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Einstein’s Conflicting Heuristics: The Discovery of General Relativity

Norton, John D. (2018) Einstein’s Conflicting Heuristics: The Discovery of General Relativity. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Einstein located the foundations of general relativity in simple and vivid physical principles: the principle of equivalence, an extended principle of relativity and Mach's principle. While these ideas played an important heuristic role in Einstein's thinking, they provide a dubious logical foundation for his final theory. Einstein was also guided to his final theory, I argue, by a second tier of more prosaic heuristics. I trace one strand among them. The principle of equivalence guided Einstein well until it led him to a theory that contradicted the conservation of momentum. Einstein converted the requirement of conservation of energy and momentum into a procedure that he used repeatedly for finding gravitational field equations. That procedure survives in present day developments of general relativity.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Norton, John D.jdnorton@pitt.edu0000-0003-0936-5308
Keywords: Einstein, field equations, general relativity, gravitation, principle of equivalence
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: John Norton
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2018 00:34
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2018 00:34
Item ID: 14965
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 10 March 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14965

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