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Albert Einstein and Hendrik Lorentz in 1921 in Leiden

This timeline describes the major developments, both experimental and theoretical, of:

This list also mentions the origins of standard notation (like c) and terminology (like theory of relavity).

Criteria for inclusion

Task Force One, the world's first nuclear-powered task force. Enterprise, Long Beach and Bainbridge in formation in the Mediterranean, 18 June 1964. Enterprise crew members are spelling out Einstein's mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 on the flight deck.

Theories other than SR are not described here exhaustively, but only to the extent that is directly relevant to SR – i.e. at points when they:

For a more detailed timeline of aether theories – e.g. their emergence with the wave theory of light – see a separate article. Also, not all experiments are listed here – repetitions, even with much higher precision than the original, are mentioned only if they influence or challenge the opinions at their time. It was the case with:

For lists of repetitions, see the articles of particular experiments. The measurements of speed of light are also mentioned only to the minimum extent, i.e. when they proved for the first time that c is finite and invariant. Innovations like the use of Foucault's rotating mirror or the Fizeau wheel are not listed here – see the article about speed of light.

This timeline also ignores, for reasons of volume and clarity:

Before the 19th century

A redrawn version of the illustration from the 1676 news report. Rømer compared the apparent duration of Io's orbits as Earth moved towards Jupiter (F to G) and as Earth moved away from Jupiter (L to K).

19th century

Before 1880s

1880s

Michelson and Morley's interferometric setup, mounted on a stone slab that floats in an annular trough of mercury

1890s

20th century

Hermann Minkowski, who introduced the spacetime formalism to special relativity in 1908.

1900s

1910s

Schematic representation of a Sagnac interferometer.

1920s and 1930s

After 1930s

21st century

See also

References

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Further reading