The 1887 Cleveland Disenchantment
Again: so far, so good. But we may ask ourselves: "If the aether reaches throughout space, does not our Earth move with respect to it? Then there should be a noticeable difference in the speed of light along, and perpendicular to, the direction of motion of the Earth, because of the aether wind which blows unnoticed in our ears and eyes".(30) The reasoning is logically airtight modus tollendo tollens. But so is - an omnipresent aether presupposed - the corollary: no aether wind, then no motion!
As everyone knows: in 1887 Michelson and Morley, using an extremely complicated and sensitive interferometer, tried to measure this difference,(31) and -- just like Airy -- drew a blank for the purpose of justifying Galileo. "It appears…reasonably certain that if there be any relative motion between the Earth and the luminiferous ether, it must be small; quite small enough
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entirely to refute Fresnel's explanation of aberration (32) (emphasis added, v.d.K.). For this 1887 result "is in flagrant conflict with the hypothesis which was put forward to explain Fizeau's experiment. If one performs the experiment in the air, for which the drag coefficient is equal to zero, (the refractive index is almost equal to one), then one expects a displacement, or conversely the negative result points to a drag coefficient of one: the aether travels with the apparatus. There is no aetherwind. We see that all sorts of difficulties arise from the use of the concept of the aether, by which we understand some elastic material through which the light oscillations travel."(33)
On the authority of Niklas Koppernigk it is, of course, declared ultra vires to ask whether these difficulties do not disappear like snow under a hot sun if we consider the apparatuses of Arago, Fizeau, Airy, Hoek and Michelson and Morley to be at rest in a space that knows place. The Earth, we have decided to know, is spinning through space. Hence, to cite a twentieth century comment on Airy's mishap: "If the Fresnel drag coefficient be introduced into the calculation of the aberration, there emerges the fact that the aberration is the same with or without water in the telescope. Thus conversely Airy's negative result confirms the validity of the Fresnel coefficient".(34) It of course does not when logically judged. That is: without the unscientific, instinctive, imaginary, and pseudo-metaphysical viewpoint of the heliocentric and a-centric confessions of astronomical faith. As until today all logically valid tollendo tollens experiments after the style of Michelson and Morley have shown: if there is a light-carrying aether, our instruments are not travelling through
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that aether - the isotropy of space investigated from, or relative to, the Earth has never as yet been seriously called into question. Hence in Airy's case the drag coefficient is absent and cannot be dragged into court to vindicate Copernicus.
Whichever way we turn: after 1887 there clearly was the devil to pay with regard to the permissible particulars of the cosmic clockwork suspended in any form of the luminiferous stationary aether. It is not necessary to enter into details about the input and output by Stokes, Fitzgerald, Lorentz, Poincaré, and a host of minor celebrities, all of them trying to devise a way out of the cul-de-sac in which classical Copernicanism found itself. By 1897 Michelson aptly summarized the situation as follows.
The Dire Consequences
"In any case we are driven to extraordinary consequences, and the choice lies between these three:
1. The Earth passes through the ether (or rather allows the ether to pass through its entire mass) without appreciable influence.
2. The length of all bodies is altered (equally?) by their motion through ether.
3. The Earth in its motion drags with it the ether even at distances of many thousands of kilometers from its surface."(35)
Now, first of all, it is strange that this lifelong agnostic Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931),(36) appears on one issue not in the least agnostic, but as firmly a fundamentalist Copernican believer as the staunchest Bible-reader who holds on to his Authorized
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Version. There is no place in Michelson's only partially agnostic tunnel-vision for possibility Number Four. Yet, aside from any appreciation of its value, a geocentric explanation of the enigmas encountered in the search for the true model of the cosmos... it stares, I repeat and maintain, any open-minded down-to-earth scientist in the face when he surveys all those abortive efforts to disqualify it.
Apart from that, and too easily forgotten: none of these three theoretical attempts to save the appearances, nor sagacious variations on their themes, are without drawbacks or contradictory experimental evidence even when one observes them from the accepted, if unattainable, heliocentric super-cosmical viewpoint.
Michelson's first extraordinary conclusion may explain his 1887 failure, but it resolutely disqualifies Fresnel. Even worse, for this being the case, Boscovich's logically and classically impeccable test for pinning down the true cause of aberration then shows the Earth to be at rest, independently from Michelson's own result witnessing to the trustworthiness of this conclusion. Otherwise Airy would have observed an increased angle of aberration for his water-filled telescope, in this case not affected by such an evasive Fresnel-type aether wind.
