A critical look at the theory of relativity

by F. K. Preikschat

PREIKSCHAT, F. K. (1976): "A critical look at the theory of relativity",
Bellevue, Wash. 98009 P.O. Box 1442, October 1976
Library of Congress Cat. No. 77-670044 (excerpt)

1. The theory of relativity (TR.) has no functionally and technically acceptable answer to the following problem:

Fig. 1

Space Vehicle A (Fig. 1) is pursued by Vehicles B and D at different closing velocities vb and vd. (For lack of any superior reference system in empty space the absolute velocity of the group of vehicles is not known.)

Vehicle A sends out a signal at frequency f0 which is received by B and D with the appropriate doppler shifts as fb and fd where

fb(d) = f0 + f0 (vb(d) / c)

So far everybody agrees that A sends out a wavetrain of wave length

l 0 = c / f0

where c, the velocity of propagation is measured relative to A. One might expect to see the received frequencies derived as

fb(d) = (c + vb(d)) / l 0

According to TR., however, the incoming velocity of the radiation received by B and D is "c" and therefore

fb(d) = c / l b(d)

In other words, the wavelength radiated from A has changed somewhere along the path from

l 0 to l b(d) ,

and differently at that, for B and D according to their closing velocities.

A change of wavelength and frequency (at constant c) is equivalent to a change of energy which has to come from somewhere (Planck's quantum energy hn).

An interaction with some kind of matter on the way to B and D would be required to accomplish this. Short of considering a "deus ex machina" some unknown field would have to surround each vehicle and derive the energy from the vehicles' momentum. However, this would only put the action a few feet ahead of the vehicles B and D. The problem remains the same:

The speed difference of both vehicles A and B (D) has to be known at some common interface in order to derive the proper Doppler shift. Without reference to any vehicle A, B or D, the only defined quantity of the propagating radiation is the wavelength

l 0 .

Obviously then, at the interface of space and antennas B or D the propagation velocity is still c, relative to A, hence must be c + vb(d) when entering the antenna of B or D.

After being absorbed by antenna B or D the energy in the antenna cable is transformed into an AC current of frequency fb(d) and loses all relation to the incident wavelength or velocity. Any measurement of wavelength or velocity of propagation thereafter inside B or D would yield only the local velocity c and l b(d) accordingly.

The same applies to the wavelength and velocity of light after having passed through the surface of a transparent solid or liquid.

" . . . . an external electromagnetic disturbance travelling with the velocity of light in vacuum is exactly cancelled out and replaced in the substance by the secondary disturbance travelling with an appropriate smaller velocity."[1] (carried by mutual coupling of molecular dipoles in the substance.)

2. A look back in time

The TR. has not always been accepted as the gospel truth, as it is today. When I went to college around 1930 Einstein was severely criticized. "logically untenable fiction"[2]

With the collapse of the "German Empire" after World War I, and with it the collapse of the monetary and social structure of Germany, the TR. was readily seized upon to explain that actually nothing was of absolute and permanent value but everything was "relative". Any number of jokes circulated about what was "relative". Understandably, at the colleges the TR. was treated as another of the many more or less useful theories which an engineer in bis lifetime would probably never have to be concerned with.

Fifteen years later in 1947 while working on Doppler navigation systems, the first doubt was aroused and now, after another thirty years, the search is over - at least for me.

The problem then was: A radio station emits a frequency f0 which is received by a space vehicle at velocity v as

f1 = f0 + f0 v/c

The vehicle retransmits f1 which is received back by the radio station after another Doppler shlft as

f2 = f1 + f1 v/c = f0 + 2 f0 v/c + f0 v²/c² = f0 (1 + v/c)²

The part 2 f0 v/c in the above equation is the usualiy used Doppler shift of the return signal while f0 v²/c² can always be neglected for present day vehicle velocities of v < 10-5 c, being in the order of 10-10 f0 v/c . This "square shift" or relativistic Doppler shift is generally taken as proof of the TR. (See, for instance, in Ives and Stilwell's[5] experiments which will be discussed later.)

In the above case however, the square shift simply appears as a result of a double transmission to and from a vehicle.

