Talk:Albert Einstein

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Photoelectric effect[change source]

Albert Einstein also researched the photoelectric effect study. Einstein discovered that dust in water move in zigzag lines quickly in water. Coffsneeze 18:10, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Changed text[change source]

Much of the discussion of special relativity was misleading. I have replaced the unclear parts. It is 3 a.m. here, not a good time for a search of my textbooks, but I think it is Mermin's Relativity textbook that has the light clock near its beginning. I'll check that tomorrow. Patrick0Moran (talk) 08:34, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Brain size[change source]

The text currently states:

There is an indirect connection between brain size and the size of the neopallium especially important for the brain's higher functions. However, Einstein's brain weight was below-average and showed signs of degeneration (e.g. Sylvian fissure).

This passage is unclear because it implies but does not explain or even state clearly that Einstein's brain was smaller than normal by reason of (1) something unexplained to do with the neopallium, and (2) something that caused degeneration. It does not make clear whether the degeneration was present during Einstein's creative years during the early twentieth century, late in life, or perhaps due to some disease suffered in the intervening years. Patrick0Moran (talk) 19:12, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

This text is still here, two years later. It's just kind of randomly stuck in the middle of the description of his life. It's not even clear how accurate the measurements of his brain were, because the doctor who did it, took his brain out without permission and without supervision. He took a bunch of pictures and measurements and started cutting it into chunks before anybody else saw it. Was it smaller because it might have been dried out a bit or taken too long after his death? Was his age at death taken into consideration? I'm not a brain surgeon, so I don't know these answers (or really the right questions), but it seems to me this whole thing is pretty speculative. And as they say, size isn't everything. The connections and what areas are developed are just as important. Nerfer (talk) 00:04, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
It is normal for brain size to shrink in old age so, yes, his age at death is relevant. Also, of course, the relationship between size of brains and mental performance is not a straightforward one. I think I'll take out the sentence if it's still there. Macdonald-ross (talk) 10:02, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Vertebrate brain and Cerebral cortex give some elementary background information. Also Dinosaur brains and intelligence. Macdonald-ross (talk) 10:13, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Bose-Einstein Condensation is not what Bose and Einstein developed[change source]

The article listed as "Bose Einstein Condensation" needs to be moved to "Bose-Einstein Condensate." The "Bose Einstein Condensation" is something in information theory (developed by others) that is analogous to the condensate, at least in its math.

I don't know how to move articles, but it needs to be done.Patrick0Moran (talk) 01:41, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Some questionable assertions[change source]

There is still a strong criticism of Einstein. Ronald William Clark says that Einstein hated Germany and the Germans since his youth. A group in Germany called G.O. Mueller wrote a whole encyclopedia refuting Einstein's relativity. G.O. Mueller, Aristotle, Kant, and Leibniz say space and time are categories of perception, not distortable "things", and not joined together. The speed of light could be higher. Paul Dirac and others thought that constants can change over time, too (e.g. gravitation). G.O. Mueller lists about 4000 Einstein-critical works since 1905, rallying worldwide for rethinking relativity.

Nobody will know whether "Ronald William Clark" spoke on the basis of any evidence, nor will they even know who this person is.

Aristotle has quite a bit to say about space, and he seems to me to be trying to puzzle it out. But I know of no evidence to show that he thought space to be a category of perception.

Leibniz argued that space is a relationship. His connection to Einstein, via Kant, is essential to understanding the background of Einstein's thought. See Gottfried Martin's Kant's Metaphysics and Theory of Science."

The idea that the speed of light could be higher is peculiar. The empirical question of the speed of light has been under investigation at least since the development of telescopes of sufficient power to resolve the moons of Jupiter, and the exact number is important for practical purposes. The correct response to an assertion that the speed of light could be higher is, "So what?" What difference would it make if the speed of light turned out to be 190,000 miles per second, or even 200,000 miles per second? The issue (for purposes of evaluating Einstein's theoretical conclusions) is whether the speed of light is constant, i.e., that no matter whether one is whizzing around at 100,000 miles per second with regard to the sun, or is motionless with regard to the sun (or any other point of reference you might choose), the speed is always measured at roughly 186,000 miles/second.

What people (even people like Dirac) think about the possibility of constants not being really constant is interesting. But there is no clear line of reasoning to suggest that, e.g., if the speed of light were to slowly drift faster or slower it would have any effect on the basic conclusions of Einstein's theories. For instance, if the speed of light were one day to grow to 190,000 miles per second, a light clock would still work the way it did before, clocks would tick slower as the ticking clocks went faster with regard to some observers in another inertial frame. So what is the big deal?

