Questions tagged [relativity-theory]

For questions regarding either the special or general theories of relativity.

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49 views

What was Einstein's first publication of the final form of general relativity?

What was Einstein's first published exposition of his final form of general relativity, be it a scientific article or a book? I've been googling the answer for hours now, with no luck, really. The ...
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Who was the first to hypothesise that gravity from one mass causes the spacetime around another mass to curve?

Was it Einstein? Or was there someone before him to hypothesise this?
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How did Mach's view on spacetime differ from Einstein's?

We can read in Wikipedia: Mach's principle, in cosmology, hypothesis that the inertial forces experienced by a body in nonuniform motion are determined by the quantity and distribution of matter in ...
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Why can't it be said that Lorentz invented Special Relativity? [duplicate]

It is well known that Lorenz found the transformations of space and time to account for the observations made by Michelson and Morley. Before their experiments, an absolute aether was supposed to ...
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172 views

Who named Black Hole?

A black hole is a compact region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, even light, can escape from its event horizon, and, interestingly, Einstein didn't accept this viewpoint. Now, I'...
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102 views

Gravity's Rainbow: An accidental nominal similarity in science and literature?

There is an interesting extension of Einstein's Special Relativity, known as Doubly Special Relativity (presented after 2002) in which there is not only an observer-independent maximum velocity (i.e., ...
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81 views

How did Einstein arrive at the result that mass and energy affect pairs of points in spacetime (the curves joining them)?

I understand that the relationship between the metric tensor* and the four-momentum flux across the surfaces of constant $x^\nu$ coordinate is described by Einstein's field equations. My question is &...
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Maxwell equations and aether

Were Maxwells equations (in their usual common form) assumed to be valid only in ether frame,in the past? If someone would ask them "In what frame are you writing these equations " ,what ...
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1answer
194 views

What is the history of adding the Clock Hypothesis to Special Relativity?

As far as I understand, Einstein’s original formulation of Special Relativity did not include the Clock Hypothesis, though it was implicitly assumed. The modern formulation of SR adds a formal ...
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Books about the development/history of gravitational theory

I am looking for a book about the history of gravitational theory. It should obviously include discussions of Newton, Einstein, and their theories, and hopefully it would include the work of other ...
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First paper in derived speeds after collision in relativistic dynamics

In the one dimensional relativistic collision, do you know which is the first paper in which the final speeds in terms of initial rates and rest masses are derived? I found the derivation on Wikipedia ...
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Why did no one else, except Einstein, work on developing General Relativity between 1905-1915?

Einstein dedicated his time between 1905-1915 to develop general relativity (GR). It seems strange to me that no other physicists attempted to tackle this problem in this ten-year period. After all, ...
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Is Hermann Weyl's book “Space, Time, Matter” (1923) on General Relativity still relevant?

I really liked Hermann Weyl's mathematical books and would like to get accustomed to general relativity from his perspective, but wonder if it's still relevant after almost 100 (!) years? Can this ...
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Did Arthur Schuster anticipate the equivalence between matter and energy in his speculations about antimatter?

Here Schuster apparently discussed matter and antimatter annihilating each other. Had anyone suggested before this that matter could be transformed into energy? (If indeed that is what is implied by ...
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Different versions of mass during early years of special relativity

My question is basically about four different versions of mass from the early years of special relativity when the concept of relativistic mass was acceptable. I'd appreciate it if you try to keep ...
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207 views

Why did energy-momentum relationship have to wait until 1928 to be established?

This web page shows how to derive energy-momentum relationship, $E_{total}^2=p^{2}c^{2}+\left( mc^{2}\right) ^{2}$, given the following equations. Please note that some sources make a distinction ...
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Einstein: 'SR is a theory of invariants, not relativity' -- source?

It is occasionally remarked that Einstein was unhappy that SR became referred to as a ‘theory of relativity’, when in his eyes it was, much more importantly, a theory of invariants (Invariantentheorie)...
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205 views

Were there doubts that Voigt's time dilation was correct rather than Einstein's?

According to Wikipedia's Voigt transformation: Lorentz did not adopt this transformation, as he found in 1904 that only the Lorentz contraction corresponds to the principle of relativity. Since ...
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201 views

What is a spacetime continuum?

A very common expression I see in pop science is "the spacetime continuum". This expression isn't commonly used in modern discussions of general relativity, but looking at some older papers on the ...
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260 views

First paper introducing the concept of four-vectors

I'm trying to find the first paper in which the concept of four-vectors was introduced. I read "Principle of Relativity" by H. Minkowski but he only presents the notion of metric and invariant space-...
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37 views

Were Christoffel symbols used by Riemann?

The answer to the question would appear to be "no" looking at the transcription of Riemann's 1854 Ueber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen lecture. However, Bernhard Riemann (1826-...
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What was the original reason physicists first believed that light must follow a geodesic?

Context: One of the key reasons Einstein first suspected space is curved by mass is due to the falling elevator thought experiment. This experiment implies that mass must curve the path of a light ray....
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Einstein praising Sophus Lie

p. 153 of Raúl M. Falcón Ganfornina and Juan Núñez Valdés, “Mathematical Foundations of Santilli Isotopies,” trans. Alan Aversa, Algebras, Groups, and Geometries 32 (2015): 135–308. quotes (but does ...
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What was the chain of theories that led to relativity? [closed]

Can you briefly sketch the sequence of math theories that were necessary for Einstein to figure out a convincing background for relativity?
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What was the relationship between Einstein and Minkowski?

I read many Einstein's Biographies, but Minkowski was never mentioned, though his discovery of the union of space and time created the basis for GR. Minkowski was Einstein's teacher of mathematics ...
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186 views

Is it true Einstein doubted relativity near the end of his life?

