EINSTEIN'S OWN WORDS: Fortune-tellers arrested in Gotham!

TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2016

Part 1—We think of that Nova broadcast:
In this morning's New York Times, Michael Wilson pens an intriguing report about the arrest of two "self-proclaimed fortunetellers."

On Sunday, the second self-proclaimed fortuneteller was led away from a Times Square shop in handcuffs. Apparently, it's now against the law in New York to engage in conduct like this:
WILSON (4/26/16): Ms. Delmaro, 27, was arrested in May and charged with taking money, sometimes in increments as high as $100,000, from a marketing executive from England temporarily working in New York. The man, Niall Rice, 33, had met a woman in a drug rehabilitation facility in Arizona months earlier and had fallen in love, but she broke it off. Distraught, he first visited a different psychic in Manhattan, then Ms. Delmaro.

When Mr. Rice came to learn that the object of his affections had died of an overdose, Ms. Delmaro continued to promise a reunion with the woman, who she said had been reincarnated into a new body—with the help of special crystals, a time machine and an 80-mile bridge made of gold.

Mr. Rice eventually went to the police and pressed charges. He told detectives he paid $713,975 to the two psychics. He said in an interview in November that he was depressed and desperate at the time, and that he thought he would get his money back in the end.
Apparently, New York City police have come to believe that Delmaro and her mother-in-law were deliberately scamming their clients—that they can't deliver the types of results they have repeatedly promised.

Wilson's report is intriguing. At this point, though, we'll make an admission:

When we read Wilson's report this morning, we thought of the many people, down through the year, who have claimed to make Einstein easy.

We thought of Nova's hour-long broadcast, Inside Einstein's Mind, in which the PBS program seemed to offer an explanation of special relativity.

(The program aired last November. To watch the whole program, click here.)

We even thought of Walter Isaacson's 2007 best-seller, Einstein: His Life and Universe, in which the former Rhodes scholar seemed to explain the same part of Einstein's work, with the ballyhooed assistance of eighteen physics professors.

Let's offer a quick review:

Albert Einstein propounded the special theory of relativity in the year 1905, when he was just 26. In 1916, he published a book intended for general readers, in which he attempted to explain the special and general theories.

To peruse that book, click here.

Over the course of the past hundred years, professors, journalists and publishers have offered Einstein-made-easy work. In these presentations, they've attempted to explain, or they have pretended to attempt to explain, Einstein's revolutionary work.

We'll admit it! When we read today about those fortunetellers in chains, our thoughts drifted off, if only briefly, to this century of high-minded work.

Did these people really believe that they could make Einstein easy? Let's review what Nova said in its broadcast last fall.

The broadcast was written and directed by Jamie Lochhead. The program seems to constitute his first writer credit for Nova.

His previous effort as a director was for the three-part BBC series, The Wonder of Dogs, which appeared in 2013. Another director credit that year: Easter Eggs Live, a British series in which "Mark Evans explores the weird, wonderful world of eggs."

Did Lochhead believe that he'd made Einstein easy? To be honest, we don't really doubt that he did. At any rate, here's what his Nova program said about special relativity:

About ten minutes into that program, Nova's narrator pictured a man standing on a railroad platform and a woman moving past on an extremely fast train.

(For the relevant transcript, click here.)

As the woman's train is passing the man, lightning strikes occur on either side of the man, up and down the line. We're told that the man is standing exactly halfway between the two strikes. When the lightning strikes occur, the woman on the fast-moving train is directly adjacent to him.

Because he's halfway between the two strikes, the light from the two lightning strikes reach the man simultaneously—at the exact same time. But because the woman has sped ahead, toward one strike and away from the other, the light from one strike will reach her sooner than the light from the other strike.

"For the woman on the train, time elapses between the two strikes," the Nova narrator says. (He's already deep in an array of conceptual weeds.) "For the man on the platform, there is no time between the strikes."

"The simple thought has mind-blowing significance," the Nova narrator says as he continues. He draws these mind-blowing conclusions from that simple example:

"There's no such thing as simultaneity."

"Simultaneity, and the flow of time itself, depends on how you're moving."

"The flow of time is different for an observer that is moving versus one that is standing still."

Let's make another confession. When we read about those fortunetellers, we briefly recalled those statements. That said, similar statements have been sold to us rubes over the past hundred years!

In recent weeks, we've explored the way the logic of this presentation breaks down. We imagined a second man, Man B, standing way down at the end of the railway platform, in the direction the train was going.

Man B is standing stock still, like the first man on the platform. But for him, "time elapses between the two strikes," as it does for the woman on the fast-moving train.

We also imagined a Woman B, riding in the caboose of the train. She is moving at very high speed, just like the original woman who is riding in a middle car on the train.

Woman B is moving at very high speed. But she draws adjacent to the original man on the platform just as the light from the two strikes arrives. For her, as for the original man, "there is no time between the strikes." (To simplify our presentation, we're agreeing to use Nova's shaky formulations.)

As we've noted in previous weeks, we don't understand the point Nova was trying to make in that part of its broadcast. Do you know who else didn't understand?

Everyone else who watched the program! Everyone else—and you!

