Friday, September 30, 2011

Greene's Einstein analogy

The last chapter of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene, says:
In the early 20th century, Einstein argued that scientists needed to take Maxwell's equations more seriously. If Maxwell's equations didn't refer to a standard of rest, then there was no need for a standard of rest. ... Everyone had access to Maxwell's mathematics, but it took the genius of Einstein to embrace the mathematics fully. And with that move, Einstein broke through to the special theory of relativity, overturning centuries of thought regarding space, time, matter, and energy.
Much of his argument for alternate universes is based on a weird analogy to Einstein, but it doesn't even make any sense. Einstein did not take the equations any more seriously than anyone else. His famous 1905 special relativity paper did say:
the electrodynamic foundation of Lorentz's theory of the electrodynamics of moving bodies is in agreement with the principle of relativity.
But Lorentz and Poincare said that years earlier. As noted below, Einstein did not embrace or even understand the mathematics. He claimed later that he did not even believe in Maxwell's equations because he thought that light was composed of particles.

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