taeto

Einstein in pre-Nazi Germany

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I got encouraged, I think, to open a new thread on a topic that was sub-sub-topic in an already closed thread. I was just very curious about the historical facts and how people think about questions like this.

It is well-known that a publication surfaced in 1931, in Germany, supposedly containing the writings of 100 people slash scientists(?) each of which attempted to criticize Einstein slash RT slash GR.

Einstein replied, sensibly, that if anything is actually wrong with relativity, then a single opponent with a valid objection should be quite sufficient. This seems to not have swayed the Einstein cranks one bit, as they do actually still have a penchant to reference those same contributions, as if their seemingly common occurrence shows valid evidence against GR.

The question is what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication. I heard for the first time the suggestion that they would do this as a result of pressure from the Nazi party slash individual Nazi party members. So even though only the period 1933-1945 really qualifies as the "Nazi Germany" rule, it would have very much applied also a few years before, in 1931. In fact, one of the authors of the publication was Emanuel Lasker, a long-year world champion of chess and a respected professional mathematician at the time. Lasker published his own objections to relativity at least as far back as 1928 as well, though mostly philosophically inspired. Again it was suggested, to me surprisedly, that he did this only through pressure from the nazis. 

This gets very interesting. Both Einstein and Lasker were hugely prominent figures in Germany. They lived nearby from each other in Berlin and were good friends. It was only in Bavaria that the nazis had anything like moderate influence. The Nazi party had about 1% representation in the German parliament, and no measurable support in Berlin before 1929. It would be historically interesting if they were already in 1928 in a position to influence the publications of reputable scientists. What would be the mechanism by which this is possible?  

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14 minutes ago, taeto said:

The question is what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication.

There are anti-relativity cranks in existence even today. It would not be at all surprising, IMO, for there to be a larger contingent of them closer to the theory's introduction, when there was far less experimental confirmation. And at some point, just having a theory that lacks a large body of experimental confirmation is enough to warrant legitimate scientific scrutiny.

There were people unconvinced that relativity had to be accounted for when the first satellite ancestor of GPS was launched. There are people that incorrectly claim that relativity isn't accounted for in GPS. There are people that criticize the Hafele-Keating experimental analysis. Arguing in areas outside your expertise is not an isolated thing.

14 minutes ago, taeto said:

I heard for the first time the suggestion that they would do this as a result of pressure from the Nazi party slash individual Nazi party members. So even though only the period 1933-1945 really qualifies as the "Nazi Germany" rule, it would have very much applied also a few years before, in 1931.

Another possibility is simply anti-semitism, which predates the rise of the Nazi party.

 

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, swansont said:

There are anti-relativity cranks in existence even today. It would not be at all surprising, IMO, for there to be a larger contingent of them closer to the theory's introduction, when there was far less experimental confirmation. And at some point, just having a theory that lacks a large body of experimental confirmation is enough to warrant legitimate scientific scrutiny.

I oppose rather strongly to the above characterization of a "crank". If there is no or a very little experimental evidence, it is not reasonable to deem someone a "crank" who somehow has a philosophical or other reason to suggest a different interpretation of the evidence which is available at that point in time. I have encountered a number of actual cranks, and they are either ignorant of experimental facts or attribute their knowledge of said facts to pure conspiracy. None of that needs to be present in a criticism of relativity between 1905-1931 which could only be resolved into the 1970's by experiment.

26 minutes ago, swansont said:

Another possibility is simply anti-semitism, which predates the rise of the Nazi party.

In the particular case in question, the contribution to the publication was authored by Einstein's good friend Emanuel Lasker, who, as his wife, was also jewish. Both Einstein and Lasker fled Germany in 1933, soon after Hitler came to power. 

Both Lasker and Einstein were eminently prominent figures. If anti-semitism was so strongly prominent in pre-Nazi Germany, stretching back to 1931 and even before then, enough that the nazis could coerce Lasker into writing some kind of nonsense crank criticism of relativity that he did not believe in himself, why could the nazis not, even simpler, try to make Einstein himself repent his relativistic jewish sins in writing? Yes, Lasker had a wife, true, that might help for repression. But Einstein had a daughter too, right?  

Edited by taeto

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1 hour ago, swansont said:

Another possibility is simply anti-semitism, which predates the rise of the Nazi party.

Yes I think this may be at the root of it.

The argument goes way back before 1930 to the falling out of Einstein and Lenard and the rise of the Lenard-Stark movement.

The rise of the Nazis provided the vehicle for those opposed to Einstein.

I have no information on Lasker.

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1 hour ago, taeto said:

I oppose rather strongly to the above characterization of a "crank". If there is no or a very little experimental evidence, it is not reasonable to deem someone a "crank" who somehow has a philosophical or other reason to suggest a different interpretation of the evidence which is available at that point in time.

