Mach's Principle and the Origin of Inertia

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9780973291100: Mach's Principle and the Origin of Inertia

This volume consists of a selection of refereed invited lectures presented at the International Workshop on Mach’s Principle and the Origin of Inertia which was held at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, as a part of the golden Jubilee celebrations of the Institute, from February 6 to 8, 2002. The Workshop was organized by the Centre for Theoretical Physics of the Institute with Prof. A.R. Roy as the Organising Secretary. It also includes a few contributions from experts who could not attend the Workshop. Inertia is one of the main physical properties of all bodies. Its origin poses problems of a fundamental nature. Ernst Mach proposed that the inertia of any body is caused by its interaction with the rest of the Universe. The idea reflects a deep connection between the cosmos at large and its individual constituent bodies, thereby implying a holistic conception of nature. On the whole, Ernst Mach had a seminal influence on the evolution of Physics in the 20th Century, and will influence the future development of Physics in the 21st Century. It is interesting that many of his ideas play a role (directly and indirectly) in opposite positions within contemporary physics. His epistemological viewpoint of positivism clearly influenced the basis of quantum mechanics. On the other hand his non-atomistic model of matter and the accompanying interpretation of inertial mass (the “Mach Principle”) influenced the holistic approach of the continuous field concept of the theory of general relativity, as a general theory of matter. The contributions to these proceedings demonstrate Mach’s influence on contemporary thinking. For we see here the views of an international group of scholars on the implications of Mach’s principle in physics and astrophysics. The ideas presented here could affect the path of study in physics for many generations to come.

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About the Author:

Mendel Sachs is presently Professor of Physics Emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was a professor of physics from 1966 to 1997. Earlier positions were at Boston University,McGill University and the University of California Radiation Laboratory. Prof. Sachs earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at University of California, Los Angeles, in 1954. His main interests and publications during his professional career have been on foundational problems in theoretical physics (mainly general relativity and particle physics) and the philosophy of physics. A strong early influence came from the writings of Ernst Mach. The main theme of Mendel Sachs’s research has been a generalization of the works of Albert Einstein as a future course of physics, from the domain of micromatter to cosmology. Professor Sachs has authored ten books. Two monographs that highlight details of his research are General Relativity and Matter (Reidel, 1982) and Quantum ! Mechanics from General Relativity (Reidel, 1986).

A.R. Roy is presently a professor of Mathematics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He joined the Institute as a Faculty member in 1976, after obtaining a Ph.D. degree from the Institute in 1973, spending a couple of years as a post-doctoral fellow. He became a professor in 1996. His initial research interest and publications have been on exact solutions in Einstein theory and other alternate theories of Gravitation. He has also worked in the area of theoretical relativistic cosmology. His main interest has been in developing singularity-free cosmological models by considering the presence of various matter fields viz., scalar (meson) fields, viscous fluids, etc. in the cosmic matter along with other viable assumptions on the background metric. Professor Roy has guided several research scholars in their Ph.D. programs, and has more than 40 research publications in major international journals in the area of GRT and Cosmology. He is associated with sever! al research journals. His current interests and publications have been on applications of Soft Set Theory in Decision-Making Problems.

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