Why isn't the mathematician Henri Poincaré acknowledged as the true discoverer of SR?

Why isn't the mathematician Henri Poincaré acknowledged as the true discoverer of special relativity?

http://www-cosmosaf.iap.fr/Poincare-RR3A.htm [Broken]
http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0408077
 
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robphy

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This is an interesting question. (I have also wondered if the mathematician Felix Klein (with his Erlangen program) could have discovered / formulated the mathematics of special relativity.)

Clearly, others (Lorentz, Larmor, Poincare, etc...) had pieces of the puzzle, so to speak. However, it could probably be argued (as in http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s8-08/8-08.htm ) that the others didn't put it all together physically, appreciate what they had, and believed it,... and it was Einstein who did.
 

EnumaElish

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robphy: While looking at the link you posted, it suddenly occurred to me that the pseudo metric (d[itex]\tau[/itex])2 = (dt)2 - (dx)2 - (dy)2 - (dz)2 can be < 0 in principle. Is this why it is "pseudo"?

Mine is a math. perspective only -- although I am guessing that [itex]\tau[/itex] stands for "true time," I know neither that it does, nor what it means.
 

robphy

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EnumaElish said:
robphy: While looking at the link you posted, it suddenly occurred to me that the pseudo metric (d[itex]\tau[/itex])2 = (dt)2 - (dx)2 - (dy)2 - (dz)2 can be < 0 in principle. Is this why it is "pseudo"?
Yes, that is the reason. The "signature" of this metric is not ++++.

Related to your question and my question about Klein, I found this discussion of Felix Klein (and briefly Poincare) in the comments of this blog entry http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/blog/archives/000140.html#comment-2153 (start with the comment by Lunsford).
 

JesseM

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From the first link:
At last but not at least, In 1900,* he noticed that the recoil of a radiation, of energy E, is m = E/c^2 [ ref oeuvres de Poincaré ,op.cit.t IX p 471] which is nothing else that the famous E = mc^2.
But this isn't the same thing as what Einstein did, because Poincaré was only calculating an answer for a very specific situation involving recoil from incoming radiation, which is very different from the general relation between mass and energy that Einstein found. This page describes a little more about the problem Poincaré was looking at:
Poincaré in 1900 [3,4] put forth an expression for what he called the "momentum of radiation" M_R. It is M_R = S/c^2, where S represents the flux of radiation and c is the usual velocity of light. Poincaré applied the calculation in a recoil process and reached at the conclusion in the form mv = (E/c^2)c. From the viewpoint of unit analysis, E/c^2 takes on the role of a "mass" number associated with radiation. It yields E =mc^2.
The link from the first post also says:
He points out that the “form” of the Lorentz formulae can be demonstrated from the Relativity principle alone, ( see annex 1) and therefore are implied by this principle alone ( with a parameter to specify, related to “c” for the Special relativity), only one hypothesis is required, instead of the local time and the associated three new hypothesis of the article of Lorentz ( 1904).
Without more detail it's hard to know what this means...did Poincaré ever explain how the coordinate systems used in the Lorentz transformation would be related to measurements made on actual physical rulers and clocks, for example? I would guess the answer is no, since this was really the central insight of Einstein's 1905 paper.
 
JesseM said:
...did Poincaré ever explain how the coordinate systems used in the Lorentz transformation would be related to measurements made on actual physical rulers and clocks, for example? I would guess the answer is no, since this was really the central insight of Einstein's 1905 paper.
Perhaps you've missed this poignant allegation from both links: "The Relativity principle as well as the method for synchronizing clocks are borrowed [by Einstein] from Poincaré published papers (1898-1902)."

If the non-mathematician Einstein could understand Poincaré's clock synchronization procedure---Albert having appropriated it without acknowledging the source---then it's relatively certain that Poincaré communicated his thoughts with sufficient simplicity and clarity to deserve full credit for being the true originator of Einstein's famous clock synchronization method.

