The Journey Toward General Relativity

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Fall

2016

Elegant Connections in Physics

The Journey Toward General Relativity

Part 2: 1912–1913

By:

Dwight E. Neuenschwander, Professor of Physics, Southern Nazarene University, Bethany, OK

Image by Matt Payne

This is the second part in a series outlining Albert Einstein’s development of the general theory of relativity.  In Part 1 we saw that by mid-1911 Einstein1

  • knew that, in general, the equivalence principle held only locally, and likewise the Lorentz transformation, implying the need of a larger invariance group (thus, physical laws more complex than Maxwell’s equations for electrodynamics were needed for gravitation);
  • had confidence in an action principle for a particle falling freely in a gravitational field;
  • realized the gravitational field equations must be nonlinear because gravitational field energy is a source of gravitation;
  • had calculated gravitational redshift and predicted 0.83" deflection of a light ray grazing the Sun, essentially the same as the Newtonian prediction.

Download PDF for full article. Read Part 1: 1907-1912.

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The Journey Toward General Relativity, Part 2: 1912-1913

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