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Sidelights on Relativity Paperback – November 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

In addition to conducting the research that culminated in his acclaimed theories of relativity, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) taught and lectured at universities around the world. Einstein received numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine, and philosophy, and he remains a towering symbol of intellectual and imaginative achievement.

It's All Relative
Around 1950, Hayward Cirker, Founder and President of Dover Publications, wrote to Einstein and asked his approval to proceed with a Dover paperback reprint of the 1923 collection of original papers on relativity by Einstein himself and others (H. A. Lorentz, H. Weyl, and H. Minkowski), which had originally been published in England. Einstein was reluctant, wondering how much interest there could possibly be in this relic of his work from 30 or more years earlier. Cirker persisted, and Einstein finally agreed — the Dover edition of The Theory of Relativity has been in print ever since and has been followed by many other Dover books on relativity.

The papers reprinted in this original collection will always be for the serious student the cornerstone of their Einstein library: Michelson's Interference Experiment (H. A. Lorentz); Electromagnetic Phenomena in a System Moving with any Velocity Less Than That of Light (H.A. Lorentz); On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies (A. Einstein); Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon its Energy Content? (A. Einstein); Space and Time (H. Minkowksi with notes by A. Sommerfeld); On the Influence of Gravitation on the Propagation of Light (A. Einstein); and The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity (A. Einstein) found on pages 109–164 of this text; Hamilton's Principle and The General Theory of Relativity (A. Einstein); Cosmological Considerations on the General Theory of Relativity (A. Einstein); Do Gravitational Fields Play an Essential Part in the Structure of the Elementary Particles of Matter? (A. Einstein); and Gravitation and Electricity (H. Weyl).

In the Author's Own Words:
"How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought independent of experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?"

"What nature demands from us is not a quantum theory or a wave theory; rather, nature demands from us a synthesis of these two views which thus far has exceeded the mental powers of physicists."

"Do not be troubled by your difficulties with Mathematics, I can assure you mine are much greater." — Albert Einstein

Critical Acclaim for The Theory of Relativity:
"This book constitutes an indispensable part of a library on relativity." — Nature

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461047765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461047766
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,933,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Germany and became an American citizen in 1940. A world-famous theoretical physicist, he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics and is renowned for his Theory of Relativity. In addition to his scientific work, Einstein was an influential humanist who spoke widely about politics, ethics, and social causes. After leaving Europe, Einstein taught at Princeton University. His theories were instrumental in shaping the atomic age.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By rareoopdvds VINE VOICE on May 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the first book of I have read in which Einstein wrote directly rather than the many reiterations of his works. Sidelights on Relativity is a two part book of lectures in which he gave in 1920 and 1921. The first titled "Ether and the Theory of Relativity." Einstein explores the concepts given by Newton, Maxwell and Lorentz of the ether arguing the universe is not mechanical in nature. The other argument is the purely physical aspect in which the mechanical perspective seems to propose what is seen is that exists, and/or can be measured and proven to exist. That "space without ether is unthinkable," that is, the effects of spce/time gives credence to ethers existence just as "the undulatory surface forming the boundary between water and air alters the course of time." This, then, creates the contradiction. The second lecture is titled "Geometry and Experience" in which Einstein argues Euclidean geometry by noting the difference of experiencing and proposing laws of earth-measurement. He demonstrates this through the plane and the globe asking the reader to imagine the globe and a plane. While the plane is infinite in all directions, similarly one can fill the plane up infinately. This is not an all together accurate picture of our universe. Rather if we imagine a sphere and fill that up, we realize only a finite amount can fill up the space.
At this point, I will say that my understanding stands at a finite point in which it would be only arrogant for me to claim I understood the entirety of the book. Nonetheless, I found this book completely readable, mostly due to the fact that there are no formulas to follow. My knowledge of relativity is limited and I have given you what I believe I understand. Its a short book with the writing clear and concise and logical; which surprised me hearing stories about Einsteins genius in which he is unable to explain in laymans terms. Highly reccomended!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on July 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
This 56-page Dover edition offers two lectures by Albert Einstein, "Ether and the Theory of Relativity" and "Geometry and Experience". The lectures are described as "devoid of complicated equations and abstruse terminology". Nonetheless, while the reader does benefit from Einstein's clarity of thought, these lectures do require careful attention. The first lecture presumes familiarity with physics; the second is largely a discussion of non-Euclidian geometry and is easier reading.

Ether and the Theory of Relativity, an address delivered on May 5, 1920 at University of Leyden:

Einstein recounts how the concept of ether originated and subsequently evolved. After some discussion of work by Hertz, Maxwell, Lorentz, and Mach, he notes that it became possible to take a position that ether does not exist. However, using an analogy of water waves, he explains that although the special theory of relativity does forbid us to assume ether consists of particles observable through time, the hypothesis of ether in itself is not in conflict with the special theory of relativity. Only we must give up ascribing a motion to it.

While it may seem superfluous to postulate a homogeneous, isotropic, ether-medium, Einstein contends that to deny the ether is ultimately to assume that empty space has no physical qualities at all. He then argues that according to his General Theory of Relativity "empty space" in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic, compelling us to describe its state by ten functions (the gravitational potentials). There can be no space or part of space without gravitational potentials.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By HDoutLA on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clear and important essay on the relationship between geometry and physics and our prejudices about it. Similar essay on the history of the ether and how it evolved to fit data. An unmatched depth of understanding presented succinctly and clearly. Good read for both those with passing understanding of relativity and those with deeper understanding who want to see Einstein's clear thinking on paper.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ian J. Miller on August 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very small ebook, containing a brief biography of Einstein, and the text of two presentations he made. From the point of view of learning physics, these are no longer relevant, for reasons which I shall outline below, however they give a very interesting insight on how one of the greatest physicists ever reasoned.

The first presentation is an intriguing discussion on the nature and properties of luminiferous ether. Einstein shows, contrary to what is usually stated, that while it cannot be something with a reference velocity, there must be "ether" within general relativity, although it does not have the properties usually attributed to it. The thought processes are extremely interesting to anyone interested in developing theory, for he does not lurch into mathematics, but rather considers nature and shows through logic that various properties frequently assigned to ether are simply illogical, but nevertheless general relativity will not work unless there is "something" there, albeit a "something" devoid of mechanical and material properties. In this context, the modern view of space is that it is a seething cauldron of quantum events of creation and destruction.

The second involves a discussion as to whether the Universe is finite, and how we can tell. This discussion is interesting in that Einstein bases it on a premise that is now known to be wrong (we now believe the universe started with a "big bang", which voids this argument), and accordingly, apart from illustrating his method of reasoning, it has little value, other than, perhaps, to give more sympathy to Aristotle, who, like Einstein, stated his cosmology on a similarly erroneous premise for no good reason other than, "it is obvious that...".
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