# Newton and Einstein compared

Isaac Newton expanded on what is now called the Galilean transformation (GT). The GT encapsulates a whole approach to physics. Length and duration are independent variables, and accordingly are universal, and may be measured by any observer. The length of a body is a universal value. The duration of a motion is a universal value. These values are independent of the control or condition of an observer.

Albert Einstein expanded on what is now called the Lorentz transformation (LT). The LT encapsulates a whole approach to physics. There are two universal constants: the speed of light in a vacuum and the orientation of reference frames. These constants are independent of any observer, though the speed of light may be measured by any observer. The orientation of reference frames is assumed to be the same universally, as if all are aligned with the fixed stars according to a universal convention.

Galileo described the relativity of speed, so that inertial observers do not have a universal speed but have speeds relative to other inertial observers. There is no universal maximum one-way speed. The two-way speed of light is a universal constant, but one leg of its journey may be instantaneous by convention, consistent with common ways of speaking. The orientation of reference frames is also relative, so that two frames view each others’ velocities as having the same direction.

Einstein described the relativity of length and duration, depending on their relative speed, which is always less than the speed of light in a vacuum. By convention, the mean of the two-way speed of light is assigned to every leg of its journey. Since the orientation of reference frames is the same, two frames view each other’s velocities as opposite in direction.

The strength of Newton’s vision is his mechanics and its continuity with common ways of speaking. The strength of Einstein’s vision is its continuity with Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism.

Note: The Galilean transformation is related to the Lorentz transformation in one of three ways: (1) as c → ∞, (2) as v → 0, or (3) as the simultaneity of the backward (or forward) light cone (i.e., c0 = ∞) [see here].