Foundations of Physics

, Volume 36, Issue 7, pp 955–1011 | Cite as

Einstein’s “Zur Elektrodynamik...” (1905) Revisited, With Some Consequences

  • S. D. Agashe

Einstein, in his “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper”, gave a physical (operational) meaning to “time” of a remote event in describing “motion” by introducing the concept of “synchronous stationary clocks located at different places”. But with regard to “place” in describing motion, he assumed without analysis the concept of a system of co-ordinates.

In the present paper, we propose a way of giving physical (operational) meaning to the concepts of “place” and “co-ordinate system”, and show how the observer can define both the place and time of a remote event. Following Einstein, we consider another system “in uniform motion of translation relatively to the former”. Without assuming “the properties of homogeneity which we attribute to space and time”, we show that the definitions of space and time in the two systems are linearly related. We deduce some novel consequences of our approach regarding faster-than-light observers and particles, “one-way” and “two-way” velocities of light, symmetry, the “group property” of inertial reference frames, length contraction and time dilatation, and the “twin paradox”. Finally, we point out a flaw in Einstein’s argument in the “Electrodynamical Part” of his paper and show that the Lorentz force formula and Einstein’s formula for transformation of field quantities are mutually consistent. We show that for faster-than-light bodies, a simple modification of Planck’s formula for mass suffices. (Except for the reference to Planck’s formula, we restrict ourselves to Physics of 1905.)


operational meaning co-ordinate system representation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringIndian Institute of TechnologyMumbaiIndia

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