CaltechAUTHORS
  A Caltech Library Service

‘...But I still can׳t get rid of a sense of artificiality’: The Reichenbach–Einstein debate on the geometrization of the electromagnetic field

Giovanelli, Marco (2016) ‘...But I still can׳t get rid of a sense of artificiality’: The Reichenbach–Einstein debate on the geometrization of the electromagnetic field. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 54 . pp. 35-51. ISSN 1355-2198. doi:10.1016/j.shpsb.2016.04.001. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20160715-130013124

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.

540kB

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item: https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20160715-130013124

Abstract

This paper analyzes correspondence between Reichenbach and Einstein from the spring of 1926, concerning what it means to ‘geometrize’ a physical field. The content of a typewritten note that Reichenbach sent to Einstein on that occasion is reconstructed, showing that it was an early version of Section 49 of the untranslated Appendix to his Philosophie der Raum-Zeit-Lehre, on which Reichenbach was working at the time. This paper claims that the toy-geometrization of the electromagnetic field that Reichenbach presented in his note should not be regarded as merely a virtuoso mathematical exercise, but as an additional argument supporting the core philosophical message of his 1928 monograph. This paper concludes by suggesting that Reichenbach׳s infamous ‘relativization of geometry’ was only a stepping stone on the way to his main concern—the question of the ‘geometrization of gravitation’.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2016.04.001DOIArticle
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1355219815300642PublisherArticle
Additional Information:© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Received 6 December 2015, Accepted 10 April 2016, Available online 9 May 2016. This paper was written while working as a contributing editor at the Einstein Paper Project at Caltech. Part of the correspondence with Einstein discussed in this article (till ca. 1927) will appear in volume 15 of Einstein’s Collected Papers, which is in preparation. I am deeply grateful to Diana Kormos-Buchwald, who gave me the opportunity to work on this material, and more generally, for the wonderful time spent at Caltech. Earlier drafts were dramatically improved by several discussions I had there with Dennis Lehmkuhl, who convinced me to take Einstein’s objection to Reichenbach more seriously that I initially did, and attracted my attention to Kaluza-Klein-type theories. Dennis is working on a paper on this topic. I am very much indebted to Carla Cederbaum, who clarified my doubts about Reichenbach’s definition of the connection. Finally (in chronological order), I thank Tilman Sauer for having shared his transcription of Reichenbach’s note (which I initially thought was no longer extant), and other very useful material that he has collected on the topic. Of course all mistakes are my responsibility.
Subject Keywords:Hans Reichenbach; Albert Einstein; Unified field theories; General relativity; Geometrization
DOI:10.1016/j.shpsb.2016.04.001
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160715-130013124
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20160715-130013124
Official Citation:Marco Giovanelli, ‘…But I still can׳t get rid of a sense of artificiality’: The Reichenbach–Einstein debate on the geometrization of the electromagnetic field, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Volume 54, May 2016, Pages 35-51, ISSN 1355-2198, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2016.04.001. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1355219815300642)
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:69062
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:27 Jul 2016 20:30
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:08

Repository Staff Only: item control page