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The Curious History of Relativity

The Curious History of Relativity PDF Author: Jean Eisenstaedt
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691186758
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 363
Book Description
Black holes may obliterate most things that come near them, but they saved the theory of general relativity. Einstein's theory was quickly accepted as the true theory of gravity after its publication in 1915, but soon took a back seat in physics to quantum mechanics and languished for decades on the blackboards of mathematicians. Not until the existence of black holes by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose in the 1960s, after Einstein's death, was the theory revived. Almost one hundred years after general relativity replaced Newton's theory of gravitation, The Curious History of Relativity tells the story of both events surrounding general relativity and the techniques employed by Einstein and the relativists to construct, develop, and understand his almost impenetrable theory. Jean Eisenstaedt, one of the world's leading experts on the subject, also discusses the theory's place in the evolution of twentieth-century physics. He describes the main stages in the development of general relativity: its beginnings, its strange crossing of the desert during Einstein's lifetime while under heated criticism, and its new life from the 1960s on, when it became vital to the understanding of black holes and the observation of exotic objects, and, eventually, to the discovery of the accelerating universe. We witness Einstein's construction of his theory, as well as the work of his fascinated, discouraged, and enthusiastic colleagues--physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers. Written with flair, The Curious History of Relativity poses--and answers--the difficult questions raised by Einstein's magnificent intellectual feat.

The Curious History of Relativity

The Curious History of Relativity PDF Author: Jean Eisenstaedt
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691186758
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 363
Book Description
Black holes may obliterate most things that come near them, but they saved the theory of general relativity. Einstein's theory was quickly accepted as the true theory of gravity after its publication in 1915, but soon took a back seat in physics to quantum mechanics and languished for decades on the blackboards of mathematicians. Not until the existence of black holes by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose in the 1960s, after Einstein's death, was the theory revived. Almost one hundred years after general relativity replaced Newton's theory of gravitation, The Curious History of Relativity tells the story of both events surrounding general relativity and the techniques employed by Einstein and the relativists to construct, develop, and understand his almost impenetrable theory. Jean Eisenstaedt, one of the world's leading experts on the subject, also discusses the theory's place in the evolution of twentieth-century physics. He describes the main stages in the development of general relativity: its beginnings, its strange crossing of the desert during Einstein's lifetime while under heated criticism, and its new life from the 1960s on, when it became vital to the understanding of black holes and the observation of exotic objects, and, eventually, to the discovery of the accelerating universe. We witness Einstein's construction of his theory, as well as the work of his fascinated, discouraged, and enthusiastic colleagues--physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers. Written with flair, The Curious History of Relativity poses--and answers--the difficult questions raised by Einstein's magnificent intellectual feat.

Building the General Relativity and Gravitation Community During the Cold War

Building the General Relativity and Gravitation Community During the Cold War PDF Author: Roberto Lalli
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319546546
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 168
Book Description
This monograph presents a new perspective on the history of general relativity. It outlines the attempts to establish an institutional framework for the promotion of the field during the Cold War. Readers will learn the difficulties that key figures experienced and overcame during this period of global conflict. The author analyzes the subtle interconnections between scientific and political factors. He shows how politics shaped the evolution of general relativity, even though it is a field with no military applications. He also details how different scientists held quite different views about what “political” meant in their efforts to pursue international cooperation. The narrative examines the specific epistemic features of general relativity that helped create the first official, international scientific society. It answers: Why did relativity bring about this unique result? Was it simply the product of specific actions of particular actors having an illuminated view of international relations in the specific context of the Cold War? Or, was there something in the nature of the field that inspired the actors to pioneer new ways of international cooperation? The book will be of interest to historians of modern science, historians of international relations, and historians of institutions. It will also appeal to physicists and interested general readers.

The Formative Years of Relativity

The Formative Years of Relativity PDF Author: Hanoch Gutfreund
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400888689
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 432
Book Description
First published in 1922 and based on lectures delivered in May 1921, Albert Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity offered an overview and explanation of the then new and controversial theory of relativity. The work would go on to become a monumental classic, printed in numerous editions and translations worldwide. Now, The Formative Years of Relativity introduces Einstein’s masterpiece to new audiences. This beautiful volume contains Einstein’s insightful text, accompanied by important historical materials and commentary looking at the origins and development of general relativity. Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn provide fresh, original perspectives, placing Einstein’s achievements into a broader context for all readers. In this book, Gutfreund and Renn tell the rich story behind the early reception, spread, and consequences of Einstein’s ideas during the formative years of general relativity in the late 1910s and 1920s. They show that relativity’s meaning changed radically throughout the nascent years of its development, and they describe in detail the transformation of Einstein’s work from the esoteric pursuit of one individual communicating with a handful of colleagues into the preoccupation of a growing community of physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers. This handsome edition quotes extensively from Einstein’s correspondence and reproduces historical documents such as newspaper articles and letters. Inserts are featured in the main text giving concise explanations of basic concepts, and short biographical notes and photographs of some of Einstein’s contemporaries are included. The first-ever English translations of two of Einstein’s popular Princeton lectures are featured at the book’s end.

