Woldemar Voigt (1850–1919)
|Born||2 September 1850
Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony
|Died||13 December 1919
|Institutions||Georg-August University of Göttingen|
|Alma mater||Universität Königsberg|
|Doctoral advisor||Franz Ernst Neumann|
|Doctoral students||Paul Drude
Alfred A. Robb
|Known for||Voigt notation
Woldemar Voigt (German: [foːkt]; 2 September 1850 – 13 December 1919) was a German physicist, who taught at the Georg August University of Göttingen. Voigt eventually went on to head the Mathematical Physics Department at Göttingen and was succeeded in 1914 by Peter Debye, who took charge of the theoretical department of the Physical Institute. In 1921, Debye was succeeded by Max Born.
Voigt was born in Leipzig, and died in Göttingen. He was a student of Franz Ernst Neumann. He worked on crystal physics, thermodynamics and electro-optics. His main work was the Lehrbuch der Kristallphysik (textbook on crystal physics), first published in 1910. He discovered the Voigt effect in 1898. The word tensor in its current meaning was introduced by him in 1898. Voigt profile and Voigt notation are named after him. He was also an amateur musician and became known as a Bach expert (see External links).
In 1887 Voigt formulated a form of the Lorentz transformation between a rest frame of reference and a frame moving with speed in the direction. However, as Voigt himself declared, the transformation was aimed for a specific problem and did not carry with it the ideas of a general coordinate transformation, as is the case in relativity theory.
The Voigt transformation
In modern notation Voigt's transformation was
where . If the right-hand sides of his equations are multiplied by they are the modern Lorentz transformation. Hermann Minkowski said in 1908 that the transformations which play the main role in the principle of relativity were first examined by Voigt in 1887. Also Hendrik Lorentz (1909) is on record as saying he could have taken these transformations into his theory of electrodynamics, if only he had known of them, rather than developing his own. It is interesting then to examine the consequences of these transformations from this point of view. Lorentz might then have seen that the transformation introduced relativity of simultaneity, and also time dilation. However, the magnitude of the dilation was greater than the now accepted value in the Lorentz transformations. Moving clocks, obeying Voigt's time transformation, indicate an elapsed time , while stationary clocks indicate an elapsed time .
Lorentz did not adopt this transformation as he found in 1904 that only the Lorentz contraction corresponds to the principle of relativity. Since Voigt's transformation preserves the speed of light in all frames, the Michelson–Morley experiment and the Kennedy–Thorndike experiment can not distinguish between the two transformations. The crucial question is the issue of time dilation. The experimental measurement of time dilation by Ives and Stillwell (1938) and others settled the issue in favor of the Lorentz transformation.
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- Primary Sources
- Woldemar Voigt, Die fundamentalen physikalischen Eigenschaften der Krystalle in elementarer Darstellung [The fundamental physical properties of crystals in an elementary presentation] (Leipzig, Germany: Veit & Co., 1898), p. 20. From page 20: "Wir wollen uns deshalb nur darauf stützen, dass Zustände der geschilderten Art bei Spannungen und Dehnungen nicht starrer Körper auftreten, und sie deshalb tensorielle, die für sie charakteristischen physikalischen Grössen aber Tensoren nennen." (We therefore want [our presentation] to be based only on [the assumption that] conditions of the type described occur during stresses and strains of non-rigid bodies, and therefore call them "tensorial" but call the characteristic physical quantities for them "tensors".)
- Voigt, W. (1887a), Ueber das Doppler'sche Princip (On the Principle of Doppler), Göttinger Nachrichten (7): 41–51; Reprinted with additional comments by Voigt in Physikalische Zeitschrift XVI, 381–386 (1915).
- Voigt, W. (1887b), Theorie des Lichts für bewegte Medien, Göttinger Nachrichten (8): 177–238; This article ends with the announcement that in a forthcoming article the principles worked out so far shall be applied to the problems of reflection and refraction. The article contains on p. 235, last paragraph, and on p. 236, 2nd paragraph, a judgment on the Michelson experiment of 1886, which Voigt, after a correspondence with H. A. Lorentz in 1887 and 1888, has partly withdrawn in the article announced, namely in a footnote in Voigt (1888). According to Voigt's first judgment, the Michelson experiment must yield a null result, independently of whether the Earth transports the luminiferous aether with it (Fizeau's 1st aether hypothesis), or whether the Earth moves through an entirely independent, self-consistent universal luminiferous aether (Fizeau's 2nd aether hypothesis).
- Voigt, W. (1888), Theorie des Lichts für bewegte Medien, Annalen der Physik 35: 370–396, 524–551; In a footnote on p. 390 of this article, Voigt corrects his earlier judgment, made in Göttinger Nachrichten No. 8, p. 235 and p. 236 (1887), and states indirectly that, after a correspondence with H. A. Lorentz, he can no longer maintain that in the case of the validity of Fizeau's 2nd aether hypothesis the Michelson experiment must yield a null result too.
- Bucherer, A. H. (1908), Messungen an Becquerelstrahlen. Die experimentelle Bestätigung der Lorentz-Einsteinschen Theorie, Physikalische Zeitschrift 9 (22): 755–762; For Minkowski's statement see p. 762.
- Lorentz, H.A (1916), The theory of electrons, Leipzig & Berlin: B.G. Teubner; See p. 198.
- Lorentz 1904, Electromagnetic phenomena in a system moving with any velocity smaller than that of light
- Secondary sources
- Macrossan, M. N. (1986), A Note on Relativity Before Einstein, Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 37: 232–234, doi:10.1093/bjps/37.2.232
- Ernst, Andreas & Hsu Jong-Ping (June 2001); First Proposal of the Universal Speed of Light by Voigt in 1887, pdf Chinese Journal of Physics
- Woldemar Voigt at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- The relativity of light (MathPages)
- Bach expert Woldemar Voigt
- Works by or about Woldemar Voigt in libraries (WorldCat catalog)