Without evaluating a past argument, you can't say if it has a scientific basis or not. 

But I did not say that all of them were cranks, nor did I suggest a particular characterization of one. I simply said they exist. I offered that as one reason that one might sign on to a letter opposing relativity. I also listed legitimate opposition based on there being less evidence, and anti-semitism.

1 hour ago, taeto said:

I have encountered a number of actual cranks, and they are either ignorant of experimental facts or attribute their knowledge of said facts to pure conspiracy. None of that needs to be present in a criticism of relativity between 1905-1931 which could only be resolved into the 1970's by experiment.

Never said it did. I only offered that it could exist, and you have not offered up any reason to think that cranks did not exist 90 years ago.

1 hour ago, taeto said:

In the particular case in question, the contribution to the publication was authored by Einstein's good friend Emanuel Lasker, who, as his wife, was also jewish. Both Einstein and Lasker fled Germany in 1933, soon after Hitler came to power. 

I don't see how that's relevant to my post.

1 hour ago, taeto said:

Both Lasker and Einstein were eminently prominent figures. If anti-semitism was so strongly prominent in pre-Nazi Germany, stretching back to 1931 and even before then, enough that the nazis could coerce Lasker into writing some kind of nonsense crank criticism of relativity that he did not believe in himself, why could the nazis not, even simpler, try to make Einstein himself repent his relativistic jewish sins in writing? Yes, Lasker had a wife, true, that might help for repression. But Einstein had a daughter too, right?  

You seem to be moving the goalposts. You asked "what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication" rather than why Lasker might have written the letter. I did not offer up "Nazis" as an answer to anything, so I'm not in a position where I need to defend the existence of any alleged Nazi coercion.

44 minutes ago, studiot said:

Yes I think this may be at the root of it.

The argument goes way back before 1930 to the falling out of Einstein and Lenard and the rise of the Lenard-Stark movement.

The rise of the Nazis provided the vehicle for those opposed to Einstein.

I have no information on Lasker.

This is tangential to this particular discussion, but I recently read that Hyman Rickover's page in the Naval Academy's yearbook (1922) "was perforated for easy removal"  Because he was Jewish.

Anti-semitism didn't just appear with the rise of the Nazi party. The Nazis leveraged some deep-seated bigotry. 

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Fine. So now you require that I trace down for every one of the 100 contributions to this anti-Einstein pamphlet, who wrote it and why, otherwise the question is not even qualified to be considered in this forum? 

I chose to focus on one contribution, which was clearly thoughtful and made by a fairly clever chap, who was unfortunately unaware of observations that were forthcoming about 30 years ahead of time. 

If such a question is really abhorred in the forum then I request that this thread also be closed down as swiftly as the other one.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, swansont said:

Another possibility is simply anti-semitism, which predates the rise of the Nazi party.

Bingo!

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0192512104038166

Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust

WILLIAM I. BRUSTEIN AND RYAN D. KING

ABSTRACT.

It is commonly accepted that the years 1899–1939 represent a highpoint in anti-Semitism in western societies. What factors account for the wave of extraordinary anti-Semitism after 1899? Was the rise of antiSemitism between 1899 and the Holocaust uneven? Did anti-Semitism vary in content and intensity across societies? Did Germans embrace antiSemitism differently from French, Italian, Romanian, and British citizens? Data drawn from the annual volumes of the American Jewish Year Book are used to examine these questions systematically. Pooled timeseries analyses suggest that variation in anti-Semitism over time and across countries was largely a function of economic conditions and Jewish immigration, and to a limited extent of the rise of leftist parties.

40 minutes ago, taeto said:

 I chose to focus on one contribution, which was clearly thoughtful and made by a fairly clever chap, who was unfortunately unaware of observations that were forthcoming about 30 years ahead of time. 

The Nazi's were thugs that were practicing  their thuggery before the 30's. As clever as a chap as he may have been, he still would have probably felt pressure to sign. If he had other reasons for not accepting relativity, it may have simply been the same reasons of going against convention that Einstein himself had trouble in accepting with regards to the dynamic universe that GR pointed to. The over riding point though was the anti semitism feeling and the economic strife Germany was suffering after WW1. Certainly no concrete evidence invalidating GR.

Here is an excellent detailed account of how science was disrupted in pre war Germany.

