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  1. Jan 8, 2013 #1
    Good afternoon,

    I have two downloaded publications:

    On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies A. Einstein, 1905 Translated by Lorentz, Einstein & Minkowsky as The Principle of Relativity London 1923 as published 26 pages; and

    Relativity: The Special and General Theory A. Einstein 1916, revised 1924 Methuen & Co.

    Are either (or both?) "The Theory of Special Relativity"

    If not where could I find the "official" English translation of the theory?


  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The first is the seminal paper on Special Relativity, and the second is Einstein's explanation of both Special and General relativity for a non-technical audience.

    In the century and more that has passed, the mathematical formalism has changed a great deal so neither are suitable as your only introduction to modern relativity (it would be sort of like discussing classical mechanics in Latin just because that's what Isaac Newton used); but both are (IMO) required reading anyone who wants to understand relativity instead of just parroting formulas.
  4. Jan 8, 2013 #3
    Thank you!

    I am as interested in knowing how we got here as I am in knowing where we currently stand. The path of knowledge is as interesting as the information itself.

    I just wanted to be sure that I was looking at "it", the primary source if you like. I hate not being able to chase down a reference and many of the texts phrase things like "The theory states...". I am also afraid of being led astray by "interpretations".

  5. Jan 8, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    OK, then those are good for your purposes. They ARE translations, but that seldom creates any serious problem - the only difficulty that I'm aware of is the distinction between English "speed" and "velocity" which (I am told by German speakers) aren't reflected in the original German.
  6. Jan 8, 2013 #5
    The special and the general theory (1916) looks like it has the "special" theory in it, doesn't it? Good luck in getting anything out of the seminal relativity or even QM papers of the early 20th century if you're new to the game. Of course we all want to "touch" the seminal papers, but in this case it is only possible, in my opinion, to work backwards to these from modern treatments of the subject. Even the 1916 book you mentioned didn't do much for me, and its designed to be a popular book.
  7. Jan 8, 2013 #6


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    For GR, you probably want The foundation of the general theory of relativity, A. Einstein, Annalen der Physik 49 (1916) 769. The introduction is actually very readable.
  8. Jan 9, 2013 #7
    Thank you all again,

    You have now touched on my follow-up question which is, now that I have "the beginning", where has the theory wandered off to? What are the current accepted interpretations and applications? What are the recommended publications?

    I am a logician, essentially, I build analytical models for the financial industry but I have always had a passion for physics. I had high marks in maths and physics out of high school (many years ago) but a direct scholarly route was not available to me at that time. I now have accumulated sufficient years of university economics, math, philosophy, logic, history (and a little latin) etc. that I feel comfortable to turn my attention back to the study of reality. So to say I'm "new" to the game is overstating the case a little.

    I am currently self-studying the basics; classical mechanics, electromagnetism, light and waves plus the maths with as rigourous a study programme as I think any first year student would face (open courseware is a wonderful thing and Walter Lewin is an excellent presenter). Labs are problematic but solveable.

    I'm looking ahead a little bit here into subjects that are a little more engaging but I need direction so as not to waste time on unnecessary reading. I have less time than most.

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