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Hans Reichenbach

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...the mathematician uses an indirect definition of congruence, making use of the fact that the axiom of parallels together with an additional condition can replace the definition of congruence.

 
Hans Reichenbach

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Perceptual space is not a special space in addition to physical space, but physical space which we endow with a special subjective metric. ...apart from the definition of congruence in physics and that based on perception, there is no third one derived from pure visualization. Any such third definition is nothing but the definition of physical congruence to which our normative function has adjusted the subjective experience of congruence.

 
Hans Reichenbach
 

Once a definition of congruence is given, the choice of geometry is no longer in our hands; rather, the geometry is now an empirical fact.

 
Hans Reichenbach
 

If the definition of simultaneity is given from a moving system, the spherical surface will result when Einstein's definition with ? = 1/2 is used, since it is this definition which makes the velocity of light equal in all directions.

 
Hans Reichenbach
 

It is remarkable that this generalization of plane geometry to surface geometry is identical with that generalization of geometry which originated from the analysis of the axiom of parallels. ...the construction of non-Euclidean geometries could have been equally well based upon the elimination of other axioms. It was perhaps due to an intuitive feeling for theoretical fruitfulness that the criticism always centered around the axiom of parallels. For in this way the axiomatic basis was created for that extension of geometry in which the metric appears as an independent variable. Once the significance of the metric as the characteristic feature of the plane has been recognized from the viewpoint of Gauss' plane theory, it is easy to point out, conversely, its connection with the axiom of parallels. The property of the straight line as being the shortest connection between two points can be transferred to curved surfaces, and leads to the concept of straightest line; on the surface of the sphere the great circles play the role of the shortest line of connection... analogous to that of the straight line on the plane. Yet while the great circles as "straight lines" share the most important property with those of the plane, they are distinct from the latter with respect to the axiom of the parallels: all great circles of the sphere intersect and therefore there are no parallels among these "straight lines". ...If this idea is carried through, and all axioms are formulated on the understanding that by "straight lines" are meant the great circles of the sphere and by "plane" is meant the surface of the sphere, it turns out that this system of elements satisfies the system of axioms within two dimensions which is nearly identical in all of it statements with the axiomatic system of Euclidean geometry; the only exception is the formulation of the axiom of the parallels. The geometry of the spherical surface can be viewed as the realization of a two-dimensional non-Euclidean geometry: the denial of the axiom of the parallels singles out that generalization of geometry which occurs in the transition from the plane to the curve surface.

 
Hans Reichenbach
 

...the famous assertion by Einstein that the length of a rod depends on its velocity and on the chosen definition of simultaneity. ...is based on the fact that we do not measure the length of the rod, but its projection on a system at rest. How the length of the projection depends on the choice of simultaneity can be illustrated by reference to a photograph taken through a focal-plane shutter. Such a shutter... consists of a wide band with a horizontal slit, which slides down vertically. Different bands are photographed successively on the film. Moving objects are therefore strangely distorted; the wheels of a rapidly moving car for instance, appear to be slanted. The shape of the objects in the picture will evidently depend on the speed of the shutter. Similarly, the length of the moving segment depends on the definition of simultaneity. One definition of simultaneity differs from another because events that are simultaneous for one definition occur successively for another. What may be a simultaneity projection of a moving segment for one definition is a "focal-plane shutter photograph" for another.

 
Hans Reichenbach
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