Did you know that Lewis Carroll seems to have been something of a 'relativist' in philosophical and religious terms. However, it was not until 1913 that Newtonian Physics was overturned by Einstein's Theory of
(physics) The theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts.
Now read this excerpt from 'Sylvie and Bruno' (Chapter heading 'A Ride on a Lion'.)
"One can easily imagine a situation", said Arthur, "where things would necessarily have no weight, relative to each other, though each would have its usual weight, looked at by itself." "Some desperate paradox!" said the Earl. "Tell us how it could be. We will never guess it." "Well, suppose this house, just as it is, placed a few billion miles above a planet, and with nothing else near enough to disturb it: of course it falls to the planet?" The Earl nodded. "Of course - though it might take some centuries to do it." "And is five-o-clock-tea to be going on all the while?" said Lady Muriel. "That and other things," said Arthur. "The inhabitants would live their lives, grow up and die and still the house would be falling, falling, falling! But now as to the relative weight of things. Nothing can be heavy, you know except by trying to fall, and being prevented from doing so. You all grant that?" We all granted that. "Well now, if I take this book, and hold it out at arms length, of course I feel its weight. It is trying to fall, and I prevent it. And if I let it go, it falls to the floor. But if we were all falling together, it couldn't be trying to fall any quicker you know: for if I let go, what more could it do than fall? And as my hand would be falling too, at the same rate, it would never leave it, for that would be to get ahead of it in the race. And it could never overtake the falling floor!"
VERY curiously similar, don't you think? Those interested should read the whole of this section - and if possible get hold of Einstein's biography where he describes his 'thought experiment'. In fact Carroll's 'thought experiment' is even clearer than Einstein's! Actually Sylvie and Bruno and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded are both filled with gems of relativity. However, few contemporary readers would have recognised the import of Carroll's 'thought experiment' and since, the Sylvie and Bruno books have been eclipsed by the shining brilliance of the Alice books and Hunting of the Snark.
by John Tufail
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