As for "rallying worldwide for rethinking relativity," the things that real physicists question about Einstein's theory are probably not covered by the niggling doubts of people who want to defeat the giant. The one thing that physicists such as Brian Greene comment on is Einstein's premature abandonment of his "cosmological constant."

Also, no mention is made of Mach's penetrating investigations regarding the behavior of a single system (bucket of water) when set into rotation in an empty universe. Those investigations call into question in a penetrating way whether space is just "emptiness." Einstein himself accepted the idea that space could be curved or properly Euclidean, and he used this kind of idea to explain why a massive object "attracts" other things, even light. He argued that light always moves in a straight line -- and that amounts to moving in what is analogous to a great circle route in the space around massive objects such as our sun. These lines of development all draw on the studies of serious students from Aristotle through St. Augustine (time is created by God at the beginning of the Universe), through Leibniz, Kant, Mach, et al. They do not simply denounce the findings of earlier thinkers, but take their genuine discoveries into account and build on them -- just as the work of 20th century physicists build on classical physics and do not demote it to "superstition" or "error," but regard it as a limited version of more complete theories that can explain the limit cases where classical physics fails.

It would be a bit strange, wouldn't it, to argue that there is something questionable about Darwin's evolution because St. Thomas had a different account of the rise of human being? Darwin would have been a fool to deny the truth of any true finding made by earlier natural philosophers. Progress comes by accepting facts already discovered and placing them in a theoretical context that explains them in a fuller and more satisfying way.

I am particularly intrigued by the idea that the sheer volume of the "G.O. Mueller" attacks on Einstein constitutes justification for paying any attention to them. If they had value, then grad students trying to make their names in physics would be doing experiments to show that these critics had valid points to make.

I'm not opposed to the article saying that Einstein had his critics, but I think it would be more useful to point to the areas where the current crop of qualified physicists think they might find ways to improve on Einstein because his theory appears in some way to have missed something. The "cosmological constant" idea is connected to the dark matter and especially to the dark energy puzzles that have forced themselves onto the attention of the best physicists today. Patrick0Moran (talk) 04:33, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

I put the criticism into a separate section, since it really didn't fit into a section on Einstein's own beliefs, and abridged and rearranged it to keep the best parts while removing the most questionable parts. I added information about the interaction between Einstein and the scientific community. (I also made many changes to the "General relativity" and "Momentum" sections, but that's not relevant for this topic.)
I agree that there should be something said about the cosmological constant, near the existing text about cosmology. I have to wonder why the "simple"fied article does not closely follow the main English Wikipedia article; for purposes of correctness and completness it really ought to be derived from that one, which is checked by many more people. — DAGwyn (talk) 19:54, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
I just added some information about the cosmological constant. As to Mach's principle (rotating bucket), while generally it is not believed that general relativity gets that right, it is debatable. While that can be seen as a criticism of the general theory, it doesn't seem to matter in practice, and is probably too subtle to explain without using too much text. — DAGwyn (talk) 20:15, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Good Article?[change source]

I think this article should be a very good article because how Einstein's work stand out in the best simple English writing I've seen. Please if anyone can write me back if you think this should be a good article. - TDKR Chicago 101 (talk) 21:48, February 27, 2013 (UTC)

Well try for Good Article first. The language scores are good, so that means it may be a matter of making sure that the article is comprehensive. It is probably a bit short on references considering the length.--Peterdownunder (talk) 22:31, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Anything that shows that this page is a good one.--TDKR Chicago (talk) 21:43, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Reading score[change source]

  • Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease: 74.4
  • Flesch Kincaid Grade Level: 5.2
  • Gunning Fog Score: 7
  • SMOG Index: 6.1
  • Coleman Liau Index: 9.7
  • Automated Readability Index: 3.6

Filling in some redlinks could be a good first step.--Peterdownunder (talk) 22:31, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I see a lot of problems with this one. The English in the biography section is awkwardly phrased, very clunky. I'm not an expert on the subject-matter, but the very first thing I looked at was the 300,000 kms per second, which superficially looks like a simplification, but actually is a huge error. Just look at this
Penrose, R (2004). The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe. Vintage Books. pp. 410–1. ISBN 978-0-679-77631-4. "... the most accurate standard for the metre is conveniently defined so that there are exactly 299,792,458 of them to the distance travelled by light in a standard second, giving a value for the metre that very accurately matches the now inadequately precise standard metre rule in Paris".
Does that sound like something which should be rounded up to the nearest million? It has been on the page a long time, and it stands to reason there will be more problems with the science.
The lead contributor to this page is user:Patrick0Moran. Have you contacted him? Is he prepared to stand behind the account of relativity in the second half of the page? Macdonald-ross (talk) 19:27, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
One of the first things that was impressed on me in physics lab was not to use more precision than you need for a given purpose. 300,000 kms per second was what we were expected to use in calculations, not because anybody thought that it was exactly right, but because for anything we could calculate and hope to find experimental confirmation for the answer was going to be effectively the same. If it pleases people to use the more precise value, that is fine. It might, however, put one more impediment in the way of someone trying to follow the math through with pencil and paper. The error is actually less than 0.1%, which probably matters when working with GPS military grade equipment...
I just had a run through and notice one sentence that really is a problem: "The second idea is that any observer, no matter how fast that observer moves in relation to us, is always the same." --- always the same as what? I have no idea. Patrick0Moran (talk) 05:33, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
By the way, the only place the figure of 300,000,000 was used in is a statement that does not equate that figure to the speed of light. The statement is true:

This means that as you get closer to the speed of 300,000,000 kilometres per second, lengths appear to get shorter, and clocks tick more slowly.

It happens that as far as anybody now knows, we can accelerate something closer to that speed, but we can never reach it. It would be equally true to replace that number with 500,000,000 km/sec because we could approach that speed, see lengths appearing to get shorter, and see clocks ticking more slowly (on whatever we were having accelerated for our amusement). Where calculations were made, I used the more precise figure.But why not use the more precise figure in all places? Patrick0Moran (talk) 05:45, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
Okay, I'm not sure who's saying what because there's a lot of paragraphs without tildes, but I have two comments: 1) this is getting into nit-picking about the science, and I'm not sure that's relevant to the topic of being a candidate for Good Article. It might get better attention in a section of its own. 2) 300,000 km/s is a pretty common approximation for the speed of light (and a whole lot easier to remember). It's 99.9308% accurate, I call that good enough for this context. I used that number many times for homework in college. If people want to know more about the speed of light, they go to that page, not the page on Albert Einstein. The other sentence does seem to be a problem (same as...?) Nerfer (talk) 06:10, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I think my point was against changing a defined number, which the metric number is. You could use 186,000 miles per second, which is a rounded empirical number, and very commonly used in English language accounts.
I think it is very difficult to explain the science and do justice to his life in a single article. This one seems to fall between stools. The article spends too much time on a long explanation which is more appropriate in the relativity article, and completely omits other concepts (such as the universal constant lambda, and the struggles over quantum theory, which was absolutely central to Einstein's career in middle life. Either do the science or don't do the science... Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:55, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I made a small change to the wording, maybe this will help with the concerns about exactness of using 3x10^8 m/s. As to the other point by Macdonald-ross, I do agree - somebody (or multiple people) put some good effort into these descriptions, but really it belongs in the article about the theory. This article is about Einstein the man, and just have a paragraph on what the theory covers, how he came up with the idea and what it meant for science. My 2 cents. Nerfer (talk) 23:58, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Too many pictures of Einstein[change source]

I think that the article has too many pictures of Einstein for its length. It gives the impression that we are dealing with a show-business personality rather than a scientist. This is something that should be addressed. I'll remove one for a start. Nxavar (talk) 07:35, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Mass-energy equivalence[change source]

This section seems to wander to & fro, repeating itself again and again, each time slightly differently. Either we could a) not try to explain such things on this page, or b) do it properly and clearly.

The whole page fills me with disquiet. You do realise that you haven't told readers what he won the Nobel Prize for? I'm just pointing out some things which lead me to think it's nowhere near GA. Sorry about that. Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:58, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

It may not be a good idea to try and do a "simple" account of relativity on this page, which is a biography. Perhaps the way to improve it is to limit the remarks about the meaning of relativity, and concentrate on the biography. See Dennis Brain the musician, which is a much better example of what a GA should be. Macdonald-ross (talk) 20:10, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