 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-2-pro-nazi-nobelists-attacked-einstein-s-jewish-science-excerpt1/

extract:

  "By 1922 the situation had deteriorated to such a degree that Einstein declined to speak at a session of the Society of German Scientists and Physicians in Leipzig, fearing that his life might be in danger. This wasn’t paranoia. In June the Jewish foreign minister of the Weimar government Walther Rathenau, who Einstein knew well, was assassinated in Berlin by two ultra-nationalist army officers. Lenard had refused to lower the flag of his institute at Heidelberg as a mark of respect for the murdered minister, and as a result he had been dragged from his laboratory by an angry mob of students. Lenard narrowly escaped being thrown into the River Neckar, but the distressing ex­perience only deepened his anti-Semitism. When he was reprimanded by the university, he announced his resignation in disgust. He soon withdrew it when he discovered that the shortlist for his replacement consisted of two “non-Aryans”—James Franck and Gustav Hertz,5 who had won the Nobel Prize together in 1925—and an experimen­talist sympathetic to England, Hans Geiger, who had worked with Rutherford in Manchester. In the end Lenard clung on at Heidelberg until 1929, when he was replaced by Walther Bothe. Lenard’s colleagues made Bothe’s life so miserable, however, that he moved to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. Lenard so dominated the physics institute at Heidelberg that it was named after him in 1935."

Edited by beecee

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2 hours ago, taeto said:

Fine. So now you require that I trace down for every one of the 100 contributions to this anti-Einstein pamphlet, who wrote it and why, otherwise the question is not even qualified to be considered in this forum? 

No, that's not what I said. I didn't "require" anything. This kind of straw-manning gets old very quickly.

I simply pointed out that your claim had no support. Now, if you are going to insist every one of the 100 people who signed the letter did so based on solid scientific concerns, then you need to do this. Or, you can agree that it's possible that there might be other reasons why they signed. That's what you asked — what motivated them to sign. Absent any documentation of why, we are left to discuss possibilities.

The suggestion that nobody was motivated by reasons other than science, though, is IMO not credible.

2 hours ago, taeto said:

I chose to focus on one contribution, which was clearly thoughtful and made by a fairly clever chap, who was unfortunately unaware of observations that were forthcoming about 30 years ahead of time. 

You have? I can only see one question for consideration "The question is what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication."

What I haven't seen is the contribution in question, to gauge how thoughtful it was, or any indication (until now) that this is what you want to talk about.

2 hours ago, taeto said:

If such a question is really abhorred in the forum then I request that this thread also be closed down as swiftly as the other one.  

You've gotten replies to your question. I don't see where you have engaged, in good faith, with those replies.

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8 hours ago, taeto said:

Lasker published his own objections to relativity at least as far back as 1928 as well, though mostly philosophically inspired.

If his objections were philosophical, then they probably aren't relevant. If he had shown an error in the mathematics of GR (and it seems likely he would have been capable of doing that) then that would be a different matter.

Quote

The question is what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication. 

As there was not then (and still isn't) any evidence to show that the theory is wrong but there was evidence that was consistent with the theory, I can only guess that most were, like Lasker, motivated by some sort of "aesthetic" dislike of the theory.

Just noticed that Wikipedia has a summary of this work. There were 47 authors. Only one was a physicist. Some were Jewish. Many apparently didn't really understand the theory they were criticising (sounds familiar!): Hans Reichenbach described the book as an "accumulation of naive errors", and as "unintentionally funny".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_theory_of_relativity#A_Hundred_Authors_Against_Einstein

 

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6 hours ago, swansont said:

1)This is tangential to this particular discussion, but I recently read that Hyman Rickover's page in the Naval Academy's yearbook (1922) "was perforated for easy removal"  Because he was Jewish.

2)Anti-semitism didn't just appear with the rise of the Nazi party. The Nazis leveraged some deep-seated bigotry. 

1) How so? and who was Rickover and what does/did he have to do with the discussion?

2) I already agreed with this point.

 

One part of the question appears to be 

Was there any mathematical justification for challenge to Einstein?

Well put it another way.

Was the original equation for GR the same as the one we use today or the same as the one Einstein revised and later revised again?

 

Einstein to Lemaitre in 1927/28

 

"Although your calculations are correct, your Physics is abominable"

 

This was not the first time others had found gaps (not necessarily errors) in Einstein's work on GR (De Sitter and Friedman)

 

Hindsight has allowed time to co-ordinate the subsequent inputs and the original.
It should be remembered the first third of the twentieth century was rough water scientifically for GR as well as politically/ideologically for its author.

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30 minutes ago, studiot said:

1) How so? and who was Rickover and what does/did he have to do with the discussion?

GIYF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyman_G._Rickover

It doesn't have much to do with the discussion (the clue is in the word "tangential").

8 hours ago, taeto said:

I oppose rather strongly to the above characterization of a "crank".

