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KRONOS I-4 Winter 1976

Relativity is consequently now accepted as a faith.  It is inadvisable to devote attention to its paradoxical aspects.  - R. A. Houstoun, Treatise on Light (1938)

Students of the physical sciences, and of mathematics, have for the past 30-40 years been so busy mastering the basics of their chosen field, that there has been little time or inclination to study the history of their field in order to learn how the assumptions and logic of the early workers in the field established the basic framework, now quite rigid as the result of long usage.  Today's scientists and mathematicians assume that all that has gone before is flawless and they can therefore proceed safely without a backward glance.  They and most of their teachers remain unaware of the hidden, unstated assumptions which are an inherent part of every scientific field.

This is dangerous business since technical training is no insurance that in days gone by very human frailties have not crept in, blurring judgments and providing the basis for rationalizations which show so clearly why some young upstart's fresh viewpoint or new method of evaluating data must be in error.

If one takes as a reference point the date 1875, and examines the rather unusual state of the sciences of that period, it will be found that physics was making rapid strides as the result of the discovery of stable sources of unseen electric current; of unseen electromagnetic radiations; of visible effects in unseen gases produced by this electric current.  No longer were the experimenters working with easily observed and measured phenomena.  To explain unseen phenomena one must rely on the imagination, on mental images, on conceptual models.

About 1875 there began the application of the rather new, exciting and untried systems of mathematics to these unseen phenomena.  These mathematical manipulations often predicted phenomena which the experimenter could not duplicate at the laboratory bench.  This did not deter the mathematical theorist in the least, for his limits were of the mind, of his imagination.  The straight line was assumed not to be the shortest distance between two points.  The unidirectional flow of time, as observed in our everyday lives, was reversed simply by changing +t to -t.  To aid in other problems, the insoluble, imaginary expression - 1 2 was used in the calculations involving unseen electric currents.  Increasingly as the years went on, I assume!  Therefore it is! began to take on more and more respectability.

There was a meld of philosophical methods with the abstractions of metaphysical mathematics, such that the methods of the experimenters, i.e. Faraday, Kelvin, Fizeau, Hertz, Fresnel, Cavendish et al., were looked upon as of secondary importance by an ever increasing number of those who considered themselves scientists, rather than philosophers and/or mathematicians.

Some scientists at that time recognized the dangers of such a trend and the effects such mental gymnastics were having on scientific thought.  The following was a most timely warning that unfortunately went unheeded:

"To the followers of Pythagoras the world and its phenomena were all illusion.  Centuries later the Egyptian [?] mystic Plotinus taught the same doctrine, that the external world is a mere phantom, and the mystical schools of Christianity took it up in turn.  In every age the mystically inclined have delighted in dreaming that everything is a dream, the mere visible reflection of an invisible reality.  In truth the delusion lies in the mind of the mystic, not in the things seen.  The alleged untrustworthiness of our senses we flatly deny.  We frequently misinterpret the messages they bring, it is true, but that is no fault of the senses.  The interpretation of sense impressions is something to be learned; we never learn it fully; we are liable to blunder through all our days, but that gives us no right to call our senses liars.  It is our judgment, not the sense of sight, that is occasionally deceived.  We not only wrong our honest senses but also lose our grip upon this most substantial world when we let mistaken metaphysics persuade us to doubt the testimony they bear. - Scientific American July 1875
Reprinted:     July, 1975, p. 10B.

To an experimentalist the above paragraph may be summarized as advising all scientists to adhere religiously to the spirit and letter of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD that we all were required to learn as beginning students of the physical and biological sciences.  And the experimenter should always keep in mind that our apparatus and measuring instruments, no matter how sophisticated, are but extensions of our senses, thus liable to "let mistaken metaphysics persuade us to doubt the testimony they bear."

It was at Ulm, Germany that Albert Einstein was born, 1879, to become the most widely publicized scientist ever to have lived.  And it was into this milieu of science-mathematics-philosophy that the young man, seemingly of no particular promise, grew into manhood.  This scientific climate of opinion was at that time essentially limited to Western Europe, receiving its greatest impetus from the deluge of discoveries made in this same area 1895-1900.

