Einstein's Unification

Einstein's Unification

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Why did Einstein tirelessly study unified field theory for more than 30 years? In this book, the author argues that Einstein believed he could find a unified theory of all of nature's forces by repeating the methods he thought he had used when he formulated general relativity. The book discusses Einstein's route to the general theory of relativity, focusing on the philosophical lessons that he learnt. It then addresses his quest for a unified theory for electromagnetism and gravity, discussing in detail his efforts with Kaluza-Klein and, surprisingly, the theory of spinors. From these perspectives, Einstein's critical stance towards the quantum theory comes to stand in a new light. This book will be of interest to physicists, historians and philosophers of science.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 21 b/w illus.
  • 1139632965
  • 9781139632966

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Formulating the gravitational field equations; 2. On the method of theoretical physics; 3. Unification and field theory; 4. Experiment and experience; 5. The method as directive: semivectors; 6. Unification in five dimensions; 7. The method and the quantum; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.show more

About Jeroen Van Dongen

Jeroen van Dongen is Assistant Professor at the Institute for History and Foundations of Science at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and has served as Associate Editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein at the California Institute of Technology.show more

Review quote

'... an impressive and important book ... Einstein's Unification is a unified, detailed, coherent, and convincing narrative about the path Einstein took after coming to general relativity and the reason for his all-consuming search for a unified theory of the forces of nature. Van Dongen's book will deeply influence how we understand Einstein and how future biographies that try to relate all aspects of Einstein's life will be written.' Isis '[This] book will be of interest to Einstein studies specialists, to historians and philosophers of science in general, and to scientists with any interest, professional or otherwise, in fundamental physics. The lay reader, provided they are reasonably well versed in physics, will find much to enjoy here also.' D. Kennefick, University of Arkansas 'Jeroen van Dongen's remarkable book - an updated and revised version of his Ph.D. thesis of 2002, meanwhile matured through the author's research in the Berlin group and subsequently at the Einstein Papers Project based at CalTech - offers a delightful tour through Einstein's efforts ... constantly analyzed from the dialectics of Einstein's use of (pure) mathematics versus actual physics. The author thereby establishes - and this may be said to be the main point of the book - a gradual shift from the latter (which formed the strength of Einstein's youth) to the former.' N. P. Landsman, The Mathematical Intelligencer 'Van Dongen's book is an excellent resource for all who wish to understand Einstein more deeply, balancing the technical, the philosophical, and the historical with skill and judgment ... By adding to his careful technical comments a nuanced, undogmatic treatment of the philosophical issues, van Dongen has made a truly valuable contribution to our understanding of Einstein.' Peter Pesic, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews '... a superb account of Einstein's strategy in discovering the general theory of relativity ...' Mathematical Reviewsshow more