A reply to: Relativity as a concept

Relativity as a concept

Miles Mathis’ first paper on the theory of relativity serves as an introductory text to his further papers on the same subject. He states

Absolutely everyone, Einstein included, thought that the transforms were transforming variables in one coordinate system to variables in another coordinate system. But this is not what the transforms do, mathematically or operationally. In any given experiment, what the transforms do is transform incoming data to local data.

Miles is simply wrong about this. It is precisely what the ‘transforms’ (Miles is talking about the Lorentz transformation) do ‘mathematically’ in the theory of special relativity. It can certainly be argued that the Lorentz transformation might not describe a physical aspect of reality. However, one of the ideas of special relativity that makes it so astonishing is this counter-intuitive transformation law between intertial reference frames. (1)

He argues that data we receive through electromagnetic radiation from very far or very fast objects is somehow skewed by the finite speed of light. In Miles’ description, the Lorentz transforms are simply a mathematical operation that corrects this change in the data on its way to us.
However, neither is the concept of data clearly defined at any point in his paper, nor does Miles give any argument as to why this elusive data should change. (2)

He writes:

Two of the fundamental equations and assumptions of SR concern the movement of light in the two fields or coordinate systems.
x = ct
x’ = ct’
The first equation is how light travels relative to us here on earth. The x and t variables are our own local variables. I have no problem with this equation.
The second equation is how light travels in the other field. But there is no other analogous field, in a strict sense. What I mean is that x’ and t’ are how the spacecraft’s lengths and times look to us. How do we put c into that data, if it just data? In what sense is data a field that light can travel in?

The term local variables is not correct in this context. x and t are coordinates in a coordinate system that is valid throughout the whole of spacetime, even though it is assigned to an observer that we might call ‘local’. Again, Miles misunderstands a fundamental part of special relativity: The variables x' and t' denote coordinates in a different interial reference frame. They are numbers an observer would assign to a point in spacetime. (Although field is a term used in physics and mathematics, it does not have any significance here.)

The arguments that follow rely on these gross misunderstandings of the special theory of relativity. If the reader is still in doubt as to wether Miles arguments are believable, let us instead look somewhere where we can really pin Miles down: He contradicts experimental evidence.

Miles writes:

As for the believers, they have also strayed far a-field. They have pretended to an understanding they never had. They have tried to force upon us twin paradoxes and varying atomic clocks in airplanes and all manner of other mysteries and mystifications.

Miles is refering to the Hafele-Keating experiment. This famous and amusing experiment (where several atomic clocks were flown around the earth to see wether there would be any difference in the time measured on the lights) is in very good agreement with the predictions of the theory of relativity. (Note that in this experiment, no data travels from a faraway place or a fast moving object to any observer. The clocks are compared at rest.) You can find the original papers here and here.

Many of the predictions of special relativity are very counter-intuitive and it is fair to ask wether the theory correctly describes what we measure. Miles however grossly misunderstands the theory and certainly does not give any corrections to it.

(1): If you are unfamiliar with the concepts of special relativity, it might seem that Miles simply has a different but equally valid interpretation of the mathematics behind Einstein’s theory. Although many of the concepts can be illustrated in famous examples such as the twin paradox or the train driving through a tunnel, there is no easy way to explain the mathematical side of special relativity in detail. Let me however assure you that, by assuming that the Lorentz transformations are simply a correction to skewed data, special relativity looses many, if not all, of it’s defining features.

(2) We feel that this is really all there is to say about Miles’ lengthy part about data.

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18 Responses to A reply to: Relativity as a concept

  1. Jacob says:

    Just a question:
    Who is Miles Mathis, and where does he come up with this?

    • Cee says:

      We only know Miles Mathis through his website (you can find a short CV on his art website). His articles suggest that he has at least read a few texts on university-level physics and he seems to be writing the articles in his spare time. You can contact him at mm@milesmathis.com and we invite you to do that if you find a mistake.