Between the ages of 16 and 25 Einstein learned of such discoveries as x- and gamma rays, of the electron, of spontaneous transmutation of the atom, of radium that continuously gave off heat without any apparent reduction in weight.  Here was another host of unseen phenomena which could be evaluated by the use of metaphysical mathematics!  Names which were to become famous in the next decades were utilizing the metaphysical methods of 1875 to explain this host of new phenomena.  Why?  The phenomena which were being observed and quantified were so foreign to any which had been observed prior to 1895 that the theories and conceptual "models" which sufficed to explain pre-1895 "classical" physics were certainly unable to account for this mass of new data.  In effect there was a "theoretical vacuum." As an obscure, almost unknown patent clerk in Switzerland, young Einstein had the time and opportunity to pour over the scientific papers appearing in the journals that came to the nearby library.  He studied.  He thought.  He was a mystic.  And in 1905 he wrote five papers on various aspects of these new phenomena.  All were accepted for publication–which, by the way, contrasts the treatment accorded the young unknowns of today who take unorthodox approaches to science.  The present peer review systems are so stifling that any manuscript so iconoclastic as Einstein's initial papers would now have little chance of appearing in any ranking journal.  This is particularly true in physics, and especially so in the United States.  More on this later.

Of the five papers published by young Einstein in 1905, three were destined to bring him fame.  These three papers would by 1940 be recognized as basic to the physical sciences.

A theoretical study of the only visible manifestation of perpetual motion, termed "Brownian Movement," was completed by Einstein.  This was an extension of the existing knowledge concerning the incessant, random motion imparted by atomic collisions to finely divided solid particles when suspended in a liquid.  An example of this is carbon particles in India ink.  By special microscopic techniques it is possible to show that these particles can be visualized as constantly dancing points of light.  This theoretical study was a mathematical treatment of observable events and was one of the two studies which won for Einstein the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1921.

The second paper which provided the basis for the Prize was the extension of the theoretical studies of Max Planck, who in 1900 proposed that light was not necessarily a continuous wave train but reacted as if it were a series of bundles of energy (E=hf) which he termed "quanta." For this work Planck received the Prize just three years before Einstein.

In this aspect of his historic work Einstein combined the experimental findings of J.J. Thompson (Nobelist, 1906), which demonstrated the existence of the electron (e-), with the theoretical approach of Planck.  By this method Einstein provided the basis for explaining the experimental results of others, which had shown that the kinetic energy of an electron emitted by a metallic surface, was dependent on the wave length (i.e. color) of the light falling on the surface.

This is termed the "Photoelectric Effect," and is the basis for the operation of many modern electronic units.  These studies led others to apply the concept of the photoelectric effect in clarifying the complex processes of x-ray adsorption in solid materials.

These two theoretical papers are the reason for Einstein's receiving the richly deserved Nobel Prize in 1921, although many historians of science have led our students to believe that it was the much more publicized Theory of Relativity that earned for him this coveted honor.  For this reason it is here emphasized that the papers on Brownian movement and the photoelectric effect, based on directly observable phenomena, are just as valid now as when written 70 years ago.  Also it is of utmost importance to note that these theoretical developments required little or no use of the metaphysical mathematics and philosophical assumptions which were becoming so popular in Western Europe at that time.

Let us turn now to that third 1905 paper, usually called the "Theory of Special Relativity," which together with a more generalized version, General Relativity (1915), have generated mountains of papers and correspondence every generation since 1905.  In these one finds controversy, ridicule, "proofs," "disproofs," and all too often the most unscientific of attitudes imaginable.  In those who support the theories there is so often evidence of a quasi-religious, unquestioning faith.  Equally as vehement, pre-1930, were those who were most critical of methods which made use of systems of metaphysical mathematics and free-wheeling philosophies.

As with all controversies, and especially when unquestioned faith is an armament, there is a middle ground wherein stands TRUTH, which will be unveiled when additional information is obtained by observation and experiment.  Such has always been the course of every field of experimental and applied sciences.  Such is the history of science!

                                                      CAN NATURE DECEIVE?

The scientists, in playing their game with Nature, are meeting an opponent on her own ground, who has not only made the rules of the game to suit herself, but may have even queered the pitch, or cast a spell over the visiting team.  If space possesses properties which distort our vision, deform our measuring-rods, and tamper with our clocks, is there any means of detecting the fact?  Can we feel hopeful that eventually cross-examination will break the disguise? . . .

