Jules Henri Poincare (1854-1912) was a great man. At the time he appeared to be ripped off by Einstein, he was doing state-of-the-art work in physics, mathematics, and philosophy. In the last field he is featured in. philosophy, A Timeline of Western Philosophers, by Garth Kemerling in an Internet article dated 1997, 1998, 1999. He is only 1 of 500 philosophers featured on that timeline in the past 2600 years. In math, he is one of the top 26 mathematicians in the past 2600 years (see: Famous Mathematicians on the Internet). Even Einstein recognized Poincares superiority as thinker and author (Einsteins Reply to Criticisms in relation to Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics: The Library of Living Philosophers Series, 1949).
For Poincare to fade into obscurity requires the cooperation of thousands of physicists. What did he contribute to the special theory of relativity? While the Internet is, at best, an uncertain source of material, the following site on Poincare is interesting: 1)... he sketched a preliminary version of the special theory of relativity, 2)he stated the velocity of light is a limit factor (In his 1904 paper from the Bull. of Sci. Math. 28, Poincare indicated, ...a whole new mechanics, where, the inertia increasing with the velocity of light would become a limit and not be exceeded.), 3)he suggested that mass depends on speed, 4)He formulated the principle of relativity...no mechanical or electromagnetic can discriminate between a state of uniform motion or one at rest, 5)...he derived the Lorentz transformations. What is immediately evident is how deeply involved with special relativity he was and even Keswani was prompted to say that, As far back as 1895, Poincare, the innovator, had conjectured that it is impossible to detect absolute motion. In 1900, he introduced the principle of relative motion which he later called by the equivalent terms The law of relativity and The principle of relativity in his book Science and Hypothesis published in 1902. Einstein professed ignorance of any of this when he wrote his paper in 1905. The question is, Why didnt he know this?
Other scientists have not been quite as impressed with Einsteins special theory of relativity, as the public. Another curious feature of the now famous paper, Einstein, 1905, is the absence of any reference to Poincare or anyone else: As Max Born says, It gives you the impression of quite a new venture. But that is, of course, as I have tried to explain, not true (Born, 1956). It could be argued that not even Einstein viewed himself as the Father of Relativity. In the book, Einstein The Life and Times, by Ronald W. Clark, the following paper appears in the Bibliography, The Principle of Relativity, A Collection of Original Memoirs on the Special and General Theory of Relativity, New York, 1952, p.792. What is surprising is the authorship: Lorentz, H.A., Einstein, A.,Weyl, H., and Minkowski. Note that even though Einstein had been publishing articles for 47 years, he is second author behind Lorentz. This suggests that even Einstein was willing to defer probable origin of the theory of special relativity to Lorentz. When you add to the origin of these theories, Poincare, a more appropriate authorship of Einsteins Theory of Relativity, would be the relativity theory of Poincare and Lorentz as noted by by G. Burniston Brown, What is wrong with relativity?, It will be seen that, contrary to popular belief, Einstein played only a minor part in the derivation of the useful formulae in the restricted or special theory of relativity and Whittaker called it the relativity theory of Poincare and Lorentz.. You would tend to think that due to the fact that Einsteins special theory of relativity was known in some circles as the relativity theory of Poincare and Lorentz, that Poincare and Lorentz might have had something to do with its creation. According to Einstein when he wrote the 1905 paper, Poincare and Lorentz had done nothing worth referencing. It also seems odd that Einstein would be second author on a compilation of papers on the theories of general and special relativity when Einstein is supposedly the progenitor. What Einstein is effectively saying to the world when he agreed to a second authorship, was that he had renounced any claim to being the primary inventor of special relativity. Yet, by strange coincidence, the man who is intimately associated with the theory of special relativity, Lorentz, is first author. Lorentz probably would never have believed that Einstein would wind up owning relativity. Einsteins followers have outlived the followers of Poincare and Lorenz.
Here are some concrete first order references as to Poincares contributions:
From all these results, if they are confirmed, would arise an entirely new mechanics, would be, above all, characterized by this fact, that no velocity could surpass that of light, any more than any temperature would fall below the zero absolute, because bodies would oppose an increasing inertia to the causes, which would tend to accelerate their motion; and this inertia would become infinite when one approached the velocity of light.
No more for an observer carried along himself in a translation he did not suspect could any apparent velocity surpass that of light: and this would be then a contradiction, if we recall that this observer would not use the same clocks as a fixed observer, but, indeed. clocks marking local time . Poincare, The Principle of Mathematical Physics (From an address delivered before the International Congress of Arts and Sciences, St. Louis, September, 1904.)
It is now time to speak directly to the issue of what Einstein was: He was first and foremost a plagiarist who had no qualms about borrowing the work of others and submitting it with little revision as his own. That this was deliberate is incredibly obvious: Take this passage from Ronald W. Clark, Einstein The Life and Times, Avon Books, New York, 878 pages (You will not find any references to Poincare here, just a few meaningless quotes). This is how p.101 reads: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies ...it is in many ways one of the most remarkable scientific papers that had ever written. Even in form and style it was unusual, lacking the notes and references which give weight to most serious expositions... (emphasis added). Why would Einstein with his training as a patent clerk not recognize the absolute imperative need to thoroughly reference his article on special relativity? What is incredible about Einstein is that as a neophyte, you would think that he would overreference rather than underreference. To suggest as some (Jack Good, Mensa Bulletin, April May, 2001, p.4) that this was due to youthful indiscretion is belied by the fact that Einstein was 26 at the time of his plagiarism. Would we still speak of youthful indiscretion at 50? Another reader in the same journal said that Einstein borrowed, shamefully (Brian Wells, Mensa Bull. April/May 2001, p.5). Oh, is this like borrowing a cup of sugar that Einstein intended to return a day later? Or, was it more like stealing?
