This volume offers an integrated understanding of how the theory of general relativity gained momentum after Einstein had formulated it in 1915. Chapters focus on the early reception of the theory in physics and philosophy and on the systematic questions that emerged shortly after Einstein's momentous discovery. They are written by physicists, historians of science, and philosophers, and were originally presented at the conference titled Thinking About Space and Time: 100 Years of Applying and Interpreting General Relativity, held at the University of Bern from September 12-14, 2017. By establishing the historical context first, and then moving into more philosophical chapters, this volume will provide readers with a more complete understanding of early applications of general relativity (e.g., to cosmology) and of related philosophical issues. Because the chapters are often cross-disciplinary, they cover a wide variety of topics related to the general theory of relativity. These include:Heuristics used in the discovery of general relativityMach's PrincipleThe structure of Einstein's theoryCosmology and the Einstein worldStability of cosmological modelsThe metaphysical nature of spacetimeThe relationship between spacetime and dynamicsThe Geodesic PrincipleSymmetriesThinking About Space and Time will be a valuable resource for historians of science and philosophers who seek a deeper knowledge of the (early and later) uses of general relativity, as well as for physicists and mathematicians interested in exploring the wider historical and philosophical context of Einstein's theory.
This volume collects reflections on the role of philosophy in case studies in the history of science. Case studies have played a prominent role in recent history and philosophy of science. They have been used to illustrate, question, explore, or explicate philosophical points of view. Even if not explicitly so, historical narratives are always guided by philosophical background assumptions. But what happens if different philosophies lead to different narratives of the same historical episodes? Can historical case studies decide between competing philosophical viewpoints? What are the criteria that a case study has to fulfill in order to be philosophically relevant? Bringing together leading practitioners in the fields of history and philosophy of the physical and the life sciences, this volume addresses this methodological problem and proposes ways of rendering explicit philosophical assumptions of historical work.
Beginning with Einstein's general theory of relativity (GRT), the twentieth century witnessed a series of dramatic developments in physics that exerted a strong impact on the development of modern differential geometry. In conjunction, geometers introduced numerous innovations adapted to or designed for solving problems that arose from space-time physics. Meanwhile, in close collaboration with mathematicians and physicists, astronomers began to reflect on the consequences of GRT for their discipline as well as for modern cosmology.
Beyond Einstein: Perspectives on Geometry, Gravitation, and Cosmology explores the rich interplay between mathematical and physical ideas by studying the interactions of major actors and the roles of important research communities over the course of the last century.
Contributors: A. Ashtekar, J. Earman, J. Ehlers, J. Eisenstaedt, H.J. Fahr, A. Franklin, J. Frauendiener, H. Goenner, D. Kennefick, S. Klainerman, H. Kragh, D. O'Shea, R. Penrose, J. Ritter, T. Sauer, E. Scholz, C. Smeenk, J. Stachel, N. Straumann, R. Wald, S. Walter, C. Will.