Ultimately, we can only rely on the evidence of our senses, checked and clarified of course by artificial apparatus, repeated experiment, and exhaustive inquiry.  Observations can often be interpreted unwisely, as an anecdote told by Sir George Greenhill illustrates:

At the end of a session at the Engineering College, Coopers' Hill, a reception was held and the science departments were on view.  A young lady, entering the physical laboratory and seeing an inverted image of herself in a large concave mirror, naively remarked to her companion: "They have hung that looking glass upside down.  " Had the lady advanced past the focus of the mirror, she would have seen that the workmen were not to blame.  If nature deceived her it was deception which further experiment would have unmasked. - Clement V. Durell, Readable Relativity (1938)

In contrast to the theoretical methods which he had utilized in treating Brownian movement and the photoelectric effect, Einstein in developing Relativity allowed himself to become an integral part, in fact a leading disciple, of the "school" which made use of metaphysical mathematics.  This group assumed time to be an independent variable, combinable with three coordinates of space (Minkowski's space-time).  He assumed as true the following unproved attributes of the physical world:

A.   That there exists no "ether," no generalized subquantic medium by which absolute motion could be determined.

B.    That mass and energy are interconvertable (E=mc2)

C.    Reversability of time

With these unsupported hypotheses Einstein flew in the face of the majority opinion then held by professional scientists, and particularly experimentalists.  He embarked on a course that brought eventual disillusionment.

It is proposed to present here a biographical sketch giving aspects of his scientific career which have only been lightly touched on by his contemporaries, and largely ignored by his biographers.

Einstein made use of a system of computation developed in Germany (1850 - 1875) which assumes that a line projected in space curves, that parallel lines converge.  This was basic in developing what has become known as the General Theory of Relativity.  Using these methods he predicted that a beam of light as it passed close to the sun would be deflected 1.75 seconds of arc, as the result of the gigantic gravitational field.  Note particularly that he specified only gravitational effects.  Such a phenomenon had been qualitatively predicted by Isaac Newton before 1700.

The observed weighted deflection was 1.98 arc seconds, providing the initial impetus of one of the most unusual chapters in all of man's history, not just scientific history.

An obvious question: Why should a rather obscure mathematical theorist, whose prediction of an obscure astronomic event generate such world-wide interest, producing a ticker-tape parade down New York's Wall Street in 1921? 1 asked myself this question as a teenager and college student, observing the outpourings of publicity in Sunday newspaper supplements, in the Rotogravure sections, news reels, and "educational" movies.  I again asked myself this question in 1957 when a study was begun of the historical background of the various systems of physical theory which were then being taught as the fundamentals of atomic and nuclear science.  As will be shown below the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place in mid-1975.

If one wishes to study the thinking of those who early opposed the relativistic theories (and there were many!) it-becomes a major research project even to learn of the authors of such heresy.  The usual abstracting services are strangely silent.  Between the years 1905 and 1930 the doctrines of relativity and of n-dimensional and non-Euclidean geometries had a "good press." The theory was publicized by the most astute, adroit application of subtle "soft sell" techniques ever to be devised.  Modern day advertising executives could learn much of psychology in studying the showmanship by which persons in high and influential places were favorably impressed, how the general public was "educated," how scientists were swayed by the "fads" of the day.

Relativity, the New Science, became the rage of the intelligentsia, the "smart" drawing-room set.  Further, to bolster the claims of this "new" and "different" science, data were culled, and that which upheld the theory was praised and publicized, while more valid information was ignored.

There were some men who lived during the development of the basic postulates of modern theories who doubted the logic on which they rest.  Moreover, these men resented the use of the promotional methods of the market place, which were blatantly used to fasten on the minds of men, at all levels of culture, what many considered to be a false scientific doctrine.  Certain of these men, having the courage of their convictions, published books reporting on various aspects of the situation as they saw it at first hand.

To attempt to dismiss all such publications as the work of crackpots, as the railings of "cranks rebelling against the father-image of established authority," is to belittle the work of technically trained men of high renown, respected in their fields of specialization.  In order that students of the physical sciences may know that there were (and are now!) other views in fundamental physical theories than are presented in recent physics texts, there follow reviews of the more pertinent of these works.