The second option, the Fitzgerald-Lorentzian one, does not fare much better, and Michelson's "equally?" in brackets reveals already its invidious shortcoming. If all bodies moving relative to a stationary aether would expand or shrink at specific and hence presumably unequal rates, we theoretically should, by using measuring devices with different contraction coefficients, be able to pinpoint absolute motion. However, (e.g. in the many variations of the Michelson-Morley experiment
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subsequently performed), not the faintest indication of such an inequality has ever been found. Until a deviation from its general applicability will be observed the "equally" hence stands. But that means bolstering the case by means of introducing unobservables. And to quote D.W. Sciama, there is a "fundamental reason for objecting" to such a theory. If the length of all bodies is altered equally by their motion through the ether, then these alterations "cannot be observed except through the very phenomenon they were invented to explain".(37) As Louis Essen, with a typical British understatement, comments on Lorentz' clever ad hoc: "This theory was put forward very tentatively and was not generally regarded as being entirely satisfactory." And let me add, to prevent an indignant "Yes, but…", Essen's next sentence. "The Lorentz transformations are the basis of the special theory of relativity, but Einstein derived them from two assumptions of a general nature, which he raised to the status of principles "(38)
Michelson's third intimation looks, Copernically considered, the most promising. Subsequently it has been and is being put forward in many variations on the original theme by a G.G. Stokes (1819-1903) proposed "aetherosphere", which Michelson, until Einstein's appearance on the scene, "was to revere above all others".(39)
It cannot be denied that such semi-geocentric hypotheses take Hoek, Airy, and Michelson & Morley in stride. However, as long as the diameters of the envisaged Earth-bound aether "bubbles" are not experimentally established and their structure - whether homogeneous, stratified, or vorticose - elucidated, these explanations of the unexplained suffer from the same
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shortcoming as the Lorentzian one. Not yet in the least verified ad hocs fail to qualify as arguments, let alone as "proofs". They are by themselves only woolly excuses. Worse: until logically incontrovertible test results in their favour will have come to the fore the skeletons of Ptolemy, Aristotle, and Tycho Brahe still rattle happily in their cupboards. Just postulate not an "aetherosphere" embracing Mother Earth, but a "galactosphere" encompassing the stars. Then you will have come close to enthroning Tycho Brahe!
The Verdict of Logic
To the foregoing remarks an epistomological addendum is, sadly, yet in order. In a survey of the theoretical ratiocinations employed by all such classical scientific defenders of the Copernican confession, one aspect stands out for everyone to see: without exception they either use the logically invalid modus ponendo ponens (MPP) to escape from any valid modus tollendo tollens (MTT), or else they take refuge in unverified or unverifiable ad hocs. A short digression may help to make this clear.
Suppose that during a simple optical test I see a green light. I know a green source will produce green radiation. However, if I reject the clear conclusion that the observed phenomenon is caused by a green lamp because I believe only yellow lamps to be possible, then I can adhere to my firm faith by presupposing that somebody is holding a panel of blue glass between me and the light source. The anyway overhasty MPP conclusion that this source is green therefore does not impress me in the least.To my convictionof "yellowness
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alone" I may with perfect logic still stubbornly cling.
The other way around: forsooth, a yellow lamp will doubtlessly emanate yellow light. But I see a green glow, and therefore its source cannot be yellow. Have no fear - I again postulate the blue glass and in doing that neatly evade the scrape in which a valid MTT threatened to catch me.
All jesting apart: those blue-glass ad hocs are, of course, worthless exhibits of wishful thinking. Sober-scientifically they are without any value until I shall have observed these in-between panels of glass on the spot and in that way am able to demonstrate the actualness of my ad hocs convincingly. And these considerations with regard to compelling verifications count for all hypothetical, logically-correct syllogizing. The strength of conclusions drawn from straightforward interpretations of observations depends squarely on the premises and the additional ad hocs employed. If those premises and ad hocs are unverified or non-verifiable, then the conclusions rest, ten to one, on quicksand. True scientists should shy away from prejudiced hypotheses of that kind, but they often do not. If they feel their Weltanschauung threatened by what are for them unpleasant actualities, then any reasoning warding off such an unpleasantness will do!
Evaluating the cogitations of self-professedly unprejudiced science before the tribunal of logic we find this blue-glass trick, time after time, employed in the use of both theoretical syllogisms. For instance: the Boscovich-Airy reasoning is logically impeccable MTT. If P then Q - no Q, then no P. If we are on the move then stellar aberration observed through water will be greater than that observed through air. Therefore in case we do
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not observe this increase the Earth is at rest and the starry dome is revolving relative to us. But Airy had already decided to know - be it on no experimentally observed sublunar solid and indisputable grounds whatsoever! - that this is not and can not be true. Hence he and his supporters looked around and found applicable rational evidence that obviated the horrendous necessity of siding with the Inquisition in the Galileo trial of 1633. As already shown: an aether drag only demonstrable for water in motion relative to an observer provided the helpful ad hoc. Alas - not at all. That ad hoc is obtained by means of an MPP, an affirmation of the consequent. Before we can use it we shall have to demonstrate that Fizeau's experiment registered no more than a change in a drag already present in the water travelling with the Earth, for exactly that motion is on trial. True enough: if the Earth is moving through a luminiferous aether, or through a spatiality "at rest", however conceived or defined, and Fresnel's coefficient hits the nail on the head, then water-filled telescopes will not register increased aberration. No increase is observed, and hence we may conclude that Airy's test result is in complete harmony with Newton's vision. Well and good, but for an Earth at rest relative to space (or whatsoever mysterious entity it is in which or through which light travels at the constant velocity c), the Fresnel drag inevitably is reduced to zero and does not affect our measurements of stellar aberration as "explained" by Bradley.
