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Archive for History of Exact Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Nova Geminorum 1912 and the origin of the idea of gravitational lensing

  • Tilman Sauer
Article

Abstract

Einstein’s early calculations of gravitational lensing, contained in a scratch notebook and dated to the spring of 1912, are reexamined. A hitherto unknown letter by Einstein suggests that he entertained the idea of explaining the phenomenon of new stars by gravitational lensing in the fall of 1915 much more seriously than was previously assumed. A reexamination of the relevant calculations by Einstein shows that, indeed, at least some of them most likely date from early October 1915. But in support of earlier historical interpretation of Einstein’s notes, it is argued that the appearance of Nova Geminorum 1912 (DN Gem) in March 1912 may, in fact, provide a relevant context and motivation for Einstein’s lensing calculations on the occasion of his first meeting with Erwin Freundlich during a visit in Berlin in April 1912. We also comment on the significance of Einstein’s consideration of gravitational lensing in the fall of 1915 for the reconstruction of Einstein’s final steps in his path towards general relativity.

Keywords

Relative Brightness Equivalence Hypothesis Distant Star Classical Nova Perihelion Advance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Einstein Papers ProjectCalifornia Institute of Technology 20-7PasadenaUSA

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