Education:

PhD in Theoretical Physics (1997, Concordia U., Montreal)
PhD in Philosophy of Physics (1988, Bulg. Acad. Sci.)
MSc in Physics (1980, University of Sofia)


Research interests:

Foundations of Physics
(i) nature of inertia and gravitational phenomena, more specifically: Is gravity a physical interaction (i.e., Can gravity be quantized?) and How does mass-energy (or, more precisely, what is described by the stress-energy tensor) change the geometry of spacetime? (the major open question in gravitational physics, which might turn out to sound differently - Is what is described by the stress-energy tensor a specific state of spacetime?)
(ii) foundations of spacetime physics (sometimes still misleadingly called special and general relativity)
(iii) propagation of light in non-inertial reference frames and physics in non-inertial reference frames (observing and measuring physical phenomena on the Earth's surface is physics in a non-inertial reference frame)
(iv) foundations of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory

Philosophy of Science
(i) nature and ontology of spacetime
(ii) nature of time and specifically the nature of what we perceive as flow of time
(iii) conceptual and philosophical issues of spacetime physics and quantum physics
(iv) growth and reliability of scientific knowledge and confirmation of scientific theories (there is no expiration date for scientific theories in the domain where their predictions have been experimentally confirmed)
(v) the most counterintuitive and provoking implications of spacetime such as free will and the nature of consciousness (for years I have been avoiding them and only recently "went public", because (i) I thought it was scientifically and intellectually dishonest to talk about a real spacetime, but to avoid discussing its most counterintuitive and really provoking implications, and (ii) to make it as clear as possible that the irrational and stubborn reaction to those implications - this cannot be because it cannot be - is neither science nor common sense).


Professional activities:

One of the founders and current director of the Institute for Foundational Studies "Hermann Minkowski"

On the Editorial Board of two Springer book series Fundamental Theories of Physics and Springer Briefs in Physics

On the International Advisory Board of the Bulgarian journal Philosophical Alternatives

Member of the Governing Board of the International Society for the Advanced Study of Spacetime and spokesperson for the Society

Primary organizer of two biennial international conferences: International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime and Hermann Minkowski Meetings on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics

Organizer of the Montreal Inter-University Seminar on the History and Philosophy of Science (started in January 2002)


Association Memberships and Honours:

Canadian Association of Physicists
American Physical Society
Philosophy of Science Association
Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science
Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship
National Association of Scholars
Canadian Civil Liberties Association

5 November 2005 - the Golden Key "for excellence in teaching and for raising the international reputation of Concordia University" from the Golden Key International Honor Society; nominated by Concordia's students.


Personal and Miscellaneous:

4 July 2024 - Found by chance - Le Journal de Montréal of 25 September 1990

18 May 2023 - My attempts to recover the butterfly that I used to swim in my student years continue, but are still quite unsuccessful with only a slight improvement

17 December 2022 - When in class you explain (i) how two hypothetical research teams - traditional and radical - could deal with an open question in physics and (ii) that the ultimate judge in physics is experiment, perhaps the best indication for proper understanding of the course material is when students bring two T-shirts at the end of the semester.

14 July 2022 - Svetla and I relaxing after a busy day

30 December 2021 - Svetla and I - 40 years together

My answers to questions at

6 December 2020 - December 6th is still a special day for me

9-14 June 2017 - 5-day (deserved) vacation in an amazing SPA hotel in Bulgaria

31 January 2017 - Additional motivation to find (somehow) time to complete the undergraduate physics textbook Introduction to Spacetime Physics.

14-28 January 2017 - Svetla and I took a break from the cold Montreal winter

30 December 2016 - Svetla and I - 35 years together

29 October 2016 - The effects that people believe are caused by what appears to be a passage of time are quite tangible: Svetla and I (who argues that time does not flow) became grandparents. Unbelievable!

Can the Block Universe view be disproved?

What I like to do most - to share what I know

Personal (Svetla's and my) verification of the old recipe for (i) a healthy spirit in a healthy body and (ii) living, studying and working better and more

19 November 2015 - My address (from Montreal) to the first meeting of the Bulgarian Philosophical Society

How some students see me...

Philosophy of Science T-shirts

For curious minds: Should we still trust our eyes that the world is three-dimensional?

Just wondering about the origin of a "definition" of Philosophy and a joke about it.

An abandoned idea to organize a winter school (workshop) on the foundations of science in Club Karey, Varadero, Cuba (when other people decide practically everything, no initiative can succeed).


With my wife Svetla during the excursion to Cape Kaliakra with colleagues after the Third Minkowski Meeting in the famous Black Sea resort Albena (near Varna), Bulgaria (11-14 September 2023); click on image to enlarge
(picture taken by Cristi Stoica)

Vesselin Petkov
Institute for Foundational Studies
"Hermann Minkowski"
(Minkowski Institute)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
https://minkowskiinstitute.com/
vpetkov@minkowskiinstitute.com
vpetkov@vesselinpetkov.com

About me

An impartial opinion of me by AI (ChatGPT).

