I pit the anti-science flat-spacetimers

Recently I happened upon a clickbait title on a website I respect; it was a story about a paper that had reaffirmed some of general relativity claims. As I had read the paper I wanted to read the comment section to learn more.

In what has to be one of the biggest coincidences ever, one of the commentators not only shared arguments that I have put forward on this site before, but whom also shares the same writing learning disability as I.
Unlike me, the poster appears to have made it further in the education system, and can also remember how to read FORTRAN and it willing to touch it. I personally refused to even look at fortran after 1995.

Anyway the poster obviously is also a better researcher too, because I always bought the claim that only Newtonian Mechanics was required for even space missions to other planets.

But apparently Every inter-planet mission post Mariner VI uses relativistic corrections, and without the “Double Precision Orbit Determination System” which has been in use from 1970 voyager couldn’t have even gone on the grand tour.

I always figured that the issue was with me as I saw the issues with the moons movement and Newtons weird adjustments to the inverse square law etc…

I figured I just didn’t know how to account for those errors due to my own limitations, as almost everyone claims that GR isn’t needed unless your path approaches the sun.

My own, admittedly limited math skills couldn’t ever figure it out.

Note, I am not anti-Newton, and actually personally believe that he is one of the smartest humans to ever walk the earth.

But it appears that you don’t have to consider relativity for attitude control if your are not near the sun, but absolutely have to consider it for Doppler range finding that is a critical for telemetry.

But even more, the ephemera produced by JPL, has used and has required relativistic corrections for 45 years, and in fact the errors in Newtonian mechanics resulted in the IAU moving to a post-Newtonian model which they started in 1991 and completed in 2001.

]([astro-ph/0303376] The IAU 2000 resolutions for astrometry, celestial mechanics and metrology in the relativistic framework: explanatory supplement)

So in part I am also pitting myself for not googling more, but I as I have little experience in orbital mechanics I also pit the dopers who claimed more experience but were obviously cargo-culting common physics legends.

Sure if you chose a special case like a spherical orbit of limited duration around the earth and don’t have to consider rendezvous or optimize payloads you can probably ignore the effects. but if you need to have orbit locations accurate within fractions of a KM vs being OK with dozens of KM of error you have to.

As the JPL ephemera have been making these corrections a siloed NASA engineer may not have been exposed to the relativistic corrections if they ignored the readme but to claim that any significant missions were accomplished with just Newtonian physics is like claiming that you don’t need a compass and a map or cartographers because you have Siri.

While it is best practices to use the simplest method for solving any problem, those of you who still claim that relativity isn’t practical or needed, or those of you who claim that Newtons mechanics are just as valid for our use cases…you are the spacetime equivalent of a flat-earther!!!

And for those who have erroneously claimed that Newtonian approximations model the current best understandings of fundamental physical properties I doubly pit thee!!!

A thrown tossed basketball is falling a consent speed straight line and the IIS is going at a consent speed straight line. You can stick to your superseded, redundant claims that weight and inertial mass are different to protect your short form F=ma, which is useful and short but if he was still alive even Newton himself would accept that you are in an accelerated frame and that form isn’t valid as a description of the fundamental reality of the world.

While useful, Newtonian mechanics are approximations, so quit using your ancient theories to beat down people who are actually trying to move past those outdated concepts.

There is a very good reason that even with the simplified but relativistic corrected post-newtonian methods are always appended with the term “approximation”

I don’t expect even a small percentage will ever make the effort to understand GR, but the anti-science, cargo-culting dogma surrounding these methods needs to stop.

A lot of words spent complaining about other people being stupid.

Let me clarify, the individuals intelligence doesn’t matter at all. Some of the individuals who are guilty of this behavior are absolutely smarter than myself and I respect them.

That doesn’t change the fact that in this case they are still being anti-science luddites.

They are holding onto views despite the evidence.

Maybe there’s a special kind of kuru for them, eh.

Yeah, right?

They can’t use classic Newtonian physics any more, because that could only be worked out in FORTRAN. When FORTRAN fell into general obsolescence, they had to develop new theories that could work with the newer programming languages, and Einsteinian relativity seems to have worked out okay.

Actually FORTRAN is still very much alive


In some cases it is still a far better choice, and has good performance.

I still dislike it but not as much as COBOL or Java.

Wife used to say, “Give me FORTAN and a place to stand and I can model the universe close enough.”


Well, my wife used to say, “Thus do I proclaim and thus do I believe: according to Philip Greenspun’s Tenth Rule of Programming, any sufficiently complicated Fortran program contains an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp!”

And then she’d say, “Don’t track that crap from the yard in here!”

Newtonian physics still has its place in the macro world; after all, bridges were (and are) designed using NP for calculating loads, and they didn’t all collapse when Einstein published his papers on SR and GR.

On the other hand, some real-world stuff has to take relativity into account, chief among them, GPS navigation.

Yes, and in fact engineers are part of the problem as far as the general public knowledge with their FPS system which causes even scientists to believe that the pound is not a unit of mass, irrespective of the inconveniences of it’s rational number biased scale.

If Engineers are smart enough to realize that a set of callipers are less accurate than a set of micrometers they can acknowledge that they are using approximate values when using F=ma in a non-inertial frame.

I can use a bubble level without assertive claims that the earth is flat.