Saturday, October 22, 2011

Near-Forgotten Genius

I came across the quote that follows in an effort to understand better certain aspects of theoretical dimensions beyond the familiar three. My search was prompted by reading Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace. That book basically concerns string theory. The quote:
Time is a man-made reference used for convenience and as such the idea of a “curved space-time” is delusional, hence there is no basis for the Relativistic “space-time” binomium concept. I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view. [Nikola Tesla quoted in New York Herald Tribune, September 11, 1932]
The world is vast, my education spotty, hence I recognized the name but could not do much more than that. The thought expressed, however, is most congenial. I’ve always had major problems both with spacetime and with time dilation—thus the concept that time slows down with speed of travel, and the astronaut wandering out there at near-light speed would return from his years-long trip to find that he was much younger than his twin brother. At one time I spent real concentrated time studying Einstein’s theories—in the original, at that—and came to the conclusion that while clocks certainly did slow down with speed, it was the clocks that misbehaved, not time. Therefore I’m not persuaded that time dilation has been proved. I have similar problems with thinking of time as a dimension (except as a math token) and with dimensions beyond the conventional three.

Today I checked into the Serbian, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). He was an inventor of genius. We owe him the discovery of alternating current, modern electric power plants, the AC motor, and wireless power transmission. He also built the first hydroelectric power plant, with a fellow called Westinghouse, at Niagara Falls—a place I used to haunt once when I worked for Carborundum. Tesla also clashed with other greats of his time whose names are household words while he has been as good as forgotten. A nice summary of this very strange man’s very strange and adventurous life is provided in a YouTube film (link). A listing of some thirty-six devices and principles developed by Tesla is available on Wikipedia’s article on this man (link).

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