One of the first,(1) also one of the most scholarly, works to point out the fallacies in logic was by Charles L. Poor, who obtained his Doctorate in mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, 1892.  He served as professor of astronomy at Hopkins, 1900-1910, and as professor of celestial mechanics at Columbia University, 1910-1944.  In his volume, Dr. Poor clearly indicates the false premises of n-dimensional and non-Euclidean geometries, and of the dual frames of reference used by Lorentz and later theorizers.  His greatest contribution is the pinpointing of the manner in which the proponents of relativity selected and culled astronomic data, no doubt unconsciously, to uphold their own preconceived ideas.  In this evaluation of the "scientific advertising" used so effectively in promoting "The Theory," Dr. Poor gives a calm, dignified appraisal of a field of knowledge in which he has few equals.

Another writer to question seriously the basis of relativity was Arthur Lynch, a most remarkable man of unusual courage and breadth of interest.  He was a graduate engineer, a linguist; he studied physics in Berlin, took his medical degree in London, and later an electrical engineering diploma in Paris.  He served in the British Parliament for 10 years, and practiced medicine in London for twenty-six years.  In 1927 he published his first volume on scientific fallacies, and in 1931 his second.  He shows clearly that relativity is an unhappy union of philosophy, metaphysical mathematics, and science.(2)

In these two little-known works Dr. Lynch takes on the character of the iconoclast, the rebel, against many of the scientific beliefs of the 1920's.  In this respect he weakens his arguments and somewhat obscures flashes of keen insight into many of the errors of logic in science, some of which still exist in our thinking today.  The great service Lynch renders is to give an on-the-spot observer's biting account of the causes (cultural, political, mathematical, and philosophical) which resulted in the rapid rise in popularity of the Theory of Relativity.  He clearly outlines the well-managed showmanship that "sold" this theory to those in influential places who could not understand the language in which it was presented, much less the abstractions of metaphysical mathematics on which the theory rests for its development.

The third writer to publish in English a volume critically discussing at length the Einstein theories was J. J. Callahan.(3)  He was a Catholic priest and educator, having received his training in rigorous logic and reasoning at Duquesne University and at the Gregorian University at Rome.  In this volume Dr. Callahan discusses the illogical character of neo-geometries and the multiple frames of reference used in the mathematical development of the fundamental ideas of relativity by Lorentz, Poincare, Einstein, Minkowski and others.

Another scientifically trained writer to tilt with Einstein's theories, and a contemporary of all those mentioned above, was a Russian-born electrical and aeronautical engineer, George de Bothezat.  He secured his electrical-engineering degree in Liege, 1907, a Doctorate in Paris, 1911. He was an aeronautical leader in Russia before 1918 and later in the United States.  He patented many inventions and organized and directed a sizeable commercial enterprise.  In 1959 his name survived and appeared in the Manhattan telephone directory: de Bothezat Division, American Machine and Metals Company.  This unusual man took the battle to the enemy's camp, lecturing at Princeton University during the 1930's, questioning Einstein's doctrine of isochronous time.

The volume by de Bothezat makes difficult reading, as the author' meaning is not clear in many cases.(4)  But certainly it is clear in one important aspect.  Because he was a mathematician, de Bothezat saw that by the mathematical processes utilized by Einstein, Grossman, and Minkowski all manner of hypotheses could be proved.  This observation of course was not original with de Bothezat, as it was shown earlier by many French mathematicians, particularly Painleve.

No doubt some will object to the use of the terms "sell" and "promotion" to describe the methods by which the Theory of Relativity was so quickly popularized.  Perhaps some others feel that such methods are not suitable or ethical in the world of science.  It all depends on the viewpoint.  In the present era, nearly every laboratory of any size, be it academic, commercial, or governmental, has as part of its organization a publicity or public relations department.  This is staffed by persons whose livelihood depends on getting the laboratory's findings, reports, papers, and accomplishments into as many news outlets as possible.

Being convinced that many of the mathematical systems responsible for modem physical theories contain illogical, erroneous assumptions, this writer has attempted to determine the processes through which this type of mathematics, and the Theory of Relativity, have taken such a hold on the minds of countless millions.  It is believed that four volumes published some few years ago explain how and why these ideas have gained such a following.  These books are not erudite, scholarly, studies in psychology, mathematics, or physics.  They are popularly, well written blueprints of the way men's minds en masse are influenced and the individual's supposed free-will actions channeled into a pattern set by those who apply subtle pressures.

