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The Meaning of Relativity: Including the Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field (Fifth Edition) (Princeton Science Library) [Paperback]

Albert Einstein , Brian Greene
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 21, 2004 0691120277 978-0691120270 5th edition

In 1921, five years after the appearance of his comprehensive paper on general relativity and twelve years before he left Europe permanently to join the Institute for Advanced Study, Albert Einstein visited Princeton University, where he delivered the Stafford Little Lectures for that year. These four lectures constituted an overview of his then-controversial theory of relativity. Princeton University Press made the lectures available under the title The Meaning of Relativity, the first book by Einstein to be produced by an American publisher. As subsequent editions were brought out by the Press, Einstein included new material amplifying the theory. A revised version of the appendix "Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field," added to the posthumous edition of 1956, was Einstein's last scientific paper.

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The Meaning of Relativity: Including the Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field (Fifth Edition) (Princeton Science Library) + Relativity: The Special and General Theory + The Evolution of Physics
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Editorial Reviews Review

In 1921, a young Albert Einstein traveled to America to give four lectures at Princeton University, paving the way for a more complete acceptance of his theory of general relativity. These lectures are published together as The Meaning of Relativity, and were revised with each new edition until Einstein's death. Despite Einstein's profession that he thought without using words, his examples and descriptions of the relativistic world he perceived are clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately for nontechnical readers, his presentation requires deep diversions into mathematics often enough to break up the flow of his narrative, and they may find this rough terrain. But for the mathematically sophisticated or the devoted scientific historian, these lectures are profoundly illuminating--Einstein's bright, quiet genius shines through in the simplicity and economy of his writing. Two appendices follow the lectures: the first covers advances and experimental verifications after 1921; the second, "Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field," was Einstein's last scientific paper. The Meaning of Relativity documents a revolution in progress and yields to the careful student deeper truths than those found in physics textbooks. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A condensed unified presentation intended for one who has already gone through a standard text and digested the mechanics of tensor theory and the physical basis of relativity. Einstein's little book then serves as an excellent tying-together of loose ends and as a broad survey of the subject."--Physics Today

Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Science Library
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 5th edition edition (November 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691120277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691120270
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,673 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
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will never collect dust.... February 2, 2002
There are numerous books on general relativity currently on the market, and these range in difficulty from those written for the beginner or the layman, those written for graduate students in physics, and research monographs covering specialized topics. It is always refreshing to go back to the originator of the subject, and take part in his special insights on the topic. Philosophers and historians of science can definitely benefit from a perusal of this book.
The author begins this book with a discussion of the origin of the concepts of space-time, the emphasis being partly philosophical and partly psychological, and the reader can see the origin of the author's operationalism in reading this introduction. He is clearly against the philosophers who attempt to remove concepts from experience and put them in his words "in the intangible heights of the a priori". The motion of rigid bodies is used to set up a discussion of Euclidean geometry and linear orthogonal transformations. The author emphasizes the role of the physicist in discerning whether a system of geometry is true or not, contrary to the pure mathematician. Examples of geometrical invariants, such as the Cartesian line element and the volume element are discussed, along with the role of vectors and tensors. Both of these are used as means by which one can give expression to the independence of Cartesian coordinates. Maxwell's equations are put in tensor notation as an example of covariance with respect to Cartesian coordinate transformations. All of this is done to motivate the theories of special and general relativity.
The theory of spectial relativity is treated in chapter 2, the author introducing his famous principle of special relativity.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dense, but brilliant, collection of lectures August 29, 2007
Laymen, such as myself, are familiar with the equation e=mc2; yet how many of us non-scientists actually know what this means? Einstein explains this in a series of four lectures. While the explaination is clear, the mathematics behind it (and the implications of relativity theory) are far from easy for the layperson to understand.

The first section on space and time in pre-relativity physics provides the foundation for exactly why his theories are so revolutionary. I was able to digest this without much difficulty. The real challenges (for me at least) began with his explaination of special and general relativity - that space, time and light are dependent on each other, and in fact are (hence the name) all relative ... a real mind-bender. Sadly, I was unable to make it through the second half of the lecture on general relativity - too abstract for one who is not a scientist by training or vocation.

