Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein

By Abraham Pais | Go to book overview

14
The Field Equations of Gravitation

14a. From Zürich to Berlin

On November 25, 1915, Einstein presented to the physics-mathematics section of the Prussian Academy of Sciences a paper in which 'finally the general theory of relativity is closed as a logical structure' [E1]. The title of that paper is identical with the heading of the present chapter, in which it is described how his field equations reached their final form.

Einstein was still a professor at the ETH when he presented his report to the Vienna meeting discussed in Chapter 13. However, by then he had already decided to leave Zürich.

In the spring of 1913, Planck and Nernst had come to Zürich for the purpose of sounding out Einstein about his possible interest in moving to Berlin. A combination of positions was held out to him: membership in the Prussian Academy with a special salary to be paid, half by the Prussian government and half by the physics-mathematics section of the Academy from a fund maintained with outside help, a professorship at the University of Berlin with the right but not the obligation to teach, and the directorship of a physics institute to be established. The new institute was to be under the auspices of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft, an organization founded in 1911 to support basic research with the aid of funds from private sources.*

Much later, Einstein recalled an interesting exchange between himself and Planck during this Zürich visit. ' Planck had asked him what he was working on, and Einstein described general relativity as it was then. Planck said, "As an older friend I must advise you against it for in the first place you will not succeed; and even if you succeed, no one will believe you."' [S1].

Einstein reacted rapidly and positively to the approach from Berlin. His correspondence from that period makes abundantly clear the principal reason for his interest in this offer. Neither then nor later was he averse to discussing physics issues with younger colleagues and students; but he had had enough of teaching classes. All he wanted to do was think. The catalogue of PhD theses awarded at

____________________
*
This physics institute started its activities in 1917. In 1921, von Laue took over the main day-to- day responsibilities.

-239-

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Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To the Reader vii
  • Contents (entries in Italics Are Almost Entirely Biographical) xi
  • I- Introductory 3
  • 1- Purpose and Plan 5
  • 2- Relativity Theory and Quantum Theory 26
  • 3 - Portrait of the Physicist as a Young Man 49
  • II- Statistical Physics 53
  • 4- Entropy and Probability 55
  • 5- The Reality of Molecules 79
  • III- Relativity, the Special Theory 109
  • 6- ''subtle is the Lord . . .'' 111
  • 7- The New Kinematics 138
  • 8- The Edge of History 163
  • IV- Relativity, the General Theory 175
  • 9- ''The Happiest Thought of My Life'' 177
  • References 184
  • 10- Herr Professor Einstein 190
  • 11- The Prague Papers 192
  • 12- The Einstein-Grossmann Collaboration 208
  • 12- The Einstein-Grossmann Collaboration 208
  • References 228
  • 13- Field Theories of Gravitation 237
  • 14- The Field Equations of Gravitation 239
  • 15 - The New Dynamics 292
  • V- The Later Journey 297
  • 16- ''The Suddenly Famous Doctor Einstein'' 299
  • 17- Unified Field Theory 325
  • VI - The Quantum Theory 355
  • 18 - Preliminaries 363
  • 19- The Light-Quantum 364
  • 20- Einstein and Specific Heats 389
  • 21- The Photon 402
  • 22- Interlude- The Bks Proposal 416
  • 23- A Loss of Identity 423
  • 24- Einstein as a Transitional Figure 435
  • 25- Einstein''s Response to the New Dynamics 440
  • 26- Einstein''s Vision 460
  • VII- Journey''s End 471
  • 27- The Final Decade 473
  • 28- Epilogue 479
  • VIII- Appendices 481
  • 29- Of Tensors and a Hearing Aid and Many Other Things 483
  • 30- How Einstein Got the Nobel Prize 502
  • 31 - Einstein''s Proposals for the Nobel Prize 518
  • 32- An Einstein Chronology 520
  • Name Index 531
  • Subject Index 539
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