A summary of the new techniques of advertising are discussed in Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders.  No doubt there will be many who will scoff at the statements in this volume; nevertheless, advertising budgets in the millions of dollars are risked on these principles of mass psychology.  The effectiveness of this type of pressure is quickly evidenced by the sales volume of the goods and the services being publicized .(5)

In a second volume, Science Is a Sacred Cow, A. Stander gives us a glimpse into the manner by which scientists delude themselves and apply the same subtle suasions to the members of the learned professions as are used by the men who guide modern-day advertising.  This book will make many scientists cringe as they see some of their most treasured illusions trampled upon by another well-trained scientist.(6)

With regard to the subject which we are considering, Mr. Stander has this to say:

And yet Einstein did not destroy the Absolute.  There is always an Absolute in science.  In the nineteenth century it was the ether, but when the ether fell to pieces and disintegrated, there was no Absolute left at all–a condition intolerable to scientists, although they don't know it.  Einstein made space and time relative, but in order to do this he had to take something else, which was the velocity of light, and make it absolute.  The velocity of light occupies an extraordinary place in modern physics.  It is lese majeste to make any criticism of the velocity of light. it is a sacred cow within a sacred cow, and it is just about the Absolutest Absolute in the history of human thought.  There is a textbook on physics which openly says, "Relativity is now accepted as a faith." This statement, although utterly astounding in what purports to be a science, is unfortunately only too true.

The third volume for studying the methods by which men's minds are influenced is C. D. MacDougall's Hoaxes.(7)  This also shows very graphically that any explanation, even if it is grossly incorrect, is considered better than none at all.  This is not to imply that the mathematicians, philosophers, theoreticians, and physicists who developed modern physical theories were consciously engaged in perpetrating hoaxes.  They were not, for each in his own field sincerely believed that he was completely justified in his basic assumptions, and accurate in his reasoning and mathematical calculations.

The reasons "Why We Don't Disbelieve" and "Incentives to Believe" are clear-cut discussions of the underlying pattern of mass acceptance of the things which appear on the printed page, be they truth, half-truth, or complete falsehood.  The following list of "Incentives to Believe" explains in one or more important instances the motivation which caused many to embrace, champion, and popularize the Theory of Relativity during its all-important formative period, 1905-30; also to continue as a quasi-religious dogma to 1975:

The means whereby health, wealth, and happiness may be obtained;

The essential evidence that one's church, political party, race, city, state and nation is superior,

The fragments of knowledge to establish a scientific, literary, artistic, historical or other hypothesis;

The spectacular incidents to give sanctions to prejudices, attitudes and opinions;

The heroes to worship and the vicarious thrills by which to escape an otherwise dull and routine existence.

The fourth volume in this group, Caplow and Reece's The Academic Marketplace, is a report of a sociological study of ten of the larger universities of the United States, giving the results of an investigation of the personnel practices, basic problems, and motivations of the faculties of these eminent centers of learning.(8)  The findings were a revelation, for in the areas of study which are discussed here, mathematics and physics, the following statements stand out: "Today, a scholar's orientation to his institution is apt to disorient him to his discipline and to affect his professional prestige unfavorably.  Conversely, an orientation to his discipline will disorient him to his institution, which he will regard as a temporary shelter where he can pursue his career as a member of the discipline .... Several respondents referred to the 'guild aspect' of certain disciplines -especially mathematics and physics.  Their comments seem to assert that, in these fields at least, for the successful professor the institutional orientation has entirely disappeared."

Thus it would seem that indeed these two disciplines form two guilds, which owe their first loyalty to the other members of the craft, not to the school where they are, for the time being, doing their work.  This well may explain why criticism and questioning of modern physical theories based on mathematical constructs are so often received in stony silence as ranks close.

In the four volumes cited above appears to be the answer to the puzzle posed by Professor Bridgeman in 1936: ". . . but it seems to me that the arguments which have led up to the theory (Relativity), and the whole state of mind of most physicists with regard to it, may some day become one of the puzzles of history.  "I And so we see how men of science can be influenced in their thinking and in their judgment by suasions and pressures, often self-imposed, but in recent years, through indoctrination during their formative undergraduate days.

The scientist who has received his training during the past 40 years has received scant introduction to other alternative hypotheses, for in all present-day general physics and nuclear texts, classical physics is limited to the material world of direct observation.  In these texts the "laws" that govern the microcosm, together with the results of the Michelson-Morley experiments (1887), show clearly that there can be no "ether"-that matter and energy in small packages are governed by special rules not applicable to the observable world.  Three centuries of laboratory data are summarized in a relatively few paragraphs.

