Item #31 Zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (I&II). [On the General Theory of Relativity]. ALBERT EINSTEIN.
Zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (I&II). [On the General Theory of Relativity]

Zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (I&II). [On the General Theory of Relativity]

“During the past month I had one of the most exciting and strenuous times of my life, but also one of the most successful ones.” –Einstein, in a letter to Sommerfeld, on November 28, 1915.

“Einstein was in the throes of one of the most concentrated frenzies of scientific creativity in history. He was working, he said, ‘horrendously intensely'." -Isaacson, referring to Einstein’s work on his November 1915 papers.

FIRST PRINTINGS IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS of one of Einstein’s great 1915 papers (both parts) delivered before the Prussian Academy on the development of general relativity.

By autumn 1915, Einstein experienced a “crisis” in his work on his gravitational equations and the general theory of relativity, forcing him to abandon several key elements of his earlier work. In October 1915, “Einstein shifted his focus from the physical strategy, which emphasized his feel for the basic principles of physics, and returned to a greater reliance on a mathematical strategy, which made use of the Riemann and Ricci tensors... ‘Einstein’s reversal,’ writes John Norton, ‘parted the waters and led him from bondage into the promised land of general relativity’...

“The result was an exhausting, four-week frenzy during which Einstein wrestled with a succession of tensors, equations, corrections, and updates that he rushed to the Prussian Academy in a flurry of four Thursday lectures. It climaxed, with the triumphant revision of Newton’s universe, at the end of November 1915” (Isaacson).

In the November 4th paper and lecture, Einstein presented “to the plenary session of the Prussian Academy a new version of general relativity,” explaining “that he had ‘completely lost confidence’ in the equations [he] proposed in October 1914... His answers were still not entirely right. There was still one flaw, a much smaller one, which he eliminated three weeks later. But the road lay open. He was lyrical. ‘No one who has really grasped it can escape the magic of this [new] theory’” (Pais).

“Einstein presented his second paper the following Thursday, November 11. In it, he used the Ricci tensor and imposed new coordinate conditions that allowed the equations thus to be generally covariant.”

Two other papers delivered before the Academy followed (November 18 and November 25, not included here) in which Einstein completed his major work on general relativity. Weil 75.

IN: Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin: Verlag der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1915. Vol. 44-46. Pp. 778ff (November 4); 799ff (November 11). Quarto, original wrappers; custom box. FINE CONDITION.

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