Why Einstein didn't receive Nobel for Relativity: he is not the 1st real author :D

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by harrytrader, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. In the Biography of Henri Poincaré it is said

    "He is acknowledged as a co-discoverer, with Albert Einstein and Hendrik Lorentz, of the special theory of relativity. "

    In details this is the story:

    Henri Poincaré : A decisive contribution to Special Relativity


    In April 1994 « la Jaune et la Rouge » published a survey from Jules Leveugle (Ecole Polytechnique) named «Poincaré et la Relativité » (Réf 7).

    Evidences of the major contribution of Henri Poincaré to the Special Relativity theory are presented in this survey.

    According to the success encountered by this article, and the questions about it, Christian Marchal published an additional paper in order to answer to the questions.

    H. Poincaré is very well known as a famous mathematician, even though he never taught mathematics but physics ( electromagnetism) as a professor at the “ Ecole Polytechnique”. His work on Relativity is less known. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that he set up all the basic concepts of Special Relativity, several years before Einstein did in his the famous paper (1905: Annalen der Physik vol XVII 1905 p 891-921: ref 6).

    We will review briefly the controversy between Lorentz and H. Poincaré about absolute space time (1898-1905).

    We will compare the very different approaches of Poincaré (formal) and Einstein (physical), on Relativity (illustrated by the demonstration, within the theory, of the Lorentz equations by each of them) .

    We will end on some questions: Why the work of Poincaré is so ignored, why Einstein did not mentioned any references at all, in his 1905 fundamental article, acting as he had invented everything, even though, at least the Relativity principle as well as the method for synchronizing clocks are borrowed from Poincaré published papers (1898-1902). This should explain why Einstein was not awarded the Nobel Prize for the Relativity , but for the photo-electric effect!

    For a detailed bibliography of H. Poincaré see http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Poincare.html ….

    Lorentz – Poincaré Controversy (1898-1905)

    At the end of the 19 th century, when the detection (at the second order) by the Michelson Morley experience of the absolute motion “in the ether” of the Earth failed, the science was under trouble. In 1895 Lorentz suggested that moving bodies should experience a “physical” contraction, compute what it would be in accordance to the Michelson Morley experience and set up a theory on this basis.

    In 1899, Henri Poincaré, who was teaching electromagnetism at the “Ecole Polytechnique” wrote in one of his course [ref: “Electricité et Optique”published by Carré et Nadaud, 1901, p 536 ] about this hypothesis: “ I am not satisfied with the explaination ( physical contraction) of the negative result of the Michelson experiment by the Lorentz theory, I would say that the laws of optics are only deponding on the relative motion of the involved bodies”.

    It was the beginning of the ( friendly) controversy with Lorentz , mainly about the concept of absolute Space and absolute time.

    In his book “La science et l’hypothèse” (1902), Poincaré devoted a full chapter to the relativity principle: “There is no absolute uniform motion, no physical experience can therefore detect any inertial motion ( no force felt) , there is no absolute time, saying that two events have the same duration is conventional, as well as saying they are simultaneous is purely conventional as they occur in different places “.One can still keep in mind the concept of ether, if it helps for thinking, but it is a unphysical concept, it is a metaphysical concept.

    He defines the way to synchronise all the clocks of an inertial frame, by using light signals ( 1900: La théorie de Lorentz et le principe de réaction, published J.Bosscha].

    In 1904 at the St Louis conference, he proposes to add the Relativity principle to the five classical “universal” principles of the physics.

    He emphasised that the Lorentz contraction was an “ad hoc” hypothesis, just made for adjusting the theory to the experience.

    Lorentz reported this point of view of Poincaré, in his theory of electromagnetism (1904-Ref [1]).

    “ Poincaré has objected to the existing theory of electric and optical phenomena in moving bodies that, in order to explain Michelson’s negative result, the introduction of a new hypothesis has been required, and that the same necessity may occur each time new facts will be brought to light. Surely this course of inventing special hypotheses for each new experimental result is somewhat artificial. It would be more satisfactory if it were possible to show by means of certain assumptions and without neglecting terms of one order of magnitude or another, that many electromagnetic actions are entirely independent of the motion of the system…..”

    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).

    At last but not at least, In 1900, he noticed that the recoil of a radiation, of energy E, is m = E/c² [ ref oeuvres de Poincaré ,op.cit.t IX p 471] which is nothing else that the famous E = mc².

    We can see that in 1905 Poincaré, in different articles, had set up all the basic concepts of the special Relativity even though he did not summarize all of them in the framework of a formal theory as Einstein did.
  2. Nevertheless there was not patent on Relativity whereas the Nobel Prize attributed to Marconi instead of Tesla has been a big prejudice to his true author who was recognised only after his death :


    "For all his accomplishments, however, Tesla was most affected by the slap in the face he felt when Marconi received the Nobel Prize in 1909. Marconi shared the prize with German scientist Karl Ferdinand Braun, "in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy." I should mention that one of the most famous quotations attributed to Tesla about Marconi is the following: "Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents." Of course, Tesla spoke these words before Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize. In a turn of bitter irony, Tesla died before he was awarded the patent initially awarded to Marconi. According to the fantastic PBS piece on Tesla (http://www.pbs.org/tesla/index.html), the Supreme Court had awarded the patent to Tesla merely to avoid having to pay any royalties to the Marconi Corporation, which was suing the US government for patents used during World War I."