back to article Four hydrogen + eight caesium clocks = one almost-proven Einstein theory

A team at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) has used a range of atomic clocks from around the globe to test the equivalence principle* of Einstein's theory of general relativity. The research, published in Nature Physics, follows Einstein's thought experiment whereby the occupant of a windowless lift (or …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is why science rocks

    and homoeopathy sucks donkey balls.

    1. artem

      Re: This is why science rocks

      As much as you're upvoted, you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works. If placebo works, homeopathy also works. It doesn't mean I condone the people and companies which sell homeopathic drugs for obscene sums of money.

      I could also talk about how our brain directly affects our body functioning, how people are capable of raising their body temperature at will and many other still poorly understood things:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Hof

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosomatic_medicine

      https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/placebo-can-work-even-know-placebo-201607079926

      https://theconversation.com/schizophrenia-affects-your-body-not-just-your-brain-new-study-95452

      1. gerdesj Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        "As much as you're upvoted, you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works. "

        Yes, placebo has a measurable effect. Homeopathy is still bollocks.

        1. Uffish
          Pint

          Re: This is why science rocks

          May I remind you that bollocks are a perfectly good food, if you want to eat them and, speaking for myself, pretty damn good in their intended function and place in (on ?) a body.

          Homeopathy, on the other hand, is a mostly harmless pastime for the slightly neurotic.

          This time experiment however seems to be one of the more boring* bits of science but I raise a glass to all who participated in the experiment, profound thanks and hearty congratulations on getting the result and the astonishing precision of the result.

          *boring - I think it took a lot of work, nothing against rocking, but for science you need work.

          1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
            Mushroom

            Re: This is why science rocks

            Homeopathy, on the other hand, is a mostly harmless pastime for the slightly neurotic.

            you say mostly harmless, but I beg to differ....

            the simpletons who believe in this shite time and time again turn to these remedies because they have been brainwashed into not trusting conventional medicine. The results are that people die of cancers that could have been cured, people die or suffer disabilities due to relying on diluted water to cure things like measles. they rely on sugar cubes to protect themselves from illness that everyone else is immunised against, but put people in danger who cannot be immunised....

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: This is why science rocks

          "Yes, placebo has a measurable effect. Homeopathy is still bollocks."

          Well, homeopathy is an effective placebo. So it does that just fine. it's also a great way to parts fools from their money.

          Personally I like the German and Dutch method for dealing with it. It's considered a medical specialty, thus you cannot be a homeopath without having a medical licence. So while there are plenty of holistic healers, reiki practitioners and health food shops, there are almost no homeopaths.

          It's also a good place for people who have the skill and knowledge to become doctors, but don't have the emotional stamina for it. It's very hard to tell how someone will cope with their patients dying, and for obvious reasons you're not encouraged to test this in their training.

          So having the worried well going to see an overpriced GP is actually pretty good use of resources, since if someone will benefit from medical intervention the doctor can refer them.

          The cost of homeopathic "medications" does make me giggle. Paracetamol are about 2-5 cents per 500mg tablet here, homeopathic medications are at least ten times that.

          While I was living in the UK, my landlady asked if had any homeopathic medications, since her last tenant had, and according to her "therapist" these caused "interference" with her medication, requiring her to toss and repurchase some two grands worth of sugar pills.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: This is why science rocks

            It's very hard to tell how someone will cope with their patients dying, and for obvious reasons you're not encouraged to test this in their training.

            There's a number of test subjects I would want to volunteer for this aspect of a doctor's education.

      2. Mr Gullible

        Re: This is why science rocks

        Yes, but the crucial difference is that science (including the placebo effect) is extensively and objectively tested, not just made up.

        1. artem

          Re: This is why science rocks

          I'm not arguing with that ;-)

          Homeopathy works contrary to the purported way its practitioners tout.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

        but I do. Indeed, I'm not quite as fanatical about quack medicine as some, since it can actually produce an effect for a fraction of the price of real medicine.

        If a homoeopathist came clean and said "look, it's just water, but it seems to be able to create a verifiable improvement in some patients,so lets go with it," I'd have total respect for them.

        It's the camp-followers of woo and "memory of water" and that hogwash that grind my gears.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          "...look, it's just water..."

          It just so happens that I market a line of homeopathy medicines, sold in dry dehydrated form. The patient just adds water. For maximum homeopathy effectiveness, by avoiding even the remote possibility of contamination with molecules of the actual medicinal ingredients, I don't even send the empty packet.

          Believers send me money, and then I email a receipt.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "...look, it's just water..."

            You're a charlatan.

            Everybody knows that it's the memory of the active ingredients that's making the water have its homoeopathic properties. And just plain water doesn't have that.

            Now modern technology does have a way to transfer that property electronically, as memory is an essential component of every computer. Bringing water in close contact with the computer's memory after I've sent them the 'memory blueprint' as it were, with that message open, will impart the necessary wooproperties on the water. For maximum transfer effectiveness one should put a shield or shroud around the memory banks, so that the water can be in contact with the banks over their entire height.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

          "I'm not quite as fanatical about quack medicine as some"

          Quackery results in people dying. That's my issue with it.