Why would an editor publish a controversial manuscript which was grossly flawed? Supposedly, you would also expect somewhat higher standards from an editor when faced with a long manuscript that had obviously not been researched. Apparently there was no attempt at quality control when it was published in Annalen der Physik. Most competent editors would have rejected the paper without even reading it. Failing that, at a bare minimum, you would have expected them to research the literature to see if the fantastic nature of Einsteins claim of primacy was correct. Consider the writings of Max Born, Physics in My Generation. He states, The striking point is that it contains not a single reference to previous literature. (emphasis added). Look how important is to Born that there are no references. He is clearly indicating that this is abnormal and that even by early 20th Century standards that this is most peculiar, even unprofessional. It gives you the impression of quite a new venture. But that is, of course as I have already tried to explain, not true. We have Einsteins own testimony. At this point Born quotes a reference to Dr. Carl Seelig, who has published a most charming book on Einstein und die Schweiz asked Einstein which scientific literature had contributed most to his ideas on relativity.... Einstein replied, in the journal, Technische Rundschau, Concerning myself, I knew only Lorentzs important work of 1895 (the two papers quoted in the German text) but not Lorentzs later work, nor the consequent investigations of Poincare. (emphasis added). Einstein just acknowledged an incredible level of duplicity or ignorance. Poincare published 30 books and over 500 papers in philosophy, mathematics and physics. Einstein wrote in mathematics, physics and philosophy, but Einstein claimed he never read Poincares contributions to physics. This is on a par with an English Major never having heard of Shakespeare. This establishes one of two things: Either Einstein was incredibly ignorant or he was duplicitous. What makes you wonder is that many of Poincares ideas like the speed of light is a limit and that mass increases with speed wound up in Einsteins paper, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. This is about on a par with an English major writing sonnets, who, by strange coincidence wrote sonnets remarkably similar to ones written by Shakespeare.
At the time of his plagiarism, Einstein knew how important the work of Lorentz was. If he were crossexamined today to determine whether he was a plagiarist, much of the discussion would center around the phrase deliberate ignorance. It appears that in view of Einsteins background as a patent clerk, he had to have known how to do research. He conveniently avoids rudimentary research that would have revealed a rich history of special relativity that would have rendered his paper on special relativity, trivial.
Folks, what Einstein did is about as obvious an example of plagiarism as you can demonstrate. What Einstein did was provide a blueprint for plagiarism. In other words, either Einstein provided 100% new material or he was automatically a plagiarist. Ignorance is no defense against a charge of plagiarism. If it were, countless scientists would stop researching papers and just shoot from the hip. However, a minuscule number of reputable editors would publish such balderdash. Few scientists seem to be aware of this in the physics community. Here is the definition of to plagiarize from an unimpeachable source, Websters New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, 1947, p.1878. It gives the following definition:
To steal or purloin and pass off as ones own (the ideas, words, artistic productions, etc. of one another); to use without due credit the ideas, expressions, or productions of another. To commit plagiarism. (emphasis added).
Nowhere does this definition stipulate that the offender actually read the material he plagiarized.
Isnt this exactly what Einstein did?
The true nature of Einsteins plagiarism is set forth in his 1935 paper, Elementary Derivation of the Equivalence of Mass and Energy in which he states, The question as to the independence of those relations is a natural one because the Lorentz transformation, the real basis of the special relativity theory.... (emphasis added) What more needs to be said? This is the smoking gun. Einstein acknowledged that the Lorentz transformation was the real basis of his paper and that this made him a plagiarist. Anyone who doubts this should ask one simple question, What did Einstein know and when did he know it? If Einstein had been an honorable man, as soon as he learned that Lorentz and Poincare were there ahead of him, he should have immediately gone on the record and indicated their contribution to special relativity. It says a lot about Einstein that he did a mea culpa well after Poincare and Lorentz were dead. The honorable thing to do would have been to give these men credit. Although it is true that Einstein did eventually give Lorentz credit, it was not until after Einstein had stolen from Lorentz. Einsteins shabby treatment of Poincare continued after Einsteins 1905 paper. Einstein, with one exception for several years refused to reference anything Poincare wrote and vice versa. Who was at fault? Since Einstein plagiarized Poincare in the 1905 paper, the latters attitude is easily understandable.
One indication just how much the physics community demonstrates its complete lack of candor with Americans is the following statement in a paper by G. Burniston Brown called What is wrong with relativity? (Bulletin of the Institute of Physics and the Physical Society, pp.71-77, March 1967), There were other disturbing features: the fact that Einstein never wrote a definitive account of his theory; that his first derivation of the Lorentz transformation equations contained velocities of light of c-v and c+v and (c^2 - v^2 )^1/2 to, quite contrary to his second postulate that the velocity of light was independent of the motion of the source; and that his first attempt to prove the formula E=mc^2 , suggested by Poincare, was fallacious because he assumed what he wanted to prove, as was shown by Ives (Ives, 1952). (emphasis added). Very few people in the physics community seem to find it at all important that the single most recognizable equation in human history may be attributed to the wrong man! Brown (ibid) now makes the following statement, Thus gradually arose the formula E=mc^2, suggested without general proof by Poincare in 1900. One of the most important principles in science is one my father either heard or originated---Concept must precede the mathematics. It was Poincares brilliant insight, or, even earlier, the insight of Fitzgerald and Lorentz, the intuitive thunderbolt, E=mc^2 which was the primary contribution to this formulae, not Einsteins eventual derivation which is backfilling behind a brilliant insight. Stated another way, without Fitzgerald, Lorentz and Poincare it is highly probable that the discovery and derivation of E=mc^2 would have taken decades longer.