Our Friend, The Ether (Part 13)

“… the reader can hardly conceive my astonishment, to behold an island in the air, inhabited by men, who were able (as it should seem) to raise or sink, or put it into progressive motion, as they pleased.”

Laputa is one of the strange places in Gulliver’s Travels (by Jonathan Swift). Laputa is a flying island which its inhabitants can maneuver in any direction using magnetic levitation. [1] That would be part of the electro-magnetism, one of Albert Einstein’s “fields.” But how could the electro-magnetism field affect the gravity field, which is supposed to be a different field, and cause Laputa to levitate? Einstein sought to resolve the allegedly different electro-magnetic and gravity fields into a “unified field.” (Background: Our Friend, The Ether (Part 10), Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of October 30, 2013.)

The people of Laputa are great fans of mathematics, but are unable to make practical use of it. How do you translate abstract mathematical ideas into the physical world? Albert Einstein however had no trouble making the leap from Euclid’s geometry to concluding “space” did not exist in the material universe. After all, Euclid’s geometry deals with objects and shapes, and never with “space.” This must mean there is no “space”! [2]

(On the flying island, Gulliver was given a fine dinner. There was mutton cut into an equilateral triangle, a piece of beef cut into rhomboids, and a pudding shaped as a cycloid. “The servants cut our bread into cones, cylinders, parallelograms, and several other mathematical figures.”)

Like the people of Laputa, Albert Einstein dabbled ever more into mathematics. He became a disciple of Hermann Minkowski, who dreamed up “Minkowski spacetime”, a four-dimensional geometry. At first Einstein thought it was just a mathematical trick, but then brought the “Minkowski spacetime” down to earth in his 1916 General Theory of Relativity. [3] (Further background: Our Friend, The Ether (Part 12), Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of November 4, 2013.)

(Gulliver needed a new suit of clothes. The Laputan tailor took his measurements. The tailor “first took my altitude by a quadrant, and then, with a rule and compasses…” The mathematical tailor wrote down his calculations and, six days later, brought Gulliver his new suit, “very ill made, and quite out of shape…”)

The Laputans became so lost in abstract thinking that their heads would sometimes become stuck reclined to one side. Fortunately this did not happen to Albert Einstein, however he, like the Laputans, exhibited a questionable practicality. When Einstein decided that “space” did not exist, this was too outré for the hard-headed Germans. They began to suspect that Einstein was playing a joke on them and it was all part of a “dadaist” plot.

“I say unto you: there is no beginning and we do not tremble, we are not sentimental. We are a furious Wind, tearing the dirty linen of clouds and prayers, preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition. We will put an end to mourning and replace tears by sirens screeching from one continent to another. Pavilions of intense joy and widowers with the sadness of poison. Dada is the signboard of abstraction…” [4]

Thus is expressed parts of “Dada Manifesto” [1918] and “Lecture on Dada” [1922]. If you do not understand it, consider how others had trouble understanding that “space” (supposedly) did not exist due to mathematical abstractions. And so you can see why some people might lump together Einstein’s ideas and dadaism, especially since they both occur in roughly the same “space-time.”

——- Sources ——-
[1] “Laputa”, Wikipedia, November 5, 2013
[2] Einstein and the Ether, by Ludwik Kostro. Montreal: Apeiron, 2000
[3] “Hermann Minkowski”, Wikipedia, November 5, 2013
[4]  “Dadaism”, by Tristan Tzara. http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jenglish/English104/tzara.html


About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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2 Responses to Our Friend, The Ether (Part 13)

  1. Pingback: Our Friend, The Ether (Part 33) | Ersjdamoo's Blog

  2. Pingback: "Big Bang" is Baloney | Ersjdamoo's Blog

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