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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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Space and Time in Pre-relativity Physics

Space and Time in Pre-relativity Physics

(p.161) Space and Time in Pre-relativity Physics
The Formative Years of Relativity

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Princeton University Press

This chapter begins with an epistemological discussion of space and time and of geometry in relation to Einstein's formulation of relativity theory. It introduces the concept of invariants. These are the only quantities to have an objective significance with respect to a specific geometry. The chapter then introduces the basics of tensor calculus. Tensor formulation of the laws of physics guarantees that they are covariant with respect to transformations, which represent the symmetry of space. The symmetry of space, namely, its isotropy and homogeneity, determines the form of physical laws. Einstein refers to this as “the principle of relativity with respect to direction.” The chapter then demonstrates how this principle is reflected in some of the equations of physics.

Keywords:   space, time, pre-relativity physics, physics, geometry, tensor calculus, tensor formulation, symmetry of space, Albert Einstein

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