Эссе: Einstein's Theory in Essays in Science and Philosophy


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Английский язык
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Эссе
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11

... Before passing on to Einstein's later work a tribute should be paid to the genius of Minkowski. It was he who stated in its full generality the conception of a four-dimensional world embracing space and time, in which the ultimate elements, or points, are the infinitesimal occurrences in the life of each particle. He built on Einstein's foundations, and his work forms an essential factor in the evolution of relativistic theory. Einstein's later work is comprised in what he calls the theory of general relativity. I will summarize what appear to me as the essential components of his thought, at the same time warning my readers of the danger of misrepresentation which lies in such summaries of novel ideas. It is safer to put it as my own way of envisaging the theory. What are time and space? They are the names for ways of conducting certain measurements. The four dimensions of nature as conceived by Minkowski express the fact that four measurements with a certain peculiar type of mutual independence are required to formulate the relations of any infinitesimal occurrence to the rest of the physical universe. These ways of measurement can be indefinitely varied by change of character, so that four independent measurements of one character will specify an occurrence just as well as four other measurements of some other character. A set of four measurements of a definite character which assigns a special type to each of the four measurements will be called a measure-system. ...