Talk:History of special relativity

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In a certain sense[edit]

@JFB80: in this edit, you wrote that Minkowski later, in his 1908 "Space and Time" lecture, noted that space-time is "in a certain sense" a four-dimensional non-Euclidean manifold. I checked both the original source and the translations, but couldn't find exacly where and how Minkowski noted this. Can you clarify? Thx. - DVdm (talk) 10:36, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing this out. Writing from memory I thought the quotation came from the Space and Time lecture but it is from the introductory remarks to the earlier Goettingen lecture of 1907. This was mentioned by Scott Walter on p.6 of his much quoted article on the non-Euclidean style of Minkowskian relativity There is also a mention of non-Euclidean geometry later in the lecture (equation 3)) which Scott Walter also comments on. I'll have to correct what I wrote. I see that Minkowski's velocity 4-vector w is different from what is now called the Minkowski velocity 4-vector. So the resulting non-Euclidean space will not agree with its later interpretation. JFB80 (talk) 19:26, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
Thx! - DVdm (talk) 20:02, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

The hyperboloid model of hyperbolic geometry explains the relevance to relativity.Rgdboer (talk) 20:52, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

There is something in this section which should be pointed out. It says the non-Euclidean style had little to show in the way of creative power of discovery This is surely rather ridiculous since the non-Euclidean form enabled Borel in 1913 to predict the Thomas precession many years before its discovery by Thomas. Any comments? If not I will delete it JFB80 (talk) 11:19, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
That was certainly an attempt to explain why the non-euclidean style didn't gain much support in the early days of relativity. Despite of the "long and winding" history of the hyperboloid model... --D.H (talk) 11:43, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
It was not only in the early days that the non-Euclidean theory didnt get support, it never ever got support - not for over 100 years now. Can you quote one respectable present-day physics textbook (e.g. used in university courses) which gives a good description? It is not in Landau & Lifshitz for example (even though these authors were from the same circle as Smorodinski who had shown how useful hyperbolic geometry was in a particle physics) The history of the hyperboloid model is mainly something separate in pure mathematics but there are not many references to it. JFB80 (talk) 04:44, 23 December 2017 (UTC)
Later: In saying never ever I should have mentioned the one exception of Silberstein 1914 Theory of Relativity. Also that Whittaker 1951 History .... made systematic use of hyperbolic trigonometry. But no-one more recently described the geometrical ideas of the theory which have been ignored in mainstream literature.JFB80 (talk) 05:04, 24 December 2017 (UTC)

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Missing source[edit]

The mathematics of special relativity is linear algebra. Looking back, the mathematics is clearer today than before linear algebra was developed as a special branch. Alexander Macfarlane contributed to understanding spacetime with his Papers on Space Analysis (1894). At that time he used the idea of a versor#hyperbolic versor to express the linear transformation of a spacetime plane that has come to be called a "Lorentz boost". Articles in this Encyclopedia clarify this linear algebra. A true "History of special relativity" would recount the advances in understanding leading to today's view of the subject, rather than dwelling on obscurities.Rgdboer (talk) 21:06, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

That Macfarlane source is dated 1894. The cited source in the article, dated 2011, says "Hyperbolic Rotations as Lorentz Transformations", and "boost" is absent in that book. I have partly undone your edit, keeping the wikilink to hyperbolic rotations: [1]. - DVdm (talk) 08:32, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
I think the statement that a Lorentz transformation is a hyperbolic rotation is not accurate. Varicak showed that the the so-called Lorentz boost is a linear translation in hyperbolic space. The general Lorentz transformation appears to be a translation combined with a rotation about the direction of this translation, a kind of screw motion The proof quoted relies on an exponential representation but it is very easy to represent a "boost" in this form. JFB80 (talk) 15:28, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
Sure, but the article does not say that the general Lorentz transformation is a hyperbolic rotation. Afaiac anything (unqualified LT or boost) is okay here, as long as it is properly sourced. I found the replacement of transformation with boost, where the cited source explicitly talks about transformation and never mentions boosts, inappropriate here. By all means add a remark about boosts, but with a proper source. - DVdm (talk) 16:55, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
But the article does say so. The last line of the section on Minkowski's spacetime says "In retrospect we can see that the Lorentz transformations are equivalent to hyperbolic rotations" and there is a link to a book. That is what I was talking about. The Wiki link to squeeze mappings looks quite irrelevant and in fact is a red herring. JFB80 (talk) 20:07, 3 June 2017 (UTC).
If you read my first reply to this thread, and follow the link ([2]) of my edit, you'll see that I'm talking about exactly the same thing. The article does not say that the general Lorentz transformation is a hyperbolic rotation. It silently assumes that an (unqualified) Lorentz transformation is a boost, as does the cited source. - DVdm (talk) 21:45, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
But in my last edit I quoted what the article says now, after your correction. And what it says is not correct. I can change it but I need another reference apart from Varicak. JFB80 (talk) 19:45, 4 June 2017 (UTC)
What the article says now is properly sourced, and correct if you interpret "LT" in the standard way. It is only incorrect if you choose to interpret "LT" as "general LT", which you are not obliged to do, and which the article does not do per the cited source. So again, feel free to add a remark about boosts, with another proper source. - DVdm (talk) 21:34, 4 June 2017 (UTC)

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