Recognizing the above facts has kept me alert for other different possible interpretations of the so-called classical experiments.

3. Measurements of the velocity of light

During the past 300 years since Roemer calculated the speed of light from observation of the moons of Jupiter, it has been measured with increasing accuracy. Since Michelson's measurements in 1876 we have observations of sufficient accuracy.

The results are shown in Fig. 2. Provided that the different investigators have not been biased by one another and have not estimated the accuracy limits of their measurements far too narrow, we must conclude that the velocity of light as measured within the reference system of our earth has changed by as much as ±50 km/sec or .017% during the past century.

Fig. 2

The median curve in Fig. 2 is approximately the inverse of the 22 year averages of the sunspot activities and the earth magnetic field in the same time interval.

4. The "classical" experiments


In the early 19th century when the wave nature of light was detected, a carrier seemed to be necessary and was invented as the "ether" something penetrating all matter and being at rest in the Universe or dragged along by moving matter at somewhat less speed than matter itseif. Obviously, light, propagating with and against or across this "ether wind" should show measurable differences in its propagation velocity.

The experiment was expected to yield a second order effect v²/c² where v is the velocity of the earth surface (test location) relative to the Universe.

The perplexing null result was interpreted as a contraction of the test equipment in the direction of motion. (Lorentz)

Later, in the 1920's, the ether theory was abandoned and at this point the Lorentz contraction should have been abandoned too because there was no more reason to assume that the light was carried by a medium at rest in a different reference system, other than that of the laboratory in which the measurements had been taken and that this medium was travelling at a certain (high) speed past the earth. But by then it was too late since a large amount of theory had been built and continues to be built on this basis. The abandonment of the TR. would mean that a good 50% or more of our theory of physics of today would have to be rewritten and this is certainly hard to accept.

B. MICHELSON's moving mirror experiment.[3]

In this report, Michelson describes an experiment in which he attempted to determine which of the three theories of the propagation of light holds true. This report merits a closer look, especially in relation to the doppler effect.

QUOTE: "According to the undulatory (ether) theory of light, the velocity of light is independent of the velocity of the source, and of the velocity of a mirror at which it is reflected. (Case 1)

According to the emission theory, the resultant velocity from a moving source is increased by the component of the velocity of the source. (Case 2)

But it appears that different forms of emission theory require different results on reflection from a moving mirror. If the light corpuscules are reflected as projectiles from an elastic wall, then the velocity of light should be increased by twice the component of the velocity of the mirror." (Case 3)

Michelson built equipment as shown in Figure 3.

Fig. 3

The light bearn from a source S was split by a semi-transparent mirror A. The one beam continued through mirror A to mirror B, and was reflected to mirrors C, E and back via mirror D to A. The other beam was reflected from mirror A to mirror D and then in opposite direction via D E C B to mirror A, at which point it was superimposed on the first beam to obtain a fringe pattern when the mirrors were properly adjusted.

Mirrors C and D were mounted on a common carrier which could be rotated around axis 0. When mirror D, as indicated by an arrow, moved toward mirror E the mirror C would move away from E by the same distance. The distance between mirrors C and D was 26.5 cm. The distance D between the centerpoint 0 of the mirrors C and D and the fixed spherical mirror E was 608 cm.

Michelson says:

QUOTE: "Accordimg to the undulatory theory, the velocity of light is unaffected by the velocity of the mirror while the emission theory requires that (equation 1.):

V' = V + r v

where V' is the velocity of light after reflection, V the velocity before reflection and v the cornponent of the velocity of the mirror in the direction of the pencil (beam), and r = 2 according to the elastic impact theory; while r = 1 if the mirror surface acts as a new source.

The time occupied by the pencil (beam) D E C is (equation 2.):

T1 = 2(D + d) / V1

while that taken by the pencil C E D is (equation 3.):

T2 = 2(D - d) / V2

where D is the distance 0 E, d = distance the revolving mirror moves while light passes over D E C, and V1 the resultant velocity of the first pencil, V2 that of the second."

