Einstein's Encounters with Mathematicians
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Presented by the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Section
It is well known that higher mathematics came to play a central role in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, even if he usually emphasized the importance of purely physical ideas instead. This distinction between mathematical and physical methods and conceptions can be highly misleading, however, and often suggests a false dichotomy. By focusing on Einstein’s exposure to mathematical ideas as a student in Zurich as well as his numerous fruitful interactions with mathematicians thereafter a seldom seen picture of the young Einstein comes into view. These encounters, I will argue, were of crucial importance during his struggle to incorporate gravitation into the then fledgling theory of relativity.
David E. Rowe, PhD
David E. Rowe took doctoral degrees in mathematics (Oklahoma University) and history of science (CUNY); since 1992 he has been professor for history of mathematics at Mainz University. His research on mathematics in Germany led to a collaboration with the Einstein Editorial Project, originally affiliated with Boston University. One byproduct of this relationship is the volume he co-edited with Robert Schulmann, Einstein on Politics (Princeton University Press, 2007).