Michel Janssen

Visiting Scholar (Jul 2019-Dec 2020)

PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota

Michel Janssen studied physics and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his PhD in 1995. After working at the Einstein Papers Project at Boston University for several years, he joined the Program in History of Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota in 2000. He has been a regular visitor of Department I ever since the institute opened its doors in 1994. He was part of the project on the history of general relativity that resulted in the publication of The Genesis of General Relativity (4 vols., 2007). Together with Christoph Lehner, former research scholar at the institute, he edited The Cambridge Companion to Einstein (2014). He was also part of a large joint project of the institute and the Fritz Haber Institute on the history of quantum physics (2006–2013). Together with physicist Tony Duncan of the University of Pittsburgh, he is currently working on a book on the genesis of quantum mechanics resulting from this project. More recently he has started working on the foundations of quantum mechanics. Like Jürgen Renn and Manfred Laubichler, he has developed a strong interest in applying ideas from evo-devo to theory change in science.


No current projects were found for this scholar.

The Genesis of General Relativity (Four-Volume Edition)


Selected Publications

Janssen, M., & Renn, J. (2019). Einsteins Weg zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie. In D. Elsässer (Ed.), Urknall, Sterne, Schwarze Löcher: Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft des Universums (pp. 161-172). Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-662…

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Janssen, M., & Renn, J. (2015). Arch and scaffold: how Einstein found his field equations. Physics Today, 68(11), 30-36. doi:10.1063/PT.3.2979.

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Janssen, M., & Renn, J. (2015). Von verbogenen Räumen und krummen Zeiten. Kultur & Technik, 4, 10-15.

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Janssen, M., & Renn, J. (2015). Einstein was no lone genius. Nature, 527(7578), 298-301. doi:10.1038/527298a.

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Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Putting Probabilities First. How Hilbert Space Generates and Constrains Them (with Michael Janas and Michael E. Cuffaro)

Viterbo, Italy. New Directions in the Foundations of Physics.

Einstein and the Genesis of General Relativity, 1907–1920 (with Jürgen Renn)

Black Hole Initiative, Cambridge, MA. Celebration of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project’s black-hole image.

Arches and Scaffoldings in the Construction of Relativity and Quantum Theory (five sessions)

Forum Scientiarum, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. Third International Interdisciplinary Summer School on History and Philosophy of Science.