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Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an
Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationality law * Something associated with the country Austria, for example: ** Austria-Hungary ** Austr ...
(
Moravia Moravia ( , also , ; cs, Morava ; german: link=no, Mähren ; pl, Morawy ; szl, Morawa; la, Moravia) is a historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a cult ...

Moravia
n born)
physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at leas ...

physicist
and
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mi ...

philosopher
, noted for his contributions to physics such as the study of
shock wave In physics, a shock wave (also spelled shockwave), or shock, is a type of propagating disturbance that moves faster than the local speed of sound The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit of time by a sound wave as it propagat ...
s. The ratio of one's speed to that of sound is named the
Mach number #REDIRECT Mach number#REDIRECT Mach number 300px, An F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed">vapor_cone.html" ;"title="F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone">F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed just before reachi ...
in his honour. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on
logical positivism Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of ...
and
American pragmatism Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that considers words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving, and action (philosophy), action, and rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, ...
. Through his criticism of
Newton Newton most commonly refers to: * Isaac Newton (1642–1726/1727), English scientist * Newton (unit), SI unit of force named after Isaac Newton Newton may also refer to: Arts and entertainment * Newton (film), ''Newton'' (film), a 2017 Indian fil ...

Newton
's theories of space and time, he foreshadowed
Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Einstein
's
theory of relativity The theory of relativity usually encompasses two interrelated theories by Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born , widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time ...
.


Biography

Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach was born in Chrlice (german: Chirlitz),
Moravia Moravia ( , also , ; cs, Morava ; german: link=no, Mähren ; pl, Morawy ; szl, Morawa; la, Moravia) is a historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a cult ...

Moravia
(then in the
Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was a Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It compr ...
, now part of
Brno Brno ( , ; german: Brünn, ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. ...

Brno
in the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
). His father, who had graduated from
Charles-Ferdinand University Charles University, known also as Charles University in Prague ( cs, Univerzita Karlova (UK); la, Universitas Carolina; german: Karls-Universität) or historically as the University of Prague ( la, Universitas Pragensis), is the oldest and large ...
in
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people ...

Prague
, acted as tutor to the noble Brethon family in
Zlín Zlín (in 1949–1989 Gottwaldov; ; german: Zlin) is a city in the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a countr ...

Zlín
in eastern Moravia. His grandfather, Wenzl Lanhaus, an administrator of the Chirlitz estate, was also master builder of the streets there. His activities in that field later influenced Ernst Mach's theoretical work. Some sources give Mach's birthplace as Tuřany (german: Turas, now also part of Brno), the site of the Chirlitz registry-office. It was there that Mach was baptised by Peregrin Weiss. Mach later became a
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...

socialist
and an
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psy ...

atheist
, but his theory and life was sometimes compared to
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
.
Heinrich GomperzHeinrich Gomperz (January 18, 1873 in Vienna en, Viennese , iso_code = AT-9 , registration_plate = Vehicle registration plates of Austria, W , postal_code_type = Postal code , postal_code ...
called Mach the "Buddha of Science" due to his
phenomenalist Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves, but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli (e.g. redness, hardness, softness, sweetness, etc.) situated in time and in space. In particular, ...
approach to the "Ego" in his ''Analysis of Sensations''. Up to the age of 14, Mach was educated at home by his parents. He then entered a
Gymnasium Gymnasium may refer to: *Gymnasium (ancient Greece), educational and sporting institution *Gymnasium (school), type of secondary school that prepares students for higher education **Gymnasium (Denmark) **Gymnasium (Germany) **Gymnasium UNT, high ...
in
Kroměříž Kroměříž (; german: Kremsier, pl, Kromieryż) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in di ...
(german: Kremsier), where he studied for three years. In 1855 he became a student at the
University of Vienna The University of Vienna (german: Universität Wien) is a public university, public research university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the Geograph ...
. There he studied
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
and for one semester medical physiology, receiving his doctorate in physics in 1860 under
Andreas von Ettingshausen Andreas Freiherr von Ettingshausen (25 November 1796 – 25 May 1878) was an Austrian mathematician and physicist. Biography Ettingshausen studied philosophy and jurisprudence at the University of Vienna. In 1817, he joined the University of Vien ...

