Relativity Priority Dispute - Attackers and Defenders - General Relativity - Wuensch and Sommer (2005)

Wuensch and Sommer (2005)

Daniela Wuensch, a historian of science and a Hilbert and Kaluza expert, responded to Bjerknes, Winterberg and Logunov's criticisms of the Corry/Renn/Stachel paper in a book which appeared in 2005, wherein she defends the view that the cut to Hilbert's printer proofs was made in recent times. Moreover, she presents a theory about what might have been on the missing part of the proofs, based upon her knowledge of Hilbert's papers and lectures.

She defends the view that knowledge of Hilbert's November 16, 1915 letter was crucial to Einstein's development of the field equations: Einstein arrived at the correct field equations only with Hilbert's help ("nach großer Anstrengung mit Hilfe Hilberts"), but nevertheless calls Einstein's reaction (his negative comments on Hilbert in the November 26 letter to Zangger) "understandable" ("Einsteins Reaktion ist verständlich") because Einstein had worked on the problem for a long time.

According to her publisher, Klaus Sommer, Wuensch concludes though that:

This comprehensive study concludes with a historical interpretation. It shows that while it is true that Hilbert must be seen as the one who first discovered the field equations, the general theory of relativity is indeed Einstein's achievement, whereas Hilbert developed a unified theory of gravitation and electromagnetism.

In 2006, Wuensch was invited to give a talk at the annual meeting of the German Physics Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft) about her views about the priority issue for the field equations.

Wuensch's publisher, Klaus Sommer, in an article in "Physik in unserer Zeit", supported Wuensch's view that Einstein obtained some results not independently but from the information obtained from Hilbert's November 16 letter and from the notes of Hilbert's talk. While he does not call Einstein a plagiarist, Sommer speculates that Einstein's conciliatory December 20 letter was motivated by the fear that Hilbert might comment on Einstein's behaviour in the final version of his paper, claiming that a scandal caused by Hilbert could have done more damage to Einstein than any scandal before ("Ein Skandal Hilberts hätte ihm mehr geschadet als jeder andere zuvor").

Read more about this topic:  Relativity Priority Dispute, Attackers and Defenders, General Relativity