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Author Topic: Steampunk Relativity  (Read 3678 times)
fmra
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« on: March 11, 2007, 06:20:10 pm »

Everyone knows about Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, but it is not well known that he was not the first person to solve relativity.  The French physicist, Henri Poincaré, published a paper on relativity three full months before Einstein.  Poincaré not only solved for relativity before Einstein, but (and more importantly to this board) his solution included the concept of aether.  As the medium through which light supposedly was carried, luminous aether was an accepted entity in science until Einstein abolished it.

Einstein's theory beat out Poincaré's because of its simplicity, not because Poincaré was incorrect.  Surprisingly, Einstein included no references in his formula (something that would most definitely disqualify it using modern theory construction).

I would think that in the world of steampunk, Poincaré's theory was accepted over Einstein's.  I just thought I would share that and ask if anyone could offer their thoughts on where physics would have gone had this happened.

wiki Poincaré: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Poincar%C3%A9
luminous aether: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_aether
Poincaré links:  http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/poincare.htm
http://www.mathpages.com/home/kmath571/kmath571.htm
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Andy_W
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2007, 06:36:37 pm »

Woosh- over my head!

Which travels faster light or darkness?   
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fmra
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2007, 06:39:54 pm »

Woosh- over my head!

Which travels faster light or darkness?   

Trick question.. they travel at the same speed. Smiley
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RPFolkers
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2007, 08:48:26 pm »

Quote
I just thought I would share that and ask if anyone could offer their thoughts on where physics would have gone had this happened.
Physicists would have messed around with the false idea of aether for a few more decades at most, then finally abolished it.
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Copper Sulphate
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2007, 11:03:46 pm »

It probably wouldn't have mattered much, even if M.r Poincaré's theory had ended up being the accepted one. Mr. Einstein would have gone back to his violin and his patents. 10 years later, in 1915, he would publish his General Theory of Relativity, which superseded his Special Theory of Relativity from 1905.

GR, as it is known among friends, would have utterly demolished Mr. Poincaré's theory, due to GR being as all encompassing as it is. It is only today that we are beginning to see just to what astonishing degree Mr. Einstein was right.

In General Relativity Mr. Einstein predicts[1] the existence of a new natural constant, Lambda, which is a negative (I.e repulsive) gravitational energy density in empty space. Mr. Einstein later called Lambda, also known as the cosmological constant, "My greatest mistake."

However today the most recent research has surprisingly shown that not only does Lambda exist. It is also the repulsive gravitational factor, which will ultimately decide the fate of the universe. A large fraction of the invisible matter known to astronomers as Dark Matter is now known to be Lambda, the negative energy density of empty space. And, since energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, E=MC^2, this energy has a mass, the Dark Matter fraction.

Einstein all the way. My apologies Mr. Poincaré. Grin

C.S.

Edit: [1] Actually he invented it as a mathematical trick to get his equations to act 'nicely', causing them to look nice and symemtrical.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2007, 11:10:27 pm by Copper Sulphate » Logged

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fmra
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2007, 02:06:46 am »

No doubts CS, just thought it was an interesting bit of actual truth that fits very well in the the fantastical world of steampunk (difference engine brains, steam-powered robot servants, and wooden spacecraft).  Within that steampunk world, how might Poincaré's theory have manifested later in steampunk physics?  would there later be found a way to measure aether?  Since aether would act as an objective point of reference, could time travel (in more than one direction) become possible.

I'm just trying to present a slight change in history that might inspire some people.  Einstein pretty much abolished many scientific dreams by sweeping the medium of aether into the dustbin.  What if Poincaré was correct, not Einstein?
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Col. Adrianna Hazard
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2007, 03:55:35 pm »

Woosh- over my head!

Which travels faster light or darkness?   

Darkness is the absence of light, meaning it is always in a place before light is. Therefore, we must conclude that darkness travels faster Cheesy

Although I do agree with Copper Sulphate on the topic of Poincaré vs. Einstein there is always the possibility that theories, no matter how well accepted, will be proven wrong in the future. For instance, we used to believe the earth was flat, but as technology progressed we accumulated evidence to suggest the world was round. The same thing could happen to our friend Einstein.

