Branch Mathematics and Statistics Faculty and Staff Publications

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This edition, the third, has undergone a subtle name change, going from "A.D. 2070" in the title to A.D. 2079 as the timeline is fine-tuned. Because of the almost universal failure to recognize the distinction between physical (reality-based, dynamical) and visual (appearance-based, kinematical) variables, a tremendous volume of mythology arose over the past 100 years centered around Einstein's reality view of the distortions of special relativity. To get a sense of it, we point the reader to Paul J. Nahin's heroic book, Time Machines, 2nd ed.,- to these Tech Notes in particular: TN#6. "A High-Speed Rocket Is a One-Way Time Machine to the Future"; TN#7. "Superluminal Speeds, Backward Time Travel, and Warp Drive, or Faster-Than-Light into the Past"; TN#8. "Backward Time Travel According to Gödel and Tipler." But those magical effects go away when we consider that the variables of special relativity are kinematical, not physical. If they have not yet gone away in the minds of everyone, a reason may be that there is a great need felt by many fine folk for such effects to be real. There are today sizeable popular and scientific communities with vested interests in keeping those magical hopes alive. But at some point in time humanity must come of age, question the existence of Santa Claus and come to realize that what we see is not necessarily what we get… . That the stick partly stuck in water may not be bent or broken after all even though it distinctly and definitely appears to be. Distinguished cognitive researcher Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini might characterize the period just ending as a century-long "mistake of reason" – a kind of mass cognitive illusion. MP-P, Inevitable Illusions/ How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds, John Wiley, ISBN 0-471- 58126-7, 1994, p.18: "These are errors we commit without knowing that we do so, in good faith, and errors that we often defend with vehemence, thus making our power of reasoning subservient to our illusions." Page 141: "Cognitive illusions, unknown to science until some 20 years ago, are active in all of us ... " Page 139: "cognitive illusions are general, because they are found in all human beings." MP-P did not direct his message at Einstein; that is my doing. Yet the descriptions MP-P gives seem to fit the present context.


Pima College Press



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light barrier, speed of light, space travel, superluminality, gravitation

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