# The Naked Scientists Forum

### Author Topic: Evidence for large scale length contraction?  (Read 56712 times)

#### lightarrow

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #25 on: 04/09/2012 20:26:04 »

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Without a preferred frame, the distances between things can be measured accurately within the frame in which they're stationary, and that would arguably be the truest measurement.
"Without a preferred frame" and "within the frame in which..." are mutually contradictory. You always have to specify a frame of reference, it *doesn't exist* a "lenght" independent of it.

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But lightarrow said:
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If you are still with respect to Earth, every Earth's dimension has a value, in your frame of reference; if you are moving with resperct to Earth, those dimensions are different, as measured in that new frame of reference (because of #).
In relativity you *cannot* say: "the lenght is 2 metres", you have to say: "the lenght is 2 metres as measured in this specific frame of reference".

Does this claim that Earth changes shape as it is measured from different frames of reference?
Certainly. In a frame of reference which is still with respect of our planet, the Earth is spherical (and of course every human being is flattened too); in another, moving, frame, it's not (and of course every human being is flattened too). Where is the problem?

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This, of course, is impossible and has never been empirically observed.
You're wrong for both assertion. Maybe you still haven't totally grasped what "measure of lenght" means, read again my first post. A measure of lenght *is* frame-dependent, and so is, as consequence, an object's shape.

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So the claim seems to be that there are no actual objects with intrinsic properties (or distances between them) independent of how they are observed/measured?
Define "actual".

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Here is another “reality check” against large scale length contraction:
Say an alien probe is discovered heading toward Earth at a significant fraction of light speed. From Earth’s frame it is measured to be ten meters long, length contracted because of its velocity relative to earth. It is decided to go out and intercept/capture it in one of our very high speed space shuttles (of the future.)
Our shuttle has a ten meter cargo bay. Will the probe fit into the bay?
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/relativ/polebarn.html
There are an infinity of relativity "paradoxes". Of course they are not real paradoxes, after an accurate analysis of the problem's physics.

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... A very practical test of “actual length” vs “contracted length.”
The answer is “no” because the probe’s “actual length” must be longer than its “contracted length” for it to appear as ten meters long from earth’s frame in this case.
Lightarrow, please address this challenge and the “earth changing shapes (diameters)" challenge.  Thanks.
I have solved these problems tens of times, you simply have to remember the definition of lenght I gave you in my first post:"...simultaneously measured..."
« Last Edit: 05/09/2012 13:27:22 by lightarrow »

#### lightarrow

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #26 on: 04/09/2012 20:29:43 »
Yes - we're all pretty much agreed now (I think) that the objects don't change, but that the measurements do,
Two contradictory statements, put in this way. Physics concerns measures; if an object's measure changes, then the object changes.
Unless you intended something else...

#### yor_on

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #27 on: 04/09/2012 23:12:28 »
heh :)

No we haven't David, agreed that is. I will stand by it is frame related (observer dependent) and as 'real' as can be, from the frame measuring.

#### lightarrow

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #28 on: 05/09/2012 13:29:46 »
heh :)

No we haven't David, agreed that is. I will stand by it is frame related (observer dependent) and as 'real' as can be, from the frame measuring.
At least you agree with me

#### yor_on

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #29 on: 05/09/2012 15:33:11 »
Yep, I do :)
So we are, let's see here? 2 against 2 sort of :)
A mirror of the discussion elsewhere too methinks?
Or maybe 3 doubting, 2 finding it true.

It all depends on what faith one has in Einsteins predictions and field equations. Saw someone write somewhere that he 'guessed' at them. That's not true, he wrestled with finding the right type of equations for years, but he already 'knew' that they had to fit, because he could see the implications in his mind.

Math is terribly hard and there's such a lot of it.

#### old guy

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #30 on: 05/09/2012 18:29:07 »
OK, as author of this thread, I think it's time to "cut to the chase."
Lightarrow said:
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Physics concerns measures; if an object's measure changes, then the object changes.
(Also):You always have to specify a frame of reference, it *doesn't exist* a "lenght" independent of it.