The whole reasoning is a prime example of begging the question. Only after an experiment like that performed by Hoek in 1868, or that proposed by me for the first time in 1968, shall have been performed in e.g. a
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Concorde or space shuttle, and then will have given a negative result, will I be obliged to accept Airy's verdict, because in that case it will have become clear that indeed Fresnel's drag coefficient masks any change in motion or a change from rest to motion.
We shall therefore be well advised not to go beyond the inductively well confined and never yet successfully disputed absolute and constant velocity c of light in vacuo as independent of its source and the same for all Earth-bound observers. Disputed by measurements in flat space, that is - the only space, we should not forget, in which we are able to measure! And then it becomes difficult for Airy, et al, to vitiate their MTT reasoning. We may, as has been done and is done, throw in logically possible ad hocs, but so long as such ad hocs are not beyond doubt experimentally proven that procedure does not cut ice. No penny, no paternoster; no pay, no piper. If no fringe displacement correspondent with the Earth's supposed velocity, then no orbital, let alone galactic, motion of our globe through a relative to it stagnant luminiferous aether.
In Michelson's heliocentrically preconditioned mind the obvious corollary, a simple straightforward geocentric hypothesis did not get a chance to rear its unwanted head. A model effortlessly explaining Bradley's, Hoek's, Airy's, and his own test results?... Now or ever: never! Mortal men's habitat the gudgeon on which the Heavens turn?... Who can still believe such a medieval superstition? Referring the readers to that blue glass panel that spoiled the simple syllogisms: Michelson searched for and found those three helpful ad hocs, three pretexts able to ward off a disturbing and unwanted perspective. However, as I have shown: none
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of that MPP trio is strong enough effectively to disavow the logically compelling MTT he himself and Morley had confidently applied when constructing their interferometers.
Einstein to the Rescue?
It is well known that Einstein at different times and occasions, for understandably different reasons, gave different answers to questions about the occurrences that had prompted him to his views on motion, rest, and space-time. "By his own account the experimental results that had influenced him were the observations on stellar aberration and Fizeau's measurements on the speed of light in moving water. 'They were enough,' he is reported to have said in 1950."(40) Yes, and I think I understand the sentiment motivating him. If we cannot prove what we a priori "know" to be true, then we have to find a reason why such a proof eludes us.
Yet I will be the first one to admit that his clarification of the enigma baffling Michelson and his followers is a masterful movement of thought in a great and subtle mind on a high level of abstraction. Given the post-Christian Weltanschauung of our time, it is for those enmeshed in it pretty much mandatory to believe the relativity postulates. Surveying the struggle to keep Galileo enshrined, notwithstanding the accumulating evidence to the contrary, and recognizing the inefficacious logical shortcomings of every argument employed, they cannot but side with Einstein. With him they have to hail all those Copernican crusaders aspiring to a rational solution with an "A plague on both your
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houses!" For indeed, if the logical inference, time after time looming behind thought and test, is by all and sundry being declared impossible since unacceptable, then the only way out of the impasse is a move to supersede logic. That is to say: nothing less than a premise capable of turning all evidence favouring a geocentric Universe into evidence for an a-centric homogeneous one will suffice. But two wrongs don't make a right!
Permit me, before I pursue the matter any further, to quote a wise warning by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944). He himself certainly did not heed it when he presented the results of his 1919 SobralPrincipe eclipse expedition as hard facts, for today the scientific establishment looks at those askance.(41) Yet Sir Arthur's warning is thereby not disqualified. One man's failing is another man's lesson - we should, and I shall, take Eddington's caveat to heart.
"For the reader resolved to eschew theory and admit only definite observational facts, all astronomical books are banned. There are no purely observational facts about the heavenly bodies. Astronomical measurements are, without exception, measurements of phenomena occurring in a terrestrial observatory or station; it is only by theory that they are translated into knowledge of a universe outside."(42) So it is, and setting theory against theory in the quest for knowledge I hold that truly objective and unprejudiced appraisers will acknowledge a glaring datum. To wit: logically evaluated the contra-Copernican testimony willy-nilly obtained by level-headed classical experimental science is not over-whelming only for those who with open eyes decide to be blind. Airy and Hoek were compelled to
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accept as already proven what was - and is! - not yet proven: an omnipresent Fresnel drag caused by an at least 30 km/sec aether wind in all transparent materials, whether water, glass, perspex, champagne, or castor oil. However, no observer at rest on the Earth's surface can measure this drag as such. Only a supposed "change" in that drag becomes visible by setting these substances in motion relative to such an observer. Michelson and Morley, on the other hand, found the luminiferous aether nearly unaffected by the motion of the matter that it permeates. Hence it can be argued that Fresnel's theory holds for transparent substances moving through an aether at rest and therefore can only be measured by an observer at rest in that aether. Which is tantamount to saying that Hoek and Airy, (observer and substance both at rest), Fizeau, (observer at rest, substance in motion), and Michelson and Morley, all five of them have with one accord been vainly striving to show that the Earth is not at rest.
