Item #151 Die formale Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie. [The Formal Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity]. ALBERT EINSTEIN.

Die formale Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie. [The Formal Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity]


AN ASSOCIATION COPY: Inscribed by the theoretical physicist Gunnar Nordström, often designated by modern writers as "The Einstein of Finland."

"In summer 1914, Einstein felt that the new theory [general relativity] should be presented in a comprehensive review. He also felt that a mathematical derivation of the field equations that would determine them uniquely was still missing.

"Both tasks are addressed in a long paper, presented in October 1914 to the Prussian Academy for publication in its Sitzungsberichte. It is entitled 'The formal foundation of the general theory of relativity'; here, for the first time, Einstein gave the new theory of relativity the epithet 'general' in lieu of the more cautious 'generalized' that he had used for the Entwurf" (Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics 1640-1940).

"According to John Norton ('How Einstein Found His Field Equations'), this major review article was intended to convey the full content of the 1913 'Entwurf' theory: 'The principal novelty lies in the mathematical formulation of the theory. Drawing on earlier work with [Marcel] Grossman, Einstein formulated his gravitational field equations using a variation principle. Using this richer mathematical structure Einstein offered a proof purporting to demonstrate that his theory had the maximum covariance compatible with the hole argument; that is, covariance under 'justified' transformation between the 'adapted coordinate systems' he had introduced with Grossman'" (Calaprice, The Einstein Almanac).

Provenance: Gunnar Nordström (1881-1923) (‘G. Nordström’ written in pencil on upper wrapper in Nordström’s hand). Mathematical annotations in pencil to margin of p. 1077 (in Nordström’s hand?). Later inscription in Russian on upper wrapper. Einstein had an extended correspondence with Nordström on the subject of Nordström’s own competing theory of gravitation, which at the time was considered a serious competitor to Einstein’s, and which he completed in the same year as the present paper. A few years later Nordström also assisted Einstein in his work on gravitational waves.

Note: This is the very rare author’s presentation offprint, with “Überreicht vom Verfasser” printed on upper wrapper.

Offprint from: Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, XLI, 19 November 1914, pp. 1030-1085. Berlin: Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1914. Octavo, (254x176mm) original wrappers; custom box. Light wear to upper and lower part of spine, very light vertical crease from having been folded (for post?), small ink mark to rear wrapper, outer margin of all text leaves and wrapper have been unevenly cut - this might have been done by an early owner as a way of opening all the text leaves at once, instead of having to cut open each of the closed pages one at a time.

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