Andreas von Ettingshausen
with a thesis titled ''Über elektrische Ladungen und Induktion'', and his
habilitation Habilitation is the procedure to achieve the highest university degree in many European countries in which the candidate fulfills certain criteria set by the university which require excellence in research, teaching, and further education. Its qu ...
the following year. His early work focused on the
Doppler effect The Doppler effect or Doppler shift (or simply Doppler, when in context) is the change in frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time A unit of time is any particular time Time is the ...

Doppler effect
in
optics Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually describes t ...

optics
and
acoustics Acoustics is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other wo ...
. In 1864, he took a job as professor of mathematics at the
University of Graz The University of Graz (german: Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz), located in Graz Graz ( , ; sl, Gradec) is the capital city of the n state of and in Austria after . As of 1 January 2021, it had a population of 331,562 (294,236 of whom ha ...

University of Graz
, having turned down the position of a chair in surgery at the
University of Salzburg The University of Salzburg (german: Universität Salzburg), also known as the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (''Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg'', PLUS), is an Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republi ...
to do so, and in 1866 he was appointed professor of physics. During that period, Mach continued his work in psycho-physics and in sensory perception. In 1867, he took the chair of experimental physics at the Charles-Ferdinand University, where he stayed for 28 years before returning to Vienna. Mach's main contribution to physics involved his description and photographs of spark shock-waves and then ballistic shock-waves. He described how when a bullet or shell moved faster than the speed of sound, it created a compression of air in front of it. Using
schlieren photography Schlieren photography (from German; singular: ''Schliere'', meaning "streak") is a visual process that is used to photograph the flow of fluids of varying density. Invented by the Germans, German physicist August Toepler in 1864 to study supersoni ...

schlieren photography
, he and his son Ludwig photographed the shadows of the invisible shock waves. During the early 1890s Ludwig invented an interferometer that allowed for much clearer photographs. But Mach also made many contributions to psychology and physiology, including his anticipation of
gestalt ''Gestalt'', a German word for form or shape, may refer to: * Holism, the idea that natural systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as loose collections of parts Psychology * Gestalt psychology (also known as "Gestalt theory" ...
phenomena, his discovery of the oblique effect and of
Mach bands Mach bands is an optical illusion named after the physicist Ernst Mach Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philoso ...

Mach bands
, an inhibition-influenced type of visual illusion, and especially his discovery of a non-acoustic function of the inner ear that helps control human balance. One of the best-known of Mach's ideas is the so-called " Mach principle", concerning the physical origin of inertia. This was never written down by Mach, but was given a graphic verbal form, attributed by
Philipp Frank Philipp Frank (March 20, 1884, Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's Li ...
to Mach himself, as, "When the subway jerks, it's the fixed stars that throw you down." Mach also became well known for his philosophy, developed in close interplay with his science. Mach defended a type of
phenomenalism Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves, but only as perceptual phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical ...
recognizing only sensations as real. This position seemed incompatible with the view of atoms and molecules as external, mind-independent things. He famously declared, after an 1897 lecture by
Ludwig Boltzmann Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (; 20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906) was an Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East ...
at the Imperial Academy of Science in
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
: "I don't believe that atoms exist!" From about 1908 to 1911,
Max Planck Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, (; ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a Germans, German theoretical physicist whose discovery of quantum mechanics, energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many substantial co ...

Max Planck
criticized Mach's reluctance to acknowledge the reality of atoms as incompatible with physics. Einstein's that the statistical fluctuations of atoms allowed measurement of their existence without direct individuated sensory evidence marked a turning point in the acceptance of
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the that has been and verified in accordance with the , using accepted of , measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are ...
. Some of Mach's criticisms of Newton's position on space and time influenced Einstein, but later Einstein realized that Mach was basically opposed to Newton's philosophy and concluded that his physical criticism was not sound. In 1898 Mach survived a cardiac arrest, and in 1901 he retired from the University of Vienna and was appointed to the upper chamber of the Austrian parliament. On leaving Vienna in 1913, he moved to his son's home in Vaterstetten, near
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by population, third-largest city in Germany, ...

Munich
, where he continued writing and corresponding until his death in 1916, one day after his 78th birthday.


