[Paleopsych] The Register (UK): Was Einstein a plagiarist?
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Wed Jan 12 15:27:04 UTC 2005
Was Einstein a plagiarist?
By Lucy Sherriff
Published Monday 15th November 2004 15:57 GMT
A theoretical physicist at the University of Nevada has published a
paper alleging that Einstein did not derive the gravitational field
equations at the heart of the General Theory of Relativity, and might
in fact have copied key equations from fellow physicist David Hilbert.
The two scientists were working in the same area in 1915, and were
developing their theories independently but concurrently. Each
submitted papers for publication throughout November of that year. The
two were also corresponding about their research, making it hard to
unravel exactly who knew what, and when. As a consequence the question
of which researcher can claim priority has been the subject of some
Prof. Friedwardt Winterberg says that contrary to the conclusions in a
paper published in Science in 1997, Einstein did have the opportunity
to plagiarise Hilbert's work. He claims that printer's proofs of
Hilbert's paper have been tampered with, and that a key part of the
derivation had been excised.
In their 1997 paper, Corry, Renn and Stachel concluded that Hilbert
altered his published paper to include the correct forms of the
gravitation field equations after seeing Einstein's final paper. But
Winterberg argues that this is impossible. Winterberg suggests that
someone deliberately tampered with the document, specifically to
support claims for Einstein's priority. He compares the 'mutilated'
document with published papers, and notes that certain forms of
Hilbert's notation were only used by Einstein at a later date.
"My analysis of Hilbert's mutilated proofs therefore cannot prove that
Einstein copied from Hilbert," he says. "It proves less, which is that
it cannot be proved that Einstein could not have copied from Hilbert.
But it proves that Hilbert had not copied from Einstein, as it has
been insinuated following the paper by Corry, Renn and Stachel."
Winterberg concludes that three people should be given credit for
developing the general theory of relativity: Einstein, for recognising
the shape of the problem, Grossmann for his insight that the
contracted Riemann tensor was key to solving the problem, and Hilbert
for completing the gravitational field theory equations.
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