So you object when swansont points out that there are still anti-relativity cranks even though you previously said, effectively, that there are still anti-relativity cranks:

9 hours ago, taeto said:

This seems to not have swayed the Einstein cranks one bit, as they do actually still have a penchant to reference those same contributions, as if their seemingly common occurrence shows valid evidence against GR.

(Also, swansont did not "characterise" cranks, he just said that they exist.)

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I had a quick glance into the (German) original.

Nobody explicitly references 'Jewish physics' or something, or even 'Jew'. 

Many of the contributions are really small, also e.g. Lasker's. This is all:

image.png.2114a6a8c5d43be039a6189afde2ba51.png

(Pity enough I cannot copy the text as text from this site. Summary: the universe might not be be an absolute vacuum: in absolute vacuum the speed of light would be infinite.)

Some are really bad, and seem to be only put in the book, because it is from a scientist, and believes Einstein is wrong. This is a fine example:

image.png.074c19a6574106d1acd83003483050e2.png

In my translation:

Quote

For me, the theory of Einstein is a functional transformation of reality. Its reference system: changing space- and time scales, unchanging speed of light (despite changing breaking* value) is not of my taste.

* This might be old German for 'index of refraction'.

It might be interesting to read the whole stuff, but it is my impression of this quick glance that the main motivation is that people just can't believe that their intuitions, are wrong.

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11 hours ago, studiot said:

1) How so? and who was Rickover and what does/did he have to do with the discussion?

I said it was tangential, but it was an anecdote to show that antisemitism and naziism are not synonymous. 

(Rickover developed and oversaw the US navy's nuclear power program. He was in charge for several decades)

Quote

2) I already agreed with this point.

I wasn't disagreeing with you. I was highlighting this for the OP. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

 

————————

I can't vouch for the source, but according to it, only one of the 100 was a physicist (emphasis added)

"Case in point: The book Hundert Autoren Gegen Einstein (A Hundred Authors Against Einstein), a collection of various criticisms of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Published in 1931, it contains short essays from 28 authors, and published excerpts from 19 more. The balance was a list of 53 people who were also opposed to relativity for various reasons.
   The book was not a reaction against Einstein from the physics community—only one physicist had contributed."

There's also this

"Even thought the book contains no outright anti-Semitism, six of the authors were either anti-Semitic and/or Nazi sympathizers."

http://weeklysciencequiz.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-hundred-authors-against-einstein.html

 

You may discuss amongst yourselves whether people who are axe-grinding in disagreement, but with no professional qualifications, should be considered cranks

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I don't see what is so strange.
And why it needs to be attributed to NAZI or anti-Semitic influences ( not that anti-Semitism wasn't an issue in those times ).

GR was a big 'leap', as opposed to SR which was ready to be accepted by many proponents, and not widely understood or embraced.
And mostly on philosophical grounds.
Don't forget that A Einstein himself, argued against QM until the 1950s, with people he considered good friends ( N Bohr );  again, purely on philosophical grounds.

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On 3/14/2019 at 5:20 PM, studiot said:

The rise of the Nazis provided the vehicle for those opposed to Einstein.

I have no information on Lasker.

Thanks studiot, and also strange, BeeCee, swansont, Eise, MigL, for many thoughtful comments and information! 

Lasker: practically a neighbor to Einstein in Berlin. They were fairly close friends for nearly a decade, and both being jewish, they fled Germany as soon as they could in 1933 after Hitler came to power. Surely Lasker would be very far from being "one of those opposed to Einstein" in an obvious sense. That in my view makes Lasker's contribution to the pamphlet interesting, because he is not obviously one who would go Einstein-bashing just because it was a free-for-all at that time, or with racist/religious motivation. And it is hard to dismiss him as an idiot, like you probably could do now with some of the other contributors.

I am interested in the fact that he was a close friend of Einstein, and he contributed to a collective criticism of Einstein. Which is what you would expect a serious scientific mind to do, I am sure you agree? Disagreement or not about science should be independent of friendship. The timing was a bit iffy, admittedly. The threat was perceived differently by the potential victims. Some got out in time, like Lasker and Einstein, who were among those with the best resources. Still, the both waited until late 1933. If already 2-3 years before, or even earlier, they were hard under pressure, why would they wait until Nazi Germany came into full effect? Especially if the thugs were already preventing them to publish their own thoughts, and instead forcing them to write ridiculous pamphlets in support of nazi ideas? 

22 hours ago, beecee said:

The Nazi's were thugs that were practicing  their thuggery before the 30's. As clever as a chap as he may have been, he still would have probably felt pressure to sign. If he had other reasons for not accepting relativity, it may have simply been the same reasons of going against convention that Einstein himself had trouble in accepting with regards to the dynamic universe that GR pointed to.

The nazis certainly had quickly built a reputation for violent and criminal behavior. Hitler himself spent time in prison even before the 20's had started. 

