The Foundation of General Relativity

Concerning 'The Foundation of the Generalised Theory of Relativity'  (1916).

Many informed experts on 'time' seem to just assume that Einstein's Special Relativity (SR) proved that time exists in some way, and thus that because General Relativity is a hugely successful development of SR, this second paper confirms the existence and nature of time to an even greater extent.

However, as it can be seen that while Special Relativity does prove many mysterious relativistic effects exist in the universe, SR does not actually, directly prove the existence of time other than as a useful notion - it can similarly be seen that while General Relativity does legitimately expand on SR, General Relativity also does not prove the existence of time.

The start of the paper...

According to wikipedia, the translation of Einstein's second paper on Relativity by Satyendra Nath Bose, is as follows...


The Foundation of the Generalised Theory of Relativity
By A. Einstein.

The theory which is sketched in the following pages forms the most wide-going generalization conceivable of what is at present known as "the theory of Relativity;" this latter theory I differentiate from the former "Special Relativity theory," and suppose it to be known.

The generalization of the Relativity theory has been made much easier through the form given to the special Relativity theory by
Minkowski,

which mathematician was the first to recognize clearly the formal equivalence of the space like and time-like co-ordinates,

(My underlining)


Here Einstein clearly indicates that "The generalization of the Relativity theory has been made much easier through the form given to the special Relativity theory by Minkowski,".

This indicates of course that Einstein has taken on terminology and ideas arising from (Herman) Minkowski's analysis of Einstein's original paper on special relativity.

He then goes on to say, "which mathematician was the first to recognize clearly the formal equivalence of the space like and time-like co-ordinates,"

Which indicates that the idea that 'Space' and 'Time' coordinates may be seen as being equivalent in some way, came from Minkowski's analysis. And it is this that ultimately leads to the idea and term 'Space-time.

the problem here is that Einstein is acknowledging and endorsing the idea that space and time may be legitimately merged in some way. And, because Einstein is clearly a man of great achievement and reputation, many people may take this to automatically mean that the existence of time has been proven or confirmed.

(SEE >> ∆ On the Electro-dynamics of Moving Bodies. )

However, a careful analysis of Einstein's first paper on Special Relativity (see above)  shows that this initial paper itself did not actually discuss, or prove the existence of, anything other than matter and motion ('now').

It has also not been shown that Minkowski separately proved the existence of time. But it seems likely that he just assumed Einstein's work had in some way proved time exists (because of the way it is worded), or that it is in some way 'obvious' that time exists.

Thus, while Einstein indicates in General Relativity that it is legitimate to 'merge' space and 'time', this is not shown to actually be proven or valid - especially if in GR, Einstein is building on an unsubstantiated assumption, that Minkowski made, about an unsubstantiated assumption that Einstein himself made in SR.

This is not to say that the essence and usefulness of Relativity is dismissed. But only that, unless the actual ('physical') existence of time is proven elsewhere, the effects revealed by GR should be interpreted as effects that will be happening here now in locations throughout the universe, and not effects that prove the existence of time, or that happen 'over' a thing called 'time'.

likewise unless the real existence of time is proven elsewhere, then 'time' should just be seen as a very useful, if not indispensable, mental tool or idea. And as such the idea of 'seeing' or imagining time to exist, and seeing or imagining 'time' as a 'fourth dimension' should be seen as a very useful mental and mathematical tool or model. but not as a real and existing thing.

M.Marsden. 

 

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