**Adulation for great thinkers is perfect, as long as proper attributions are given correctly enough to describe the logic of invention… Adulation can be used as a Trojan Horse for expanding knowledge and discovering the arcane laws of metathinking**.

However, in the case of Einstein, and also other heroes of the Anglosphere, such as Newton, Darwin or Godel, or Watts, fake attributions have distorted the cognitive picture. Those five scientists made major discoveries, but they were very far from making all the discoveries attributed to them.

Lamarck (and Cuvier, and others) established scientifically the long-guessed evolution theory,(while competing fiercely about evolutionary mechanisms… both were right, probably)… two generations before Charles Darwin (who recognized, as newton did, hiis predecessors). No wonder: France was the land of Revolution and England was where the Anglican Church explicitly forbade the teaching of evolution.

Newton was an important brick in the wall of Classical Mechanics as he (more or less) demonstrated that the laws of mechanics plus Bouillaut/Bullialdus Formula for gravitational attraction were equivalent. But the mechanics and calculus revolution had started in Paris, under Buridan and his students (including the Oxford computational school…) three centuries earlier.

Godel is singled out in the debate on the Foundations of Mathematics… But there are at least a dozen of important names: Buridan, Oresme, Cardano, Descartes, Fermat, Leibnitz, Newton, Euler, Laplace, Cauchy, Cantor, Russell, Brouwer… and dozens of others, sometimes even more important as they were the true originators (in particular around Cardano). By insisting on Godel, one insists on a single aspect of mathematics, namely that math is made of never ending rabbit holes (I fix that with my ultrafinitude).

Watts was attributed the discovery of the steam engine, an invention truly made by professor Denis Papin… A French engineer on the run, as many Protestants at the time, due to the terror launched by the tyrant Louis XIV.

Some crucial thinkers, such as Young and light interfering from slits, or the greatest physicist ever? Emilie Du Chatelet discovered… ENERGY, no less!

OK, let’s concentrate on poor Einstein a bit.

***

(t−vx/cc) is what Poincaré defined as local time in 1900. Not only Poincare discovered this, but he realized it meant that length contracted in the direction of motion (the contraction itself was a discovery made by the Irish physicist Fitzgerald (and Lorentz) to explain the Michelson-Morley experiment).

***

**Local time theory was a reinterpretation and extendion by Poincare of Lorentz’s work on the spacetime transformations necessary to keep the equations of electromagnetism independent of uniformly moving frames**. This work was published in 1895 by Lorentz when Einstein was still a child [1]. By 1905, when Einstein published his work on Relativity, all the equations had been published.

Local time theory was a rephrasing by Poincare of Hendrik Lorentz’s work on the spacetime transformations necessary to keep the equations of electromagnetism independent of uniformly moving frames. Published when Einstein was still a child. By 1905, when Einstein published his work on Relativity, all the equations had been published.

“Relativity” was Poincaré’s and so was E = mcc, which showed that light carried inertial mass (Cours a la Sorbonne, 1899).

Poincaré is the one who said first that the fact that the speed of light was everywhere measured to be the same (from Michelson and Morley experiment of 1887), and thus it was a physical law. Einstein read it in Science and Hypothesis (La science et l’hypothèse, published 1902, modified 1903, when Poincaré realized electromagnetism a la Maxwell was 100% true after French experimenters confirmed it following rumors to the contrary…).

The term “Relativity” was indeed used by Henri Poincaré even earlier than in his 1904 book titled “Science and Hypothesis” (French: “La Science et l’Hypothèse”) [2]. Poincaré himself said that Einstein’s work was a nice rephrasing of relativity (to be honest, it was a tidy exposition relative to what was before, but not as tidy as one can now do!)

Poincaré is the one who said first that the fact that the speed of light was everywhere measured to be the same (from Michelson and Morley experiment), and thus it was a physical law. Einstein read it in Science and Hypothesis.

Gravity waves in relativity were published by Poincaré in 1905.

Joseph Larmor and Hendrik Lorentz discovered that Maxwell’s equations, used in the theory of electromagnetism, were invariant only by a certain change of time and length units. This left some confusion among physicists, many of whom thought that a luminiferous aether was incompatible with the relativity principle, in the way it was defined by Henri Poincaré:

The principle of relativity, according to which the laws of physical phenomena should be the same, whether for an observer fixed, or for an observer carried along in a uniform movement of translation; so that we have not and could not have any means of discerning whether or not we are carried along in such a motion.

