Questions tagged [relativity-theory]

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

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Would they have known you can't go faster than light in 1790 [duplicate]

I came across this short: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/LjBaPxutpQo where Brian Cox says the idea of black holes dates back to 1790. It stemmed according to it from escape velocity and that you could ...
2 votes
1 answer
195 views

What was the reason Einstein included reflection from a moving mirror in his relativity paper?

Einstein, in his 1905 relativity paper Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, allocates a section to the issue of reflection of light from a moving mirror and derives three formulas (angle, frequency, ...
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Schwarzschild's artificial planet

In a 1963 article by Robert Dicke ("The observational basis of general relativity"), there is a reference to a concept for a gravitational experimental device in the form of a big ball ...
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Could Newton have come up with General Relativity? [closed]

I was reading this question. There I read somewhere that he would have discovered modern physics if he had studied electromagnetism and nuclear physics. It was most likely in jest. But I ask How much ...
22 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
5 votes
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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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Did Einstein really explain Relativity using the hot stove/pretty girl analogy and if so why?

I am pretty sure that Albert Einstein explained special relativity by saying in effect, sitting on a hot stove for a minute can seem like an hour; sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it might seem ...
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The Langevin twins

When did exactly the Langevin twins occur in relativity? My first idea was to simply look up Langevin's original paper (in 1911), but he never mentions them to be twins : our traveller would need ...
9 votes
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Where did the popular idea of spacetime come from?

[This question is about popular conceptions and therefore goes into strange directions, don't get too shocked] The notion of spacetime can be traced back to roughly the 18th century where some people ...
6 votes
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Why didn't Einstein propose any metric solution to his equations?

I've read about general relativity (GR) recently and something stroke me: Einstein came up with his equations in 1915, linking the metric of spacetime to the distribution of energy (more exactly, to ...
5 votes
1 answer
351 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 ...
1 vote
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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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
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How did they know that the space could expand?

The theory of general relativity was formulated around 1915 which could be summed up in words of John Wheeler, "Space-time tells matter how to move; matter tells space-time how to curve". At ...
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What are some outdated concepts in general relativity?

Inspired by outdated concepts in special relativity such as When and why did the concept of relativistic mass become outdated? and Special relativity and imaginary coefficient of the time coordinate, ...
25 votes
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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 ...
22 votes
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What is the origin of the rubber sheet analogy?

I am trying to track down the first use of the 'bowling ball on a rubber sheet' analogy to explain spacetime curvature in general relativity. I have found a lot of secondary sources that give ...
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Historical origins of the idea that information cannot travel faster than light

Is there a good book or other reference that discusses the historical origins of the principle that not even information can travel faster than the speed of light? In my understanding the main reason ...
4 votes
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Before Einstein did people realize about a falling man not feeling weight?

I understand that Einstein was able to draw remarkable conclusions and was set on the path of General relativity when he realized that a falling observer not feeling his own weight. But is it believed ...
27 votes
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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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Weyl's gauge theory and railroad tracks

There is a claim I occasionally read that the origin of the word "gauge" refers to a track gauge used in railroad tracks (the distance between two rails). It's a claim I have seen here, here,...
3 votes
1 answer
249 views

Did Einstein believe the laws of physics would be replaced by mathematical identities?

I'm sure this wasn't his intention at the outset, but here's my understanding of the history of GR so you can see where I'm coming from: The Einstein-Grossmann "Entwurf" version of the ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Paradigms in Newtonian physics around 1900

I am thinking about the change from Newtonian mechanics to quantum physics and relativity. I note that we have accepted the words "ultraviolet catastrophe" in connection with the situation ...
2 votes
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What did Einstein say about the Dirac equation?

The wiki article on Dirac quotes Einstein as saying of Dirac I have trouble with Dirac. This balancing on the dizzying path between genius and madness is awful. and I don't understand Dirac at all. ...
1 vote
1 answer
186 views

Interviews / Conversations with Einstein

I'm searching interviews and/or conversations (in English) with Einstein as text. Is there something available? In particular physics (e.g. theory of relativity) would be interesting but also other (e....
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2 answers
540 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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Origin of the terminology "Einstein frame" and "Jordan frame"

Consider a classical scalar-tensor theory (I'm following this paper) \begin{equation} S=\int d^4x\sqrt{-g}\left( \frac{1}{2\kappa^2}\mathcal{A}\left(\Phi\right)R -\frac{1}{2}\mathcal{...
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1 answer
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Is there history of all the blind alleys Einstein followed between 1905 and 1915 in formulating General Relativity?

My impression is that the equivalence of the force experienced in an accelerating elevator to the force experienced as a result of gravity is what inspired Einstein to quantify gravity in terms of the ...
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Hilbert's criticism on the first version of Einstein's field equations

Crossposted at Physics Stack Exchange I have read once that Hilbert had some reservations regarding the first form of the field equations $$ R_{\mu\nu} = k T_{\mu\nu} $$ because it was not possible ...
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Is Edmund Whittaker claim that Hilbert proved General Relativity days before Einstein valid?

Are the claims of Sir Edmund Whittaker regarding David Hilbert's derivation of the general relativity theory predated that of Einstein by five days? This Wikipedia article that I found contains the ...
3 votes
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References for Laplace's question regarding Newtonian Gravity

In this lecture by Prof. Frederic Schuller @ 17:49 , it is said that Laplace asked a question if force could be seen equally as curvature of the underlying space which the particle moves in. However, ...
8 votes
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Has there been 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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Bardeen's missing talk

Back in 1968, James M. Bardeen gave a talk at the GR5 (5th international conference on gravitation and the theory of relativity), in which he presented a slight modification of the Schwarzschild ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Physical theories and Mathematics [closed]

I study pure mathematics. In pure mathematics, we begin from some axioms and obtain theorems. I am also interested in studying physics. I have some questions about the relationship between physical ...
10 votes
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Did a Chinese astronomical text conduct the "Galileo's Ship" thought experiment around the 2nd century BCE?

A math and physics magazine I was browsing through contains the quotation The Earth is moving constantly, but people do not know it; like the crew in an enclosed ship, they do not notice it. The ...
3 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
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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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Why did Einstein get a better hearing in Göttingen than Berlin?

On page 326 of his 2008 book, Jeremy Gray writes matter-of-factly that Albert Einstein "found he got a better hearing from Hilbert and Klein in Göttingen than he did from his colleagues in Berlin&...
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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 ...
4 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
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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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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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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 ...
2 votes
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362 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-...
29 votes
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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, ...
5 votes
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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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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 ...
9 votes
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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 ...