Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 21st, 2009

Einstein speaks his mind processes on the origin of General Relativity; (Nov. 21, 2009)

This article is on  how Einstein described his mind processes that lead to the theory of restricted relativity and then his concept for General Relativity. In 1905, restricted relativity discovered the equivalence of all systems of inertia for formulating physics equations.

From a cinematic perspective, there was no way to doubting relative movements. Still, there was the tendency among physicists to physically extend privileged significance to system of inertia.  The question was “if speed is relative then, do we have to consider acceleration as absolute?”

Ernest Mach considered that inertia did not resist acceleration except when related to the acceleration toward other masses. This idea impressed Einstein greatly.  Einstein said: ” First, I had to establish a law of gravitation field and suppress the concept of absolute simultaneity. Simplicity urged me to maintain Laplace’s “scalar gravity potential” and fine tune Poisson’s equation.

Given the theorem of inertia of energy then, inertia mass must be depended on gravitation potential; but my research left me skeptical. In classical mechanics, vertical acceleration in a vertical field of gravity is independent of the horizontal component of velocity; it follows that vertical acceleration is exercised independently of the internal kinetic energy of the body in movement.

I discovered that this independence did not exist in my draft theory; this evidence did not coincide with the affirmation that all bodies submit to the same acceleration in a gravitational field. Thus, the principle that there is equality between inertia mass and weight grew with striking significance. I was convinced of its validity, though I had no knowledge of the results of experiments done by Eotvos.”

Consequently, the principle of equality between inertia mass and weight would be explained as follows: in a homogeneous gravitational field, all movements are executed in relation to a system of coordinates accelerating uniformly as if in absence of gravity field. I conjectured that if this principle is applicable to any other events then it can be applied to system of coordinates not accelerating uniformly.

These reflections occupied me from 1908 to 1911 and I figured that the principle of relativity needed to be extended (equations should retain their forms in non uniform accelerations of coordinates) in order to account for a rational theory of gravitation; the physical explanation of coordinates (measured by rules and clocks) has to go.

I reasoned that if in reality “a field of gravitation used in system of inertia” did not exist it could still be served in the Galilean expression that “a material point in a 4-dimensional space is represented by the shortest straight line”. Minkowski has demonstrated that this metric of the square of the distance of the line is a function of the squares of the differential coordinates.  If I introduced other coordinates by non linear transformation then the distance of the line stay homogeneous if coefficients dependent on coordinates are added to the metric (this is the Riemann metric in 4-dimension space not submitted to any gravity field). Thus, the coefficients describe the field of gravity in the selected system of coordinates; the physical significance is just related to the Riemannian metric. This dilemma was resolved in 1912.

Two other problems had to be resolved from 1912 to 1914 with the collaboration of Marcel Grossmann.

The first problem is stated as follows: “How can we transfer to a Riemannian metric a field law expressed in the language of restrained relativity?”  I discovered that Ricci and Levi-Civia had answered it using infinitesimal differential calculus.

The second problem is: “what are the differential laws that determine the coefficients of Riemann?”  I needed to resolve invariant differential forms of the second order of Riemann’s coefficients. It turned out that Riemann had also answered the problem using curb tensors.

“Two years before the publication of my theory on General Relativity” said Einstein “I thought that my equations could not be confirmed by experiments. I was convinced that an invariant law of gravitation relative to any transformations of coordinates was not compatible with the causality principle. Astronomic experiments proved me right in 1915.”

Note:  I recall that during my last year in high school my physics teacher, an old Jesuit Brother, filled the blackboard with partial derivatives of Newton’s equation on the force applied to a mass; then he integrated and he got Einstein’s equation of energy which is  mass multiplied by C square. At university, whenever I had problems to solve in classical mechanics on energy or momentum conservation I just applied the relativity equation for easy and quick results; pretty straightforward; not like the huge pain of describing or analyzing movements of an object in coordinate space.

I am mostly the other I; (Nov. 19, 2009)

Are you trying “To be what you are?” as the Greek poet Pindare once said? This is not at all similar to “Be yourself” which has practically no meaning as if you were hibernating and then decided to exhibit your “true” self.

What you are is never stable or cast in iron; the “I” is constantly being constructed and conquered: the body, our family history, our relations, our social values, our prescribed set of morals, and our social status. “To be what you are” is not to accept your “destiny” or what is being “maktoub”; it is an affirmation of your creativity to the kind of existence we dream to be.  I am never aware of my capabilities, abilities, and deficiencies except when I am on a course to change through deliberate actions, a different daily pattern of activities that has a purpose for the other me that I want to be.

“To be what you are” is not denying how you were born and raised; you have to accept the premises of from where you are starting the change as the best objective capabilities and deficiencies to get where you want to be.  It is not even a matter of the will to change that usually has no tomorrow. It means the urge to acquire knowledge and interact with people and society to feel your reformed dreams and possibilities for a qualitative jump.  If you have no desire for continuing education then you might as well be one among the masses of invincible imbeciles, those holding the absolute “truths” simply because they don’t know any better. You might revert to mingling with the invincible hooligans in sport stadiums and activate mayhems for mythical power and mythical belonging and identities.

Traditionally, the subject “I” was correctly defined as the one subjected to his community traditions and customs, subjected to his mother, father and elder siblings. The subject was placed under and subordinated to the other adults in a community. The subject “I” is practically the object and has no special characteristics that distinguish him from the members of the community. The member of a community is subjugated by the two facets of power: first, the weight of determinism for manufacturing individuals such as laws and norms that channel heritage and obeying institutions and authority.  The second facet of power is extending supports, means, and dispositions to grow as a reflexive member who can exist by his own means. Thus, desires for autonomy have to be supplemented by the means in resources and knowledge to break through the support system.

A person is born with a double helix like the ADN helix: the first section determines his objective heritage and the second contains his potential for becoming another self. It is a phase that everyone had to go through; some like to be taken care of; they emulate their environment: They find in their community the means for their existence and their natural development.  Some go into an affirmative phase to separate and be independent and go their own way.

It is the second alternative that extended this modern term of “subject” to an individual who is trying to get free of his previous dependencies. To become autonomous is a process and not just a temporary state of mind; it is a quest to becoming “another extension of the self”.

Individual identity is fluid and constructed of many small decisions and by many tipping over actions that direct the trajectory of the person. If we could study a person’s trend in activities we discover that it is the little but consistent variations in activities that determine his change into another individual. The subject is ever “himself” when he is changing to some else. We start discovering our identity (characters and set of values) as we cohabite or co-exist with others.  Many couples grow and start looking at their partners in new perspectives: they are learning how they were and how they currently feel toward the characters and values of the partners. Living as couples is not just a mirror but a reflective teaching means of our evolving identity.

We are all intelligent. There are at least 8 kinds of intelligence.  Some are more intelligent than others in particular capabilities such as verbal, mathematical, abstraction, visual, auditory, socializing, interaction with others, or writing styles. Rarely anyone is ready to consider another man intelligent. If you want to be known as relatively intelligent then your best means is to antagonize everybody: enemies are more likely to be extended some forms of intelligence.

I think some have this distinct intelligence of synthesizing many components in their intelligence and they realize early on their correct social conditions and potentials: they are the ones who break through the quickest of their community traditions and fly to greener pastures or a life or harsher miseries.  Let us not be judgmental about another’ achievements; successes are mostly illusions; failures are real but worth the try by all means.

Note: this topic was generated from three long articles on the “conquest of the self” in the French monthly “Sciences Humaines” with the special issue on the art of convincing or rhetoric.




November 2009

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