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Einstein’s lost hypothesis is being retested

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A twist to nuclear energy?

When Ernest Sternglass walked up the steps at 112 Mercer Street in April 1947, he knew it would not be a normal day. Like a church deacon summoned to meet the Pope, Sternglass—a 23-year-old researcher at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, D.C.—had arrived in Princeton, N.J., at the invitation of its most renowned resident, Albert Einstein. Having completed only a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, he had written to Einstein earlier that month about the work he was doing in his lab. To his great surprise, not only did Einstein promptly write back, he requested that Sternglass visit Princeton to discuss the work in person.

What Sternglass didn’t know is that his visit to Einstein would set off a chain of correspondence, involving both an unpublished experiment (his) and an unpublished hypothesis (Einstein’s) that together may constitute one of the century’s most important disregarded pieces of science. The reason why the science was overlooked is plain enough: It was at least a generation ahead of its time. Now, more than half a century later, the work is being re-examined, with potentially profound implications for sustainable energy production. For Sternglass was to discover how to create free neutrons with household wall socket emergy levels—and Einstein was to explain why.

Mark Anderson, “Einstein’s Lost Hypothesis” at Nautilus

There were setbacks. Read on.

See also: Einstein’s only rejected paper. It was the only one reviewed anonymously, as is the practice today. (Robert J. Marks)

32 Replies to “Einstein’s lost hypothesis is being retested

  1. 1
    Retired Physicist says:

    Einstein: the guy who figured out that t isn’t just t. You need t’ too.

  2. 2
    FourFaces says:

    Einstein: the guy who couldn’t figure out nonlocality and insisted that gravity was local and traveled at c; the guy who claimed reality was 100% deterministic from the infinite past to the infinite future (his God hates playing dice); the guy who gave us spacetime (a block universe), wormholes and time travel; the guy everyone must admire because where would Star Trek physics be without him?

    That guy?

  3. 3
    Retired Physicist says:

    We know for a fact gravity travels at c.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Verry interesting indeed. KF

  5. 5
    FourFaces says:

    Retired Physicist:

    We know for a fact gravity travels at c.

    No you don’t. Gravitational waves are crackpottery. LIGO is a multi-billion dollar scam. 😀

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    FourFaces when someone with the handle “Retired Physicist” tells you that, “We know for a fact gravity travels at c”,,, perhaps it might be time for you to go back to school to learn basic physics?

    Just a suggestion.

    “Here’s your sign!”
    – Bill Engvall

  7. 7
    FourFaces says:

    Bornagain77 appeals to authority, the sign of a weak mind.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Whatever. another ad hominem like that and I will join PaV in seeking to have you banned. from UD.

  9. 9
    FourFaces says:

    Bornagain77 tells me to go to back to school to get an education and then accuses me of engaging in an ad hominem. Hypocrisy is funny that way. 😀

  10. 10
    Retired Physicist says:

    FF you should get the book I got decades ago:

    It’s THE gravity book.

    Gonna need vector calc and matrix transform math first btw.

  11. 11
    FourFaces says:

    Yo, Retired,

    If you need math to understand physics, you understand jack. Gravity existed long before any math was invented. The really great thing about Newton is that, when asked “why do things fall?”, he replied, “I feign no hypothesis.” In other words, math explains nothing, unless you’re a charlatan. But Einstein was so confident that he understood gravity. Why, it’s just the curvature of a fictitious spacetime, a block universe in which nothing happens. LOL.

    While you’re playing with your equations, do you mind explaining why a body in inertial motion remains in motion? Oops, never mind. I’m just messing with you. I know you don’t know. But do keep showing off about math. In the meantime, I’ll be lounging by the pool eating delicacies and drinking fine wine. 😀

  12. 12
    Retired Physicist says:

    “if you need math to understand physics, you understand jack.”

    That’s pretty much exactly wrong. You don’t really understand anything in Physics *deeply* until you can do the math. Sometimes not even then. I could do the special relativity calculations *years* before it ever made sense on a deep intuitive level.

