JSS wrote:Obviously at that time, no one had the wherewithal to point out that non-existence can never exist as a component of an ontology.
I know the history of this era very well indeed and it wasn't so much that nobody had the wherewithal to straighten these blokes out with a few basic facts. What happened was that physics immediately became a mathematical game and the philosophers were too mesmerised by the mathematical virtuosity of the geeks to realise that they'd ventured way beyond their domain of expertise. In fact Henri Poincare, the true father of modern relativity theory as well as a deeply insightful philosopher, could see it right away and declared SR to be bollocks from the outset. Even Einstein himself had deep reservations about what Minkowski had done but because he was only a mediocre mathematician himself he felt he had little choice but to go along with it. He knew the theory was incomplete but felt sure that it would all come out in the wash in due course. A hundred years later we're still waiting because the sad fact is that the science of physics doesn't work that way. Physics is all about model-building and once a viable model has been constructed it's a simple matter to tack bits onto it as required, as Ptolemy showed with his epicycles.
Nowadays SR is regarded as a special case of GR in the so-called "flat space", even though every man and his dog knows that there's no such thing as a "flat space" anywhere in the physical universe. But what exactly is a "flat space"? A "flat space" is a space where time passes at a constant speed because this is the assumption which Minkowski was working with and this is the very space in which QM is modelled. Therefore QM and GR can never be made compatible before hell freezes over and QM without GR will never make a lick of sense. The Minkowski block quite literally and emphatically denies the most fundamental of metaphysical first principles by claiming that TIME DOES NOT PASS.
Well I've got news for Hermann in the form of vanishing hair, creaky joints and missing teeth which are telling me a different story. Time passes all right and it's passing too bloody fast for my liking.
JSS wrote:In those days, they had no idea why light traveled at the particular speed that it does and what would happen if that speed somehow changed.
In fact Maxwell never really thought of the speed of light as a speed through space at all but rather as a dimensional constant relating to the speed of a process. This was a full century before the modern science of information theory so this was a very insightful piece of thinking. In a spaceless universe the speed of light can be very simply defined as the processing speed of the universe, i.e. the speed at which reality is being MADE.
Today it all seems to be merely a mind game for the masses, intentionally obfuscated and twisted for intrigue, but still taught in universities as true science.
I don't see the intrigue that you seem to be seeing. What I see is a deep flaw in the peer-review system of modern academia which specifically encourages group-think, excessive fragmentation of the science into sub-disciplines which are fiercely protective of their fiefdoms, and a blind unwillingness to acknowledge the self-evident truth that spacetime itself is a bullshit paradigm. None of this is helped by a few media sluts who love getting on the telly and telling everybody what a staggeringly complicated thing the universe is and aren't we lucky that the dumb fucks like us have got such geniuses as them to figure it all out for us. All I can say is that in the last hundred years they haven't got very far so maybe the dumb fucks know something that they don't. Maybe time is exactly what it appears to be.