That answers the issue about clocks. What about the meaning of measuring space? Recall that the http://www-cosmosaf.iap.fr/Poincare-RR3A.htm [Broken] discusses Poincaré's very modern derivation of the Lorentz transformation. Notice this step (I assume it's an accurate translation):

"Let O'x' be one inertial frame sliding on Ox"

That's remarkably vivid and physical to me. Clear, modern, present-day explanations of special relativity use language that's virtually identical to that. See <S> for one example. Sure, there's no doubt that physicists need a more physical explanation, such as Einstein's explanation that inertial frames are composed of physical measuring rods. Do you really think that mathematicians need that degree of physicality? That degree of literalism is irrelevant to mathematicians. Only they can see all too easily that those niceties are devoid of mathematical structure.

Remember that Poincaré was a genius mathematician and geometer, who taught physics, not math. In his book “La science et l’hypothèse” (1902), Poincaré devoted a full chapter to the relativity principle. How could Poincaré not know what an inertial frame is?

Read this link on Poincaré's accomplishments, note that Poincaré enjoyed writing popular scientific articles, and then try to prove that Poincaré was incoherent in what he wrote about physics, which is what you actually allege.
 
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the actual einstein equation was m=L/c^2. later he changed his equation into L=mc^2
and then e=mc^2. (he took energy as L)
 
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Perspicacious said:
Why isn't the mathematician Henri Poincaré acknowledged as the true discoverer of special relativity?

http://www-cosmosaf.iap.fr/Poincare-RR3A.htm [Broken]
http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0408077
And why Newton chemical work was ignored?

And why first prediction of neutron ignored?

And why Lewis' first formulation of superposition principle ignored?

And why...


J. van Brakel said:
there is a constant rewriting of the history of science that privileges physics.
On www.canonicalscience.com there is a scientific program exclusively devoted to last historic research that rewrites many outcomes of physics as "fraud" or manipulation of mass media (somewhat in the spirit of recent string theory scandal).

Probably the most surprising historical manipulation was done in Newtonian epoque when chemical work by Newton was hidden and partially burn and Newton presented like physicist when he was not. Fortunately, it has been discovered recently by historians and history begins to be rewriten.

There are well documented recent examples of van Brakel statement.

Reference
Van Brakel, J. Foundations of Chemistry 1999, 1, 111–174.


P.S:

A. Einstein said:
The key to appear original is hidding your sources.
 
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russ_watters

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So would it be fair to say one of Einstein's main contributions to Relativity is that he made people believe it?

I'm a mechanical engineer. When people ask me what the most important skill I use in my job is, I say communication.
 

JesseM

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Perspicacious said:
Perhaps you've missed this poignant allegation from both links: "The Relativity principle as well as the method for synchronizing clocks are borrowed [by Einstein] from Poincaré published papers (1898-1902)."
You may be right, but I'd like to see exactly what Poincaré actually wrote.
Perspicacious said:
If the non-mathematician Einstein could understand Poincaré's clock synchronization procedure---Albert having appropriated it without acknowledging the source
Is there evidence that Einstein had read this paper?
Perspicacious said:
Read this link on Poincaré's accomplishments, note that Poincaré enjoyed writing popular scientific articles, and then try to prove that Poincaré was incoherent in what he wrote about physics, which is what you actually allege.
I'm not saying he was "incoherent", any more than Lorentz was--after all, Lorentz came up with the equations of the Lorentz transform without apparently realizing the complete physical significance of the different coordinate systems, so it's not inconceivable that Poincaré also failed to realize the full physical significance. After all, you have to acknowledge there were plenty of physical consequences of special relativity Poincaré never came up with, like the detailed kinematics or the general application of E=mc^2 (or E^2 = m^2*c^4 + p^2*c^2).
 
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selfAdjoint

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JesseM said:
You may be right, but I'd like to see exactly what Poincaré actually wrote. Is there evidence that Einstein had read this paper? I'm not saying he was "incoherent", any more than Lorentz was--after all, Lorentz came up with the equations of the Lorentz transform without apparently realizing the complete physical significance of the different coordinate systems, so it's not inconceivable that Poincaré also failed to realize the full physical significance. After all, you have to acknowledge there were plenty of physical consequences of special relativity Poincaré never came up with, like the detailed kinematics or the general application of E=mc^2 (or E^2 = m^2*c^4 + p^2*c^2).

