Talk:Hendrik Lorentz

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This text seems to be a literal copy of . Can somebody confirm or deny the text is in the public domain?

Branco made this remark 3 years ago, and as far as I can tell nobody ever responded to it. To answer his question: scroll down to the bottom of that page, where it says "Copyright information", click that and you get a box saying "This material is copyrighted, and is not released". Pretty clear that is, so the *original* version of this article was definitely in violation of copyright. In the mean time many people have made additions/deletions/modifications, so the present version may no longer be in violation. But some paragraphs are still very similar. Should we go back, and change those paragraphs, or are we OK as is? 17:14, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

* Lorentzian relativity[edit]

Someone added the above line as (non-existing) link. Quite useless for the time being, and in itself perhaps useless - or we should also start Einsteinian relativity, Minkowskian relativity etc... Harald88 19:17, 9 November 2005 (UTC)


According to the article, "He re-discovered Woldemar Voigt's local time (relativity of simultaneity) which applies to moving clocks." I know some writings by Voigt, but nothing like that. Please sustain it with reference material, or we have to change it. Harald88 12:35, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Harald, The reference to Voigt's paper is given on the Woldemar Voigt page. I believe what I said about Voigt in the article is correct. Perhaps it could say a "form of Voigt's local time". The Voigt time transfornation is , which looks like a "local time" to me. Poincare credited Lorentz with the invention of local time. Lorentz later gave Voigt generaous credit, having overlooked Voigt's 1887 paper (see the Lorentz transformation page, hitory). The reference to the 1887 paper and another paper on Voigt (Ernst and Hsu), giving an english translation of the 1887 paper are also given on the Voigt page. Who is the "we" in "we have to change it"? E4mmacro 10:42, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
E4mmacro, "we" stands for us Wikipedia editors. I have read both his original paper and the translation. As you indicated, Voigt's use of time is not so different from common local time as also exists between time zones. Contrary to Lorentz's local time, it does not include a different duration, and the c stands not just for the speed of light, but also for the speed of sound (a fact that Ernst and Hsu completely overlooked). I don't remember having seen him use the term "local time" either, are you sure that he did? What may be said is that Lorentz rediscovered the kind of transformations that Voigt had used earlier. Harald88 11:45, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Is "Wikipedia editor" an official title, or is anyone an editor? Voigt never used the phrase "local time", as far as I know, but nevertheless he discovered it without naming it. If it a useful concept for sound waves as well as light, that is an interesting fact that Voigt might have also discovered. What is the relevance of Ernst and Hsu missing that, for this discussion? Ernst and Hsu were mentioned only because they gave a translation into English of Voigt's paper. Is the translation wrong? E4mmacro 13:47, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
The difference between relativity of simultaneity and time dilation is given on the relativity of simultaneity page, where it is demonstrated that they are two different things; the first can exist without the second. But, in fact Voigt's time transformation, does have a time dilation factor, even stronger than the Lorentz factor in the final Lorentz transformations. To see it you have to substitute in or to get
In other words it has a time dilation facor of and an offset depending on the seperation in the moving frame and the speed of the frame. You could call this offset nothing but a time zone change, if you like, but I think that underates its significance. You might make your criticism against Lorentz's first version of local time, discussed by Poincare in 1900. It did NOT include time dilation - the rate of moving and stationary clocks was the same. Lorentz's non-time-dilated local time arises from the convention that the speed of light is constant, as explained on the relativity of simultaneity page, with references. I probably should re-write that page to include Voigt. E4mmacro 13:47, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
If local time means "time dilation by the Lorentz factor", which I dispute, then Joseph Larmor introduced it (1898), but I would guess Larmor would credit Lorentz with the introduction of local time in this context. E4mmacro 13:47, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
In Wikipedia, anyone who edits is an editor.
Voigt did not introduce the term "local time", and not even that concept: nowhere did he suggest that obsevers in another frame would have another, local clock time. Even today such transformations are used in acoustics, without any "local time" ideas. Apparently the first with such a concept (but not the term) was Larmor. Anyway, what is -- hopefully -- undisputed, is that Lorentz introduced the term "local time" and that concept greatly inspired Poincare. Please keep this article focused on Lorentz, and what he did.
PS you make a calculation error when you think that relativity of simulteneity works without time dilation (except if everything shrinks gamma times more than the Lorentz contraction of course). But likely you meant instead of "constant", "isotropic" -- and that's another subject. Cheers Harald88 02:34, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
E4mmacro Thanks, Harald. So I am an editor. If I want to change anything of yours I will be careful to say we (wikieditors) were forced to change it.
I hope that was a joke, but if not: please read Wikipedia policies, as explained on your Discussion page. We, the editors, are bound to certain rules eventhough we never had to sign a contract. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
