Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity

All about Special Relativity from 1905. The principle of the law of special or restricted relativity without gravity.

Cover of PDF Theory of Relativity, Elements, and Criticism. Illustration of sailboat on purple sea.



Author: José Tiberius

Technical assistant:
Susan Sedge, Physics PhD from QMUL




Before discussing the law of restricted relativity, it is useful to situate its historical context:

  • 1896 – Discovery of natural radioactivity by A. H. Becquerel
  • 1897 – J. J. Thompson discovered the electron
  • 1900 – Hypothesis on energy and quanta by Max Planck, which is the origin of Quantum Mechanics
  • 1905 – Theory of Special Relativity by Albert Einstein
  • 1913 – Atomic model of N. Bohr
  • 1916 – General Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein
  • 1924 – L. De Broglie proposes the wave-particle duality of matter
  • 1926 – E. Schrödinger proposes his wave function equation for the Hydrogen atom
  • 1927 – W. K. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle
  • 1932 – J. Chadwick experimentally discovers the neutron
  • 1942 – First chain nuclear reaction in a nuclear reactor, conducted by E. Fermi.

A first idea presents itself immediately; Einstein’s Special Relativity was truly an audacious theory.

At the same time, and without taking away the negative recognition from restricted relativity, we realize that Einstein’s theory was not so original the moment it emerged. However, the process overall was very revolutionary, to which I would add Unlucky and a bit desperate!

In this book, there are two sections before the systematic study of Einstein’s Special Relativity. In the first one, what is relativity? I present a list of misleading coincidences, and paradoxes of cousins, as a small summary of why SR was accepted. Also, I give my concept of SR as a form of foregone conclusion, so that the reader may start understanding the philosophy of the present book.

Second section deals with Maxwell equations, Lorentz transformations, and Poincaré postulates as immediate precursors to relativistic physics. Together, and in the context above, they form the group of ideas that triggered the erroneous interpretation by Albert Einstein and the scientific community of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

In the book of short stories, The Story of Grandmother Ino is about the historical context of the Special Relativity, using plays on words, such as experience being the mother of science. Also, it is a story of fear and mystery because of the path chosen by modern science in the last century.

Of course, many other mistakes exist, the will appear in the analysis of each principle of Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity classified in the section of this book entitled Errors of relativistic physics. However, I am convinced that said errors would not have happened, or would have been overcome without difficulty if it had not been for the interpretation above of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

In the third section, besides the postulates of the Theory of Special Relativity, I discuss its elements with a neutral presentation, to have a basis upon which to direct my criticisms. Moreover, I am always trying to limit the use of mathematics, and explaining the technical meaning of the words.

In particular, two aspects will be touched upon. On the one hand, the problem induced by some terminological elements or concepts most used, because of confusion, complexity or both. On the other, I will point out specific inaccuracies and erroneous interpretations of experiments –especially thought experiments–, upholding Special and General Relativity today.

Those who wish to delve deeper into Einstein’s theory will not have any problem if they consult any introductive book to Modern Physics. I would recommend books from the previous year to university, the first year of the university, or popular science books; as I fear that more specialized books on restricted relativity can be too convoluted, and can focus on the mathematics, or thought experiments, given that the space without gravity does not exist.

On the Internet there is also an abundant Webography dedicated to restricted relativity.


2.a) What is relativity?

It is a scientific theory! In arguments explaining what relativity is, there is usually a mention of the scientific method; which is to say, every theory –though it may be generally accepted– can be flawed. What a coincidence!

Moreover, as if it was a fairy-tale, they add that a new theory must always include the previous one as a particular case. Incredibly, they seem to forget the current state of the Ptolemaic system –famous theory affirming the Earth was the center of the universe–. Undoubtedly, this is another expression of the ignorance culture. I suppose they are trying to convince themselves, although they do not seem to quite manage it.

Time is relative because of the Theory of Special Relativity of 1905, and subsequently, because of General Relativity (RG) of 1916. However, the latter affects time by establishing the principle of equivalence between gravity and accelerated systems and thereby assigning gravity the temporal effects of movement in Special Relativity.

Let us briefly mention a collection of coincidences and the paradoxes of cousins –confusing concepts or terminology– that made possible an interpretation of Modern Physics, so erroneous that it forced modifications in the philosophy of science.

Let us briefly mention a collection of coincidences and the paradoxes of cousins –confusing concepts or terminology– that made possible an interpretation of Modern Physics, so erroneous that it forced modifications in the philosophy of science.

