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

By Abraham Pais | Go to book overview

12
The Einstein-Grossmann Collaboration

In memoriam: Marcel Grossmann


12a. From Prague to Zürich

Grossmann appeared in previous chapters as the helpful fellow student who made his course notes available to Einstein, as the helpful friend who together with his father paved the way for Einstein's appointment at the patent office in Bern, and as the friend to whom Einstein dedicated his doctoral thesis. It is now time to get better acquainted with him.

Grossmann, a descendant of an old Swiss family, was born in 1878 in Budapest, where his father was employed. He spent his first fifteen years there, then went to Switzerland, where he finished high school. Thereupon he studied at the ETH from 1896 to 1900, together with Einstein. During the next seven years, he taught high school, first in Frauenfeld and then in Basel. In that period he finished his thesis, 'On the Metrical Properties of Collinear Structures,' which earned him his doctoral degree at the University of Zürich, and published two geometry books for high school students and three papers on non-Euclidean geometry, his favorite subject. These papers contain very pretty planimetric constructions which, we are told, were praised by one no less than Hilbert [S1]. After a six-year pause, he published another four papers on related subjects in the years 1910-12. He presented one of these at the fifth international congress of mathematicians in Cambridge, England, in August 1912 [G1]. The mentioned papers are his entire scientific output prior to the collaboration with Einstein, which began a few months after the Cambridge conference. Evidently none of his prior research had any bearing on differential geometry or tensor analysis.

Grossmann had meanwhile joined the mathematics faculty at the ETH in Zürich, first as a stand-in and then, in 1907, as a full professor of geometry. Soon thereafter, he began to organize summer courses for high school teachers. In 1910 he became one of the founders of the Swiss Mathematical Society. The next year he was appointed dean of the mathematics-physics section of the ETH.

One of the first acts of the uncommonly young dean was to sound out Einstein

-208-

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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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