to say if someone else would have made the exact same leaps he did.  I mean, we probably would have gotten there eventually, but it might have taken a few more heads to pass through and a couple of blind allies.  We might still be just at the point of the 1940s right now, for instance.

Great Man Theory is generally a pile of bullshiat, but acting as if all humans are fungible, nameless cogs in the Great Machine of Society, is also as bad.  Would we eventually figure it out from just trying to fix classical mechanics?  Almost certainly - the problems were just too glaring not to be fixed somehow.  Would several mid-century leading lights have been toiling away on things that ended up being different from their own work because they were farther behind us?  Also, almost certainly because they didn't have the Einstein shortcut.  Would we still be using the Plum Pudding Model?  Fark no.


People build on past knowledge and discovery. The reason the sharing of science is important. How far behind would the world be without Euclid and Muhammad idn Musa al-Khwarizmi? Now when someone or a group of people show how different dimensions (thinking the gravity dimension) can be used in the ones we can observe the next big leap will happen. Hopefully before true AI comes circa 2050 because then everything will change.
 
2021-12-07 11:39:50 AM  
Boy you really have to suck at understanding the concept of science to even ask a question this stupid. Of course they would have been found by someone else. Most of the major scientific breakthroughs in the middle ages to the industrial ages WERE found by people other than the ones who stole the credit


This question is as stupid as the politicians in WW2 who actually thought they could keep the nuke an american secret
 
2021-12-07 11:40:53 AM  
Yes.

The Great Man Theory is nonsense. Einstein was simply in the right place at the right time -- the discovery of relativity was inevitable. Similarly: Without Edison, we'd still have light bulbs. Without Ford, we'd still have cars.
 
2021-12-07 11:42:20 AM  
Yes, since the theory itself is man's attempt to understand it, not the breadth of its creation....
 
2021-12-07 11:42:53 AM  

eurotrader: The article starts with the false premise of Einstein as the greatest of all time. The Rutherford model of nuclear atom and Planetary model that Einstein used would have been used by someone else.


False premise, model that Rutherford used would have been used by someone else.
 
2021-12-07 11:43:11 AM  
"no scientist in history has contributed more to human knowledge than Albert Einstein" Scientists generally credit Newton well above Einstein.


It's a fascinating thought experiment. Einstein contributed to a number of different fields. Special relativity, the photoelectric effect, brownian motion I suspect were within a few decades regardless of his contribution. I wonder more about general relativity. That might have languished until a ways into the space age and an attempt at GPS.
 
2021-12-07 11:44:08 AM  

eurotrader: Rutherford


Harry and Paul Basic Instinct
Youtube vFE-ctHwQkw
 
2021-12-07 11:47:12 AM  

eurotrader: phalamir: eurotrader: The article starts with the false premise of Einstein as the greatest of all time. The Rutherford model of nuclear atom and Planetary model that Einstein used would have been used by someone else.

Maybe.  They definitely understood the problems with classical physics, and others had made partial work along the lines of Einstein.  But there is no way to say if someone else would have made the exact same leaps he did.  I mean, we probably would have gotten there eventually, but it might have taken a few more heads to pass through and a couple of blind allies.  We might still be just at the point of the 1940s right now, for instance.

Great Man Theory is generally a pile of bullshiat, but acting as if all humans are fungible, nameless cogs in the Great Machine of Society, is also as bad.  Would we eventually figure it out from just trying to fix classical mechanics?  Almost certainly - the problems were just too glaring not to be fixed somehow.  Would several mid-century leading lights have been toiling away on things that ended up being different from their own work because they were farther behind us?  Also, almost certainly because they didn't have the Einstein shortcut.  Would we still be using the Plum Pudding Model?  Fark no.

People build on past knowledge and discovery. The reason the sharing of science is important. How far behind would the world be without Euclid and Muhammad idn Musa al-Khwarizmi? Now when someone or a group of people show how different dimensions (thinking the gravity dimension) can be used in the ones we can observe the next big leap will happen. Hopefully before true AI comes circa 2050 because then everything will change.


I'm not saying people don't build on others.  But discoveries are not on a timetable.  If Einstein didn't work out relativity, that doesn't mean someone else would have published the same article on the same day.  Or even the same year.  Or decade.  There is almost 900 years between algebra and calculus.  There is nothing that says we would have relativity before 2300 without Einstein.  Also nothing to say it wouldn't have been 1894, just like that calculus might have been worked out in 1374.  Fundamentally, the questions are pointless.  Time only flows in one direction.  Can't test the hypothesis.  And trust me, time machines do not exist.  Otherwise historians would have already torn the continuum to shreds just on Pickett's Charge.
 
2021-12-07 11:47:41 AM  
This?
Fark user imageView Full Size


Or I guess the opposite of that given the storyline it's from.
 
