History of Special Relativity 1:1

History of Special Relativity


Einstein was far from being the only person who contributed to the development of the theory of special relativity. However, he was the one who put everything together. Some important years:

Sir Isaac Newton published his book Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (or just Principia). In classical Newtonian mechanics, time was universal and absolute.
James Clerk Maxwell completed his theory of electromagnetism. This theory turned out to be compatible with special relativity, even though special relativity was not known at that time.
The famous Michelson-Morley experiment was performed by Albert Abraham Michelson and Edward Williams Morley. In the same year, during studies of the Doppler effect, Woldemar Voigt wrote down what were later to be known as the Lorentz transformations. The Lorentz transformations were also written down in 1898 by Joseph Larmor and in 1899 by Hendrik Antoon Lorentz.
Jules Henri Poincaré said that "... we have no direct intuition about the equality of two time intervals."
Poincaré came very close to special relativity: "... as demanded by the relativity principle the observer cannot know whether he is at rest or in absolute motion."
On June 5, Poincaré finished an article in which he stated that there seems to be a general law of Nature, that it is impossible to demonstrate absolute motion. On June 30, Einstein finished his famous article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, where he formulated the two postulates of special relativity. Furthermore, in September, Einstein published the short article Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon Its Energy-Content? In which he derived the formula E0=mc2.
Max Planck wrote an article on special relativity. He was the second person after Einstein who wrote an article about this theory. In the same year, Hermann Minkowski also published an important article about special relativity.
On November 25, nearly ten years after the foundation of special relativity, Einstein submitted his paper The Field Equations of Gravitation for publication, which gave the correct field equations for the theory of general relativity (or general relativity for short). Actually, the German mathematician David Hilbert submitted an article containing the correct field equations for general relativity five days before Einstein. Hilbert never claimed priority for this theory.

Related Laureates

 The Nobel Prize in Physics 1902 - Hendrik Antoon Lorentz »  The Nobel Prize in Physics 1907 - Albert Abraham Michelson »  The Nobel Prize in Physics 1918 - Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck »
 The Nobel Prize in Physics 1921 - Albert Einstein »    

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