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The Formative Years of RelativityThe History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures$
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Jürgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174631

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174631.001.0001

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The Theory of Special Relativity

The Theory of Special Relativity

(p.184) The Theory of Special Relativity
The Formative Years of Relativity

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows how the principle of special relativity and the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light uniquely determine the Lorentz transformation. Unlike in pre-relativity physics, space and time are not separate entities. They are combined into a four-dimensional spacetime continuum, which is most clearly demonstrated in the formulation of the theory of special relativity due to Hermann Minkowski. The chapter then defines vectors and tensors with respect to the Lorentz transformation, leading to a tensor formulation of Maxwell's equations, of the electromagnetic force acting on charges and currents, and of the energy-momentum of the electromagnetic field and its conservation law. It also introduces the energy-momentum tensor of matter and discusses the basic equations of the hydrodynamics of perfect fluids (the Euler equations).

Keywords:   special relativity, velocity of light, Lorentz transformation, spacetime continuum, tensor formulation, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic force, electromagnetic field, energy-momentum tensor, hydrodynamics

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