It was the belief that the speed of light is independent of the motion of the source, that led to the Lorentz Transformation – and led Einstein to his use of the Lorentz Transformation (after much handwringing) as the essence of his Theory of Special Relativity.
Here we unravel that belief system and with it the Theory of Special Relativity.
The word ‘light’ is misleading. We know now that there is a radiation spectrum and the visible portion of it consists of ‘light’ varying in color, and in frequency, or wavelength.
We, now (100+ years later), must consider two questions: (1) whether all radiation – visible or not – travels at the same speed, and (2) whether the speed, for a source at rest is the same as that for a source in motion with respect to the observer.
What we can show, and have to accept, is that the speed of ‘light’ is SLOWER the higher the frequency (or the smaller the wavelength) when comparing x-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared radiation, etc.)
It turns out that the difference in speed of x-ray or ultraviolet radiation as compared with visible light leads to dramatically different arrival times, of the ‘light’, for very distant supernovae explosions – and this leads to a new, and different, view about the size and the destiny of the universe than is currently accepted.
IN THE BEGINNING
The story of relativity really begins with a metaphysical question – what is light? Physics deals with the behavior of light – diffraction, scattering, emission, absorption, and other observable phenomena, from which we can try to infer an answer to that question. But these phenomena point in different directions. Some indicate that light must be wave like, while others suggest that it must consist of discrete particles.
This debate continues. Physicists seriously began to experimentally investigate it sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century. If it is wave-like, the argument goes, then light must have a carrier, just as sound waves are carried by the air and water waves by water.
The Michelson-Morley Experiment in 1887 was the first serious attempt to prove the existence of such a medium. It was repeated time after time during the following fifty years, with ever more precise instruments, but to no avail. No such medium could be found. The question then became “How can light be wavelike if it has no carrier?”. The question was then rephrased: “What is the nature of matter, or the nature of space, that allows light to be propagated as a wave without a carrier?”
That was the situation in 1904 when Lorentz proposed a solution based on the contraction of matter in motion, and in 1905 when Einstein proposed a solution based on the contraction of space and time. As will be made clear, both committed an error that invalidates the Lorentz transformation. Both of these related solutions suffer from logical contradictions.
Einstein published his original paper on Special Relativity Theory (SRT) in 1905. He begins by questioning the idea that time is universal. He wants to show that time is local and that clocks which are separated in space, and on different bodies that are in motion, cannot be synchronized and that time “flows” differently, as seen from one body, to the next.
One counter-example that demonstrates that two bodies in relative motion can have synchronized clocks, is sufficient to explode the contention of Einstein and others that time is local and flows differently, and that clocks on two such bodies cannot be synchronized.
Here is where the Doppler effect plays the critical role. When two bodies approach each other and reach a minimum distance, after which they separate, the Doppler effect will reverse at the moment of closest approach. (We can use monochromatic light and observe red and blue shifts, or discrete pulses and measure the change in their spacing.) That is true for observers on both bodies, and the two clocks can be set to, say, 1 o’clock at that moment – which will be the same moment for both bodies without the need to communicate the event. (The concept ‘closest’ does not pertain to just one body. If A is closest to B, at a given moment, then B is also closest to A.)
Similarly when two bodies move away from each other, reach a maximum separation and then move towards each other, the Doppler effect again reverses at the moment of maximum separation – and it will be the same moment for both bodies without a need to communicate. Physics alone is needed to see this.
So now we have two moments in time when the clocks agree. The second moment can be given the name 2 o’clock. Whether it is earth and moon, or Mars and Venus, as long as we can ascertain that the period remains the same over ‘time’ we have well synchronized clocks for two bodies in relative motion.
As regards simultaneity: Einstein does not realize that there are two distinct and independent types of “simultaneity.” One type occurs when a single observer is aware of two distinct signals at the same time, for example, hearing a doorbell and a siren at the same time. We can call this e-simultaneity, i.e. one observer, two events. The other type, o-simultaneity, occurs when two observers become aware of one event at the same time, such as an explosion or an earthquake.
“Relativity” is true only for e-simultaneity. But it is o-simultaneity that is needed for his theory. In that case, the simultaneity is determined by the clock time, which must be the same for both observers, (o-simultaneity). They can infer that they noticed the event at the same time by comparing the readings of their watches – assuming these were synchronized in advance. The idea of relativity does not apply to this type of simultaneity.
As regards cosmology: One thing is clear. If the Type 1A supernovae come from stars created near the beginning of time, then the arithmetic that combines their lifetime before they explode (about 3 billion years) with the time until the light from the explosion reaches us (also about 3 billion years) gives us an estimate of the age of the universe of about 6 billion years. That is less than one-half of the 12 or 13 billion years that is currently believed. Current estimates of the age based on Hubble’s Law, based in the end on relativity theory, cannot be reconciled with these numbers.
Regarding mass: If photons have substance then we can calculate their associated mass by using Planck’s formula in combination with that of Einstein. For photons in the visible region, a frequency of about 1014 cycles per second, this turns out to be about 10 -33 grams! We did not know in 1905 that an electron has a mass of about 10-27 grams. We know now that this would make the associated mass of such a photon about one millionth that of an electron. Gamma rays, having a million times greater frequency, would have about the same mass as electrons and positrons. When these collide no mass is lost.
The inference that the Universe initially expanded at a speed approaching the speed of light is based on the fact that very distant supernovae exhibit a Doppler shift approaching z = 1. However the Doppler effect for light is not correctly derived, or correctly given, in modern physics texts. Here it is shown that z = 1 implies a recession velocity of 1/2 the speed of light. This implies that the ‘big bang’ wasn’t all that big – and that the universe at present has a smaller size (and hence is much more dense) than currently believed.