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Voigt transformations in retrospect: missed opportunities?

Chashchina, Olga and Dudisheva, Natalya and Silagadze, Zurab (2018) Voigt transformations in retrospect: missed opportunities? Annales de la Fondation Louis de Broglie, 44. pp. 39-109.

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The teaching of modern physics often uses the history of physics as a didactic tool. However, as in this process the history of physics is not something studied but used, there is a danger that the history itself will be distorted in, as Butterfield calls it, a “Whiggish” way, when the present becomes the measure of the past.

It is not surprising that reading today a paper written more than a hundred years ago, we can extract much more of it than was actually thought or dreamed by the author himself. We demonstrate this Whiggish approach on the example of Woldemar Voigt’s 1887 paper. From the modern perspective, it may appear that this paper opens a way to both the special relativity and to its anisotropic Finslerian generalization which came into the focus only recently, in relation with the Cohen and Glashow’s very special relativity proposal.

With a little imagination, one can connect Voigt’s paper to the notorious Einstein-Poincare priority dispute, which we believe is a Whiggish late time artifact. We use the related historical circumstances to give a broader view on special relativity, than it is usually anticipated.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Chashchina, Olga
Dudisheva, Natalya
Silagadze, Zurabsilagadze@inp.nsk,su0000-0003-0704-4199
Keywords: Special relativity, History of science
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Zurab Silagadze
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 03:33
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2020 03:33
Item ID: 16962
Journal or Publication Title: Annales de la Fondation Louis de Broglie
Official URL:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 24 July 2018
Page Range: pp. 39-109
Volume: 44

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