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Special Relativity in Absolute Space: from a contradiction in terms to an obviousness

Rodrigo de Abreu
Vasco Guerra
Year: 2006
This work deals with the questions of absolute space and relativity. In particular, an alternative derivation of the effects described by special relativity is provided, which is based on a description that assumes a privileged reference frame. The present theory follows the ideas of Lorentz and Poincar?, abandoning a strict view of Einstein’s “equivalence” of all inertial frames. The meaning of the Principle of Relativity is discussed and elucidated, and it is shown that it is not incompatible with the existence of a preferred, absolute, frame.

Most scientists nowadays still consider the basic assumptions of the theory proposed here to be plain wrong. Moreover, they tend to see an irreconcilable conflict between the Lorentz-Poincar? and the Einstein-Minkowski formulations. However, as stated by John Bell [Bell1988], although there is a stringent “difference in philosophy” between both views, “the facts of physics do not oblige us to accept one philosophy rather than the other”. The validity of Bell’s assertion is unambiguously demonstrated, and it is shown how and why both approaches do indeed agree in the description of (most of?) the physical phenomena. Evidently, the physical meaning of the different physical quantities – such as “time”, “speed”, “simultaneity” and “synchronization” – is quite different in both programmes. And yet, for perplexing it may look at first sight, the present theory, developed under the Lorentz-Poincar? assumption of a preferred reference frame, somehow encompasses Einstein’s theory. There is no conflict, as there is one theory.

It must be conceded that what is said in both formulations seems to be contradictory, but this is essentially related to a demanding problem of language. As a matter of fact, it is revealed that what special relativity says is not what usually it is thought it says. By the use of a correct and precise language, problems and paradoxes are immediately avoided. Interpretation problems only arise because words are used in a sense that is often not correct under the chosen description. The core of the problem is related to the largely debated question of synchronization of distant clocks. It is stressed that reality is not changed by the choices one makes to describe it, so it is not changed by the particular way in which the clocks have been set.