Subtle is the Lord: the science and the life of Albert Einstein

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Subtle Is the Lord

Bare Acts Box Set Supreme Court on Ca An Idea of a Law Sc Central Acts of Ind Legal Studies for C The late Abraham Pais ws Detlev W. Bronk Professor at the Rockefeller University and winner of the J. Running through the book is a completely non-scientific biography identified in the table of contents by italic type including many letters which appear in English for the first time, as well as other information not published before.

Throughout the preparation of this book, Pais has had complete access to the Einstein Archives now in the possession of the Hebrew University and the invaluable guidance of the late Helen Dukas--formerly Einstein's private secretary. SlideShare Explore Search You. Submit Search. Successfully reported this slideshow. We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Albert Einstein Biography in English

Upcoming SlideShare. Like this document? Why not share! Embed Size px. Start on. In fact, he was lucky in his radicalism. Other theoretical physicists, older and better-established, had been having similar dangerous thoughts.

Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein

Einstein brought this revolution to a head, but he did not make it quite alone. Nor was it quite as anarchical as many people seem to think. Different observers certainly prefer to use different maps and clocks, but these are not arbitrary or idiosyncratic. All that Einstein was saying was that there is no special, no unique point of view, corresponding, say, to a point at rest in the ether. Strange physical phenomena might be observed on bodies moving nearly at the speed of light, but most of the ordinary laws of physics remain unchanged. As in all the best revolutions, the classical achievements of the past were preserved and enhanced.

See Einstein as iconoclast if you like — but see him also as a creative artist. The General Theory of Relativity that he called into being in is a daring product of pure thought. It was built upon the Special Theory with the aid of only one further fact of nature — the familiar equivalence of inertial mass and gravitational weight. Accelerate away in your space-shuttle, and everyone in the cabin will become heavier by exactly the same factor: get into orbit, where acceleration and gravity are balanced, and you will find yourself as weightless as the cup of coffee in your hand. As Professor Pais shows in detail, this amazing idea was not the product of a moment of artistic inspiration.

First there had to be some concentrated physical thinking. What sort of physics would you expect to find in the cabin of the space-shuttle, up there in orbit? How do you measure lengths and intervals of time, electric and magnetic fields, energy and momentum, paths of light rays and of charged particles, in a weightless environment?

Can you do all the usual experiments, and get all the usual answers, as if the only effect of the motion were to reduce the force of gravity to zero? Or here is the inspiration can you now go back to Earth, and calculate the tiny effect of gravity on, say, the propagation of light as if this were due to an unsuspected acceleration of your whole laboratory?


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The principle of equivalence, alone, is a powerful tool in the hands of a supreme artist of physical theory. But now you need a systematic way of thinking about all the different representations of space, time, matter, motion and electricity that might be used by different observers moving on the most complicated curved and accelerated trajectories relative to one another.

This is like asking for a general mathematical formalism for mapping all possible lines and surfaces in a space of many dimensions. Einstein was fortunate to find a mathematician who knew about the progress that had been made on this daunting problem, and taught himself the language and concepts of the tensor calculus and differential geometry. However complicated your path through space and time, at each point it has well-defined local values of curvature and torsion.

The surface of the sea, on a calm day, exhibits its intrinsic sphericity whenever a ship is seen to sink below the horizon. Out of more sophisticated generalisations of spatial curvature and sphericity, Einstein constructed a formalism for the laws of physics as they might appear locally to any particular observer, and showed how these formulae were transformed as one took on the point of view of any other.

But what puts this warp into the space-time framework? Surely this must come from the well-known source of all gravity — the presence of matter itself. But what does this formula tell us?

Subtle is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein - PDF Drive

Whole treatises have been written on the subject. For a start, take the Sun as your local concentration of matter, and calculate the path of a particle, step by step, curving gently as it follows the dictates of the warped geometry. Carry this calculation to a higher order of accuracy, and you can predict an anomaly in the behaviour of the orbit of Mercury which has long been observed and never explained. Work out that a ray of light will be bent as it passes very close to the Sun, and an expedition will be sent out to Africa to observe the stars at the next eclipse.

No wonder Einstein became world-famous, in , when this prediction was precisely confirmed. The products of creative scientific artistry are not purely idiosyncratic, however.

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Other theoretical physicists and mathematicians were snuffling round in the neighbourhood of this theory, and would probably have unearthed the same formula some time in the next fifty years, even if Einstein had never lived. It was the outcome of profound thought. In its final abstract form, it is extraordinarily simple and compelling. It has been the inspiration of astrophysics and cosmology for half a century.

We still think it is perfectly correct.

And yet we know that it could still prove to be wrong. The role of the scientific genius is more narrowly defined than that of the creative artist, although no easier to emulate. The lifelong pacifist is cast incongruously in the role of the magician whose incantations unleash demonic powers. The hypothesis that light itself is quantised, which he put forward in that same miraculous year, , is the basis of all our understanding of the interaction of light and matter, and thus of every sort of photo-electric or electro-optical device.

He can be blamed for the pretty picture on our TV screens, or for the optical fibres that will soon be replacing telephone cables, as much as for the Bomb. The light-quantum hypothesis itself smelt of magic to most physicists of the time.