Friday, July 18, 2014

Voigt discovered Lorentz transformations

There is a new paper on the history of special relativity, titled The wave equation in the birth of spacetime symmetries:
Woldemar Voigt published in 1887 the article [1]: “On Doppler’s Principle” which has unfortunately received little recognition by physicists and historians of physics [2–6]. Apparently, he was the first — or at least one of the firsts — who demanded form invariance of a physical law to obtain a set of transformation equations. This remarkable idea began the search for physical symmetries in field theories. More precisely, Voigt demanded form invariance of the homogeneous wave equation in inertial frames and obtained a set of spacetime transformations now known as the Voigt transformations ...

In the creation of special relativity, we traditionally find the names of Lorentz, Larmor, Poicar´e and Einstein. They appear to be the main actors. Voigt is relegated to being a minor player, in the best of cases. But this tradition is not faithful to the history of physics, since Voigt was the first in applying the two postulates of special relativity. He deserves a place in textbooks. The idea of demanding that the wave equation should not change its form when observed by different inertial frames, was the great conceptual contribution of Voigt, since it opened the gate to the world of physical symmetries. This is the legacy of Voigt’s 1887 paper.
Voigt's transformations were not exactly the same as the Lorentz ones, and he did not have some of the other essential relativity breakthrus of Lorentz and Poincare.

Deducing symmetries from equations of physics became one of the great ideas of XX century physics. Voigt was a pioneer in 1887.


  1. The pioneers of relativity and quantum mechanics could not get a job in science today. Its all computational gobbldegook and much of it (eg molecular dynamics) has no basis in physical theory at all. Software Totalitarian Big Data (Computation + Instrumentation) and the Quantum Information Processing Crooks are further destroying Science.

    It all started with the greatest conman of all time: Bohr.

  2. Hi Roger,

    Whether I agree with your positions or not, I do find your blog articles interesting, and so, do drop by here sometimes and try to catch up.

    Here is something interesting I noticed today but unfortunately, am too busy right now to go through well: arXiv:1407.5001 (Vibrating Rays Theory).

    Were you aware of these thoughts of Faraday's? (As to me: I had no clue at all.) What do you think of these ideas? Care to comment?



  3. I don't know how to evaluate a theory that says relativity is wrong. Relativity is tightly wound into all 20th century physics. Does it predict any experimental differences? What do those experiments say?