Einstein's lost frame

Although special relativity has been proved a powerful predictive tool for already one century, its interpretation has been challenged since its origin. As a matter of fact, the outstanding historical works of Lorentz and Poincaré maintained the existence of a preferred frame, which would be experimentally inaccessible. As it is well known, this view has been almost completely abandoned, with subsequent profound philosophical implications. However, in recent years a growing number of articles questioning the standard interpretation of special relativity is appearing. For instance, John Bell has noted that Lorentz's view is consistent and that "the facts of physics do not oblige us to accept one philosophy rather than the other."

This freedom in the interpretation of special relativity comes from a too strong formulation of its postulates, i.e., the theory involves additional assumptions than those implied by experiment. Actually, each of the postulates can be formulated in more general terms, while keeping fully compatible with the observed physical reality. However, there is an indeterminacy in the theory, since there are quantities which eventually cannot be measured, such as the one-way speed of light. As a consequence, a deadlock arises in practical terms - although not in fundamental ones - and some additional assumptions may have to be required to cut this "Gordian knot". Einstein's theory solves the problem in an extremely simple and elegant way, providing a straightforward and effective operational procedure to study physics. Nonetheless, other solutions are possible, fully compatible with Einstein's relativity in practice, but with very different assertions in fundamental and philosophical terms.


The primary target of the book are all physicists and philosofers. It discusses in depth the foundations of special relativity, proposing firmly a somewhat 'heretical' interpretation. However, the book is written with very basic mathematics and can actually be read by all interested non-specialists.

Additional info
  • Table of contents, first chapter, and list of references [PDF].
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