Physics

Most of Mach's initial studies in experimental physics concentrated on the
interference Interference is the act of interfering, invading, or poaching. Interference may also refer to: Communications * Interference (communication), anything which alters, modifies, or disrupts a message * Adjacent-channel interference, caused by extran ...
,
diffraction Diffraction refers to various phenomena that occur when a wave In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which r ...

diffraction
,
polarization Polarization or polarisation may refer to: In the physical sciences *Polarization (waves), the ability of waves to oscillate in more than one direction, in particular polarization of light, responsible for example for the glare-reducing effect of ...
and
refraction In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

refraction
of light in different media under external influences. From there followed explorations in
supersonic Supersonic speed is the speed of an object that exceeds the speed of sound The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit of time by a sound wave as it propagates through an elasticity (solid mechanics), elastic medium. At , the spe ...

supersonic
fluid mechanics. Mach and physicist-photographer presented their paper on this subject in 1887; it correctly describes the sound effects observed during the supersonic motion of a
projectile A projectile is a missile propelled by the exertion of a force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e ...

projectile
. They deduced and experimentally confirmed the existence of a
shock wave In physics, a shock wave (also spelled shockwave), or shock, is a type of propagating disturbance that moves faster than the local speed of sound The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit of time by a sound wave as it propagat ...
of conical shape, with the projectile at the apex. The ratio of the speed of a fluid to the local
speed of sound The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit of time by a sound wave as it propagates through an elasticity (solid mechanics), elastic medium. At , the speed of sound in air is about , or one kilometre in or one mile in . It depends s ...
''vp''/''vs'' is now called the
Mach number #REDIRECT Mach number#REDIRECT Mach number 300px, An F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed">vapor_cone.html" ;"title="F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone">F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed just before reachi ...
. It is a critical parameter in the description of high-speed fluid movement in
aerodynamics Aerodynamics, from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...
and
hydrodynamics In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...
. Mach also contributed to
cosmology Cosmology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
the hypothesis known as
Mach's principle In theoretical physics, particularly in discussions of gravitation theories, Mach's principle (or Mach's conjecture) is the name given by Einstein to an imprecise hypothesis often credited to the physicist A physicist is a scientist A sc ...
.


Philosophy of science


Empirio-criticism

From 1895 to 1901, Mach held a newly created chair for "the history and philosophy of the inductive sciences" at the University of Vienna. In his historico-philosophical studies, Mach developed a phenomenalistic
philosophy of science Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methodology, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern Demarcation problem, what qualifies as science, the reliability of s ...
that became influential in the 19th and 20th centuries. He originally saw scientific laws as summaries of experimental events, constructed for the purpose of making complex data comprehensible, but later emphasized mathematical functions as a more useful way to describe sensory appearances. Thus scientific laws while somewhat idealized have more to do with describing sensations than with reality as it exists beyond sensations. Mach's positivism also influenced many Russian
Marxist Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies soci ...
s, such as
Alexander Bogdanov Alexander Aleksandrovich Bogdanov (russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Богда́нов; – 7 April 1928), born Alexander Malinovsky, was a Russian and later Soviet Union, Soviet physician, philosopher, science fiction w ...

Alexander Bogdanov
. In 1908,
Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of th ...

Lenin
wrote a philosophical work, ''
Materialism and Empirio-criticism ''Materialism and Empirio-criticism'' (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Ro ...
'', in which he criticized Machism and the views of " Russian Machists". His main criticisms were that Mach's philosophy led to solipsism and to the absurd conclusion that nature did not exist before humans: Empirio-criticism is the term for the rigorously positivist and radically
empiricist In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, ...
philosophy established by the German philosopher
Richard Avenarius Richard Ludwig Heinrich Avenarius (19 November 1843 – 18 August 1896) was a Germany, German-Switzerland, Swiss philosopher. He formulated the radical positivist doctrine of "Empiricism, empirical Critical philosophy, criticism" or empirio-critici ...
and further developed by Mach, which claims that all we can know is our sensations and that knowledge should be confined to pure experience. In accordance with empirio-critical philosophy, Mach opposed
Ludwig Boltzmann Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (; 20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906) was an Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East ...
and others who proposed an
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the that has been and verified in accordance with the , using accepted of , measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are ...
of physics. Since one cannot observe things as small as atoms directly, and since no atomic model at the time was consistent, the atomic hypothesis seemed unwarranted to Mach, and perhaps not sufficiently "economical". Mach had a direct influence on the
Vienna Circle The Vienna Circle (german: Wiener Kreis) of Logical Empiricism Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to ...
philosophers and
logical positivism Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of ...
in general. To Mach are attributed a number of principles that distill his ideal of physical theorisation—what is now called "Machian physics": # It should be based entirely on directly observable phenomena (in line with his positivistic leanings) # It should completely eschew
absolute space and time Absolute space and time is a concept in physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the re ...
in favor of
relative motion The ''relative velocity'' \vec_ (also \vec_ or \vec_) is the velocity of an object or observer B in the rest frame of another object or observer A. Classical mechanics In one dimension (non-relativistic) We begin with relative motion in the cla ...