With the mirrors D and C at rest (not rotating) and at approximately the same distance from mirror E, both lightbeams travel the same distance of 2D on their way D E C respectively C E D. With rotating mirrors the beam has to travel the additional distance 2d which the mirror C moves while the light is on its way. The distance in opposite direction is shorter by 2d due to the movement of mirror D. The distance d is computed from (equation 4.):

d / (2D) = v / V ; (2vD) / V = d

Michelson arrives at the final equation for the displacement of the interference fringes (equations 5.):

D   =  V(T1 - T2) /l   =  4 (D /l ) (2 - r) (v / V)
For: r = 0 ; D   =   8 (D v) / (l V)
For: r = 1 ; D   =   4 (D v) / (l V)
For: r = 2 ; D   =   0

For r = 0, that is D   =   8 (D v) / (l V) , the wave length of the light l = 0.60 µ , and 1000 revolutions per minute of mirrors C D, the computed fringe shift was 3.76 fringes which coincided very well with the measured mean shift of 3.81 fringes.

Michelson concludes therefore, that within the limit of error of experiment (say 2 percent), the velocity of a moving mirror is without influence on the velocity of light reflected from its surface.

lt is possible to obtain the same results without taking the time into account (dilatation?), merely by counting the nunber N of wavelengths in both directions between the mirrors D E C. The number of wavelengths in the path D E C is (equation 6.):

N1 = 2(D + d) / l

in path C E D, the wave number is (equation 7.):

N2 = 2(D - d) / l

The fringe shjft is (equation 8.):

D   =   N1 - N2 = 4 d / l

and since the small distance d which the mirrors travel while the light is propagating between D E C is given by Michelson (4) as

d /(2D) = v / V ; d = (2vD) / V

The result is the same as in (5) for r = 0 (equation 9.):

D   =   8 (D v) / (l V)

Michelson, in equation 5 writes (equation 10.):

D   =  V(T1 - T2) /l   

This equation implies (equation 11.):

D   =  V ((T1 /l   ) - (T2 /l  ))

hence Michelson's measurements require that the wavelength of the light has not changed while propagating between the moving mirrors C E D or D E C.

We arrive at the same result with equations (6) and (7) and may write (equations 12, 13, 14.):

N1 = 2 (D + d) / l 0
N2 = 2 (D - d) / l 0
D   =   8 (D v) / (l 0 V)

However: Michelson has not taken into account the doppler shift.

Today it is obvious that a DOPPLER schift is always associated with a velocity difference between references. It is either carried by a change of wavelength when the wave velocity is constant, and vice versa, or both could be changed partially by the proper amount.

If the light velocity is constant (undulatory theory), we have to expect that the wavelength has not remained the same on the path D E C.

For the three cases discussed before, the wavelength for constant light velocity is (equation 15.):

1) l   = l 0 (1 ± 2v/c)

for the mirror as new source (equation 16.):

2) l   = l 0 (1 ± v/c)

for half the path and for the other half equation (15) for the elastic reflection (equation 17.):

3) l   = l 0

(second order effects can be disregarded.)

Therefore, considering the Doppler shift, we arrive at a completely different picture. In this case, Michelson's experiment proves that the light is elastically reflected from a mirror because (see case 3) and the above calculations 12, 13, 14 hold true. This being the case, equation (17) applies and the wavelength is l   = l 0 throughout the whole path C E D. In the calculations, we do not treat time or frequency, but rather wavelengths only.[4]

For comparison, the expected fringe shift for the two other cases is calculated:

l   = l 0 (1 ± 2v/c)

for constant light velocity

N1 = 2 (D + d) / [l 0 (1 - (2v)/c)]
N2 = 2 (D - d) / [l 0 (1 + (2v)/c)]
D   = N1 - N2 =   8 D v / (l 0 c) +4 d / l 0
d = 2 D v / c
D   =   16 D v / (l 0 c) = 7.52

for the mirror as new source with

l   = l 0 (1 ± v/c)

The above equation applies only to the first half of the path C E respectively D E, while for the other half of the path E C respectively E D, the full Doppler shlft of

l   = l 0 (1 ± 2 v/c)

has to be considered. The reason for this is that mirror E as new but stationary source will reflect the light with velocity c and the full Doppler shift.