  2. Oostdijk says:

    Keep it up 😉

    If you could do it please scrutinize the Kinetic Energy “paper” of his, I’m only a first
    year student but I think I’ve found @ least 2 errors in it, I’d like to see if I’m confused
    or is it him :p

    Also the following error from a more advanced source:


    With these kinds of simple mistakes it must be very embarrassing to be so
    condescending in your “papers” towards physicists & shown to be messing up simple
    things like units & vector manipulations…

  3. Steven Oostdijk says:

    Miles simply shows that first degree relativity is nothing more than the Doppler effect. Einstein mixes up first and second degree relativity in his papers leading to sometimes incorrect results like his use of the Lorentz formula’s. The numbers are close in a lot of cases, but still incorrect. E.g. for the Sun’s gravitational field they give a 4% difference, a.o. leading to the embarrassing discovery that the proton was 4% smaller than previously thought in a recent experiment.

    The reason that some of the “mathematical results” (whatever that is 🙂 are counterintuitive as that they are simply false, but still imposed on students by dogma. There is no twin paradox. Just look at the measurements of the relative speed of Jupiters moon IO as already done in the 17th century by Roemer.

    • Cee says:

      I’m not sure what you mean with first and second degree relativity. Are you talking about the special and the general theory of relativity?
      If relativity were nothing but the Doppler effect, how do you explain time dilation?

      I’m going to check out Roemer’s result and come back to you.

  4. Dan says:

    To anyone interested, after spending some time (wasted time) reading some of Mathiss work and related posts in discussion forms I have come to the conclusion that “steven oostdijk” IS Miles “crank” Mathis. Wherever you find someone discrediting MM’s work you will undoubtedly find Steven Oostdijk there to support it like a good sock puppet should. After one blogger clearly discredited MMs “paper” that differentiation of the natural logarithm was flawed oostdijk still towed the party line, blissfully unaware of what every undergraduate analysis student understands about continuity and limits. Their vocabulary and style of writing are almost identical. In further support of my claim is oostdijks unwavering support of every line MM has every put down. Not once does he ever consider that there might me any mistake at all, even for the most obvious ridiculous claims like pi=4.

  5. sponsored says:

    Dan, if you’ve got criticisms of him, please do post them somewhere where we’ll
    find them. I must admit I got taken in by the claims of his originally and am not
    trying to begrudge him, I think his work needs serious critical evaluation but
    the arrogance in the papers is a real annoyance and ticks me off.
    I’m pretty confident I’ve found a major error in his kinetic energy paper,
    and I mean it’s a basic error at that,
    If you could read it and either clarify mine or Mathis’ argument with respect to
    this point it would be helpful to either the world (lol) or Mathis to clarify himself.
    I must admit his paper mentioning umbral calculus got my very interested and it’s
    tucked away for the future so he’s not all bad :p but reading around it seems he’s
    making plenty of errors, you see the special relativity one in the link above I posted
    (under the name Oostdijk, the name I assume is Mathis’ nom de plume lol) as well
    as the ones on this site. Also the amazon.co.uk review has a professor pulling
    him apart and no serious answers back.
    Anyway, please let me know, I’ll check back.

    • D says:

      I’ve decided to throw my hat in with the blog owners and write up a reply to select Mathis papers. My training is in mathematics, not physics, so I’m much better qualified to examine his papers for mathematical errors only. So sometime soon I will finish up my first reply to Mathis and it will be posted here. So check back in the next week or so and it will be up. If I could spend more time on it I would, but I do have real mathematics work to attend to.

      I was curious after hearing he claimed to refute Godels incompleteness theorem, after reading it for a minute or two I realized this guy was making very basic mistakes and didn’t really understand the proof. Godels theorem was a great surprise to the scientific community when he published it as it is a very powerful and counterintuitive result.

      About Oostdijk and Mathis, I am pretty sure they are one and the same, and I have some fairly convincing evidence, but concrete proof.

      As for examinig his errors for you, well, it can be difficult at times. His papers usually lack any clear definition of concepts, demonstrate a lack of understanding of very fundamental concepts, and are in general a never ending barage of red herrings, non sequitors, and self praise. It is hard to formulate a well thought out response to ideas that are poorly formulated in the first place.

