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Einstein's Last Thirty Years

  1. Jun 10, 2008 #1
    Hi All,

    I understand that Einstein pursued the Unified Field Theory for the last 30 years of his life, pretty much going against mainstream physics. Of course he never succeeded because the necessary foundation was not yet in place for this pursuit.

    Does this mean that the last 30 years of Einstein's life was a waste to the Physics community or did he still make contributions during this time? I certainly hope that he did though I really don't know.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2008 #2


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    I knew a physicist who actually worked with him on his research during the last 30 years of his life. He claimed it was one of the great urban legends about his career, that he suddenly stopped being productive and being 'Einstein'.

    Its true that most of his published materials of the time are wrong in some way, but there is still a lot of theoretical value to them (good ideas have a tendency to repeat themselves in nature).

    He also still had the intellectual influence and his eye for good physics. For instance he was amongst the only ones to actually understand and appreciate the path integral when Feynman first introduced it in field theory. The rest of the field at the time preferred Schwinger's ideas.

    But yea. Unified field theory was ultimately bound for failure given what they knew in the 30s and 40s. They still had no idea about QCD/Electroweak scale physics and so forth.
  4. Jun 15, 2008 #3
    einstein's view

    i want to know the geometry that used to explain the characteristics of atomic particle and what was Einstein's field theoretic view of quantum theory????
  5. Jun 15, 2008 #4
  6. Jun 16, 2008 #5
    Thanks Kev. I have watched the video of The Hawking's Paradox. But I read that Einstein tried to prove the Unified Field Theory through Tensor geometry. Are there any book or paper?
  7. Jun 17, 2008 #6


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    Einstein worked on a number of different models at the time. For instance, Kaluza Klein models were at first glance a semi obvious start for a unified theory. They were 5dimensional, but naturally outputed electromagnetism without putting it in by hand.

    They don't quite work out, but you get very close (for instance fermions are difficult to incorporate, and its hard to get spherically symmetric 4d solutions etc)

    He then played around with antisymmetric gravity, Weyl gravity and a host of other proposals. Wiki probably covers most of them, you can try looking up classical unified field theories.
  8. Jun 17, 2008 #7
    Why was he so hung up on the universe being predictable? He even contributed to the discovery of the atom, so why not follow it's advances? Surely he could have made good contributions to the nuclear forces...
  9. Jun 17, 2008 #8
    Why don't you ask him yourself when you die? I'm kidding.

    I don't really know if it's practical to question the things that others spend their time on, let alone Albert Einstein. Why don't you spend some time contributing to lattice QCD? I'm sure you could make some good contributions.
  10. Jun 18, 2008 #9
    I'm in no way questioning his morals, just trying to learn more about him...

    From what I've read about him, he pretty much ignored the other forces in his later years. Obviously my sources wont always be accurate, but he must have had some good reason to assume that the universe had to be predictable. I'm sure after the huge revelation that happened in physics during the early 1900's would be enough to say to people that the universe is and probably always will be, not what it seems.

    He was on the search for unification and even 50 years after his death, we still haven't unified the forces, including our current knowledge of the quantum world. I guess this is why I'm asking because he obviously lost track somewhere along the line. I understand that people can choose to do what they do, but there's no harm in asking why a person, even of his stature, would chose to persue unification in the blindest corner possible.
  11. Jun 18, 2008 #10
    Perhaps it was because change is stress, and stress is something most people tend to avoid.
  12. Jun 26, 2008 #11
    On lighter vein, applying it to universe, instead of people:

    0) change is stress.
    1) One can attempt to predict universe since it avoids change (see 0 for why)
    2) Once one is able to predict, one starts to take advantage of universe, stressing it out.
    3) Once universe is sufficiently stressed out, it changes, throwing us back to (1)
  13. Jun 27, 2008 #12
    Ive heard that this was false, Einstein did eventually give in to the pressures of quantum physics as several theories were being proven and im sure theres a few pages of which he attempted to combine both theories.

    What was seen to be his downfall was that he could not imagine the unification of the theories as he could with imagining what would it be like to travel along side a beam of light and what would happen if someone was falling in an elevator etc..

    That and he was getting old. You can't keep this up forever.
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