N1 = 2 (D + d) / [l 0 (1 - (3v)/(2c)]
N2 = 2 (D - d) / [l 0 (1 + (3v)/(2c)]
D   = N1 - N2 =   6 D v / (l 0 c) + 4 d / l 0
D   =   14 D v / (l 0 c) = 6.58

A small difference has been disregarded, that is, at the second half of the small path difference 2d, the wavelength has changed back to l 0 upon reflection from the second moving mirror. However, this difference is so small that it may be disregarded, like the other second order effects.

lt would appear that the introduction of the Doppler shift into our calculation results in disagreement of Michelson's experiment with the constant light velocity hypothesis and the "elastic reflection theory" gives the correct results.

C. The IVES and STILWELL experiment.[5]

Ives and Stilwell measured the wavelengths of light emitted from moving and non-moving ionized hydrogen gas.

A beam of hydrogen jons in a vacuum tube was accelerated to a velocity which would yield a large enough Doppler shift of the spectrum to allow observation of the much smaller square shift.

The light from the ionized gas at rest, that from the approaching beam and that from the receding beam reflected by a mirror at the tube entrance was observed through a window at the end of the tube.

The photographed line spectrum showed the three lines of

l 0 + D l ,       l 0        and       l 0 - D l

with l 0 displaced by the expected square shift from its exact location halfway between the Doppler shifted lines.

Remembering now that according to Ewald & Oseen[1] the incident radiation is absorbed and the energy which passes through the glass loses its relation to the incident wavelength and velocity, then:

At the inner face of the window, all three waves

l 0 + D l ,       l 0        and       l 0 - D l

are absorbed and passed through the surface as

f0 = c / l 0
f1 = (c + v) / l 0
f2 = (c - v) / l 0

At the outer face of the window, the light is emitted again but this time with the same local velocity, c, for all three cases.

l 0 = c / f0 = l 0
l 1 = c / f1 = l 0 c / (c + v) = l 0 (1 - v/c + v²/c² . . . .)
l 2 = c / f2 = l 0 c / (c - v) = l 0 (1 + v/c + v²/c² . . . .)

Again, like in the case of the re-transmitted radio wave (item 2), the square shift is simply the result of an absorption of the free space wave by matter and re-transmission where the change of wavelength, hence, change of energy, is obtained from the momentum of the matter.

5. Conclusions from 1 - 4.

From the previous paragraphs we cannot help but conclude the fact that the relativistic point of view (constancy of the speed of light and that of radio waves, x and g rays relative to all and every reference system no matter what its state of motion) is simply untenable.

Basically, time and space are abstracts, not related to any material matter.

Space exists with and without matter and a set of coordinates can be defined from one basic reference system only which will stretch through three dimensional empty space without limits and without distortion.

Similarly, time is running out at a fixed rate in a single direction (forward) without relation to any material matter and it cannot be influenced by the existence of matter in any state of motion. If somewhere in the Universe an event happens, it will happen at the same time instant (simultaneously) relative to any and all observers in any state of motlon. Yet, the information (of this happening) may not arrive at the distant observer for a long time. This, however, does not mean that the event did not happen at the time when it happened relative to this particular observer.

Theoretically, we certainly can conceive of any number of dimensions and let space warp and return into itself or develop a space-time continuum where space and time may interact and substitute for each other. However, all this will have to remain mathematical fiction. We may use those systems for gaining insight into certain natural relations but should not try to beat nature into those systems.

(For instance: If one takes a single electrical discharge which results in a pulse of energy, it could be interpreted (Fourier) as constructive interference of a whole spectrum of frequencies existing from -¥ to +¥, that is, long time before and after that capacitor had been fabricated and destroyed. Nobody would expect that nature had aimed at this pulse since the beginning of the world. However, I have seen a theoretical treatise where this possibility was sincerely discussed.)

Light is carrying a certain mass and can be influenced by gravitation. This causes gravitational Doppler shifts as well as deflection of the light by gravitation from its straight path. Again, not space is warped in the vicinity of large masses but light is deflected by gravitational forces as well as by the accumulation of gasses which surround the mass (sun).