This claims that things have no length (shape, etc.) on their own, intrinsically, independent of measurement.
Me:
"Does this claim that Earth changes shape as it is measured from different frames of reference?"
Lightarrow:
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Certainly. In a frame of reference which is still with respect of our planet, the Earth is spherical...; in another, moving, frame, it's not (and of course every human being is flattened too). Where is the problem?

The "problem" is that, "in the real world" Earth does not change shape with every different possible measurement of it. It is in fact nearly spherical. As I said: "This, of course, is impossible and has never been empirically observed." (A flattened Earth, for instance.)

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You're wrong for both assertion. Maybe you still haven't totally grasped what "measure of lenght" means, read again my first post. A measure of lenght *is* frame-dependent, and so is, as consequence, an object's shape.

I grasped it just fine. You are wrong to assert that an object's shape (like Earth) depends on how it is observed/measured, as if it had no reality, no intrinsic properties of its own.
Say 1000 ships pass by Earth going 1000 different (but near 'c') velocities, all going in 1000 different directions. Does Earth change into 1000 different shapes with its diameter contracting variously in all those directions? Of course not!

This goes directly to the difference between relativity's version of subjective idealism and realism.
As I asked David in post 10 and refer the same questions to you:
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Do you think there are no natural objects with intrinsic properties or distances between established by gravity as they were formed in space? All the cosmos depends on how it is observed? Is this not  relativity's version of classical subjective idealism, with 'frame of reference' as the abstract, virtual "subject."

Wiki on Realism (my bold):
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In philosophy, Realism, or Realist or Realistic, are terms that describe manifestations of philosophical realism, the belief that reality exists independently of observers.
"Observers" here in the context of this thread includes abstract points of view, all possible "frames of reference... no living "subject" required.

You asked me to define "actual." That would be that "reality exists independently of observers."
Earth is actually nearly spherical. AC is actually 4.37 light years from Earth. The distance to the Sun is actually about 93 million miles, which would not change if it were measured by a ship flying by very fast. The probe in my example is not actually 10 meters long, as observed from Earth's frame. Proof: It will not fit in the shuttle's 10 meter cargo bay. (Much too long, actually.)
« Last Edit: 05/09/2012 18:44:45 by old guy »

#### David Cooper

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #31 on: 05/09/2012 20:05:54 »
Yes - we're all pretty much agreed now (I think) that the objects don't change, but that the measurements do,
Two contradictory statements, put in this way. Physics concerns measures; if an object's measure changes, then the object changes.
Unless you intended something else...

Are you actually saying that the object physically changes as you look at it from different frames?

heh :)

No we haven't David, agreed that is. I will stand by it is frame related (observer dependent) and as 'real' as can be, from the frame measuring.

Same question for you: are you actually saying that the object physically changes as you look at it from different frames?

I don't know if this is a real disagreement or simply an interpretation issue.

Say 1000 ships pass by Earth going 1000 different (but near 'c') velocities, all going in 1000 different directions. Does Earth change into 1000 different shapes with its diameter contracting variously in all those directions? Of course not!

Einstein's SR does not require anyone to believe in something with those particular contradictions in it. It simply isn't necessary to believe that things are physically changed in shape by being observed from different frames, so you don't need to spend any more of your time attacking positions which aren't essential to SR.

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Earth is actually nearly spherical. AC is actually 4.37 light years from Earth. The distance to the Sun is actually about 93 million miles, which would not change if it were measured by a ship flying by very fast. The probe in my example is not actually 10 meters long, as observed from Earth's frame. Proof: It will not fit in the shuttle's 10 meter cargo bay. (Much too long, actually.)

Sort of, but it isn't that simple. If Einstein's SR is correct, then what you have said is right in the sense that these are the maximised sizes and distances of things, but it is still true that a 20m long object can fit in a 10.1m long container for a moment if the object is moving through the container at 0.866c.