          Deciding to not be treated is a perfectly acceptable response to many conditions. Coming from a family of doctors, it's interesting how often they will refuse treatments that impair quality of life.

          Bear in mind much medicine was quackery up until maybe a hundred years ago, and the application of the scientific method is why you and I are alive today, it's a pretty big issue. Hence why Andrew Wakefield is a real scumbag, faked science is worse than no science.

          While I find most scams offensive on some level, scamming people who are sick and looking for hope really pisses me off.

          I'm not the biggest fan of religion either, but at least praying doesn't exclude you from trying medical treatment.

          " I'd have total respect for them."

          But the rest of the homeopaths wouldn't. You can't charge people for the shamanistic experience whilst admitting that it's all bullshit.

          1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
            Childcatcher

            Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

            I'm not the biggest fan of religion either, but at least praying doesn't exclude you from trying medical treatment.

            I would ask a few Jehovah witnesses to clear that point up for you... no blood or organ transplants and in the bible belt of America there are plenty of people who refuse medical care for themselves and even worse the children because of "gods will".... of course, a child dying of a perfectly curable cancer is the will og god and you don't have the right to interfere with that great plan.....

            If I could have my way I would ban religion as well as this quackery...

            1. Anon27

              Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

              And as there are bad in all things and among people, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, hmmm? Just because a couple sects of one religion have objections to medical treatment is not a reason to ban ALL religions.

              1. Tannin

                Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

                Just because a couple sects of one religion have objections to medical treatment is not a reason to ban ALL religions.

                Quite so. There are, however, plenty of other reasons.

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

            I'm not the biggest fan of religion either, but at least praying doesn't exclude you from trying medical treatment.

            That is if the person requiring medical attention isn't actively dissuaded from that, and pressured (either externally or by their own conviction) to replace it with (undiluted) prayer.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

          It's the camp-followers of woo and "memory of water" and that hogwash that grind my gears.

          This is also essential for the placebo effect to come into play. There needs to be something to trigger the magical thinking in the patient.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

            "

            It's the camp-followers of woo and "memory of water" and that hogwash that grind my gears.

            "

            Yup. The idea that water could possibly have a "memory" is as ridiculous as the notion that merely observing a particle in one place could affect another particle in a completely different place. Or that hot water could possibly freeze faster than cold water when placed in the same freezer. And yet ...

            I seriously doubt that homeopathy works as advertised, but please do not dismiss something as being nonsense merely because it does not fit in with any established scientific theories.

            Most of what you read on your computer screen is due to the "memory of rust".

          2. D@v3

            Re: something to trigger the magical thinking in the patient

            Not necessarily.

            I read a bit about a study recently, into the effectiveness of placebos, including three groups.

            one - actual medicine, one - placebo but thought it was real, one - placebo and told upfront 'you are part of a placebo control group'. The end results were that all 3 groups proved to be (more or less) equally effective.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

            Actually there is some evidence that the placebo effect works even if you are told its a placebo. So called open label placebo effect.

        4. kouja

          Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

          If they would tell you (that's water) they would ruin the effect ;)

        5. PPK

          Re: you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

          "If a homoeopathist came clean and said "look, it's just water, but it seems to be able to create a verifiable improvement in some patients,so lets go with it," I'd have total respect for them."

          … but then it wouldn't 'work' as the illusion would have been shattered...

          Oblig:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHNQqCCOoZ8

      4. Efer Brick

        Re: This is why science rocks

        Homeopathy can give you "da feelz" for sure; But when it comes to serious medical problem(s) (none so far) I'm going to see a proper M.D. who doesn't quaaack

      5. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        "As much as you're upvoted, you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works."

        Yes and no. IIRC studies have shown that placebo administered by a real doctor works better than homoeopathy. Thus homoeopathy is actually less effective than no medicine at all.

      6. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        Placebo is, however, no better than Placebo.

        Hence, none of this should be prescribed in preference to... a sugar pill and someone saying "Yeah, this'll work".

        Placebo is indeed very powerful. But MATCHING placebo just means "as good as anything else that does nothing whatsoever". If it's ever proven better than placebo, it is virtually medicine. But being "as good as" placebo means absolutely bog-all except that nobody should ever be paying more for it than they would a placebo.

        It's like saying "The Emporer's new clothes are as good as wearing nothing at all." Then save the wastage of money and wear nothing at all.

      7. Tikimon Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

        There's a huge and dangerous error in the "quackery is OK because Placebo Effect" assertion. This argument assumes that the patient has a problem that CAN be fixed through placebo effect and doesn't really need medical help. In those cases patient belief in the quack remedy may indeed trigger the patient's own body to fix it.

        In every other case, the patient will waste (possibly critical) time and resources on the homeopathy or other snake oil. They will not get better. They might get worse, possibly to the point of permanent harm that can no longer be helped by Real Medicine. Look no farther than Steve Jobs, who let an easily cured (when it was found) cancer grow while he tried new-age quackery. He finally turned to Real Medicine after a year or two, but it had spread too far and was incurable.

