[FoRK] Relativistic "twin paradox" resolved?
<jbone at place.org> on
Mon Feb 19 15:42:02 PST 2007
On Feb 18, 2007, at 1:34 PM, Brian Atkins wrote:
While the author of this article gets a few things right, it's
certainly the case that he got up on the wrong side of the bed before
writing this. ;-)
As Luboš should know, the "twin paradox" (note the quotes) is not
time dilation itself but rather the preferential selection of one
inertial (less accelerated) frame rather versus the other.
Admittedly, not much of a paradox. That he takes issue with the term
"paradox" is a bit silly; even the canonical text on GR --- Misner /
Thorne / Wheeler --- uses the term. (Cf. Exercise 6.3, page 167 of
the book. Note that even there the "paradox" is resolved merely with
the neat instruction "perform the calculation in the inertial
reference frame of the unaccelerated world line.") So if those guys
feel comfortable enough with the term to use it in their classic
text, then I'm not quite sure why Luboš is getting all huffy about
laymen journalists' similar use. Furthermore, if he'd spent a little
more time reviewing the pre-print and a little less time reading the
lay press coverage of what it might or might not have said, he'd
almost certainly find less "quantum" and other mumbo-jumbo with which
to take offense than he appears to think exists in the paper.
Luboš also commits several other standard offenses of the scientific
establishment in his critique, including the implication that
significant insights and advances can only be contributed by
specialists who have been deemed "worthy" of participation in some
particular niche. (It's interesting, isn't it, how *very* often
exactly the opposite is true in the history of science; the
"establishment" in some subdomain get completely quagmired for years,
and it takes some unrecognized and often uncredentialed "lone wolf"
working independently in some area to shake free of the, ahem,
inertia.) And his suggestion that India "simply return to the trees"
is, in a word, offensive.
As I mentioned in the response to Albert, I think the interesting
thing about the paper is merely the formulation. Whether or not it's
good theory isn't as interesting, to me, as the novelty of the
thinking that went into it. And the pop press treatment is utterly
irrelevant, certainly nothing I'm going waste a perfectly good snit
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