relative motion
# Any phenomena that seem attributable to absolute space and time (e.g.,
inertia Inertia is the resistance of any physical object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** Entity, something that is tangible and within the grasp of the senses ** Object (abstract), an o ...

inertia
and
centrifugal force In Newtonian mechanics, the centrifugal force is an inertial force A fictitious force (also called a pseudo force, d'Alembert force, or inertial force) is a force that appears to act on a mass whose motion is described using a non-inertial ref ...
) should instead be seen as emerging from the distribution of matter in the universe. The last is singled out, particularly by Einstein, as "the"
Mach's principle In theoretical physics, particularly in discussions of gravitation theories, Mach's principle (or Mach's conjecture) is the name given by Einstein to an imprecise hypothesis often credited to the physicist A physicist is a scientist A sc ...
. Einstein cited it as one of the three principles underlying
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
. In 1930, he wrote, "it is justified to consider Mach as the precursor of the general theory of relativity", though Mach, before his death, apparently rejected Einstein's theory. Einstein was aware that his theories did not fulfill all Mach's principles, and no subsequent theory has either, despite considerable effort.


Phenomenological constructivism

According to Alexander Riegler, Mach's work was a precursor to the influential perspective known as
constructivism Constructivism may refer to: Art and architecture * Constructivism (art), an early 20th-century artistic movement that extols art as a practice for social purposes * Constructivist architecture, an architectural movement in Russia in the 1920s an ...
. Constructivism holds that all knowledge is constructed rather than received by the learner. He took an exceptionally non-dualist, phenomenological position. The founder of radical constructivism, von Glasersfeld, gave a nod to Mach as an ally.


Physiology

In 1873, independently of each other, Mach and the physiologist and physician
Josef Breuer Josef Breuer (; 15 January 1842 – 20 June 1925) was a distinguished physician A physician (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of ...
discovered how the
sense of balance The sense of balance or equilibrioception is the perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication ...
(i.e., the perception of the head's imbalance) functions, tracing its management by information the brain receives from the movement of a fluid in the
semicircular canal The semicircular canals or semicircular ducts are three semicircular In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space ...
s of the
inner ear The inner ear (internal ear, auris interna) is the innermost part of the vertebrate ear The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts—the outer ear T ...
. That the sense of balance depends on the three semicircular canals was discovered in 1870 by the physiologist
Friedrich GoltzImage:Goltz.jpg, Friedrich Goltz (1834-1902) Friedrich Leopold Goltz (14 August 1834 – 5 May 1902) was a German physiologist and nephew of the writer Bogumil Goltz. Born in Poznań, Posen (Poznań), Grand Duchy of Posen, he studied medicine at the ...
, but Goltz did not discover how the balance-sensing apparatus functions. Mach devised a swivel chair to test his theories, and Floyd Ratliff has suggested that this experiment may have paved the way to Mach's critique of a physical conception of absolute space and motion.


Psychology

In the area of sensory perception, psychologists remember Mach for the
optical illusion Within visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, scotopic vision (night vision), and mesopic vision (tw ...

optical illusion
called
Mach bands Mach bands is an optical illusion named after the physicist Ernst Mach Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philoso ...

Mach bands
. The effect exaggerates the contrast between edges of the slightly differing shades of gray as soon as they touch, by triggering edge-detection in the human visual system. More clearly than anyone before or since, Mach made the distinction between what he called ''physiological'' (specifically
visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex network which connects several biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales and are determined b ...
) and ''geometrical'' spaces. Mach's views on mediating structures inspired
B. F. Skinner Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by exper ...
's strongly inductive position, which paralleled Mach's in the field of psychology.


Eponyms

In homage his name was given to: * Mach, a lunar crater *
Mach bands Mach bands is an optical illusion named after the physicist Ernst Mach Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philoso ...

