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Ideas of Albert Einstein, by Text

[German, 1879 - 1955, Born at Ulm. Educated in Munich and Switzerland. In the patent office in Berne. USA in 1930, and settled at Princeton University.]

1915 works
p. I do not believe in a personal God
     Full Idea: I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.
     From: Albert Einstein (works [1915]), quoted by Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion Ch.1.15
     A reaction: This is an important corrective to those who claim Einstein as religious, on the basis of remarks about God not playing dice etc. See the whole of Dawkins's chapter on Einstein for full discussion.
p.40 Assume the speed of light is constant for all observers, and the laws of physics are the same
     Full Idea: Einstein assumed that when each observer measures the speed of light in a vacuum, they find the same value, regardless of their speed; and that measurements will lead to agreement on the laws of physics.
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Graham Farmelo - The Strangest Man 03
     A reaction: So are the laws of physics constant for all observers, irrespective of their speed?
p.40 The theory is 'special' because it sticks to observers moving straight, at constant speeds
     Full Idea: Einstein's first theory is 'special' because it only deals with observers who move in a straight line at constant speeds with respect to one another.
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Graham Farmelo - The Strangest Man 03
     A reaction: Most theories of this period seem to have focused on the simplest cases, for obvious reasons.
p.40 Space-time arises from the connection between measurements of space and of time
     Full Idea: Einstein noted that the measurements of space and time are not independent but inextricably linked, leading to the idea of unified space-time (introduced by his former teacher Minkowski).
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Graham Farmelo - The Strangest Man 03
     A reaction: Notice the instrumentalist assumptions behind this.
p.91 General Relativity says there is no absolute force or acceleration
     Full Idea: Einstein's General Theory arose from the idea that there is no absolute measure of force and acceleration.
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Frank Close - Theories of Everything 5 'Gravity'
     A reaction: If absolutely everything is only true relative to something else you wonder what the point of measuring anything is. How big can a 'frame of reference' or 'inertial frame' be. Is the multiverse a frame of reference?
p.97 Newton is a special case of Einstein's general theory, with an infinite speed of light
     Full Idea: Einstein's general relativity included Newton's theory as a special case: Newton's theory corresponds to the speed of light being infinite relative to the speed of the interacting bodies.
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Frank Close - Theories of Everything 5 'Gravity'
     A reaction: So Newton's theory was NOT wrong, but he made the false assumption that the speed of light was infinite.
p.101 General relativity assumes laws of nature are the same in all frames of reference
     Full Idea: Einstein came to general relativity from the principles that the laws of nature are the same in all frames of reference.
     From: report of Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Frank Close - Theories of Everything 5 'Cosmological'
     A reaction: I wish physicists would tell us a bit more about the ontological status of the 'laws of nature'. Presumably they are not supernatural, so there is an aspect of nature which is constant in all frames of reference. Explanation please.
p.108 Mass is a measure of energy content
     Full Idea: The mass of a body is the measure of its energy content.
     From: Albert Einstein (works [1915]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 04 'Intro'
     A reaction: If I knew what energy was, this would be very illuminating. This idea is e=mc^2 in words. We now have the Higgs field to consider when trying to understand mass.
p.124 Special relativity, unlike general relativity, was operationalist in spirit
     Full Idea: Einstein's interpretation of special relativity was operationalist in spirit (in marked contrast to the interpretation he gave to general relativity).
     From: comment on Albert Einstein (works [1915]) by Hilary Putnam - Reason, Truth and History Ch.5
     A reaction: The late twentieth century was polluted with daft relativism, and I hold Einstein partly responsible, suspecting that he was a bad philosopher. The later development of Einstein's view noted here is interesting.