Michelson, FitzGerald and Lorentz: the origins of relativity revisited

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Harvey R. Brown
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It is argued that an unheralded moment marking the beginnings of relativity theory occurred in 1889, when G. F. FitzGerald, no doubt with the puzzling 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment fresh in mind, wrote to Heaviside about the possible effects of motion on inter-molecular forces in bodies. Emphasis is placed on the difference between FitzGerald's and Lorentz's independent justifications of the shape distortion effect involved. Finally, the importance of the their `constructive' approach to kinematics---stripped of any commitment to the physicality of the ether--- will be defended, in the spirit of Pauli, Swann and Bell.

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History of Lorentz transformations

The Lorentz transformations relate the space-time coordinates, which specify the position x, y, z and time t of an event, relative to a particular inertial frame of reference (the "rest system"), and the coordinates of the same event relative to another coordinate system movin...

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Lorentz transformation

In physics, the Lorentz transformation (or transformations) are coordinate transformations between two coordinate frames that move at constant velocity relative to each other. The transformations are named after the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz.Frames of reference can be di...

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