We have not yet managed to find a theory of unification, or an M-theory as it is so often referred to. We cannot get the equally useful branches of quantum and classical physics to agree with each other. There appear to be two possibilities:

a) We have not yet progressed enough scientifically to discover/understand such a theory
b) Our current ideas are flawed and we must re-invent physics

Personally, I'm hoping it is option "a". After all, even if string theory and loop quantum gravity fail to unify physics, other theories can always be made.
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Fat Spider
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 11:55:27 am »

Quote
Darkness is the absence of light, meaning it is always in a place before light is. Therefore, we must conclude that darkness travels faster

Ah, but do we turn the light off or turn the darkness on Smiley
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akumabito
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 12:13:38 pm »

Wow, resurrecting a thread that's been dead for 5 1/2 years. That must be some kind of forum record..
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George Salt
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2012, 12:16:13 pm »

Having observed a low energy lamp I can conclude that darkness travels faster.

When I switch the light ON, the light from the bulb takes an appreciable delay to arrive in the room, and what's more some light is faster than other light as the room progressively illuminates to full intensity as this laggardly light arrives.

When I switch the light OFF, the arrival of darkness is instantaneous throughout the room.

It is the lower energy input of this type of modern lamp that I believe enables the effect to be seen.  With a lower energy input the light is rendered slightly slower than with a highedr energy lamp, just enough for the spread of light speeds to be observed.
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2012, 02:04:06 pm »

Al that may be, but which is faster, heat or cold?
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2012, 02:33:49 pm »

Wow, resurrecting a thread that's been dead for 5 1/2 years. That must be some kind of forum record..


But I'm very grateful to the resurrectionist for doing so.  Fascinating discussion!
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2012, 09:31:16 pm »


It's actually very rare for a well established scientific theory to be 'proven wrong' as such. All scientific models so far have has gap, limitations and omissions, sometimes these become obvious quite quickly, sometimes new technologies permit observations which open up a much wider context than was realised before.

For example Newton's laws of motion didn't turn out to be wrong in any meaningful way, and they are still used every day by scientists and engineers, however new theories like relativity and quantum mechanics showed that Newton's equations were special cases of a wide model and applied only in specific contexts.

In fact neither quantum nor relativity have actually replaced Newtonian dynamics in terms of practical usage but they have rather opened up new areas of enquiry.

Similarly it is well understood that neither relativity nor quantum fully explain all observations, nor is one able to displace the other and the search for a model which unifies the two is a major preoccupation in theoretical physics

The idea that the world is flat was never a scientific theory, people believed in but that's not at all the same thing. In fact the fact that the world in approximately spherical was proved on several separate occasions in antiquity long before there were any systematic scientific theories in the proper sense of the term.
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Athanor
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 12:14:17 am »

"Dark Matter" and Dark Energy" together supposedly account for 95% of the mass of the Universe - but they are, by definition, undetectable. Sounds to me like Aether!

Both Dark Matter and Dark Energy are postulated to exist in order to make the equations agree with observation; according to the pre-existing laws of physics, distant galaxies are (a) rotating faster than they "should" and (b) receding faster than they "should"; but no-one knows, and the way they're defined seems to ensure that no-one ever will know, what they (Dark Matter and Dark Energy, not distant galaxies) actually consist of. And if, as C.S. claims, Dark Matter is represented by Lambda, the negative energy density of empty space, by E=mC2, then the mass m would also be negative, which makes the situation worse. I don't think Lambda is known to be Dark Matter; like much else in theoretical physics, it's assumed to be so, in order to make the equations come out right.

Like Superstrings, curled-up dimensions and M-branes, Dark Matter and Dark Energy are mathematical entities whose real existence is problematical; theory predicts them, so they are assumed to exist, but there's no direct evidence for the real existence of any of them.

Athanor.

(Edited for clarity. I hope)
« Last Edit: November 22, 2012, 06:03:14 am by Athanor » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 05:57:32 am »

I guess it would also depend on us experiencing the conditions of light or darkness. I'm sure how the eyes adjust to either light or darkness trails behind the actual phenomenon...but what do I know?...Wink
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von Corax
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« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2012, 06:39:21 am »

Wow, resurrecting a thread that's been dead for 5 1/2 years. That must be some kind of forum record..


But I'm very grateful to the resurrectionist for doing so.  Fascinating discussion!
Mind you, it's only an old thread in a relative sense…
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SpeedyFrenchy
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« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2012, 11:34:21 pm »


Mind you, it's only an old thread in a relative sense…

Oh dear, I don't quite know whether or not to laugh or cry.