Black Hole

Black Hole PDF Author: Marcia Bartusiak
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300213638
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 252
Book Description
The award-winning science writer “packs a lot of learning into a deceptively light and enjoyable read” exploring the contentious history of the black hole (New Scientist). For more than half a century, physicists and astronomers engaged in heated dispute over the possibility of black holes in the universe. The strange notion of a space-time abyss from which not even light escapes seemed to confound all logic. Now Marcia Bartusiak, author of Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony and The Day We Found the Universe, recounts the frustrating, exhilarating, and at times humorous battles over one of history’s most dazzling ideas. Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped revive Einstein’s greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, after decades of languishing in obscurity. Not until astronomers discovered such surprising new phenomena as neutron stars and black holes did the once-sedate universe transform into an Einsteinian cosmos, filled with sources of titanic energy that can be understood only in the light of relativity. Black Hole explains how Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and other leading thinkers completely changed the way we see the universe.

Einstein Was Right

Einstein Was Right PDF Author: Jed Z. Buchwald
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691194548
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 248
Book Description
An authoritative interdisciplinary account of the historic discovery of gravitational waves In 1915, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by the movement of large masses—as part of the theory of general relativity. A century later, researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) confirmed Einstein's prediction, detecting gravitational waves generated by the collision of two black holes. Shedding new light on the hundred-year history of this momentous achievement, Einstein Was Right brings together essays by two of the physicists who won the Nobel Prize for their instrumental roles in the discovery, along with contributions by leading scholars who offer unparalleled insights into one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of our time. This illuminating book features an introduction by Tilman Sauer and invaluable firsthand perspectives on the history and significance of the LIGO consortium by physicists Barry Barish and Kip Thorne. Theoretical physicist Alessandra Buonanno discusses the new possibilities opened by gravitational wave astronomy, and sociologist of science Harry Collins and historians of science Diana Kormos Buchwald, Daniel Kennefick, and Jürgen Renn provide further insights into the history of relativity and LIGO. The book closes with a reflection by philosopher Don Howard on the significance of Einstein's theory for the philosophy of science. Edited by Jed Buchwald, Einstein Was Right is a compelling and thought-provoking account of one of the most thrilling scientific discoveries of the modern age.

Covered with Deep Mist

Covered with Deep Mist PDF Author: Dean Rickles
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0199602956
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 321
Book Description
The problem of quantum gravity is often viewed as the most pressing unresolved problem of modern physics: our theories of spacetime and matter, described respectively by general relativity (Einstein's theory of gravitation and spacetime) and quantum mechanics (our best theory of matter and the other forces of nature) resist unification. Covered with Deep Mist provides the first book-length treatment of the history of quantum gravity, focusing on its origins and earliest stages of development until the mid-1950s. Readers will be guided through the impacts on the problem of quantum gravity resulting from changes in the two ingredient theories, quantum theory and general relativity, which were themselves still under construction in the years studied. We examine how several of the core approaches of today were formed in an era when the field was highly unfashionable. The book aims to be accessible to a broad range of readers and goes beyond a merely technical examination to include social and cultural factors involved in the changing fortunes of the field. Suitable for both newcomers and seasoned quantum gravity professionals, the book will shine new light on this century-old, unresolved problem.

Making 20th Century Science

Making 20th Century Science PDF Author: Stephen G. Brush
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0199978158
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 553
Book Description
Historically, the scientific method has been said to require proposing a theory, making a prediction of something not already known, testing the prediction, and giving up the theory (or substantially changing it) if it fails the test. A theory that leads to several successful predictions is more likely to be accepted than one that only explains what is already known but not understood. This process is widely treated as the conventional method of achieving scientific progress, and was used throughout the twentieth century as the standard route to discovery and experimentation. But does science really work this way? In Making 20th Century Science, Stephen G. Brush discusses this question, as it relates to the development of science throughout the last century. Answering this question requires both a philosophically and historically scientific approach, and Brush blends the two in order to take a close look at how scientific methodology has developed. Several cases from the history of modern physical and biological science are examined, including Mendeleev's Periodic Law, Kekule's structure for benzene, the light-quantum hypothesis, quantum mechanics, chromosome theory, and natural selection. In general it is found that theories are accepted for a combination of successful predictions and better explanations of old facts. Making 20th Century Science is a large-scale historical look at the implementation of the scientific method, and how scientific theories come to be accepted.

