Special Relativity as a Step in the Development of the Quantum Programme: Revolution in a Revolution



Einstein's three papers of 1905 (including special relativity) were parts of a single research programme concerned with the unification of Newtonian mechanics and Maxwellian electrodynamics. Lorentz tried to solve the unification problem by a reduction of mechanics to electrodynamics. The failure of his ether programme is due to the failure of attempts to build an electromagnetic field-theoretical model of the electron. There were no such things as two independent scientific revolutions - quantum and relativistic - at the beginning of the 20th century. There was only one revolution caused by a clash between the classical theories: mechanics (including statistical mechanics), electrodynamics and thermodynamics.