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Relevant Einstein Quotes



“ ... That light requires the same time to traverse the path A→M as for the path B→M is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own free will in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity.  "

Albert Einstein, “Relativity ...”, chapter 8, “On the idea of time in physics”, 1916


" A mathematical friend of mine said to me the other day half in jest: “The mathematician can do a lot of things, but never what you happen to want him to do just at the moment.” Much the same often applies to the theoretical physicist when the experimental physicist calls him in. What is the reason for this peculiar lack of adaptability? ... "

Albert Einstein, "Principles of theoretical physics", 1914


" The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. "

Albert Einstein, "Principles of research", 1918


" ... I must observe that the theory of relativity resembles a building consisting of two separate stories, the special theory and the general theory. The special theory, on which the general theory rests, applies to all physical phenomena with the exception of gravitation; the general theory provides the law of gravitation and its relations to the other forces of nature. "

Albert Einstein, "What is the theory of relativity?", 1919


" ... In my opinion the answer to this question is, briefly, this: as far as the propositions of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. ... "

 Albert Einstein, "Geometry and Experience", 1921



" ... I must emphasize that Newton himself was better aware of the weaknesses inherent in his intellectual edifice than the generations of learned scientists which followed him. This fact has always aroused my deep admiration ... "

Albert Einstein, "The mechanics of Newton and their influence on the development of theoretical physics", 1927


" As regards the final aim, intermediary layers are only of temporary nature. They must eventually disappear as irrelevant. We have to deal, however, with the science of today, in which these strata represent problematic partial successes which support one another but which also threaten one another, because today's systems of concepts contain deep seated incongruities ...

There is no inductive method which could lead to the fundamental concepts of physics. Failure to understand this fact constituted the basic philosophical error of so many investigators of the nineteenth century. ... "

Albert Einstein, "Physics and reality", 1936


" For the time being, we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics, which can be regarded as its logical foundation. The field theory, so far, has failed in the molecular sphere. It is agreed on all hands that the only principle which could serve as the basis of quantum theory would be one that constituted a translation of the field theory into the scheme of quantum statistics. Whether this will actually come about in a satisfactory manner, nobody can say. "

Albert Einstein, Science, 1940


" Only at this further development where frequent use is made of so-called abstract concepts, language becomes an instrument of reasoning in the true sense of the word. But it is also this development which turns language into a dangerous source of error and deception. Everything depends on the degree to which words and word-combinations correspond to the world of impression. "

Albert Einstein, “The common language of science”, 1941



" The name “theory of relativity” is connected with the fact that motion from the point of view of possible experience always appears as the relative motion of one object with respect to another ... Motion is never observable as “motion with respect to space” or, as it has been expressed, “absolute motion” "

Albert Einstein, “The theory of relativity” 1949


" The general theory of relativity is as yet incomplete insofar as it has been able to apply the general principle of relativity satisfactorily only to gravitational fields, but not to the total field. We do not yet know with certainty, by what mathematical mechanism the total field in space is to be described and what the general invariant laws are to which this total field is subject. One thing, however, seems certain: namely, that the general principle of relativity will prove a necessary and effective tool for the solution of the problem of the total field. "

Albert Einstein, “The theory of relativity” 1949


" According to general relativity, the concept of space detached from any physical content does not exist.  ...

... all attempts to obtain a deeper knowledge of the foundations of physics seem doomed to me unless the basic concepts are in accordance with general relativity from the beginning. This ... forces us to apply free speculation to a much greater extent than is presently assumed by most physicists. "


Albert Einstein, “On the generalized theory of gravitation” April 1950


" ... We are now in a position to see how far the transition to the general theory of relativity modifies the concept of space. In accordance with classical mechanics and according to the special theory of relativity, space (space-time) has an existence independent of matter or field. ...

... On the basis of the general theory of relativity, on the other hand, space as opposed to “what fills space” ... has no separate existence. ... If we imagine the gravitational field ... to be removed, there does not remain a space of the type (1), but absolutely nothing, and also no “topological space”. "


Albert Einstein, “Relativity ...” Appendix 5, “Relativity and the problem of space” 1952


" Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept “empty space” loses its meaning. "

Albert Einstein, “Relativity ...”, Notes to the Fifteenth Edition


" It is the essential achievement of the general theory of relativity that it has freed physics from the necessity of introducing the "inertial system" (or inertial systems). This concept is unsatisfactory for the following reason: without deeper foundation it singles out certain coordinate systems among all conceivable ones. It is then assumed that the laws of physics hold only for such inertial systems (e.g. the law of inertia and the law of the constancy of the velocity of light. Thereby, space as such is assigned a role in the system of physics that distinguishes it from all other elements in the physical description. It plays a determining role in all processes, without in its turn being influenced by them. Though such a theory is logically possible, it is on the other hand rather unsatisfactory. "

Albert Einstein, “The Meaning of Relativity”, Appendix II (1950/1955)

 


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