Why did Tesla reject the theory of relativity?


I recently spoke with an engineer who, during a physics course, did not master the theory of relativity. For some ideological reasons, he categorically denied it. After all his arguments were clearly refuted, he took out his «last trump card.» With a triumphant air, he said, «Why should I listen to you if

Yes, indeed, if a person does not want to listen to me, I do not insist, but still in this article I will talk about why Nikola Tesla did not accept the theory of relativity.

The main reason is that Tesla was a man of his day. He was an electrical engineer. The theory of the ether, which existed in the 19th century, was completely suitable for all problems that were of interest to Tesla. In addition, the ether theory was (like all physics before Einstein), quite intuitive. Those. everything worked in it as common sense dictates.

Actually, the non-intuitiveness of the theory of relativity is the main reason why many did not accept the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. In the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, intuition and common sense based on everyday experience do not work. In these areas of physics, equations reign. If common sense tells you one thing and solutions to equations another, you need to trust the equations.

Tesla was never able to accept this. However, unfortunately for Tesla and all other deniers of the theory of relativity, the calculations made on the basis of the equations of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics are in perfect agreement with the results of observations and experiments. Relativistic formulas are used in a wide variety of technologies, from spacecraft to GPS in your mobile phone.

On this topic you can theorize as much as you like, especially since Tesla was a very reserved person and little is known about how deeply he delved into it, but the most likely one seems to me to be a very simple answer.

Tesla could not accept the theory of relativity simply because he could not understand it. Under understand in this case, I mean the entire mathematical apparatus that stands behind this theory.

When Tesla studied at the Graz Technical University there, in principle, neither tensor calculus, nor Riemannian manifolds, nor other branches of mathematics were extremely important for understanding the theory of relativity.

Moreover, these branches of mathematics could not be needed by Tesla in his work on inventions in the field of electricity, so the likelihood that before the advent of the theory of relativity Tesla could be familiar with the necessary mathematical apparatus is extremely small. At the same time, at the time of publication of the general theory of relativity, Tesla was for a minute — 60 years old.

In my opinion, Tesla’s attitude to the theory of relativity can be characterized as: «I am very smart. If I could not understand this, then this is nonsense.» In other words, he simply did not master it.

Yes, now Tesla has the status of a cult hero. His achievements in the field of practical electromechanics are undeniable and respectable, and they have changed the entire electrical industry in many ways.

However, despite all his remarkable engineering achievements, Tesla was a very mediocre scientist. Tesla’s only contribution to physics is that the unit for measuring the induction of a magnetic field was named after him. In physics, there is not a single formula or law that was discovered by Tesla.

Tesla has made many claims that he has developed his own theory of gravity based on the theory of the ether and is about to present it to the scientific community. But despite the fact that the years passed, the statements were repeated, Tesla never published anything. All of his arguments against the theory of relativity were philosophical rather than scientific.

That is why the argument that Nikola Tesla did not recognize the theory of relativity does not cause much sentiment among modern physicists. Well, he didn’t recognize it, so what? He is not the first, he is not the last who failed to master the mathematical apparatus necessary in order to understand it.

The results of experiments and observations are stubborn things. And they all confirm the theory of relativity, and so far no one has managed to stage an experiment that could shake the position of the theory of relativity.

The theory of relativity is not a sacred cow. It has its own problems, but the best theory describing gravitational interactions at the macrolevel simply does not exist at the moment.