Nonetheless it is a worthwhile (if difficult) read. For those who are weak in mathematics (Euclidian geometry or below) much of the details will be incomprehensable; don't let this dissuade you - part of the genius of Einstein is his ability to explain what the mathematics proves. A seminal work in science, and highly recommended for those with the patience, training or deeply committed interest in the subject.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reference on medium level Relativity June 10, 1999
By A Customer
The first half (special relativity) is an exelent resource for beginners on relativity who heve a confident handle of real variable and vector differetial calculus. The seconth half is an introductory text on Generla Relativity which is good. For this part is necesary to have also handle of differential geometry, and I recomend you to read before the article "Space and Time" by H. Minkowski in which some how the conection between the mathematical background (diff. geom.) and the physical theory is set. --- Enrique Castro Student of Physics (National University of México)---
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Einstein goes deeper. December 27, 2001
The Meaning of Relativity is an advanced book. The title should have made it clear. Einstein delves here into what his theory
actually MEANS. That is, what must we change (if anything...) in our world conception, in the way we think, as a consequence of his immense discovery. Just think that he meddled with time, a concept static since so long that it is registered deep in our DNA: our concept of time goes back to the epoch where our main purpose was to survive the day
(sounds familiar? No, no, it was different! It was permanent. What you experience now is transient...)
So what? Read it! It is a marvellous book. Perhaps you will have to reach for other, more elementary, books, in this enterprise. All right! That almost characterizes a book worth reading. So... go on! It will repay your efforts. It IS doable. You will come out, for instance, with a precise CONSTRUCTION OF SPACE! Your brains will be enriched.You deserve that!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relativity for mathematicians March 14, 2011
By castor
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want to understand this book, you had better understand tensor calculus or you will be lost. I had to purchase a book on tensor calculus to get through it. Be ready to struggle through the math, but it will be worth it since you will learn new ideas . Tensor calculus is not easy, but worth it. Relativity math is not easy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Einstein's derivation of relativity in 120 pages March 17, 2009
By Z. Wu
This is not a plain English explanation of relativity to the layman. (For that, check out "Relativity: The Special and the General Theory") It is a short and sweet summary of the thinking behind and derivation of relativity in a little over 100 short pages. The target audience is physicists and mathematicians. Actually, it is probably best if you have studied relativity and differential geometry in a textbook first before tackling this one. I don't think you can learn the basics of relativity or differential geometry from this book if it's your first encounter with the subjects.

However, if you have the mathematical maturity, you will really find the "essence" of relativity in this book. As the originator of the relativity theory, Einstein can explain it like no other. After his explanation, you will wonder why no one else thought about it in this fashion, as he shows you why physics has to work this way. The key philosophical underpinnings are: (a) invariance of physics under coordinate transformations, as physical laws have to be the same no matter where/when the observations are made; and the Euclidean coordinate transformation as an simple result from classical geometry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 13 days ago by Teevee Barbela
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Intro
The intro by Brian Greene is superb. He has a rare gift for simplifying theoretical physics down to everyday language.
Published 21 days ago by Fredrick G. Richards
Other books that Einstein wrote or co-wrote that address relativity are The Principle of Relativity, Sidelights on Relativity, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steven H. Propp
5.0 out of 5 stars The best treatment of Relativity I have read
One of the difficulty I faced was understanding what was the thought process that led Einstein to the breakthroughs in such a rapid rate in 1915. Read more
Published 4 months ago by V. A. Tipnis
5.0 out of 5 stars my boyfriend love it
My boyfriend is pyisics and i gave this boook like a gift, for our aniversary and he loves so much
Published 13 months ago by margarita velandia
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains Einstein's final attempt at unified field theory
Other reviews didn't mention that the Appendix contains the only generally accessible details of Einstein's last attempt at a "unified field theory," by which he hoped that the... Read more
Published on December 20, 2011 by Douglas A. Gwyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Foundation of relativity
This is an almost complete description of Einstein thoughts and motivations into special and general relativity along with some extra material about tensors and finally Einstein's... Read more
Published on March 27, 2010 by Panagiwtis
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in how to write a book about science
Albert Einstein deserves as much credit for popularization of science

as he does for his great theories and their effect on thought for his whole century. Read more
Published on January 22, 2007 by Roger Bagula
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Collection
This book is an excellent collection of 'lectures' by Einstein himself and present the 'eventual' form of the Special & General Theories of Relativity (as in the 1950s). Read more
Published on December 15, 2006 by Roshan Kamath
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein
Einstein's theory seeks to unite time, space and impliedly
distance and light phenomena into a rational set of equations which are congruent to the Euclidian geometry. Read more
Published on February 26, 2004 by Dr. Joseph S. Maresca
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