Histories of kinematics and Einstein’s relativity theory: A collage of historiographies
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Einstein was 26 years old in 1905 when he put forward a new physical theory in a paper entitled, “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies”. This is the theory of special relativity that effected a revolution in the annals of physics. In choosing this title, “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper”, Einstein followed a tradition that can be traced back to Hertz’s paper of 1890, “Ueber die Grundgleichungen der Elektrodynamik für bewegte Körper”. Given this title, it seems prima faciethat Einstein included his theory in this tradition. However, as is well known, this is not the case. To be sure, Einstein was deeply engaged with Hertz’s theory, but he was dissatisfied with this account. Indeed, as early as 1899, Einstein was convinced that the electrodynamics of moving bodies is not correct. He realized this conviction in his celebrated relativity paper of 1905: he adhered to the title of Hertz’s original paper but revolutionized the analysis, both in form and in content. He did not adopt...