In the domain of Theoretical Physics, Newton, Ernst Mach, Einstein and in present times Stephen Hawking are among the most dominant personalities, having set the ground for others to follow.
Newton needed to define absolute frame of reference in order to rationalize Newtonian Mechanics. He assumed that the so called Fixed Stars such as North Pole Star are the bodies at absolute rest in absolute space and so provide absolute frame of reference. He concluded that in other reference frames either at rest with respect to the fixed stars or in uniform translation relative to these stars, Newton's laws of motion (http://en.wikipedia.org/
However, he failed to appreciate that this assumption is self-contradictory to his Law of Gravitation. Phenomenon of gravity forbids existence of any Fixed Star in any absolute space in any absolute frame of reference. Moreover, Newton never explained the mechanism/ cause effect sequence that will force a rigid body on Earth to move along a straight line under the influence of distant Fixed Stars and in accordance with his Law of Inertia.
Ernst Mach (1838–1916)
Mach gave no reason for his principle. He never explained as to why local physical laws should be determined by large scale structure of the universe. In author’s opinion it is wild and weird and a blatant misinterpretation of observed facts. It is antithetical to hierarchical structure of nature wherein rules vary from one hierarchical level to another.
Einstein (1905) under the influence of Mach’s Principle concluded: Since light rays are travelling in gravitational field, so they are bound to get deflected on account of their travel in accelerated frame of reference. But gravitational field is determined by curvature of space produced by presence of material bodies. This curvature of space determines Geodesic Lines or the paths of material bodies as well as light rays. This whole conception further leads to notion of time-space continuum or Four Dimensional Space.
So Einstein’s anticipation of gravitational deflection of light is rationally grounded in notion of Fixed Stars, absolute space and absolute frame of reference. There is no doubt that gravitational deflection of light is a proven fact but in author’s opinion this is a case of correct anticipation but for wrong reasons. Such are the wonders of Science.
There is nothing much needed to say about Stephen Hawking except that he has elaborated upon foundations of Physics as detailed above. In author’s opinion, his anticipation of gravitational collapse of Universe into Black Holes is not founded in reality.
Ancient astronomers referred to various stars as Fixed Stars, since they were unable to observe their motion in relation to a geographical locus. However in 1718 Edmund Halley announced his discovery that Fixed Stars are not fixed but have proper motion. The Fixed Star with largest known proper motion is Barnard’s star. Since Newton lived up to 1927, so he should have revised his notions in his life time but unfortunately the Newtonian Legacy continues till date even though in a slightly modified form, as detailed above.
From the above account, it can be readily seen that the notion of Fixed Stars upon which rests the entire edifice of Theoretical Physics in naturally invalid. Hence, Theoretical Physics as it stands today is without foundations in natural phenomena.
In my book “Encounter of Science With Philosophy – A Synthetic View” I have discussed the concept of rest in Physics (Chapter-11)
Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only book which deals with origin of nature and universe from null. Several chapters of the book are devoted to physics.