on 23 March 1999
This is a collection of the original papers that led to the principle of relativity.
The book gives excellent insight as to how and why the theory was developed. It clearly shows how the theory better explains certain parts of our universe.
The only drawback is that the mathematical level may cause the book to be unapproachable to many. I reccommend at least one year of Calculus if you intend to understand the works fully. Without such a background the book is difficult at best, but still rewarding.
If you lack this background you might be better served by reading Einsteins Relativity, the first book in the list above of what purchasers of this book also bought.
Nonetheless I agree with the School Science and Mathematics review,"It is really a thrill to read again the original papers by these giants."
on 21 July 2011
This compact collection of English translations of the original papers is a cheap and highly accessible reference book.
The book is a chronology of the development of the theory of Relativity. Starting with Lorentz' papers on Michelson's interference experiment and electromagnetic phenomena in moving frames of reference, the book follows the rapid development of the subject from Einstein's ground breaking papers of 1905 on Electrodynamics and Inertia. Minkowski's original paper on Space-Time is a delight: it's always a pleasant surprise when one finds that the explanation of the originator has not been bettered in nearly 100 years!
Latter chapters of the book present Einstein's papers on General Relativity -which are mathematically complex. They are definitely not the place to start if one wants to learn the principles of General Relativity. Nonetheless, after one has learnt the principles from more accessible materials, such as "The Principles of Cosmology and Gravitation" by M V Berry, these papers can be very useful as original sources that the reader can use in order to grasp the methods by which Einstein presented his revolutionary discoveries.
This is an excellent, high value, low cost source that is worth keeping!
This book is just 11 original papers in connection with Relativity, both the Special and the General Theory.
It's always good to go back to prime sources. A glance will show just how straightforward the Special was by contrast to the General (where the tensor notation abounds). The papers in question are:-
1. Michelson's Interference Experiment - H.A.Lorentz.
2. Electromagnetic Phenomena in a System moving with any velocity less than that of Light. - H.A.Lorentz.
3. On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies - A. Einstein.
4. Does the Inertia of a body depend on its Energy-Content? - A. Einstein
5. Space and time - H. Minkowski.
6. On the Influence of Gravitation on the Propagation of Light. - A. Einstein
7. The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity - A. Einstein.
8. Hamilton's Principle and the General Theory of Relativity. - A. Einstein
9. Cosmological Considerations of the General Theory of Relativity. - A. Einstein
10. Do Gravitational Fields play an Essential Part in the Structure of the Elementary Particles of Matter? - A. Einstein
11. Gravitation and Electricity. - H. Weyl
Paper 4 is, of course, where Einstein derived the famous E = mc^2 relation. (Though in the paper he uses "L" instead of the more conventional "E").
This is a short paper and is really a corollary of the previous one on electrodynamics. He concludes by noting that if a body gives off energy in the form of radiation then it's mass must reduce by E/c^2.
He then says:- "The fact that the energy withdrawn from the body becomes energy of radiation ... so that we are led to the more general conclusion that The mass of a body is a measure of its energy-content." And, in an interesting way of looking at it, "... radiation conveys inertia between the emitting and absorbing bodies."
I have done this review today on Einstein's birthday, 14th March. A curiosity is that, in American chronology this is "3/14". But 3.14... is the number Pi. How strange.
on 8 October 2015
... Beware : This is not an introductory book, i.e. not a first book !!! But it definitely deserves 5 stars.
Just consider that it contains the original papers written by giants and for their peers, theoretical physicists, and certainly not for a newcomer to Relativity.
More specifically : In his paper, Lorentz doesn't even try to be clear ; Minkowski's text , even after "clarification" by Sommerfeld may appear as cryptic ; only Einstein really tries to make his vision more accessible, but not simple (his maxim !).
Hence, in order not to be disappointed, it's advisable to take another route, as follows and in that order :
1. "Relativity : the special and general theory" by A. Einstein.
2. EITHER, start with an introductory book to the special theory ( there are a lot of good books, such as the one by James H. Smith).
3. OR, use the "JEWEL", i.e. Lillian Lieber's "the Einstein theory of Relativity", covering both the special and the general theories. And complement that via another jewel, of a rare explanatory power : "Gravitation", written by a master, Eddington...
4. But, note that in any case, if you elect to dig into the general theory, you'll have to understand first the theory of tensors ! And, even though Lieber covers that aspect, it's a lot better to acquire a good understanding of tensors before, via : the excellent "A student's guide to vectors and tensors" by Dan Fleisch ; and if you find it interesting, you can try then "Differential Geometry" by M. Lipschutz ; and, if you're still interested and very courageous, you may go to "Differential Geometry" by E. Kreyszig, and that would really be beating it to death...
5. Now, if you prefer the YouTube route, I've noted :
- The two quite good series (special and general theories) by L. Susskind (Stanford).
- The two SPLENDID series (special and general theories) by R. Taillet (Université de Savoie), in french.
Note, again, that even if those two professors try their best in introducing tensors, my point 4. is still applicable...
6. Then, and only then, you'll be happy to get to the famous, original Einstein's papers.
Indeed, it's a long way to tip the iceberg and a beautiful journey to understanding Relativity.
on 16 August 2013
This book is fundamental, notorious and vital for the student and professional of physics, featuring elegant mathematics articles by Einstein, Weyl and Minkowski, it is of great importance for physics as it states their most important foundations, it was donated by me to Professor Doctor Teresa pena of Instituto Superior Tecnico of Lisbon-utl.ist.pt and also the portuguese translation was donated by me to Professor Doctor Pena, a translation by the fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon-gulbenkian.pt- as -"O principio da relatividade" in portuguese translated.
Fantastic book, of the most importance for the advance of science.
P. Rose/ M. Lapa