- Series: Dover Books on Physics
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (July 1, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780486641522
- ISBN-13: 978-0486641522
- ASIN: 048664152X
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Theory of Relativity (Dover Books on Physics) New edition Edition
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About the Author
Wolfgang Pauli: The Young Genius
Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958), Austrian by birth, was one of the most influential physicists of the twentieth century and winner of the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the Pauli exclusion principle in quantum mechanics. His classic work on relativity was first published in Germany in 1921, when Pauli was twenty-one years old. The physicist A. Sommerfeld wrote this in his Preface to the 1921 German edition of Pauli's work:
"In view of the apparently insatiable demand, especially in Germany, for accounts of the Theory of Relativity, both of a popular and of a highly specialized kind, I felt I ought to advise the publishers to arrange for a separate edition of the excellent article by Herr W. Pauli, Jr., which appeared in the Encyklopadie der mathematischen Wissenschaften, Vol. V. Although Herr Pauli was still a student at the time he was not only familiar with the most subtle arguments in the Theory of Relativity through his own research work, but was also fully conversant with the literature of the subject."
First translated and published in English in 1958, and reprinted by Dover in 1981, Pauli's Theory of Relativity continues to find readers another fifty years later. In 2000, Dover reprinted the six volumes of Pauli's collected lectures on physics which had first been published by MIT: Electrodynamics (Volume 1), Optics and the Theory of Electrons (Volume 2), Thermodynamics and the Kinetic Theory of Gases (Volume 3), Statistical Mechanics (Volume 4), Wave Mechanics (Volume 5), and Selected Topics in Field Quantization (Volume 6).
In 1928, Pauli, not yet thirty years old, was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at ETH Zurich where he did much of his most important work. Following Germany's takeover of Austria in 1938, and the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Pauli emigrated to the United States where he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton. In 1946, he became a naturalized American citizen before returning to Zurich, where he mostly lived for the last decade of his life.
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Particularly interesting if one takes note of the historical scholarship involved---as Pauli's copious footnotes enliven the Physics
(Page 63 on Time Reversal Invariance; Page 74 on Bolyai Geometry). Supplementary Notes at book's end prove enlightening-- to wit:
(1) " Today the equivalence of mass and energy is one of the most certain foundations of nuclear physics...gives rise to...interpreting the mass values of the particles as energy eigen-states." ( Page 217).
(2) "In the sense that it is not possible theoretically to trace further back the extremely dense state of matter which existed at a time before the present...." (Page 222).
Five Parts Comprise the Whole :
(1) Foundations Special Relativity: invariant wave equations, the so-called aether, the postulates, transformations derived,
Pauli: " Should one completely abandon any attempt to explain the Lorentz Transformation atomistically?"
(2) Mathematical Tools: four dimensional notation, tensors, geodesics, Riemann. variational theorems,
Pauli: " As a precursor to Minkowski, one should mention Poincare as he already introduced the imaginary coordinate."
(3) Special Relativity Elaborations: hyperbolic motion, momentum and energy, field of uniformly moving charge,
Pauli: " Two different representations can be employed side by side, the one imaginary, the other real."
" We may consider this principle (equivalence of mass and energy) as the most important of the results..."
(4) General Relativity:Newton, Poisson, Principle of Equivalence, Action Principles, Field Equations, Rigorous Solutions,
Pauli: " Since one can compute the sequence of events in an accelerated system, the principle would make it possible to
calculate the effect which a homogeneous gravitational field has on an arbitrary process, it is this feature which renders
the Principle of Equivalence so powerful from an heuristic point of view."
(5) Charged Particles: Electron, Mie, Weyl. Wherein we read, "We now have to look for Gauge Invariant Laws."
Finally, Pauli says,on the last line of the last page of the text: "...thus leading to the more general unsolved main problem of accomplishing
a synthesis between the General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics."
Finally, Albert Einstein: "No one studying this mature, grandly conceived work would believe that the author is a man of twenty-one."
( No Time To Be Brief--Scientific Biography of Wolfgang Pauli, Charles Enz, Chapter Two, 2002,Oxford University Press).
Interestingly enough Pauli has written--for all time--two Classics of scientific literature, the book here reviewed plus his exegesis
of the Principles of Quantum Mechanics. Both should be a permanent staple of any Physics Library.
Learn from the Masters.
It is, perhaps, the best to leave the evaluation of this book to the supreme authority in this area, Albert Einstein. Profoundly impressed with the treatise he wrote: "Whoever studies this mature and grandly concieved work, can hardly believe that the author is a 21-year old man. One hardly knows what to admire and wander at most, the psychological understanding of the development of the ideas, the strength of mathematical deduction, the deep physical insight, the capacity for clear exposition, the knowledge of the literature, the completeness of his treatment and the deepness of his critical approach" (Einstein, 184).
Pauli's exposition is at times a little terse and can be misunderstood (perhaps it is less so in the original German but I am commenting on the English version). I found "The Theory Of Relativity" by C Moller to be an excellent complementary text. Moller's book is independent but very aligned with Pauli's; however, it elaborates more on many of the topics that Pauli's book covers (e.g. the frequency shift of moving sources).