Unhappily: since 1905 this appraisal no longer presents a definite plus for the geocentric theory. Albert Einstein (1879-1955) came, saw, and conquered with his special theory of relativity. Declared that the physical laws are the same in all inertial frames of reference and that the speed of light in a vacuum is hence constant for all observers regardless of the motion of the source or observer. Then the controversial aspects that late nineteenth-century scientists had to wrestle with dissolve into thin air. As J. H. Poincaré (1854-1912) in 1904 already formulated it: the laws of physical pheno-mena are such that we do not have and cannot have any means of discovering whether or not we are carried along in a uniform motion of translation.(43) Or to
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phrase Einstein's theoretical substructure for this principle of relativity popularly: to us it looks as if the Universe is geocentric, but of course it is not. The Lorentz transformations, quantifying "equal" contractions that are never directly observable but necessarily true, explain why this is the case. For one result of these transformations is "that the two velocities in coordinate systems that are in relative motion do not add according to the methods used in classical mechanics. For example, the resultant of two velocities in the same line is not their arithmetic sum".(44) Hushing up a few experimental results that do not fit too well in the Einsteinian-Lorentzian scheme,(45) this non-measurable but not to be doubted "fact" again allows us (and that now non-classically!) to give short shrift to any effort aiming at a geocentric explanation of Airy's failure. The velocity of the light traversing the water-filled telescope "as seen by the observer is changed by the fraction 1-1/n2... No assumption of any 'dragging' is involved in the relativity arguments, nor is the existence of an aether even postulated."(46) Glory be, but this only if Lorentz' ipse dixit, which ipso facto cannot be shown to be true, really is true!
Gladly and without any mental reservations I admit that the theory of special relativity wonderfully "saves the phenomena". A summary of its prowess by Panofski and Phillips(47) almost convinces any doubting Thomas who peruses the evidence. Yet such a Thomas shall do well to bethink himself twice before becoming a true believer. No question about it: if the STR is true then the logically understandable hierarchical and Earth-centered Universe of Antiquity and the Middle Ages was a pipe dream. The problem remains the "if" in the last
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sentence. Time and theoretical thought do not stand still; the Special Theory, after eleven years of gestation, gave birth to the General Theory, a totally different kettle of fish. "Historians of future generations, therefore, will likely view the Special Theory more as a mark of stunning intellectual brilliance, which presaged the General Theory, rather than as a thing of value or permanence in itself. Hindsight now discloses it to be but one of four imposing and permanent steps into the new era. First was the problem with which such as Lorentz, Larmor, and Poincaré wrestled regarding covariant transformation between systems in relative motion when the instrumentation of experimental physics failed to record the expected factor of Earth velocity relative to interplanetary space... Fourth was Einstein's fascination in turn for Minkowski's geometric approach, followed by his determination to tackle the gravitational problems in similar manner' involving acceleration and non-Euclidian geometry in place of the flat space and constant velocity of the Special Theory, with the resulting General Theory. Among these four, only the climactic fourth is essential to Einstein's historical position in relativistic physics, the Special Theory being but one of the preliminary steps... No more value need therefore attach to the permanence of the Special Theory than to the discarded models of Lorentz and others, which preceded it."(48)
It seems to me that the author of this quote, Dr. Carl A. Zapffe, though bent on pleading his own cause, with these remarks may well be skirting a more promising approach in astrophysics. With regard to the General Theory as such: suppose the facile analogy of space as the frictionless surface of an expanding balloon,
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with all celestial bodies whirling around on it, to have value. Then Russell's metaphysical dilemma still stands. Einstein, in a haughty illusion "observing" the Universe from a transcendental observatory, only immaterially existing inside his skull, prophecies that if we will just join him there "on high" we shall see how there is nowhere a hold on the curved Heaven. Yet what if there really is an Almighty God looking at His creation from a nth dimension, and revealing in His Message to mankind that He has on this "balloon" established the Earth in such a way that it cannot be moved?... Who of us here below can do more than believe the one or the Other?
In the present context I am satisfied with the undeniable actuality that though the STR presumably allowed the astronomers to escape from a geocentric bugbear - and a daunting argument from design behind it! - the GTR has been compelled to declare the Earth-centered model "as good as anybody else's, but not better".(49)
There are, however, for a skeptic wary of buying a pig in a poke, a few reflections that will cause him to take Einstein's cure-all for the problems, sketchily paraded in the foregoing, with a little less than total conviction.
Non-Observables Prove Nothing
First of all, and again: both of Einstein's theories assume as "proven" that which is not "proven": an Earth orbiting the Sun. But since, I must expect, all those who read this sentence have with him been conditioned to believe that assumption as gospel truth, for them this argument falls to the ground.
