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Title: Annus mirabilis: the miracle year
Author: David J Larkin
  Broadcast transcript: Recorded May 2005
Declined by ABC Radio National, Ockham's Razor June 2005
Created: December, 2004
Last Updated: June, 2005

•2005 marks the centenary of Albert Einstein's publication of the Theory of Special Relativity, and his remarkable work on quantum theory, the elucidation of Brownian motion, and energy–mass equivalence (E=mc2). Consequently, 1905 is regarded by many as Einstein's, indeed Science's, annus mirabilis: the miracle year.

Yet, despite the celebrated popularity of special relativity, and the associated worship of Einstein, there are many knowledgeable individuals who remain unconvinced of special relativity's bizarre portrayal of the physical world. Indeed I would argue, that more than an intuitive nonsense, Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity sanctioned a century of stupidity. A stupidity typified by schizophrenic, ghosting, time dependent, self-replicating, psychic 'god-like' particles; singularities; space-time warps and, yes, imaginary time. If sensibility is to be restored, then Science must exorcise the spooks, God-rationalists, and writers of science fiction that riddle modern theoretical physics.

Provocative conjecture indeed. Conjecture that has root in the ultimate beauty and veracity of simplicity—the analysis of the empirical data in the context of a new theoretical model of fundamental particle physics. A coherent and extensive theory and, unlike special relativity and that other great nonsense of the twentieth century quantum mechanics, a theory that makes no appeal to fantasy.

Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity is the stuff of science fiction; a heuristic fiction that, like a lie often told, has become embedded in scientific lore as fact.

Surely not possible, not Science? Think again. Science is a discipline practiced by people. And the history of ideas traverses a well-trodden path through the graveyard of great ideas and fallen heroes.

And what of the scientific method? Well the only guarantee that the scientific method assures is repeatability. That is, the scientific method assures that a fool can repeat the same foolish steps over and over again and obtain the same foolish outcome each time.

And the issues of prediction and experimental verification? We know from history that revered theories, subsequently falsified or discarded, predicted outcomes that were confirmed by observation. Indeed, that certain theories, once rejected as falsified, were subsequently re-instated following a change in theoretical disposition. Scientists play fast and loose with the notion of verification. At best all that can be claimed is that a particular theory is consistent with the evidence. But many different accounts can be consistent with the evidence.

Why then does the mathematics work? Well, why does a tailored suit fit? Because it was made to fit. Mathematics, it is argued (and is yet to be refuted, if indeed it can be refuted) can model, connect, or fit any theoretical scenario to the data—whether that scenario represents a physical reality or not. Or to put it another way, mathematics can model both the thesis and its anti-thesis, that is, connect the data to either theory. Therefore, as evidentiary support for one theory or another, mathematics is useless. Mathematics is just a tool, an extremely useful, and an extremely flexible tool, but just a tool—and this point is either not understood by the uninitiated, or conveniently ignored by many sophisticated users of mathematics.

Ok, then why is my theory, my perspective, right? I don't claim that my theory is right, I claim that my theory, which is consistent with the observational evidence, is simple, coherent, and extensively explanatory—more so than the alternative theories advocated by the orthodoxy: the Church of Science from whose cathedral this heretic has been excluded.

The pertinent theory, Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, advocated by the orthodoxy as experimentally verified, arguably describes otherwise inexplicable occurrences. The problematic postulate or assumption of special relativity is that 'the speed of light in a vacuum has the same value irrespective of the point of reference', that is, the speed of light, which is approximately 300,000 kilometres per second (kps), is invariant.

If the Sun is the point of reference, then solar light, emitted from the Sun's surface, should travel away from the Sun through the vacuum of space at the postulated constant-value of 300,000 kps. During the Earth's orbit of the Sun, for centuries an idea considered by the orthodoxy to be absurd, the Earth reaches speeds of approach and recession of approximately 30 kps. Therefore, if the Earth is the point of reference, what is the value of the speed of light as the Earth approaches the Sun?

Consider: an approaching car passes a distant lamppost at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour (kph). Initially you're standing at a pedestrian light waiting to cross an intersection. The speed of approach of the car relative to you (an arbitrary point of reference) is, of course, 60 kph. As you cross, at a speed of 5 kph toward the approaching vehicle, the speed of approach of the car relative to you is now 65 kph—as the car moves toward you at 60 kph, you move toward the car at 5 kph: 60+5=65. However, the speed of the car relative to the lamppost remains unchanged at 60 kph.

If we correlate the Sun with the lamppost, the solar light with the car, and the Earth with you, then we should expect that since the solar light moves toward the Earth at 300,000 kps, and the Earth moves toward the light at 30 kps, then the speed of approach (hence the speed of light relative to the Earth) should be 300,000+30 kps, that is, 30 kps greater than the theoretical limit postulated by Einstein.

Similarly, when the Earth recedes from the Sun, the speed of the solar light relative to the Earth should be 30 kps less than the theoretical constant value.

However, both of these outcomes violate Einstein's postulate: regardless of any approach or recession of the Earth relative to the Sun, the solar light's speed of approach toward the Earth will always be 300,000 kps—nothing more, nothing less. Einstein rationalised this apparent outcome, this anomaly, in terms of time warping. Furthermore, as the orthodoxy argues, this postulation is verified by experimental observation.

Garbage, absolute garbage; before drawing any conclusion from the experimental findings, the observer needs to be certain about what it is that they are observing. Here's a clue: the moment that you attempt to measure the speed of light is the moment that you interfere with that stream of light's speed. What are you measuring? What are you observing?