        By delaying or preventing useful treatment, quack remedies indeed do harm, sometimes enough to kill the patient. Snake oil should NEVER be given a free pass or credit, it only lets their proponents claim legitimacy and lead more people away from cures that actually work.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

          As Bill Bryson put it in one of his books, "laughter may be the bets medicine, but when it doubt you're much better off with some penicillin"

          1. Anon27

            Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

            Not if you're deathly allergic to penicillin like I am. Sorry, just saying.

          2. ThePieMan

            Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

            I doubt he said exactly that.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

          They might get worse, possibly to the point of permanent harm that can no longer be helped by Real Medicine. Look no farther than Steve Jobs, who let an easily cured (when it was found) cancer grow while he tried new-age quackery. He finally turned to Real Medicine after a year or two, but it had spread too far and was incurable.

          Reminds of a certain religious group... if you die you didn't pray/believe hard enough. (I'm looking at you Christian Science).

        3. handleoclast Silver badge

          Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

          Homeopathic sugar pills aren't very effective at dealing with diabetes, either.

        4. HelpfulJohn

          Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

          On the one hand, homeopathetic crystal magnetic ley-line aromaclaptrappy has *NEVER* been seen to cure a radical amputee. Say, a leg above the knee, an arm above the elbow, a severed spine, an eye or an entire head.)

          On the other hand, Real Sciencey Medicine has never been seen to cure a radical amputee.

          On the gripping hand, Real Sciencey Medicine has seen salamanders and starfish fix themselves when large chunks have been removed from those animals. RSM has told us that humans are not too different from salamanders and starfish so it is entirely possible, though unlikely that some humans have been born sufficiently broken by genetic accidents as to have the ability to regenerate lost limbs, only no person with this ability has ever lost one so we've just never encountered it happening. How possible and how unlikely this is is best left for statisticians. It is a truth that a majority of people never lose anything much so testing the regenerative powers of most might never happen in their entire lives.

          On the imaginary hand, Real Sciencey Medicine does hold out the hope that it can someday graft the salamander's healing abilities onto people, or switch it on if humans already have it in a suppressed form. This is not buck-rogers SF, it is real Science and people are working on it.

          Homeo-aroma-crystals hold out no such hope and never can.

          There is no possible research path from the current crop of pretend "cures" of acupunky magnetic diluted water robbery to regenerating a limb, eye, spine or anything else but RSM does have paths towards such dreams.

          So far as is known, a placebo has never helped anyone regenerate damaged tissue better than the natural powers of humans to heal. Modern medicine might, someday, do so.

          Science is hope. Science is True Hope.

      8. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
        Headmaster

        Re: This is why science rocks

        you must accept the scientific fact that placebo ... works.

        just to be pedantic, a placebo does not work, it it has an effect, but the placebo does not actually work...

      9. Milton Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        "If placebo works, homeopathy also works."

        Placebo and homeopathy have a small overlap for conditions with significantly subjective symptoms, like mild pain, anxiety and so on. But placebo is given by a medical professional only after careful consideration of the considerable ethical condundra (thus, often occurring only during blind studies with informed consents signed), whereas homeopathy depends upon lies, pretensions, inventions and greed of the non-medical non-profesional peddling their particular and variously ignorant and/or deceitful nonsense.

        For serious and objectively physiological conditions such as infections, cancer, significant injury and so on, placebo works as well as homeopathy, i.e. not at all. It doesn't matter what you tell someone about a little grey pill or a pint of water, if they've got syphilis then they'll need proper science and professional modern medicine.

        So the difference between placebo and homeopathy is—

        • Professional ethics vs lies and greed

        and the similarity is—

        • For significant, genuine, objectively phsyiological illness, both are rubbish.

        Biofeedback mechanisms can work and do have a part to play. They've been around since Achilles was told to take some deep breaths before stomping out of his tent. But like placebo, they won't fix tuberculosis.

        Science rocks because of provable, explicable, repeatable success. Mumbo-jumbo sinks for the lack of all those qualities, not to mention the addition of unscrupulous exploitation.

      10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        "If placebo works, homeopathy also works. It doesn't mean I condone the people and companies which sell homeopathic drugs for obscene sums of money."

        In so far as the placebo effect allows homoeopathy to work the obscene amounts of money must be justified. If it costs that much it must be perceived as powerful medicine which perception is essential for the placebo effect to come into play.

        It's much the same effect as that which causes corporations to take note of expensive consultants telling them what anyone in the work-force could have told them (and been ignored).

      11. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: This is why science rocks

        If placebo works, homeopathy also works.

        So does Voodoo, witchcraft and astrology...

    2. Danger Mouth
      Joke

      Re: This is why science rocks

      To quote the Daily Mash:

      Scientists have found dangerously low concentrations of homeopathic medicine in tap water...

      1. Paul Herber

        Re: This is why science rocks

        I find tap water much better when diluted.

        1. John 110

          Re: This is why science rocks

          I find tap water much better when diluted with a malt whisky - There, fixed that for you.

          1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
            Unhappy

            Re: This is why science rocks

            I find tap water much better when diluted with a malt whisky - There, fixed that for you.

            no... just no...

            when you drink whisky drink whisky,,,,, but if you have to sully it with water at least do it the honour of using spring water and not that chemically tainted tap excretion....