The story is that Lasker was quite open about not liking the constant speed of light in vacuum, because of the implications to the relativity of simultaneity in particular. That is why I call it a "philosophical" problem for him, it seemed to him an unnatural consequence, however much supported by the mathematics, with which of course he had to agree.

For possible comparison, Hubble did not like the ideas of expansion of the universe, and tried to ridicule "the big bang". I just imagine that the idea made him feel uneasy. But I would not call him a "crank" for that reason. Despite there likely being more evidence in his disfavor than there was available earlier to Lasker (who I imagine would also be well-informed, as he was in constant dialogue with Einstein). 

21 hours ago, swansont said:

That's what you asked — what motivated them to sign. Absent any documentation of why, we are left to discuss possibilities.

The suggestion that nobody was motivated by reasons other than science, though, is IMO not credible.

Fair enough. I am actually the one who speak in favor of the accepted explanation in the case of Lasker's contribution, that he was genuinely worried about some of the consequences of relativity, and therefore he chose to write his small piece. It was BeeCee who came up with a fairly extraordinary claim, with no extraordinary evidence, that he had to make up something to make Einstein sound bad, or there would be consequences, because Nazi Germany. Some of the other 99 contributors probably had ulterior motives, I am not disputing it.

21 hours ago, swansont said:

You have? I can only see one question for consideration "The question is what motivated the 100 supposed authors to make their contributions to this publication."

I should have expanded some more. There were 100 authors to this publication, and I believe that Einstein acknowledged this. One of them was a close friend and fellow scientist, also jewish, and a prominent figure in his day. This seems special. Maybe some authors were more than willing to chime in, maybe driven by animosity, or because the times were so that it was convenient to bash the jews, or just because they didn't really care or understand the physics anyway. But Lasker would seem the most unlikely to fall in any of those categories. But was he really under tough pressure to make an attack on Einstein. Or did he just voice his honest opinion. I find it interesting, because if Lasker actually didn't believe in relativity despite having had nine years to his avail of discussions and explanations by Einstein himself, then maybe there was or is something about relativity that is genuinely difficult. 

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57 minutes ago, taeto said:

Thanks studiot, and also strange, BeeCee, swansont, Eise, MigL, for many thoughtful comments and information! 

Lasker: practically a neighbor to Einstein in Berlin. They were fairly close friends for nearly a decade, and both being jewish, they fled Germany as soon as they could in 1933 after Hitler came to power. Surely Lasker would be very far from being "one of those opposed to Einstein" in an obvious sense. That in my view makes Lasker's contribution to the pamphlet interesting, because he is not obviously one who would go Einstein-bashing just because it was a free-for-all at that time, or with racist/religious motivation. And it is hard to dismiss him as an idiot, like you probably could do now with some of the other contributors.

He doesn’t have to be an idiot to be out of his depth.

57 minutes ago, taeto said:

I am interested in the fact that he was a close friend of Einstein, and he contributed to a collective criticism of Einstein. Which is what you would expect a serious scientific mind to do, I am sure you agree?

I did a quick search and it was suggested that no English translation exists. You have not provided a link.So it’s not easy to establish the validity of his critique. 

57 minutes ago, taeto said:

Disagreement or not about science should be independent of friendship. The timing was a bit iffy, admittedly. The threat was perceived differently by the potential victims. Some got out in time, like Lasker and Einstein, who were among those with the best resources. Still, the both waited until late 1933. If already 2-3 years before, or even earlier, they were hard under pressure, why would they wait until Nazi Germany came into full effect? Especially if the thugs were already preventing them to publish their own thoughts, and instead forcing them to write ridiculous pamphlets in support of nazi ideas? 

How is this connected to the 100 letters?

57 minutes ago, taeto said:

I should have expanded some more. There were 100 authors to this publication, and I believe that Einstein acknowledged this. One of them was a close friend and fellow scientist, also jewish, and a prominent figure in his day. This seems special. Maybe some authors were more than willing to chime in, maybe driven by animosity, or because the times were so that it was convenient to bash the jews, or just because they didn't really care or understand the physics anyway. But Lasker would seem the most unlikely to fall in any of those categories. But was he really under tough pressure to make an attack on Einstein. Or did he just voice his honest opinion. I find it interesting, because if Lasker actually didn't believe in relativity despite having had nine years to his avail of discussions and explanations by Einstein himself, then maybe there was or is something about relativity that is genuinely difficult. 

I thonk that a lot of people think relativity is difficult. We have visitors here who might agree (or not, even as they insist that relativity is wrong)

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1 hour ago, taeto said:

Thanks studiot, and also strange, BeeCee, swansont, Eise, MigL, for many thoughtful comments and information! 

