Feeds

Was Einstein a plagiarist?

Lend us your gravitational field equation, would'ya?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A theoretical physicist at the University of Nevada has published a paper alleging that Einstein did not derive the gravitational field equations at the heart of the General Theory of Relativity, and might in fact have copied key equations from fellow physicist David Hilbert.

The two scientists were working in the same area in 1915, and were developing their theories independently but concurrently. Each submitted papers for publication throughout November of that year. The two were also corresponding about their research, making it hard to unravel exactly who knew what, and when. As a consequence the question of which researcher can claim priority has been the subject of some debate.

Prof. Friedwardt Winterberg says that contrary to the conclusions in a paper published in Science in 1997, Einstein did have the opportunity to plagiarise Hilbert's work. He claims that printer's proofs of Hilbert's paper have been tampered with, and that a key part of the derivation had been excised.

In their 1997 paper, Corry, Renn and Stachel concluded that Hilbert altered his published paper to include the correct forms of the gravitation field equations after seeing Einstein's final paper. But Winterberg argues that this is impossible. Winterberg suggests that someone deliberately tampered with the document, specifically to support claims for Einstein's priority. He compares the 'mutilated' document with published papers, and notes that certain forms of Hilbert's notation were only used by Einstein at a later date.

"My analysis of Hilbert's mutilated proofs therefore cannot prove that Einstein copied from Hilbert," he says. "It proves less, which is that it cannot be proved that Einstein could not have copied from Hilbert. But it proves that Hilbert had not copied from Einstein, as it has been insinuated following the paper by Corry, Renn and Stachel."

Winterberg concludes that three people should be given credit for developing the general theory of relativity: Einstein, for recognising the shape of the problem, Grossmann for his insight that the contracted Riemann tensor was key to solving the problem, and Hilbert for completing the gravitational field theory equations.

The full explanation can be found here. (pdf) ®

Related stories

Brits bet on gravity wave discovery
ESA on mission to surf gravity's waves
Chocks away for NASA's Einstein test

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.