Foundations of Physics 34 (10):1541-1572 (2004)

From Einstein's point of view, his General Relativity Theory had strengths as well as failings. For him, its shortcoming mainly was that it did not unify gravitation and electromagnetism and did not provide solutions to field equations which can be interpreted as particle models with discrete mass and charge spectra, As a consequence, General Relativity did not solve the quantum problem, either. Einstein tried to get rid of the shortcomings without losing the achievements of General Relativity Theory. Stimulated by papers of Weyl 465) and Eddington 194), from 1923 onward, he believed that, to reach this goal, one has to transit to space–times which possess more comprehensive geometrical structures than the Riemann space–time. This was the beginning of a decade's lasting search for a unitary field theory. We describe this exciting part of the history of physics, discuss achievements and failures of this development, and ask how these early attempts of a unified theory strike us today. Taking into account the fact that the Equivalence Principle only speaks for a geometrization of gravitation, we consider an alternative way to give those non-Riemannian structures which were introduced by the unitary field approach a physical meaning, namely the meaning of a generalized gravitational field. This is interesting since there are arguments in favor of such a generalization of General Relativity Theory, e.g., the problems the latter theory meets with if one tries to quantize it and to unify gravitation with other interactions.
Keywords unified field theory  affine and Riemann–Cartan geometries  generalization of general relativity
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DOI 10.1023/B:FOOP.0000044104.36647.ef
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