Thanks for the mention, I am surprised you haven't compared and contrasted Lasker with Emmy Noether.

.

She faced additional barriers and moved to America around the same time as Einstein. I don't know if she made any adverse4 comments to GR.

 

7 hours ago, swansont said:

I said it was tangential, but it was an anecdote to show that antisemitism and naziism are not synonymous. 

(Rickover developed and oversaw the US navy's nuclear power program. He was in charge for several decades)

Thanks for the clarification and the info.

I apologise that I must have misunderstood.I thought you were branding my contribution tangential.

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1 hour ago, taeto said:

I am interested in the fact that he was a close friend of Einstein, and he contributed to a collective criticism of Einstein. Which is what you would expect a serious scientific mind to do, I am sure you agree? Disagreement or not about science should be independent of friendship.

Famously (and tangentially again) Lemaitre and Hoyle were very close friends. I'm sure they had some "interesting" conversations about their different views of cosmology. (Of course, for a long time there was not overwhelming evidence on either side.)

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21 minutes ago, Strange said:

Famously (and tangentially again) Lemaitre and Hoyle were very close friends. I'm sure they had some "interesting" conversations about their different views of cosmology. (Of course, for a long time there was not overwhelming evidence on either side.)

Tangentially again, Einstein came up with his own Steady State cosmology, probably just before he abandoned the idea of a cosmological constant. He didn't think the concept worthy of publication.

From A new perspective on steady-state cosmology: from Einstein to Hoyle

Quote

Indeed, an expanding cosmos in which the density of matter remains unchanged seems a natural successor to Einstein’s static model of 1917, at least from a philosophical point of view.
However, such a steady-state universe demands a continuous creation of matter and, as Einstein discovered in this manuscript, a successful model of the latter process was not possible without some amendment to the field equations.

This is consistent with Einstein's 1952 statement

Quote

The cosmological speculations of Mr Hoyle, which presume the creation of atoms from empty space, are in my view much too poorly grounded to be taken seriously.

 

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Posted (edited)

I got curious, and now did a (very) quick read through the book as a whole.

In the first place, it is not complete. The second part of the book consists of citations of articles from a lot of authors, which are all listed at the beginning of the second part, in alphabetical order. But the citations start with 'Fricke', leaving out all the about 15 authors beginning with A until E (and Poincaré is also missing). And no, the pages are not just missing, the page numbering just continues. A sign that the editor was not working very attentive?

A few points I found several times:

  • Many authors think that Einstein's idea of the invariance of the speed of light only goes back to the Michelson-Morley experiment. As many authors claim, there might be other, much more intuitive explanations of that: e.g. that the aether is also attracted by gravity, and so locally stands still, more or less like air. No single author goes back to Einstein's real starting point: that Newton and Maxwell are not compatible.
  • Many authors do as if the philosophy of Immanuel Kant is the last word on the 'Anschauungsformen' space and time. One author is sure Einstein had never heard of Kant. (AFAIK, Einstein knew of Kant's Critique of pure Reason, maybe even read it.)
  • Critique on positivism: that theories that 'work' are not necessarily true. E.g. that Einstein replaces the essence of what space and time are by the operations how we measure them.
  • Misunderstandings about SR, that e.g. a train making an emergency break should be treated the same as if the earth makes an emergency break (buildings should fall when a train brakes): in the end, it does not matter if the train moves or the earth. These authors obviously do not understand that SR is strictly valid only for uniform motion.

I got also curious about Ehrenfest, who I thought was a very serious physicist (several important contributions to quantum physics). Happily enough, the article mentioned (but is not in the book, it is before the 'F') is also online: it is his inaugural lecture (About the crises of the light-ether hypothesis, 1912). It shows that the physics community was not totally convinced yet of SR. But it shows doubts about the aether, but cannot (yet) completely accept SR as the solution. I already identified the part that should have been published in the anti-Einstein book (my translation):

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But please, keep in mind that one requires something completely different to deny the aether! Then one requires to confirm the following 3 propositions:

  1. Light sources throw light signals as stand-alone entities at us.
  2. We would measure the same speed of the light signals of a light source moving to us, or that stands still for us.
  3. We declare that the combination of these propositions satisfies us. 

This is of course impossible in a Newtonian framework.

So all together, I can fully second what Wikipedia says here:

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A collection of various criticisms can be found in the book Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein (A Hundred Authors Against Einstein), published in 1931. It contains very short texts from 28 authors, and excerpts from the publications of another 19 authors. The rest consists of a list that also includes people who only for some time were opposed to relativity. Besides philosophic objections (mostly based on Kantianism), also some alleged elementary failures of the theory were included; however, as some commented, those failures were due to the authors' misunderstanding of relativity. For example, Hans Reichenbach described the book as an "accumulation of naive errors", and as "unintentionally funny". Albert von Brunn interpreted the book as a backward step to the 16th and 17th century, and Einstein said, in response to the book, that if he were wrong, then one author would have been enough.

