Minkowski Spacetime: A Hundred Years Later
This volume is dedicated to the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of Hermann Minkowski’s paper “Raum und Zeit” in 1909 . The paper presents the textofthetalkMinkowskigaveatthe80thMeetingoftheGermanNaturalScientists and Physicians in Cologne on September 21, 1908. Minkowski’s work on the spacetime representation of special relativity had a huge impact on the twentieth century physics, which can be best expressed by merely stating what is undeniable – that modern physics would be impossible wi- out the notion of spacetime. It is suf cient to mention as an example only the fact that general relativity would be impossible without this notion; Einstein succeeded to identifygravitywith the curvatureofspacetime onlywhen he overcamehis initial hostile reactionto Minkowski’sfour-dimensionalrepresentationof special relativity and adopted spacetime as the correct relativistic picture of the world. While there exists an unanimous consensus on the mathematical signi cance of spacetime for theoretical physics, for a hundred years there has been no consensus on the nature of spacetime itself. The rst sign of this continuing controversy was Sommerfeld’s remark in his notes on Minkowski’s article : “What will be the epistemologicalattitudetowardsMinkowski’sconceptionofthetime-spaceproblem is another question, but, as it seems to me, a question which does not essentially touch his physics”.
Marks the centenary of the introduction of the term spacetime into the scientific lexicon by bringing together the thoughts on Hermann Minkowski's work by a selection of the world's leading physicists and philosophers of science