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Is my understanding of Einstein right?

  1. Mar 17, 2014 #1
    My background is Mathematics. I'm thinking about learning Physics as a hobby. I know a little Physics from courses and research I did in college. I rented from the public library a few weeks ago a PBS documentary on Einstein because I wanted to have a basic idea of his life and theories. The video was very critical of Einstein. It said that shortly before Einstein died, Quantum Mechanics had become a popular theory and Einstein had desperately tried to unify the field of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics but had failed to do so. They said that if Einstein was alive today to see Quantum Mechanics, he might've changed his mind about many things.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2014 #2


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    Gold Member

    Such documentary are often scripted by illiterate people who have no knowledge and even less understanding of the debates Einstein had on these questions with prominent physicists of that time. Remember also that Einstein won the Nobel price for its contribution to quantum mechanics.

    Have a read at this:


    and then switch to the hard side for which you are well prepared.
  4. Mar 17, 2014 #3


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    Or read a good biography of Einstein: "Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein" by Abraham Pais.
  5. Mar 17, 2014 #4
    Einstein critics

    No one has had more critics than Einstein. People are still trying to prove him wrong on various points. The thing about critics is they criticize.
    With a degree in math, you are well prepared to learn physics. Ordinary and partial differential equations, vector analysis, some sadistics(sic), form the basics, then tensors for general relativity.
    Bits and pieces of other stuff are usually worked into the physics courses, same for tensors.
  6. Mar 17, 2014 #5


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    Einstein had a huge impact on quantum mechanics. Do yourself a favor and stop taking those videos seriously.
  7. Mar 17, 2014 #6


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    Einstein's track record for reconsidering when presented with new data/results that challenged his thinking was very good. So it's quite likely that if he had lived to see some of these new developments, he would have had incorporated them into his thinking, and we'd all have been the richer for it.

    If there is one development that I really wish Einstein had lived to see (and he only missed by a few years) it would be Bell's theorem.

    And so far no one else has succeeded either, so I don't find that criticism especially compelling. It never ceases to amaze me that Einstein is so often criticized for not achieving more by people who have achieved far less.
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