“Relativity: The Special and the General Theory” by Albert Einstein

The Beauty of Logic

I first came across an exposition of the theory of relativity in “The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene, and “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. Without those two books, I don’t know whether I would be able to understand and appreciate this book as much as I do now. With that said, however, the exposition in this book is far better than the other two, in terms of beauty of logic and clarity of thought. Einstein leads the readers step by step, in a most logical and concise manner, through a fascinating and liberating thought process, to the theory of special and general relativity.

One learns to recognize the assumptions in a theoretical framework, and, by removing the arbitrary though ingrained presumptions that are neither necessitated by logic nor validated by experience, one reaches a deeper and more comprehensive understanding.

The Problem of Time and Space

In Appendix Five to the 15th edition, Einstein acknowledged that philosophers of old had long resisted the presumption of “empty space” or absolute time (cf. “Timaeus” by Plato). It would be interesting to see whether and how philosophical principles can be harmonized with empirical evidence.

“No fairer destiny could be allotted to any physical theory, than that it should of itself point out the way to the introduction of a more comprehensive theory, in which it lives on as a limiting case.”



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