            1. John 110

              Re: This is why science rocks

              "but if you have to sully it with water at least do it the honour of using spring water and not that chemically tainted tap excretion...."

              Is that spring water that you collected yourself from an actual spring (NOT downhill from a sheepdip pit!) or Spring Water that some other bugger has bottled from HIS tap just for you (and your wallet)?

              Just curious.

              Personally I wouldn't put anything in whisky, but if I'm forced to drink water...

            2. King Jack
              Pint

              Re: spring water

              Unless you personally go to a spring yourself all bottled 'spring water' is treated to remove the bacteria that is in raw spring water. Spring Water is a marketing term to make people believe that the water is special and not just water and to make them pay more. Mixing real dirty 'spring water' with whiskey might make it safe to drink.

          2. rsole

            Re: This is why science rocks

            "I find tap water much better when diluted with a malt whisky - There, fixed that for you."

            Maybe, but does it work the other way round?

        2. Horridbloke
          Boffin

          Re: This is why science rocks

          Of course, diluting tap water greatly increases its hydrating properties.

        3. rsole

          Re: This is why science rocks

          The way it was explained to me - diluting tap water is Homeopathy.

        4. handleoclast Silver badge

          Re: This is why science rocks

          I find tap water much better when diluted.

          I agree. I dilute mine with vodka. 1 drop water, 1 pint vodka. That gives me homeopathic water, and proves that homeopathic water gets you drunk.

        5. christooo

          Re: This is why science rocks

          Yes diluted with a lot of whiskey!

        6. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: This is why science rocks

          > I find tap water much better when diluted.

          I find it best when diluted with sufficient quantities of real medicine.

      2. NoiTall

        Re: This is why science rocks

        D..h, do you have any inkling of what you yourself mean with "dangerously low concentrations" ?

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: This is why science rocks

      and homoeopathy sucks donkey balls.

      I think you'll find that's massively diluted donkey balls.

    4. Barry Rueger Silver badge
    5. JulieM Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: This is why science rocks

      I wish I could upvote you twice or more, just for spelling "homoeopathy" correctly.

    6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: This is why science rocks

      And I'm still waiting for the homoeopathic cure for a 90% blocked heart artery......

      Also... is it any good for multiple leg and knee fractures or do I have to use healing crystals for that?

  2. Rusty 1
    Coat

    But are they able to tell who farted in a general direction?

    1. ravenviz
      Joke

      Time slows down in a sweaty lift due to the zero point fart

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Time slows down in a sweaty lift due to the Hog's Field.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time flows backwards...

    ...if you are in the lift, but you desperately need to hit the WC (Loo, toilet...)

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Time flows backwards...

      Hey I told you not to eat those discount curry lamb kabobs from that doggy petrol station.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Time flows backwards...

        "Hey I told you not to eat those discount curry lamb kabobs from that doggy petrol station."

        I didnt know Dogs needed Petrol! So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years, giving Fido dog food instead of petrol. Makes sense, I mean my car has never once shat on the lawn, so if I give the dog petrol I wont have to waste saturday mornings cleaning up the back yard. Thanks Preacher!

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Time flows backwards...

          I mean my car has never once shat on the lawn,

          Land Rovers are well known for marking their territory, in much the same way as dogs or cats do.

        2. Martin Budden

          Re: Time flows backwards...

          Be careful when giving petrol to a dog...

          lest it goes "woof"!

        3. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: Time flows backwards...

          "I mean my car has never once shat on the lawn,"

          Consider your self lucky cause when a car does shit it shelf it's spectacular.

          And you know I meant dodgy petrol stations.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Time flows backwards...

            I know, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up... ;)

            1. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: Time flows backwards...

              Make sure it's high octane. We don't want the doggy back firing.

        4. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Time flows backwards...

          "I didnt know Dogs needed Petrol! So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years, giving Fido dog food instead of petrol. Makes sense, I mean my car has never once shat on the lawn, so if I give the dog petrol I wont have to waste saturday mornings cleaning up the back yard."

          I can guarantee that if you feed your dog nothing but petrol, it'll stop shitting on your lawn.

  4. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    They'll regret that one...

    Now they get to spend the rest of their lives being chased by Targeted Advertising Blockchain AI Quantum Computing Android Drones trying to sell them socks clocks.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    There was no word on why time seems to slow interminably when a lift is full of sweaty people during a summer lunchtime rush.

    Pterry now working for El Reg?

  6. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    So explain why time seems to fly when you wake up just become your alarm clock or if you decide to have a snooze while waiting for the second one to go off to get up, yet it crawls when you clock watch during a night of insomnia ?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I believe time seems to fly when you wake up because your brain isn't quite up to speed, so it's a bit sluggish and your perception of time is a bit off, making things seem to move faster than you would normally perceive them. It would also probably explain why time is perceived to slow down when you're in an adrenaline rush or similar: only the opposite this time, you're hyper-aware.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Because when you watch the clock you collapse the wave function by observing it, and as anyone who ever tried to unsuccessfully imitate a magician with a watch and a hammer can attest, a thoroughly flattened clock does indeed tend to stop ticking.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    its the measuring stick problem again

    "due in part to better clocks and improved data on the Earth's position and velocity in space"

    would these be the better atomic clocks used in the experiment?