Heard he wrote a bunch of rambling thoughts near the end of his life and doubted his own theory of relativity...it was in Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
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Bainbridge's test of mass-energy equivalence

Kenneth Bainbridge was an early pioneer of mass spectroscopy. The Wikipedia article about him says: He used this instrument to verify Albert Einstein's mass-energy equivalence, E = mc2 with a ...
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353 views

How did Maxwell fall short of Einstein?

This source (I believe it's in Ukrainian) claims that Maxwell came very close to creating the relativity theory, however, it was the fact that he was adhering to the traditional scientific frame of ...
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Did Einstein want to reduce general relativity to elementary mathematics?

In this recent article, the authors write Consequently, it is a desideratum to teach general relativity in a way that is based on elementary mathematics only. This objective, already stated by ...
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126 views

Did Galileo state the principle of equivalence in full generality?

The weak equivalence principle (WEP) is often attributed to Galileo. Did Galileo ever state the WEP precisely? For instance as given here? The original principle, usually attributed to Galileo, ...
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149 views

General Relativity, General Covariance and Equivalence Principle

Einstein realized that uniform acceleration is indistinguishable from a homogeneous gravitational field (the principle of equivalence) through the Einstein Elevator thought experiment. From the ...
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First discussion of radial/volume excess in General Relativity

A well-known (but usually only cursorily discussed) feature of General Relativity is the so-called radial (or volume) excess due to the curvature of spacetime in the presence of mass/energy (or more ...
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161 views

When, and by whom was the Schwarzschild metric first taken to be valid for all radii greater than zero?

The metric was originally defined to be valid only from the surface of a black hole outward but somewhere along the line it was extended inward to include the region under the event horizon. This ...
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Who first noticed that the radiation pressure formula $p=U/c$ agreed with $E=pc$ from special relativity?

Does anyone know behind stories? As it seems that $p=U/c$ was known before the advent of special theory of relativity, (Halliday, Resnick, Walker says that Maxwell derived this.) when $E=pc$ was first ...
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Textbook on the History of General Relativity

I have studied General Relativity from various textbooks already, and the subject fascinated me immensely. I was wandering if there is any textbook that deals with the chronological "steps" that ...
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Did Einstein get inspired by projective geometry?

I read somewhere that projective geometry was an inspiration to Einstein to build the theory of relativity. However, the keyword "projective geometry" isn't mentioned in history of general relativity ...
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What triggered the general relativity renaissance?

There is a period of general relativity history famous for its lack of activity, where during the 1950's, almost no general relativity was done. Looking through various bibliographies, there were very ...
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First appearance of causality issues

The oldest appearances of causality troubles in modern theories are of course the Kurt Gödel paper (1949), Reichenbach's philosophy of time and space (1927), Weyl's "Space, time and matter" (1922) and ...
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255 views

Could scientists of Newton's time have explored the limits of his laws of motion?

As noted on this Wikipedia page Newton's laws of motion and of gravity were "verified by experiment and observation for over 200 years" and found to be a "good approximation for macroscopic objects ...
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513 views

Math development and under-appreciation of Maxwell's Equations

Freeman Dyson expresses the opinion in his 1972 essay titled "Missed Opportunities" that Maxwell's equations could have played a much bigger role, one that is comparable to classical ...
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1answer
106 views

First descriptions of ultrastatic spacetimes?

What's the first appearance of ultrastatic spacetimes (that is, spacetimes with a metric of the form $ds^2 = -dt^2 + h$, with $h$ a Riemannian metric)? The oldest reference I can find on the topic is ...
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319 views

When Was Kaluza-Klein Theory Appreciated?

As far as I understand, the Kaluza-Klein theory, despite its unprecedentedly profound and beautiful character, had a modest following in its early days. I guess that two of the many reasons might be ...
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200 views

Absolute space and time before Newton

Why is so much emphasis put on the concepts of absolute space and time as the grand foundations of Newtonian mechanics, and not as foundations also of previous theories, as for example Kepler's laws ...
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404 views

Why is time represented on the vertical axis in space-time diagrams?

One thing that bugs me when learning and explaining special relativity concepts is that the time axis on space-time charts always on the vertical axis. While almost everywhere else time is going on ...
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Why didn't Einstein win a second Nobel Prize, for relativity?

Einstein's failure to win a Nobel until 1921, and that prize's not being awarded for his work on relativity, is generally ascribed to these factors: Lack of sufficient experimental proof for the ...
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115 views

Modification of Newtonian Gravity based on Maxwell's Theory

As is well-known, Maxwell's equations were already consistent with Special Theory of Relativity while the Newtonian law of Gravitation wasn't. It can be shown by solving the equations of Maxwell for a ...
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Was the pre-special relativity discussion a hot topic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century?

We know that low-dimensional materials and topological materials are some of the current hot topics in Physics. Did this happen with the pre-special relativity discussions in the late nineteenth and ...
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Was an expanding universe proposed before Edwin Hubble's observations?

General relativity (1915), as I've heard it explained, describes a universe that is either shrinking or expanding. By adding a cosmological constant it can describe a universe in eternal steady state, ...
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First appearance of the timelike cylinder spacetime

Spacetimes with causality violations go back a bit of a way (at least as far back as Herman Weyl's "Space, Time and Matter" in 1922, followed by the Gödel spacetime in 1949), but one of the simplest ...
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How Einstein got the first idea for special relativity?

I am reading Big Bang by Simon Singh. Here is the short story (as I understood it): Einstein gets a contradiction by assuming that 1- The speed of light $c$ is constant with respect the ether. 2- ...