Hermann Minkowski

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Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909) was a German/Jewish mathematician who developed the mathematical foundation for a space-time continuum in the theory of relativity.

By 1907, Minkowski appreciated that the work of Hendrik Lorentz and Henri Poincaré on special relativity was best described in a non-euclidean space. Minkowski considered that space and time, thought to be independent by almost everyone before Lorentz's 1895 theory, were actually coupled together in a four-dimensional "space-time continuum." Minkowski also developed a four-dimensional treatment of electrodynamics. His major papers were Raum und Zeit (1907) and Zwei Abhandlungen über die Grundgleichungen der Elektrodynamik (1909).

Minkowski died prematurely of a ruptured appendix. Albert Einstein criticized Minkowski's idea that time was the fourth dimension, but eventually accepted it and took credit for it. Today Einstein is often falsely credited with discovering that time is the fourth dimension.