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 systematically 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.


The conference will be held in La Orotava, Tenerife. It will take place in the convent of Santo Domingo and at the site of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. The conference will be jointly organized and funded by the Fundación Orotava, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. The meeting will bring together experts from the fields of history and philosophy of science, historians of culture, physicists, astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists. At the same time, efforts will be made to involve teachers, students, journalists, and others with an interest in the (development of) the conceptual foundations of physics.

Contributed Papers

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia (e-mail address: [email protected]). Please provide your name, affiliation, and contact information (full postal address and e-mail address).

To mark the centenary of Einstein’s miracle year, several sessions of the conference with both invited and contributed talks will be organized around a special theme: the comparison of the conceptual problems in physics and cosmology facing Einstein and his contemporaries around 1900 to those facing physicists today. The organizers welcome proposals addressing this theme even if their focus is not on general relativity. All contributors are encouraged to give some thought to the relation of their proposed paper to this special theme. The organizers do want to emphasize, however, that the main selection criterion will be the quality of the proposals, not on whether or not they conforms to the overarching theme.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to: the genesis of general relativity, foundations of space-time theories, symmetries and conservation laws, the problem of motion, special solutions of the Einstein field equations, relativistic cosmology (including: gravitational lensing, cosmic microwave background measurement, inflation, dark matter, dark energy), gravitational waves detection, black holes, singularities and topology, quantum gravity.

Further information is available at <http://nti.educa.rcanaria.es/fundoro/einstein_first.htm>.