Interestingly, if Lorentz's view of the universe is true, it actually leads to similar problems with deciding what the real shapes of things are. All things would be contracted in their direction of travel through the preferred frame, but their true shapes would still arguably be the shapes they would have if they weren't moving (which are also the shapes they appear to have if you're moving along with them).

#### yor_on

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #32 on: 05/09/2012 20:29:55 »
Yep, it's frame dependent.

#### flr

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #33 on: 05/09/2012 22:05:27 »
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Yep, it's frame dependent.
And that means the observed object changes its shape as the observer changes its (say inertial) frame of reference?

#### old guy

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #34 on: 06/09/2012 00:08:37 »
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Yep, it's frame dependent.
And that means the observed object changes its shape as the observer changes its (say inertial) frame of reference?
I "ditto" that. Also...
JP:
“You do have to be capable of separating events in space and in time for movement to have any meaning.”

You do. I don’t. Things move around, on all scales, regardless of human capability for “separating events.” Everything in the universe moves. We say that “time elapses” when things move. I agree. But that does not make time an entity of any kind which can “dilate.”
It’s just that clocks run slower after being accelerated to higher speeds. (Probably human bodies “age” more slowly too.)

The coalescence  of  “time” and “space” was Minkowski’s invention, and then Einstein subscribed.
There was no mention of the ontology of what either space or time was supposed to BE when the ‘fabric of spacetime” (both non-entities woven toghether) was invented.
it was just a coordinate system on a 4-D graph. (3-D space "interwoven" with "time.")

Just passing by. Back tomorrow.
Ps:
Me:
“ The probe in my example is not actually 10 meters long, as observed from Earth's frame. Proof: It will not fit in the shuttle's 10 meter cargo bay. (Much too long, actually.)”

David Cooper:
“Sort of, but it isn't that simple. If Einstein's SR is correct, then what you have said is right in the sense that these are the maximised sizes and distances of things, but it is still true that a 20m long object can fit in a 10.1m long container for a moment if the object is moving through the container at 0.866c.”

If Einstein is not correct then it is not true that "a 20m long object can fit in a 10.1m long container for a moment if the object is moving through the container at 0.866c.”
Btw, it's my probe retrieval project and I say that a 10 meter cargo bay can not contain a probe "measured to be 10 meters" from earth in the specifics of the case I laid out. I'll give you the .1 meter for easy fit if the probe were actually
10 meters long... which it is not in the "experiment" I devised.

Now can we get back to the real issues I have raised in this thread?

#### damocles

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #35 on: 06/09/2012 00:57:28 »
Here is a point about special relativity that I hope might help clear up some of the confusion and controversy in this debate:

It is quite true that in special relativity there is no inertial frame of reference that is privileged over any other as far as observations are concerned, it is also a fact, and one that is not inconsistent, that

when considering the intrinsic properties of any object there is a preferred or privileged frame of reference, and that is the inertial frame of its own motion

So, if we are wanting to measure the size, or the shape, or the density of the Earth, we must put ourselves in a stationary motion relative to the Earth (or, alternatively, make an inference and a calculation to what the result of a measurement would have been in such a frame). Of course, the fact that the Earth is not in an inertial state of motion takes us into the muddier waters of general relativity, but fortunately not in a way that affects the measurements we make at the precision we can currently make them. The foregoing is the reason why we can regard the "rest mass" of an object as one of its intrinsic properties, but not its inertial mass.

#### flr

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #36 on: 06/09/2012 03:50:27 »
As far as I know, there is no direct experimental proof of length contraction.
The time dilation was experimentally proved, but length contraction was only assumed to obey the invariance of "c".

I understood the time dilation in seconds from that photon clock imaginary experiment.
However I still cannot picture the length contraction in a nice intuitive way.
This is the closest I could get to Lorentz contraction: I force myself to accepting that the lengths and therefore the shape of objects, as observed from various frames, are not intrinsic properties of objects but rather relationships between observer and the measured object. Seeing lengths as relationships between frames rather than an absolute property of the measured object, I can then digest that they could change with changing the frame of reference. But then we can always ask: "are these relationships the real lengths or apparent" - and  ... here we go again .....

