In meinem Beitrag Dokumentarfilm-Projekt: ‚Einstein Wrong‘ vom 12.April 2009 nannte ich David de Hilster als Kontaktperson.

Der Informationsaustausch mit Hilster hat sich schon seit einiger Zeit sehr positiv entwickelt. So schrieb zum Beispiel Dr. Walter Rella von der Gesellschaft zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Physik e.V. (GFWP) in einer E-Mail vom 5. April 2009 an Hilster mit dem Betreff: „Translation Paul Gerber, Annalen der Physik, Vol. 52, 415 – 444 (1917)“ (Zitat): 

„Dear David deHilster, 
I wished to post the just finished translation below of Paul Gerbers paper to my profile and/or to the NPA database.
Would you please be kind enough to do that, because I was unable. 
Thank you so much! Best regards.
Walter Rella“ 

Und schon am gleichen Tage antwortete David de Hilster mit E-Mail wie folgt (Zitat): 

Great!  Many people will be interested in this.
Here is Paul Gerber’s profile and your translation of his paper: 

Nachstehend bringe ich einen Auszug aus dieser Arbeit:


Paul Gerber, „Die Fortpflanzungsgeschwindigkeit der Gravitation,“ Annalen der Physik, Vol. 52, S. 415 – 444 (1917).

Translated from German by Walter Rella

By Paul Gerber
† 1)

In volume 43 of the J. for Math. & Phys. (Zeitschrift f. Mathematik und Physik), pp 93-104, I have shown: If it is assumed that the hitherto unexplained advance by 41“ per century of Mercury’s perihelion is caused by the delay of time spent for the spatial propagation of gravity, it follows that this value equals the velocity of light, of thermal radiation and of electric waves. Attention has to be paid to what can, on the one hand, really be proven by computation and observation and what, on the other hand, is presumed in the first place without any proof. If the gravity between two masses is transmitted from the first body to the second and back again with some lag of time, one finds that this necessarily gives rise to an advance of the planets perihelion. It is, however, impossible to prove that the actual value of the perihelions advance, although it could not be deduced from disturbances of any type, could not have another origin than the presumed time lag. If this presumed origin gave a value for the propagation velocity of gravity different from the velocity of light, this would have no further meaning. Just the coincidence of both velocities vindicates this presumption and, hence, the notion of a finite propagation velocity of gravity. 

This coincidence, yet, is not only the new but also the unexpected result of my derivation. Because, although it was believed, from the beginning, that the velocity of gravity would reveal itself equal to the velocity of light, measurements carried out previously have yielded a much higher value. It even seemed as if there was no time lag at all, when two masses came to attract each other. Already, in the fourth edition of his famous treatise on the development of the mechanic, M a c h drew attention to the conflicting results between my inquiry and older ones. What is the reason why this result was now obtained, which had been considered unlikely for so long? In my previous treatise I sketched the answer superficially in order to avoid extensive methodological and similar discussions. One would however comply with me that a more detailed account on this point should be given. 

The following must be born in mind. Having obtained so different results for the speed of gravity by different inquiries, differences amounting to between three fifth to ten millions of the speed of light, it must be suspected that this was not due to the kind of computation or to the choice of observations but rather to the underlying assumptions giving rise to these large differences. This will be confirmed in the following. It would be premature in any case to assign, as it happens, astronomical reliability to these results. My inquiry has shown that certain notions concerning the time lag during the propagation of gravity will lead to the value of the speed of light. Therefore, the question is not if the speed of gravity manifests itself in the motions of the planets or the revolution of the moon or any other cosmic process, but, instead, to what extent fundamental ideas can be developed and substantiated concerning the question what propagates between masses, which are the parameters influenced thereby and of which type and size this particular influence is. As will be shown, older methods do not meet these challenges. I refrain, for the main, from reiterating topics of my former treatise but will rather engage in critical and historical aspects of the fundamental questions which, intentionally, have been dealt with only shortly or passed over at all so far. 

1) This work of Gerber has been published as a programmatic treatise of the municipal high school at Stargard, Pommern (1902), having appeared formerly as an abstract in the Journal of Mathematics and Physics, Vol. 43, 93-104 (1898). The reprint of this programmatic treatise in the Annals meets a desideratum advanced to me from various sides on occasion of my article in these Annals, Vol. 51: 119 – 124 (1916).
E. Gehrcke 


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