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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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Einstein’s Lectures

Einstein’s Lectures

(p.366) 2 Einstein’s Lectures
The Formative Years of Relativity

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Princeton University Press

This chapter reproduces the extant text of the two lectures. In these two lectures, Einstein explains very thoroughly the principles and conceptual foundations of, first, special and then general relativity with a minimum of mathematical apparatus. He also includes qualitative discussions of the main experiential evidence supporting his theories, such as the Michelson-Morley experiment (which Einstein calls the Michelson experiment) as support for the validity of the relativity principle, and also of the propagation of light. The guiding theme is the principle of relativity, which he begins to explain in basic kinematic terms. In the conclusion of both his lectures, he emphasizes, first, that the most important task of a physical theory is to reduce the number of independent assumptions rooted in experience, and that, second, spatial and temporal aspects of reality are inevitably tied up with all other physical laws.

Keywords:   relativity lectures, special relativity, general relativity, theory of relativity, experiential evidence, relativity principle, propagation of light, Michelson experiment

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