The Meaning of Relativity
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The Meaning of Relativity

The Meaning of Relativity
The Meaning of Relativity - Albert Einstein (1922).djvu.jpg
Cover of the original 1922 edition
AuthorAlbert Einstein
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Subject
PublisherPrinceton University Press
Publication date
1922 (original ed.)
Pages200
ISBN978-0-6911-6408-3
OCLC884013779
TextThe Meaning of Relativity at Wikisource
Identifiers refer to the 2014 reprint of the 5th edition unless otherwise noted

The Meaning of Relativity: Four Lectures Delivered at Princeton University, May 1921 is a book published by Princeton University Press in 1922 that compiled the 1921 Stafford Little Lectures at Princeton University, given by Albert Einstein. The lectures were translated into English by Edwin Plimpton Adams. The lectures and the subsequent book were Einstein's last attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of his theory of relativity and is his only book that provides an accessible overview of the physics and mathematics of general relativity. Einstein explained his goal in the preface of the book's German edition by stating he "wanted to summarize the principal thoughts and mathematical methods of relativity theory" and that his "principal aim was to let the fundamentals in the entire train of thought of the theory emerge clearly".[1] Among other reviews, the lectures were the subject of the 2017 book The Formative Years of Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures by Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn.

Background

Einstein in 1921

The book contains four of Einstein's Stafford Little Lectures that were given at Princeton University in 1921. The lectures follow a series of 1915 publications by Einstein developing the theory of general relativity.[2][1] During this time, there were still many controversial issues surrounding the theories and he was still defending several of his views.[1] The lectures and the subsequent book were Einstein's last attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of his theory of relativity.[3] It is also his only book that provides an overview of the physics and mathematics of general relativity in a comprehensive manner that was accessible to non-specialists.[4] Einstein explained his goal in the preface of the book's German edition by stating he "wanted to summarize the principal thoughts and mathematical methods of relativity theory" and that his "principal aim was to let the fundamentals in the entire train of thought of the theory emerge clearly".[1]

On December 27, 1949, The New York Times ran a story titled "New Einstein theory gives a master key to the universe"[5] in reaction to the new appendix in the book's fifth edition in which Einstein expounded upon his latest unification efforts.[6] Einstein had nothing to do with the article and subsequently refused to speak with any reporters on the matter; he reportedly used the message "[c]ome back and see me in twenty years" to brush off their inquiries.[6]

Content

The book is made of four lectures. The first is titled "Space and Time in Pre-Relativity Physics". The second lecture is titled The Theory of Special Relativity and discusses the special theory of relativity. The third and fourth lectures cover the general theory of relativity in two parts. Einstein added an appendix to update the book for its second edition, which published in 1945.[7] A second appendix was later added for the fifth edition as well, in 1955, which discusses the nonsymmetric field.[7] The second appendix contains Einstein's attempts at a unified field theory.[6]

Reception

The book has received many reviews since its initial publication. The first edition of the book was reviewed by Nature in 1923.[8] Other early versions of the book were reviewed by George Yuri Rainich in 1946,[9] as well as Abraham H. Taub,[10] Philip Morrison,[11] and I. M. Levitt[12] in 1950. Reviews for the book's fifth edition include a short announcement in 1955 that called the book "a well-known classic".[13] A 1956 review of the fifth edition summarizes its publication history and contents and closes by stating "Einstein's little book then serves as an excellent tying-together of loose ends and as a broad survey of the subject."[7]

Among other references to the book, a 2005 column of The Physics Teacher, included the work in a list of books "by and about Einstein that all physics teachers should have" and "should have immediate access to",[14] while a 2019 review of another work opened by stating: "Every teacher of General Relativity depends heavily on two texts: one, the massive 'Gravitation' by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler, the second the diminutive 'The Meaning of Relativity' by Einstein."[4] The Meaning of Relativity is the focus of a 2017 book, The Formative Years of Relativity by Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn,[1][4][3] which described The Meaning of Relativity as "Einstein's definitive exposition of his special and general theories of relativity".[15]

