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"The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality."
- Hermann Minkowski (September 21, 1908)
Minkowski Spacetime is the mathematical construct where Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity formulates its most clarity. In this construct, the three dimensions of space are combined with a single dimension of time to form a four-dimensional map for representing spacetime.
Born: June 22, 1864
Aleksotas, Kaunas, Russian Empire
Died: January 12, 1909 (age 44)
Göttingen, German Empire
Institutions: University of Göttingen and ETH Zurich
Alma mater: Albertina University of Königsberg
Known for: Spacetime geometry and/or spacetime diagrams.
In 1905-6 Henri Poincaré stated that, by taking time to be the imaginary part of the fourth spacetime coordinate, a Lorentz transformation can be regarded as a rotation in a four-dimensional Euclidean space with three real coordinates representing space, and one imaginary coordinate, representing time, as the fourth dimension. Minkowski took this concept to restate the Maxwell equations in four dimensions and then went on to do the same with Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity.
Minkowski space is a four-dimensional real vector space equipped with a nondegenerate, symmetric bilinear form with signature (-,+,+,+) although some mathematicians prefer the alternative signature (+,-,-,-). Minkowski space is a pseudo-Euclidean space with n = 4 and n - k = 1 (in a broader definition any n > 1 is allowed). Elements of Minkowski space are called events or four-vectors. It is perhaps the simplest example of a pseudo-Riemannian manifold.
"Since my student years Minkowski was my best, most dependable friend who supported me with all the depth and loyalty that was so characteristic of him."
- David Hilbert
He was born in Aleksotas, a suburb of Kaunas, Lithuania (then a part of the Russian Empire) to a family of Lithuanian Jews. Minkowski later converted to Christianity, so he could pursue an academic career.
Minkowski Spacetime Diagram
By ART VOID | June 15, 1908