Returning briefly to the original topic of the thread, SR wasn't all that widely accepted, and many scientists still preferred the Aether ideas in fact, the Michaelson-Morley experiment, which showed huge problems with Aether theory, was devised as a means of proving its existence, and Albert Michaelson remained very critical of Einsten's theory. In truth, many of the experiments designed to prove SR wrong, ended up proving it correct.

Since scientific knowledge isn't a matter of consensus, I think that the results would have been more or less the same, once relativity theory was verified.

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George Salt
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2012, 09:57:00 am »

Since scientific knowledge isn't a matter of consensus, I think that the results would have been more or less the same, once relativity theory was verified.

But it is a matter of consensus.  That's how peer-review works.  Any new theory won't be accepted until their is a consensus amongst the community that it has been proven correct.  Many theories remain disputed for decades.
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JR Murray
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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2012, 02:16:59 pm »

Al that may be, but which is faster, heat or cold?
Heat. You can always catch a cold.

And a book I am reading at the moment, A steampunk romance of all things, but quite adventurous and enthralling, defines Aether as what keeps air up. A nano technician, transported to the steampunk universe by an incident involving liquid Hydrogen and a super computer circuit board, concluded that the action of taking Aether for firing boilers and Disruptor guns was actually using gluons, the process that hold protons and neutrons together. So, the steampunk verse was actually using nuclear physics, to heat their steam.
Love it, an advanced method of steam production, but they just don't have the right words. Is this science?
It is these kind of concepts that allowed me to use charged tachyon leather and wire mesh gauntlets in a recent story/roleplay Smiley
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 02:31:26 pm by JR Murray » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2012, 07:46:14 pm »

Since scientific knowledge isn't a matter of consensus, I think that the results would have been more or less the same, once relativity theory was verified.

But it is a matter of consensus.  That's how peer-review works.  Any new theory won't be accepted until their is a consensus amongst the community that it has been proven correct.  Many theories remain disputed for decades.


Sorry, I think I phrased that poorly. What I meant was, even if Poincare's theory had been generally accepted, it would still have been proved incorrect. Maybe it would be better to say that the truth is not reliant on what people think?

JR Murray, it smells a lot like pseudoscience, but it looks like fun, and most people haven't heard of gluons anyway. Same thing with tachyons. Smiley
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Mercury Wells
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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2012, 04:10:44 am »

Since scientific knowledge isn't a matter of consensus, I think that the results would have been more or less the same, once relativity theory was verified.

But it is a matter of consensus.  That's how peer-review works.  Any new theory won't be accepted until their is a consensus amongst the community that it has been proven correct.  Many theories remain disputed for decades.


Sorry, I think I phrased that poorly. What I meant was, even if Poincare's theory had been generally accepted, it would still have been proved incorrect. Maybe it would be better to say that the truth is not reliant on what people think?

JR Murray, it smells a lot like pseudoscience, but it looks like fun, and most people haven't heard of gluons anyway. Same thing with tachyons. Smiley

Gluons is what you use to stick something permanently to a wall.
Tachyons is for the temporary attactment to walls.  (like posters) Wink
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von Corax
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 04:55:41 am »

Since scientific knowledge isn't a matter of consensus, I think that the results would have been more or less the same, once relativity theory was verified.

But it is a matter of consensus.  That's how peer-review works.  Any new theory won't be accepted until their is a consensus amongst the community that it has been proven correct.  Many theories remain disputed for decades.


Sorry, I think I phrased that poorly. What I meant was, even if Poincare's theory had been generally accepted, it would still have been proved incorrect. Maybe it would be better to say that the truth is not reliant on what people think?

JR Murray, it smells a lot like pseudoscience, but it looks like fun, and most people haven't heard of gluons anyway. Same thing with tachyons. Smiley

Gluons is what you use to stick something permanently to a wall.
Tachyons is for the temporary attactment to walls.  (like posters) Wink
I thought tachyons were for the things you planned to stick up tomorrow?
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JR Murray
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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 09:59:01 am »

Nah, it is a really horrendous shirt, you know as in "does this look tachyon me?"
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Mercury Wells
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« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 04:14:15 pm »

Nah, it is a really horrendous shirt, you know as in "does this look tachyon me?"

Give us a good Meson, why you should wear it?. Though it does have a Quarky look about it, what with it's Strangeness & Charm.

But on a different note, I've just found out that I have to go on a Gluon free diet.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 04:35:21 pm by Mercury Wells » Logged
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