Mach bands
, an optical illusion * 3949 Mach, an asteroid *
Mach number #REDIRECT Mach number#REDIRECT Mach number 300px, An F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed">vapor_cone.html" ;"title="F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone">F/A-18 Hornet creating a vapor cone at transonic speed just before reachi ...
, the unit for speed relative to the speed of sound


Bibliography

* * * * * Mach's principal works in English: * * with Peter Slacher * * ''Popular Scientific Lectures'' (1895)
Revised & enlarged 3rd edition (1898)
* with S.J.B. Sugden
''History and Root of the Principle of the Conservation of Energy''
(1911) * ''The Principles of Physical Optic''s (1926) * ''Knowledge and Error'' (1976) * ''Principles of the Theory of Heat'' (1986) * ''Fundamentals of the Theory of Movement Perception'' (2001)


See also

* Energeticism * Mach disk *
Mach bands Mach bands is an optical illusion named after the physicist Ernst Mach Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philoso ...

Mach bands
*
Mach's principle In theoretical physics, particularly in discussions of gravitation theories, Mach's principle (or Mach's conjecture) is the name given by Einstein to an imprecise hypothesis often credited to the physicist A physicist is a scientist A sc ...
* Mach reflection * Mach–Zehnder interferometer * Stereokinetic stimulus * Visual space


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Erik C. Banks: ''Ernst Mach's World Elements. A Study in Natural Philosophy''. Dordrecht: Kluwer (now Springer), 2013. * John Blackmore and Klaus Hentschel (eds.): ''Ernst Mach als Außenseiter''. Vienna: Braumüller, 1985 (with select correspondence). * * John T. Blackmore, Ryoichi Itagaki and Setsuko Tanaka (eds.): ''Ernst Mach's Science''. Kanagawa: Tokai University Press, 2006. * John T. Blackmore, Ryoichi Itagaki and Setsuko Tanaka: ''Ernst Mach's Influence Spreads''. Bethesda: Sentinel Open Press, 2009. * John T. Blackmore, Ryoichi Itagaki and Setsuko Tanaka: ''Ernst Mach's Graz (1864–1867), where much science and philosophy were developed''. Bethesda: Sentinel Open Press, 2010. * John T. Blackmore: ''Ernst Mach's Prague 1867–1895 as a human adventure'', Bethesda: Sentinel Open Press, 2010. * * * * * * {{citation, editor1-first=V. , editor1-last=Prosser , editor2-first=J., editor2-last= Folta , title=Ernst Mach and the development of Physics – Conference Papers, location= Prague, publisher= Universitas Carolina Pragensis, date= 1991 * {{citation, first=Joachim , last=Thiele, title=Wissenschaftliche Kommunikation – Die Korrespondenz Ernst Machs, lang=de, location=Kastellaun, publisher= Hain, date= 1978 (with select correspondence). {{refend


External links

{{Commons {{Wikiquote {{EB1911 poster, Mach, Ernst {{wikiquote, The Science of Mechanics
Ernst Mach bibliography of all of his papers and books from 1860 to 1916
compiled by Vienna lecturer Dr. Peter Mahr in 2016
Various Ernst Mach links
compiled by Greg C Elvers * Klaus Hentschel: Mach, Ernst, in
''Neue Deutsche Biographie'' 15 (1987), pp. 605–609.
* {{Gutenberg author , id=Mach,+Ernst , name=Ernst Mach * {{Internet Archive author , sname=Ernst Mach * {{Librivox author , id=10401 * {{cite SEP , url-id=ernst-mach , title=Ernst Mach , last=Pojman , first=Paul , author-link=Paul Pojman
Short biography and bibliography
in the Virtual Laboratory of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Ernst Mach: ''The Analysis of Sensations'' (1897)
[translation of ''Beiträge zur Analyse der Empfindungen'' (1886)] * {{MathGenealogy , id=113010
"The critical positivism of Mach and Avenarius"
entry in the ''Britannica Online Encyclopedia'' {{Positivism {{Authority control {{DEFAULTSORT:Mach, Ernst 1838 births 1916 deaths 19th-century Austrian writers 19th-century Austrian philosophers 19th-century Czech philosophers 20th-century Austrian writers 20th-century Austrian philosophers 19th-century Austrian physicists Austrian atheists Austrian people of Moravian-German descent Austrian socialists Ballistics experts Charles University faculty Empiricists Experimental physicists Fluid dynamicists Historians of science Optical physicists People from the Margraviate of Moravia Philosophers of science Positivists Scientists from Brno