The Evolution of Physics

The Evolution of Physics

The Evolution of Physics: "From Early Concept to Relativity and Quanta" (1938) is a book by Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld. It was originally published by Cambridge University Press.


The book has four chapters, each with eight or more sections. Chapter one is "The Rise of The Mechanical View". Chapter two "The Decline of the Mechanical View". Chapter three "Field, Relativity". Chapter four "Quanta".

Background of collaboration

Einstein agreed to write the book partly as a way to help Infeld, a Jew who had fled Nazi-occupied Poland, collaborated briefly in Cambridge with Max Born, and then moved to Princeton, where he worked with Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study. Einstein tried to get Infeld a permanent position there, but failed. So Infeld came up with a plan to write a history of physics with Einstein, which was sure to be successful, and split the royalties. When he went to Einstein to pitch the idea, Infeld became incredibly tongue-tied, but he was finally able to stammer out his proposal. “This is not at all a stupid idea,” Einstein said. “Not stupid at all. We shall do it.” The book was published by Simon & Schuster. It was a popular success and was featured in a cover story of Time magazine.

Book's point of view

In the book, Einstein pushed his realist approach to physics in defiance of much of quantum mechanics. Belief in an “objective reality,” the book argued, had led to great scientific advances throughout the ages, thus proving that it was a useful concept even if not provable. “Without the belief that it is possible to grasp reality with our theoretical constructions, without the belief in the inner harmony of our world, there could be no science,” the book declared. “This belief is and always will remain the fundamental motive for all scientific creation.”

In addition, Einstein used the text to defend the utility of field theories amid the advances of quantum mechanics. The best way to do that was to view particles not as independent objects but as a special manifestation of the field itself: "Could we not reject the concept of matter and build a pure field physics? We could regard matter as the regions in space where the field is extremely strong. A thrown stone is, from this point of view, a changing field in which the states of the greatest field intensity travel through space with the velocity of the stone."

Chapter one: The Rise of the Mechanical View

Pages 3 to 67.

Chapter two: The Decline of the Mechanical View

Pages 71 to 126.

Chapter three: Field, Relativity

Pages 129 to 260, divided into 14 sections. Chapter begins with the section The Field As Representation by stating Einstein and Infeld's view that the results of Faraday, Maxwell, and Hertz led to modern physics. Chapter then describes lines of force starting with gravitational fields (i.e., a physical collection of forces), moving on to descriptions of electric and magnetic fields. It concludes with the statement that "The change of an electric field produced by the motion of a charge is always accompanied by a magnetic field." And this section has been an attempt to "translate familiar facts from the language of fluids...into the new language of fields."

The two pilliars of the field theory (pp.142-148)

The reality of the field (pp.148-156)

Field and ether (pp.156-160)

The mechanical scaffold (pp.160-171)

Ether and motion (pp.172-186)

Time, distance, relativity (pp.186-202)

Relativity and mechanics (pp.202-209)

The time-space continuum (pp.209-220)

General relativity (pp.220-226)

Chapter four: Quanta

Pages 263 to 313.

Partial list of reviews

"Booklist" v. 34 (Apr. 15 1938). "New York Herald Tribune" (May 8 1938). "The Boston Transcript" (Apr. 30 1938). "The Open Shelf" (Mar. 1938). "Commonweal" v. 28 (July 8 1938). "Manchester Guardian" (Apr. 12 1938). "The Nation" v. 146 (May 7 1938). "Nature" v. 141 (May 21 1938). "The New Republic" v. 94 (Apr. 20 1938). "New Technical Books" v. 23 (Apr. 1938). "The New York Times" (Early City Edition) (Apr. 10 1938)."Pratt Institute Quarterly List of New Technical and Industry Books" (winter 1939). "Saturday Review of Literature" v. 17 (Apr. 2 1938)."Scientific Book Club Review" v. 9 (Mar. 1938). "Spectator" v. 161 (Aug. 26 1938)."Springfield Republican" (July 3 1938). "Survey Graphic" v. 27 (Dec. 1938). "The Times Literary Supplement" (Apr. 9 1938). "The Yale Review" v. 27 (summer 1938).


* "The Evolution of Physics", Albert Einstein & Leopold Infeld, 1938, Edited by C.P. Snow, Cambridge University Press, ASIN: B000S52QZ4
* "The Evolution of Physics from Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta", Albert Einstein & Leopold Infeld, 1966, Simon & Schuster, ASIN: B0011Z6VBK
* "The Evolution of Physics", Albert Einstein & Leopold Infeld, 1967, Touchstone. ISBN 0-6712-0156-5

External links

* [ Review of The Evolution of Physics]

* [ Free book download, PDF format (I had download it at May 30, 2008)]

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