When we watched that Nova program, it struck us as one of the most obvious non-explanation explanations we had ever seen. Sadly though, this sort of thing has been quite routine in the past hundred years as professors and journalists have pretended to make Einstein easy.

We can't explain that presentation by Nova—and dear reader, neither can you! In fairness, though, we note a key point:

In that part of its broadcast, Nova was working directly from Chapters 8 and 9 of Einstein's 1916 book!

That book was written for general readers. Its chapters were very brief.

Early on, in Chapters 8 and 9, Einstein presented the famous scenario with the railway platform, the fast-moving train and the lightning strikes. For the past hundred years, programs like Nova have rushed along like that fast-moving train, pretending they knew how to make sense of the words Einstein wrote.

Was Einstein able to make Einstein easy? In the next two days, we'll look at Chapters 8 and 9 of that historic book, his book for general readers.

The chapters in question are very brief. One hundred years later, we don't understand what those chapters say, and neither, dear reader, do you!

Tomorrow: Chapter 8, "On the Idea of Time in Physics"

20 comments:

  1. Why are we being subjected to this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because "Wilson's report is intriguing."

      Delete

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      My husband and i have live together for 15yrs and married for 11yrs and he divorce me 3months ago. I was worried and so confuse because i love him so much and i need him back home, i was really going too depressed and it has affect me so much that i feel my life have come to an end. One day a friend of mine told me about this spell caster called Dr Kala who can help me get my husband back and she told me many people are talking about him all over the internet and she gave me his email (kalalovespell@gmail.com) i contact him and i made all my problems known to him and he told me not to worry that he was going to make my husband to come back to me and in just 48hours i receive a call from my husband and he was appealing that i should come back to the house. I have never in my life believe in spell but now he has just helped me out to be a fulfill woman and i am now so happy. All Thanks to DR KALA and if you also want to have your Husband back to yourself here !! his email again is KALALOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or you whatsapp him on +2347051705853 i am so happy to testify of your work and kindness.

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  2. "Let's offer a quick review:"

    ReplyDelete
  3. There's a point in obsessiveness where everything reminds you of your obsession. Sadly, Bob has reached that point regarding the theory of relativity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would argue his obsession is Junior Gore. And I would bet it dates back to their days at Harvard yard.

      Delete
    2. You know, David. When you have finally gotten around to notice how obsessed Somerby gets with his few pet peeves to the exclusion of the rest of the known universe, perhaps its time for Somerby to take stock.

      Delete
  4. "When we read Wilson's report this morning, we thought of the many people, down through the year, who have claimed to make Einstein easy."

    At this point, though, we'll differ. We thought of Tiffany Marie from Odessa, Tx. and her firned Dr. Unity. We thought of Leon Adrian and his pal Dr. happy. And Junia Noel and the excellent Dr. Ewan, although Junia had claimed a relationship with and Dr. Happy as well though we are not sure if spellcastes are case sensitive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see dead people.

      And loathe the other tribe.

      Delete
  5. I think it is a bit strong to equate those who write books to make Einstein seem easy with fortune tellers who manipulate clients' strong emotions to make money for themselves.

    Somerby is implicitly dealing with aspects of conning people. Is the author who writes a book selling understanding really committing fraud if he believes he has actually delivered that understanding to readers? If he delivers it to some but not all, is he really conning people or is some of the blame the reader's? If the intent is not fraudulent is there a con?

    Does some of this come from the feeling every teacher experiences of committing a fraud because not all students will learn what is presented? Not every movie goer enjoys every movie -- does that make the producers frauds?

    What about the expectations of the consumer? If the reader expects to understand more than the writer promises to teach, has a fraud been committed or are the expectations unreasonable? Must the benefit always match what is promised on the dust jacket? Is education a similar contract -- you will learn fractions or your money back?

    There is a large and sophisticated literature on the implicit understanding of human reciprocity and contracts in economics, relationships and jobs. If mismatches occur, isn't this part of the human condition? Why is Somerby harping on this?

    ReplyDelete
  6. People who sell books and TV shows pretending to make Einstein easy are similar to the fortune teller. They make money from falsehoods.

    Einstein didn't pretend to make his theory easy. Chapter X is very clear, and I recommend it to the entire Howler community. It's not easy -- you have to study it.

    Both the midpoint of the embankment and the midpoint of the train are equidistant from the two lightning strokes. Therefore, the flashes arriving simultaneously at the midpoint of the embankment show that the strokes were simultaneous, and the flashes arriving at the midpoint of the train at different times show that they were not simultaneous in the frame of reference of the train.

    From a different point on the embankment and a different point on the train, the strokes are not equidistant. We therefore consider, not the arrival of the flashes at these different points, but their arrival at the midpoints, just as before. Thus events simultaneous for an observer at rest at the midpoint of the embankment are simultaneous for any observer at rest anywhere along the embankment, and they are not simultaneous for any observer seated anywhere along the train.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. impCaesarAvg writes:

      >>>Thus events simultaneous for an observer at rest at the midpoint of the embankment are simultaneous for any observer at rest anywhere along the embankment, and they are not simultaneous for any observer seated anywhere along the train.<<<

      True dat. Somerby is not getting that the people on the embankment understand light from any nearer to them event will arrive at where they are located sooner than the light from a farther away but simultaneous event. The events in question are the lightning bolts striking the ground, not when the light from each strike reaches an observer. An observer will only see the light from two simultaneous strikes at the same time if the observer is equidistant from the two strikes.

