If you’re tired of hearing about ‘Intelligent design’ creationists and the court wars against Darwin’s theory in the U.S., you might be surprised to learn that another pillar of modern science, Einstein and his Theory of Relativity, is under attack.
A burgeoning underground of ‘dissident’ scientists and self-described experts publish their theories in newsletters and blogs on the Net, exchanging ideas in a great battle against ‘the temple of relativity’. According to these critics, relativity is not only wrong, it’s an affront to common sense, and its creator, Albert Einstein, was no less than a cheat.
A quick glance at anti-relativity proponents and their publications reveals a plethora of alternative theories about how the universe really works – very few of them in agreement with each other. But despite their many differences, common themes among these self-described iconoclasts do emerge: resentment of academic ‘elites’, suspicion of the entire peer-review process in mainstream scientific journals and a deep-seated paranoia about the extent of government involvement in scientific projects.
An aethro-kinematics website (www.aethro-kinematics.com) claims to refute relativity by resurrecting René Descartes’ theory that the Earth and all the planets are carried around the Sun by an “Aether vortex”. Another site points to the work of one Stefan Marinov, a self-described dissident, who apparently threatened to immolate himself in front of the British Embassy in Vienna, Austria, because he was so incensed by the refusal of the respected journal Nature to publish his ‘proofs’ against relativity.