X-Message-Number: 19154
Date: Sun, 26 May 2002 09:53:29 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #19150 - #19152

Hi everyone!

Particularly since Lee Corbin DID understand what I was saying, I
think I should have said it a little differently. The phrase about
just what the meaning of "speed" was here should have been put
first in my message. And yes, seen from that perspective we can
think of a gravitational lens as working the same as a glass
lens: light slows down in both, hence its path bends. Sure, the
reasons for this effect differ, but both raise issues about just
what is meant by "speed"... of light or anything else.

As for the lack of advance in physics, I think that is false, 
even when we consider fundamental physics. There is a lot of 
theoretical work going on right now with the notion that the
universe may be full, not of pointlike gravitational anomalies,
but ones that spread out in 2 dimensions. Why is this progress?
Because virtually all physicists would agree that they do not
yet have a theory which includes both quantum mechanics and
relativity, and the development of such a theory has turned
out to be very hard. It is a requirement of such a theory,
as a physical theory, that there be ways of testing it.

One recent set of ideas that got theorists interested did
make more of a connection, but also suggested that rather
than having a singularity, "black holes" would have a center
region with a very high curvature. The singularities of 
general relativity simply never occurred. You have to add
more dimensions to the Universe for these ideas to work,
however. These dimensions exist, but with such high curvature
that basically they wind around to themselves without becoming
so obviously significant as the 3 we generally experience.

Once I wrote an article for ANALOG about the current state
of such theories. It's now several years later and things have
moved on a lot. I might do another one: Stan wondered if
readers could take the last one, but they all seemed quite
happy with it. I was going to write a sequel but by now
that planned sequel would be way out of date.

Just remember: they're still working, and no one claims we
have a solution for the problem (combining relativity and
quantum mechanics). And a REAL solution would have experiments
to support it. I am optimistic that it will someday be solved,
and we'll see both Heisenberg and Einstein as early precursors,
just like we now see Newton.

Do I believe we suffer from an inability to go further? Not
at all. The way to get such inability is to decide that we
simply can't do it, not to worry about how good our brains
are. And we're all seeing one case of just that: think what
WE think about death rather than what most people think.

		Best wishes and long long life for all,

			Thomas Donaldson

PS: A few years ago an actual experiment on these theories
was suggested in NATURE. The experiment may well have failed,
but that criticises the theories.

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