  13. 13
    FourFaces says:

    Yo Retired,

    Do you know why nothing can move in spacetime? Or why a body in inertial motion remains in motion? Or are you just showing off. All that math and you understand nothing. But I’m used to people like you. Time for more wine. 😀

  14. 14
    Retired Physicist says:

    Conservation of momentum is an observation about the world.


    What are you even babbling about.

  15. 15
    Ed George says:


    What are you even babbling about.

    It’s Mapou, Louis Savain. He has a long history of mindless dithering. Just like Joe Gallien and Virgil Cain. Not the the sharpest tacks in the ID box.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    RP, a very powerful observation indeed! KF

  17. 17
    Retired Physicist says:

    Ed George, let me tell you a funny story. Several decades ago when I was getting my undergraduate degree, the guy who taught my first thermodynamics class told us all a cute story. He said that he had just gotten his PhD and just became an assistant professor at Famous School X, when, a few weeks into his new job he got a curious envelope in his department mailbox. He opened it up, and it was a manifesto. Written by a guy who thought he had it all figured out, and whose new Theory of Everything was gibberish. Misusing basic terms, crazy fake math, etc. He got a chuckle out of it, threw it in the trash, and didn’t think about it again. Well, about a month or so later he gets another weird envelope in his department mailbox, and it’s another crazy lunatic. And he reads it and it’s just nonsense of the highest order, chucks it in the trash and doesn’t think of it again. Well another month goes by and he gets another such manifesto. And this was just crank nonsense again and it wasn’t entertaining anymore. So he went to the department secretary and said look there’s a dozen physicists in this department. Don’t give me all the manifestoes. Divide them all up evenly among all the physicists. And she looked at him and said, “I do”.


  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Retired Physicist,

    It may sadden you, but FourFaces will not be entertaining you anymore.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Acartia Eddie:

    He has a long history of mindless dithering.

    And you are a proven liar and insipid troll. Congratulations.

    It’s very telling that “mindless dithering” can easily demonstrate that you are a liar and insipid troll. And it is also very telling that an unsharpened tack can easily demonstrate that you are a moron.

    That’s gotta hurt. But seeing that you are also willfully ignorant, and hiding in your basement, I am sure you won’t be fazed.

  20. 20
    Retired Physicist says:

    Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest prejudices in history. It was already ancient when Martin Luther wrote his foul book five centuries ago. FourFaces will be back under some other name.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    RP, the funniest one is, one of those cranks was newton, last of the Magi. KF

  22. 22
    Retired Physicist says:

    Newton was a professor, operating within the system. He held the Lucasian chair of mathematics At Cambridge after his buddy Professor John Barrow. I am sure he dealt with the cranks too. Of course he did many of his important things as a student. He was definitely a crank, with respect to his astrological nonsense. But many physicists have been cranks outside or even inside of their profession. John Wheeler was a lunatic. We don’t remember Newton for his Christian jabberings or his alchemy, we remember him for the physics he did.

  23. 23
    daveS says:

    I think cranks who happen to be geniuses and are actually productive should be put in a separate category.

    For me, the “classic” crank is someone of at best average intelligence, who really has no idea what he is doing, yet has convinced himself (they’re all men, right?) that he has found an elementary error in Einstein’s work, or that he has built a device that achieves “overunity”, etc. Stubborn as all get-out, usually engaging in conspiratorial thinking as well.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    RP, you left off the alchemy and related stuff — oops, f/n aside; years of work. There’s some phil — the General Scholium has serious food for thought — and some pretty idiosyncratic and radical theology. Keynes on the Newton papers is a blast. But the point is, geniuses come in all flavours like the beans from Harry Potter. I cannot omit the friend who ate his supper as a prank. Newton came up, I thought I hadn’t eaten but obviously I must have. In my uni we used to have gallows humour about certain depts having reserved rooms in the psych ward of an integral teaching hospital. KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, yes, there are odd sorts out there and there are those who claim theoretical insights they cannot warrant; for nearly a decade after the miracle year 1905, Einstein was thought to be one. A cautionary tale. . As for conspiracies, one should be prudent but the reality is there are all sorts of hidden agendas out there. For me, running across Cecil Rhodes’ first will was eye-opening, considering the history of the last 100 years. Never mind, Einstein spotting right off, collective electron action; opening up later insight on electroweak interactions likely lodged in adsorption layers and cracks etc, is a big deal and sign of just how insightful he was. Looks like there is something here beyond dismissiveness on cold fusion. KF

  26. 26
    BobRyan says:

    Einstein advanced physics by generations, in much the same way Newton did before him. Hawking, on the other hand, never should have ventured into physics. He was a mathematician playing in a world he was never suited for.

