The Lost Origins of Einstein’s Relativity
The field of kinematics—the science of motion—has long been neglected and misrepresented. Despite rich traditions rooted in ancient times, modern physical kinematics never became a professional discipline. No journals or academic societies were founded to support its development and study and most physicists took the science of motion for granted. Yet some came to doubt its very principles, even denouncing its basic language—coordinate algebra—as an impediment to scientific progress.
In this unique and comprehensive history of kinematics, Alberto A. Martínez rescues the forgotten roots of this field that led to Einstein's theory of special relativity. Using clear explanations and accessible language, he analyzes the development of kinematics; explains how mathematics, engineering, philosophy, and psychology pulled it in divergent directions; and discusses why modern kinematics inherited old and unresolved ambiguities.
All students of physics and general science study basic kinematics. Martínez draws from an unparalleled wealth of sources to demonstrate why it is essential to the study and evolution of physics today.
About the Author
Alberto A. Martínez is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of Negative Math: How Mathematical Rules Can Be Positively Bent.
"The author uses clear and easy-to-understand language to describe how kinematics is essential to the modern study of physics."
"A great deal of interesting historical material on kinematic ideas... the story of Einstein’s pathway to discovery is a gem... an illuminating pleasure to read. Einstein, the smasher of earlier images of physics, would have been the first to applaud this very human account of himself and this period of his life. Perhaps this text will turn out to be inspirational reading for some future young Einstein!"
"The book is really two books in one... Martínez deserves our gratitude for digging up a rich selection of recollections."
"This often-overlooked branch of mechanics, which describes objects’ motion, provided the foundation for special relativity, a historian argues."
"Martinez draws from an unparalleled wealth of sources."
"The author has indeed succeeded in offering the reader a wealth of material, presented in an accessible way."
"Anyone interested in the development of our current concepts of space, time, and motion will learn an enormous amount from this book. It combines broad scope and meticulous attention to detail, all recounted in a lively fashion. Reading it is not only instructive—it is a pleasure."
"Martínez's careful reconstruction of Einstein's path to relativity is an absolute tour de force!"
"The chapters on Einstein form a compelling narrative as the author mines a rich vein of letters and later reminiscences, which make the book very accessible and of interest to many readers."
Other Titles in SCIENCE / History
Other Titles in History of science