Lorentz Transforms

This discussion is an attempt to better understand the Lorentz transforms, which were initially developed as a respond to the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment in 1870, as previously discussed, but later used by Einstein in support of his theory of special relativity, published in 1905. However, there is a much wider backstory surrounding these transforms, both in terms of historic developments and implications, such that this review will be broken into a number of subsections.

This initial discussion is only intended as an introduction to the Lorentz transforms and the idea of time dilation and length contraction, which were originally forwarded as speculative assumptions, as there was little, if any, evidence for such concepts when initially published. The following discussions will then attempt to expand on some potential causal mechanisms that might be considered within the framework of a wave model, where the wave media of space might be assumed to be an absolute frame of reference.

Note: The development of website-3 has allowed a wider discussion of various wave models, most of which differ in scope. However, a common theme of all these models is that matter has a wave structure of some description, where component waves that constitute matter propagate through a wave media. While this wave media is described in many ways, it is often generally referred to as ‘the ether’ for historic reasons. The nature of this wave media might be considered as a distortion of space, as a fundamental electromagnetic field, as a multitude of different quantum fields or even possibly as a superfluid that can isolate angular momentum.

However, for the purposes of this initial discussion, we might assume that the wave media in question might be simply associated with what is normally assume to be ‘space’, i.e. the huge amount of ‘nothing’ that exists between a very sparse distribution of matter particles, i.e. ‘something’.

What is the current status of such ideas?

From the late 19th century to the present-day, the idea that space might be a wave media has essentially been side-lined in favour of a theory of relativity. The subsequent development of relativity in conjunction with quantum mechanics has led to a situation where the idea of matter having an underlying wave structure is rarely discussed in terms of a wave model within mainstream science. However, it might be argued that these accepted models of science have become increasingly dependent on a multitude of mathematical abstractions, where the issue of any physical causal mechanism is often far from obvious. While the issue of reconciling any wave model with current quantum theory is beyond the scope of this discussion, reference might still be made to some of its perceived shortcomings - see quantum addendum.  However, it may also be useful to review the historic development of ideas underpinning special relativity predicated on the assumptions of the Lorentz transforms, such that we might further consider the next question.

Can the Lorentz transforms be explained in terms of any physical causal mechanisms?

If not, then it might be argued that the Lorentz transforms are, or at least were, primarily mathematical conjecture, even though there is now empirical evidence in support of these equations. It might also be argued that special relativity provided the scientific justification of the Lorentz transforms, such that it became ‘accepted science’. However, while there is simply too much empirical evidence in support of the basic idea of relativity, which cannot be ignored, some of the implications of this theory have always been questioned in terms of the paradoxes it appears to generate. So, while special relativity embraced the implications of the Lorentz transforms in terms of both time dilation and length contraction, it did not necessarily provide any further physical clarity of these concepts, especially when abstracted into 4D spacetime, as proposed by Minkowski in 1908. However, the description of relativity by Einstein and Minkowski has a long prior history of development, which is possibly worthy of some further review.

Note: At one level, the Lorentz transforms are often cited as a causal explanation of relativity in terms of both length contraction and time dilation. However, within a wave model, these concepts  must be effects, not a cause, such that an alternative justification and causal explanation of the Lorentz transforms is required.