Two rather recent reports by distinguished contemporaries of Einstein give a most illuminating overview of the events which resulted in his being catapulted to fame, or more correctly, notoriety.  For such was the result of a public relations campaign comparable to that generated for a budding movie star.

The first of these reports was by Nobelist P.A.M. Dirac who, when in his acceptance speech for the Oppenheimer Award (1969), made the following statement regarding his own work:

This work was done in the 1920's when the whole idea of relativity was still quite young.  It did not make a splash in the scientific world until after the end of the first world war and then it made a very big splash.  Everyone was talking about relativity, not only the scientists, but the philosophers and the writers of columns in the newspapers.  I do not think there has been any other occasion in the history of science when an idea has so much caught the public interest as relativity did in those early days, starting from the relaxation which occurred with the ending of a very serious war.(10)

The second of the recent reports came to this writer's attention in June 1975, and did in fact provide the missing pieces in the puzzle as to why a young, essentially unknown scientist should be so quickly smothered in honors.  This report, in the form of an article(11) by Professor S. Chandrasekhar, makes such stimulating and enlightening reading that this writer highly recommends it to every student of the sciences at all levels of training.  It is in these paragraphs that the following appears:

(Ernest) Rutherford turned to Eddington and said, "You are responsible for Einstein's fame." And more seriously he continued:

The war had just ended; and the complacency of the Victorian and the Edwardian times had been shattered.  The people felt that all their values and all their ideals had lost their bearings.  Now, suddenly, they learnt that an astronomical prediction by a German scientist had been confirmed by expeditions to Brazil and West Africa and, indeed, prepared for already during the war, by British astronomers.  Astronomy had always appealed to public imagination; and an astronomical discovery, transcending worldly strife, struck a responsive cord.  The meeting of the Royal Society, at which the results of the British expeditions were reported, was headlined in all the British papers; and the typhoon of publicity crossed the Atlantic.  From that point on, the American press played Einstein to the maximum.

Dr. Chandrasekhar continues:

Let me go back a little to tell you about the circumstances which gave rise to the planning of the British expeditions (of 1919). 1 learned of the circumstances from Eddington (in 1935) when I expressed to him my admiration of his scientific sensibility in planning the expeditions during the 'darkest days of the war.'  To my surprise, Eddington disclaimed any credit on that account–indeed he said that, left to himself, he would not have planned the expeditions since he was fully convinced of the truth of the general theory of relativity!–In any event, Eddington clearly realized the importance of verifying Einstein's prediction with regard to the deflection of the light from the distant stars as it grazed the solar disc during an eclipse.

Examine carefully the above paragraphs for in these will be found certain key phrases:

Rutherford to Arthur Eddington–

"You are responsible for Einstein's fame."

"Eddington . . . indeed said that left to himself he would not have planned the expedition, since he was fully convinced of the truth of the general theory of Relativity."

Here can be seen the underlying reason why Professor Poor in 1922, and Professor Freundlich in 1931, both professional astronomers, reported that the astronomic data obtained by the Eddington expeditions had been culled and selected in order to uphold preconceived conclusions.

At the peak of the campaign to popularize Einstein and his works, there occurred a most surprising and important development.  At a meeting of the most eminent physicists and theoreticians (Solvay Congress) in 1927, Niels Bohr adroitly furthered his own brand of theory, since known as Bohr-Heisenberg Quantum Mechanics of the "Copenhagen School."  At this meeting Bohr in effect ridiculed Einstein's basic assumption of causality, which requires that Event A be preceded by some prior event.  Bohr, on the other hand, espoused the concept of "acausality" which assumes that Event A may arise spontaneously, requiring no initiating event.  At this Congress the young theoretician Louis deBroglie, who two years later was to receive the Nobel Prize, was won over to the Copenhagen School which he supported until the mid-1950's.

Although Einstein's popular image was untarnished, younger scientists followed Bohr, and Einstein was effectively isolated from the main stream of theoretical physics for the remainder of his life.