I cannot really understand why and how the space of a muon is different from mine (staying on Earth) in such a way that the muon somehow finds a path of only 1 meter to travel through what for me is 50 km layer of atmosphere.

#### CPT ArkAngel

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #37 on: 06/09/2012 03:54:51 »
In particles accelerators like the LHC, there is proofs that particles are flattened in the velocity direction.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2012 04:23:36 by CPT ArkAngel »

#### damocles

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #38 on: 06/09/2012 04:02:41 »
As far as I know, there is no direct experimental proof of length contraction.
The time dilation was experimentally proved, but length contraction was only assumed to obey the invariance of "c".

I understood the time dilation in seconds from that photon clock imaginary experiment.
However I still cannot picture the length contraction in a nice intuitive way.
This is the closest I could get to Lorentz contraction: I force myself to accepting that the lengths and therefore the shape of objects, as observed from various frames, are not intrinsic properties of objects but rather relationships between observer and the measured object. Seeing lengths as relationships between frames rather than an absolute property of the measured object, I can then digest that they could change with changing the frame of reference. But then we can always ask: "are these relationships the real lengths or apparent" - and  ... here we go again .....

I cannot really understand why and how the space of a muon is different from mine (staying on Earth) in such a way that the muon somehow finds a path of only 1 meter to travel through what for me is 50 km layer of atmosphere.

So the sort of thing I was saying in my previous post is that the "measured length" of an object (like the Earth's atmosphere) -- is not an intrinsic property of that object -- but its "rest length" is. As far as the muon travelling through the atmosphere is concerned, there will be no inappropriate change in the physics of its interaction with the atmosphere because the relativistic decrease in the length of path will be matched by a relativistic increase in the number density of atmospheric molecules, and the relativistic increase in the observed mass of each molecule (which operates quite separately to the increase in number density) will produce an exact match with the physics we observe from an Earth-stationary frame.

#### flr

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #39 on: 06/09/2012 07:47:14 »
So the sort of thing I was saying in my previous post is that the "measured length" of an object (like the Earth's atmosphere) -- is not an intrinsic property of that object -- but its "rest length" is.

The only way the moun can get from upper atmosphere to Earth surface while experiencing so little "proper time", is to travel 1 meter of distance of what in Earth frame is 50Km of distance.
So the contraction from muon frame (and hence the distorted non-spherical shape that he sees it) appear to me to be as real as it gets. If so, why the length and shape as perceived from co-moving frame would be 'more special' to give the 'intrinsic length' and 'intrinsic shape' of the object?

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As far as the muon travelling through the atmosphere is concerned, there will be no inappropriate change in the physics of its interaction with the atmosphere because the relativistic decrease in the length of path will be matched by a relativistic increase in the number density of atmospheric molecules, and the relativistic increase in the observed mass of each molecule (which operates quite separately to the increase in number density) will produce an exact match with the physics we observe from an Earth-stationary frame.

Based on these kinds of arguments I feel tempted to see the length contraction as a "geometrical mirage" (i.e. apparent rather than real).
Yet somehow the muon finds a path of 1 meter distance to travel what for the Earth observer is 50km distance, and this is real thing since the muon does not decay enough.

......I guess I really can't figure how the length contraction works.... Ironically, understanding the time dilation was so easy.....

#### old guy

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #40 on: 06/09/2012 17:52:58 »
In particles accelerators like the LHC, there is proofs that particles are flattened in the velocity direction.
Yes. That is why my title specifies "large scale length contraction."
In an accelerator, the subatomic particles (little bundles of energy) are accelerated to near 'c' by extremely powerful force exerted on micro-sized energy packets. It is not hard to see why they would flatten out, becoming "pancaked."