In 1905, yes Eintein's annus mirablis, Poincare published a careful definition of what is now called the Poincare group in the Comptes Rendus. I can't be sure had was in possession of the key quadratic form [tex]-c^2t^2 + x^2 + y^2 + z^2[/tex] but it boggles the mind that somebody who truly understood those group symmetries could miss it. But I agree that he didn't fully understand the physical consequences until he read Einstein's paper.
 
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russ_watters said:
So would it be fair to say one of Einstein's main contributions to Relativity is that he made people believe it?

I'm a mechanical engineer. When people ask me what the most important skill I use in my job is, I say communication.
Or maybe Einstein's main contribution to special relativity was that he believed it himself. Most accounts say Lorentz, Poincare, and Larmor weren't willing to accept time dilation and the relativity of simultaneity as the way the world actually is.

Of course, whether or not Einstein should be given as much credit as he is for special relativity, he undoubtedly deserved the credit he got for general relativity. Although Hilbert beat Einstein to a complete form of general relativity, Einstein's role in the discovery severely overshadowed Hilbert's contribution.
 
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DrChinese

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Perspicacious said:
Why isn't the mathematician Henri Poincaré acknowledged as the true discoverer of special relativity?
Attribution always has a subjective element. Everyone is influenced by others. So the true question is: who's contribution made the difference to acceptance of SR?

Objectively, that would have to be Einstein. Please recall that at the beginning of 1905, he was an unpublished nobody who didn't even teach/work at a university. Poincare was already established and had published his relevant papers several years earlier. Yet it was Einstein's ideas that were debated, not Poincare's. Einstein was crowned by his contemporaries as the father of SR. That was solely on the merit of his ideas, as he had no reputation to trade upon! So clearly it was Einstein's efforts that ushered in SR, and no one else's.

Aussi, Poincare est Francais et chacun sait que les Francais sont les victimes d'une conspiracy. :biggrin:
 
DrChinese said:
The true question is: who's contribution made the difference to acceptance of SR?
I suspect that an accurate response is probably the media with at least one super-salesman, as hinted at in the following exchange:

The answer to your question is partly "Eddington". By that, I mean that Einstein became a superstar to the general public, whereas this never happened to Poincare. When the war was over in 1918, Eddington generated a lot of hype around Einstein's relativity, which was largely unknown at the time. In this post-war atmosphere he claimed that there were theological consequences to this theory, much to Einstein's consternation. Anyway, Eddington was probably acting with self-interests in mind, as he was already planning to test the light bending prediction. Once this was verified in 1919, Einstein's fame was catapulted to super-stardom. Well guess what, people then learned about SR, and do you think Poincare really had to be mentioned in the media?

That being said, I can buy Einstein's claim that he was unaware of Poincare's work; but it's hard to imagine that the editor of Annalen der Physik wasn't: this person was none other than Max Planck.

Chris
Eddington generated a lot of hype around Einstein's relativity, which was largely unknown at the time. … he claimed that there were theological consequences to this theory

Chris,

Your answer makes a lot of sense to me. The public demands superstars and physicists do seem to accommodate and feed the public what they crave. I see no other way to explain the abundant exaggerations on the physics of time travel, for instance. We should all wonder what the true essence of physics really distills to if all the hype were removed.
 
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robphy

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Just to quote from the URL I posted in #2 (the highlighting of Poincare-specific sentences is mine)

[PLAIN said:
http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s8-08/8-08.htm][/PLAIN] [Broken]
...
In his later years Einstein observed "there is no doubt that the Special Theory of Relativity, if we regard its development in retrospect, was ripe for discovery in 1905". The person (along with Lorentz) who most nearly anticipated Einstein's special relativity was undoubtedly Poincare, who had already in 1900 proposed an explicitly operational definition of clock synchronization and in 1904 suggested that the ether was in principle undetectable to all orders of v/c. Those two propositions and their consequences essentially embody the whole of special relativity. Nevertheless, as late as 1909 Poincare was not prepared to say that the equivalence of all inertial frames combined with the invariance of (two-way) light speed were sufficient to infer Einstein's model. He maintained that one must also stipulate a particular contraction of physical objects in their direction of motion. This is sometimes cited as evidence that Poincare still failed to understand the situation, but there's a sense in which he was actually correct. The two famous principles of Einstein's 1905 paper are not sufficient to uniquely identify special relativity, as Einstein himself later acknowledged. One must also stipulate, at the very least, homogeneity, memorylessness, and isotropy. Of these, the first two are rather innocuous, and one could be forgiven for failing to explicitly mention them, but not so the assumption of isotropy, which serves precisely to single out Einstein's simultaneity convention from all the other - equally viable - interpretations. (See Section 4.5). This is also precisely the aspect that is fixed by Poincare's postulate of contraction as a function of velocity.

