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Einstein, Nordström and the early demise of scalar, Lorentz-covariant theories of gravitation

Norton, JD (1992) Einstein, Nordström and the early demise of scalar, Lorentz-covariant theories of gravitation. Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 45 (1). 17 - 94. ISSN 0003-9519

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The advent of the general theory of relativity was so entirely the work of just one person - Albert Einstein - that we cannot but wonder how long it would have taken without him for the connection between gravitation and spacetime curvature to be discovered. What would have happened if there were no Einstein? Few doubt that a theory much like special relativity would have emerged one way or another from the researchers of Lorentz, Poincaré and others. But where would the problem of relativizing gravitation have led? The saga told here shows how even the most conservative approach to relativizing gravitation theory still did lead out of Minkowski spacetime to connect gravitation to a curved spacetime. Unfortunately we still cannot know if this conclusion would have been drawn rapidly without Einstein's contribution. For what led Nordström to the gravitational field dependence of lengths and times was a very Einsteinian insistence on just the right version of the equality of inertial and gravitational mass. Unceasingly in Nordström's ear was the persistent and uncompromising voice of Einstein himself demanding that Nordström see the most distant consequences of his own theory. © 1992 Springer-Verlag.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Norton, JDjdnorton@pitt.eduJDNORTON
Centers: University Centers > Center for Philosophy of Science
Date: 1 January 1992
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Volume: 45
Number: 1
Page Range: 17 - 94
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/bf00375886
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0003-9519
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2012 21:50
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2019 14:55


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