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NoahsArk

Gold Member

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I'm interested in the history of thought that led to the discovery of special relativity.

Of all the equations in special relativity, e.g. the equation for the invariant interval, the equation for gamma, the Lorentz transformation equations, the equation for velocity addition, etc., which one was discovered first, and which one is the one from which all the others are derived? If I'm not mistaken, it was the equation for the invariant interval or the one for gamma that came first (and that these two are really the same thing in different form).

I've wondered how really was that first equation arrived at. The light clock is the usual example given for the gamma equation. Is that also historically how it was arrived at- through a thought experiment? Was it Einstein that came up with that example?

Also, didn't Lorentz first come up with the Lorentz transformations before Einstein came up with the light clock example/ gamma equation? That seems a bit confusing because the Lorentz transformations are more complicated and more general than than the equation for gamma. It seems like the equations should have been discovered the other way around.

Also, Einstein is considered to have been the founder of special relativity. To me, the most profound part of special relativity is that the passage of time between any two things happening is not the same for everyone, and depends on their relative motion. Lorentz could not have not understood this already, though. The Lorentz transformations show that time in one frame has a different value than time in another, so wouldn't he have understood that time is now a new dimension? I am not doubting Einstein's contributions. I know that he came up with ## e = mc^2 ## and general relativity. I just wanted to know what his contribution was to the idea of "time is relative" compared to what Lorentz's contribution was.

Finally, it is often said that Einstein's discovery of relativity is likely the greatest mental achievement ever in history. When this is said, are people referring to the discovery of special relativity or general relativity or both? Also, why exactly is it that it is the greatest mental achievement, if it is? I assume that opinion plays a part in it, but why, for example, would it be a deeper discovery than Newton's discovery of gravity, or Pythagoras' discovery of the Pythagorean theorem? Is it because special relativity was the discovery of a 4th dimension, and because the discovery of the nature of time went against all of our prior experience?

Of all the equations in special relativity, e.g. the equation for the invariant interval, the equation for gamma, the Lorentz transformation equations, the equation for velocity addition, etc., which one was discovered first, and which one is the one from which all the others are derived? If I'm not mistaken, it was the equation for the invariant interval or the one for gamma that came first (and that these two are really the same thing in different form).

I've wondered how really was that first equation arrived at. The light clock is the usual example given for the gamma equation. Is that also historically how it was arrived at- through a thought experiment? Was it Einstein that came up with that example?

Also, didn't Lorentz first come up with the Lorentz transformations before Einstein came up with the light clock example/ gamma equation? That seems a bit confusing because the Lorentz transformations are more complicated and more general than than the equation for gamma. It seems like the equations should have been discovered the other way around.

Also, Einstein is considered to have been the founder of special relativity. To me, the most profound part of special relativity is that the passage of time between any two things happening is not the same for everyone, and depends on their relative motion. Lorentz could not have not understood this already, though. The Lorentz transformations show that time in one frame has a different value than time in another, so wouldn't he have understood that time is now a new dimension? I am not doubting Einstein's contributions. I know that he came up with ## e = mc^2 ## and general relativity. I just wanted to know what his contribution was to the idea of "time is relative" compared to what Lorentz's contribution was.

Finally, it is often said that Einstein's discovery of relativity is likely the greatest mental achievement ever in history. When this is said, are people referring to the discovery of special relativity or general relativity or both? Also, why exactly is it that it is the greatest mental achievement, if it is? I assume that opinion plays a part in it, but why, for example, would it be a deeper discovery than Newton's discovery of gravity, or Pythagoras' discovery of the Pythagorean theorem? Is it because special relativity was the discovery of a 4th dimension, and because the discovery of the nature of time went against all of our prior experience?

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