Michel Janssen

Visiting Scholar (Dec 2019-Nov 2022)

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 School of Physics and Astronomy 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).

Michel Janssen is working with Jürgen Renn and other scholars at the institute on four projects, all tied together by the fourth. 1. Preparing a source book on how Einstein found his field equations to be published with Springer in 2021. 2. Preparing (with Tony Duncan of the University of Pittsburgh) the second volume of a new book on the genesis of quantum mechanics. 3. Examining the current debate over the interpretation of quantum mechanics from a genealogical perspective. 4. Exploring the possibility of applying insights from the approach to evolutionary biology known as evodevo to cultural evolution, especially to the evolution of scientific knowledge.

Selected Publications

Duncan, Anthony and Michel Janssen (2022). “Quantization Conditions, 1900–1927.” In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Quantum Interpretations, ed. O. Freire Jr, G. Bacciagaluppi, O. Darrigol, T. Hartz, C. Joas, A. Kojevnikov, and O. Pessoa Jr,…

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Janas, Michael, Michael E. Cuffaro, and Michel Janssen (2022). Understanding Quantum Raffles: Quantum Mechanics on an Informational Approach: Structure and Interpretation. Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science 340. Cham: Springer…

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Janssen, Michel and Jürgen Renn (2022). How Einstein Found His Field Equations: Sources and Interpretation. Classic Texts in the Sciences. Cham: Birkhäuser.

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Janssen, Michel and Jürgen Renn (2021). “Einstein and the Perihelion Motion of Mercury: Excerpts from ‘How Einstein Found His Field Equations. Sources and Interpretation’ (Forthcoming).” (unpublished manuscript) arXiv [physics].…

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Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Drawing the Line Between Kinematics and Dynamics in Special Relativity and in Quantum Mechanics

Quantum Workshop, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

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.

News & Press

Visiting Scholar Michel Janssen for BBC Radio on the auction of the Einstein-Besso manuscript