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

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1answer
136 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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0answers
51 views

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 ...
5
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4answers
120 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
111 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
177 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
87 views

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 ...
8
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2answers
163 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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2answers
177 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 mechanics, in ...
2
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1answer
64 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 ...
3
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2answers
146 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 two of the many reasons might be the ...
-1
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1answer
81 views

Can a straight line be produced in nature? [closed]

I understand that space is curved, but if one accounted for this curvature and warped the vector accordingly, could a straight line be produced? When and how was it first proved that this can or ...
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3answers
103 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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1answer
103 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 ...
6
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1answer
1k views

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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0answers
52 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

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 ...
3
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2answers
62 views

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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0answers
73 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
171 views

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- ...
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0answers
70 views

What was Einstein's reasoning to conclude particles follows geodesics through spacetime?

When formulating General Relatvity Einstein proposed that freely falling particles, that is those subject to no forces other than gravity, follows geodesics through spacetime. In other words, those ...
1
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1answer
124 views

Why did Einstein get a better hearing in Goettingen than Berlin?

Jeremy Gray in his 2008 book writes matter-of-factly that Albert Einstein "found he got a better hearing from Hilbert and Klein in Goettingen than he did from his colleagues in Berlin" (page 326). ...
4
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1answer
151 views

Einstein already used the idea of time orientation when formulating General Relativity?

The theory of General Relativity as usually presented currently defines the relativistic spacetime as a tuple $(M,g,\nabla, T)$ where $(M,g)$ is a four dimensional smooth lorentzian manifold, $\nabla$ ...
5
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1answer
168 views

Did Einstein ever refer to the coordinate speed/velocity of light?

In modern parlance we talk about two different speeds of light in general relativity. We distinguish between the local speed of light, which is always $c$, and the coordinate speed of light, which can ...
7
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1answer
140 views

How did Einstein arrive at his field equations without the Bianchi identities or variational formulation?

When we introduce the Einstein equations in courses on General Relativity we use either the Bianchi indentity or the the variational principle to motivate the appearance of the Einstein tensor $$ G_{\...
15
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1answer
838 views

How was Einstein led to make a contact with Differential Geometry for his theory of General Relativity?

General Relativity was developed with Differential Geometry as the tool. How was Einstein led to make a contact with Differential Geometry for his theory of General Relativity? Who suggested him to ...
6
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1answer
180 views

Debate between relationship of philosophy of mathematics and physics

Did there exist and does there still exist a debate over which school of mathematical thought (i.e. formalism, logicism, intuitionism, etc.) had the most affinity or application for physics? In ...
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0answers
106 views

Was Einstein original formula E =1/2 m c^2?

I read somewhere that, but unfortunately I cannot retrace where, can you help me find a reliable source? Actually, they said a sad story, hardly believable: They stated that Einstein had circulated a ...
14
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2answers
500 views

What did Einstein contribute to Special Relativity that hadn't already been done by Lorentz in 1904 and Poincaré in 1905?

What did Einstein contribute to what is now called Special Relativity theory that hadn't already been done by Lorentz in his 1904 "Electromagnetic Phenomena in a System Moving with any Velocity ...
6
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1answer
378 views

Max Planck's reaction to Einstein's 1905 STR Paper

It is quite well-known that Planck was one of the first people to realize the significance and importance of Einstein's theory of relativity. But I have heard several times that when Einstein sent his ...
9
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5answers
728 views

Why didn't Einstein's Nobel Prize mention relativity theory?

It seems Einstein's most original contribution to physics was General Relativity Theory, as Lorentz and Poincaré already laid the foundations of Special Relativity. So, why didn't his 1921 Nobel Prize ...
2
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2answers
182 views

How did Lorentz transformations get their modern definition?

Historically, Special Relativity was motivated by apparent inconsistencies between Maxwell's Electrodynamics and Newtonian Mechanics. In Einstein's well known paper "On the electrodynamics of moving ...
4
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1answer
2k views

An English copy of One Hundred Authors Against Einstein?

I've been trying to find the famous article, "One hundred authors against Einstein" (100 Autoren gegen Einstein), of various objections to special relativity, which is quite often referenced, but ...
4
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2answers
240 views

What made Einstein believe (or know) that time was affected by speed and gravity?