In a sense, the failure of Poincare to found the modern theory of relativity was not due to a lack of discernment on his part (he clearly recognized the Lorentz group of space and time transformations), but rather to an excess of discernment and philosophical sophistication, preventing him from subscribing to the young patent examiner's inspired but perhaps slightly naive enthusiasm for the symmetrical interpretation, which is, after all, only one of infinitely many possibilities. Poincare recognized too well the extent to which our physical models are both conventional and provisional. In retrospect, Poincare's scruples have the appearance of someone arguing that we could just as well regard the Earth rather than the Sun as the center of the solar system, i.e., his reservations were (and are) technically valid, but in some sense misguided.
The details provide look specific enough that it could be checked in the published literature. (In addition, it might be useful to check references made in the URLs posted in the first post)

It seems to me that further discussion is constructive
if references to the literature, especially the original sources [or translations] and peer-reviewed papers, are quoted and cited.

My $0.02.
 
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I agree with you (and with thanks to Elliot)

DrChinese said:
Attribution always has a subjective element. Everyone is influenced by others. So the true question is: who's contribution made the difference to acceptance of SR?

Objectively, that would have to be Einstein. Please recall that at the beginning of 1905, he was an unpublished nobody who didn't even teach/work at a university. Poincare was already established and had published his relevant papers several years earlier. Yet it was Einstein's ideas that were debated, not Poincare's. Einstein was crowned by his contemporaries as the father of SR. That was solely on the merit of his ideas, as he had no reputation to trade upon! So clearly it was Einstein's efforts that ushered in SR, and no one else's.

Aussi, Poincare est Francais et chacun sait que les Francais sont les victimes d'une conspiracy. :biggrin:
I completely agree with your assessment, which you have stated well.

I was en route to meet Einstein when I heard of his death earlier that morning.

You do his memory proud.

Love your signature; but your thoughts first caught my attention. The signature was a pleasant cigar, Einstein the aperitif; and your thoughts the meal.

Korzybski's, "Science and Sanity, third edition" 1948, which I read in 1951, and still peruse, probably influenced my life more than any other book that I have read. (Even, the Fountainhead and ‘Round the Bend.)

Today few are even aware of the importance of General Semantics to all the disciplines of academia.

Other giants in my day were Tarski, Carnap, and Gödel; I suspect they all could have learned a bit from Korzybski.

Thanks for bringing back memories of life before the Pomo elitists, led by Oppenheimer, took charge shortly after Einstein's death.
 
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Einstein

εllipse said:
Or maybe Einstein's main contribution to special relativity was that he believed it himself. Most accounts say Lorentz, Poincare, and Larmor weren't willing to accept time dilation and the relativity of simultaneity as the way the world actually is.

Of course, whether or not Einstein should be given as much credit as he is for special relativity, he undoubtedly deserved the credit he got for general relativity. Although Hilbert beat Einstein to a complete form of general relativity, Einstein's role in the discovery severely overshadowed Hilbert's contribution.
Love your epsilon ellipse.

Einstein's main contribution to SR and GR is that to his death he was well aware that neither were correct.

Unfortionately this has been lost on the Pomo elitists, beginning with Oppenheimer, that now set policy.
 
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brunardot said:
Love your epsilon ellipse.
Thanks. :biggrin:

brunardot said:
Einstein's main contribution to SR and GR is that to his death he was well aware that neither were correct.
:surprised Source?
 
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russ_watters said:
So would it be fair to say one of Einstein's main contributions to Relativity is that he made people believe it?

I'm a mechanical engineer. When people ask me what the most important skill I use in my job is, I say communication.

Even the idea of c is a limit for physical velocities is not original from him. Decades before Einstein's work, physicist Weber showed that there was a maximum velocity for transmision of signals in electrodynamics. The problem with Weber formula is that is approximate one and maximum velocity cW = sqrt(2) c. But idea of maximum velocity was not new to Einstein. From Phipps generalization of Weber one obtains correct maximum velocity cP = c.