  8. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    "...0.00000022 plus or minus 0.00000025...."

    This in fact (speaking as, amongst many here, a scientist) illustrative of why experimental evidence cannot ever be expected to provide absolute proof. There will always be a set of error bars included in the stats because nothing we build (in this case the atomic clocks) has zero error/variation. We will continue to improve the equipment and the next time it may be 0.0000000022 plus or minus 0.0000000025 but it will never be truly zero. What we will be able to say is that experimental evidence shows that General Relativity Theory is highly reliable within these error parameters. The whole concept of absolute proof ought to give any self respecting scientist hives.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "...0.00000022 plus or minus 0.00000025...."

      I'm guessing those error bars should actually have read +0.00000025/-0.00000022. Either that or we are getting into some weird negative time relativity stuff. It's probabaly got something to do with String theory. Whenever things get really weird thats always a pretty safe answer...

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "...0.00000022 plus or minus 0.00000025...."

      "The whole concept of absolute proof ought to give any self respecting scientist hives."

      (Mathematician waves serenely from the sidelines)

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: "...0.00000022 plus or minus 0.00000025...."

      The whole concept of absolute proof ought to give any self respecting scientist hives.

      Especially if they've got a bee in their bonnet.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Einstein theory of relative time

    ISTR that Einstein had thoughts on the relative passage of time, on how a minute in the presence of a pretty girl passes by much more quickly than a minute of sitting on a hot stove. Seems apocryphal...

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Nocebo ?

    All this talk of placebos, and nobody has mentioned nocebos

    1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      Re: Nocebo ?

      Nocebo's are the exact reason why doctors hate people looking up meds on the inter-webs...

      It is also the opinion of many researchers that most side effects will go unnoticed unless attention is brought to them, not that they did not have the side effect..

  11. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Impact on Segal's law?

    "A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Impact on Segal's law?

      And a man with 12 very, very good watches is much more sure than one with two?

    2. King Jack

      Re: Impact on Segal's law?

      A man with 2 Edifce waveceptor watches knows that they will always show the same exact time to the second. (not the new crappy blutooth one).

  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I can easily tell the difference....

    ...The research, published in Nature Physics, follows Einstein's thought experiment whereby the occupant of a windowless lift (or elevator, for our US chums) is unable to tell the difference between gravitational pull and acceleration....

    1 - measure the atraction forcel at a point.

    2 - measure the atraction forcel at another point some distance away from that point on a straight line in the opposite direction to the atraction force.

    3 - If the two forces are the same, you are accelerating in the opposite direction to the perceived force. If they are different (measurement 2 being smaller) you are in a mass-induced gravitational field.

    4 - profit?

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: I can easily tell the difference....

      Yes, what you are measuring when you do that is (one component of) spacetime curvature, and that is indeed how you distinguish between gravity and acceleration. The key point is 'some distance away': there is no experiment you can do locally (ie at a point) which will distinguish. That's what the equivalence principle actually says.

  13. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Some of us have seen The Secret Life of Machines and managed to figure out what a lift was from context.

  14. IceC0ld Bronze badge

    There was no word on why time seems to slow interminably when a lift is full of sweaty people during a summer lunchtime rush.

    =========

    it's to do with the fact that time isn't stupid, and doesn't want to get into a lift full of sweaty fecks :o)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article doesn't quite make sense

    The idea of using the motion of the Earth in its orbit as a substitute for a falling lift doesn't make sense; a falling lift is accelerating whereas the Earth, in its orbit, is not.

    But even the falling lift is a flawed analogy because a gravitational field* has an inverse-squared law gradient and an acceleration does not.

    * In Relativity, Gravity is an expression of curved space-time, in accordance with that inverse-squared law, and this means that the gradient across any non-zero sized object/particle will differ, being greater on the 'side' of the particle closer to the curving mass than the gradient on the 'side' furthest from the curving mass. Because the gradient is curved, the median value for the gradient across the particle will not align with the geometric center of the non-zero sized particle and is offset, producing the effect of a force, and resulting in movement.

    In QM, Gravity is Gravitons - but we haven't found any yet.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The article doesn't quite make sense

      Incorrect on the incorrect. ALL orbits have acceleration because the direction constantly changes. Remember, acceleration, like velocity, is a vector, meaning it has both scale and direction. Changing direction changes velocity, meaning there is an acceleration.

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: The article doesn't quite make sense

      The Earth IS accelerating towards the sun, at about 0.0059 m/s². The earth is also moving sideways fast enough that even though it is accelerating towards the sun it doesn't get any closer to the sun. That's what an orbit is: moving sideways fast enough to cancel out falling.

    3. tfb Silver badge

      Re: The article doesn't quite make sense

      Neither the falling lift nor the Earth in orbit around the Sun are accelerating (according to GR). In both cases there is no applied force, as gravity is not a force in GR, so the bodies are moving in 'straight lines' through spacetime. Because, in both cases, there is a gravitational field, the spacetime they are moving through is not flat, and the things I called 'straight lines' are better called geodesics, which are the equivalent of straight lines in a manifold (which is what spacetime is in GR) which is not flat. In a flat manifold geodesics are precisely straight lines.