      Bob Somerby writes:

      >>>Woman B is moving at very high speed. But she draws adjacent to the original man on the platform just as the light from the two strikes arrives. For her, as for the original man, "there is no time between the strikes."<<

      False, Einstein's Man at the center of the platform sees the light from two equidistant events at the same time and calculates the two events, the two lightning strikes, occurred simultaneously. If he sees the light from a bolt that struck next to Somerby's Lady B while Lady B is adjacent with him at the same time sees the light from a bolt that struck at a point not adjacent to him he would conclude the bolt that occurred farther away must have struck the ground first.

      Lady B sees the light from both bolts reach Einstein's Man at the center of the platform at the same time. This is after Lady B sees the nearer to her bolt strike next to edge of the platform away from the Man. If Lady B sees a bolt strike next to her when she is adjacent to the Man, the Man will know that one bolt struck at a place closer to him than where the other bolt struck.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  7. People who sell books and TV shows pretending to make Einstein easy are similar to the fortune teller. They make money from falsehoods.

    Einstein didn't pretend to make his theory easy. Chapter X is very clear, and I recommend it to the entire Howler community. It's not easy -- you have to study it.

    Both the midpoint of the embankment and the midpoint of the train are equidistant from the two lightning strokes. Therefore, the flashes arriving simultaneously at the midpoint of the embankment show that the strokes were simultaneous, and the flashes arriving at the midpoint of the train at different times show that they were not simultaneous in the frame of reference of the train.

    From a different point on the embankment and a different point on the train, the strokes are not equidistant. We therefore consider, not the arrival of the flashes at these different points, but their arrival at the midpoints, just as before. Thus events simultaneous for an observer at rest at the midpoint of the embankment are simultaneous for any observer at rest anywhere along the embankment, and they are not simultaneous for any observer seated anywhere along the train.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The slowest boy on the slowest moving narrative train gets taken by a three-card monte player. Who knew they let con artists on the train?

    When Einstein chose the midpoint of the platform (and the train car), it made the experiment simple: the distances each light beam traveled were the same. Since the speed of light is constant, both beams will take the same time to travel the same distance. Thus there's no need to calculate the time.

    Try to understand the thought experiment as it stands. Do. Not. Change. The. Conditions.

    Of course, a man standing near one end of the platform (and a woman standing near one end of a train car) will see the light from the near strike first. But each can measure the distances the light beams had to travel, find the time it took for the beams to travel those (different distances) to figure out when the lightning struck. When they compare results, the man will still have calculated that the strikes occurred at the same time, and the woman will have calculated that the strike at the front of the car happened first.

    And quit telling me what I don't understand.

    ReplyDelete
  9. “There appear new theories and noble observations which you have reduced to such simplicity that even I, of a different occupation, am certain I shall be able to understand at least some parts of it.” -- Letter to Galileo from a fan of his Two World Systems, c. 1635

    They don't make made-easy books like they used to.

    ReplyDelete
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  11. (How i got my husband back)

    My husband and i have live together for 15yrs and married for 11yrs and he divorce me 3months ago. I was worried and so confuse because i love him so much and i need him back home, i was really going too depressed and it has affect me so much that i feel my life have come to an end. One day a friend of mine told me about this spell caster called Dr Kala who can help me get my husband back and she told me many people are talking about him all over the internet and she gave me his email (kalalovespell@gmail.com) i contact him and i made all my problems known to him and he told me not to worry that he was going to make my husband to come back to me and in just 48hours i receive a call from my husband and he was appealing that i should come back to the house. I have never in my life believe in spell but now he has just helped me out to be a fulfill woman and i am now so happy. All Thanks to DR KALA and if you also want to have your Husband back to yourself here !! his email again is KALALOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or you whatsapp him on +2347051705853 i am so happy to testify of your work and kindness.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Am writing this article to thank Dr.Trust for the wondrous miracle that he did for me because he helped me recently to bring back my Ex husband. Thank you sir for your genuine spells. This is really incredible,I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Before i met you Sir, i have tried every probable means that i could to get my husband back, but i actually came to realize that nothing was working out for me, and that my husband had developed lot of hatred for me.. I thought there was no hope to reunite with my husband. But when i read good reviews about how Dr.Trust help others get back there ex lovers, make others to win big on lottery, cure of any sickness. I decided to give it a try and i did everything that he instructed me and i Trusted him and followed his instructions just as he guaranteed me in 48 hours, and that was exactly when my husband called me and come back to me.. I'm so happy for the good work you did for me. We are more contented now than ever. Everything looks perfect and so natural! Thank you so much Sir for your authentic and indisputable spells. Email him now for help {Ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com or Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com} call +2348156885231 Web site http://ultimatespellcast8.wix.com/ultimatespellcast Thanks Sir for your help.

    ReplyDelete