How did he come up with this idea before there was any experimental data to prove this?
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1answer
88 views

Two articles of Poincaré

In Jammer's book Concepts of Simultaneity on page 108, there is a reference to two of Poincaré's papers: "...his 1904 lecture on St. Louis..." "...his contribution to the Lorentz Festschrift." ...
5
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1answer
155 views

What is the origin of the use of “g” for a Riemannian metric?

I am asking about the reason for the use of this letter, if known, as well as the initial occasion of its use. Ideas that have been suggested concerning the former include: That it stands for ...
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4answers
208 views

What was the longest delay between prediction and confirmation of a theory?

The recent announcement of the detection of gravitational waves by LIGO comes almost exactly 100 years after Einstein predicted gravitational waves in 1916. Are there other examples (in the era of ...
3
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1answer
235 views

When was the twin paradox first formulated?

Any research about real measurements with objects moving faster than me - like GPS, for example - leads to a mix of different sideway phenomenons like different gravitational potentials on Earth and ...
2
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0answers
64 views

Historical interpretation of symmetries required by Principle of Relativity

Einstein's 1905 paper discussed electromagnetism and the laws of mechanics. But did not discuss gravity, and of course did not discuss the strong or weak nuclear forces. Principle of Relativity - (...
12
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2answers
661 views

What was the motivation for Minkowski spacetime before special relativity?

If I understand correctly the concept of a Minkowski space/metric was already known before Einstein's paper on special relativity. Was there any physical motivation for studying this type of metric ...
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0answers
216 views

Did Einstein really say this quote about time? [closed]

This quote is commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, especially in: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." However, there ...
7
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1answer
184 views

Was Einstein the first person to think of the equivalence of a ball drop in an accelerated elevator and a ball drop on Earth?

Consider the following figure taken from Wikipedia. Was Einstein the first person to think of the equivalence of a ball drop in an elevator with acceleration of $g$ and a ball drop on Earth? To be ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Why is Einstein's mass-energy relation usually written as $E=mc^2$, and not $\Delta E=\Delta m c^2$?

Why is Einstein's mass-energy relation usually written as $E=mc^2$, and not $\Delta E=\Delta m c^2$? When you calculate the energy $\Delta E$ released during nuclear fission, you take the difference ...
15
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3answers
860 views

When and why did the concept of relativistic mass become outdated?

While browsing on Physics Stack Exchange, I discovered numerous posts (these two are examples) which assert that relativistic mass is an outdated concept used in older textbooks. Looking through my ...
7
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1answer
296 views

What 19th century developments contributed to the General theory of Relativity?

Regarding General Theory of Relativity, I'm interested to find out whether there are some contributors to this theory in 19th century or not. In fact I want to know whether there are some physicists ...
6
votes
1answer
201 views

Origin of “dust” in cosmology?

In cosmology, "dust" refers to a pressureless perfect fluid, which essentially means a continuum of nonrelativistic material particles, such as galaxies. This is a picturesque and unusual piece of ...
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2answers
755 views

What attracted Einstein to the anomalous precession of Mercury?

The story is usually told starting with Einstein's 1915 paper Explanation of the Perihelion Motion of Mercury from General Relativity Theory, or at least its drafts from 1913-14. It was the first ...
15
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1answer
476 views

What were the early empirical tests of Einstein's mass-energy equivalence $E=mc^2$?

Near the end of Einstein's 1905 paper on $E=mc^2$ he states (in the translation by Perrett and Jeffery): It is not impossible that with bodies whose energy-content is variable to a high degree (e.g....
6
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1answer
155 views

Who created the energy conditions?

The earliest text I've been able to find that explain the GR energy conditions is "The large scale structure of space-time" (1973) by Hawking and Ellis. However in Barcelo and Visser's paper "...
5
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1answer
161 views

Tries to alter classical mechanics before Einstein?

As we know, the revolutionizing step of the Special Relativity was, to solve the contradiction between electromagnetism and the Newtonian mechanics, not the Electromagnetism should be altered (which, ...
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1answer
72 views

Origin of “world-line?”

The term "world-line" is a little odd in English. Google n-grams shows the English term going back to 1915 in the books google has scanned. Is its origin in Minkowski, Raum und Zeit (1909), ...