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A second consideration possibly carries more weight. Metaphysics deals with unobservables, physics with observables. Accept Einstein's "sacred cow within a sacred cow",(50) the absolute velocity of light, that is. Furthermore take for granted that the Earth rotates and orbits a Sun, which is, as a nondescript member of the Milky Way, with this Way revolving relative to the aggregate of galaxies further out. Then the exigencies of applied physics and ineluctable logic force us to conclude that radiation reaching us from different directions will here on Earth be clocked at different velocities. This is not the case, and hence there must be a reason why. However that reason, actually Poincaré's "principle", is - allow me to repeat the sobering phrase - unobservable except through the very phenomenon it is invented to explain. To introduce Maxwell's notorious demon: if I account for the awkward Ptolemaic appearances by postulating legions of little gremlins adjusting the velocity of incoming light to the sacrosanct standard value c, then this preposterous theory and the found-ational assumption of the reigning relativity share, ontologically judged, the same nugatory status. To wit:
both want us to accept an explanation that by clearheaded science should be eschewed as worthless fantasy. A logician might even point out that equating Maxwell's demons with the mysterious capability of Poincaré's "principle" is not fair to those little nosee'ums. They are, after all, logically possible and hence admissible. For homo sapiens, who in his thinking, and doing, and research refuses to brush off the strictures of logic and the laws of mathematics, it is not easy to accept that relativity. It needs a wrenching of the mind "understandingly" to acknowledge that, though the
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Doppler effects are the same for sound waves and light wavicles", an observer "at rest" in the trajectory of a light ray, and all observers, relative to him moving with whatever speeds along that trajectory, yet will clock that ray's velocity relative to them at the constant velocity c. As science teachers know: when students for the first time are introduced to the special theory of relativity it is not the dullards in the class who initially are often unwilling to reconcile themselves to it. Until, of course, they begin to realize that a refusal logically constrains them to part with Copernicus' system. Which system, thanks to Galileo and his apostles, they have been brainwashed to deem "obvious". And therefore seeing no other way out of the dilemma, no other acceptable possibility in sight, they close their eyes and swallow what in their heart of hearts they know to be impossible, but gradually and under persistent peer pressure are converted into believing as scientific and self-evidently true truth.
Einstein himself, for that purpose designating logic as "common sense" once gave short shrift to the whole matter. Objections against his theory, he proclaimed, result from "a deposit of prejudice laid down in the mind prior to age of eighteen".(51) I know that I am banging my head against a wall, against a conviction pretty much ineradicably engraved on mankind's mind. Yet I cannot withhold myself from hoisting all relativists with their own petard by asking them whether their unshakable faith in Galileo's gospel is not just as well such a deposit In Einstein's 1905 paper he considers relativity for first order magnitudes "already proven".(52)But where is that proof or anything approaching it? I have been searching for those for
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twenty years and have found only syllogistically unsound demonstrations, untestable and therefore questionable ad hocs, circular reasoning, and Newton's laws, acknowledged not to be equal to the task of proving Copernicus when higher powers of the eccentricities of the planetary orbits are counted in.
Yes, I know: Einstein's relativity explains to Copernicus' disciples so many otherwise baffling physical phenomena. I shall be the last to deny it, or to question the table of experimental bases(47) "confirming" it mentioned earlier in this essay. If we accept Copernicus there is no way around it. The wearying trouble is that "if". Why do we have to side with him and Galileo, and on whose orders? Why do we remain unwilling level-headedly to realize that a fully, as well as any semi-geocentric, model will explain these phenomena just as cogently and should be added to the theories in that table just mentioned as relativity's equals on any score? And then that hackneyed combination of Einstein and the "E = mc2", endlessly bandied about in popular-scientific Western folklore! True, it can be deduced from the theory, but it does not prove STR, and does not depend on it, as Einstein himself has admitted. That formula has been derived in at least three non-relativistic ways,(53) and abandonment of STR will leave that Bomb-equation unharmed. Even in a vague manner to think that somehow Hiroshima in a most horrible way has confirmed the theory to be right is unwarranted. And modus ponendo ponens "proofs" may try to buttress its supposed veracity - in the nature of the case the logically necessary verification will be hard to come by.
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The Unfailing Import of Airy's Failure
Like everybody else I was of course, from my tender youth on, imprinted with pictures of an Earth going around the Sun and with assurances about countless galaxies of similar great lights far away. But in my adolescent years, after a long time of dodging the haunting issue and postponing a decision, I "somehow" was compelled to realize that among all messages claiming to possess the truly transcendent answers to the "Whence, why, whither?" of our being only the Bible had a convincing, that is a fully immanent, systematic comprehension surpassing, ring of truth. That Jesus - and His good news of God's eternal Kingdom to come -verily is the way, the truth, and the life I dared no longer deny.
Perusing and studying Holy Writ confronted me, however, with problems still requiring choices in relation to creation. That evolution a la Darwin is a piece of preposterous fiction I was already assured of in my willfully agnostic years. Nobody ever needed to tell me that behind the scene a mysterious active Intelligence had to be pulling the wires and calling the tune. Dead dust or something called "Nature", somehow endowed with impersonal but pan-scientific expertise, "designing" and "adapting" countless forms of life and transmitting by means of sperm and egg intricate patterns from mortal generation to mortal generation - I never saw, nor see, how a level-headed observer could, or can, accept such arrant nonsense. Still, under the sway of the prevailing varieties of theistic evolution in the country of my birth, the Netherlands, I began my personal pilgrim's progress. But reading and rereading
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Genesis in the context of the whole of Scripture I became more and more uneasy about glibly approving the manner in which even orthodox theologians manhandled the first eleven chapters of the sacred text to make it fit with the "facts" of science. That is, by treating the story as literal history from Abraham on, but declaring God's revelation about our present world's origins to be expressed in a sort of non-factual mood. For try as I might: at no point in the Biblical story-flow could I find the slightest indication of a change from poetic or mythical propensity into matter-of-fact history. Which made me conclude that for me the only way of faithfully and reverently doing justice to its informative content was to take the Genesis account literally. And becoming aware, after my emigration to Canada, of the resurgence of such an old-fashioned view on the subject, I eagerly jumped on the Creation Society bandwagon of Drs. Lammerts, Morris, et al.