According to Goenner, the contributions to the book are a mixture of mathematical–physical incompetence, hubris, and the feelings of the critics of being suppressed by contemporary physicists advocating for the new theory. The compilation of the authors show, Goenner continues, that this was not a reaction within the physics community—only one physicist (Karl Strehl) and three mathematicians (Jean-Marie Le Roux, Emanuel Lasker and Hjalmar Mellin) were present—but a reaction of an inadequately educated academic citizenship, which didn't know what to do with relativity. As regards the average age of the authors: 57% were substantially older than Einstein, one third was around the same age, and only two persons were substantially younger. Two authors (Reuterdahl, von Mitis) were antisemitic and four others were possibly connected to the Nazi movement. On the other hand, no antisemitic expression can be found in the book, and it also included contributions of some authors of Jewish ancestry (Salomo Friedländer, Ludwig Goldschmidt, Hans Israel, Emanuel Lasker, Oskar Kraus, Menyhért Palágyi).

And there we also have the point of antisemitism: I also did not find a trace of it in the texts themselves. So I really think there was no Nazi background  to the book. It shows how conservative scientists could not get used to these ideas, not yet strongly supported by empirical evidence.

PS. Neokantianism was strong those days.

PPS. Found this: I assume Einstein had a more than superficially knowledge of Kant.

Edited by Eise

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Eise said:

And there we also have the point of antisemitism: I also did not find a trace of it in the texts themselves. So I really think there was no Nazi background  to the book. It shows how conservative scientists could not get used to these ideas, not yet strongly supported by empirical evidence.

Thank you very much Eise, for a very nice account! Your conclusion here is consistent with what I would have expected. Which is why I raised the topic, since I was very surprised to learn that there were knowledgeably people even in this forum who thought differently. Of course I also appreciate their thoughts on this question. 

And yet:

Not all authors would have thought that Einstein's idea of the invariance of the speed of light only goes back to the Michelson-Morley experiment. I mentioned that Emanuel Lasker was in continuous contact with Einstein, so this would not have been an issue for him.

In the same vein, misunderstandings about SR, or  strict adhesion to Kantian principles, can be ruled out on the same grounds for that particular author.

And I do not think that the positivism issue comes up strongly when you are in a discussion with a pure-bred mathematician, as in this case. Although it could be debatable in special cases, but I do not think in this one. I have met mathematicians who seem a little quirky.

Einstein and Lasker would have had hours and hours of friendly chat about relativity. I will try to make a guess of what a central point might have been, and maybe it would not have been a trivial one for either of them. 

I suspect that the statement "light travels with speed c through vacuum with respect to every inertial frame of reference" would have the same meaning to both of them, in terms of experimental validity. It is what you see and measure.

I also suspect that Lasker thought that Einstein expects that vacuum is a complete void, literally with no content whatsoever. And Lasker expected that light would move with "infinite speed" through a complete nothing. Today we are in a comfortable position to say that if Lasker was right about what Einstein thought about a vacuum, then Einstein would be wrong, because of the effects of QM. I am not sure whether we can say that Lasker was wrong about assuming how fast light would move if there is "nothing" in place of an actual vacuum, he might have been right?!

If my suspicion is right, then Lasker would be wholly justified, based on the explanation that were available to him given by Einstein himself, to be critical of relativity.

It comes down to Einstein's level of agreement or disagreement with QM, so far as I can see. But always happy to be corrected.

Edited by taeto

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27 minutes ago, taeto said:

Not all authors would have thought that Einstein's idea of the invariance of the speed of light only goes back to the Michelson-Morley experiment. I mentioned that Emanuel Lasker was in continuous contact with Einstein, so this would not have been an issue for him.

Then why should he say that the speed of light in absolute vacuum would be infinite? Didn't he know that the speed of light also rolls out of Maxwell's theory of elektromagnetism?

image.png.b3aca53d97c20170fa82a9a25d8e3174.png

where e0 is the magnetic permeability constant and u0 is the electric permittivity constant, both of the vacuum.

I do not see the connection you make with Einstein's ideas about QM.

Edited by Eise

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1 hour ago, taeto said:

I also suspect that Lasker thought that Einstein expects that vacuum is a complete void, literally with no content whatsoever. And Lasker expected that light would move with "infinite speed" through a complete nothing. Today we are in a comfortable position to say that if Lasker was right about what Einstein thought about a vacuum, then Einstein would be wrong, because of the effects of QM. I am not sure whether we can say that Lasker was wrong about assuming how fast light would move if there is "nothing" in place of an actual vacuum, he might have been right?!

