Through the Convex Looking Glass

in Masters of Theory

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226873749
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226873763 | DOI:
Through the Convex Looking Glass

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  • History of Science and Technology


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The pedagogical resources that made the Electronic Theory of Matter (ETM) seem so plausible and researchable to the generation of wranglers trained by Larmor offered no similarly detailed and compelling account of electrodynamics according to Einstein. This chapter explores the process by which this apparent impasse was broken between 1916 and 1920. There are three aspects of the Cambridge perception of the general theory of relativity that need to be clarified before turning to Eddington's role in its British reception. Firstly, despite the novelty and heuristic power of Einstein's work on the equivalence principle, it was ignored almost entirely in Britain until 1916. The general theory presented a far greater challenge to the ETM than had the special theory of relativity. Despite the interest that such a radical and testable theory was likely to generate, its conceptual novelty and mathematical difficulty meant that it was not going to be easy for Cambridge mathematicians to master its technicalities. This chapter deals with this in detail.

Keywords: Einstein; Cambridge mathematicians; electrodynamics; relativity; electron theory

Chapter.  24994 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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