Re: The Cosmological constant (was Re: [asa] Predestined Fame:)

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Wed Jul 16 2008 - 14:02:48 EDT

Certainly. Though he gives no explicit reference to M&M, "the unsuccessful
attempts to discover any motion of the earth relatively to the light medium"
(p.37 of The Principle of Relativity) would have included it. He clearly
knew about some of the experiments - M&M & others through Lorentz's papers
if nothing else.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu>
To: "George Murphy" <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>; "Murray Hogg"
<muzhogg@netspace.net.au>; "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:57 PM
Subject: RE: The Cosmological constant (was Re: [asa] Predestined Fame:)

I believe Einstein did know of the negative result of the Michelson-Morley
experiment before he wrote his seminal work on special relativity. Is there
any doubt about this?

Moorad

________________________________

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu on behalf of George Murphy
Sent: Wed 7/16/2008 1:17 PM
To: Murray Hogg; ASA
Subject: Re: The Cosmological constant (was Re: [asa] Predestined Fame:)

I think it's quite plausible that - as Jammer argues - Einstein's belief in
a static universe was influenced by his pantheism. At the same time the
belief that "the sidereal universe" (to use a quaint term) was indeed static
went deeper than adherence to a particular scientific theory. In 1917 it
was still debated among astronomers whether the "spiral nebulae" were parts
of the Milky Way or galaxies in their own right, & the only evidence that
any of them were receding was a few redshifts Slipher had obtained in (I
think) 1914. (& the fact that M31 shows a blueshift would count too.) Even
those who believed that the universe had come into being a finite time in
the past - orthodox Christians & Jews - had never to my knowledge suggested
that the present universe was undergoing large scale motion.

& I think Polanyi overstates his case about special relativity. Einstein
didn't ignore experimental evidence even though he didn't try to develop his
theory inductively from it. He did later show a tendency to theorize
without strong observational constraint: When asked later what he would
have done if the 1919 eclipse expedition had confirmed the Newtonian result
for light deflection instead of his own he's supposed to have replied, "Then
I would have been sorry for the dear Lord!" If indeed he did say that one
shouldn't forget that he had a sense of humor. & in any case that was some
15 years after the special theory, when he had developed the general theory
even though there was no compelling experimental reason to do so.

& while he was certainly concerned with elegance in development of theories,
he knew its limits. In the introduction to his oft-reprinted popular book
on relativity he quotes Boltzmann to the effect that one should leave
elegance to the tailors.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
----- Original Message -----
From: "Murray Hogg" <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:17 PM
Subject: Re: The Cosmological constant (was Re: [asa] Predestined Fame:)

> Hi George,
>
> Two related points occur to me in respects of the the below - both related
> to the observation that a static universe was the generally held view of
> astronomers c.1915.
>
> First is that I had never thought to ask what broader considerations had
> moved Einstein to add the cosmological constant. Up until now I had always
> labored under the impression that the addition was somewhat arbitrary as
> though the desire to "defend" a stationary universe was merely a personal
> agenda on Einstein's part. I'm influenced here by the fact that Einstein
> is well known to have adopted Spinoza's metaphysical position and
> presuming that Einstein knew what he was talking about when he espoused
> his commitment to Spinoza's philosophy/theology (fair assumption?), this
> entails the commitment to an eternal (hence static?) universe. But I see
> now that whatever Einstein's personal metaphysical commitments, he was
> ALSO tipping his hat to the prevailing scientific consensus.
>
> Second is that this is quite unlike Einstein! Polanyi showed that Einstein
> had constructed Relativity Theory as an "intuitive" exercise which largely
> flew in the face of prevailing scientific data and opinion. Polanyi
> thereby concluded that Einstein was wont to give deference to an elegantly
> formulated proof over either the empirical data or the prevailing
> scientific consensus. Curious, then, that Einstein should feel the need to
> "tweak" the equations in deference to astronomers' views re a static
> universe.
>
> Putting these two observations together, I wonder if we could not perhaps
> conclude that the reason Einstein was so ready to bow to the prevailing
> astronomical consensus was precisely because he held to a Spinozan
> metaphysic? Seems a reasonable view to take, particularly if we take
> Einstein seriously when he spoke of his Spinozan point-of-view.
>
> All very interesting, really!
>
> Blessings,
> Murray Hogg
> Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
> Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology
>
> George Murphy wrote:
>> Murray -
>> I'm glad you pushed me on this & perhaps saved me later embarassment,
>> for looking back at the footnote in Einstein's 1915 paper I see that he
>> didn't say what I remembered him as saying. So my comment about that
>> should be stricken from the record. OTOH it raises the question why at
>> just that point he didn't recognize the possibility of what would come to
>> be called the cosmological term. For the argument that he made for the
>> left side of the field equations outside a matter distribution was that
>> it be formed from the metric tensor and its first and second derivatives,
>> and be linear in the second derivatives. He then said that the
>> contracted Riemann tensor was the only tensor satisfying that condition.
>> But in reality the metric tensor itself, multiplied by an arbitrary
>> constant (i.e., the cosmological constant) can be added to the Riemann
>> tensor & the conditions will still be satisfied. This continues to be
>> the case when the necessary changes are made to include matter. It's hard
>> to know why Einstein didn't at least comment on that possibility in 1915.
>> In any case he did realize and exploit it in 1917 when he first dealt
>> with the cosmological problem. There he wanted a static universe 1st
>> because the general belief of astronomers at that time was that the
>> universe _was_ static on a large scale.
>> But Max Jammer has also argued (in _Einstein and Religion_) that
>> Einstein's commitment to Spinozistic pantheism may have played a role
>> here. For if the universe and God are different names for the same
>> thing, & if God is immutable, the universe must be immutable. That
>> Einstein may have had extra-scientific motives is suggested by the facts
>> that he was quite slow in accepting both observational and theoretical
>> arguments for a non-static universe. I think it's pretty well agreed that
>> Einstein did tell Gamow that introducing the cosmological term was his
>> "greatest blunder." One reason for that is that that term does from one
>> standpoint make the field equations more complicated and less "elegant."
>> But Einstein probably also realized that if he hadn't introduced it he
>> might have been forced to realize that the universe wasn't static - that
>> it was either expanding or contracting, & already by the early 20s there
>> were enough galactic spectra to indicate expansion. Thus the expansion
>> of the universe could have been announced as a "fourth test" of general
>> relativity. (Although Newtonian cosmology gives the same result.)
>> Shalom
>> George
>> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/--
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Jul 16 14:06:16 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Jul 16 2008 - 14:06:16 EDT