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The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics. The text is divided into three parts which deal respectively with the special theory of relativity, with the general theory of relativity, and with considerations on the universe as a whole. The special theory deals with the physics of elementary particles while the general theory is concerned with the force of gravity and its effect on the other forces of nature. These two theories, while exceptional in their explanations of their particular focus, are inconsistent with each other, and it has long been an aim of the science of physics to help resolve these inconsistencies. Einstein proposed that, rather than discarding these two principles for their contradictions, the rules of time and space should be completely rethought in order to harmonize our understanding of the physical world. Einstein’s work in the field of theoretical physics would earn him the Nobel Prize in 1921 and establish his legacy as one of the most famous scientists of all time. This edition is translated by Robert W. Lawson and includes a biographical afterword.

Publisher: Digireads.com PublishingReleased: Sep 20, 2017ISBN: 9781420955965Format: book

Relativity: The Special and General Theory

By Albert Einstein

Translated by Robert W. Lawson

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-4209-4633-8

eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-4209-5596-5

This edition copyright © 2017. Digireads.com Publishing.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Cover Image: a detail of Einstein worked at numerous universities and polytechnics

(colour litho), Brauner, Luis Arcas (1934-89) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Bridgeman Images.

Please visit **www.digireads.com **

CONTENTS

**PREFACE **

**PART I. THE SPECIAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY **

**I. Physical Meaning of Geometrical Propositions **

**II. The System of Co-Ordinates **

**III. Space and Time in Classical Mechanics **

**IV. The Galileian System of Co-Ordinates **

**V. The Principle of Relativity (In the Restricted Sense) **

**VI. The Theorem of the Addition of Velocities Employed in Classical Mechanics **

**VII. The Apparent Incompatibility of the Law of Propagation of Light with the Principle of Relativity **

**VIII. On the Idea of Time in Physics **

**IX. The Relativity of Simulatneity **

**X. On the Relativity of the Conception of Distance **

**XI. The Lorentz Transformation **

**XII. The Behaviour of Measuring-Rods and Clocks in Motion **

**XIII. Theorem of the Addition of Velocities. The Experiment of Fizeau **

**XIV. The Heuristic Value of the Theory of Relativity **

**XV. General Results of the Theory **

**XVI. Experience and the Special Theory of Relativity **

**XVII. Minkowski’s Four-Dimensional Space **

**PART II. THE GENERAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY **

**XVIII. Special and General Principle of Relativity **

**XIX. The Gravitational Field **

**XX. The Equality of Inertial and Gravitational Mass as an Argument for the General Postule of Relativity **

**XXI. In What Respects Are the Foundations of Classical Mechanics and of the Special Theory of Relativity Unsatisfactory? **

**XXII. A Few Inferences from the General Principle of Relativity **

**XXIII. Behaviour of Clocks and Measuring-Rods on a Rotating Body of Reference **

**XXIV. Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Continuum **

**XXV. Gaussian Co-Ordinates **

**XXVI. The Space-Time Continuum of the Special Theory of Relativity Considered as a Euclidean Continuum **

**XXVII. The Space-Time Continuum of the General Theory of Relativity Is Not a Euclidean Continuum **

**XXVIII. Exact Formulation of the General Principle of Relativity **

**XXIX. The Solution of the Problem of Gravitation on the Basis of the General Principle of Relativity **

**PART III. CONSIDERATIONS ON THE UNIVERSE AS A WHOLE **

**XXX. Cosmological Difficulties of Newton’s Theory **

**XXXI. The Possibility of a Finite And Yet Unbounded Universe **

**XXXII. The Structure of Space According to the General Theory of Relativity **

**APPENDIX I. **

**APPENDIX II. **

**APPENDIX III. **

**(a) Motion of the Perihelion of Mercury **

**(b) Deflection of Light by a Gravitational Field **

**(c) Displacement of Spectral Lines Towards the Red **

**APPENDIX IV. **

**BIOGRAPHICAL AFTERWORD **

*Preface *

The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of Relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics. The work presumes a standard of education corresponding to that of a university matriculation examination, and, despite the shortness of the book, a fair amount of patience and force of will on the part of the reader. The author has spared himself no pains in his endeavour to present the main ideas in the simplest and most intelligible form, and on the whole, in the sequence and connection in which they actually originated. In the interest of clearness, it appeared to me inevitable that I should repeat myself frequently, without paying the slightest attention to the elegance of the presentation. I adhered scrupulously to the precept of that brilliant theoretical physicist L. Boltzmann, according to whom matters of elegance ought to be left to the tailor and to the cobbler. I make no pretence of having withheld from the reader difficulties which are inherent to the subject. On the other hand, I have purposely treated the empirical physical foundations of the theory in a step-motherly

fashion, so that readers unfamiliar with physics may not feel like the wanderer who was unable to see the forest for the trees. May the book bring some one a few happy hours of suggestive thought!

