Report

Belated Decision in the Hilbert-Einstein Priority Dispute

Science  14 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5341, pp. 1270-1273
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5341.1270

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Abstract

According to the commonly accepted view, David Hilbert completed the general theory of relativity at least 5 days before Albert Einstein submitted his conclusive paper on this theory on 25 November 1915. Hilbert's article, bearing the date of submission 20 November 1915 but published only on 31 March 1916, presents a generally covariant theory of gravitation, including field equations essentially equivalent to those in Einstein's paper. A close analysis of archival material reveals that Hilbert did not anticipate Einstein. The first set of proofs of Hilbert's paper shows that the theory he originally submitted is not generally covariant and does not include the explicit form of the field equations of general relativity.

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