      If you want my assesment of a mathematical paper, let me know and I’ll try to do it. On the physics end of things, I can suggest you try one of the blog owners as they are educated in physics.

  6. sponsored says:

    Thanks for the response, well yes I understand you’d be more mathematically
    inclined from reading your post on the peano axioms, I must say thanks,
    I’m just beginning analysis & your way of thinking about √3 etc… has helped me a
    lot mulling over it today. As for the physics error I mentioned above, no problem,
    hopefully someone will look at it and post a message to let me know. I’m pretty confident he has made a basic mistake and really am just being overly cautious.

    Anyway, can’t wait to read your posts. I think he would have gotten a lot more
    sympathy had he canned the arrogance in his papers, it’s unfortunate he had to
    go down that route. The art world encourages this kind of primal fueding and
    one-upsmanship but I feel he’s brought that to a place it doesn’t belong.
    As for Oostjick being him, you should read Mathis reply to the special relativity
    paper he tried to get published in a journal, it’s on his site, both the language of
    rebuttal and style of answer is just too similar for comfort. That said, it seems
    extremely dishonest to go online under a pseudonym and actually state you’re
    not him.

    If you’re going to look at his mathematical papers I think you should
    concentrate on his desctription of calculus, there is a long paper focusing on
    limits and derivatives and logarithms, I’ve read him refer to these papers over and
    over again and it seems to me to be the core of his arguments, find either a logical
    contradiction or some substance there & I think you’ll make a dent.

    • crashloop says:

      Hi sponsored,

      I just skimmed through your post about Mathis’ error concerning the work-energy theorem. It seems to me you are quite right. He is using a simplified version of said theorem in a general context. The correct definition employs a line integral i.e. W = \int F(x)dx, where F(x) and dx are vectors. I’ll have a closer look at your post if I find the time this week.

      • sponsored says:

        Hey, thanks a lot for checking it out. I’ve been challenged and
        just clarified some things on that page. If you see anything I’ve
        missed or got wrong please correct me. You’ll notice Mathis
        bases his further conclusions on the things I think are
        incorrect, I can only assume his later conclusions are
        flawed because the original assumptions are flawed but I
        wouldn’t claim this unless I could show it. It just seems a fair assumption, if you see anything wrong with the later parts of
        the paper, explicitly those caused by earlier fallacious assumptions, it would be good to share them 🙂

  7. D says:

    Quite often in analysis you prove general statements about certain types of objects. Once such example is “If a metric space M is compact, then any sequence of points in M must contain a convergent subsequence”, this is known as sequntial compactness. So if you had an infinite list one rational numbers {r_i} satisfying 0<= r_i <= 1 for all natural numbers i, then somewhere in that list you could find a sub list that converges to a numb in [0,1]. You would never try to find this subsequence, you only care that one must exist for sure. Similarily this notion of sqrt(3) being an ambiguous concept, I don't recall if that is a Mathis or E Escultura argument, either way… it's wrong. The idea being argued is that since you could never write down all the digits in the decimal expansion of sqrt(3) it is somehow now well defined. There are all sorts of algorithms out there that would allow you to calculate it to as high a degree of precision as desired, but alas this is not the point. All we need to know is that there is a number called sqrt(3) that satisfies (x^2) – 3 = 0.

    Here is a similar idea, consider the number 1^2 + 2^3 + 3^4 + …….. + (999999999999999999999999999999999)^(999999999999999999999999999999999 + 1). I propose that no human could never write down all the digits of this number because it would take longer than the universe has existed. However, it is a perfectly well defined number, nothing ambigous about it. ( I hate having to resort to such ridiculous examples, but that is what is needed when dealing with cranks).

    The arrogance in his writing is another big problem. When one man on his own finds fault with so much accepted material, then singlehandedly "corects" it all, I call it nothing but megalomania. He should have asked himself "what is more likely, that everyone for the past two millenia has been wrong and that in the history of man I alone am the only one who really understands what is going on, or do I simply fail to understand the fundamental concepts and thus fail to understand anything built upon them?"