*December*, 1916

A. EINSTEIN

*Part I. The Special Theory of Relativity *

*I. Physical Meaning of Geometrical Propositions *

In your schooldays most of you who read this book made acquaintance with the noble building of Euclid’s geometry, and you remember—perhaps with more respect than love—the magnificent structure, on the lofty staircase of which you were chased about for uncounted hours by conscientious teachers. By reason of our past experience, you would certainly regard everyone with disdain who should pronounce even the most out-of-the-way proposition of this science to be untrue. But perhaps this feeling of proud certainty would leave you immediately if someone were to ask you: What, then, do you mean by the assertion that these propositions are true?

Let us proceed to give this question a little consideration.

Geometry sets out form certain conceptions such as plane,

point,

and straight line,

with which we are able to associate more or less definite ideas, and from certain simple propositions (axioms) which, in virtue of these ideas, we are inclined to accept as true.

Then, on the basis of a logical process, the justification of which we feel ourselves compelled to admit, all remaining propositions are shown to follow from those axioms, *i.e. *they are proven. A proposition is then correct (true

) when it has been derived in the recognized manner from the axioms. The question of truth

of the individual geometrical propositions is thus reduced to one of the truth

of the axioms. Now it has long been known that the last question is not only unanswerable by the methods of geometry, but that it is in itself entirely without meaning. We cannot ask whether it is true that only one straight line goes through two points. We can only say that Euclidean geometry deals with things called straight lines,

to each of which is ascribed the property of being uniquely determined by two points situated on it. The concept true

does not tally with the assertions of pure geometry, because by the word true

we are eventually in the habit of designating always the correspondence with a real

object; geometry, however, is not concerned with the relation of the ideas involved in it to objects of experience, but only with the logical connection of these ideas among themselves.

It is not difficult to understand why, in spite of this, we feel constrained to call the propositions of geometry true.

Geometrical ideas correspond to more or less exact objects in nature, and these last are undoubtedly the exclusive cause of the genesis of those ideas. Geometry ought to refrain from such a course, in order to give to its structure the largest possible logical unity. The practice, for example, of seeing in a distance

two marked positions on a practically rigid body is something which is lodged deeply in our habit of thought. We are accustomed further to regard three points as being situated on a straight line, if their apparent positions can be made to coincide for observation with one eye, under suitable choice of our place of observation.

If, in pursuance of our habit of thought, we now supplement the propositions of Euclidean geometry by the single proposition that two points on a practically rigid body always correspond to the same distance (line-interval), independently of any changes in position to which we may subject the body, the propositions of Euclidean geometry then resolve themselves into propositions on the possible relative position of practically rigid bodies.**{1} Geometry which has been supplemented in this way is then to be treated as a branch of physics. We can now legitimately ask as to the truth of geometrical propositions interpreted in this way, since we are justified in asking whether these propositions are satisfied for those real things we have associated with the geometrical ideas. In less exact terms we can express this by saying that by the truth of a geometrical proposition in this sense we understand its validity for a construction with rule and compasses. **

Of course the conviction of the truth

of geometrical propositions in this sense is founded exclusively on rather incomplete experience. For the present we shall assume the truth

of the geometrical propositions, then at a later stage (in the general theory of relativity) we shall see that this truth

is limited, and we shall consider the extent of its limitation.

*II. The System of Co-Ordinates *

On the basis of the physical interpretation of distance which has been indicated, we are also in a position to establish the distance between two points on a rigid body by means of measurements. For this purpose we require a distance

(rod *S*) which is to be used once and for all, and which we employ as a standard measure. If, now, *A *and *B *are two points on a rigid body, we can construct the line joining them according to the rules of geometry; then, starting from *A*, we can mark off the distance *S *time after time until we reach *B*. The number of these operations required is the numerical measure of the distance *AB*. This is the basis of all measurement of length.**{2} **

Every description of the scene of an event or of the position of an object in space is based on the specification of the point on a rigid body (body of reference) with which that event or object coincides. This applies not only to scientific description, but also to everyday life. If I analyze the place specification Times Square, New York,

**{3} I arrive at the following result. The earth is the rigid body to which the specification **

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For me, the best part was the paradoxes. Einstein uses lot of paradoxes to explain his ideas, and they are strikingly amazing!

Translator did a good job in making it readable for people who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.

A must read I'd say.

Translator did a good job in making it readable for people who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.

A must read I'd say.

Let’s face it. If you think you want to read this, then you may as well go ahead and dive in. The surprise…it is relatively easy to read. (Last time for that word, honest) I have slogged through a number of books trying to get a grasp of the concepts within Einstein’s theories. Every time I feel like I make some headway, but it feels like some of it is always out of my grasp. With the promise that Einstein himself was the best to explain it, I dove in. The good news is that he does try to take it down to our level. The bad news is he uses some math in doing so. Accordingly, at the end of it all, I have made more headway, but I still can’t get my head around gravity being just a bend in space. (Or maybe, that isn’t what it is, and that shows the ignorance I’ve still got to overcome.) Bottom line, you really can’t beat the primary source. Maybe if I read it one more time….