However, there is no evidence that this effect is transferable to large scale. A "frame of reference" flying by Earth at near 'c' will not exert any force on Earth, and Earth will certainly not become "pancaked" as a result, even though the image of Earth observed from such a frame may well appear "pancaked."

The trick is to clearly sort out the intrinsic properties of Earth as a solid, massive, nearly spherical planet from the extrinsic effects of the above frame's high velocity relative to Earth as it observes and measures the planet.

Edit; Ps, fir,
The fact that muons at high speed entering the atmosphere "live longer" than would be expected without "time dilation" does not automatically mean that they travel a shorter distance than the well known depth of the atmosphere. The mathematically reciprocal functions theorized between "time dilation" and "length contraction" do not make "things" or distances "in the real world" shrink. (Realism)
Edit #2:
Damocles:
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...when considering the intrinsic properties of any object there is a preferred or privileged frame of reference, and that is the inertial frame of its own motion
Yes! Thank you.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2012 18:14:06 by old guy »

#### yor_on

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #41 on: 07/09/2012 06:20:52 »
Flr, we all need somewhere to stand. You can construct the most lovely system and let it flow, but if you do you will get a headache :) So, relativity use 'c', and from that fact we get the time dilation, contractions (and relative motion). Then we have accelerations and 'gravity' as the next step to accept :) But I agree, and it's a cool way of thinking. It's the way I feel about it, as something 'plastic', but 'invariant locally'.

And to be locally at the same SpaceTime 'spot' you better be 'at rest' with it. Otherwise it can't be a 'local solution' in relativity. I usually argue from 'superimposing' aka 'photons', if one want to define a 'exact same' SpaceTime position. Because then there can be no doubt of what I see as being 'at rest', or a 'microscopic definition' of 'locality' as, and as Imatfaal pointed out, we have HUP cloaking the process long before that. But for macroscopic definitions we can't use that, can we? :)

And yeah, it seems you agree with me in that most people can accept 'time/the arrow' as plastic, but when it comes to LorentzFitzGerald contractions, most feel being 'put upon' by us crazy relativists :) And it's so hard to prove experimentally in a convincing way.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2012 06:40:15 by yor_on »

#### hubble_bubble

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #42 on: 07/09/2012 07:29:36 »
When a photograph of a moving vehicle is taken from a stationary position then the image is stretched simply because more photons are received from the moving surface. The car hasn't actually streched. At near light speed this effect would be enormously magnified so what does this say about length contraction?

#### hubble_bubble

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #43 on: 07/09/2012 07:33:54 »
Think of it this way. Somewhere in the region of 300000000 m worth of photons will be received by your eyes, from your perspective, in a fraction of a second due to time dilation. This will give the impression of contraction. An enormously magnified 'apparent' contraction in the direction of motion.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2012 07:37:15 by hubble_bubble »

#### imatfaal

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #44 on: 07/09/2012 18:23:04 »
OK - Enough.  This is a semi-official note that we either return to accepted ideas or the thread gets closed.

It is clear that many of you regard Special Relativity and/or its implications as a convenient fiction - that discussion can continue in the New Theories section.   In the main physics forum we endeavour to answer simple questions (and sometimes very complicated ones) with mainstream answers from accepted physics.

This thread is rapidly descending into a melange of arguments from personal incredulity and ignorance of the subject and that is against the ethos of this Q&A forum.

Please steer clear of statements that are based on "what you reckon to be true", "that which is blindingly obvious", and "simple common sense"  Much to the chagrin of many people - physics works on mathematics, modelling, predictions, and experimentation; not on intuition, philosophical truths, nor everyday notions of the way of the world.