Gravitation

Gravitation PDF Author: Charles W. Misner
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 140088909X
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 1336
Book Description
First published in 1973, Gravitation is a landmark graduate-level textbook that presents Einstein’s general theory of relativity and offers a rigorous, full-year course on the physics of gravitation. Upon publication, Science called it “a pedagogic masterpiece,” and it has since become a classic, considered essential reading for every serious student and researcher in the field of relativity. This authoritative text has shaped the research of generations of physicists and astronomers, and the book continues to influence the way experts think about the subject. With an emphasis on geometric interpretation, this masterful and comprehensive book introduces the theory of relativity; describes physical applications, from stars to black holes and gravitational waves; and portrays the field’s frontiers. The book also offers a unique, alternating, two-track pathway through the subject. Material focusing on basic physical ideas is designated as Track 1 and formulates an appropriate one-semester graduate-level course. The remaining Track 2 material provides a wealth of advanced topics instructors can draw on for a two-semester course, with Track 1 sections serving as prerequisites. This must-have reference for students and scholars of relativity includes a new preface by David Kaiser, reflecting on the history of the book’s publication and reception, and a new introduction by Charles Misner and Kip Thorne, discussing exciting developments in the field since the book’s original publication. The book teaches students to: Grasp the laws of physics in flat and curved spacetime Predict orders of magnitude Calculate using the principal tools of modern geometry Understand Einstein's geometric framework for physics Explore applications, including neutron stars, Schwarzschild and Kerr black holes, gravitational collapse, gravitational waves, cosmology, and so much more

The Perfect Theory

The Perfect Theory PDF Author: Pedro G. Ferreira
Publisher: HMH
ISBN: 0547554907
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 288
Book Description
“One of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Physicists have been exploring, debating, and questioning the general theory of relativity ever since Albert Einstein first presented it in 1915. This has driven their work to unveil the universe’s surprising secrets even further, and many believe more wonders remain hidden within the theory’s tangle of equations, waiting to be exposed. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, an astrophysicist brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers who have taken up its challenge. For these scientists, the theory has been both a treasure trove and an enigma. Einstein’s theory, which explains the relationships among gravity, space, and time, is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics—yet studying it has always been a controversial endeavor. Relativists were the target of persecution in Hitler’s Germany, hounded in Stalin’s Russia, and disdained in 1950s America. Even today, PhD students are warned that specializing in general relativity will make them unemployable. Still, general relativity has flourished, delivering key insights into our understanding of the origin of time and the evolution of all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos. Its adherents have revealed what lies at the farthest reaches of the universe, shed light on the smallest scales of existence, and explained how the fabric of reality emerges. Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and string theory are all progeny of Einstein’s theory. In the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics, as scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory exposes the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led—and where it can still take us.

Traveling at the Speed of Thought

Traveling at the Speed of Thought PDF Author: Daniel Kennefick
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691117270
Category : Science
Languages : en
Pages : 348
Book Description
Since Einstein first described them nearly a century ago, gravitational waves have been the subject of more sustained controversy than perhaps any other phenomenon in physics. These as yet undetected fluctuations in the shape of space-time were first predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, but only now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, are we on the brink of finally observing them. Daniel Kennefick's landmark book takes readers through the theoretical controversies and thorny debates that raged around the subject of gravitational waves after the publication of Einstein's theory. The previously untold story of how we arrived at a settled theory of gravitational waves includes a stellar cast from the front ranks of twentieth-century physics, including Richard Feynman, Hermann Bondi, John Wheeler, Kip Thorne, and Einstein himself, who on two occasions avowed that gravitational waves do not exist, changing his mind both times. The book derives its title from a famously skeptical comment made by Arthur Stanley Eddington in 1922--namely, that "gravitational waves propagate at the speed of thought." Kennefick uses the title metaphorically to contrast the individual brilliance of each of the physicists grappling with gravitational-wave theory against the frustratingly slow progression of the field as a whole. Accessibly written and impeccably researched, this book sheds new light on the trials and conflicts that have led to the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves today--poised to bring the story of gravitational waves full circle by directly confirming their existence for the very first time.