Electrodynamical origins of Einstein's theory of general relativity
- Cite this article as:
- Hickman, F.R. Int J Theor Phys (1984) 23: 535. doi:10.1007/BF02086210
The failure of the Newtonian theory of gravitation to satisfactorily account for the motion of Mercury's perihelion cannot be held to have justified the development of general relativity. This paper shows how the origins of general relativity were firmly embedded in contemporary attempts to introduce the new mechanics of special relativity into gravitational theory. These new theories of gravitation took as their basis the electrodynamical equations as formulated by Minkowski and attempted to represent the gravitational potential first by a vector and then by a scalar (in the four-dimensional sense). That Einstein chose the symmetric fundamental tensorgij as his gravitational potential is seen to have been both a natural and necessary development. With this viewpoint the full theory of general relativity can be seen to be remarkably similar to those theories of gravitation that preceded it. The paper also contains a previously unpublished letter written by Einstein to H. A. Lorentz.