Dr Mendel Sachs: Establishment Physicist or Anti-Einstein Revolutionary?
Dr. Mendel Sachs, professor of physics, presents an enigma to any one investigating Einstein and his relativity theories. On the one hand Dr. Sachs appears to be a dedicated establishment disciple of Einstein and his theories, and on the other he appears to be a critic, although not a very vociferously vocal one, of Einstein’s theories. In September 1971 Sachs published an article titled “A Resolution of the clock paradox”, in the magazine Physics Today and precipitated an angry violent reaction. This must have astounded Mendel, who as this writer thinks, was a very great admirer and devotee of Einstein and his philosophy of science. I had occasion to correspond with Dr Sachs many years ago, and he did not seem to me to be in the anti-Einsteinian camp, but in his published work it was not always clear that he was a devoted follower of Einstein’s ideas. That is because Dr Sachs was unafraid to say just exactly what he interpreted Einstein theories to be. Mendel was straightforward in admitting that Einstein’s theories were not complete and that in some cases he was wrong, and needed to be corrected, or clarified. This is where he came into conflict with the mainstream science establishment. They perceived that Mendel was messing with Einstein’s perfect theory and so his arguments had to be denounced and vilified. Simply put, Dr Sachs was a duck out of water, caught in the war between the Einstein establishment and the anti-Einstein opposition. His great mistake in publishing his resolution of the clock paradox was in admitting that the establishment version was not the correct one, and thereby opening the door, which had been closed on that controversy.
My first contact with Dr Sachs was in 1999, when he sent me copies of his papers, which I am using for this article. At that time I was not aware of the specific controversy he created regarding the twins paradox, which Sachs refers to as the “clock problem” thereby diminishing its emotionally charged controversial aspect. One of the papers he sent to me was a copy of that article. At that time my interest was in the mathematical structure of the special relativity theory, and in particular a paper written by Hsiao-bai Ai “Resolution of Some Paradoxes in Relativistic Statics”, which appeared in Physics Essays about the same time as a paper written by Dr Sachs with Minoru Harada “Reinterpretation of the Fitzgerald-Lorentz Contraction.” I had already by this time realized that the problem at issue in the so called paradoxes of relativity was the problem of units of measure. That was exactly the problem with special relativity that Louis Essen objected to and which was addressed by Sachs and Harada in their paper. Here the purpose is not to discuss the details of the Sachs Harada paper, but to assess why a devoted follower of Einstein offered a resolution of the apparently settled problem of the clock paradox, and why that solution was rejected, leaving official modern physics in the position of advocating an incorrect solution to the problem, when they could have adopted the solution proposed by Dr Sachs and by doing that removing this obviously embarrassing mistake from the anti-Einstein conversation. As it stands today, the twins, or clock paradox, problem provides ammunition to the anti-Einstein movement, and serves as a example of why the physics establishment is incapable of discovering truth in science, or even coming close to obtaining that goal.
The relativity clock problem addressed by Dr Sachs, is and continues to be, a difficult one for establishment physics, mainly because of the fact that they claim that this is a problem of physical science and not a philosophical problem. Unfortunately, this is entirely false, because the problem of space and time is a metaphysical problem that falls in the realm of philosophy. The continuing controversy over Einstein’s relativity is a direct result of Einstein’s attempt to solve a problem in metaphysics through physics. This was bound to create vociferous opposition, and it did, as well as create a lot of opportunity for seriously acrimonious controversy. The primary offense was the attempt by the physics profession to topple philosophy from its position at the top of the academic pyramid. This was entirely successful, and it is now the routine academic belief that it is the job of physics, and only physics, to discover absolute truth. This is supposed to be accomplished through the procedure of scientific method and the metaphysical assumption that nature is fundamentally nothing but mathematics, and so absolute truth can be discovered by human reason, because it is fundamentally mathematical in nature. It appears that Dr Mendel Sachs was trained in philosophy of science and his goal was to apply the metaphysical system of Einstein and bring it to perfection. Hence, Dr Sachs saw his research program, to be that of taking the fundamental philosophical method of Einstein and perfecting it in the solution of physical problems, and thereby assure the attainment of absolute truth. Unfortunately, his program backfired, and what he revealed was not the attainment of truth, but a demonstration of why this is an entirely false goal for physical science, because the academic system of science, and its scientific method, are not capable of discovering anything at all approaching absolute truth through science.