  16. Unindicted Co-conspirator
    Joke

    Velocity Units

    "due in part to better clocks and improved data on the Earth's position and velocity in space"

    Does the improved data regarding Earth's velocity use the speed of a sheep in a vacuum as its benchmark?

  17. Adalat

    I have a problem with the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass. My thought experiment:

    I set up a straight level railway line. On the line is a single freight car, which has a plain smooth flat deck. On the deck is a steel ball bearing.

    Now at the end of the line, I put a massive object (a mountain or an asteroid). The freight car, and its load, feel the attraction of gravity and moves (on its frictionless wheels) towards the massive object.

    Now start over, but this time I couple an engine to the freight car and tug on it. In my mind’s eye I can see the freight car accelerating, but the steel ball rolls back towards the far end and falls off. Has the steel ball detected the difference between the pull of gravity and the pull of an engine?

    I think this illustrates a hidden assumption, that everything in the frame-of-reference elevator is physically attached to it.

    Am I missing something?

    1. The Mighty Biff

      Yes - the steel bearing in your second case isn't being accelerated at the same rate as the freight car. You've correctly surmised that it's not attached, so will behave differently.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Stuart Halliday

    So Flat Earthers claim there is no gravity, just acceration.

    Can this clock test the difference between the two? ;)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Flat Earthers

      I've had someone dismiss gravity as 'just a theory' like all science-deniers do, as what was actually keeping our feet on the ground was AIR PRESSURE.

      He obviously could not explain how that air was actually pressing down on us.

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Flat Earthers

        Here's a nice test for that theory. Take a lump of plasticine and make it into a large, flat shape and weigh it. Now take the same lump and mould it into a tall thin shape and weigh it again. If the weights are the same, the theory is false. You can do a similar experment by weighing people standing up or lying down,

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Flat Earthers

          Here's a nice test for that theory.

          Nah, the better way to test the air pressure theory is to put the subject[0] into a sealed vessel of sufficient size, and evacuate it. With no air pressure present he should float around, no? To prevent any memory effects[1] the experiment should continue until all air molecules inside the vessel have either been removed, or, accounting for minute leaks, the remaining molecules all replaced by fresh ones with no prior involvement in pressing down on the subject's body.

          [0] of course this should be the person adhering to this alternate theory. Nothing like first-hand data from experiments, data that could otherwise be manipulated.

          [1] at some point the air has been diluted with vacuum to homeopathic levels; we need to make sure any memory effects that might be present at that point are entirely eradicated

  19. Adalat

    Suggestion to editors: is it time to delete posts that are (way) off topic?

  20. Methusalah
    Happy

    @ Adalat

    Yes.... you forgot Friction.

    In the first part of your thought experiment frictional forces do not apply, as gravity acts on all objects equally. In the absence of other factors..air resistance for example. So it matters not whether the steel ball and the wagon are connected. Both will move towards the mountain together.

    But in the the second part of your experiment, the forces are different.. The forces on the wagon are directly applied by the engine, but in the case of the steel ball are only indirectly applied....because they are transmitted through the medium of the frictional forces between the point of contact between the wagon bed and the steel ball. Once these frictional forces are broken - then the engine cannot apply it's forces to the steel ball. It is not that the steel ball can differentiate between inertial and gravitational forces, it simply reacts to the constant gravitational force in the first instance, and in the second.....the lack of any forces acting upon it once the frictional bonds are broken

    1. Adalat

      Re: @ Adalat

      Ok, so notwithstanding the statement "...the occupant of a windowless lift ... is unable to tell the difference between gravitational pull and acceleration" that principle somehow doesn't apply to my rail car?

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        Equivalence orinciple (was Re: @ Adalat)

        So, if you are on your rail car and either you make it a closed car so you can't see the outside world, or you carefully just look at the car and the ball bearing on it. Then:

        • if you see that the ball bearing does not move (or moves at constant velocity, neglecting friction) with respect to the car you can not tell whether the car is stationary (or moving at constant velocity) on the track or is accelerating along the track under the gravitational influence of the mountain, you know that it is not being accelerated by, say, a locomotive, however;
        • if you see that the ball bearing accelerates with respect to the car then you can't tell whether the car is being accelerated down the track by some force (other than gravity!) like a locomotive or whether the car is stationary (or moving at constant velocity) on the track but tilted.

        That's what the equivalence between gravitation and acceleration means.

        1. Adalat

          Re: Equivalence orinciple (was @ Adalat)

          “…you know that it is not being accelerated by, say, a locomotive, however;”

          But that is exactly my point. Without looking outside of the car, just by seeing the ball move, you can tell that the car is being accelerated, and that it is by a locomotive, not by gravity.

          So the forces of locomotive and gravity are not universally equivalent.

