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Poincaré as a Physicist

Abstract

Henri Poincaré’s reputation as a mathematician is exceptional. What can we tell about his work in physics from the articles translated in Part I of this book? Here I identify some things that distinguish his work, for better or worse. His efforts to explain and clarify the work of others, find and use postulates or basic principles, and his innovation with analytical methodology is reviewed. A brief census of his predictions and missed opportunities for predictions is followed by a consideration of why he didn’t make the predictions that it appears he could have.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Here and elsewhere, the first page number refers to the original publication and the second page number (following the semicolon) refers to the page number in Part I of this book.

  2. 2.

    For possible comparison with Einstein see the definition on the first page of (Einstein, Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper, 1905), “conjecture that not only in mechanics, but in electrodynamics as well, the phenomena do not have any properties corresponding to the concept of absolute rest .”

  3. 3.

    The earlier derivation of the Lorentz force using least action is in (Lorentz, Contributions to the theory of electrons. I, 1902).

  4. 4.

    See for example (Poincaré, On the Three-Body Problem and the Equations of Dynamics, 2017).

  5. 5.

    Yes, I know that misunderstood genius is a cliché.

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Popp, B.D. (2020). Poincaré as a Physicist. In: Henri Poincaré: Electrons to Special Relativity. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48039-4_10

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