S.B. Karavashkin and O.N. Karavashkina

2. The causal analysis of Newtonian definition of space and time

If we leave aside the today utilitarian understanding about Newtonian idea of space and time which, as we saw above, has been formulated by relativists, if we speak, what is the real point with the concepts of space and time in classical physics, then, from the Newtonian view, there exist two definitions of space and two of time. Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature flows equably without regard to anything external, and by another name is called duration: relative, apparent, and common time, is some sensible and external (whether accurate or unequable) measure of duration by the means of motion, which is commonly used instead of true time; such as an hour, a day, a month, a year” [2, p. 30].

Similarly, Absolute space, in its own nature, without regard to anything external, remains always similar and immovable. Relative space is some movable dimension or measure of the absolute spaces; which our senses determine by its position to bodies; and which is vulgarly taken for immovable space; such is the dimension of a subterraneaneous, an aerial, or celestial space, determined by its position in respect of the earth. Absolute and relative space, are the same in figure and magnitude; but they do not remain always numerically the same” [2, p. 30]. It is important that from the view of Newton “Absolute and relative space, are the same in figure and magnitude; but they do not remain always numerically the same” [2, p. 30].

As opposite to the relativistic approach to the basic definitions, Newton defined the absolute and relative place and motion of a body and emphasised the critical importance of these concepts for the complete mechanical characteristic of the state of body. Namely this division into the absolute and relative or, otherwise, into the philosophically generalised and practically particular, taken from different experiments, made possible the classical physics to rise over the particular results of different experiments and to generalise the regularities so that they be replicable in all their transformations and variations in their particular revelations – and retained their properties in general. In this way Newton has separated the experiment from its comprehension and interpretation. “But because the parts of space cannot be seen, or distinguished from one another by our senses, therefore in their stead we use sensible measures of them. For from the positions and distances of things from any body considered as immovable, we define all places; and then with respect to such places, we estimate all motions, considering bodies as transferred from some of those places into others. And so, instead of absolute places and motions, we use relative ones; and that without any inconvenience in common affairs; but in philosophical disquisitions, we ought to abstract from our senses, and consider things themselves, distinct from what are only sensible measures of them. For it may be that there is no body really at rest, to which the places and motions of others may be referred” [2, p. 32]. “We understand under the measurement none other than a way and basis accordingly to which some thing is considered as measurable, so that not only the length, width and depth are the measurements but the weight is the measurement according to which things are weighted, the speed is the measurement of motion, and there are lots of other such examples” [22, p. 138].

The theory of relativity has rejected the concepts of absolute space and time, claimed them excessive, together with the material substance which prevented relativists to introduce the postulate of constant speed of light in all inertial frames. “The concept of space as something existing objectively and independently on things relates to the pre-scientific philosophy (?! – Authors); it was changed by the idea of existence of infinite number of spaces moving with respect to each other. This last appears to be logically unavoidable, but it also cannot be important in the scientific thought” [16, p. 747].

In this way Relativity factually has elevated the relative space and time to the rank of Absolute and joined them into some 4-D mutually dependent continuum which “… does not objectively decompose into the cross-sections among which there would be the cross-sections containing all simultaneous events; for the spatially lasting world the concept ‘now’ loses its objective sense. In this connection, we have to consider the space and time as an objectively non-decomposing 4-D continuum, if we want to express the contents of objective relationships without unnecessary arbitrariness” [16, p. 753].

At the same time, the statement that the relativistic 4-D continuum does not decompose into cross-sections is clearly incorrect. In modelling, both in classical and relativistic conceptions, the observers that detect the events in space and time were present always. These observers were usually introduced resting in the studied frame – not in its origin, as relativists vulgarise the experimental practice, but at the places where the events occur. So, if in this frame we introduced the physical time, both in the time diagram of classical physics and in the Minkowski diagram these observers, with all their material objects and phase surfaces of light beams, will be located in one plane of events corresponding to the same time cross-sections which, as relativists say, they have left in their conception. As an example, in Fig. 2.1 we can see the dynamic Minkowski diagram of the phase surfaces radiated by the resting pointed source located at the origin of coordinate system.


agfig1.gif (80597 bytes)

Fig. 2.1. The dynamic Minkowski diagram of the light propagation from the resting source located at the coordinate origin of the resting inertial reference frame, for the time from t0 = 0 to t0 = 6T, where t0   is the moment when the equiphase surface was radiated. For better visualisation, here and further we showed the equiphase surfaces radiated before the start point of animation, in order to show the complete pattern of wave propagation in space


In this diagram we see that all phase surfaces of the EM wave radiated by the resting source propagate in one plane shifted to the top along the time axis in parallel to itself. This is just the plane of events, and all processes belonging to it are simultaneous in this frame, which is caused by the presence of physical time in it. This last enables us to introduce the time axis unified for the whole system without which it would be impossible to study the tracks. This feature, and the appearance of the diagram, remains unchanged in classical and in relativistic formalism; hence, relativistic claims about non-decomposing 4-D continuum are not true. This opinion is caused not by the integrity of 4-D description to which relativists would like to reduce the issue, – it takes place in classical physics, too, as the description of all dynamic processes is impossible without concept of time, – relativists strongly interrelate this ‘non-decomposition’ of the continuum with the light propagation, in particular, with Einstein’s postulate of constant speed of light in all frames. Just so relativists prefer to synchronise time namely with the light propagation: “None the less, among possible ways to pass signals we prefer those where the light beams propagated in the void are used. The matter is, the clocks synchronisation requires the equivalent ways ahead and back; in this case we will have this equivalence by definition, since, by force of the principle of constant speed of light, light in the void propagates always with the speed c[17, p. 148]. With it, “Generally speaking, the clocks synchronisation is possible also with other techniques: with the clocks transfer from one place to another, with an elastic constraint etc. We have to require so, such synchronisation to be free of unsolvable discrepancies with the clocks synchronisation through the light signals” [23, p. 22]. Let us pay attention that, speaking of correct synchronisation of time, Einstein is oriented not to the knowledge of physical nature of processes which would allow the high quality of synchronisation but to the mythical equality of ways ahead and back based on the abstract definition which, as we showed in [11], Einstein introduced, having distorted the phenomenological basis of Maxwellian theory. Not the conditions of synchronisation with the light signals have to be in agreement with the experiment but the experimental synchronisation with other techniques has to agree with the relativistic abstract postulates. In this light, it would be important to study more thoroughly the features of light propagation, first of all from the view of classical physics based more on the experiments than on the abstract postulating of phenomena. The more that in [11] we already partially considered the issue of incorrect passing from one frame to another described by the Lorentz transform and showed that in frames of relativistic formalism the space-time contraction for moving bodies is anisotropic, which raises also some problems concerning the properties of light propagation.

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