          1. tfb Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Equivalence orinciple (was @ Adalat)

            You can not distinguish between the car being accelerated by a locomotive and the car being tilted (on a planet with a slightly higher value of g). Sorry, that fell between my two points and may not have been clear. You can always know what the acceleration of the car is (normally it is 9.8m/s^2, directly downwards) but you can never distinguish the cause of that acceleration: whether it because you are sitting on the surface of a massive object, or being accelerated by a rocket or a locomotive or some combination of the two as in your case.

            A good way to see this is to construct the car such that it can be tilted somehow (put the floor of it on some kind of pivot, say). Now, when it is being accelerated by the locomotive, tilt the floor such that the ball-bearing remains stationary. Now: are you sitting on an untilted car on a planet whose value of g is slightly more than Earth's, or are you on a tilted car which is being accelerated? No (local) experiment you can do will tell you.

            1. Adalat

              Re: Equivalence orinciple (was @ Adalat)

              Sorry tfb, I give up. I think we are arguing at cross purposes. It isn’t my job to reconstruct my experiment to fit the theory, by tilting or pivoting the track.

              My example is a straight horizontal track. My point is that pushing the rail car by locomotive or by gravity are not equivalent or indistinguishable, if I were inside the car. Einstein’s “thought experiment” might be true in a vertical sense, but I can’t see that it applies in a horizontal dimension.

              1. tfb Silver badge

                Re: Equivalence orinciple (was @ Adalat)

                The point is that if you can't look outside the car you can't tell if the track is horizontal or not: there is nothing you can do which will allow you to distinguish running at constant speed on a track running up hill or being accelerated by the locomotive on a horizontal track. That's what I was trying to get at by the whole tilting thing: thinking of the rails running uphill is better really. And that fact (that there is no experiment you can do to distinguish those two cases) is the weak equivalence principle: the strong equivalence principle says that those two cases are therefore the same: the force of gravity is acceleration.

                The equivalence principle really is (as far as we know) correct: if I've failed to convince you that it is then that's because my explanation hasn't been clear enough, and I'm sorry. It's worth (well, I found it worth) spending some time trying to think up experiments that would let you distinguish: you'll fibd you can't

              2. tfb Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Equivalence orinciple (was @ Adalat)

                I know you've given up but I realised this last night I thought I would add it in case anyone else reads this, as it's neat.

                There's a variation on the mountain-at-the-end of the track scenario. Instead of letting the car move freely down the track, tie it to the track. Now the ball-bearing will, of course, roll down the car, and in fact this case is indistinguishable from the case where the car is being towed down the track, locally. And again you can stop the ball rolling by tilting the track, and when it's tilted it is now, again, horizontal, because the presence of the mountain has changed what horizontal is locally.

                And that's the thing: all these variants come down to the same thing: the direction (and magnitude) of the vector describing the acceleration due to gravity, as measured from the car, is changing. All the apparent differences come about because the car is constrained to move only along the track.

  21. Chris Coles

    Gravity is an attachment force

    As I understand gravity, having written a book on the subject, gravity is a result of the positive electromagnetic force field of the proton extending beyond the orbit of it's electron, (which is a part of the electromagnetic force field structure of every proton), to attach, (under the rules laid down by James Clerk Maxwell, A positive field will always seek to attach to the closest negative potential, or extend to infinity), to the negative potential of any adjacent proton's electron, as that adjacent proton rotates past; with the constant movement of all protons within mass causing such attachments, and subsequent detachments, to reflect the energy level of the mass.

    Inertial mass is caused by the same attachments, as within solid mass, to attach to all adjacent mass. Thus gas molecules are always similarly attached to each other by the same mechanism, regardless of distance. As such, these Gas Molecule Attachment Force Columns, extend from the planet surface to attach to any other mass object and provide the force necessary to resist movement.

    Gravity is simply an electromagnetic force field attachment between all protons and the attachments, (and subsequent detachments caused by the rotation of each proton), create the photons reflecting the energy level of that local mass. The same mechanism creates inertia.

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Gravity is an attachment force

      I've written a book on the life cycle of the venusian mind-worm: I consider myself an expert on the subject.

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Gravity is an attachment force

      Rather than write a book on it, why haven't you designed an experiment to prove or disprove your hypothesis?

      1. Chris Coles

        Re: Gravity is an attachment force

        The experiment, or at least the most recent was delivered to the Royal Society during 2011. That has also been added to the book as a part of a chapter titled Misunderstanding Isaac Newton. Again, an earlier experiment to show a beam of light would be diverted by a large mass resulted in my being given a 950 Kg steel bar that now resides beside the wind tunnel in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Houston.

        Again, why does no one want to review the book if it is so utterly stupid, as it would be an easy thing to do; except that, as I see it, they who have received it dare not do so, and that does include the BBC, (two copies), and the Royal Society. There is also a copy in the British Library and every major national library, including the Bodlian. Go have a read and then come back and comment.

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Gravity is an attachment force

          No one wants to review it because professional physicists (and I am sure other scientists and mathematicians) are continually bombarded with papers claming to overturn physics / solve quantum gravity / prove that P=NP / solve the halting problem / provide a theory of everything. If they reviewed even a tiny fraction of these then they would stop doing any useful research, so they don't.

          Instead there is a very well-understood way of getting people to pay attention to your theory: you do a degree, a PhD, a postdoc, and start publishing papers on it in peer-reviewed journals. Yes, it's hard work: such is life.

