Special Relativity as a Stage in the Development of Quantum Theory: A New Outlook of Scientific Revolution

Historia Scientiarum (34):57-79 (1988)
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To comprehend the special relativity genesis, one should unfold Einstein’s activities in quantum theory first . His victory upon Lorentz’s approach can only be understood in the wider context of a general programme of unification of classical mechanics and classical electrodynamics, with relativity and quantum theory being merely its subprogrammes. Because of the lack of quantum facets in Lorentz’s theory, Einstein’s programme, which seems to surpass the Lorentz’s one, was widely accepted as soon as quantum theory became a recognized part of physics. A new approach to special relativity genesis enables to broaden the bothering “Trinity” group of its creators to include Gilbert N. Lewis. Notwithstanding that the links necessarily existing between all the 1905 papers were obscured by Einstein himself due to the reasons discussed below, Lewis revealed from the very beginning the connections between special relativity and quasi-corpuscular theory of light, as he punctuated: “The consequences which one of us obtained from a simple assumption as to the mass of a beam of light, and the fundamental conservation of mass, energy and momentum, Einstein has derived from the principle of relativity and the electromagnetic theory” (Lewis G.N.& Tolman R.C. “The Principle of Relativity and Non-Newtonian Mechanics”, Philosophical Magazine, 1908).
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