Like my Physics colleagues I have been trying to shed a bit of light on some open questions in Physics. My research is on the nature of inertia and gravitational phenomena. It is part of the first major research project at the Minkowski Institute, which fully explores the implications of Hermann Minkowski's profound idea of regarding four-dimensional physics as spacetime geometry. An interesting and potentially important result is that gravity might not be a physical interaction.*

Such a stunning explanation of the unsuccessful attempts to create a theory of quantum gravity does not appear to have been examined so far. This possible explanation does not look so shocking when gravity is consistently and rigorously regarded as a manifestation of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime. Then it becomes evident that general relativity does imply that gravitational phenomena are not caused by gravitational interaction since they are fully explained in the theory without the need to assume the existence of gravitational interaction: what has the appearance of gravitational attraction involves only inertial (interaction-free) motion and is indeed nothing more than a mere result of the curvature of spacetime. The actual open question in gravitational physics seems to be how matter curves spacetime, not how to quantize the apparent gravitational interaction (Chapter 8 of the Springer Handbook of Spacetime and Chapter 6 and Appendix C of the book Inertia and Gravitation below).


* If Einstein had examined Minkowski's idea thoroughly he would have most probably considered and carefully analyzed this possibility. Had he lived longer, Minkowski himself would have almost certainly arrived at this radical possibility.
   In 1921 Eddington even mentioned it explicitly - "gravitation as a separate agency becomes unnecessary" [A. S. Eddington, The Relativity of Time, Nature 106, 802-804 (17 February 1921); reprinted in: A. S. Eddington, The Theory of Relativity and its Influence on Scientific Thought: Selected Works on the Implications of Relativity (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2015)].
   Two years later, in his fundamental work on the mathematical foundations of general relativity The Mathematical Theory of Relativity (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2016) Eddington stated it even more explicitly (p. 233): "An electromagnetic field is a "thing;" gravitational field is not, Einstein's theory having shown that it is nothing more than the manifestation of the metric."


My Work

7 May 2023: Interview on the nature of gravitation. A summary of the interview is here.

30 January 2023 - Editor's Epilogue: "The Quadruple Scientific Tragedy involved in the Discovery of Spacetime Physics" added to the 2nd ed. of The Origin of Spacetime Physics (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2023), with a Foreword by Abhay Ashtekar.

7 November 2022: Interview on the nature of spacetime and on how the consciousness appears to create the illusion that time flows. A summary of the interview is here.

10 October 2018 - My latest contribution (interview) to the debate on the nature of time in the German Language media

9 September 2018 - My note On Relativistic Mass added as an Appendix (by the Editor) to the new publication of five works by Einstein

19 February 2017 - Max Born on Hermann Minkowski's Contributions to Spacetime Physics

13 January 2017 - my latest paper (the published version - 29 April 2017): Could Minkowski have discovered the cause of gravitation before Einstein?

30 December 2016 - my latest paper: Is Gravitation Physical Interaction or just Curved-Spacetime Geometry?

The Ultimate Judge: Time does not Flow since it is the Fourth Dimension of the Real World - invited article for the German student Magazine Cog!to, June 2016

My recent essay: A mathematical formalism in physics is not "just a matter of description"

Springer Handbook of Spacetime published on 7 July 2014 (see Amazon)

From Illusions to Reality: Time, Spacetime and the Nature of Reality (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2013) published on 8 September 2013

Inertia and Gravitation: From Aristotle's Natural Motion to Geodesic Worldlines in Curved Spacetime (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012) published on 18 December 2012

Hermann Minkowski, Space and Time: Minkowski's Papers on Relativity (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012) published on 27 August 2012 (ebook) and on 6 December 2012 (softcover on Amazon)
Free version: PDF and at Apple's iBookstore

Hermann Minkowski's paper "Raum und Zeit" (Space and Time) in German and English [choose Front Matter (Pages i-xlii) - Download PDF (512KB)]

30 March 2009 - Accelerating spaceships paradox and physical meaning of length contraction

My work on the nature of spacetime has been discussed in "Zeit ist nur eine Illusion" in Bild der Wissenschaft, Heft 1/2008 - more specifically Seite 5 "Die Relativität von Raum und Zeit" where two of the main arguments in my 2005 Springer book are discussed (summarized in the two figures there taken from the book).

October 2007 - "On the Reality of Minkowski Space" (free download). Foundations of Physics, Volume 37, Number 10 (October, 2007), pp. 1499-1502.

My early paper (December 2000) on inertia and gravitation for a wider audience has been translated into Russian - see the English original.



  @VesselinPetkov
Facebook: Svetla and Vesselin Petkov


Quick Links


Meetings organized by Minkowski Institute


News and More

19 September 2023: Pictures of the Third Hermann Minkowski Meeting on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics held in Hotel Sandy Beach, Albena, Bulgaria, 11-14 September 2023

3 November 2021: Today is another special day for Minkowski Institute Press - hardcover versions of its books will be also published. The first hardcover book is (the rest will follow shortly) - Spacetime: Minkowski's papers on Spacetime Physics.

