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Figures of light in the early history of relativity (1905-1914)

Walter, Scott A. (2017) Figures of light in the early history of relativity (1905-1914). [Preprint]

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Abstract

Albert Einstein's bold assertion of the form-invariance of the equation of a spherical light wave with respect to inertial frames of reference (1905) became, in the space of six years, the preferred foundation of his theory of relativity. Early on, however, Einstein's universal light-sphere invariance was challenged on epistemological grounds by Henri Poincaré, who promoted an alternative demonstration of the foundations of relativity theory based on the notion of a light-ellipsoid. Drawing in part on archival sources, this paper shows how an informal, international group of physicists, mathematicians, and engineers, including Einstein, Paul Langevin, Poincaré, Hermann Minkowski, Ebenezer Cunningham, Harry Bateman, Otto Berg, Max Planck, Max Laue, A. A. Robb, and Ludwig Silberstein, employed figures of light during the formative years of relativity theory in their discovery of the salient features of the relativistic worldview.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Walter, Scott A.scott.walter@univ-nantes.fr0000-0002-7492-9790
Additional Information: To appear in David Rowe, Tilman Sauer, and Scott A. Walter, eds., Einstein Studies
Keywords: special theory of relativity, spacetime, conformal invariance, electron theory
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Dr. Scott A. Walter
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2017 23:23
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 23:23
Item ID: 14221
Official URL: http://scottwalter.free.fr/papers/2018-be-walter.p...
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 8 November 2017
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14221

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