— Henri Poincaré, 1904

Einstein and his friends (and collaborators, Besso, etc.) spent years studying Poincaré’s Relativity

***

Einstein was a genius at seeing the work of others and improving its presentation. This is not to be despised. He did this with Brownian motion, the quantum, Bose-Einstein statistics, and he recognized the importance of De Broglie’s work, and, according to Popper, of Popper’s contribution to the fact the quantum is nonlocal. Popper was a philosopher and Bose an Indian physicist who realized that photons like to gather.

The idea that force could be viewed as curvature in the appropriate space was revealed by Riemann in 1854 in his famous Habilitationsschrift. It has been hanging around ever since. It works well with gravity, but not so much with the other forces, because the quantum messes up with energy-momentum, the more localized it gets, thus the right side of the Einstein gravity equation: Curvature = Energy…

So what did Einstein really contribute personally? The idea that the Quantum of electromagnetic energy of Planck could be absorbed as a packet, explaining the photoelectric effect (Nobel work). Further work on viewing gravitation as a curvature of spacetime (with Hilbert and other friends). And paradoxically the nonlocality of quantum mechanics (which he demonstrated by trying to prove that the quantum was spooky at a distance).

Einstein presented clearly the postulates of relativity and light-speed invariance as foundations of Relativity (Einstein, 1905, §3). Einstein showed that the equation of a spherical lightwave in one frame, xx + yy + zz = cctt has the same form when x and t are Lorentz transformed (it is hard to believe that Poincaré, the world’s top mathematician didn’t know this…) A spherical wave propagating with the speed of light in one frame, Einstein remarked, is thereby another spherical wave propagating with the speed of light in a second inertial frame.

As the British mathematical physicist Ebenezer Cunningham pointed out a two years later, form-invariance of the lightwave equation is all that is required for the derivation of the Lorentz transformation, along with a linearity constraint (Cunningham, 1907).

Einstein was a great physicist, but was not as much a revolutionary as legend had it. Einstein’s work was not as original as the local time theory (misattributed to Einstein). And, although Einstein was one of the founders of quantum theory, the original idea of the quantum came from Planck.

Ironically, nonlocality, which “spooked” Einstein, he said, may have been Einstein greatest original contribution…

Quantum Field Theory, which surfaced in the 1920s was deeply revolutionary in a way Einstein never was. Now of course, QFT had many genial contributors, starting with De Broglie (“everything is a wave”)… But then Einstein is the one who gave De Broglie his thesis, basically (the top PhD com of De Broglie threw its nads and asked Einstein to decide on what they called the De Broglie’s “circus”).

Einstein himself once was asked by a French literary genius why he never had a notebook to write his ideas down, and Albert replied (paraphrasing): because new ideas are so rare, I can’t forget them. Ideas are a bit like the theory of types of Russell: they come in many different types…

Civilization class ideas are very rare… And Einstein, after all, stumbled on nonlocality… so well, he fell flat on his face…

Patrice Ayme

***

[1]: Lorentz referred to as “Ortszeit” (Lorentz, 1895), and which Poincaré (1900a, 273), following Alfred Liénard, called “temps local”, or local time. In Poincaré’s mind, Lorentz’s local time took on an operational meaning, as the time read by a clock in uniform motion of velocity v with respect to the ether,

synchronized by crossed light signals with other identical comoving clocks…

***

[2] Henri Poincaré, in his book, 1904:

*The Principle of Relativity.—Let us pass to the principle of relativity: this not only is confirmed by daily experience, not only is it a necessary consequence of the hypothesis of central forces, but it is irresistibly imposed upon our good sense, and yet it also is assailed… Indeed, experiment has taken upon itself to ruin this interpretation of the principle of relativity; all attempts to measure the velocity of the earth in relation to the ether have led to negative results.*

*…experimental physics has been more faithful to the principle [of “RELATIVITY”] than mathematical physics; the theorists, in accord with their other general views, would not have spared it; but experiment has been stubborn in confirming it [the principle of relativity]. The means have been varied; finally Michelson pushed precision to its last limits; nothing came of it. It is precisely to explain this obstinacy [of nature]…*

*The most ingenious idea was that of local time**. Imagine two observers who wish to adjust their timepieces by optical signals; they exchange signals… The watches adjusted in that way will not mark, therefore, the true time; they will mark what may be called the local time, so that one of them will be slower than the other. It matters little, since we have no means of perceiving it. All the phenomena which happen at A, for example, will be late, but all will be equally so, and the observer will not perceive it, since his watch is slow; so, as the principle of relativity requires, he will have no means of knowing whether he is at rest or in absolute motion.*

*Unhappily, that does not suffice, and complementary hypotheses are necessary; it is necessary to admit that bodies in motion undergo a uniform contraction in the sense of the motion. One of the diameters of the earth, for example, is shrunk by one two-hundred-millionth in consequence of our planet’s motion, while the other diameter retains its normal length.*