In order to appreciate how the speed of light can be interfered with, that is rendered invariant, we need to consider some basic properties or characteristics of sub-atomic matter.

However, first we need to draw the distinction between emission speed and traversal speed. Emission speed is measured relative to a fixed and unique point of reference: the source of the emission. Emission speed is a measure of how quickly a stream of light, or a light particle, moves away from its source. In the case of solar light, the fixed point of reference, the point of emission, is the Sun. Conversely, the measurement of traversal speed can be made relative to any (arbitrary) point of reference, the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, an orbiting man-made satellite, and so on.

Given our previous discussion, one would expect that whilst the emission speed (the speed of light relative to the Sun: its source) may remain invariant (compare the car's speed relative to the lamppost), the traversal speed could vary in accordance with the point of reference—for example, the speed of solar light relative to the Earth.

Now let's consider why there appears to be a maximum, or upper limit, to the value of the speed of light. Is it the case that the harder that something is struck the faster it is propelled? Gently tap on a rigid billiard-ball with a billiard cue and the ball gently rolls away reaching a modest speed before friction and or collision slows it to a stop. If we strike the ball slightly harder, and given the same conditions, the ball will reach a slightly higher speed before, once again, being brought to a halt. But now imagine that the billiard ball has been replaced with a sealed balloon partially filled with water. Does the balloon experience higher and higher speeds or simply increased disturbance or wobble within the water? Or just as instructively, consider the case of striking an egg with the billiard cue. A gentle tap and the egg rolls away uneventfully. A slightly harder tap and the egg attains a slightly higher speed. An even harder tap and the egg disintegrates.

It should be clear that one factor that determines the imparted speed of a ball, balloon, egg, or light particle is the capacity of the struck or emitted object to withstand distortion. If, under high-energy emission, light particles are susceptible to distortion then any increase in imparted energy may result, not in increased speed, but in increased distortion within the light particle, perhaps in a manner similar to our hypothetical water balloon. If this were the case then emission speed would be limited to a maximum value determined by the light particle's capacity to withstand the distorting affects of high-energy emission or impact.

However, even if we allow that this is the case, why is emission speed invariant, that is, always at a constant (maximum) value? Other factors that influence emission speed are the amount of available energy, and the capacity of the system to transfer that energy to the emitted object.

Electrons emit light particles only when the electron is sufficiently energised, and this energy level is characteristic of the particular substance that contains the electron. However, if the variation in emission energy, from one emitting substance to another, is at a level above the capacity of an emitted light-particle to withstand distortion then it becomes clear why emission speed appears invariant—any excess energy delivered to the light particle simply remains absorbed within its distorted structure.

But of course, none of this directly challenges Einstein's theory. The problematic area relates to traversal speed. And in order to deal with this issue we need to examine the phenomenon of an absorption–emission process.

Visualise a dry foam-rubber ball suspended on a string. An eyedropper filled with water deposits drop after drop onto the ball until the ball becomes saturated with water. Up until this point the ball absorbs every drop without dripping. Once saturated, any further addition of water will result in the consequent discharge of a water droplet. This absorption–emission process will continue until the ball returns to its saturation point.

Now let's correlate this outcome to the light particle absorption–emission process. The absorption of a water droplet correlates to the absorption by an electron of an incident light particle. The saturation point correlates to the point of sufficient energisation of the electron. Up to saturation, absorbed water droplets remain absorbed. Similarly, up to the point of being sufficiently energised, the electron retains any absorbed light particles. Once sufficiently energised, further absorption destabilises the electron. The electron emits or discharges a light particle, and the system returns to a state of equilibrium.

This absorption–emission process results in the emission of a light particle at a speed, as discussed, which is invariant. Therefore, regardless of the impact speed of the (incoming) light particles absorbed by the electron the (outgoing) emitted particle's speed is invariant—and is rendered so by the invariance of the absorption–emission process.

Let's return to the Earth's orbit of the Sun. As the Earth approaches the Sun at 30 kps, the traversal speed of approach of the solar light relative to the Earth should be 300,030 kps, that is 30 kps greater than the theoretical limit to the speed of light. Not according to Einstein of course. In the likely event that a solar-light particle is absorbed by a sufficiently energised electron within the Earth's atmosphere then that electron will, in response, destabilise, emit a light particle, and consequently restabilise. The important point to note, however, is that the emitted light-particle's speed is invariant and reduced to the theoretical limit. The absorption–emission process modulates or moderates the traversal speed of the incoming light: the light speed is filtered.

Any medium capable of transmitting light, the Earth's atmosphere, a glass prism, or the components of a light-particle radiation detection instrument, by a process of absorption and emission, (that medium) will modulate that light, limiting and rendering its speed invariant. Therefore, when scientists have conducted experiments to establish the speed of light, whether traversal or emission speed (wittingly or otherwise) all that has been or can be observed is the subsequent emission speed associated with an absorption–emission process.

Succinctly, traversal speed is neither limited nor invariant. That is, experimental observation only supports the notion of invariant emission speed; there is no observational evidence to support the assertion that traversal speed is, similarly, invariant and limited. Therefore, in this important respect, Einstein's theory has not been experimentally verified.

Indeed, in the context of distortable sub-atomic particles, when you examine the other claims of experimental verification (muon decay, GPS, and so on) put forward in support of Einstein's theory, those claims are similarly exposed as unsubstantiated.

Einstein's theory may be consistent with the evidence accepted by the theory's advocates but is the theory consistent with fact?
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