It is clear that we have not travelled past earth at relativistic velocities - if that is the only proof that is acceptable then the theory will have to stand as it currently does.  However special relativity is mathematically intricate, self-contained and non-contradictory - if length contraction did not occur on the largest scales (as numerous posters are suggesting) then the whole theory would be mathematically bankrupt; you cannot just take out length contraction from the model - it is entirely integral.  Special Relativity theory is incredibly accurate and is tested continuously (satellite timing is the most well known example) - whilst every test that we can come up with (and some amazing brains are trying desperately and  would love to find the first flaw - it's a guaranteed trip to Oslo)  is passed by Special relativity we are not going to jettison the theory without good reason.   one thing that is not a good reason is when non-physicists create gedankan and and are philosophically disinclined to accept the predictions that arise!

#### yor_on

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #45 on: 07/09/2012 18:24:11 »
Nope :) Or yeah, you're correct, but the contraction exist. It's not what we want, we want a universe that 'makes sense', fitting our normal day impressions. And the idea of rods contracting due to 'frames of reference' is uncomfortable, not fitting with what we see. I can give you links to those using this length contraction, explaining 'forces' etc, but preferably not now, it's friday after all and? :)

#### old guy

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #46 on: 07/09/2012 18:45:51 »
imatfaal,

Quote
The trick is to clearly sort out the intrinsic properties of Earth as a solid, massive, nearly spherical planet from the extrinsic effects of the above frame's high velocity relative to Earth as it observes and measures the planet.

Is there no place anymore in science to question "accepted ideas?"
Ps: I intended to move the recent "length contraction" posts from the "Does time exist" thread, but will cancel that given the immanent threat of censorship of free thinking here.

#### imatfaal

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #47 on: 07/09/2012 18:58:26 »
imatfaal,

Quote
The trick is to clearly sort out the intrinsic properties of Earth as a solid, massive, nearly spherical planet from the extrinsic effects of the above frame's high velocity relative to Earth as it observes and measures the planet.

Is there no place anymore in science to question "accepted ideas?"
Ps: I intended to move the recent "length contraction" posts from the "Does time exist" thread, but will cancel that given the immanent threat of censorship of free thinking here.

Old Guy

Please drop the accusations of censorship - they really grate.  Especially immanent ones  - I can assure you I am neither divine nor purely an act of the mind (well to the best of my knowledge) .

Yes there are plenty of ways to question accepted ideas.  Arguments from incredulity and naked disbelief are not included - most especially on the main fora.  post as much as you like in New Theories - just keep the main fora to Science Q&A

To answer your last point - you are privileging your notions (and the common and nature notions of humanity) over the scientific method.  It has be shown countless times that ideas of intrinsic nature, of an immutable realism, of absolute time and space etc are useful, practically universal, easy to accept, and wrong.  Perhaps once you have shown (in New Theories please) why earth has an intrinsic nature outside the laws of physics - then we can start afresh.

#### old guy

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #48 on: 07/09/2012 19:13:46 »
imatfaal:
Quote
Please drop the accusations of censorship - they really grate.  Especially immanent ones  - I can assure you I am neither divine nor purely an act of the mind (well to the best of my knowledge) .

Sorry; I obviously meant "imminent" as in "impending" or "about to happen.
But you didn't address the intrinsic vs extrinsic issue as I requested at all, and it would be the solution to the whole shebang if addressed.

And it is in fact censorship if the opinion that Earth stays nearly spherical is not only rejected by the authority of mainstream SR but not allowed in a discussion of it.

#### imatfaal

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##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #49 on: 07/09/2012 19:30:14 »
I didn't agree with you - but I did address it.  You have decided - on the basis of zero evidence - that earth has an essential, absolute shape that forms part of a natual universal truth; the products of special relativity threaten your preconceptions therefore you reject the proven science and embrace your intuitions.  The idea of absolutes in time and space, of a universal reference frame, of immutability have been shown to be incorrect.  Frame dependence, special and general relativity, and a privileging of observation, modelling, and mathematics mean that your false division into intrinsic and extrinsic is meaningless.  If the question is positing a reality I do not recognize how could I begin to answer it based on my knowledge of my datum existence?

#### The Naked Scientists Forum

##### Re: Evidence for large scale length contraction?
« Reply #49 on: 07/09/2012 19:30:14 »