Dr Sachs was not afraid to contradict his hero Albert Einstein, and so he reached a conclusion that was not in agreement with Einstein. Einstein claimed in his 1905 special relativity paper that a clock at the equator would run more slowly that one placed at the north or south pole. This was presumably because of the velocity of the earth’s rotation, which is an absolute and not a relative motion of the clocks. Despite that there was no relative motion of the clocks, Einstein erroneously claimed there would be a time difference. This mistake was removed in his later special relativity papers. It is a pretty serious mistake as it confuses absolute with relative motion, and that mistake is the source of exactly what is wrong with relativity. However, the mistake was later picked up and promoted in 1911 by Paul Langevin, who did not understand the difference between relative and absolute motion. Thereby the clock problem was born. Its clear that the resolution is in the distinction between relative and absolute motion, but that issue has not been resolved today. The problem has persisted because Einstein attempted in 1918 to justify his mistake by proving it to be true using his general relativity theory. He was not able to do this, although the physics community gave him credit for the time dilation claim anyway. This resulted in many critics, Herbert Dingle being the most famous, who attacked this conclusion and proved it false Unfortunately, Mendel Sacks being an honest scientist agreed with Dingle, that there was no difference in clock readings, and so he was blacklisted in the physics profession for contradicting the established belief regarding Einstein’s clock prediction.
The case of Mendel Sachs points out two glaring problems of scientific method. The first one is the problem of whether or not the mathematical theory is correct or not. Sachs concluded that the mathematical conclusion reached by Einstein using general relativity was false. The second is whether or not the experiments used to confirm the theory are correct. It is usually assumed that the mathematical theory to be tested by experiment is essentially correct in terms of the mathematics that it is based upon. Hence the issue is not whether the mathematics is correct, but whether or not the assumptions that are put into the theory through the mathematics are correct or not. The conclusion follows, that if the experimental results confirm the theory, then the theory is validated, or becomes, absolutely true physics. In the case of Einstein’s relativity, we have two failures. The first one is that the mathematics is incorrect, and the second one is that the experimental evidence does not confirm the theory as is believed to be the case. (What the experiments confirm is that time dilation is an effect of absolute motion and not relative motion as the theory demands.) This example of a double failure, both the mathematics of the theory and the experimental verification use incorrect principles, illustrates the problem with modern physical science, in that it assumes or ignores that there is a possibility of a double failure and so the method, which is obviously fallible, is assumed to not be fallible at all. The case of Einstein relativity being the most obvious and glaring failure of modern science and its supposed infallible method.
The problem of double failure is easily understood in the case of Mendel Sachs. He concludes that there is no difference in the readings of the clocks, which is not what Einstein deduced, and so his resolution of the paradox, by correction of the mathematics, is correcting a mistake made by Einstein. That is pretty bad in that he is also correcting a mistake made by many other experts who asserted that Einstein’s prediction was correct. However, the criticism of Sachs conclusion is not that he does the math incorrectly, he does, but that his math must be false, since his result is contradicted by experiments. Hence, he makes two errors, he disagrees with Einstein’s mathematics and he disagrees with the results of experiments. Hence, Mendel Sachs claims are pronounced as false and wrong and his arguments disregarded and ignored. The result is that the physics establishment has embraced a mathematically false theory, because the false theory agrees with experiments. This is not supposed to happen in science, but it did, and so the only way to remove this embarrassment is to declare that Einstein was right and Sachs was wrong. Doing this of course perpetuates the long running controversy over the Einstein relativity theory. That controversy maintains that the mathematics behind relativity is false and incorrect. That is what Sachs said, and so since that contradicts what the physics community has been trained to believe, the conclusion must be deemed to be wrong no matter what the consequences.