Publication history

Original English editions

Notable reprints

German editions

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Rowe, David E. (March 2019). "Hanoch Gutfreund; Jürgen Renn. The Formative Years of Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures . xiv + 415 pp., figs., index. Princeton, N.J./Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017. $35 (cloth). ISBN 9781400888689.Galina Weinstein. Einstein's Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity . Second edition. xv + 642 pp., bibl., notes, index. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017. £80.99 (cloth). ISBN 9781443895125". Isis. 110 (1): 201-204. doi:10.1086/702513. ISSN 0021-1753.
  2. ^ Gutfreund & Renn 2017, Foreword by Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald
  3. ^ a b Ryerson, James (25 August 2017). "The Chirps and Ripples in the Universe That Prove Einstein Was Right (Published 2017)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Gilmore, Gerard (3 April 2019). "The formative years of relativity: the history and meaning of Einstein's Princeton lectures: by H. Gutfreund and J. Renn, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2017, 432 pp., £27.00(hardback), ISBN 978-069-1174-63-1. Scope: general interest. Level: general readership". Contemporary Physics. 60 (2): 208-209. doi:10.1080/00107514.2019.1641155. ISSN 0010-7514. S2CID 199117913.
  5. ^ Laurence, William L. (27 December 1949). "New Einstein Theory Gives A Master Key to Universe; Scientist, After 30 Years' Work, Evolves Concept That Promises to Bridge Gap Between the Star and the Atom". The New York Times. p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Pais 2005, Section 17e
  7. ^ a b c Cohen, E. R. (October 1956). "The Meaning of Relativity". Physics Today. 9 (10): 30-32. Bibcode:1956PhT.....9j..30E. doi:10.1063/1.3059795. ISSN 0031-9228.
  8. ^ "The Mathematical Theory of Relativity The Principle of Relativity with Applications to Physical Science The Meaning of Relativity: Four Lectures delivered at Princeton University, May 1921 Modern Electrical Theory: Supplementary Chapters La Théorie de la relativité d'Einstein et ses bases physiques: exposé éléntaire The General Principle of Relativity in its Philosophical and Historical Aspect The Theory of General Relativity and Gravitation: Based on a Course of Lectures delivered at the Conference on Recent Advances in Physics held at the University of Toronto, in January 1921 The Mathematical Theory of Relativity Vector Analysis and the Theory of Relativity L'Évidence de la théorie d'Einstein". Nature. 111 (2795): 697-699. May 1923. Bibcode:1923Natur.111..697.. doi:10.1038/111697a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  9. ^ Rainich, G. Y. (February 1946). "The Meaning of Relativity". The American Mathematical Monthly. 53 (2): 93. doi:10.2307/2305460. JSTOR 2305460.
  10. ^ Taub, A. H. (September 1950). "The Meaning of Relativity". American Journal of Physics. 18 (6): 403-404. Bibcode:1950AmJPh..18..403E. doi:10.1119/1.1932622. ISSN 0002-9505.
  11. ^ Morrison, Philip (November 1950). "The Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society ; The Meaning of Relativity ; Out of My Later Years and Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist". Physics Today. 3 (11): 30-32. Bibcode:1950PhT.....3k..30E. doi:10.1063/1.3066685. ISSN 0031-9228.
  12. ^ Levitt, I. M. (April 1950). "The meaning of relativity". Journal of the Franklin Institute. 249 (4): 334. doi:10.1016/0016-0032(50)90991-4.
  13. ^ L.R. (January 1956). "166 pages, $ 3.75 The meaning of relativity, A. Einstein, Fifth Edition, Princeton University Press, Evanston (1955)". Nuclear Physics. 1 (8): 670. doi:10.1016/S0029-5582(56)80091-6.
  14. ^ Hubisz, John L. (October 2005). "MicroReviews by the Book Review Editor: The Meaning of Relativity: Including the Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field (5th edition): Albert Einstein". The Physics Teacher. 43 (7): 480. Bibcode:2005PhTea..43U.480H. doi:10.1119/1.2060662. ISSN 0031-921X.
  15. ^ Gutfreund & Renn 2017, p. 3

Further reading

External links


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