Questions tagged [relativity-theory]

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

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22
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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3answers
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When and why did the concept of relativistic mass become outdated?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Physics Stack Exchange, I discovered numerous posts (these two are examples) which assert that relativistic mass is an outdated concept used in older textbooks.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 ...
15
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1answer
768 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....
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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 ...
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The motivation for relativity theory

I'm a high school student who never studied any relativity before, but I'm just wondering what was THE question that Einstein asked himself before going into this field. I knew he has done lots of ...
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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 ...
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630 views

How come we attribute the general theory of relativity to Einstein?

How come do we attribute general theory of relativity to Einstein when David Hilbert published first?
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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 ...
10
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1answer
799 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 a few times that when Einstein sent his ...
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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 ...
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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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249 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 ...
7
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1answer
431 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 ...
7
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1answer
203 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 ...
7
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1answer
190 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_{\...
7
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377 views

How did the 'Poincaré patches' get their name?

De Sitter space and Anti de Sitter space are two of the most important solutions to the Einstein field equations. One famous method to obtain these spacetimes is to consider a $N$-dimensional ...
7
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1answer
224 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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Who first discussed the Lorentz force with respect to special relativity?

The fact that a Lorentz force in a reference frame 1 can become a Coulomb force in another reference frame 2 has always astonished me, especially because the velocities involved are really small. I ...
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1answer
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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 ...
6
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1answer
162 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 "...
6
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1answer
86 views

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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1answer
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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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213 views

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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217 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 ...
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1answer
239 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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1answer
290 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
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How many papers on general relativity did Marcel Grossmann author or co-author?

Marcel Grossmann is perhaps best known for helping Einstein learn the Riemannian geometry necessary to formulate general relativity. He was instrumental in its early development. Wikipedia states: ...
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477 views

How did Einstein know tensors would be needed in the EFEs?

I'd really never studied tensors until I started studying the Einstein Field Equations. Since then, I have realized they are fairly common tool in physics and pretty basic to understanding many areas. ...
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1answer
187 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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290 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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192 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
86 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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2answers
198 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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1answer
115 views

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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268 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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1answer
446 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 ...
3
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1answer
95 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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1answer
175 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 ...
3
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1answer
196 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, $\nabla$ ...
3
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1answer
103 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), ...
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1answer
244 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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1answer
95 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 ...
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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- ...
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1answer
147 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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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." ...
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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 mechanics, in ...