To understand this better, lets discuss what Mendel Sachs was doing. He was using the philosophical principles of the theory of relativity and not the faulty mathematics. When he examined the mathematics involved, he discovered that Einstein’s previous work had been false, and so he proceeded to save Einstein’s philosophical principles and his ideas of philosophical method to derive the correct mathematical conclusion. This of course meant that physics would have to recognize that Einstein had made a mistake. The clear fact is that the academic physics community was unable to do that, just as they were unable to objectively evaluate the previous criticism of Einstein’s theories. Hence, Mendel Sachs became an anti-Einsteinian in the minds of his physicist colleges, when that was certainly not his intention. All his life he remained loyal to Einstein and his philosophical principles if not to his faulty mathematics.
To reiterate the crux of the problem exposed by this incident of physics history. In the usual way that the scientific method is understood, the procedure involves two parts. One corresponding to the way the physics profession is divided into two halves. The first part is the construction of theory and that is done by theorists. The second part is done by experimentalists. Their job is supposed to be be testing or confirmation and rejection of theories. In this ideal structure, no account is taken of the problem of false positives. That is conclusions of acceptance that are false. In the first case, it is assumed that a theory is examined by experts before it is published, and so it is correct before it is supposed to be tested experimentally. The second difficulty is the problem of a false positive experimental result. That is an experiment tests a theory and finds it is correct, when it is actually false. Such a thing is not supposed to be possible, but in the case of special relativity that is exactly the fact of the matter. The special relativity theory is mathematically false, and to top it off its incorrect predictions are apparently validated by experiments. That presents a problem that is outside of the procedures of scientific method and so there is no easy way of dealing with this exact problem when it arises. That is because there is no procedure or established method for dealing with exactly this sort of difficulty. When it arises, and it often does, the usual approach is to wait for a different experiment to confirm the result. That doesn’t work very well when the problem is not in the experiment, but in the theory using incorrect assumptions. The usual response of the physics community is to declare that the false theory is validated and correct despite the fact that it is mathematically false and erroneous. This is quite a problem when it arises. The human problem is that no one in science has ever dealt with this in real experience and so the belief is that this sort of thing never happens in science. However, in the real world of human frailty, taking a realistic view of human history we ought to know that this sort of thing happens all the time and is routine business in science today.
The current status of the clock paradox is that the problem is claimed to be resolved by the academic community, but that conclusion continues to be the focus of the anti-Einsteinian movement, because it is obviously an absurd conclusion that two identical twins would age asymmetrically as a result of the principle of relativity, that involves only relative motion, and the mathematical theory that is deduced from that principle. We see that mainstream physics has reacted in the same way to two entirely different attempts to solve this glaring mistake. In the first approach associated with the anti-Einstein movement, as exemplified by Herbert Dingle, the claim is that the special relativity theory is faulty or mathematically incorrect. This is this writers opinion. The second approach taken by Mendel Sachs was to preserve as much of the mathematical machinery of the theory as possible and to correct the theory in a manner that would create the least amount of damage. That is simply change a questionable assumption that asserted that time is what a clock reads. This is so obviously wrong that it barely needs mentioning at all. It is obvious that Einstein relativity confuses the idea of physical time as that which determines physical process with the measurement of time by a clock, which is simply a convention defined by humans for the purpose of defining measurements. Unfortunately, in Einstein’s theory, the measurement of time becomes time itself, and so any mistakes in the theory become philosophical errors of major magnitude. Sachs attempted to correct this problem and bring the theory into philosophical harmony with human experience of time. That turned out to be a difficult task, which still faces the community of physical scientists who are attempting to assert that science deals in absolute truth, when it appears that in reality it is just a method of imposing erroneous ideas upon a gullible society.