Thinking, however, allows few standstills. Gradually it dawned on me that these brethren are still halting between two opinions. Rejecting secular scienti-fic theories about the origins of life on Earth, they still go along with those about our habitat's position in the cosmos. For apart from the trio of astronomers publish-ing their geocentric views in the Bulletin of the Tychonian Society, I still have to find one all-out creationist who takes Genesis 1:1-19, minus the verse 11,12 and 13, just as straight-forwardly as Genesis 1:20-31. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: he who accepts instantaneous fiat creation of our planet's flora and fauna has with regard to cosmogony thereby committed himself to a beginning of a Heaven containing nothing but a primeval Earth. Which Earth only after being
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proclaimed fit for plant life and having brought forth grass and herbs and trees, on the fourth day of the Hexaemeron found itself surrounded by Sun, Moon and stars for signs and seasons, days and years. Popularly formulated: a Bible-believing Christian cosmogony must reject a Big Bang now having resulted in countless Suns, millions of them possibly surrounded by a set of aggregates of matter, on many of which through aeons of time, life may well have evolved. Contrariwise it has to postulate sudden emergence of, to quote Hoyle, "the bubble in which we live", and a dump of matter without form providing after five days of formation the dust out of which we are fashioned. Vexed by this exegetical inconsistency with regard to the sacred text I felt myself driven to examine the solidity of the evidence on which present day astronomers erect their multiform models. And found - to cut a long story short - that the old, in Scripture assumed as self-evident, and until Galileo never widely or seriously doubted geocentric view of the world has never been disproven. Not only that: without exception all historians, secular as well as sacred, whom I consulted about the impact of Canon Koppernigk's heliocentric turnabout on mankind's Weltanschauung stressed its far reaching consequences. To quote one comment on the widespread effect of Darwin's Origin of Species summarizing the whole matter: "The theory of natural selection brought home as nothing else could do the radical change in man's status in the Universe and made dramatically clear the attack on old values that had actually been implicit in the whole scientific development beginning in the sixteenth century."(54)
Granted: whether modern man is, or is not, more than the still flawed product of a mega-evolutionary
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guided, or unguided, process is therewithal neither answered, nor settled. By what is called "natural light" and by the logic under the aegis of which man is compelled to think - at his impartial best he has to judge the contest between Creation and Evolution an insurmountable draw To turn the clock back either six thousand or six billion years is impossible. With regard to geology, fossilization, and biology it is therefore still each according to his acquired taste. If a transcendental Intelligent Force at some moment in time past called all being into being, we shall see the world of life we see. If the Darwinians, now by the scant supply of data pressed to posit a punctuated equilibrium, have hit the nail on the head we shall see the same, yet still supposedly evolving. Only with regards to the specifics assumed to have happened before the first amino acids arranged themselves in the murky soup-seas of the pristine Earth are we Anno Domini 1988 in a position to ask something sober-scientifically. To wit: is an Earth around which the Heavens revolve a superstitious fancy or a hard fact? Prior to Galileo's 1533 condemnation by the Church of Rome the latter view was taken for granted. From then on until 1916 the former one was imprinted on thinkers and non-thinkers alike. But after Einstein in that year burst for the second time upon the scene the tables were turned again: the geocentric model of the Universe, be it absolutely unacceptable, science cannot show to be wrong.
If this were all that can be said regarding the observable outcome of the world's developmental history from the at the moment theoretically fashionable Big Bang until the emergence of the biosphere on our planet among planets, then debates about the origin of
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life as well as about the structure of the cosmos are doomed to remain forever rationally undecided. And the present essay, I am fully aware of that, will be at best a voice crying in the wilderness, only convincing the already convinced. For theoretical thinking and concluding are not self-sufficient. When - as it has happened! - a prominent astronomer tells us that scientifically the Tychonian system of the world cannot be disproven, but that philosophically it is unacceptable, then he bares thereby the pre-rational foundation of all human thought to be the starting point of his convictions. And that starting point determines his approach to his scientific labours, whether he is fully aware of it or not. For his theoretical thinking does not lead him to his philosophical judgment, but his faith in human thinking's self-sufficiency misleads him into believing that this thinking can provide him with an unassailable truth. Which is an inference manifestly too feeble to build a world view on. "For" - to quote the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd - "if all philosophical currents that claim to choose their standpoint in theoretical thought alone, actually had no deeper presuppositions, it would be possible to convince an opponent of his error in a purely theoretical way But as a matter of fact, a Thomist has never succeeded by purely theoretical arguments in convincing a Kantian or a positivist of the tenability of a theoretical metaphysics".(55) Only castles in the air need no foundation. Everything else has to start from and to build on something, on a belief beyond reason taken to be self-evident "because...". At bottom the clash is not between scientific theories, but between pseudocertainties conceived in mortal minds and - those minds
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will claim - trumped-up stories about ghosts in the world machine. On the one side we have a faith shored up by deductions drawn from dumb data, which data during the sciences' development have often been manhandled to fit the Procrustus bed of a ruling paradigm. Confronting that faith is any believer's firm conviction that mortal man cannot by his own bootstraps hoist himself above time and space, but needs for origins, and for all knowledge, an Originator, Whose self-authenticating information he has to accept on trust and is unable to verify. That the Bible, and not Hesiod's Theogony, Mahomat's Koran, the Vedanta, the Eddas, or any other revelation from Above, provides us with such axiomatic "gnosis" is hence a statement beyond any rational argument, but a case of "believe it or not".
