[FOM] On foundations of special relativistic kinematics 1

José Félix Costa fgc at math.ist.utl.pt
Thu Jan 22 12:09:56 EST 2004

Exactly in what concearns ''physics education'' (concept used by Harvey), I
questioned in times (e. g., when looking to the work of Cartan) where the
works on foundations meet putative referents (namely in physics).

The principle of relativity of Galileo states ''something'' that we know
about relative constant motion of systems with respect to other systems: we
observe the same behaviour of a fly on earth or inside a moving ship,
objects fall in the same way, etc. It concearns the laws of mechanics.


Does the water boil at the same temperature in a train moving at 100 miles
per hour? Why should it happen?

Eintein's formulation of special relativity covers all the physical laws: in
order to have Maxwell's equations valid we should accept the constancy of
the velocity of light. But what is exactly a physical law?

I have in my hands Tolman's Book, and I think that foundational work on this
respect is moving to upper abstract levels where we miss referents.

My mail is a side comment to

''nevertheless, the *presentation* of the physical science thereby becomes
incomparably more transparent - after the simplification and synthesis
process takes hold.''

J. Felix

J. Felix Costa
Departamento de Matematica
Instituto Superior Tecnico
Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, PORTUGAL
tel:      351 - 21 - 841 71 45
fax:     351 - 21 - 841 75 98
e-mail:   fgc at math.ist.utl.pt
www:    http://fgc.math.ist.utl.pt/jfc.htm

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