The names of Tesla and Einstein are inscribed in the history of modern science and there is hardly anyone who would question the merits of both the great inventor Tesla and the great scientist Einstein. However, interestingly enough, Tesla himself was an active critic of Einstein’s work and did not hesitate to criticize his opponent at any opportunity. This criticism of Tesla’s works of Einstein and, in particular, the theory of relativity, currently underlies the argumentation of many modern deniers and critics of TO, with arguments in the spirit of «Even the great Tesla himself did not recognize the theory of relativity!» However, Tesla’s criticism of the theory of relativity was not scientific in nature and lay more on the philosophical plane. Let’s see why the famous inventor did not believe the famous scientist?
Physics until the late 19th century was a fairly intuitive science. In the sense that the results obtained by physicists were quite understandable from the point of view of everyday experience and common sense based on it.
However, with the emergence of new trends in physics, such as the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, more and more predictions of physical theories began at first glance to contradict common sense. For example, the prediction of the theory of relativity that clocks in different frames of reference may not run the same way, a reduction in the length of a moving body, etc. from the point of view of both classical physics and everyday experience, they look absurd.
In science, however, there is a good criterion of truth — practice. Despite the seeming illogicality, the predictions of the theory of relativity have stood the test of a huge number of experiments and the validity of these predictions, as well as the theory itself, at the moment is beyond doubt.
The seeming inconsistency of the predictions of the theory of relativity is caused by the fact that situations in which relativistic effects manifest themselves lie outside the boundaries of our everyday experience. For example, we usually do not travel at near-light speeds and therefore do not deal with relativistic effects.
As for Tesla, he was not a man of the old era. He could not accept that the results predicted by the equations were different from what common sense told him.
A person is inclined to believe only in what he can understand and accept. Tesla refused to accept the theory of relativity. And this has a rather simple explanation: Tesla simply did not understand Einstein’s theory of relativity or did not fully understand it.
The theory of relativity, as you know, is divided into general and special, and if in the special theory of relativity a rather triial mathematical apparatus is used that even a high school student can master, then in order to fully understand the general theory of relativity, you will have to delve into tensor calculus and analysis, as well as into differential geometry and topology.
Could Tesla have known these branches of mathematics? It is highly doubtful. Tesla studied at the Graz Technical University, and he did not finish it, as he was expelled from the third year for academic failure caused by an addiction to gambling. But even during the time that Tesla spent within the walls of the university there is no chance that he would have time to study there, say, tensor analysis. Even now, these sections of mathematics are not taught in engineering specialties, and in the time of Tesla — even more so, since then these sections of mathematics were just incipient.
After Tesla left the university, he was engaged only in practical research in the field of electrodynamics and electromechanics, but when working on inventions in this area tensors and differential geometry could not be needed either, so most likely Tesla first met them when he got acquainted with the general theory of relativity.
When the theory of relativity became the property of the scientific community, Tesla was already 60 years old, while Tesla hardly got acquainted with general relativity right in the year of its release, most likely it happened 5-10 years later. Of course, making up for everything that was missed during the studies, at this age, if not impossible, then very difficult. Those. in our opinion, Tesla simply did not master the general theory of relativity due to insufficient mathematical training.
Nikola Tesla himself tried to develop his own theory of gravity based on the theory of ether. However, despite Tesla’s numerous statements in the spirit of “I have developed such a theory of gravity here, now as I publish it, you will all gasp,” the scientific community did not see the results of his work.
In general, analyzing the causes and consequences of the confrontation between the two «titans» of physics, we can conclude that Tesla’s rejection of the theory of relativity is not any serious argument in favor of its fallacy.
If we summarize all of Tesla’s arguments against the theory of relativity, then they can be reduced to two words: “I don’t believe!”, But science is not a matter of faith. The nature of scientific theories is such that they don’t care whether they believe in them or not. The criterion of truth: practice. If you toss an apple, it will fall to Earth regardless of whether you believe in gravity or not. And at the moment, practical experiments demonstrate an extremely high agreement of the predictions of the theory of relativity with reality. The theory of relativity, however, is also not perfect, as is well known to modern scientists, but there is no better theory yet.