A WEARSIDE academic is feeling vindicated after his controversial questioning of Albert Einstein’s most famous theory appears to have been bolstered by new findings.
Dr Peter Hayes, a senior lecturer in physics at Sunderland University, took heavy flak in 2009 when he published research questioning Einstein’s theory of relativity.
But Dr Hayes can find comfort after puzzling results from Cern, the home of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, appear to show subatomic particles breaking the speed of light.
The results threaten to upend a century of physics, but come as less of a surprise to Dr Hayes.
The academic went as far as to say the famous breakdown of the £3.6billion Large Hadron Collider happened not because of mechanical failure but because the basic theories of physics were wrong.
He said: “Theoretical physicists have been barking up the wrong tree for the last hundred years – because Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is inconsistent.
“Over the years many people have pointed out that there are logical flaws in the theory.
“Back in the 1960s Professor Herbert Dingle warned that large-scale experiments drawing on relativity theory might end by destroying the world. Perhaps we are lucky that the Large Hadron Collider merely broke down.”
In the most recent findings at Cern, which made international findings last week, neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.
The results were put online for scrutiny by other scientists. In the meantime, the group at Cern says it is being very cautious about its claims.
“We tried to find all possible explanations for this,” said report author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration.
“We wanted to find a mistake – trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects – and we didn’t,” he told BBC News.
“When you don’t find anything, then you say ‘Well, now I’m forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinise this’.”
In Dr Hayes 2009 paper, The Ideology of Relativity, he argues Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity – perhaps the most famous scientific theory in history – should be viewed as an ideology, not as a science.
He argues that its impact on popular culture and science has been so influential precisely because as a scientific theory it doesn’t actually make sense.
He said: “Einstein’s theory of relativity contained elementary inconsistencies, but in 1919 when the theory became popularly known, the world had come through a terrible war followed by a flu pandemic.
“Einstein’s ideas were the tonic they needed. In the rush to celebrate them few people stopped to question the obvious logical flaws in the theory.
“Some of Einstein’s early critics held extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic views, and this has tended to discredit their technical objections to relativity as being scientifically shallow.
“This paper investigates an alternative possibility: that the critics were right and that the success of Einstein’s theory in overcoming them was due to its strengths as an ideology rather than as a science.”