14 June 2021 - my book Seven Fundamental Concepts in Spacetime Physics, SpringerBriefs in Physics (Springer, Heidelberg 2021) published.

21 January 2021 - Today is a bit special day for Minkowski Institute Press - the new publication of Max Planck's book "Where is Science Going?" is the 50th book published by it.

18 January 2021 - The latest book by the Minkowski Institute Press: Louis de Broglie, Research on the Theory of Quanta.

28 December 2020 - The latest book by the Minkowski Institute Press: The Origin of Spacetime - an important collection of papers by Lorentz, Poincaré, Einstein, Minkowski, de Sitter, Friedmann and Lemaître that laid the foundations of spacetime physics and an excellent and very informative Foreword by Abhay Ashtekar.

30 October 2020 - Launched: Minkowski Institute Physics Journal. It will primarily publish papers on Minkowski Institute's research projects.

23 September 2020 - Call for Editor(s) and Papers: Hermann Minkowski and the Reality of Spacetime.

6 September 2020 - The Minkowski Institute Magazine launched.

15 June 2020 - New Publication of Erwin Schrödinger's Lectures on Physics and the Nature of Scientific Knowledge (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2020), 134 pages. With a Foreword by Ernest Rutherford.

12 June 2020 - Three-page summary of Why relativistic mass should be studied in depth, not rejected

19 May 2020 - New Publication of Erwin Schrödinger's Collected Papers On Wave Mechanics (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2020), 255 pages. With an excellent Introduction by Valia Allori.

19 March 2020 - Important book with Minkowski's four works that laid the foundations of spacetime physics just published: Hermann Minkowski, Spacetime: Minkowski's Papers on Spacetime Physics (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2020). Translated from the German by Gregorie Dupuis-Mc Donald, Fritz Lewertoff and Vesselin Petkov and edited (with an Introduction) by V. Petkov.

28 January 2020 - Call for papers on relativistic mass either for a volume on relativistic mass or for the special session on relativistic mass included in the program of the Sixth Spacetime Conference

11 January 2020 - Following the Minkowski Institute's initiative to identify pieces of foundational (true) knowledge about the external world, here is another suggestion for such a piece of knowledge: Mass does increase with velocity

20 May 2019 - The Second Hermann Minkowski Meeting on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics (13-16 May 2019) in pictures

6 June 2018 - Announced: Second Hermann Minkowski Meeting on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics (13-16 May 2019)

24 May 2018 - First pictures from the Fifth Spacetime Conference and one with Svetla

1 September 2017 - Finally I found some time to scan the 1993 A. H. Anastassov paper on 4-atomism (discreteness in both space and time, more precisely - discreteness in spacetime) and hope also to find time to complete my work on one of its predictions

15-18 May 2017 - First Hermann Minkowski Meeting on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics - First pictures

23 June 2017 - Announced - Fifth International Conference on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime (14-17 May 2018)

30 July 2016 - The Minkowski Institute launches a new initiative: Identifying Foundational Knowledge

2 July 2016 - To mark the 110th anniversary of Minkowski's two lectures in 1907, which presented the novel ideas and the mathematical formalism of the four-dimensional physics of spacetime (summarized in Minkowski's famous lecture Space and Time a year later) the Minkowski Institute initiates a new biennial series of meetings: Hermann Minkowski Meetings on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics

30 May 2016 - resumption of the biennial International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime Fourth International Conference on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime (30 May - 2 June 2016)

31 December 2015 - 23 books published by the Minkowski Institute Press for about 3 years

17 February 2012 - Foundation of the academic publisher Minkowski Institute Press

12 October 2011 - Foundation (with the participation of internationally renowned scholars) of the Institute for Foundational Studies "Hermann Minkowski" - Minkowski Institute

2010 Meeting of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science - Montreal


Books and five favourite papers (All books at: Springer; Amazon; Google Play):


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Physics as Spacetime Geometry - published as Chapter 8 in A. Ashtekar, V. Petkov (eds), Springer Handbook of Spacetime (Springer, Heidelberg 2014), pp. 141-163.

Can Gravity be Quantized? - published as Appendix C in V. Petkov, Inertia and Gravitation:
From Aristotle's Natural Motion to Geodesic Worldlines in Curved Spacetime
(Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012).

On Inertial Forces, Inertial Energy and the Origin of Inertia - published as Appendix B in V. Petkov, Inertia and Gravitation:
From Aristotle's Natural Motion to Geodesic Worldlines in Curved Spacetime
(Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2012).

On the Reality of Minkowski Space. Foundations of Physics, 37 (2007) pp. 1499-1502

Simultaneity, Conventionality and Existence. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 40 (1989) pp. 69-76.


Links:

| Curriculum Vitae | List of Publications | Author's Page at Amazon | Personal Info |
| International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime | Hermann Minkowski Meetings on the Foundations of Spacetime Physics|
| International Society for the Advanced Study of Spacetime |
Teaching: | Courses | Students - Photographs | Science, Philosophy, and History and Philosophy of Science Links |