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Is this book first-rate or feeble? Read my review and get the inside dope

Einstein's Error

A.H. Winterflood
The Author
Edition / Year
2nd Edition, 1973
In the section labelled

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.

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Submitted by WilsonSmith (not verified) on 21 Feb 2014 - 08:04 Permalink

I want to make sure that it is very important to see whether or not his is something that is going to improve in many way.

Submitted by Metz77 (not verified) on 11 Dec 2013 - 18:02 Permalink

Lots of cranks on this blog.

So much of modern society would be completely nonfunctional were special relativity substantially wrong. GPS units, for example, need to take it into account to not send you careening off a cliff.

Submitted by Doug Reiss (not verified) on 10 Oct 2020 - 09:18 Permalink

Yes.... I was in graduate school with the fellow (a graduate of Princeton Physics undergraduate department) who worked at the Naval Observatory who developed the GPS correction. He died a bit young, but left a substantial legacy, including the GPS work.

Submitted by Lord Kefka (not verified) on 01 Jan 2011 - 04:25 Permalink

Somehow I doubt that Foos has any academic experience. People who have been in academia tend to write understandable (if occasionally jargon clouded) sentences unlike Foos. Does he/she even know what "the 900 blokes bloating in Jamestown" means? And surely his first sentence about Essan is saying that the man is a blatant fraud and yet recommends him at the same time? Can you actually say that a half-wit can point out flaws in Einsteins ideas and be serious? I would like an example of that please. Perhaps Foos is not a native English speaker or is simple a little funny in the noggin or perhaps he is a postmoderist poet who makes art that befuddles its viewers. In any case the Jamestown sentence is certainly comic gold and probably deserves some kind of prize from Armstrong for "most nonsensical comment made on this site."
Submitted by Foos (not verified) on 22 Feb 2010 - 10:40 Permalink

After starting from nowhere 3 years ago, I find only recently that Dingle seems far more reasonable to me than the rest. Of course, I'll be labeled a crackpot, but then I can go to sleep knowing that I'm sleeping on my own bed and will know how to find it again tomorrow. Even Einstein gave up on SR when he invented GR, but he didn't bother to tell the legions who are yet ready to swirl down the drain of his own circular logic. As for GR, I'm convinced it was a deliberate hoax, that way I don't feel quite so sorry for the old boy and his worshipping masses. I've crammed two sections on SR/GR into my statistics theorem, not relevant, I was just bored, so the writing needs some improvement. I don't worry that GR was a hoax, but I do worry that Einstein/Poincare/Hilbert actually believed it themselves.
Submitted by Alfred Armstrong on 22 Feb 2010 - 13:31 Permalink

Yes, General Relativity was a hoax, that's why it agrees with observations made years after Einstein's death. If people call you a crackpot, I refer you to the well known Duck Test.
Submitted by Foos (not verified) on 01 Jan 2011 - 03:30 Permalink

Well, Mr. Armstrong, good boilerplate for the suckling masses, but some of us have earned the right to talk, and I'm one of them. Any half wit can pick out major flaws, even outright falsehoods, in Einstein's ideas, and even Einstein abandoned most of them over the sequence of 3 publications of SR and the final botch called GR. Nor is it difficult, except for the easily impressed, to pull a formula out of your ass and then twist it around to match an observation, but that isn't real science, nor does relativity actually fit that well, if you happen to have studied that much. Real science is an idea that makes sense and always works. But while we're at it, I'd suggest you abandon Dingle, whose achievements and credibility dwarf your own, and pick up Mr. Essan, who invented the atomic clock that supposedly confirmed Einstein, an experiment he would know did nothing of the sort, and which later was proved to be a blatant fraud. Mr. Essan also found the first accurate measurement for the speed of light. He was intimately familiar with these things, far more so than Mr. Einstein, and has done us the favor of a probable Nobel prize on the back burner to state in a very forthright manner some, but not all, of the absurdities in Einstein's theory. Get a mind of your own, Mr. Armstrong, after you get a real degree if you haven't, lest you end up like one of the 900 blokes bloating in Jamestown.
Submitted by Alfred Armstrong on 01 Jan 2011 - 18:07 Permalink

Louis Essen was undoubtedly a very clever chap, but being clever does not make you right. Time dilation and other predictions of SR and GR have been observed, so any criticism of Einstein that simply picks at his thought experiments is simply not good enough.

As I have said before if, you can pull a theory "out of your ass" that is as good as Einstein's in matching observation and - more importantly - predicting new phenomena, please let me know. Until then, the charge of being a pompous windbag and crank will stand.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 - 21:30 Permalink

Re: Dingle Poor Dingle has been shot at, ridiculed, abused, ignored, publicly humiliated, and yet nobody was able to address and solve the logical error that pretty much kills the Special theory of relativity. Certainly physicists are not in a hurry to do that. I am a father of twin boys. Sometimes one of them goes out. The moment he steps out, he could be traveling the speed of light or not. In the end it does not matter, the boy will come back as old and tall and massive as before. Why? Because I did not measure him. I would really like to hear a logical refutation of twin paradox. NO math. Can you do that?
Submitted by Wandering Phys… (not verified) on 13 Jul 2009 - 22:21 Permalink

It's a bit late now, but you are correct about the twin paradox seemingly being insolvable in special relativity. However note that one (or both) of the twins must accelerate (or decelerate then accelerate) in order for them to meet again. Special relativity doesn't cover this. Apologies if this isn't your problem with it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 08 Oct 2008 - 20:32 Permalink

For better or worse, your initial criticism of Winterflood appears to rely upon precisely the "flaw" that you criticize in his writing. Einstein's description of clocks and rulers in the 1905 paper relies upon the postulate that the speed of light is isotropic and uses that postulate to formulate a system of remote clocks which are said to be "synchronized" if a relationship which assumes that the speed of light is isotropic. This also relies upon a circular argument. The synchronization process relied upon works equally well in a moving system with asymmetric light propagation. As to the comment regarding two independent expanding spheres of light propagation, it is clear that only one event occurs no matter how many observers see it from any number of points of view. For example, if an interferometer produces stationary fringes on a screen, ALL observers will see the fringes as stationary. If they choose to adopt the postulates of Einstein, they may have differing explainations for the observation, but the fringes will remain stationary regardless of the speed and direction of the multiple observers with regard to the apparatus.
Submitted by Alfred Armstrong on 15 Oct 2008 - 15:02 Permalink

You misunderstand the point: if a theory postulates X is not Y, you cannot criticise that theory simply by assuming X is Y. My criticism of Winterflood thus has nothing to do with the truth or otherwise of Relativity, merely with his flawed understanding of it.

Your own criticism of Einstein is too brief and vague to examine properly, but if Relativity were simply a logically circular interpretation of observation then it could not have been used to make, for example, verifiable predictions of the decay of sub-atomic particles.

You may not like Relativity but unless you are able to propose an alternative which not only explains observed phenomena but also makes non-trivial predictions, you are liable to be thought a kook.