Very easy to understand.

Diminished my presumption of my own supreme intelligence. Completely inaccessible somewhere around chapter 9 but then again I probably wasn't his intended audience. I have zero scientific training. Loved how he used phrases such as "the observer will immediately notice..." or "the reader will obviously infer from the following...". I found very little either immediate or obvious.

No. Without a decent math and physics background, you will not understand this. It does help to grasp one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century. This attempt fails to easily impart a good understanding of the theory, but it does give someone the sense of the enormity of the discovery itself.

This book is subtitled "A clear exlanation that anyone can understand". Unfortunately, I found that to be untrue, although I must admit I have no science training at all. For me, though, this book made a nice companion piece to the biography on Einstein I'm reading, and the Einstein for Dummies book (which does provide a clear explanation that anyone can understand). It was nice to read Dr. Einstein's own words.

Not what they'd call "popular" today, but it's written at exactly the level that if I squint and focus my brain real hard, I can follow the arguments despite not having done a real math or physics (intro astro or Fractals for Nonmajors don't count) class since high school.A few of the suspicions and conclusions are a wee bit corrected since the time (quantum happened, Unified Field Theory didn't so far), but this book is really good at giving you a deeper look at the _why_ of relativity, the parts that always get glossed over or oversimplified ("oh yeah, space is curved") for people who can't do the math on their own. His sentences on this stuff aren't luminously obvious, but he never pulls his punches either.

I abandoned this to re-read Hawking after an uninspiring start. I think relativity is most interesting with a little more time and cosmology under out collective belt.

The rating doesn't reflect the importance or quality of thinking of this book. It's relative... and subjective. It reflects rather how much I understood and enjoyed it, and at that is overated, although I gave it as high as I did because I'm glad I tried and might come back to it. In Einstein's preface to the 1916 book he said he wrote it for the general educated reader--college graduates--even though it would require "a fair amount of patience and force of will on the part of the reader." The front cover of my edition calls it "a clear explanation that anyone can understand." I *am* a college graduate (and beyond). I don't think I'm stupid. And the equations that are in the book (and the book is littered with them) don't even require college mathematics. We're not talking calculus here--just algebraic equations. So, did I understand the entire book given "patience" and "force of will." No. Maybe I didn't have enough of both. It's a very short book, only 157 pages--but by God, it's not an easy one. Did I understand most of it? No. Some of it. Well, yes. But I suspect my American education in universities in the 1990s isn't the equivalent of German college graduates in 1916. It's not the mathematics--it's the physics. In my American high school biology and chemistry was required. Physics wasn't even offered. To graduate college I had to take some science courses--but the requirement could be fulfilled by "soft" sciences such as biology and anthropology. I have a friend that protests that there's a difference between "verbal" and "mathematical" gifts and people like us shouldn't be forced to take those hard, meanie sciences. I'm not convinced that on the contrary we haven't been short changed. I'd love to know if someone who took at least one course on physics had a different experience with this book.So, did I learn anything by tackling this? I was able to squeeze out some knowledge after banging my head repeatedly on my desk reading (and rereading) such chapters as "The Principle of Relativity." Einstein does try to illustrate some of the ideas by using everyday examples such as a moving train on an embankment, pans on a stove and a man tethered to a chest. I learned:1) Special relativity deals with electromagnetic forces; General Relativity deals with gravity.2) Given the speed of light is a constant, the addition of velocities of moving objects according to classical mechanics fails because it would indicate that the speed of light would be diminished by the velocity of an object. (I think.)3) Space and time are not absolute in position but relative to the observer; they are not independent of each other but influenced by the distribution of matter (gravity).4) The theory of general relativity unites the principles of the conservation of mass and of energy.5) Since college my brain has turned to mush. Maybe I should try to get through a physics textbook? Probably not... (See above on lack of patience and force of will.)I got this book because Einstein's *The Meaning of Relativity* was on a list of 100 Significant books. I've since learned that what I bought (and am reviewing here) isn't the same book. *Relativity* was originally published in German in 1916. *The Meaning of Relativity* was based on a series of lectures given at Princeton University in 1921. I'm not sanguine I'd do any better with that book given a review quoted from *Physics Today* says it's "intended for one who has already gone through a standard text and digested the mechanics of tensor theory and the physical basis of relativity." Bottom line, unless you're willing to do some homework to ground yourself in physics you're better off reading more...well dumbed down books by the likes of Asimov, Sagan or Hawking. Incidentally I also recently read Darwin's *Origin of Species.* *That* book I found easy to comprehend. Oh well.

Came for the technical exposition, stayed for the unexpected simplicity, and then Appendix V dropped a bomb on everything. Great, quick read.

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