History of Astronomy From The Roman Empire To The Present, part 16
Einstein’s Theories Examined
Now we are free to deal with his Law of the Constancy of the Velocity of Light.
We are told that Light is a material thing, and that a beam of light is deflected from a straight line by the gravitation of any and every thing that lies near its course as it passes within their sphere of influence; and we are further assured that light always maintains a uniform speed of 186,414 miles a second. . . . We have, however, to remind Professor Einstein that the “Velocity of Light 186,414 miles a second ” was determined as the result of experiments by the physicists— Fizeau, Foucault, Cornu, Michelson and Newcomb, all of which experiments were conducted within the earth’s atmosphere, on terra-firma; the last between Fort Myer and the Washington Monument.
In all these experiments a ray of light was reflected between two mirrors several miles apart, so that it had to pass to and fro always through the atmosphere, and it is not to be supposed that light, or anything else, can travel at the same speed through the air as it would through the vacuum Einstein supposes space to be.
Let us reverse this in order to realize it better. It is not to be supposed that any material thing travels at no greater speed through a vacuum than it does through air, which has a certain amount of density, or opacity. If anything does not distinguish the difference between air and a vacuum, then it is not a material thing; it cannot be matter. On the other hand, anything that is matter must of necessity make such a distinction, and in that case its velocity can not be constant.
Again, if a ray of light can deviate from its course by the gravitational pull of the sun, or of any other celestial body it has to pass, it must accelerate its speed while approaching that body; and slacken it again in reverse ratio after it has passed; hence it follows that its velocity is not constant.
Once more, if a ray of light can bend by its own weight, or by the law of gravitation, it is subject to other conditions, and therefore is not absolute. . . The length of the course used by Newcomb in the final determination of the Velocity of Light was 7.44242 kilometres (return course). If the ray of light had deviated by a hair’s-breadth from an absolutely straight line, it never could have passed through the interstices between the very fine teeth of his revolving wheel, or return precisely to the appointed spot on his sending and receiving mirrors, which were 3.72121 kilometres, or more than two and a quarter miles apart in a bee-line. The fact that the ray of light did pass from mirror to mirror, and through the wheel, proves that it maintained a straight line; hence it is certain that it was not deflected from its course by the gravitation of the earth between the two mirrors; wherefore it is obvious that it was not affected by gravitation.
So we find that the very experiments by which the accepted 186,414 miles per second as the Velocity of Light was measured— experiments which were carried out with the utmost painstaking and minute attention to detail— prove that a ray of light is not influenced by the gravitation of the earth in the slightest degree.
Therefore, if those experiments were good enough to warrant all the world in accepting the “Velocity of Light” they may be equally well adduced as proof that a ray of light does not bend by its own weight; and that light is not affected by gradation…And if it is not influenced by gravitation a ray of light cannot be deflected from its course by anything it has to pass, so that its course remains true to the direction in which it was discharged; and that is a straight line in every direction from the source.
(Lord Kelvin tells us that “Light diverges from a luminous centre in all directions.” )
In brief— we find that Light is not a material thing, that it is not subject to gravitation, that it has no weight and does not bend, and that it does not describe any kind of curve ; but that it is “ an expression,” in the same sense as sound is an expression, and that— as such— its velocity varies according to the density of the medium through which it passes; and that therefore the Velocity of Light is not constant, and Einstein’s Second Law is entirely wrong! The question of the “ether versus empty space” remains unaffected by his theories, and the stars that glitter like veritable diamonds in the sky are exactly where they appear to be.
So much for Einstein’s Second Law. Now let us examine the other, the first law, or as he calls it—“The Principle of Relativity”: which states “That all inertial systems, that is, all systems which move with uniform and rectilinear velocity with respect to each other, are equivalent in expressing the laws of natural phenomena.”
That is what the law is stated to mean. It may not appear very inviting to the general reader, but he will find it quite interesting as we proceed, though it is, of course, of very great importance to every student of general science and mechanics. As a matter of fact it is not a law at all, it is a statement. At the same time it is not a plain statement; for it is equivocal, and means something which it does not say; it is a statement by implication. It is as though we were to say— “Hello, Jones, how long have you been out of coal?” That would make it necessary for Jones to prove that he had not been in coal, in order to dispose of the implication; and so it is with this statement of the Principles of Relativity; it is an implication.
Taken literally it is true; for it states what is already known; but it implies the reverse of what it states— “that all systems which do NOT move with uniform and rectilinear velocity with respect to each other are NOT equivalent in expressing the laws of natural phenomena!” and that is very much more important.
Now if we carry this innuendo to its logical conclusion, and put it into simple language, it means— “that no reliance can be placed upon any deductions which are obtained by means of observations to the heavenly bodies, because they are taken from the surface of the earth, and the observer is moving at a different speed than the object under observation.”
There would be a certain amount of truth in that if the earth was really moving; though, even if that were so, the effects of relative movement could be” easily overcome by taking two observations simultaneously from opposite sides of the meridian to which the object was vertical. The effects of time would be eliminated in that way ; and a mean would be formed by comparing the two opposite observations. And so we find that neither the statement (or law), or its implication, have any value. The statement might just as well have never been made.
With mental agility worthy of a better cause, Einstein leads from his Mechanical Principle of Relativity up to the Special Principle of Relativity, by means of one of the most extraordinary arguments it is possible to imagine ; but, strange as it is, and inconsequential as it may seem, this argument really affects everything that comes within the range covered by the word “Relativity”; and for that reason we will not allow it to pass unnoticed.
After admitting that Electro-magnetic laws do not alter according to the system in which they occur— that is to say— after admitting that Electro-magnetic laws act the same all the world over, he proceeds to argue precisely the contrary, by saying, quite definitely, that in reality they do alter, and offers to prove it by the following statement: “The motion of each locality on the earth is constantly changing from hour to hour, but no corresponding changes occur in electromagnetic action.”
Of course this has all the appearance of a man flatly contradicting himself, and it might even appear to be nonsense, but in reality it is a very pretty argument of the most elusive kind which it is a pleasure to meet. I will confess that I admire Einstein: he skims so close round the edge of the ice.