Columbia University History of Science Society

Einstein’s Encounters with Mathematicians: the Swiss Years
March 23, 2010, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Events

Wednesday, March 24, 6:00 PM
New York University, The Gallatin School, Room 801, 1 Washington Place

David E. Rowe
University of Mainz, Germany

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.

To RSVP for dinner with the speaker following the lecture, please contact Gregory Ferguson-Cradler [].

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, April 28: Richard Burkhardt Jr. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) “Evolutionary Thought before Darwin: Lamarck’s Philosophie zoologique, Frédéric Cuvier, and the Paris menagerie.” This meeting will be held at CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street, Room 9207, Ninth Floor.