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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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The Principles of General Relativity

The Principles of General Relativity

(p.34) 2 The Principles of General Relativity
The Formative Years of Relativity

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers what the theory actually achieved and specifically reexamines the meaning of the relativity principle. The question of its meaning was raised by critical observers whose comments led to a partial reinterpretation of general relativity. The German physicist Erich J. Kretschmann argued that the principle of general covariance has no physical content and only constitutes a mathematical requirement. This contention generated an exchange of letters in which Einstein conceded Kretschmann's criticism, but Einstein does not mention Kretschmann's remarks explicitly in his book. The chapter discusses these developments and correlates them with his correspondence with colleagues and with other texts he published during the formative years.

Keywords:   formative years, relativity principle, general relativity, Erich J. Kretschmann, reinterpretations, general covariance, Albert Einstein

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