Friday, April 04, 2008

Einstein book and Einstein thoughts

Getting presents is not always easy especially if you you believe the presenter has put some thought into picking the present but failed due to lack of knowledge in the area of the present: Sometime in high school, for my birthday, a close friend gave me a cardboard circle of fifth so I could look up how many sharps there are in A major or G minor. That seemed like a good idea since I like to play music a lot. Except those kinds of things the cardboard display showed you are supposed to know and reproduce from memory (if not spinal cord) if you want to get into jazz improvisation. Thus, I could only produce some "uhm, thank you, how nice....".

Same thing happens with popular science physics books. I have not read any in many years since the density of information new to me is usually extremely low. Maybe I browse a bit in a book shop to see which topics are covered and read a page or two to see how a controversial topic is covered. I think this is the same for any worker in the field. Therefore, in the discussions of the controversial physics books of recent years, the authors' response to criticism of string theorists was often "you have not read the book" and indeed, this was true most of the time. But still, people haveing browsed through the book as above usually knew what was going on even without reading the book cover to cover.

That is the background to my reaction when my parents gave me a book for christmas which they had bought on their US trip in autumn: "My Einstein", a collection of essays edited by John Brockman. I assumed this would be just another Einstein book and one that was even a bit late for the Einstein year 2005. So the book sat on my shelf for a couple of months. But a few weeks ago I stated reading and was surprised: This was the most interesting book with a physics theme I have read in years! I can strongly recommend it!

The idea of the book is to ask 24 experts in fields related to Einstein's work or life to say what "Einstein" means to them. And the positive thing is that this is not 24 introductions to special relativity but 24 aspects of the physicist, the man, the pop star, the philosopher, the politician in 2006, more than fifty years after his death.

The authors include John Archibald Wheeler (the only one which actually interacted with Einstein), Lenny Susskind, Anton Zeilinger, Lee Smolin, George Smoot, Frank Tipler, George Dyson (the son of Freeman Dyson who was baby sit by Einstein's secretary), Maria Spirolulu, Lawrence Krauss and Paul Steinhardt. All of them find interesting and very diverse aspects of the Einstein topic and reading the book a number of physics questions came to my mind.

One essay was pointing out that what was peculiar about Einstein's way of thinking was that it was based on thought experiments and thus much more driven by elegance than by observation in the lab. This was illustrated by the fact that the reasoning that lead to special relativity was based on an analysis of Maxwell's equations (which are of course symmetric under Lorentz transformations, a fact which was known to Lorentz) rather than on an analysis of the Michelson Morley experiment.

One should note however that this argument is not logically tight: Of course it much more aesthetic to deduce from the fact that the speed of light comes out of Maxwell's equations that it should be universal and that if should be the same in all directions. However this does not follow directly as one can see by considering the acoustic analogue: From an analysis of kinetic gas theory one can deduce sound waves and the speed of sound can be expressed in terms of the molar weight of the gas etc. One finds a wave equation and that equation is invariant under boosts where the speed of light is replaced by the speed of sound. Under those acoustic Lorentz transformations, the speed of sound is the same in all frames. However, this is not a symmetry of the rest of nature and thus there is a preferred frame, the frame in which the air is at rest.

It could have been, that the world is invariant under Galilei transformations and Maxwell's equations hold only in a preferred frame (the rest frame of the ether say). This possibility cannot be ruled out by pure thought (like a Gedankenexperiment), one has to see which possiblity nature has chosen. And this is done in a Michelson Morley experiment for example.

But still: Buy that book and you will enjoy it!


Anonymous said...

Nothing in this comment that will add constructively to your post, but just wanted to point out that the Brockman editorial factory has produced an interesting number of these kinds of books in the last 2-3 years (see this e.g.), and this in a seemingly effortless manner. I mean, of course he had to come up with a fancy name (which is not even original, given that C.P. Snow's book "The 2 Cultures" helped) like "Third Culture", a platform like to host his "gang", and rather copiously mediatised dinners and get-togethers to entertain ;-P. Almost all of the authors are from the EDGE gang! Which makes me wonder... can such a thing like an exist in Europe?

I'm laughing at the fact that Tipler had anything sensible enough to say to be included in the book... care to share a few bites?

James Redford said...

No need to laugh, nitin. Not only has Prof. Frank J. Tipler proven God to exist based upon the known laws of physics, but he also has discovered the correct quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE) describing and unifying all the forces in physics. Both of which are easily the most monumental achievements in the field of physics.

For much more on that, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler's below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

F. J. Tipler, "The structure of the world from pure numbers," Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. Also released as "Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything," arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler's above paper was selected as one of 12 for the "Highlights of 2005" accolade as "the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website." (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, "Highlights of 2005," Reports on Progress in Physics. ) Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists.

See also the below resources for further information on the Omega Point Theory:


"Omega Point (Tipler)," Wikipedia, April 16, 2008

"Frank J. Tipler," Wikipedia, April 16, 2008

Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world's leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

Prof. John A. Wheeler (the father of most relativity research in the U.S.) wrote that "Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics" on pg. viii in the "Foreword" to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler's Omega Point Theory was described.

The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics' 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see

David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: "The Ends of the Universe" of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997), ISBN: 0713990619; with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler.

The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to invent tenuous physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking's paper on the black hole information issue which is dependant on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, "Information loss in black holes," Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005.

That is, Hawking's paper is based upon proposed, unconfirmed physics. It's an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory's correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he's forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

Some have suggested that the universe's current acceleration of its expansion obviates the universe collapsing (and therefore obviates the Omega Point). But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in "Geometry and Destiny" (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999 ), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

There's a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe's collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as B - L is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

Prof. Tipler's above Reports on Progress in Physics paper also demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn't realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity (pp. 49 and 279), "It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. ... This is somewhat analogous to Liouville's theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity."

When combined with the Standard Model, the result is a Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.