And nobody can do more than decide what to believe - whatever the wind or the whim prompting him or her. To prevent an opponent from attacking a straw man of his own making, and to make assurance doubly sure: in no way do I want to demean the Bible by using it as a scientific textbook. As history trustworthy, yes. However Joshua's "Sun, stand thou still!" and suchlike utterances I do not come out with. I might as well "prove" relativity with the statement in the story of St. Paul's shipwreck that the sailors supposed some land "coming near to them". If this were all that could be said...but it is not! For Einstein, I hold, is wrong. Neither the special, nor the general theory of relativity are sound sublunary and on that account sound sober-scientific constructs. With an appropriate apology I quote for a third time the New Scientist's characterization of Sir Fred Hoyle's trespass into the realm of metaphysics: Einstein has "betrayed the very standards on which the scientific
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community has been built".(l1) And a question "of the most extreme simplicity", on which a backslidden true believer in relativity, the late Herbert Dingle, not even after thirteen years of asking it got a straightforward answer, demonstrates that effectively with regard to the special theory.
"According to the theory, if you have two exactly similar clocks, A and B, and one is moving with respect to the other, they must work at different rates, i.e. one works more slowly than the other. But the theory also requires that you cannot distinguish which clock is the 'moving' one; it is equally true to say that A rests while B moves and that B rests while A moves. The question therefore arises: how does one determine consistently with the theory, which clock works more slowly? Unless this question is answerable, the theory unavoidably requires that A works more slowly than B and B more slowly than A - which it requires no super-intelligence to see is impossible. Now, clearly, a theory that requires an impossibility cannot be true, and scientific integrity requires, therefore, either that the question just posed shall be answered, or else that the theory shall be acknowledged to be false. But, as I have said, more than thirteen years of continuous effort have failed to produce either response. The question is left by the experimenters to the mathematical specialists, who either ignore it or shroud it in various obscurities, while experiments involving enormous physical risk go on being performed.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this question is exactly what it appears to be, with every word and phrase bearing its ordinary, generally understood, meaning; it is not a profoundly complicated
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question, artificially simplified to bring it within the scope of the non-scientific reader's intelligence. It is presented here in its full scientific reality, and the ordinary reader is as fully competent to understand whether a proffered answer is in fact an answer or an evasion as is the most learned physicist or mathematician".( 56)
I submit that there is a very basic reason why on this question no straight answers have been forthcoming: the "riddle" simply cannot be solved on the scientific plane. And I sometimes ask myself whether maybe the sharp minds to which Dingle addressed his query were not instinctively aware of this and therefore, evading the issue, have been confining themselves to circumlocutions missing the mark. He who takes the Armstrong Alert and Russell's Reminder to heart will realize this possibility. An observer "here below", supposedly with no hold on the void around his home in the Heavens, is on that account at a loss. He may see the distance between the two clocks increasing, but try as he might he cannot measure the motion or rest of either of them absolutely. Poincare's "principle of relativity" denies the possibility of doing this.
However, suppose we promote that observer to the post of bystander, the one rashly assumed by Gardner to authenticate the Twin Paradox, as outlined earlier. Then Dingle's question is easily answered. The clock moving with respect to the starry dome may slow down, the one at rest relative to the Universe as a whole will not. Alas: such a promotion is not feasible. For it requires that a bystander at rest "outside" the Universe assures us that our observer is also a bystander absolutely at rest "inside" the cosmos and not influenced
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by its motion. In short: the best Dingle's detractors can do is to obfuscate the affair and to fob him off with a Jekyll-and-Hyde device. And it is to their credit that all of them in their answer-no-answer game have shied away from the mortal sin of mixing metaphysics and orthophysics. Martin Gardner excepted, that is!
The Heart of the Matter
There is one consideration and there is an experimental proposal capable of testing its validity, which strongly argues against the dictum that space knows no place and movement no rest. General Relativity ruling the roost, the up-to~date astrophysical confession assures us that whatever celestial body we prefer to suppose as being at Heaven's centre will make no difference in the overall theoretical structure deducible from it. The cosmological conclusions derived from the observable phenomena will be the same whether we select Sirius, the Sun, or Earth as the solid point of departure for our thinking and conclusions about the cosmic building code.
I disagree. The extrapolations originating from an Earth taken to be at rest in space and those following from, e.g. a Sun for practical purposes assumed to occupy such a preferred place - they are totally discordant. The stargazer who takes his first clue from Copernicus will, historically tracing his way via Giordano Bruno, Thomas Digger, Newton, Mach, Lorentz, and Einstein, end up with one of the many cosmological models and cosmological scenarios today the vogue. On the other hand: the astronomer who begins to investigate the corollaries and consequences of
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Tycho Brahe's geocentric view is in for a nasty shock when visualizing the emerging features of this model in classical, three-dimensional "flat" space, the only space in which mankind non-analogically can visualize anything!