It is indeed ironic that in the teaching of physics for more than 40 years, there have been courses which have stressed Relativity, while in the next classroom the theories of Bohr are given overriding priority.  However, at no time is it pointed out to students that the basic philosophies which underlie these two systems are mutually exclusive.  If Bohr is correct, then Einstein cannot be correct; and vice versa.  Interestingly, both systems require the absence of an "ether" or "subquantic medium." For if such a medium or substrate does exist, both systems of theory are untenable.

Following the failure of his efforts after 1931 to modify the General Theory of Relativity in order to take into account magnetic and electrostatic forces, coupled with his decreasing stature in the rapidly developing theoretical areas, Einstein received another very personal blow.  This was as the result of his famous letter of 1939 written to President Franklin Roosevelt in which he recommended that research be initiated on nuclear explosives.

Einstein was a gentle man, a true internationalist, and above all a pacifist.  The use of two fission bombs against Japan in 1945 was for him a personal tragedy, as it was for many of the other scientists who were actively engaged in the Manhattan Project.  In the press Einstein was then lauded as the Father of the Bomb, a title which he most certainly detested.  And as fusion devices became realities before he died, we can only speculate as to his inner feelings.

The personal tragedy of Albert Einstein was that he was beguiled by the fame and notoriety generated as the result of a most improbable sequence of events.  Thus he, scientists and the general public were led to overlook the good, solid work based on experimental results, which won for him the Nobel Prize in 1921.

Philosophically, looking back on his life at age 70, Einstein gave a clear evaluation of what he believed were his accomplishments.  This was in a letter made public many years after his passing:

Personal Letter to Professor Solovine, dated 28 March 1949-

You can imagine that I look back on my life's work with calm satisfaction.  But from nearby it looks quite different.  There is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm, and I feel uncertain whether I am in general on the right track.(12)

The tragedy of Einstein, translated to the entire scientific community, is that of the failure of the open, self-corrective long-term processes which are normal to all science, or at least should be.  In Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, the Medical Sciences, Geology, and Engineering in all branches, there have since 1930 been many and varied competing alternative hypotheses and theories.  These rose, were modified and often fell before the evidence of new data and innovative techniques.

In nuclear science and theory, however, the assumptions which developed pre-1930 have taken on the aura of self-evident truths, in the nature of a quasi-religious dogma which cannot, must not, be questioned.  In fact since about 1940, those who did cast doubts were looked upon as clearly lacking in common sense.

In 1959, a letter to the writer from a scientist then employed at the Oak Ridge Laboratories stated:

Most of us who share your general viewpoint tend to be 'gun shy' (or job shy, or what have you) in such matters because we are aware of our minority position and the ridicule normally to be expected from highly respected and firmly entrenched theoreticians.

Professor Herbert Dingle (University of London) 13 in 1972 questioned the morality of continued unquestioned acceptance of the basic postulates of Relativity.  This produced published insulting ridicule.

The crux of the problem which is being discussed here is the scientific morality of those who insist that there shall be no alternative hypotheses permitted in nuclear science which question present dogma.  Just why is physical theory so sacrosanct, when all other areas of science are subject to the very healthy stimulation and discipline of competing viewpoints and alternative hypotheses?


1.         Charles L. Poor, Gravity Versus Relativity (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1922).

2.         Arthur Lynch, Science: Leading and Misleading (London: John Murray, 1927).

The Case Against Einstein (London: Phillip Allan, 1932; New York: Dodd-Mead, 1933).

3.         J.J. Callahan, Euclid or Einstein? (New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1931).

4.         George de Bothezat, Back to Newton (New York: G.E. Stechert & Company, 1936).

5.         Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders (New York: David McKay, 1957).

6.         A. Stander, Science Is a Sacred Cow (New York: E.P. Dutton, Everyman Edition, 1958),

7.         C.D. MacDougall, Hoaxes (Rev. ed . ; New York: Dover Books, 1958).

8.         Theodore Caplow and R.J. Reece, The Academic Marketplace (New York: Basic Books, 1958).

9.         P.W. Bridgeman, Nature of Physical Theory (1936).

10.       P.A.M. Dirac, Development of Quantum Theory (N.Y.: Gordon and Breach, 1971).

11.       S. Chandrasekhar, "Verifying the Theory of Relativity," The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists (June, 1975).

12.       Solovine Letter.  Quoted in B. Hoffman, Albert Einstein-Creator and Rebel (N.Y.: Viking Press, 1972).

13.       Herbert Dingle, Science at the Crossroads (London: Martin Brian O'Keefe, 1972)

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