2021-12-07 11:47:57 AM  
I think it stinks. If Einstein never invented relativity, we could be flying to Alpha Centauri already :(
 
2021-12-07 11:48:06 AM  
Special Relativity definitely would've been discovered, and probably pretty soon after Einstein. It was directly addressing one of the largest issues in their models of physics at the time, and a lot of it is really straightforward to derive--for exampleyou can get time dilation using basic algebra and trig. It takes some outside-of-the-box thinking to think of having light travel at c in all reference frames, but it's not that crazy, and a lot of the work was already there. It's a case where it was 99% inspiration, 1% perspiration. His photoelectric work was also a pretty straightforward adaptation of Planck and would've been replicated pretty soon after.

General relativity, though, seems absolutely batshiat. I've friends who study it in more detail than I have who talk about how they have no idea how he came up with the geometric interpretations required for it to be described in his time. They say that less "intuitive" derivations use techniques not developed until like the '70's. That would've taken a while to come around.
 
2021-12-07 11:50:51 AM  

Ishkur: Yes.

The Great Man Theory is nonsense. Einstein was simply in the right place at the right time -- the discovery of relativity was inevitable. Similarly: Without Edison, we'd still have light bulbs. Without Ford, we'd still have cars.


Umm, those are not comparable.  An Englishman already had the lightbulb.  It was a bit less efficient than Edison's, but Edison just perfected the filament.  And cars had been around for decades before Ford.  All Ford did was change how they were made, using an assembly line instead of individually built.
 
2021-12-07 11:52:03 AM  

New Farkin User Name: Special Relativity definitely would've been discovered, and probably pretty soon after Einstein. It was directly addressing one of the largest issues in their models of physics at the time, and a lot of it is really straightforward to derive--for exampleyou can get time dilation using basic algebra and trig. It takes some outside-of-the-box thinking to think of having light travel at c in all reference frames, but it's not that crazy, and a lot of the work was already there. It's a case where it was 99% inspiration, 1% perspiration. His photoelectric work was also a pretty straightforward adaptation of Planck and would've been replicated pretty soon after.

General relativity, though, seems absolutely batshiat. I've friends who study it in more detail than I have who talk about how they have no idea how he came up with the geometric interpretations required for it to be described in his time. They say that less "intuitive" derivations use techniques not developed until like the '70's. That would've taken a while to come around.


Pfft, you can prove anything by citing people that know what they are talking about
 
2021-12-07 12:01:58 PM  
I dunno about general relativity, but generally speaking, one of his relatives would have been lonely without him.
 
2021-12-07 12:02:39 PM  
Would Einstein even gotten to Einstein index notation without Gibbs and Vector analysis? Einstein called the Gibbs the greatest mind.

Sidenote to a poster on time travel. Sure it is possible just not with mass or information, so not observable.
 
2021-12-07 12:02:40 PM  
Some Indian polymath prodigy would have figured it out by now.
 
2021-12-07 12:10:24 PM  
A rose by any other name...

Answer: Relatively is a discovery, not an invention so yes, someone else would have and some cases did or were close before Einstein.

/Inside every Great Man is a Great Ahole.  All power corrupts.
 
2021-12-07 12:10:37 PM  

kozlo: This?
[Fark user image image 300x168]

Or I guess the opposite of that given the storyline it's from.


Japan Invades the World - Red Alert 3
Youtube l4nJUeqUG1Q

The Empire of the Rising Sun led by George Takei is what happens when Tim Curry murders Einstein
 
2021-12-07 12:37:15 PM  
I mean never to belittle other people's  accomplishments. but this articles idea is super department of duh obvious.
all you need is to under the difference between these two words:

invention
discovery


Something that was "invented" may or may not be invented by anyone else.
An invention is making something that was not naturally already just there to be...discovered.

A discovery is when you find, what is just already present in the world.

you do not invent the amount of energy an atom reseal when it is split.
you discover that.


And so it is all discoveries, are simply present there already, waiting to be noticed by someone.
While an invention, well we kind of understand that an invention has an impetus for being brought into existence in the first place. A need was met, a necessity was the mother the invention as we say.

You discovered a ford in a river to let you cross, you invent the bridge to no longer be forced to go to that one location to get to cross the river.

You discoverer the physics, that let you invent a new way to design bridges.
 
2021-12-07 12:59:31 PM  
An interesting concept to think about.

The majority of physicists in Europe in the early 1900's were investigating black-body radiation. Planck had already introduced the quanta but most thought Einstein was wrong by quantizing light. It was 15-20 years before the scientific community came around to his way of thinking, though that was delayed a bit by WWI. But that's how long that discovery would have taken. I've always been impressed by this process in particular, the patent clerk proposing an idea that the greatest minds in the world took almost two decades to grok.

