re: Physics Query

Garry DeWeese (deweese@ucsu.Colorado.EDU)
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 21:30:49 -0700 (MST)

> Jeff Webster wrote:
> > My question is this: is there serious debate in the physics community about this
> > issue, or is Einstein's interpretation still preferred because of its conceptual
> > economy and beauty? As I recall, Einstein's principles of length contraction
> > and time dilation were entirely kinematic, resulting from two very reasonable
> > postulates, whereas Lorentz's interpretation requires a dynamical process (thus
> > far unknown) for the shrinking of measuring rods and the slowing of clocks. Can
> > anyone suggest literature about this?
Since Jeff fingers me as initiating this line of inquiry (guilty as
charged), I'll mention a few of the interesting discussions in the
philosophical literature. But like Jeff I would be very interested in the
reactions of physicists working in the area.

Elie Zahar, "Why did Einstein's Programme Supercede Lorentz's?"
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 24 (1973):95-123; 223-62.
John Winnie, "Special Relativity Without One-way Velocity
Assumptions," Philosophy of Science 37 (1970):81-99; 223-38.
Wesley Salmon, "The Philosophical Significance of the One-way
Speed of Light," Nous 11 (1977):253-92.
Idem., "The Conventionality of Simultaneity," Philosophy of
Science 36 (1969): 44-63.
John Earman, "Who's Afraid of Absolute Space?" Australasian
Journal of Philosophy 48/3 (1970):297-319.
Michael Friedman, _Foundations of Space-Time Theories_ (Princeton,
Also, I can't find the reference now, but an Australian physicist
named Ives has defended a view of absolute space and time with some
modifications of Lorentz's work.

Garry DeWeese