Monday, January 22, 2007

I appear to have been challenged to point out where Autodynamics is wrong, well that sounds like it could be some fun, so below is a list of problems I have identified on the Autodynamics website. I have endeavoured here to avoid anything too mathematically complicated, so it should be fun and instructive for the average reader, its simply too difficult to explain issues like how they "prove" special relativity doesn't conserve energy so for now I'll stick to the easy to understand stuff. You will note that most examples are not definite refutations of AD, in the next post I aim to point out one fairly obvious problem that seems to have been ignored, for now lets just look at how they mis-interpret mainstream science and contort the facts in an attempt to justify their beliefs. I apologise for the poor English and spelling throughout for once this isn't entirely my fault I'm just repeating their information.

On this page. The startling claim is made that in the mainstream picture Black Holes contain infinite mass. This of course is utterly bogus, BHs contain as much mass as went into them (less some mass that would be radiated away as energy before the matter crosses the event horizon), but they are always finite in mass. They are infinite in density, because there is a finite amount of mass confined in an infinitely small space, but the mass always remains finite. I can see why they have problems with GR if they believe stuff like this.
Einstein's equations approach infinitely as objects approach the speed of light. One of the consequences of this is the so-called "singularity" at the center of black holes. At that point, mass is infinite and light and time do not exist - the exact same state of the universe at the beginning of the supposed "big bang".
On the same page some claims are made regarding entropy:
Another important difference that is related to the other concepts in Autodynamics concerning the cosmos, is "entropy". Entropy is the concept that things in the universe are getting more complex. Autodynamics, shows us a universe that is getting more complex and less complex in local areas but overalls remains constant.
This of course is incorrect, entropy is generally thought to lead to a decrease in complexity, simply put at the microscopic level things tend to get more disordered. This fact which is central to the second law of thermodynamics has even been abused by creationists to claim that evolution is impossible because more complex forms evolve from simpler ones. They also have missed the point of the second law, it is possible for areas of the Universe to become more complex, say stars, planets, us etc, its just that on the whole the Universe is constantly increasing in entropy, things become more disordered.

This page lists many claims for Autodynamics. One of which is the following:

There is a conspicuous absence of support for Einstein's Special theory of Relativity. Groups such as the Natural Philosophy Alliance and the SAA are systematically refuting "proof" for Special Relativity and many aspects of General Relativity.
Well the first statement is so untrue that it is actually funny. What about observations of the decay of Muons formed by Cosmic Rays hitting the upper atmosphere? Without the time dilation effects of SR, these Muons would not last long enough to be detected on the ground. What about all the other experiments that show time dilation of exactly the amount required by SR?, more details here. The second statement is interesting too, it says there is no support for SR, yet that the SAA and the NPA are refuting "proof" of GR, so which is it? No proof, or proof that is being refuted? The NPA it refers to is also interesting, if you look at their website the membership is a who's who, of anti-mainstreamers and cranks, oddly lacking de Hister or Carenzani, they also helpfully on the front page give us this insight into their motives for attacking relativity:

Several NPA members believe that the main benefit of criticizing and replacing special relativity may be--beyond even the likely development of new energy sources this will facilitate--the undermining of the relativism and subjectivism that have increasingly infused many areas of thought over the past century, since the iconoclastic amorality of Nietzsche. It will then become more difficult to support ethical relativism, and to argue that truth and values are not objective, absolute, eternal, and/or rationally based.
In other words that they think by attacking a physical theory (special relativity) they will be able to do away with the modern worlds moral relativism, undoubtedly to bring us closer to one god or another. Forgive me if I doubt the intentions of people attempting to overthrow accepted scientific opinion to remake morality in line with their own wishes. I mean honestly, does the fact that you can't go faster than the speed of light make you a worse person in the long run?

On the same page there is this screed:

The infamous atomic clock experiment has been refuted and the data is bogus. In a swarm meeting of the AAAS in Flagstaff Arizona in 1996, Dr. Domina Spencer, physics mathematician from the University of Connecticut, presented a talk "Analysis of the Hafele-Keating Experiment". She received the raw data from one of the authors of the original experiment and concluded that the data published was "completely and utterly fabricated". See http://www.ebicom.net/~rsf1/npa/flag96.htm.
I have to admit until I looked it up I didn't know what infamous clock experiment they were talking about. It was actually an experiment where two atomic clocks were flown around the world in different directions twice and then their times were compared. The measured times were exactly in line with what SR+GR would predict (they would lose or gain time due to their motions relative to a stationary clock). The claim is made in the AD statement that the work was discredited, I can find no reference to this anywhere, the link is dead and nothing seems ever to have been published, the talk is referenced on the NPA site, but appears to have been given at an NPA seminar not the actual AAAS meeting (not a good sign). It may be true, at present I can't verify it either way. Either way, the experiment has been repeated many times since the original and has always matched the expectations of SR + GR extremely well, see here for a good description of a repetition done 25 years after the original. So, were all the repetitions the result of fraud?

The next post I think will be more interesting for those interested in science, it will revolve around gravity and discuss the differences between the Newtonian and the General Relativistic interpretations for gravity. Oh and I may mention AD a bit.