The "cube of physics" is a quite useful summary of physics, for historical$^1$ and teaching$^2$ purposes, that is best explained (as far as I know) in "Physics On A Cube" by Jeremy Côté or in "The cube of physical theories" by Sabine Hossenfelder

$^1$ it recaps all biggest turning points in the history of physics

$^2$ for example, it is in the intro of Zee's Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell

The idea has been attributed to Matvei Bronstein on wiki:

He introduced the cGh scheme for classifying physical theories. "After the relativistic quantum theory is created, the task will be to develop the next part of our scheme, that is to unify quantum theory (with its constant h), special relativity (with constant c), and the theory of gravitation (with its G) into a single theory."(2)

But the citation note references a paper I could find nowhere:

(2) Bronstein, M. P. "K voprosu o vozmozhnoy teorii mira kak tselogo" ("On the Question of a Possible Theory of the World as a Whole"), in Uspekhiastronomitcheskihnauk. Sbornik, No. 3 (Moscow: ONTI, 1933) p. 3–30, as quoted and translated in Gorelik (2005) loc. cit.

Even the one who wrote the long article I mentioned at the beginning couldn't find anything:

I could not locate the original article by Bronstein. As is the case with a lot of old papers, they have citations from other resources, but there is no copy to be found. It took enough work to find Bronstein’s first name...

Any help?

  • $\begingroup$ According to Tomilin (Google translation), "Bronstein published his scheme three times, in 1933 in the article "On the question of a possible theory of the world as a whole" [19], in 1934 in the collection "Basic Problems of Space Physics"..., and in 1935 in his book "Structure of Matter" [21]. The first two articles and the corresponding part of Bronstein's book are virtually identical, except for the notation". $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ The book (in Russian) is available online. I wouldn't expect a discontinued Russian journal from 1933 to be, but it is listed in Russian libraries. I think Wikipedia's citation refers to translating Gorelik's citation from his 2005 expose, the paper itself was never translated. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ thanks Conifold. I wrote to the russian library as I couldn't find the article [19] myself... $\endgroup$
    – ccampisano
    Feb 12, 2022 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ Did you look in the 1990 biography of Bronstein from 1990, which is linked to near the end of his Wikipedia page at ihst.ru/projects/sohist/books/bronstein.pdf ? Chapter 5, starting on p. 134, is about "cGħ-physics in Bronstein's life". The end of the book has a translation of the table of contents into English, where the page number for the start of Chapter 5 there is an obvious typographical error. $\endgroup$
    – KCd
    Feb 12, 2022 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @KCd not sure, as it's in Russian, but the image on top of page 148 looks exactly like what I needed. Google translating the image caption looks great: "The "space" of physical theories in the cGћ-system of coordinate ". thanks a lot. $\endgroup$
    – ccampisano
    Feb 12, 2022 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


I think, with the precious help from KCd, that we can safely assert that:

  1. At least Bronstein was involved in that as it was something relevant for him (see around pdf-page 153).

  2. The different attribution to "Gamow, Ivanenko and Landau about a century ago" could be meaningful, but the referenced document is not available; anyway it's all Soviet people from "pariah CCCP", so maybe they all worked on it. Anyway, "Bronstein's map" would be likely to be more accepted than "Soviet's map".

Still, it would be very nice to find if it is the "original work" of Bronstein, as this is what Carlo Rovelli wasn't quite satisfied about: "it's not clear whether the drawing is a Bronstein's original work... it's a bio, not a paper of his own". He replied this when I shared the book link and the below image with him.

Bronstein's bio book with the map

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BigBrother thanks for the help $\endgroup$
    – ccampisano
    Feb 13, 2022 at 10:00

As it appears there is another version printed in book and edited by Bronstein himself:

Основные проблемы космической физики, 1934, под ред. М.П. Бронштейна, Киев, ОНТИ с. 186-215 djvu (p.206 missing)

  • $\begingroup$ there's nothing like the physics cube here $\endgroup$
    – ccampisano
    Feb 12, 2022 at 0:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.