Monday, April 04, 2011

Brainwashed By Newton?

It is very seldom that I read something and then say "Whoa! This person is writing exactly what I have been thinking of, or what I've been saying all along!" Maybe it is why I found this preprint so entertaining to read.

I don't know if this has been submitted anywhere for publication. It doesn't matter. It is still something that should be read. Z. K. Silagadze from the Budker Institute wrote a very illuminating (and, of course, entertaining) article on how our insistence on describing everything based on classical notion is probably the cause of a lot of misconception (and apparent trouble) of modern physics[1]. In particular, he picked the outdated idea of "relativistic mass", especially in the teaching of relativity.

The concept of mass in modern physics is quite different from the Newtonian concept of mass as a measure of inertia. However, this does not mean that we should throw out mass as a measure of inertia. Simply modern physics framework is more general and flexible and it explicitly indicates the context under which it is fairly safe to consider the mass as a measure of inertia. The problems begin when things are turned upside down and the Newtonian physics is considered as a basic truth and modern physics as some derivative from it. “Objectivity of Classical physics is some sort of half-truth. It is a very good thing, a very great achievement, but somehow it makes it more difficult than it would have seemed before to understand the fullness of reality”.

Note that this is of course consistent with previous papers that I've highlighted on here on this idea of "relativistic mass" and why it should no longer be used in such a fashion today. See the coverage on "Rest Mass Versus Relativistic Mass", "Einstein on Mass and Energy", and "The "Relavistic" Mug".

There are several things that he mentioned in that article that sounded as if *I* was writing it. So we certainly seem to share the same sentiment with regards to the continuing confusion of modern physics and the various terminologies used.

Maybe we are twins separated at birth! :)



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