  • Misleading Coincidences

    • The philosophical difficulty of admitting the drag of light by the Earth gravity field –LUM Aether (Luminiferous, universal, and mobile), or tension of longitudinal curvature of the Global Aether–, by supposing a return to geocentrism, which provoked so many headaches in the development of modern science.

    • The real subjectivity and imaginary relativity of time

    • Inexperience at the beginning of last century, and its mother, innocence, which would be the great-grandmother of science

      Albert Einstein (1879-1955) (Public domain image)
      Albert Einstein writing on a blackboard.
    • Tendency of science to keep advancing, or at least, not to move backward

    • Coincidence of the frame of reference of Earth with the natural reference frame, or privileged frame, of light on Earth –Einstein’s General Relativity establishes this characteristic without saying it explicitly.

    • There is something similar to relativistic mass, and the mass-energy equivalence, albeit a partial or contextual equivalence.

    • Pythagoras’s theorem, Lorentz’s equations, and the quantifiable relation between mass and speed or kinetic energy

    • The mathematic complexity of the relativistic model, mixed with an excessive philosophical influence, which provoked a resentment of the scientific method and the loss of essential common sense, when talking about the predominance of reason over usefulness.

    • The correlation of professional interests with abstraction increase in this matter

    • The ameisin writing style of Albert Einstein, and his intuitive control of mathematics

    • The real effects of gravity on the mass and electromagnetic energy mathematically expressed in General Relativity and its concatenation to the most incorrect point in Special Relativity.

    • The attraction associated with time-travel and the idea of immortality.

  • Paradoxes of the cousins

    Of course, all these paradoxes have an explanation, though it may be somewhat convoluted. Also, if one does not accept them, it must be because one does not understand Relativity, rather than because it is badly explained or does not make any sense.

    • Convincing the brain that what is white is black is not an easy task

      For example, the fact that one meter is larger than another is, or that the duration of a second is longer than another is.

      Also, this length or duration depends on the angle of observation. The brain ends up not knowing what we are talking.

      Alternatively, even that space and time are interchangeable.

    • The use of the word postulate in the sense of axiom

      The usual meaning in the philosophy of science is usually the opposite; something proposed that one must prove. Of course, particular connotations may vary with different languages.

      • Definition of the second

        Since 1967, Wikipedia has defined the second as the time that a Cesium atom takes to do 9,192,631,770 periods of radiation.

        This definition is consistent with Relativity; when the atom is moving on Earth, it takes less time, which it also does if it is on a lower point or a point with more gravity. That is to say; the second is shorter.

        I do not know why, but Wikipedia also says that this duration is more stable than the previous definition of the second, which referred on the orbit of the Earth and was of an absolute nature.

        However, on the BIPN ** Web page, it says that the Cesium atom must be at rest. In this case, time would cease to change with acceleration, and the Theory of Relativity would be false. Therefore, we have a definition and modification with opposite meanings. It is a nice adaptation; it must be Darwin’s influence.

      • Definition of the meter

        In Relativity, the speed of light is not an experimental measure; its quantification is an axiom. Moreover, the distance light travels in a second divided by 299,792,458 parts is a meter. In fact, the distance traveled by light in a relative second is variable.

        Consequently, it seems that no one saying the constant speed of light is an experimental fact knows what he or she is talking.

    • Electromagnetism and relativity

      Maxwell deduced the speed of light in a traditional frame, and about the properties of a supposed aether. However, usually, people use his deduction as proof of the axiom of light maximum velocity, which does not need proof.

    • Reference frame

      • The definition of two inertial systems means one is in uniform relative movement with respect to the other, but people constantly talk about an inertial system without any relation to another, which does not make much sense.

      • However, it makes sense when we are talking in terms of GR, but people use the inertial concept in the first explanations of SR.

      • Moreover, in GR the definition of an inertial system has not only changed, it no longer needs another system of reference.

      • By the way, the word “inertial” does not adequately represent the concept in both SR and GR, given that a system of reference does not have mass or inertia, as it is an abstract concept.

      • Reference systems are also called observers, when in normal conversation; an observer is external to a system.

    • Thought experiments

      These thoughts are anything but experiments. In fact, they clearly show the lack of real experiments, and often, the conclusions are included in the premise, or hypothetic results are erroneous.

