Ernst Mach's Contributions to Science & Philosophy

Timeline created by dallas.webber
  • Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach

    Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach
    Ernst Mach was born on February 18, 1838. Mach was an Austrian born physicist and philosopher. In physics he is noted for his work in supersonic fluid mechanics correctly describing the sound effects of supersonic motion of a projectile and deducing and experimentally proving the existence of a shock wave. As a philosopher he had major influences on logical positivism and his views are still considered key in the philosophy of science.
  • Gestalt theory

    Gestalt theory
    Mach is a founder of Gestalt theory which emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. The ground work for this theory was outlined in his work originally published in 1886: "The Analysis of Sensations" Mach, Ernst, and Andrew Pyle. The Analysis of Sensations. Routledge-Thoemmes Press, 1996.
  • Mach Number

    Mach Number
    Mach developed the principles of supersonics and the Mach number, which is one of if not the most known works to come from him. The Mach number is the ratio of the velocity of an object to the velocity of sound. Mach 1.0 would be equal to the speed of sound, commonly referred to as the sound barrier or Mach speed.
    Watch the video below to see an F-18 reaching Mach 1 and demonstrating Mach's views towards certainty through sensations.
  • The Science of Mechanics

    One of the most important works by Mach published in 1893 was "The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of Its Development" which details fundamentals of mechanics, as well as gives insight into his scientific reasoning process. Mach, Ernst. The Science of Mechanics: a Critical Account of Its Development. Open Court, 1974.
  • Phenomenalism

    Mach is well known in philosophy for phenomenalism which was the anti-realistic stance holding that only sensations are real. He was even reluctant to acknowledge the reality of atoms. Mach contributed to the philosophy of science through his beliefs that sensations can give us certainty and thus scientific knowledge can be built up on a foundation of certainty through sensations.
  • Life & Death of Mach

    In 1867 Mach became a professor of inductive physics at Charles University in Prague, then in 1895 became a professor of inductive philosophy at the University of Vienna. In 1897 Mach suffered a stroke leaving the right side of his body paralyzed and in 1901 he retired from active research and as a professor, then was appointed to the Austrian parliament. He died on February 19, 1916 in Haar, Germany
  • Mach's Legacy

    Mach's Legacy
    The Vienna Circle was a group of philosophers and scientists who met regularly from 1924-1936. Their meetings had an immense influence on the philosophy of science. Although Mach was dead, his influences in physics and the philosophy of science even lead the group to originally call itself "Verein Ernst Mach" which translates to the Ernst Mach Society. Albert Einstein even credits Mach's Principle as one of the three principles underlying his theory of general relativity.