 

I think that is a very difficult, if not impossible position to defend.

In particular it would imply the 'mathematician' accepted 'instantaneous action at a distance', which Einstein certainly did not.

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4 hours ago, Eise said:

Then why should he say that the speed of light in absolute vacuum would be infinite? Didn't he know that the speed of light also rolls out of Maxwell's theory of elektromagnetism?

image.png.b3aca53d97c20170fa82a9a25d8e3174.png

where e0 is the magnetic permeability constant and u0 is the electric permittivity constant, both of the vacuum.

I do not see the connection you make with Einstein's ideas about QM.

     I suspect that you miss the point. The actual vacuum has positive magnetic permeability and electric permittivity. Which we can both measure. 

     The imagined "perfect" vacuum presumably has no magnetic permeability nor electric permittivity, hence the speed of light is infinite therein. If you for some reason believe that a vacuum could conceivably act like that, then you  would have to admit that there would be no absolute bound to the speed of light. 

     The suggestion seems to be that the actually observed vacuum is a "contaminated" version of such an idealized vacuum. The actual vacuum has stuff in it which slows down light to a finite speed. 

     We do actually observe such a "contamination" in the shape of QM effects. 

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8 hours ago, Eise said:

So all together, I can fully second what Wikipedia says here:

And there we also have the point of antisemitism: I also did not find a trace of it in the texts themselves. So I really think there was no Nazi background  to the book. It shows how conservative scientists could not get used to these ideas, not yet strongly supported by empirical evidence.

While I certainly appreciate the research you have undertaken, the fact remains that Germany at that time, and prior, was being dominated by anti semitism and that the Nazis  were already well and truly indulging in thuggery to get there point across. Yes, certainly scientific conservatism and opinions on philosophical grounds probably also played a part. Your own Wiki link says "the contributions to the book are a mixture of mathematical–physical incompetence, hubris," and "Hans Reichenbach described the book as an "accumulation of naive errors", and as "unintentionally funny", can also likely be construed as due to antisemitism. All, I believe played a part.

Again I submit for consideration the following...https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-2-pro-nazi-nobelists-attacked-einstein-s-jewish-science-excerpt1/

 

also.....

https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1111/1111.2194.pdf

Reactionaries and Einstein's Fame: “German Scientists for the Preservation of Pure Science,” Relativity, and the Bad Nauheim Meeting:

Two important and unpleasant events occurred in Albert Einstein’s life in 1920: That August an antirelativity rally was held in the large auditorium of the Berlin Philharmonic, and a few weeks later Einstein was drawn into a tense and highly publicized debate with Philipp Lenard on the merits of relativity at a meeting in Bad Nauheim, Germany. I review these events and discuss how they affected Einstein in light of new documentary evidence that has become available through the publication of Volume 10 of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Introduction On August 27, 1920, the front page of the Berliner Tageblatt, a widely-read Berlin daily newspaper, carried a statement by Albert Einstein (1879-1955): Under the pretentious name “Arbeitsgemeinschaft deutscher Naturforscher” [“Working Society of German Scientists”], a variegated society has assembled whose provisional purpose of existence seems to be to degrade, in the eyes of nonscientists, the theory of relativity, as well as me as its originator.... I have good reason to believe that motives other than the striving for truth are at the bottom of this business. (If I were a German nationalist with or without a swastika instead of a Jew with liberal international views, then...).

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6 hours ago, taeto said:

Thank you very much Eise, for a very nice account!

Agreed.

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If my suspicion is right, then Lasker would be wholly justified, based on the explanation that were available to him given by Einstein himself, to be critical of relativity.

I certainly am not critical of Lasker, other then his probably conservatism with regards to relativity at that time, I'm simply saying there was and had been for years an antisemitism feeling above and beyond in Germany at that time, backed by thuggery agaisnt any perceived opponents.

 I mean an anti Einstein rally? really! [from my link....]"The Anti-Einstein Rally at the Berlin Philharmonic The anti-Einstein campaign kicked off on August 6, 1920, with an inflammatory article in the Tägliche Rundschau, a Berlin daily newspaper: “Herr Albertus Magnus has been resurrected”;6 he has stolen the work of others and has mathematized physics to such an extent that fellow physicists have been left clueless. Furthermore, the article continued, Einstein had undertaken a propaganda campaign by which he had cast a spell both over the public and over academic circles--but in reality relativity was nothing but fraud and fantasy. The author of the piece was Paul Weyland (1888-1972, figure 1), an obscure right-wing publicist and talented rabble-rouser-- one of the shadier products of postwar Berlin.

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