MessageToEagle.com - A new study reveals the contribution of a little known Austrian physicist,
Friedrich Hasenöhrl, to uncovering a precursor to Einstein famous equation.
Two American physicists outline the role played by Austrian physicist Friedrich Hasenöhrl in establishing
the proportionality between the energy (E) of a quantity of matter with its mass (m) in a cavity filled
In a paper about to be published in the European Physical Journal H, Stephen Boughn from
Haverford College in Pensylvannia and Tony Rothman from Princeton University in New Jersey argue how
Hasenöhrl's work, for which he now receives little credit, may have contributed to the famous equation E=mc2.
A new study reveals the contribution of a little known Austrian physicist, Friedrich
Hasenöhrl, to uncovering a precursor to Einstein famous equation.
According to science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, the nature of scientific progress occurs through paradigm
shifts, which depend on the cultural and historical circumstances of groups of scientists. Concurring with
this idea, the authors believe the notion that mass and energy should be related did not originate solely
Nor did it suddenly emerge in 1905, when Einstein published his paper, as popular mythology
would have it.
Given the lack of recognition for Hasenöhrl's contribution, the authors examined the Austrian physicist's
original work on blackbody radiation in a cavity with perfectly reflective walls.
This study seeks to identify the blackbody's mass changes when the cavity is moving relative to the observer.
They then explored the reason why the Austrian physicist arrived at an energy/mass correlation with the
wrong factor, namely at the equation: E = (3/8) mc2.
Hasenöhrl's error, they believe, stems from failing
to account for the mass lost by the blackbody while radiating.
Before Hasenöhrl focused on cavity radiation, other physicists, including French mathematician Henri
Poincaré and German physicist Max Abraham, showed the existence of an inertial mass associated with
In 1905, Einstein gave the correct relationship between inertial mass and electromagnetic energy, E=mc2.
Nevertheless, it was not until 1911 that German physicist Max von Laue generalised it to include all forms of energy.