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The Formative Years of RelativityThe History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures$
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Jürgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174631

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174631.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Physics and Geometry

Physics and Geometry

Chapter:
(p.25) 1 Physics and Geometry
Source:
The Formative Years of Relativity
Author(s):

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691174631.003.0004

This chapter concerns the ongoing debate about the meaning of Einstein's theory in the formative years, with particular attention to the relation between physics and geometry. It also compares Einstein's thinking on this issue with that of the French mathematician and philosopher Henri Poincaré and deals with the role of symmetry in the theory of relativity—one of Einstein's enduring legacies. The role of symmetry becomes evident, for instance, in the lecture on special relativity, in which it is shown how relativistic invariance, a symmetry property of the spacetime continuum, shapes Maxwell's equations and other laws of physics. In the period under consideration, the understanding of symmetry is deepened by the emergence of Emmy Noether's famous theorems, for which the theory of general relativity was an important source of inspiration.

Keywords:   physics, geometry, Henri Poincaré, symmetry, Emmy Noether, theory of relativity, special relativity, general relativity, relativistic invariance, Albert Einstein

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