Atoms\Explaining Brownian motion probably would have happened pretty quickly. Lots of physicists at that time were thinking about atoms.

Relativity is especially interesting. Probably SR could have been found experimentally within the next 20 years. GR was a masterpiece, still is. Without Einstein's proposal, the 1919 expedition to look at stars during an eclipse wouldn't have happened though it's possible someone else could have noticed that during another eclipse. Hubble found the universe was expanding around 1930 and without GR, that would have sent the scientific community into a frenzy and most likely it would have been discovered within a decade.

Those are my guesses at least,
 
2021-12-07 1:07:52 PM  

MurphyMurphy: I think it stinks. If Einstein never invented relativity, we could be flying to Alpha Centauri already :(


This is the thing people never figured out.

Reality is like cartoons, it follows the laws you expect it to follow, not some universal pre set laws. So if we hadn't declared gravity to be universal, then we could run off a cliff for a bit, and not fall right away.

The dinosaurs didn't know.animals shouldn't be stupidly gigantic so we got sauropods, and t rexes.

And if we hadn't declared light the speed limit, or cause to always proceed effect, the universe would be out ouyster, so shuck and devour.
 
2021-12-07 1:10:06 PM  
Yes, we would have had relativity and all the other discoveries credited to Einstein, sooner or later.

Like calculus. Newton gets credit, but Liebnitz was developing the same ideas at the same time.

Or non-Euclidian geometry. A number of mathematicians independently made discoveries in hyperbolic geometry, but never considered the possibility that it was a new form of geometry. Gauss had hundreds of pages of calculations and results involving the topic but never published them.

Same story with plate tectonics, natural selection, and many other discoveries in math and science and every other field known to man.
 
2021-12-07 1:19:22 PM  
Hilbert almost (or may have) beat Einstein to the punch in formulating general relativity's field equations. But it's unclear whether he would have even been thinking along those lines without Einstein and Grossmann's earlier proposal to treat gravity geometrically.
 
2021-12-07 1:20:11 PM  

Ambitwistor: Hilbert almost (or may have) beat Einstein to the punch in formulating general relativity's field equations. But it's unclear whether he would have even been thinking along those lines without Einstein and Grossmann's earlier proposal to treat gravity geometrically.


That being said, without Einstein, I'm sure someone still would have hit on it sooner or later.
 
2021-12-07 1:38:25 PM  

phalamir: Umm, those are not comparable. An Englishman already had the lightbulb. It was a bit less efficient than Edison's, but Edison just perfected the filament. And cars had been around for decades before Ford. All Ford did was change how they were made, using an assembly line instead of individually built.


Technically Taylor, but yes.

The underlying argument is that Great Men are products of their societies/environments. Not the other way around.
 
2021-12-07 1:41:28 PM  

chawco: MurphyMurphy: I think it stinks. If Einstein never invented relativity, we could be flying to Alpha Centauri already :(

This is the thing people never figured out.

Reality is like cartoons, it follows the laws you expect it to follow, not some universal pre set laws. So if we hadn't declared gravity to be universal, then we could run off a cliff for a bit, and not fall right away.

The dinosaurs didn't know.animals shouldn't be stupidly gigantic so we got sauropods, and t rexes.

And if we hadn't declared light the speed limit, or cause to always proceed effect, the universe would be out ouyster, so shuck and devour.


No....we got huge animals because the oxygen content in the atmosphere was rising from 14% to 19%. We already have huge animals (hello elephants), its just that way back then there was actually enough flora and fauna to support so many large animals.

Dinosaurs dont violate the square cube law. We just dont know anything about their internal biology to let us understand why they could get blood everywhere. We dont even understand why giraffes function, and they are basically the dinosaurs of the current age
 
2021-12-07 1:42:48 PM  

lifeslammer: chawco: MurphyMurphy: I think it stinks. If Einstein never invented relativity, we could be flying to Alpha Centauri already :(

This is the thing people never figured out.

Reality is like cartoons, it follows the laws you expect it to follow, not some universal pre set laws. So if we hadn't declared gravity to be universal, then we could run off a cliff for a bit, and not fall right away.

The dinosaurs didn't know.animals shouldn't be stupidly gigantic so we got sauropods, and t rexes.

And if we hadn't declared light the speed limit, or cause to always proceed effect, the universe would be out ouyster, so shuck and devour.

No....we got huge animals because the oxygen content in the atmosphere was rising from 14% to 19%. We already have huge animals (hello elephants), its just that way back then there was actually enough flora and fauna to support so many large animals.

