Einstein and the Changing World Views of Physics, 1905/2005

HGR7. Seventh International Conference on the History of General Relativity, La Orotava, March 9-15, 2005

Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia, with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

Aims of the Conference

HGR7 is the seventh in a series of interdisciplinary conferences dedicated to the history and foundations of general relativity, which have been held in locations alternating between the US and Europe since 1986. HGR7 will have a special character since it will be held in 2005, marking both the centenary of Einstein’s annus mirabilis and the fiftieth anniversary of his death.

It is planned to use this occasion to review conceptual conflicts at the foundations of physics now and one hundred years ago. The focus will be on the conditions and consequences of Einstein’s pathbreaking achievements that sealed the decline of the classical notions of space, time, radiation, and matter. Particular attention will be paid to the implications of conceptual conflicts for scientific views of the world at large, thus providing the basis for comparing the demise of the mechanical world view around 1900 with the challenges presented by cosmology around 2000. Careful reviews of conceptual conflicts and a hitherto unique attempt to compare sistematically the science of the universe in our times with the mechanical world view at the beginning of the 20th century will therefore be at the centre of the talks and discussions.

One of the remarkable strengths of this series of conferences has been the dialogue it has fostered among historians, philosophers, and physicists looking at the development and the foundations of general relativity from different perspectives. While it is intended to keep the conference as widely open to a broad variety of themes as has been customary, and while papers submitted to the conference will be accepted merely on the grounds of quality, an additional effort will be made to focus discussions on a set of overarching questions. for this purpose, every night a small round table of physicists, historians, and philosophers will be asked to give a short presentation of their views on the relation between the challenges physicists are facing now and those that Einstein and his contemporaries faced a century ago. As far as modern physics is concerned, the focus will be on problems in cosmology and quantum gravity, two areas closely involving general relativity. After two brief presentations, the floor will be open for discussion.

See http://nti.educa.rcanaria.es/fundoro/einstein_2nd/einstein_web_a.htm for more details.