Life's mysteries have always fascinated me since I was a child. The very best of our scientific and innovative thinkers such as Newton, Faraday, Tesla, Bohr, and Einstein, enthralled by the appeal and the mysteries of physics, gave their lives to deciphering and explaining them to others. This article is concerned with the latter of that group of geniuses, Albert Einstein. Although he never invented or built anything tangible like some did in that esteemed company of thinkers, he managed to construct great circles of truth in his mind that inspired legions of minds after him. He did so in ways that were beyond the imaginations of his day.
Embodied in Einstein was a scientific genius matching those of all the ages before him and since. He equalled or superseded all who came before him in some of the scope and magnitude of his scientific thinking, surpassing in cases even the great Isaac Newton, however not always in a good way. Truly, like Newton before him, he did stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther than most, but he also knew where and how to look at things that gave him an improved and unique perspective of physical reality. His brilliance still shines to this day. In the light of the many advancements to mankind's understanding of the universe that have occurred since his time, many of which are attributable to his scientific and human panache for crafting mind experiments and applying mathematics to support them, we have been allowed "to go where no man, (except Einstein), had gone before."
Dr. Einstein saw that there were enormous physics problems to reconcile, such as the measurement of the speed of light being the same, no matter the velocities of the source and observer in relation to each other. How could this be? Certainly, with the models of the universe available to him at that time, there was something inexplicable going on that defied the current understanding of physical reality. Einstein, instead of correcting a bad physical model that didn't mesh well with the observed properties of the universe, mathematically corrected the problem, by applying new and improved theories along with accompanying matrices of equations to compensate for the differential observed properties of reality versus theory, so as to preserve the known model of the universe as much as possible. This was not necessarily in our best interest as a species, or in the best interest to the advancement of science over the long term, but more on this in a minute.
Suffice it to say, that Einstein was just right enough to greatly advance our understanding of the universe and science, and just wrong enough to hold it back. It was not his fault however, as he merely based his work on the assumption that some of the accepted models of the universe in his day were correct enough to base new theories of physics around, so to explain the unexplainable of his day. Poor Einstein was unfortunately saddled with an incomplete and inaccurate knowledge of physics with which to begin, and this caused him and others to not be able to easily separate the wheat from the chaff, as far as his monumental work was concerned. Some of his work was dead on in accuracy, but some of it was slightly in error to due to the false assumptions he incorporated into his theories. It is hard to be a trailblazer, but he is to be applauded for his magnificent efforts, as in all respects he was hugely successful in his tasks. In fact, he was TOO successful in that his errors were magnified later by others who failed to notice Einstein's shortcomings and who accepted his work as gospel and built on his work. Cult hero scientist Einstein, accepted his celebrity status in style and with grace, but too late did his credibility as a theorist wane, as other's theories came around to extend our understanding, some based on even the faulty parts of gray old Albert's thinking. Alas, he never asked to glorified by us, as he was just a man, not a scientific god as he became deified by some.
The problem however, was not bad Newtonian physics, but a poor understanding of the reality of the properties of the universe to which the Newtonian physics was applied, and the known relationships between them at that time. Einstein didn't just reach competent conclusions furthering our knowledge and understanding of reality, such as in his brilliant and correct deduction of E = mc², but also created mathematically constructs in his relativity theories he used to explain discrepancies between theoretical physics and experimental physics, and ended up giving the bad models of the universe new legs to stand on, despite the obvious problems within them that led to his developing his relativistic views to begin with.
He put those relativistic mathematical band-aids over the incorrect assumptions within those bad physical models and made them work anyway! How brilliant was this man to turn a scientific sow's ear into a silk purse?! It is hard enough to make sense of reality when you have all the facts available, but to create a beautiful series of theories and equations to make a bad model work was mental greatness at its height. It was so well done and revolutionary in its leaps of logic, that whole new physical principles, theories, and branches of physics such as quantum theory have taken root, sprung forth, and been built around it.
The problem is that most of the resulting physics is merely a house of cards waiting to fall, and like Ptolemy's epicycles, it will become more and more unwieldy to try and stretch our theories to cover up the fact that there are glaring errors in the model of the universe that Dr. Einstein so ably made work. The cracks began to show and have been shorn up to degree with said quantum theory, and then string theory for example, but each new scientific construct just adds to the burden of the whole, when small inconsistencies have to be accounted for with each new theory's arrival and acceptance. Here as in much of life, the emperor has no clothes. In fact, the whole house of cards of theoretical physics threatens with each new problem, to topple over and bring with it a disaster in our egotistical thinking, and then hopefully as history has often shown us, a new revolution in thinking. This will give us should it occur, new opportunities for mankind's survival and advancement, just like when Newton, Einstein, and Hawking came along to try and set things right again.
Now, people like me who see the shortcomings and unnecessary complexities in what has been built around Einstein's and other's work, both the good and the bad of it, attempt to shed new light and create a whole new beginning to the understandings of reality. The truth of the physical universe is much simpler and more awe inspiring than has been conceived of to this point by most, but unfortunately, old ideas die slowly. Partly because of this, the new pioneers of the frontiers of knowledge will face stiff obstacles, before trails can be blazed for the common man to tread there. Before you can get help solving a problem in life or science, you first have to prove you don't need help, like getting a loan from a bank, by pulling yourself up by your own boot straps.
I just hope we have enough time, before we and the universe all grow a little grayer and a little slower over time and before entropy turns the page for us and the universe and brings us a little closer to our respective deaths. Maybe the re-birth of the universe if it ever comes, will be be just as grand as the death of it. Before this occurs for all of nature, let us see if we can get one last big bang out of our buck as the universal genius of all of the Earth's species, by working together to stop eventually our slide back into the mire of humanity's beginnings. We have to get it right scientifically as well as humanely, or we will perish with our bad theories and the universe will still remain fully intact long after our departure from the scene.
Maybe some other species known or unknown in the cosmos will figure it out and survive it all. Maybe they already have. Have you seen the UFOs flying around our planetary skies freely and at will? We better figure it out too before it is too late for us. Truly, as the graying Harry S. Truman once said before he ordered the dropping of the now scientifically possible atomic and Hydrogen bombs on Japan, that had just become a reality, "The buck stops here." When I thought of these possibilities, and both our failures and successes in these areas, just like Dr. Einstein and his theories before me showed their age, both me and the universe instantly got a little grayer around the edges.