Friday, December 21, 2018

Studies In Relativity


- How are the studies in relativity going?
- Everyone is laughing at me behind my back but I don't care. I think I'm on to something.
- Perhaps there is nothing wrong in being an unqualified amateur in physics when your focus is how physics has become a myth to model social behavior upon.
- Exactly! Thank you for understanding.
- You're welcome. What have you come up with?
- Einstein's theory of relativity of movement states that one thing moved across by another looks the same when the roles, stationary and moving, are reversed. Think of riding in a train or car and how sometimes it seems as if the car or train is stationary and the road or tracks are moving. When socially we play a role against others in their roles - student to teacher, boss to worker, doctor to patient - we are equally ready to take on, in imagination at least, the opposite role. In this readiness and willingness to exchange roles one imagines oneself free of the normal constraints on behavior.
- You mean ethical constraints.
- Yes. In the famous 'twin paradox' one brother takes a rocket from Earth to a star, time dilating with the rocket's approach to the speed of light, then returns to Earth to find that 200 years have past for his twin, though he has aged only two years. As social role can seem to jump from one to another in relativity of motion, individual history seems able to be duck in and out of relationships as time is lengthened or shortened.
- So even in the temporary social role settled upon responsibilities can seem to shrink and expand.
- Yes. Now when you put together the two theories, relative movement and the slowing of time, the twin thought experiment reveals a paradox: the stay-at-home twin should be able to see himself as the traveler and his brother as the stay at home, but clearly in this case, with the brother aged only 2 years, it's not possible. And why is that?
- Why?
- Because the acceleration, and the shift into a different relation to physical forces, is not part of a continuous movement, as a train on its tracks: what happens to the brother going travelling is happening exclusively inside him, invisible to his brother, a result of unseen physical forces. Now it is possible to recover relativity of movement for the twins. Instead of looking back on pasts of the twins that are not constantly in touch, we look to a future in which each twin has passed through complete life and death into the future 200 years. In this 4-dimensional space-time, where the whole world's actions moment by moment are visualized as a single thing, we can slip the one brother's travels over the other either way; the missing information that the stay-home brother needs to imagine himself the traveler and aging only two years - the plus 200 years of his brother's history - is now available to put in the story. Henri Bergson complained about Einstein's use of time that it reduced time to an act of measurement and calculation, when in reality time was lived as duration, memory, open to future creativity; the continuation of our past into the present and from present projection into the future. Movement that may also perfectly acceptably be seen as rest, time that may go slow or fast: these claims, functional as descriptions of things in the world, undermine confidence in the continuity of memory and experience in an individual's life.


- Time out! Take a breath while I summarize what you've said: In the twin paradox, the problem is the movement of two things across each other is broken in continuity, this resolved by space-time's 4-dimensional projecting time into and restoring the missing points of contact, this done at the cost of predetermining the future. The great philosopher of time, Henri Bergson, objected to Einstein's theory on the grounds that it made it hard to see that the future is in reality open, unpredictable, and indeterminate. Relative time is locked in relation to things, an element in a calculation, while an individual's time relates past to present in continuing memory, and present to future in projection of probable outcomes.
- And so the solution to the paradox is another paradox: not in the logical sense but in that of going against popular opinion: the freedom that seems to be offered by socializing relativity, bringing the myth down to Earth, ends up being the opposite: personal history and initiative is crowded out as individuals are pressed into roles as consumers of ideas, products, and politics.


On the subject of breath: the best current definition of life is a cyclic recovery of stability in response to the repeated destabilizing effects of the world. Breath is in and out, life is recovery, then holding. If you want to see how the personal sense of time can take in the relative time of physics, look no further. Times that seem to have passed fast in the living, looked back on seem to have been slow; and times that seemed to have passed slow in the living looked back on seem to have gone by fast. Slow times lived are times when we wait for opportunity to act, for a click of the clock as it were. Looked back on, clicks of the clock few and far between, time seems to have passed before you knew it, with little to measure its passage by. Fast times are marked by repeated frequent responses to the world, many clicks of the mental clock, making it seem, looked back on, that a lot was done in that limited time, time dilated it seemed to allow more acts to fill it. Do you follow?
- I think so. You're saying that life has its own internal relativity, dilating and constricting in relation to varying proportions in one's life of rest and action.
- That's it. Bergson wrote he had set out to 'explicitly prove that there is no difference, in what concerns Time, between a system in motion and a system in uniform translation.'
- By 'Time', with a capital 'T', meaning the dilation and constriction between action and rest in one's personal sense of time.
- Time that was capable of absorbing into itself without a trace the relative clock time of the physicists.

Further Reading:
Duration and Simultaneity, Henri Bergson, 1922