PhD in Physics (1997, Concordia, Montreal)
PhD in Philosophy (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.

Professional activities:

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

Publishing Director of the Minkowski Institute Press

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.


My answers to questions at

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: Strange orange object & 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).

Vesselin Petkov
Institute for Foundational Studies
"Hermann Minkowski"
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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."

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

2018 - author

2018 - editor

2017 - editor

2016 - editor

2015 - editor

2015 - editor

2014 - editor

2014 - editor

2014 - editor

2013 - author

2012 - editor

2012 - author

2010 - editor

2010 - editor

2009, 2ed - author
2005, 1ed - info

2007 - editor

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. Local file.


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International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime: | 2004 | 2006 | 2008 | 2016 |
| International Society for the Advanced Study of Spacetime |
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