Physical Relativity by Harvey R. Brown
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Physical Relativity
By Harvey R. Brown

Physical Relativity

Space-time Structure from a Dynamical Perspective

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Format: Hardback

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Physical Relativity by Harvey R. Brown

Book Awards

  • Winner of Lakatos Prize 2006.

Book Description

Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments (which support a more 'constructive' approach to relativistic effects in Einstein's terminology), after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity. Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199275830
ISBN-10: 0199275831
Format: Hardback
(242mm x 162mm x 22mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Clarendon Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 24-Nov-2005
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...

Books By Author Harvey R. Brown

Physical Relativity by Harvey R. Brown Physical Relativity, Paperback (October 2007)

Physical Relativity is a critical examination of one of the foundations of modern science, Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity. Harvey Brown defends an original interpretation of the theory, and hence of the nature of space and time, which combines Einstein's insights with those of his immediate precursors.

Philosophy of Vacuum by Harvey R. Brown Philosophy of Vacuum, Hardback (June 1991)

What is the vacuum concept, and why is it so important? This volume brings together philosophically-minded specialists who enlarge on these issues in the context of classical gravity, quantum electrodynamics, and the grand unification programme.

Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Field Theory by Harvey R. Brown Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Field Theory, Paperback (July 1990)

Quantum field theory is one of the most exciting areas of contemporary physics, posing problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This study is a systematic attempt to explore the nature and implications of the theory.

» View all books by Harvey R. Brown


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