          Always remember: physicists accepted quantum mechanics and are seriously thinking about theories which require 10, 11 or 26 dimensions: they are not ignoring your theory because it is too whacky.

          1. Chris Coles

            Re: Gravity is an attachment force

            Nice of you to forget that some of the greatest strides forward were made, not by conventional scientists, but amateurs. But then you believe in scientific apartheid, "the man must be a fool as he has not the right colour of education". The foreword for the book was written by someone that is now President of a major US university, not that that will interest you with your head proverbially buried in your own version of apartheid having been taught by rote; not to look at new thinking, but to denigrate it at every opportunity. Very impressive!

            1. tfb Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Gravity is an attachment force

              The amateur thing may have been true a century and a half ago. I can't think of any examples since 1900or so (and no, Einstein wasn't one). Thanks for accusing me of bigotry: a nice touch. I can see why no-one will read your book: you're not only a crank, but one who thinks the right approach to disagreement is personal attacks. Bye.

              1. Chris Coles

                Re: Gravity is an attachment force

                As if suggesting that not being educated was never any form of personal attack; then saying that I accused you of bigotry, when all I did was suggest that saying a lack of formal education discredited me, was a new form of apartheid and then you use the word "crank"and run away with a "Bye". My personal opinion is that you have been taught to run away from new thinking; that is not a personal attack if that is a true reflection of the statements you have made. Disagreements have been a significant part of science for centuries. Try reading The Man Who Knew Too Much by Stephen Inwood; you will learn that you are simply a reflection of how real science has worked for centuries.

                So, now reflect that the conventional description of the relationship between the proton and the electron does not conform to the rules for electromagnetism, as laid down by James Clerk Maxwell; or, again, that Hooke's Law does not provide a full description of the forces within any spring and that the demonstration of such presented to the Royal Society in 2011 has recently been upgraded and will be presented soon.

                You live within a steady state universe that is entirely electromagnetic and Newtonian; get used to it.

                1. tfb Silver badge
                  Alien

                  Re: Gravity is an attachment force

                  Sigh, this is why I need not to read comment threads: I can never give up.

                  Just to be clear: I did not say anything about your education -- I have no idea what qualifications you have or don't, and nor would I regard lack of formal qualifications as any kind of indicator of how smart or otherwise someone is. What I gave was a plan of attack to get your ideas taken seriously, which plan of attack is, in essence, 'put in the hours, and get evidence you have done so': the qualifications are that evidence, no more and no less. You could not know this but I failed in this process of putting in the hours: I'm not sneering from my ivory tower.

                  However all that was before your last two comments, in which you've made it very clear that, sadly, you are indeed simply a crank. Your final paragraph: 'You live within a steady state universe that is entirely electromagnetic and Newtonian [...]' makes that abundantly clear. All three claims in it are demonstrably false and have been shown to be false both in many experiments and also, in the cas of the scond two, just in the workings of a huge number of engineered objects. This kind of mad crankery is, of course, why people won't listen to your incoherent nonsense.

                  I apologise for ever responding in the first place: it is always a mistake to try to help cranks. I should know that by now.

                  OK, I really am done now, I have horses to photograph.

                  1. Chris Coles

                    Re: Gravity is an attachment force

                    The only one making personal comments is you; very sad!

                    1. tfb Silver badge
                      Mushroom

                      Re: Gravity is an attachment force

                      Who was it who wrote 'you with your head proverbially buried in your own version of apartheid having been taught by rote' I wonder. Oh, it was you: you're a crank and a liar. Just fuck off.

    3. NoiTall

      Re: Gravity is an attachment force

      C..s, ¿ Really ? To be just a little bit honest: Omitted was "don't", making it truthful, i.e.: As I DON'T understand gravity (signed CC).

  22. Scroticus Canis
    Boffin

    "Homeopathy - Making Fuck All Difference Since 1796"

    One of my favourite T-shirt logos.

    "Everything is relative." "Oh absolutely!" - is another :)

  23. snifferdog_the_second

    A Tribute to the late, Lamented Ian Dury

    A Gnat's whisker, yes, very technical. Dumbing down, are we?

    Anyway, see:

    https://tinyurl.com/y9w8a59a

  24. blue-eyes
    Happy

    Homeopathy explained

    Water consists of 2 isomers depending on the 2 hydrogen atom spin directions - water (same direction) and para-water (different directions). Homeopathy changes the relative proportion of these isomers. This explains how it works. QED.

    1. NoiTall

      Re: Homeopathy explained

      b..s, HA . . ha . . hmm.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Hahaha

    I am a DM sceptic, and was thinking on how the report on the results of the time clock experiment made no mention of the effects of Dark Matter. Dark matter understanding has changed somewhat since it's inception and now it is said not to be everywhere in the universe or evenly throughout a planet.

    The effects should be seen on the Clocks as Gravity is increased by any Dark Matter as the Earth went around the Sun. It would be very consistent from the Earth's perspective but from the clocks perspective may be seen, as a variance if it were there.

    So anyway I came to this comments section and found that it was full of Dark Matter, and little science.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019