- Paperback: 64 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; First Dover Edition edition (July 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 048624511X
- ISBN-13: 978-0486245119
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sidelights on Relativity Paperback – June 23, 2010
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Text: English, German (translation)
About the Author
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
55 customer reviews
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The second lecture, Geometry and Experience, gives a perfect example of the kind of property that empty space (modern version of the ether) may have. This property is that of 'curvature' which is the central concept of general relativity theory. He relates this concept to the geometrical measurements which are actually made in practice, in the sense of geometry as a physical science. He also gives some hints which may help the reader to visualize higher dimensional spaces. In addition, this lecture includes Einstein's famous remark "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality".
For Newton, the space between particles was absolutely empty, consisting of exactly nothing. In the 19th century some physicists considered the possibility that space could be filled with a medium (ether) with material properties (solid or liquid) which could support vibrations (oscillations of motion). Einstein rejected both of these views and introduced the idea of a space which could have non-material properties but not material properties. This key concept has had an influence in both relativity theories and quantum theories, but its full implication has not yet been assimilated by our scientific culture. Thus this book may be of more significance than the title suggests.
This book is reminiscent of the book Essays in Science (Philosophical Library, 1930's) which is a collection of writings by Einstein on various scientific subjects. That book is abstracted from a still earlier work Mein Weltbild which gives Einstein's views on many topics including social issues.
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.
After noting that elementary particles may be considered condensations of electromagnetic fields, he concludes that our current view of the universe presents two realties which are completely separated from each other conceptually, although connected casually, namely gravitational ether and electromagnetic field, or as they might be called, space and matter.
Geometry and Experience - an expanded form of an address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin on January 27, 1921:
Einstein begins by posing and answering why mathematics, a product of human thought, is so admirably appropriate to describing reality. In exploring limitations associated with applying Euclidian geometry to relations between rigid bodies, Einstein introduces other axiomatic systems, including Riemann's geometry. He argues that there are difficulties in applying geometry on the sub-molecular level, but it is less problematical to extend the ideas of geometry to cosmic orders of magnitude.
After some clarification of the meaning of a finite universe and an infinite universe, he devotes several pages to illustrating how to visualize a finite, three dimensional universe that is unbounded. Einstein concludes this lecture with an enthusiastic comment: "My only aim today has to show that the human faculty of visualization is by no means bound to capitulate to non-Euclidian geometry."