The Formative Years of RelativityThe History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures

The Formative Years of RelativityThe History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures

Jürgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780691174631

Publisher: Princeton University Press


First published in 1922 and based on lectures delivered in May 1921, Albert Einstein's The Meaning of Relativity offered an overview and explanation of the then new and controversial theory of relativity. The work would go on to become a monumental classic, printed in numerous editions and translations worldwide. Now, this book introduces Einstein's masterpiece to new audiences. The volume contains Einstein's insightful text, accompanied by important historical materials and commentary looking at the origins and development of general relativity. The book provides fresh, original perspectives, placing Einstein's achievements into a broader context for all readers. It tells the rich story behind the early reception, spread, and consequences of Einstein's ideas during the formative years of general relativity in the late 1910s and 1920s. Relativity's meaning changed radically throughout the nascent years of its development, and the book describes in detail the transformation of Einstein's work from the esoteric pursuit of one individual communicating with a handful of colleagues into the preoccupation of a growing community of physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers. The book quotes extensively from Einstein's correspondence and reproduces historical documents such as newspaper articles and letters. Inserts are featured in the main text giving concise explanations of basic concepts, and short biographical notes and photographs of some of Einstein's contemporaries are included. The first-ever English translations of two of Einstein's popular Princeton lectures are featured at the book's end.