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Scott A. Walter
Nantes University
  1. Figures of Light in the Early History of Relativity.Scott A. Walter - 2018 - In David E. Rowe, Tilman Sauer & Scott A. Walter (eds.), Beyond Einstein: Perspectives on Geometry, Gravitation, and Cosmology in the Twentieth Century. New York, USA: Springer New York. pp. 3-50.
    Albert Einstein’s bold assertion of the form invariance of the equation of a spherical light wave with respect to inertial frames of reference became, in the space of 6 years, the preferred foundation of his theory of relativity. Early on, however, Einstein’s universal light-sphere invariance was challenged on epistemological grounds by Henri Poincaré, who promoted an alternative demonstration of the foundations of relativity theory based on the notion of a light ellipsoid. A third figure of light, Hermann Minkowski’s lightcone also (...)
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  2. Ether and Electrons in Relativity Theory.Scott A. Walter - 2018 - In Jaume Navarro (ed.), Ether and Modernity. pp. 67-87.
    This chapter discusses the roles of ether and electrons in relativity theory. One of the most radical moves made by Albert Einstein was to dismiss the ether from electrodynamics. His fellow physicists felt challenged by Einstein’s view, and they came up with a variety of responses, ranging from enthusiastic approval, to dismissive rejection. Among the naysayers were the electron theorists, who were unanimous in their affirmation of the ether, even if they agreed with other aspects of Einstein’s theory of relativity. (...)
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  3.  75
    Poincaré-Week in Göttingen, in Light of the Hilbert-Poincaré Correspondence of 1908–1909.Scott A. Walter - 2018 - In Maria Teresa Borgato, Erwin Neuenschwander & Irène Passeron (eds.), Mathematical Correspondences and Critical Editions. Springer Verlag. pp. 297-310.
    The two greatest mathematicians of the early twentieth century, David Hilbert and Henri Poincaré transformed the mathematics of their time. Their personal interaction was infrequent, until Hilbert invited Poincaré to deliver the first Wolfskehl Lectures in Göttingen in the spring of 1909. A correspondence ensued, which fixed the content and timing of the lecture series. A close reading of the exchange throws light on what Hilbert wanted Poincaré to talk about, and on what Poincaré wanted to present to Hilbert and (...)
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  4. Figures of light in the early history of relativity (1905-1914).Scott A. Walter - 2018 - In David Rowe (ed.), Einstein Studies. Birkhäuser. pp. 3-50.
    Albert Einstein's bold assertion of the form-invariance of the equation of a spherical light wave with respect to inertial frames of reference became, in the space of six years, the preferred foundation of his theory of relativity. Early on, however, Einstein's universal light-sphere invariance was challenged on epistemological grounds by Henri Poincaré, who promoted an alternative demonstration of the foundations of relativity theory based on the notion of a light-ellipsoid. Drawing in part on archival sources, this paper shows how an (...)
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  5.  7
    The Poincaré Pear and Poincaré-Darwin Fission Theory in Astrophysics, 1885-1901.Scott A. Walter - forthcoming - Philosophia Scientiae.
    In the early 1880s, Henri Poincaré discovered an equilibrium figure for uniformly-rotating fluid masses—the pear, or piriform figure—and speculated that in certain circumstances the pear splits into two unequal parts, and provides thereby a model for the origin of binary stars. The contemporary emergence of photometric and spectroscopic studies of variable stars fueled the first models of eclipsing binaries, and provided empirical support for a realist view of equilibrium figures—including the pear—in the cosmic realm. The paper reviews astrophysical interpretation of (...)
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  6.  20
    Beyond Einstein: Perspectives on Geometry, Gravitation, and Cosmology in the Twentieth Century.David E. Rowe, Tilman Sauer & Scott A. Walter (eds.) - 2018 - New York, USA: Springer New York.
    Beyond Einstein: Perspectives on Geometry, Gravitation, and Cosmology explores the rich interplay between mathematical and physical ideas by studying the interactions of major actors and the roles of important research communities over the course of the last century.
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  7.  18
    Breaking in the four-vectors: the four-dimensional movement in gravitation.Scott A. Walter - 2007 - In Jürgen Renn & Matthias Schemmel (eds.), The Genesis of General Relativity, Volume 3. Springer. pp. 193-252.
    The law of gravitational attraction is a window on three formal approaches to laws of nature based on Lorentz-invariance: Poincaré’s four-dimensional vector space (1906), Minkowski’s matrix calculus and spacetime geometry (1908), and Sommerfeld’s 4-vector algebra (1910). In virtue of a common appeal to 4-vectors for the characterization of gravitational attraction, these three contributions track the emergence and early development of four-dimensional physics.
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  8.  19
    Letters to the Editor.Scott A. Walter - 2008 - Isis 99 (2):374-374.
    This letter corrects errors of fact contained in a review by Yves Gingras of a biopic about Henri Poincaré.
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  9.  26
    La vérité en géométrie: sur le rejet mathématique de la doctrine conventionnaliste.Scott A. Walter - 1997 - Philosophia Scientiae 2 (3):103-135.
    The reception of Poincaré’s conventionalist doctrine of space by mathematicians is studied for the period 1891–1911. The opposing view of Riemann and Helmholtz, according to which the geometry of space is an empirical question, is shown to have swayed several geometers. This preference is considered in the context of changing views of the nature of space in theoretical physics, and with respect to structural and social changes within mathematics. Included in the latter evolution is the emergence of non-Euclidean geometry as (...)
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  10.  47
    Poincaré on clocks in motion.Scott A. Walter - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:131-141.
    Recently-discovered manuscripts throw new light on Poincaré’s discovery of the Lorentz group, and his ether-based interpretation of the Lorentz transformation. At first, Poincaré postulated longitudinal contraction of bodies in motion with respect to the ether, and ignored time deformation. In April, 1909, he acknowledged temporal deformation due to translation, obtaining thereby a theory of relativity more compatible with those of Einstein and Minkowski.
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  11. Roberto Lalli. Building the general relativity and gravitation community during the cold war. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Springer Briefs in History of Science and Technology, 2017, xiv + 168 pp. ISBN: 9783319546544. [REVIEW]Scott A. Walter - 2020 - Centaurus 61 (4):451-453.