6. The relativistic Mass

According to the TR. "the mass becomes infinite at the velocity of light therefore any particle (or mass) cannot be accelerated to a velocity of c or beyond. The velocity of light is the absolute upper limit of any propagation including gravitational fields and waves".

QUOTE:[6] "For a particle of mass m the Newtonian classical equations of motion are m dv/dt = F where F is the force acting . . . and v dv/dt is the ordinary velocity vector . . . The so-called relativistic variations of mass, m with velocity arises if the time t of a particular Lorentz frame is used as the independent variable instead of the proper time t . The equation of motion . . . becomes (with ß = v/c):

d/dt [m v / (1 - ß²)½] = F

This is usually described by saying that the mass of the particle is variable with velocity so that the mass at velocity v is

m / (1 - ß²)½ ".

We can easily turn this around, state like before and explain:

m dv/dt = F (1 - ß²)½

A charged particle at rest in an electrical field will be exposed to an accelerating force F0 which is the vector sum of the forces f of all field components acting on the particle. Fig. 4a.

Fig. 4a

At velocity v, approaching c, the field, as compared to the previous condition, will be distorted due to the fact that the information that the particle is coming can only travel with velocity c relative to the field (field distortion) in the fixed reference system and therefore when v ® c; Fv < F0. Fig. 4b.

Fig. 4b

At v = c, Fc = 0 because, Fig. 4c, no field distortion can travel ahead of the particle. All field lines remain straight up to the particle location and then distort to a shock wave with all force components in perpendicular direction to the particle motion. Hence, Fc = 0. Fig. 4c.

Fig. 4c

Obviously, if the driving field has a maximum propagation velocity a particle driven by this field cannot exceed this velocity, not because the particle obtains an infinite mass, but because the driving field cannot assert any force to accelerate a particle beyond its own velocity. This is the same as when a railroad car cannot be accelerated beyond the velocity of the locomotive, not because it becomes infinitely heavy, but because the locomotive reaches its maximum speed.

Also, a charged particle travelling faster than the speed of light in a particular reference frame (in matter) causes a shock wave and associated Çerenkow-radiation. This shock wave effect is readily observed in high energy particle accelerations.

7. Gravitational Doppler shift and propagation velocity of gravitational fields.

In 1959 - 60, R. V. Pound and G. A. Rebka, Jr.[7] measured the gravitational Doppler shift using the MOESSBAUER effect.

On a 74 ft. high tower they found a Doppler difference of (5.13 ± 0.51) x 10-15 between up and down direction which compares well with the theoretical 4.92 x 10-15.

Consequently to what was said in the previous paragraph (6), if a gravitational field can cause a Doppler shift on an electromagnetic energy quantum travelling with velocity of light (c) then its own velocity of propagation (gravitational) must be in excess of c (by at least a factor of 10 or probably more than 100).

Particles (TACHY0NS)[8] have been found which travel with a velocity in excess of c. In the light of (6) and (7) the explanation is obvious.

To conclude with a quotation of Dr. Walther Rauschenberger[2]:
"The acceptance of the TR. will go down in history
as one of the most remarkable errors of the human mind."


[1] Ewald & Oseen, Extinction Theorem. Principles of Optics, Born & Wolf. Pergamon Press, N.Y. 1959. PP. 70 ff.

[2] Hans Israel "Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein", R. Voigtlaender Verlag Leipzig 1931. (Hundred Authors Against Einstein)

[3] Michelson, Astrophysical Journal 37. (1913) pp. 190-193

[4] Maxwell's theory states that no tangential field component shall be generated by total reflection. This is the case only upon total cancellation of incident and exit wave which requires that both are exactly equal in length, hence case 3. (17)

[5] H. E. Ives & G. R. Stilwell, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 28:215 (1938), 31:369 (1941); H.P. Robertson: Revs. Mod. Phys. 21:374 (1949)

[6] Condon and Odishaw, Handbook of Physics, 2-18. McGraw-Hill, 1958.

[7] R. V. Pound and G.A. Rebka, Jr. (Phys. Rev. Letters, Vol. 4, No. 7, 337-41 Apr. 1, 60)

[8] For a comprehensive list of publications see ,"Physics Abstracts" subject index under "Tachyons" 1970 and following years.