A heuristic resolution of the Abraham–Minkowski controversy
School of Aeronautic Science and Engineering, Beihang University, 100191, Beijing, China
Accepted: 4 May 2021
Published online: 11 May 2021
This paper reviews the history and origin of the Abraham–Minkowski controversy and points out that it is a continuation of the controversy over the speed of light in medium. Upon considering an aircraft flying at a constant speed along the great-circle route from the perspective of a geosynchronous space station, we show that the A–M controversy arises from non-local observation. The relative motion refractive index and the gravitational field refractive index are defined by the space–time metric tensor, which reveals the A–M controversy hidden in special and general relativity. As another example, we take light propagating over the surface of the sun and show that Minkowski and Abraham forces are responsible for the gravitational deflection of light and the Shapiro time delay, respectively. Overall, we heuristically conclude that non-local observation is the cause of the A–M controversy.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021