The 2nd International Conference on the History of General Relativity took place in Luminy, France, from the 6th to the 9th of September, 1988. Speakers from around the world met to examine topics concerning the context and the significance of, as well as the insights afforded by, general relativity.
Some of the talks cover the reaction to, and acceptance of, Einstein’s ideas across the world, while others reflect on the philosophical notions underpinning his work. Others still give a more nuanced look at the technicalities of general relativity.
We have picked out a few highlights, depending on your familiarity with general relativity.
The Archive Trust recommends the following talks to a layperson.
- Manuel da Costa Leite discusses physics as a social, cultural and ideological phenomenon.
- Don Howard places Einstein’s philosophy of sciences in its historical context, describing his principle of Eindeutigkeit.
- Anne J. Kox describes the impact of Einstein’s work in the Netherlands, and reasons why it did not lead to a Dutch school of general relativity.
If you have some technical background (such as undergraduate studies), you may enjoy the following.
- John Norton talks about general covariance, and the historical treatment of manifolds.
- José Manuel Sanchez-Ron discusses contemporary reactions to Einstein’s theories, both among mathematicians and physicists, and among philosophers.
- John Stachel presents the “prehistory” of the initial-value (or Cauchy) problem in general relativity.
If you are a specialist in this area, then these talks may appeal to you.
- József Illy discusses the correspondence between Einstein and Gustav Mie, and their approaches to their work.
- Bronisław Średniawa discusses the scientific contributions of Myron Mathisson and Jan W. Weyssenhoff.
- Christiane Vilaine gives a technical talk about coordinate systems and coordinate-free methods in general relativity.