Allow me to explain why the geocentric explanation of Airy's failure, never yet convincingly banished, because not demonstrably falsifiable, leads from one thing to another.
To begin with: the theoretical status of the Earth-centered concept is today under Einstein's regimen higher than it has ever been since the 1687 publication of Newton's Principia, the ruling model now "giving increased respectability to the geocentric picture".(57) For the Ptolemaic and the Copernican view "when improved by adding terms involving the square and higher powers of the eccentricities of the planetary orbits, are physically equivalent to one another".(58) The Tychonian system "is in reality absolutely identical with the system of Copernicus and all computations of the places of the planets are the same for the two systems".(59) Not only that: in calculating those planets' perturbations, "the mathematician is forced to adopt the old device of Hipparchus and Ptolemy, the discredited and discarded epicycle. It is true that the name, epicycle, is no longer used, and that one may hunt in vain through astronomical textbooks for the slightest hint of the present day use of the device, which in the popular mind is connected with absurd and fantastic theories. The physicist and the mathematician now speak of 'harmonic motion', of Fourier's series, of the development of a function into a series of sines and cosines. The name has been changed, but the essentials
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of the device remain. And the essential, the fundamental point of the device, under whatever name it may be concealed, is the representation of an irregular motion as the combination of a number of simple, uniform, circular motions."(60) Laying out the course for, e.g., that rendezvous between the Giotto satellite and Halley's comet would have embroiled those old Greek savants in a geometric nightmare. It would have cost Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) still hours and hours of laborious cyphering to obtain all the necessary data, which the batteries of computers in a modern space center now spit out in a split second. In fact, however, there is only one basic ontological difference between the mathematical procedures applied before Copernicus and those used after Newton. In the days of yore the Earth was at rest in space; in A.D.1988, whether the practitioners of the art of celestial kinematics like it or not, their home in the heavens must be supposed to be at rest.
There are, however, troublesome particulars, which should not be overlooked. Bertrand Russel's contention that the observable phenomena will be the same whether the Earth rotates or the Heavens revolve, as well as Fred Hoyle's declaration that the geocentric view is as good as anybody else's, but not better, they are only tenable if certain presuppositions are assumed to be self-evident. Which they are not! For it is certainly not self-evident that the Earth is in motion relative to the space surrounding it.
Russell's view takes for granted a space pinpointing places and hence allowing motion through that space to be real, though apparently not directly but only relatively observable. Any drawing of the Universe
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unanswerable. If we tell them what viewed from a dimension superseding theirs is "really" the case, they can accept or reject our words but not verify them. Mutatis mutandis, with regard to any and all foundational information about how the cosmos around us came into being, is arranged now, and shall appear theoretically thinkable billions of years in the future, we clearly have, to quote St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith in transcendental information or faith in the truth of our own minds' constructs, which constructs history shows to be like grass that today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven. Trusting, as I do, the self-authenticating Divine Message of Holy Writ I feel therefore enjoined to prefer Tycho Brahe's system of the world above the everchanging confabulations of post-Galilean astronomy. Confabulations now, after Einstein, becoming so far-fetched that I cannot help but agree with W.R. Corliss: "As the structures of the cosmos and the subatomic world become more and more foreign to everyday experience, we have to ask whether such bizarre constructions may not be the consequence of incorrect physical theories, such as Relativity, the Big Bang hypothesis, and so on". Courageous words, to which he in his newest book adds support by means of an impressive collection of anomalies that are troubling theorists, but are seldom rightly given their due by the populizers of the Universe we are expected to believe in.(61)
Be this as it may, there is one result of these "free creations of the human mind", to borrow a phrase from Einstein(62) that concerns us here from the first to the last sentence. To wit: Sir Fred Hoyle's "as good as, but no
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better". It is, in the light of the foregoing, not difficult to become aware how that assertion implies an unspoken conditional clause: "provided that Newton has been practically right about the mechanics of the Solar System, but the therefore real motion of the Earth is not straightforwardly observable, a curious but undeniable fact, successively explained by Fresnel, by Stokes, by Lorentz, and now completely and finally by Einstein's cure-all". To quote the latter great man himself: "According to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there would not only be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it."(63) Or, as Martin Gardner puts it: "Indeed from the standpoint of relativity the choice of reference frame is arbitrary. Naturally, it is simpler to assume the universe is fixed and the Earth moving than the other way around, but the two ways of talking about the Earth's relative motion are two ways of saying the same thing."(64) For him: yes, but also for an "outside observer"?
Well, simpler is not always better, Occam's razor notwithstanding. Many things dubbed at first sight simple appear, more closely scrutinized, to be complex. Newton's solid atomic pellets have now been dissolved into quirky particles and his kinematics, for low
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velocities still approved by Einstein, may - who knows? be influenced by the starry dome above us in a Machian manner not yet generally acknowledged or fully understood!
Before continuing the argument I first, however, have to dispose of a red herring. A third apparent possibility, moving the "Flatland Universe" around the pencil point, representing our globe at rest relative to us, does not work - it is an untenable model. For then, viewed by Earthlings, the Sun will remain in the constellation of the Zodiac that it occupied when we began to shift the paper.
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Testing Einstein! Why? He Can't be Wrong!