On the local time issue, I suggest we discuss it by email. No doubt it depends what you mean by "works" and what you mean by "local time". I did not say Lorentz's first transformation, which had length contraction, relativity of simultaneity but NOT time dilation, worked in the sense of showing invariance of Maxwell's equations. I merely said, you can have "local time", one established by exchanging light signals between INVARIANT clocks, and Poincare showed exactly this (Poicare 1900). As I say on the relativity of simultaneity page (unless you have changed it). Einstein's train station, moving train and light flashes demonstrates ONLY relativity of simultaneity, it does not demonstrate anything about the clock rate. It demonstrates ONLY that the clocks synchronised in one frame are not synchronised in another moving frame; it said nothing about the clock rates in different frames. I claim local time is the same thing as relativity of simultaneity - it concerns frames moving with respect to another. Perhaps my terminology is wrong, so you had better go correct that page. E4mmacro 06:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
The relativity of simulataneity is either to be regarded as a temporary, improvised tool, or it implies a mechanism to satisfy the PoR. In Einstein's example it does the implies time dilation as well as Lorentz contraction. We may philosophize about how Poincare meant it in different earlier writings. Local time was for Lorentz at first (very inconsistently!) only a mathematical tool such as it was for Voigt, but for Poincare it referred to the actual reading of clocks. Poincare was, as far as we know, the first to use it with the understanding of its meaning that we have today. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
When Lorentz introduced the term local time (though I don't know where, and I would not be surprised if Poincare first used the phrase) his local time did NOT have time dilation in it, and it may be exactly the same as the local time used in accoustics, which you dismiss. (And I have a vague memeory of Lorentz saying his first local time was nothing more than a mathematical tool). Nevertheless, it was this local time (exchange of light signals, synchronise clocks, no time dilation) which did indeed inspire Poincare. E4mmacro 06:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I claim these [time dilation and local time] are two different things, you (Harald) seem to claim local time means a different rate of clocks.
No, certainly not! Local time means the time as follows from the transformations; and at first the discussions were focussed on first order effects, as explicitly mentioned in those papers. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
You also seem to think that what I mean, and what Lorentz meant before 1899, and what Poincare meant in 1900, by local time should not be called local time at all. Harald, you seem to be more intrested in who first used a term, whereas I think the concept is more important than the term.
Again: certainly not! I emphasize that it's a straightforward matter of no debate who introduced the term; but it's a different matter of who had what concepts associated with that term, and when, and about the different aspects of it; so that one easily gets stuck in a morass of opinions about claimed opinions and understandings, in which I prefer not to be drawn and which won't be very useful for a general article about Hendrik Lorentz. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Neverthess if Lorentz used the term first (you give no reference) and therefore has the rights to what the term means, I claim that he meant what I mean, not what you mean. Perhaps we could discuss it by email, or I could write a page called local time, saying what Lorentz meant, and you could add what is now meant. I guess to you time dilation covers it all? That there is no need for three differnet pages 1) time dilation 2) relativity of simultaneity 3) local time? I say that only the first two are needed, and the third would just be a sterile argument on who has naming rights. I am trying to clarify your view, so I can appreciate the objections E4mmacro 06:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
To my surprise there is not yet a page called Local time. That may be useful indeed, although it will be a little tricky at some points, if we want to go beyond what Lorentz and Poincare wrote. But there is, I vaguely remember, literature about it, although I don't know the reliability and quality of it. As "local time" is a historical term with a right to be treated on its own, and as it at first had a different meaning for Lorentz and Poincare, I certainly think that it deserves (and is better treated in) a separate article. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree the page is about Lorentz, but that does not mean it could, for example, say Lorentz first introduced time dilation when in fact Larmor did. Even omission can be an error. I mentioned Voigt on the page because LORENTZ thinks Voigt was important in the development of relativity. If wikieditors (i.e. Harald) know better than Lorentz and think Voigt is not important I guess it will go.
If Wikieditors (i.e. everyone who comes buy and decides to edit) judge that Lorentz's opinion is not generally accepted, then such a statement of his opnion as fact has to go, according to Wikipedia policy. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Harald, Was the equation (what I call local time and you call time zones perhaps) used, in acoustics, before or after Voigt, or Lorentz? Lorentz gives great credit to Voigt, as you know from the quotes. He may have thought it was just a mathemtical tool that he could have taken from Voigt. E4mmacro 06:18, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Nowadays people use more commonly the Lorentz transformation than the Voigt transformation in acoustics; it doesn't matter as it is, indeed, just a mapping tool, as it also was for Lorentz at the start. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
E4mmacro 12:36, 7 January 2006 (UTC) Harald, just to be perfectly clear as a starting point it will say again. Your statement above that "Contrary to Lorentz's local time, [Voigt's time] does not include a different duration" is according to me, wrong in two ways.
# Lorentz's local time, before 1899, the local time Poincare talked about in 1900 did NOT (repeat NOT) incude a different duration.
# Voigt's time transformation did include a different duration.
Exactly the opposite of what you said. Point (1) should be 100% clear from "A note on relativity before Einstein", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 37 (1986): 232-234, which is based on original sources. If you have read the paper then I am puzzled as to why you can't see my point (1) above. If the paper is wrong can't you publish a refereed paper which says where it is wrong?
- I agree that at the start, second order effects were consciously neglected in Lorentz's "local time". This approximation was emphasized by Poincare.
- I was indeed mistaken: Voigt's transformed time doesn't have the same duration (I mixed it up with no reduced transformed length, sorry).

Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

I guess I could be confused about what duration means here? I think your statement is equivalent to saying "Contrary to Lorentz's local time, Voigt's does not [predict time dilation". I thought I knew, purely as a matter of irrefutable historical fact, that Lorentz's transformation before 1899 did not include time dilation. I guess I will have to analyse the twin paradox according to Lorentz's original local time - I had assumed the twins would be reunited with the same age, but now you have me wondering.
I did not say so, but you can read my mind it seems! I had hoped to sustitute that more deeper argument with a simpler one, but that simpler argument was invalid. Voigt didn't suggest anywhere that clocks or time measurements would be affected by his "Doppler" effects.
And if I remember well (for I did not read those papers for such purpose!), Lorentz predicted neither time dilation nor no time dilation, as it was his neglected second order time effect -- except for his discussion about filled M-M interferometers in which he did suggest it but apparently without making the connection between local time and resonance frequencies! It only became truly evident with Poincare's and Einstein's papers of 1905, whereby Einstein was the first to emphasize measurable time dilation effects. Harald88 14:24, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Point (2) is now not quite so clear to me after you objections. E4mmacro 12:36, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

To be verified: info entirely based on Macrossan[edit]

"In 1899 and again in 1904 Lorentz added time dilation to his transformations and published what Henri Poincare in 1905 named the Lorentz transformations. [..] Larmor's and Lorentz's equations look unfamilar, but are algebraically equivalent to those presented by Poincaré and Einstein in 1905 (see Macrossan (1986))."

I remember having seen contrary statements in other overview papers. Thus it is worthwhile (and it is planned) to verify the above more carefully then by simply citing one review. Please only add information here below (either citation of alternative peer reviewed opinions or direct original information that is not open for interpretation). Harald88 16:09, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Some help for "verifers" from E4mmacro 21:44, 8 January 2006 (UTC)[edit]

The algebra required to get from eq. 3, Macrossan (1986) [Larmor's way of writing the Lorentz transfoamation] to eq. 1, Macrossan (1986) [Poincare's (1905) way of writing the Lorentz transformtion] can be checked by a school-student. So I guess the un-resolved issue must be the claim in Macrossan (1986) that eq. 3 in his paper is identical to the Lorentz transformations as written by Lorentz in 1904 and 1899. To help someone else check this, I offer some help: Lorentz (1904) wrote his transformations as eqs. 3, 4 and 5 of his paper. There is a factor l on the RHS, which Lorentz then sets to 1 (in 1899 Lorentz left l undetermined). The equations are then the same as eq.3 in Macrossan (1986). One has to be careful about what x on the RHS means. It is not the x that Poincare and Einstein use (i.e. coordinate of a point in moving frame refered to the rest frame). It is what Lorentz might call the true distance between two points in the moving frame (as opposed to what would be measured in the moving frame by contracted rulers). That is, in Lorentz's eqs. 4 and 5, x is the (x-vt) term in the modern form of the equations (a change of notation). E4mmacro 21:44, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Famous remark?[edit]

Who made the famous remark? Who is "he"? I guess Lorentz. If so it should say so; "This led Lorentz to the famous remark ...". Also, what is the reference and how famous is it? I didn't think this quote is very important. E4mmacro 10:16, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

If you don't know it, it may be less famous than I thought. It's in a letter of Lorentz that is refered to in several articles that I read, but I don't have a reference handy, that must wait. Harald88 11:16, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Meanwhile, here is one that I Google'd: Harald88 13:37, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

What exactly does in mean "At the end of my Latin"? What language did he write it in and who translated it into English? Maybe it is similar to the English expressions "at the end of my tether"? E4mmacro 21:55, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
It's a Dutch expression, it means not to know anymore what to say -- ready to give up. Interesting, I don't know that English expression! Harald88 22:23, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
"Lost for words" is the closest English expression I can think of. E4mmacro 20:24, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
FYI, it exists in German too; try "at the end of my rope"/"at my wits' end" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:26, 4 May 2007 (UTC).

