The author, a retired optical engineer, published this historically negligible work himself. It was a labour of love, to the point of his hand-colouring some of the diagrams, by the look of it with felt-tipped pens. An unusually determined man, we must conclude, who set about his task of demolishing Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity with some gusto and a ready supply of exclamation marks:-
Oh yes, Einstein effectively killed off the aether alright! He proclaimed a principle which killed off the Maxwell-Lorentz aether! That principle was the principle of relativity.
So what, you will ask, is “Einstein's Error”? As you might suspect, it is actually Winterflood's Error, and it appears on the second page of his first chapter. Essentially, his argument depends on there being such a thing as absolutely simultaneous events, something that the Special Theory denies, so in effect he assumes what he wishes to prove, and therefore his argument is circular (it is probably wrong in other ways too, but I have not the patience to examine it in detail).
Cracking a nut
For those who really want to know, here is the relevant passage:-
Imagine a uniformly-moving spaceship, A, encountering another, B in aetherless space. Due to senloss [a Winterflood coining meaning an absence of sensation of speed], Captain A is confident his ship is stationary; he is equally confident that ship B is moving away into the distance at a uniform speed of v.
On the other hand, captain B is equally confident that HE is the one who is stationary and that it is A who is receding at v!
Now the Law of Reciprocity means that if those two uniformly-moving spaceships cross paths (a near-miss collision) and if in that aetherless space one of then fires a flash at the instant their paths cross, then the resulting pulse of radiation will expand from that source equally in all directions. But because neither of those separating captains can sense uniform motion, each will think that the ever-expanding shell of radiation (RADIATION BUBBLE) is centred on his own ship!
Now if the Law of Reciprocity allows both captains to reciprocate their PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONS, it must also allow then to reciprocate their MATHEMATICAL DESCRIPTIONS. So captain A will write down the radiation bubble's distance from his ship as x = cxt y = cyt z = czt thinking he is at the bubble's HUB.
On the other hand, captain B will write down HIS bubble's distance thus x' = cxt' y' = cyt' z' = czt' thinking HE is at the hub.
Squaring and adding their distances gives A and B's equations for that lone bubble:
Captain A's equation:- x2 + y2 + z2 = c2t2 (1)
Captain B's equation:- x'2 + y'2 + z'2 = c2t'2 (2)
Noe in the above imagined experiment there was only one flash, and therefore those two equations must represent the SAME radiation bubble.
So if captain A converts his x into B's distance x' by some factor, than the Law of Reciprocity demands that B can convert HIS distance x' into A's distance x, BY THAT SAME FACTOR.
The mistake is when Winterflood states that the two equations “represent the SAME radiation bubble”. It seems an innocent enough idea, but one of the consequences of Special Relativity is that it is wrong, and you cannot legitimately disprove something simply by assuming its opposite. Winterflood's argument is akin to that of a mother who cannot accept that her son might be a thief, though he has been caught redhanded counting his loot, “because he is not like that”.
Deep in a Dingle
Winterflood had been influenced in his antipathy to Einstein's theories by the work of Professor Herbert Dingle, who published an equally fallacious (though slightly more sophisticated) repudiation of Special Relativity. Dingle is still popular with many crank scientists - who anyway tend to dislike Einstein because he contradicts their simple-minded models of the universe - because he was himself a physicist who had started out believing in Special Relativity but later became disenchanted with it.
Cranking out the nonsense
An argument which starts from flawed premises can go anywhere. Winterflood, in attempting to develop his new brand of physics, invents a number of unwanted new concepts, including “ghosts” and “anti-ghosts” - which I think are simply types of virtual images - and coins numerous new terms such as:-
“Senloss”; “lentim”; “recip”; “mem”; “prob”; “remotan”; “nearstat”; “proxitan”; “symrek”; “min”; and “rem”.
For an example of the wonderful clarity these neologisms lend to his exposition, take the following passage:-
Three-dimensional Observational Kinematics.
In general, when a point object moves towards us, it attains a minimum radial distance before it recedes.
In Observational Kinematics, what we see depends on transit-time. The above minimum distance therefore will produce a discontinuity in our observations. This point of minimum distance is important enough to warrant a name so we shall call it the MIN.
When a point object's anti-ghost crosses the min, its ghost will cross that min sometime later. The approach speed of the ghost to the min point will be faster than its recession speed from that point. Since a point object can have only one rem point, there are no further complications to worry about other than this observed change in speed as the tiny ghost crosses the min.
When a FINITE ghost crosses the min, there will be TWO rem points. The part of the ghost which is still approaching the observer will have a rem point on its rear, and the part of the ghost which is receding will have a rem point on its remote front.
To sum up, long after the anti-ghost of a finite object has crossed the min, we shall observe a DISTORTED ghost crossing the min, its rear part stretched from its approaching rem and its front part squashed from its receding rem. After this weird phenomenon of a finite ghost crossing the min, we shall once more have a single rem point.
Winterflood closes his book with the hope that:-
If those who have been confused or frustrated by Special Relativity are no longer so, this book will not have been written in vain.
I have to confess to finding Winterflood's work a great deal more confusing and frustrating than many books that propound Special Relativity, but maybe that's just me.
Scribbled by Alfred Armstrong 16 years 9 months ago