This section contains explanations of what mass is and what energy is. This should be reserved for the respecting articles. Their presence is unjustified and makes the article too verbose. I suggest that we edit-out those parts. Moreover, the part about mass and acceleration doesn't seem to have any relevance in this section. It's more suited in the next one, which talks about momentum. I made all these changes to the article, because they seemed very obvious to me, but they were reverted. I believe they contribute to the quality of the article but maybe I rushed. Any comments? Nxavar (talk) 11:04, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for replying. As you say, I had raised the point earlier this year. As a matter of courtesy, I have notified the editor who was trying to improve the relativity pages, user:Patrick0Moran. We have had problems with these pages because none of us are qualified theoretical physicists, and so we are often uncertain whether our simplifications still reflect the essence of the original ideas. I suggest you leave it till the week-end, so as to give Patrick some chance of responding. Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:02, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
As noted above, too many pictures, etc., "gives the impression that we are dealing with a show-business personality rather than a scientist" I think this comment also turns discussion, in a productive way, to what should be done with the science parts of the article. I started my contributions by rewriting existing sections. See https://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albert_Einstein&oldid=1824370 and note that the content is not accurate.
Einstein is often treated as the author of things that nobody else can understand. Famous scientists are quoted as saying that nobody outside a small circle of equal mega-stars can truly understand. The message is sent to inquiring minds: Forget about it. You are not going to be able to understand a thing. It does a disservice to readers to present misinformation about the science part.
Einstein's life is not filled with lots of big events that do not center around his science. So if we left the science out there wouldn't be much to tell. We could present the story of a Jewish intellectual who found no employment in his academic field, worked for a while in the Patent Office. Realized he would be better off leaving Germany, immigrated to the United States, found employment in an academic field, wrote letters that influenced war policy, lived a very unpretentious life and dressed with equal lack of concern for appearances, was married, had children, etc. However, that is not what enquiring (young or old) minds are going to be interested in or benefited by.
People know E=mc², that it is "impossible to understand," and that it lets people make nuclear weapons. They can be told about the twin paradox, which is actually very complicated and depends on more than the simple idea of "time dilation." That kind of thing is not helpful for inquiring minds, particularly when E=mc² and time dilation can both be worked out by high school math. Sending readers to articles in Wikipedia that are written for physics majors but in simple English will not be useful to the average well-informed reader or the high school student who is trying to understand what Einstein discovered.
There are now articles such as the one on Special Relativity, but in my opinion they are not what people who do not already know the physics will find helpful. A fork or forks will not work. Not mentioning Einstein's science, or mentioning only that there are these "big ideas that laymen cannot understand" is not acceptable either.
What are we going to do?Patrick0Moran (talk) 15:46, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I think we could look at Einstein & Infeld's The Evolution of Physics: the growth of ideas from the early concepts to relativity & quanta. The last 50 or 60 pages are an account of relativity and quantum theory for a general readership. No-one's going to challenge a few choice quotations from that! Unfortunately I no longer have a copy, but it should be available in both public and university library systems.
By the way, I've shifted another topic so this discussion follows without interruption. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:05, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
The English Wikipedia article gives a kind of Amazon.com shopping experience of Einstein's scientific work — very many contributions with a short paragraph or so saying what they do. It seems to me to be rather like explaining modern factory production by listing the major categories of things produced and making at least an implicit contrast with pre-industrial production and the things that they produced. Readers would come away with the idea that factories came into existence and they were capable of making things that earier with either impossible of limited to very small numbers. What is missing is an account of the conceptual change from individually crafted and virtually unique hinges, rake heads, etc. to the fabrication of interchangeable parts, and then the development of the production line. What is missing in the Einstein article is the way he had of abandoning old conceptualizations and seeing things from an entirely original point of view.
For example, pre-Einstein scientists sought for an explanation for the constancy of the value obtained when measuring the speed of light regardless of whether one is rushing toward the light source or away from it. Einstein turned things around by asserting that the speed of light is constant and then following out the logical consequences of that supposed fact. He no longer tried to explain the paradoxical constancy of the measured speed. He started with the empirical fact of constancy and showed how that fact showed that time dilation has to be a fact of life instead of a delusion of some kind. Immense consequences flowed from his putting aside what everybody took as self evident truth. The equation relating mass to energy can be derived algebraically from Maxwell's equations describing the electromagnetic field. Any freshman physics student could do the math, but it took Einstein to undertake the calculations to see how the field equations would relate mass and energy.Patrick0Moran (talk) 23:49, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Those are helpful thoughts, and I agree with the general idea that a biography should go deeper than just list achievements. It occurs to me that we might get some ideas from the biographies of Einstein, whose authors faced a similar situation. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:26, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Ethnicity = Jewish?[change source]

It had seemed that Albert Einstein's "ethnicity" was previously labelled as "Jewish", even though "Jewish" is a religion. This has now been changed to Nationality = German, American.

There is a Jewish ethnicity as well as the Jewish religion. A person can be ethnically/culturally Jewish without being an adherant of Judaism. For example, Stephen Fry who is a Jewish atheist. Jim Michael (talk) 11:05, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

BRILLIANCE![change source]

ALBERT EINESTEIN IS THE ONLY BRILLIANT SCIENTIST IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANETG! WITHOUT HIM, WE WOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS FAR! NOONE ELSE DESERVES THE TERM "BRILLIANCE" BU PROFESSOR ALBER EINESTEIN!!! BLESSED BE YOUR MOM, YOU DAD, AND ISRAEL (REGARDLESS OF WHAT I SAID)! BRILLIANCE … LETTING STUPIDS REALIZE THEIR STUPIDITY AFTER … 70+YEARS!!! MY VISION! BUILD ON THEE CONCEPTS AND IDEAS … TO LET NEUTROCEPHALUS REALIZE THEIR STUPIDITY … NEVER!!!!!