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41 votes
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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?

To begin, let's start with a very apropos anecdote from Lorentz himself. At a conference on the Michelson–Morley experiment in 1927 at which Lorentz and Michelson were present, Michelson suggested ...
Albert Heisenberg's user avatar
29 votes
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How was Einstein led to make a contact with Differential Geometry for his theory of General Relativity?

Einstein himself told the story in his Kyoto address of 1922, which I quote from Pais's biography titled Subtle is the Lord: "If all systems are equivalent, then Euclidean geometry cannot hold in ...
Conifold's user avatar
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28 votes

Who was the first to hypothesise that gravity from one mass causes the spacetime around another mass to curve?

The first metric theory of gravitation, in which the effects of gravitation are treated entirely in terms of the geometry of curved spacetime, was published by Finnish physicist Gunnar Nordström in ...
gandalf61's user avatar
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27 votes

What was the relationship between Einstein and Minkowski?

A good account is Weinstein, Max Born, Albert Einstein and Hermann Minkowski's Space-Time Formalism of Special Relativity. They did no have much of a relationship, what it was is well-summarized by ...
Conifold's user avatar
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17 votes

What is the origin of the rubber sheet analogy?

Beware of ChatGPT, it can easily generate fake references for historical materials. A while ago, I asked about the origin of the concept of vector "norm". Not only it provided a fake German ...
AChem's user avatar
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16 votes

What is the origin of the rubber sheet analogy?

A rubber sheet analogy for curved spacetime was used very soon after Einstein's publication of General Relativity. The classic "bowling ball" version may have taken a few years to evolve, ...
David Bailey's user avatar
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15 votes
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Did a Chinese astronomical text conduct the "Galileo's Ship" thought experiment around the 2nd century BCE?

The text of Dai Nianzu's 中国人为何欢迎相对论 [Why did the Chinese welcome the theory of relativity], a commentary on Hu's book Einstein in China, published on 物理 [Physics; the journal for members of the ...
xngtng's user avatar
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13 votes
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Max Planck's reaction to Einstein's 1905 STR Paper

It seems not. See: A.Douglas Stone, Einstein and the quantum: The quest of the valiant Swabian (2013): [page 6] Planck was the first major figure to recognize Einstein’s seminal 1905 work on ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
13 votes

Why didn't Einstein win a second Nobel Prize, for relativity?

The time when experimental evidence supporting relativity began to appear coincided with the rise of antisemitism in Germany following Germany's defeat in WWI. Antisemitism was on the rise in Germany;...
nwr's user avatar
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12 votes
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An English copy of One Hundred Authors Against Einstein?

Here is a link to online version in German. As for the English translation, according to Milena Wazeck's Einstein's Opponents: The Public Controversy about the Theory of Relativity "nothing ever came ...
Conifold's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why did Einstein develop General Relativity?

"Simply modifying" Newtonian gravity to have it spread at finite speed does not work if the finite speed is the speed of light. It was attempted by Laplace in his Celestial Mechanics (1799), who found ...
Conifold's user avatar
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10 votes

Did a Chinese astronomical text conduct the "Galileo's Ship" thought experiment around the 2nd century BCE?

Chinese texts containing the idea of Galilean Relativity is actually an interpretation of Dai Nianzu (1), a Chinese historian of science. However, this interpretation of the texts is debatable, as is ...
Big Brother's user avatar
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9 votes
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Could scientists of Newton's time have explored the limits of his laws of motion?

At the time of Newton, the scientists could NOT detect any deviation of the Newton's laws from reality. As we know now, the only visible effect of this deviation in the Solar system is the anomalous ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
9 votes

What is the origin of the rubber sheet analogy?

In the 12 December 1919 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society there is starting on page 96 a "Discussion of the Theory of Relativity" with multiple speakers and in the portion ...
DavePhD's user avatar
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9 votes
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Where did the popular idea of spacetime come from?

A nice history was given by Archibald, R.C. (1914), "Time as a fourth dimension", Bull. Amer. Math. Soc., 20 (8): 409–412 https://doi.org/10.1090%2FS0002-9904-1914-02511-X Regarding Wells, ...
Batiatus's user avatar
  • 496
8 votes

How Einstein got the first idea for special relativity?

Einstein was reading Maxwell. Axiom a) follows from Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light. Axiom b) is stated imprecisely in your message. The actual axiom is that you cannot detect the absolute ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes
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What triggered the general relativity renaissance?

An influential figure in the later development of general relativity was John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008). In the academic year 1952/53 he offered a yearlong course on special and general relativity ...
Margaret Friedland's user avatar
8 votes
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Did Einstein want to reduce general relativity to elementary mathematics?

Not sure about "elementary" but, at least, he tried to reduce it to "the simplest and most intelligible form". He assumes the level of a graduating secondary school student, and warns of the "patience ...
Conifold's user avatar
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8 votes

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

No. He opposed Quantum Mechanics from the beginning until death. He did it because its inherent non-determinism ("God does not gamble"). In his opinion, the cause of the non-determinism of the QM is ...
peterh's user avatar
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8 votes
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Einstein praising Sophus Lie

It is hard to prove that answer is negative, but I suspect that that's the case. That sentence looks familiar. In fact, in his book Relativity: The Special & the General Theory, Einstein wrote &...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
8 votes
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What is the history of adding the Clock Hypothesis to Special Relativity?

Introduction of the clock hypothesis is usually associated with Rindler's Special Relativity (1960), and the current debates over it were sparked after Brown defended its necessity in his book ...
Conifold's user avatar
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8 votes

Why didn't Einstein propose any metric solution to his equations?

The other answer by LolloBoldo is correct. But just to give some evidence, in the original 1915 paper Einstein explicitly states: The field equations (16a) then take, as a first approximation, the ...
Eletie's user avatar
  • 181
7 votes

What was the motivation for Minkowski spacetime before special relativity?

Complementing Conifold's answer, it might perhaps be instructive to quote from Minkowski's presentation Raum und Zeit at the 80th Congress of German Natural Scientists in Cologne on the 21st of ...
José Figueroa-O'Farrill's user avatar
6 votes
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Were there doubts that Voigt's time dilation was correct rather than Einstein's?

If Einstein's postulates are correct then Voigt's transformation is incorrect. Einstein showed in his 1905 paper that the Lorentz transformations were the only ones consistent with two postulates: ...
Conifold's user avatar
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6 votes
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Did Einstein believe the laws of physics would be replaced by mathematical identities?

I believe you are making a contradiction between mathematical identities and physical laws that Einstein would not make. For him, mathematical identities are the laws of nature, and having them derive ...
cktai's user avatar
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