      Being positive, they present a logical, but partial aspect of supposed reality, and a conclusion, which comes with an unwarranted scientific generalization.

    • Light does not have mass or physical support

      Typically, something with these characteristics is an abstract concept that cannot produce physical effects, so we should call it dark light or dark magic.

    • Invariant mass

      So, where do these much-used expressions, such as relativistic mass and rest mass, come from?

      Of course, mass is invariant because its measurements are always at rest. 1.e., for the definition of the unit of mass, the condition of zero velocity is a requirement. When for the definition of a second it is not because it is said absolute rest does not exist.

      The trick is to consider a mass in motion as part of a bigger system and to calculate the proper mass of the system as a whole.

      Kinetic energy has an equivalent mass, but it is not mass. Physicists do not know what it is, but they know that it is not at rest.

      One has to admit; these concepts are brilliant.

    • General Relativity

      • It opposes SR in almost every way. If SR does not explain something, GR does it.

      • It contradicts and limits SR by imposing a privileged reference frame without saying so in many cases.

      • It is less general than SR because equations only have a local solution.

      • It confirms predictions that are not predictions.

        GR confirmed predictions experimentally with already known values. It tried to cover up GR is partially an ad hoc mathematical theory.

    • Doppler Effect of light

      If the speed of light is constant and maximum, the existence of its Doppler Effect it is weird.

  • My concept of Special Relativity

    The two postulates of Albert Einstein’s Restricted Relativity (SR) are purely mathematical and very elegant. They are a subtle way of saying what he wants to say, whilst maintaining a high level of obscurity.

    Hiding the weaknesses with artificial complexity is necessary. For example, where does maximum speed in the whole universe come from? How can it be that the speed of light is c when measured from the Earth and that c is the speed of the same photon measured from the Sun, despite Earth’s relative speed to the Sun?

    Why is it so good that, for each point of the universe, units for the majority of magnitudes in the International System of Units represent different physical realities?

    Another example of simple concepts, the second postulate of the Theory of Special Relativity could mean formulae for the laws of physics are expressed the same in English, Spanish, and all other languages. After all, mathematics is another language.

    In this case, we would have no choice but to make relative English words, Spanish words… In addition, we would have to make relative adjectives, adverbs, and other minor grammatical structures.

    If we find any problem with meanings obtained by applying the appropriate terms, we could always resort to making relative the linguistic structure. For example, we could use a small geometric defect in grammatical books, or simply by tearing out the pages, in case of a slight physical or mental desperation.

    Careful! It is easy to get confused sometimes!

    Without the Michelson-Morley experiment, Einstein’s relativity would not exist. Another interpretation of the results is that light moves on gravity field –tension of longitudinal curvature of the reticular structure of matter–, as if this structure were, in some way, the mobile aether sought after by classical minds, but with other characteristics, such as LUM Aether (Luminiferous, universal, and mobile).

    To demonstrate the existence of the LUM Aether (Luminiferous, universal, and mobile), I have proposed an experiment, “Distant Michelson-Morley” (DMM), because it would be like the Michelson-Morley experiment, but at a distance from Earth’s gravitational field. The same experiment LISA, but with different objectives, was scheduled to be carried out, before by NASA and now by ESA.

    The results of the DMM should be the opposite of the Michelson-Morley experiment, and the same results predicted by the classical minds, although the explanation would be different.

    It is true velocity and gravity share many physical characteristics, but this does not mean they are identical.

    I think restricted relativity (SR) is a consequence of multiple errors in the interpretation of reality, brought about by numerous coincidences. Among them, the mass-energy equivalence, and the omnipresent inverse square law stand out.

    I suppose Special Relativity will disappear without another theory taking its place, given that all it does is obscure the reality with complex mathematics. Moreover, whenever its flaws or contradictions are obvious, the elucidation passes to GR, as in the paradox of the twins.

    Current orthodox has only the GR in existence, though GR does contain SR as a partial analysis.

    In other words, what will remain from the Theory of Relativity; will be the more or less correct part of the relativistic mass, and the effects artificially explained by General Relativity, which will obviously move towards a more rational justification.

    The new Global Physics is a theory of everything. Global Physics attempts to lay a new paradigm defining time, energy, and other concepts without making them relative, or adding spatial dimensions.

    A significant advantage of the disappearance of Albert Einstein’s theories will be that scientific minds will go back to being much more intuitive, and we all will cease wasting an enormous amount of brain energy.