Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond

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JHU Press, Nov 1, 2006 - Science - 320 pages

Max Jammer's Concepts of Simultaneity presents a comprehensive, accessible account of the historical development of an important and controversial concept—which played a critical role in initiating modern theoretical physics—from the days of Egyptian hieroglyphs through to Einstein's work in 1905, and beyond.

Beginning with the use of the concept of simultaneity in ancient Egypt and in the Bible, the study discusses its role in Greek and medieval philosophy as well as its significance in Newtonian physics and in the ideas of Leibniz, Kant, and other classical philosophers. The central theme of Jammer's presentation is a critical analysis of the use of this concept by philosophers of science, like Poincaré, and its significant role in inaugurating modern theoretical physics in Einstein's special theory of relativity. Particular attention is paid to the philosophical problem of whether the notion of distant simultaneity presents a factual reality or only a hypothetical convention. The study concludes with an analysis of simultaneity's importance in general relativity and quantum mechanics.


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User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

Scholarly and analytical, but too much "antiquity" and not enough "beyond" special relativity for my satisfaction. The discussion is more philosophy-style than physics-style (despite the presence of ... Read full review


Terminological Preliminaries
The Concept of Simultaneity in Antiquity
Medieval Conceptions of Simultaneity
The Concept of Simultaneity in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
The Concept of Simultaneity in Classical Physics
The Transition to the Relativistic Conception of Simultaneity
The Conventionality Thesis
The Promulgation of the Conventionality Thesis
Symmetry and Transitivity of Simultaneity
Arguments against the Conventionality Thesis
Clock Transport Synchrony
Recent Debates on the Conventionality of Simultaneity
Simultaneity in General Relativity and in Quantum Mechanics

Simultaneity in the Special Theory of Relativity
The Reception of the Relativistic Conception of Simultaneity

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About the author (2006)

Max Jammer, who was personally acquainted with Albert Einstein while at Princeton, is former president and professor emeritus of Bar-Ilan University and author of a number of important books, mainly in the philosophy of physics. Among his numerous awards are the Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the much coveted Israel Prize.

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