Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Decisive influence on Einstein

Galina Weinstein just posted Einstein Chases a Light Beam:
This is a prelude to a book which I intend to publish. This paper describes my temporary thoughts on Einstein's pathway to the special theory of relativity. ... Einstein gave many talks and wrote pieces, but at the end of the day, he told very little geographical, historical and biographical details pertaining to the years he had spent in the patent office. ...

The most difficult work, with which historians are confronted, is to piece together a coherent jigsaw puzzle from all the scattering and fragmentary pieces of evidence. The great difficulty lies in contradictory evidence. From time to time Einstein answered a few important questions, but his answers are themselves sometimes puzzling or even contradictory. For instance, he could say in 1916 that the Michelson Morley experiment was not a major factor in his development prior to writing his path-breaking papers of 1905. And then some years later, in other circumstances, he would give replies almost just the opposite to this answer. ...

In the crucial years there is a major problem still basically unsolved. The host of evidence and sporadic pieces of primary material do not shed too much light on the course of Einstein's complete way of thinking between 1902 and 1905. Scholars manage to create stories of Einstein's pathway to relativity.
It is not that complicated. Einstein's patent job allowed him to spend his time in the library reading papers by Lorentz, Poincare, and others. Einstein lied all his life about his pathway to special relativity, and had trouble keeping his story straight. His fanboi biography have tried to find explanations that credit him for original work, but none of them are plausible.
Max Born recalled in 1955 that, "in spring 1915" he was "called to Berlin by Planck, to assist him in teaching. […] I was near Planck and Einstein. It was the only period when I saw Einstein very frequently, at times almost daily, and when I could watch the working of his mind and learn his ideas on physics and on many other subjects. […] When speaking of the physical facts which Einstein used in 1905 for his special relativity I said that it was the law of electromagnetic induction which seemed to have guided Einstein more than even Michelson's experiment. Now the induction law was at that time about 70 years old – Faraday discovered it in 1834 – everybody had known all along that the effect depended only on relative motion, but nobody had taken offence at the theory not accounting for this circumstance".
Born is particularly dishonest here. Lorentz and Poincare had taken offense, and constructed a theory to account for year, years before Einstein. Some of that work got a Nobel Prize in 1902. Maxwell took offense many years earlier in 1861, as noted in Weinstein's footnote 43, and that was the reason that Michelson did that first experiment in 1881.

Born once wrote a relativity book that said:
The striking point is that [Einstein’s 1905 paper On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies] contains not a single reference to previous literature. It gives you the impression of quite a new venture. But that is, of course, as I have tried to explain, not true.
Born wrote to Einstein in 1953:
Whittaker, the old mathematician, who lives here as Professor Emeritus and is a good friend of mine, has written a new edition of his old book History of the Theory of the Ether, of which the second volume has already been published. Among other things it contains a history of the theory of relativity which is peculiar in that Lorentz and Poincare are credited with its discovery while your papers are treated as less important. Although the book originated in Edinburgh, I am not really afraid you will think that I could be behind it. As a matter of fact I have done everything I could during the last three years to dissuade Whittaker from carrying out his plan, which he had already cherished for a long time and loved to talk about. I re-read the originals of some of the old papers, particularly some rather off-beat ones by Poincare, and have given Whittaker translations of German papers (for example, I translated many pages of Pauli's Encyclopaedia article into English … in order to make it easier for Whittaker to form an opinion). But all in vain. He insisted that everything of importance had already been said by Poincare, and that Lorentz quite plainly had the physical interpretation.
So Born was doing his best to promote his buddy Einstein, but he cannot keep his story straight either, and his writings have several contradictions on this point.

Weinstein shows that Einstein's 1905 comments about the magnetic induction example (that Born claimed were so original) were nearly identical to text in an 1894 Foeppl electromagnetism textbook that Einstein almost certainly used. But Einstein never mentioned Foeppl or the book.

The Einstein fanbois sure put a lot of effort into making sense out of his self-serving lies.

Weinstein writes:
On July 16, 1955, at the International Relativity Conference in Bern, Max Born delivered a lecture, "Physics and Relativity", "Physik und Relativität", and spoke about Poincaré's influence on Einstein, "Carl Seelig, who had published a very attractive book 'Einstein in Switzerland', wrote Einstein and asked him which scientific literature had contributed most to his ideas on relativity during his period in Bern ..."

Seelig heard about the work of the mathematician Edmund Whittaker, "History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity 1900-1926", and of the chapter "Relativity of Poincaré and Lorentz". In this chapter, writes Seelig, Whittaker makes the curious claim that Poincaré and Lorentz are the actual founders of the theory of relativity. For Whittaker, says Seelig, the problem seems to be mathematical rather than physical-philosophical.

Seelig requested from Einstein an answer to the question: Whether, as Whittaker claims, before 1905 during Einstein's time in Bern, Poincaré in particular had a decisive impact on him. Seelig also asked Einstein whether he remembered that he worked on Lorentz before 1905. Seelig told the aging Einstein that, in the next congress such questions would be raised. However, Einstein did not live long enough to participate in this conference and answer these questions.
Yes, of course Poincare had a decisive influence on Einstein. Einstein always refused to admit it, and so did Born and other idolizers.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting example similar to Einstein's relativity is Karmarkar's algorithm published in 1984. It turns out that this was sort of known way before 1984. http://www.springerlink.com/content/2781h35w87600923/?MUD=MP Yet Karmarkar got very famous for having solved a problem that was sort of already solved.