Book: The Einstein Theory of Relativity

3591 The quote that “there are only twelve people in this world who understand Einstein’s Theory” surely is not true. But I am sure there are only twelve people in this world who can explain it like I am five twelve years old. Hendrik Antoon Lorentz who is credited with with sharing the development of his theory. So who better than him to explain it?

This book (free on Gutenberg) actually feels like science speeches given to public. Chapters are simple, straight forward and makes you wonder about our text books. Considering its just 50+ pages, its a must read. This was my first book about the relativity. Now I think I know enough to read the book by the man himself.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Till now it was believed that time and space existed by themselves, even if there was nothing else—no sun, no earth, no stars—while now we know that time and space are not the vessel for the universe, but could not exist at all if there were no contents, namely, no sun, earth and other celestial bodies.

This special relativity, forming the first part of my theory, relates to all systems moving with uniform motion; that is, moving in a straight line with equal velocity. “Gradually I was led to the idea, seeming a very paradox in science, that it might apply equally to all moving systems, even of difform motion, and thus I developed the conception of general relativity which forms the second part of my theory.

Einstein’s theory has the very highest degree of aesthetic merit: every lover of the beautiful must wish it to be true. It gives a vast unified survey of the operations of nature, with a technical simplicity in the critical assumptions which makes the wealth of deductions astonishing.

If we limit the light to a flicker of the slightest duration, so that only a little bit, C, of a ray of light arises, or if we fix our attention upon a single vibration of light, C, while we on the other hand give to the projectile, B, a speed equal to that of light, then we can conclude that B and C in their continued motion can always remain next to each other. Now if we watch all this, not from the movable compartment, but from a place on the earth, then we shall note the usual falling movement of object A, which shows us that we have to deal with a sphere of gravitation. The projectile B will, in a bent path, vary more and more from a horizontal straight line, and the light will do the same, because if we observe the movements from another standpoint this can have no effect upon the remaining next to each other of B and C. The bending of a ray of light thus described is much too light on the surface of the earth to be observed.

Naturally, the phenomenon can only be observed when there is a total eclipse of the sun; then one can take photographs of neighboring stars and through comparing the plate with a picture of the same part of the heavens taken at a time when the sun was far removed from that point the sought-for movement to one side may become apparent.

It remains, moreover, as the first, and in most cases, sufficient, approximation. It is true that, according to Einstein’s theory, because it leaves us entirely free as to the way in which we wish to represent the phenomena, we can imagine an idea of the solar system in which the planets follow paths of peculiar form and the rays of light shine along sharply bent lines—think of a twisted and distorted planetarium—but in every case where we apply it to concrete questions we shall so arrange it that the planets describe almost exact ellipses and the rays of light almost straight lines.

It remains, moreover, as the first, and in most cases, sufficient, approximation. It is true that, according to Einstein’s theory, because it leaves us entirely free as to the way in which we wish to represent the phenomena, we can imagine an idea of the solar system in which the planets follow paths of peculiar form and the rays of light shine along sharply bent lines—think of a twisted and distorted planetarium—but in every case where we apply it to concrete questions we shall so arrange it that the planets describe almost exact ellipses and the rays of light almost straight lines.

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