  27. 27
    Bob O'H says:

    RP @ 17 –
    I forget who it was, but I read one famous physicist’s solution to the problem of crank manifestos was to respond with an apology because he wasn’t a good enough physicist to be able to comment, but here was the address of someone who would. He’s then give the address of the previous crank to have contacted him.

  28. 28
    Bob O'H says:

    BTW, the only crank communication I had was from someone convinced that Finns were actually Neanderthals. As I was living in Finland at the time, I found this quite amusing.

  29. 29
    JVL says:

    Bob O’H: the only crank communication I had was from someone convinced that Finns were actually Neanderthals. As I was living in Finland at the time, I found this quite amusing.

    So . . . Finns aren’t a lot hairier than other Europeans? There goes a potential thread of erotic fiction down the toilet.

  30. 30
    Retired Physicist says:

    Bob O’H: In my experience the clearest immediate sign of a physics crank is they’ve got a lot of words and little or no math.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    RP, the next issue is the quality of the math and underlying concepts and axiomatic commitments: GIGO. Particularly, if there are perpetuum mobiles or counter-flows out of the magic of fluctuations . . . why, for one seeing alphanumeric, often interwoven, algorithmic machine code with editing and proof reading in the heart of the living cell is so decisive. Though of course, one has to be restrained in semi-popular contexts. KF

    PS: Wigner’s observation tickled me for years. i argue that math is key because it captures aspects of logic of being tied to the logic of structure and quantity.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    Astrophysicists confirm cornerstone of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – JUNE 10, 2020
    Excerpt: “Above all, it is the unique configuration of that system, akin to the Earth-Moon-Sun system with the presence of a second companion (playing the role of the Sun) towards which the two other stars ‘fall’ (orbit) that has allowed to perform a stellar version of Galileo’s famous experiment from Pisa’s tower. Two bodies of different compositions fall with the same acceleration in the gravitational field of a third one.”
    “The pulsar emits a beam of radio waves which sweeps across space. At each turn this creates a flash of radio light which is recorded with high accuracy by Nançay’s radio telescope. As the pulsar moves on its orbit, the light arrival time at Earth is shifted. It is the accurate measurement and mathematical modeling, down to a nanosecond accuracy, of these times of arrival that allows scientists to infer with exquisite precision the motion of the star,” says Dr. Guillaume Voisin.
    The measurements were recorded by a collaborative team from The University of Manchester, Paris Observatory—PSL, the French CNRS and LPC2E (Orléans, France), and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. The pulsar orbits two white-dwarf stars, one of which orbits the pulsar in only 1.6 days at a distance about 10 times closer to the pulsar than the planet Mercury is from the Sun. This binary system, a bit like Earth and Moon in the solar system, orbits with a third star, a white dwarf of 40% the mass of Sun, located slightly further than the distance separating the Earth-Moon system from the Sun.
    In the solar system, the Lunar-laser ranging experiment has allowed to verify that both Moon and Earth are identically affected by the gravity field of the Sun, as predicted by the universality of free-fall (orbital motion is a form a free-fall). However, it is known that some deviations to universality might occur only for strongly self-gravitating objects, such as neutron stars, that is objects the mass of which is significantly made of their own gravitational energy thanks to the famous Einstein’s relation E=mc2. The new pulsar experiment carried out by the team fills the gap left by solar system tests where no object is strongly self-gravitating, not even the Sun.
    The team has demonstrated that the extreme gravity field of the pulsar cannot differ by more than 1.8 part per million (with a confidence level of 95%) from the prediction of general relativity. This result is the most accurate confirmation that the universality of free fall is valid even in presence of an object which mass is largely due to its own gravity field, thus supporting further Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
    The paper, “An improved test of the strong equivalence principle with the pulsar in a triple star system,” by Voisin et al, is published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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