Dinosaurs dont violate the square cube law. We just dont know anything about their internal biology to let us understand why they could get blood everywhere. We dont even understand why giraffes function, and they are basically the dinosaurs of the current age


its joak
 
2021-12-07 1:54:31 PM  

lifeslammer: chawco: MurphyMurphy: I think it stinks. If Einstein never invented relativity, we could be flying to Alpha Centauri already :(

This is the thing people never figured out.

Reality is like cartoons, it follows the laws you expect it to follow, not some universal pre set laws. So if we hadn't declared gravity to be universal, then we could run off a cliff for a bit, and not fall right away.

The dinosaurs didn't know.animals shouldn't be stupidly gigantic so we got sauropods, and t rexes.

And if we hadn't declared light the speed limit, or cause to always proceed effect, the universe would be out ouyster, so shuck and devour.

No....we got huge animals because the oxygen content in the atmosphere was rising from 14% to 19%. We already have huge animals (hello elephants), its just that way back then there was actually enough flora and fauna to support so many large animals.

Dinosaurs dont violate the square cube law. We just dont know anything about their internal biology to let us understand why they could get blood everywhere. We dont even understand why giraffes function, and they are basically the dinosaurs of the current age


Well thats one explanation. But giraffs and elephants are unusual now for their size and nowhere near a lot of dinos.

You can prove they grew so big mainly because nobody was there to tell them they are not supposed to.

The universe is a funny old place, it is it is.
 
2021-12-07 2:41:37 PM  

lifeslammer: We dont even understand why giraffes function, and they are basically the dinosaurs of the current age


Are you sure it's not myth like "bumblebees can't fly??
 
2021-12-07 2:52:40 PM  
All I know is:

There was once a man named Dwight
whose speed was far faster than light
he left one day
in a relative way
and returned on the previous night
 
2021-12-07 2:58:06 PM  
Star Wars did not have Einstein, yet they were still able to get the Kessel run down to fifteen parsecs. I am sure space-time would be relatively unaffected by Einstein not being born.
 
2021-12-07 3:04:09 PM  

sitesmithscott: A rose by any other name...

Answer: Relatively is a discovery, not an invention so yes, someone else would have and some cases did or were close before Einstein.

/Inside every Great Man is a Great Ahole.  All power corrupts.


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-12-07 3:14:21 PM  
If anything it is a surprise in retrospect that special relativity was not invented a lifetime earlier. Maxwell discovered that his equations implied a wave that moved at about 300,00 km/s and correctly inferred it was light. He had all he needed to create special relativity. All he had to do was take seriously what his own equations were saying. If he had, he easily had the math chops to do the job.  Not all the math used by general relativity had been invented yet, so that might had been too much for him to solve.
 
2021-12-07 4:37:05 PM  

Ishkur: phalamir: Umm, those are not comparable. An Englishman already had the lightbulb. It was a bit less efficient than Edison's, but Edison just perfected the filament. And cars had been around for decades before Ford. All Ford did was change how they were made, using an assembly line instead of individually built.

Technically Taylor, but yes.

The underlying argument is that Great Men are products of their societies/environments. Not the other way around.


Why do we always have to tear down the accomplishments of great people, as though just anybody was going to come up with all the ideas at random?
 
2021-12-07 5:49:11 PM  

sitesmithscott: A rose by any other name...

Answer: Relatively is a discovery, not an invention so yes, someone else would have and some cases did or were close before Einstein.

/Inside every Great Man is a Great Ahole.  All power corrupts.


Albert Einstein, most powerful theoretical physicist of 1920s.
 
2021-12-07 7:04:40 PM  

Fano: Why do we always have to tear down the accomplishments of great people, as though just anybody was going to come up with all the ideas at random?


It's not random.

It's stochastic yes, but there's nothing random about it. If you look throughout history, the great epicenters of science and technological development -- Constantinople, Alexandria, Damascus, Baghdad, Miletus -- were at one point major centers of trade.

By being hubs for travelers and traders, these cities were in the advantageous position of pooling all the knowledge of far flung cultures and civilizations in one place, building organic backup systems and enriching their domestic scholars. These became hotbeds of progress and advancement simply due to their unique position.

When the Industrial revolution loomed, the same things happened, this time with mercantile empires going out and gathering data and bringing it back home for study. Mass communication and the easy flow of information in the 20th century onwards have only accelerated this process.

Watch any documentary by James Burke and notice how every great achievement is not due to one giant leap by a man, but rather thousands of small steps by all sorts of men (and women), seemingly trying to solve an immediate problem with unintended consequences. History just likes to compartmentalize and simplify this process of discovery, invention, and trial and error, but every one of them -- including Einstein and Newton -- will admit that they're standing on the shoulders of giants. You remove them and there will invariably be someone else to take their place. No one is indispensable. The graveyards are full of indispensable men.
 
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