Paul Ehrenfest[edit]

I put a ref to his successor Paul Ehrenfest back into the main text. I put it in preciously, but it was removed soon thereafter by Ragesoss with the remark of removed irrelevant info. I strongly disagree with that rollback: it is important to point out that the great tradition in Theoretical Physics in Leiden was continued after his departure; perhaps we should even elaborate on that. 07:44, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


H.A. Lorentz, Collected Papers, 9 vols ('s-Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1935-1939), which contains a complete list of Lorentz's publications (vol. 9, 411-434)

Inconsistencies in the Hendrik A. Lorentz -Biography @[edit]

The biography @ states the following "Hendrik Antoon Lorentz was born at Arnhem, The Netherlands, on July 18, 1853, as the son of nursery-owner Gerrit Frederik Lorentz and his wife née Geertruida van Ginkel. When he was four years old, his mother died, and in 1862 his father married Luberta Hupkes." It appears that this info has been copied over and over again, as it re-appears like that all over the internet.

I have here right in front of me a photocopy of the death certificate of Geertruida van Ginkel, from the archives of the municipality of Arnhem. It reads as follows (my translation):
"Today, December 2nd of the year eighteen hundred and sixty one have appeared before us, Henri Jean Kronenberg J.D., Alderman and Official of Civil registration of the Municipality of Arnhem, Province Gelderland
Gerrit Fredrik Lorentz, thirty nine years old, occupation shopkeeper, and
Hendrik Anthonie Dambrink, fifty two years old, occupation carpenter
both residing here, who declared that on Sunday the first of this month, at one o'clock in the morning
Geertruida van Ginkel, born in Utrecht, residing here, without occupation, housewife of the first, earlier widow of Jan Jacob Jansen, daughter of the late Teunis van Ginkel and of Maria Simons, without occupation, residing in Beusichem, has died at the age of thirty five years and five months, at the Steenstraat in this municipality.
Of which we prepared this certificate, which after having been read has been signed by both persons mentioned before and by us
signed: G.F. Lorentz H.A. Dambrink H.J. Kronenberg"

(thanks to the webmaster of Genealogie van Teunis van Ginkel).

From this it appears that Hendrik was eight years old when his mother died, not four years as stated in the biography, and that his father was a shopkeeper rather than a nursery-owner. It is of course possible that Gerrit Lorentz had a retail nursery, but I have no information on that. JdH 17:31, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Also his birth date and date of death do not add up to the age given at the time of his death. Perhaps he died at the age of 84 rather than 74? Xorsprite (talk) 03:48, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Not to be confused either...[edit]

with Konrad Lorenz, zoologist and Nobel prize winner! -- (talk) 17:04, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

and with the explorer Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz (1871-1944) who was actually the author of the book on New Guinea that is here attributed to Lorentz. That Lorentz was also a botanist is plain wrong. This needs to be corrected. Comment by AJ Kox (talk) 00:07, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

You Tube footage[edit]

The link that should have led to the footage of the funereal procession of Lorentz goes to a dead end in Dutch. I did find the footage on You Tube, and did try to add the link to that video:, but the Wikipedia insisted that said links are verboten. -- Brothernight (talk) 04:07, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Pronunciation of Lorentz (stress)[edit]

The Dutch surname Lorentz is equal to the English surname Lawrence, in both cases the stress is on the first syllable. However, in English Lorentz is apparently pronounced with stress on the final syllable, according to Forvo (L.force, L.transformation). Do all English speakers stress the final syllable? (To me, English is foreign.) Then it might be interesting to mention this oddity in the article. Ceinturion (talk) 23:05, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

Why is it that the biographical article on Hendrik Antoon Lorentz does not list (or even mention) the Lorentz Force Law as one of his contributions? I find that Lorentz's biographical article, in describing his contributions, emphasizes only those related to special relativity, but not elctromagnatism. The significance of the Lorentz Force Law lies in the fact that it "completes" Maxwell's equations of electrodynamics; whereas Maxwell's equations tell us how electric charges and currents influence the electric and magnatic fields, Lorentz's law tells us the converse: how the electric and magnetic fields influence the charges. This significance is indeed mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Lorentz Force Law; yet the law is not mentioned in Lorents's biography. (talk) 03:47, 18 August 2016 (UTC)