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Wednesday, 02.12.2015

The "Renaissance" of General Relativity in History: Assessing Einstein’s Legacy in Post-World War II Physics

In the century following Einstein's ultimate formulation in 1915, the general theory of relativity has evolved from a revolutionary mathematical theory with limited contact with the empirical world to an observationally and experimentally based cornerstone of modern physics and cosmology. This momentous shift started around the mid-­1950s. While in the previous decades general relativity was perceived as a highly formalistic subject involving only few theorists, by the mid-­1960s Einstein’s theory has become an extremely vital research stream of theoretical physics, at the same time sparking entirely novel fields such as relativistic astrophysics – a process that came to be known as “renaissance of general relativity.” The revitalization of general relativity, moreover, crossed the boundaries of science, and had a large social impact as well as a significant influence on philosophical debates.

In occasion of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's formulation of general relativity in Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has promoted a conference aimed at exploring the overall process related to the renaissance of general relativity as well as the various ways through which this process affected different branches of theoretical and experimental physics in the second half of the twentieth century. Topics included the mathematical and conceptual evolution of the theory, social and geo-­political considerations, co-­evolution with quantum mechanics and elementary particle physics, incorporation of relativistic astrophysics, history of cosmology, history of numerical relativity, history of gravitational waves, history of quantum gravity, history of institutions devoted to gravitational research, philosophical issues.

Talk

Thibault Damour

Thibault Damour

The Problem of Motion in General Relativity: A Centenary Assessment More Thibault Damour

Talk

Daniel Kennefick

Daniel Kennefick

Waves without Energy - Einstein and the Enigma of Gravitational Waves: Do They Actually Transport Energy? More Daniel Kennefick

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David Gross

David Gross

The Enduring Legacy of Albert Einstein More David Gross

Talk

Alexander Blum

Alexander Blum

The Making of a Legacy: How Einstein's Insights Slowly Permeated Physics in the Course of the 20th Century More Alexander Blum

Talk

Yvonne Choquet Bruhat

Yvonne Choquet Bruhat

Some Memories of Meeting Einstein, 1951-1952 More Yvonne Choquet Bruhat

Talk

Reinhard Genzel

Reinhard Genzel

Testing the Massive Black Hole Paradigm in the Center of the Milky Way More Reinhard Genzel

Talk

Luisa Bonolis

Luisa Bonolis

From "Dark Stars" to Gravitational Collapse within Einstein's Theory: The Emergence of Relativistic Astrophysics More Luisa Bonolis

Talk

Hanoch Gutfreund

Hanoch Gutfreund

Highlights of the Exhibition - A Combination of Science and History More Hanoch Gutfreund

Talk

Abhay Ashtekar

Abhay Ashtekar

The Renaissance of General Relativity More Abhay Ashtekar

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