Following the historical order of ideas is usually a good way of introducing people to physics, but the historical order is never the logical order. If it were, there would be no room for discovery, since each new development would merely follow deductively from the preceding ones. New discoveries usually involve radically new ideas not implicit in what went before, and deductive connections, when they can be made at all, must be made backwards. You cannot derive the formulas of relativistic mechanics from those of Newton. You can derive Newtonian formulas from relativistic ones by taking a low-velocity limit, but even this is not a derivation of Newtonian physics, since that physics takes place against a background of absolute space and time which Einstein abandoned. This example contains a lesson: We may be able to derive the equations of an earlier theory from those of a later one, but to recapture the theory itself requires imagination and scholarship.


Wave Packet Newtonian Mechanic Newtonian Physic Historical Order Spherical Wavefront 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Park
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

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