Gravitation (notes 2)


 The book has arrived (Relativity: The Special & the General Theory). It was written by Albert Einstein in 1916, translated into English in 1920, and this edition is from 2010. I’ve always liked Einstein – ever since being told about the photoelectric effect. His preface makes it clear that this book is non-mathematical, hasn’t been written with elegance in mind, but that great pains have been taken to explain things clearly, even though this will lead to repetition. Also, no dumbing down has been engaged in. It’s a slim volume, with short chapters. The first few set the scene. Frames of reference.

Euclidean flat surface geometry is fine, but truth is difficult to establish (an early warning, I feel, of trouble to come). And, think on this: travelling on a train, a person drops a stone out of the window… falls straight down to the embankment (as far as they are concerned). But, from an observer watching as the train goes by the stone describes a parabola as it falls to the ground. What is the truth, here? Well, the question isn’t even wrong. The truth depends on where you are standing (or sitting). There is no absolute truth; the best that can be done is to describe the passage of the stone with time with reference to a defined frame of reference (one bolted to the train, or bolted to the observers seat). It’s relative. Einstein has thrown a spanner, and he has opened the ‘oh’ file.

[this reminds me that I recently read Smashing Physics by @jonmbutterworth, and now think I understand the search for the Higgs Boson. It’s a great book; a page turner. I intended to write a glowingly positive review, but haven’t yet. I highly recommend it.]


2 thoughts on “Gravitation (notes 2)

  1. Pingback: Gravitation (notes 3) | chemistrypoet

  2. Pingback: Gravitation (notes 5) | chemistrypoet

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