Relativity is the most important scientific idea of the twentieth century. Albert Einstein is the unquestioned founder of modern physics. His Special and General theories of Relativity introduced the idea to the world. In this classic short book he explains clearly, using the minimum amount of mathematical terms, the basic ideas and principles of his theory of Relativity. Unsurpassed by any subsequent books on Relativity, this remains the most popular and useful exposition of Einstein's immense contribution to human knowledge.
It is known that Maxwell’s electrodynamics—as usually understood at the present time—when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. Take, for example, the reciprocal electrodynamic action of a magnet and a conductor. The observable phenomenon here depends only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet, whereas the customary view draws a sharp distinction between the two cases in which either the one or the other of these bodies (...) is in motion. For if the magnet is in motion and the conductor at rest, there arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet an electric ﬁeld with a certain deﬁnite energy, producing a current at the places where parts of the conductor are situated. But if the magnet is stationary and the conductor in motion, no electric ﬁeld arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet. In the conductor, however, we ﬁnd an electromotive force, to which in itself there is no corresponding energy, but which gives rise—assuming equality of relative motion in the two cases discussed—to electric currents of the same path and intensity as those produced by the electric forces in the former case. Examples of this sort, together with the unsuccessful attempts to discover any motion of the earth relatively to the “light medium,” suggest that the phenomena of electrodynamics as well as of mechanics possess no properties corresponding to the idea of absolute rest. They suggest rather that, as has already been shown to the ﬁrst order of small quantities, the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good.1 We will raise this conjecture (the purport of which will hereafter be called the “Principle of Relativity”) to the status of a postulate, and also introduce another postulate, which is only apparently irreconcilable with the former, namely, that light is always propagated in empty space with a deﬁnite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body.. (shrink)
Time magazine's "Man of the Century", Albert Einstein is the founder of modern physics and his theory of relativity is the most important scientific idea of the modern era. In this short book, Einstein explains, using the minimum of mathematical terms, the basic ideas and principles of the theory that has shaped the world we live in today. Unsurpassed by any subsequent books on relativity, this remains the most popular and useful exposition of Einstein's immense contribution to human knowledge. With (...) a new foreword by Derek Raine. (shrink)
Albert Einstein, among the greatest scientists of all time, was also a man of profound thought and deeply humane feelings. His collected essays offer a fascinating and moving look at one of the twentieth century's leading minds. Covering a fifteen year period from 1934 to 1950, the contents of this book have been drawn from Einstein's articles, addresses, letters and assorted papers. Through his words, you can understand the man and gain his insight on social, religious, and educational issues.
PORTUGUESE: Neste artigo, apresentaremos uma visão particular do desenvolvimento de teorias científicas que denominamos (inspirados em Ortega y Gasset) "perspectivismo". Discutiremos como, através desse enfoque, é possível compatibilizar diversas descrições aparentemente distintas e incompatíveis de uma suposta realidade que se investiga. Fazemos isso distinguindo entre a "realidade" (R) e a "descrição empírica da realidade" (Re). Aceitando que podemos ter diversas descrições empíricas de uma mesma realidade, discutimos o caso particular em que esse esquema é utilizado nos debates atuais acerca da (...) ontologia da física quântica, em especial da mecânica quântica não relativista. Como se sabe, essa teoria é compatível com distintas ontologias (ou metafísicas), em particular, pode ser vista como comprometida com uma ontologia de indivíduos, mas também com uma ontologia de não indivíduos. Ambas as alternativas são plausíveis e merecem ser desenvolvidas. Propomos que o perspectivismo aqui apresentado é neutro com relação à escolha de uma metafísica (ontologia), bem como aos debates entre realistas e antirrealistas em filosofia da ciência. Concluímos que passar do pluralismo aceito pelo perspectivista ao realismo ou antirrealismo envolve comprometimento com teses mais robustas acerca da relação entre realidade e descrição da realidade. ENGLISH: In this article we present a particular view of the development of scientific theories which (following Ortega y Gasset), we term "perspectivism". Making use of this view, we discuss how we can accommodate distinct and apparently incompatible descriptions of a supposed reality under investigation. We distinguish between a "reality" (R) and its "empirical description", (Re). Acknowledging that we can have diverse empirical descriptions of the same reality, we discuss the particular case in which the view is applied to current debates on the ontology of quantum physics, especially of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. As it is well known, this theory is compatible with treating quantum objects either as individuals or as non-individuals. Both ontologies are possible and deserve to be developed. We propose that the perspectivism developed here is neutral not only with respect to the choice of an ontology, but also concerning the debates among realists and anti-realists in the philosophy of science. We conclude that to go beyond the pluralism accepted by perspectivism, and to adopt realism or anti-realism, involves commitment to strong theses about the relation between reality and its descriptions. (shrink)
Albert Einstein.--Bertrand Russell.--John Dewey.--R.A. Millikan.--Theodore Dreiser.--H.G. Wells.--Fridtjof Nansen.--Sir James Jeans.--Irving Babbitt.--Sir Arthur Keith.--J.T. Adams.--H.L. Mencken.--Julia Peterkin.--Lewis Mumford.--G.J. Nathan.--Hu Shih.--J.W. Krutch.--Irwin Edman.--Hilaire Belloc.--Beatrice Webb.--W.R. Inge.--J.B.S. Haldane.--Biographical notes. Note: This book was re-published by AMS Press, 1979.