    If you wanted to see a little more on formal logic and the ideas behind "sqrt(3) just being a mark on a piece of paper" I can point you toward A friendly Introduction to Mathematcial Logic by C. Leary. It is a completely rigorous treatment of mathematical logic that begins by defining the ideas of a language right up to a complete proof of both the completeness and incompleteness theorems of Godel. Great book in my opinion.

    Good luck with your studies, analysis is a great subject!

  8. Pingback: 2010 in review | Ex Falso …

  9. Rod Kawecki says:

    Yeah..Einstin made his share of errors in relativity. As being a author that has devoted the last ten years re-investiaging relativity. Even though most errr in elativity come from chemsit…mine doesn’t. Th error I am talking about is his theory about traveling to the Inifnite future. The arithmatic doesn’t savy. Researching relativity to find out if ftr the light speed space travel wasa possibility = I have re-invented relativity in the form of two books so far with a third and fourth on the table. My third book – explains why the Infnite futre is not traverable. How and why it doesn’t even exist. My first book The Supertellic Universe ‘ is a success story for a theory on superluminal space travel. It is a success because Einstein’s equations didn’t ad up – so I have developed new theories. My second book The Celestial Nature of the gravity explains graity in a supernatural way. Its a 23rd century new technology update version about gravity both earth gravit and space – tht neither have been expalined in theeeir singularities. Where Einstein explains characters of space gravity or the fabric of space is does not define its chemistry in the same manner as Isaac Newton only explains earth gravity. Whereas the celestial nature of gravity tells what and how gravity works n space and on earth – its an independent theory in it own rite. No gravity waves as Einstein proceeds because Einstein’s ‘electostatism’ was his first error. The celestial natutre explains gravity in a way never before written and I assure you its unique as it is in detail. But lets get back to Einstein’s inifnite future theory. Th math doesn’t fit. Theoretically Einstein implied a desription about traveling into the inifnite future when he discovered how ‘time dilation’ worked about the same time. All this happen within the same time frame so well errors are there. He never excepted Morley’ implying that space retained zero point energy. It doesn’t matter light is constant, Einstein shined. His most conviction in error aside from saying the universe retains a universal speed limit is the notion that light can explain space aviation. Light has its own limtations, it can’t travel any faster – unlike mass that can – Einstein’s own cosmological constant called ‘anti-gravity mentioned in his first written paper of physisc explained that gravity didn’t exist in space – yet massive objects are affected by it in space. Hard to believe huh?
    My third book is an accumulation of all four or five catogories I mentioned here about relativity errors. If they weren’t these errors I speak about my books wouldn’t be there explaining my opposing views – if thats what they are.
    I’m really sorry to be the one who telis you about this time travel problem – and if you try and look up the arithmatic on the web – you’ll see no ones ever written about it – so theres nothing there.
    The thing is its quite simple explaining why traveling into the earths future isn’t possible. Its being taught in high school’s and is an accredited class for collage but his theory is wrong – believe that? View my videos on you tube, live video live, various websites and all the above .. go out and buy one a my books. They actually explain how realtivity should really be precieved and read….by the way time travel is possible but not into the future.. Thank you

  10. fgd says:

    kaweki is not mathis. He is, though, an isiot.

  11. Steven Oostdijk says:

    This Mathis idiot is a crank. Of course pi isn’t 4. It’s 9.8. When you fall on Earth, you fill an area that is g*t^2=9.8*t^2. The area of a circle with radius t is pi*t^2. pi*t^2=9.8*t^2 therefore pi=9.8.

    • Steven Oostdijk says:

      My theory to this also solves crackpot Mathis’s problem, circumference is in m^2/s^2. In my theory circumference is a distance, it solves the problems.

  12. ManWhoStareAtScientistsWhoAreNotCrackpots says:

    Data is just a bucnh information. We know information cannot go faster-than-light, and the clock experiment compares clocks between themselves. Thus, Mathis is right.

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