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Tomasz Bodziony



The article is devoted to the description of amazing and remarkable coincidences connected with the creation of the General Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein in 1915. It also attempts to explain why the contribution of David Hilbert to the creation of the General Theory of Relativity was completely forgotten.

The article was rejected by several English-language journals and removed (exactly censored) from the academic website arXiv.org with a comments: arXiv admin note: This submission has been withdrawn by arXiv administrators due to inflammatory content and unprofessional language


Ten years had passed from the events of 1905 and the publication of „Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” in Annalen der Physik [ ]. Said work became the basis for a completely new physical theory called the Special Theory of Relativity (STR). The exceptional and remarkably controversial circumstances of creation of the discussed publication were touched upon earlier [ ]. During the aforementioned decade, both science and the world as such had seen a number of changes. It was autumn of 1915, the very middle of the First World War. Fierce battles had been raging in Europe for two years. Albert Einstein (1879-1953), a famous scientists, had been working on a new theory that would be a generalization of the Special Theory of Relativity for eight years. He had worked hard, but he still had not reached the satisfactory results. As an act of desperation, Einstein decided to travel to the Göttingen University. He came to the seminar of the guru of German mathematics: David Hilbert (1862 – 1943). Said decision must have been truly difficult for Einstein. He had known Hilbert very well and was aware of what he would have to face. However, he knew that he had to do that, for the had not been able to find the proper solution, so the help of Hilbert was needed. At the Göttingen University, there had been weekly seminars in physics organized by Hilbert – Debye. He acted as if there had not been a war. Yet, there was one. There were hardly any students at the university. They had been conscripted and were dying a miserable death near Marne or in Flandreau. For the remaining students who stayed at the university, the seminars by Hilbert – Debye were out of this world, for they were devoid of war, violence, and fear. They were strictly related to the ideal world of physical examinations [ ]. Seminars in physics – or in physics and mathematics – were conducted by a German mathematician, David Hilbert and a Dutch physicist, Peter Debye. Also, an important change in the approach of David Hilbert could be seen. Earlier on, Hilbert had believed in the so-called „pure” mathematics, in contrast to his great rival, a French mathematician Henri Poincaré (1854 - 1912), who had been focusing on matters touching upon both mathematics and physics [2]. After many years and after his experiences from 1905, Hilbert probably was of the opinion that Poincaré was right and he also appreciated the importance of physics-related problems with regard to the development of mathematics. At that time, Hilbert was exceptionally interested in physics-related phenomena, hence the Hilbert – Debay seminars devoted to the issue. "Mathematics is much too hard for physicists." [3] Hilbert used to point out maliciously. Was he referring to his “friend”, Albert Einstein? Einstein decided, rather unwillingly, to attend Hilbert – Debye seminar to present his problem strictly connected with formulae describing the correlation between geometry and mass. It was September 1915.

Seminar in Göttingen

The meeting of Hilbert and Einstein became a legend and an anecdote. During the seminar in Göttingen, Einstein presented the issue he had been struggling with, whereas Hilbert humiliated him publicly! Such a behavior was unbelievable. David Hilbert had reached such a scientific status not only thanks to his mathematical talents, but also thanks to the fact that he had always known what to say and to whom. Hilbert was not a person blabbering whatever he wanted. The public humiliation of professor Albert Einstein by professor David Hilbert was exceptional. A year later, Albert Einstein would become the chairman of the German Physicist Association (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft) after Max Planck. Similarly, such a brusque, condescending, and even brutal behavior towards a remarkable scientist was something highly unusual.

   In summer 1905, Hilbert had not known a thing about the electromagnetic theory. He had had to be helped by Herman Minkowski, who probably had been the factual author of „Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” published in Annalen der Physik in 1905 [2]. In 1915, the things were different. Hilbert immediately understood that Einstein’s problem was an issue pertaining to geometry, differential geometry even. Hilbert was an expert in the field, possibly the best in the world. Even earlier, Hilbert had been intrigued by time and space geometry and had read numerous articled by Gustav Mie on the theory of relativity. David Hilbert was perfectly prepared to tackle the subject Einstein presented. After humiliating Einstein, David Hilbert immediately started writing down a formula which is nowadays known as Einstein’s field equation. Hilbert quickly solved the problem Einstein had been struggling with for many years. It was the basic equation of the general theory of relativity. Einstein left Göttingen both angry and contempt. He was angry as he had been treated harshly and condescendingly, but was also happy because he finally had his equation. It was worth visiting Hilbert and the humiliation was not in vein. Thanks to that, he could finish his new theory, which would be later on called the General Theory of Relativity (GTR). However, Hilbert, after drawing proper conclusions from the experience, did not want to give Einstein the results of his works on a golden platter.

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