It is surprising the relevance of Einstein when almost all of his special theory receives names by others: Lorentz transformation, lenght contraction, Minkowski diagrams, constancy of c, etc.

Equivalence of frames is not a original idea of Einstein, in fact the idea of laws of nature may be equal in each frame of reference is already present in Galilean-Newtonian theory, where equations are invariant on Galilean transformation.

In fact, Newtonian physics is relativistic, because verify Galileo relativity, but are not exact because does not very Lorentz relativity. The idea of Eintein physics is relativistic and Newtonian are not is an abbuse of language, i.e. of communication :biggrin:



In many aspects Einstein is like string theorists. One heard of them and think that are heroes, but when one take original literature from Witten, Grenee, Vafa, etc one remains very deceptionated.

Initially Eintein was a heroes for me. I heard that his domain of math was so great that when visited Spain he was received by mathematicians because physicists could not understand him.

Those days i am preparing a critical work on special relativity, due to a recent failure on the description of mu-mesons. I was forced to revised Einstein original literature and the mith disappeared. Einstein math capabilities are not good, in fact, i have found at least 6 sound mathematical errors on his original proof of Lorentz transformation.

Now i understand why Einstein considered that Dirac formulation of QM was too difficult...
 
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Einstein's concerns with relativity

εllipse said:
:surprised Source?
As to source: private discussions concerning alternative theory with Hans Bethe and Philip Morrison while Einstein was still alive.

However, it is also well documented that Einstein spent most of his adult life trying to reconcile SR and GR, which always remained a great disappointment for him.

It is difficult to conclude that with such effort that he was not well aware of the limitations of each. He was well aware that GR was not universal in its scope and required much interpolation for multiple "bodies."

He was unaware of observed Cosmic inertia (accelerating galactic recession); but, well aware that a cosmological constant was required for Cosmic structure, which GR did not provide; but, he acknowleged that his constant was in error because observation required the offsetting structural force to have "negative" acceleration.

Einstein never believed the Big Bang; thus its acceptance was stalled until well after his death (about 8 years).

In any case, he knew a single "bang" could not provide the "negative" acceleration that GR requires for structural stability. This remains a major problem to this day. Ever since the HST verified said accelerating, galactic recession. the Big Bang has been essentially dead as a viable theory. It remains because no alternative has been accepted to provide, with gravity, centripetal force.

Einstein knew that speed limitations impossed by SR inversely impacted observed GR "clockwork"; as well as providing the EPR enigma.

Einstein ran many "gedunkens" without successfully resolving the failures of SR and GR.
 
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Falling heroe!!

Perspicacious said:
Interesting link.

I did learn today that famous SR formula for mass variation is not from Einstein like I did learn when student. It appears that formula was obtained from Lorentz and appears in an article published before "fatidic?" 1905.
 
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Einstein's Limitations

Juan R. said:
Einstein math capabilities are not good, in fact, i have found at least 6 sound mathematical errors on his original proof of Lorentz transformation.

Now i understand why Einstein considered that Dirac formulation of QM was too difficult...
Einstein was well aware of his math limitations; and, complained often to Planck, in letters, of his difficulties.
 
There are people who think that there are many books, articles and science programs (Nova, PBS), which are devoted to instilling a sense of worship for characters like Einstein and Steven Hawking, and are not explaining modern physics.

Do you understand what they mean?

Insights on the physics community's shameful exaggeration of Einstein's abilities and originality, and the creation of Einstein's superhero status, are mentioned in my previous link. Can anyone here positively refute the assertions presented there?
 
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brunardot said:
Einstein was well aware of his math limitations; and, complained often to Planck, in letters, of his difficulties.
Ok. But i said nothing about this.

I said is that Einstein portrait was incorrectly popularized. Almost any guy knows that Einstein is presented to laymen like the "prototipe" of mathematical mind.

I see that ridiculous after of revising original Einstein publications and one thing is make one or two errors in a very difficult topic, for example spectral decomposition in L-space with non Lie-algebra and other different is to find half a dozen of serious mathematical errors in his proof of Lorentz invariance.

Note the proof contains 8 equations!
 

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