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Sidelights on Relativity

Albert Einstein

Book Overview: 

Sidelights on Relativity contains ETHER AND THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY, an address delivered on May 5th, 1920, in the University of Leyden; and GEOMETRY AND EXPERIENCE, an expanded form of an address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin on January 27th, 1921.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Newton's mechanics was shaken by the experiments with beta-rays and rapid kathode rays.

This dualism still confronts us in unextenuated form in the theory of Hertz, where matter appears not only as the bearer of velocities, kinetic energy, and mechanical pressures, but also as the bearer of electromagnetic fields. Since such fields also occur in vacuo—i.e. in free ether—the ether also appears as bearer of electromagnetic fields. The ether appears indistinguishable in its functions from ordinary matter. Within matter it takes part in the motion of matter and in empty space it has everywhere a velocity; so that the ether has a definitely assigned velocity throughout the whole of space. There is no fundamental difference between Hertz's ether and ponderable matter (which in part subsists in the ether).

The Hertz theory suffered not only from the defect of ascribing to matter and ether, on the one hand mechanical states, and on the othe. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A skinny little book containing a pair of lectures on, well, sidelights on Relativity. Interesting notes on the historical development of scientific theory and on visualizing non-Euclidean geometry in a meaningful way. When I first read it back in school, I found it to be a great appendix to our...more

Comprised of two lectures delivered at the University of Leyden (1920) and the Prussian Academy of Sciences (1921),
Sidelights on Relativity is probably best served to gluttons. (I count myself among them.) "Ether and Relativity" is his rebuttal of the idea of a universal "ether" through which...more

Short but very interesting and surprisingly clear! It really brings out Einstein's ability to explain difficult concepts in a way which pretty much confirms one of his quotes:

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."

(At least I think he really said it, you can...more

The essays were a bit hard to understand, especially the first one where Einstein talked about the idea of the "luminiferous ether" which is no longer accepted today. But I had read Carl Sagan's explanation of it (and of Maxwell's Electromagnetic Theory) in both Cosmos and The Demon-Haunted World...more

An exceptional historic document composed of two distinct addresses by Albert Einstein.

Firstly, recounting the stumbling of Physical Science from Newton's theory to his own: the intrinsic relation of matter and energy; and how the influence of problems derived from Hertz's investigations in elect...more

I explored this with the feelings that I am reading Albert Einstein's point of view. It holds true in being as concrete as much as his work bares to be. A masterful work translated here to help undestand what or why his belief in relativity is and written in a modernist simple terms using physics...more

This book is for anyone. This gives a nice context to Relativity, without actually explaining much about it, but by through two relevant stories (one about the theory of light and the other about the transition to non-euclidean geometries), Einstein, the man himself, gives an accessible potted sc...more

este libro que por primera vez entiendo completamente contiene dos presentaciones en universidades distintas de la visión de Einstein sobre lo que son los problemas teóricos y su hobbie, los problemas teóricos mentales, como llegó a la idea de la relatividad y lo que las matemáticas le aportaron...more

If you want to know anything about the basics of relativity, Einstein's pretty much the only one to read. He brings an unusual and remarkable clarity to his own work without grandstanding.

This short bit combines two lectures from the early 1920s answering some of the inherent queries on his recen...more

Fascinating lay explanations of Einstein's relativity theories from the man himself, including contextual (and competing) information relevant to the breakthroughs. No prerequisite mathematics knowledge needed, though comfort with basic kinetic Euclidian/Newtonian celestial motion (such as basic...more

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