Questions tagged [relativity-theory]

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

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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 ...
Hamid Enki's user avatar
24 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
Display Name's user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
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When and why did the concept of relativistic mass become outdated?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Physics Stack Exchange, I discovered numerous posts (these two are examples) which assert that relativistic mass is an outdated concept used in older textbooks.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 ...
Cicero's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
wythagoras's user avatar
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27 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
Conifold's user avatar
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25 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
Geremia's user avatar
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23 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 ...
Realist753's user avatar
17 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
Prastt's user avatar
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14 votes
4 answers
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What was Einstein's 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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10 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why did Einstein develop General Relativity?

I know that ultimately GR was validated by experiment. I'd like to know however, if there was any experimental discrepancy at the time that pointed to a conclusive flaw in Newtonian gravity, and which ...
Bhagwad Jal Park's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
376 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 ...
Jeremy's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
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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?
Curious Layman's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
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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, ...
Daddy Kropotkin's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
1k 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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12 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
Geremia's user avatar
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10 votes
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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 ...
kdog's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
Slereah's user avatar
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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 ...
Lee David Chung Lin's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
502 views

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. ...
Adam Herbst's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
544 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- ...
Smurf's user avatar
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