Relativity : The Special and the General Theory - 100th Anniversary Edition

4.19 (18,165 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Commentaries by  , Commentaries by 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days

When will my order arrive?

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 8-11 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


After completing the final version of his general theory of relativity in November 1915, Albert Einstein wrote a book about relativity for a popular audience. His intention was "to give an exact insight into the theory of relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics." The book remains one of the most lucid explanations of the special and general theories ever written. In the early 1920s alone, it was translated into ten languages, and fifteen editions in the original German appeared over the course of Einstein's lifetime. This new edition of Einstein's celebrated book features an authoritative English translation of the text along with an introduction and a reading companion by Hanoch Gutfreund and Jurgen Renn that examines the evolution of Einstein's thinking and casts his ideas in a broader present-day context. A special chapter explores the history of and the stories behind the early foreign-language editions in light of the reception of relativity in different countries.
This edition also includes a survey of the introductions from those editions, covers from selected early editions, a letter from Walther Rathenau to Einstein discussing the book, and a revealing sample from Einstein's handwritten manuscript. Published on the hundredth anniversary of general relativity, this handsome edition of Einstein's famous book places the work in historical and intellectual context while providing invaluable insight into one of the greatest scientific minds of all time.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 27.94mm | 482g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 100th Anniversary ed.
  • w. 14 figs.
  • 0691166331
  • 9780691166339
  • 160,966

Back cover copy

"This new edition of Einstein's popular presentation of both special and general relativity is a joy to read. Over the past hundred years, relativity has been brought to the public in many forms--magazines, books, documentaries--but there's nothing quite like being guided through one of the most profound scientific insights of all time by the master himself."--Brian Greene, Columbia University

"This book is not only an important historical document, but displays the style and clarity of Einstein's thought in a manner accessible to a wide readership. It's good that it is being reissued in this fine new edition to mark the centenary of his greatest insights."--Martin Rees, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and Astronomer Royal

"I grew up reading this book. Many people have written expositions of relativity, but the master himself speaks with a certain authority. We get not only the content of the ideas, but the thought processes that helped create them. There's nothing quite like learning relativity from Einstein."--Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology

"This book will play a vital role in introducing new readers to Einstein and the many fascinating questions surrounding his work."--Richard Staley, author of Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution

"This exciting new edition of Einstein's book will be of real interest to scholars as well as general readers--and it is perfectly timed for the centennial of Einstein's general theory of relativity."--David Kaiser, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
show more

Table of contents

Introduction xiii Einstein as a Missionary of Science 1 Einstein's Booklet: Relativity: The Special and the General Theory 7 PART I : The Special Theory of Relativity 1.Physical Meaning of Geometrical Propositions 11 2.The System of Co- ordinates 14 3.Space and Time in Classical Mechanics 18 4.The Galileian System of Co- ordinates 21 5.The Principle of Relativity (in the Restricted Sense) 23 6.The Theorem of the Addition of Velocities Employed in Classical Mechanics 27 7.The Apparent Incompatibility of the Law of Propagation of Light with the Principle of Relativity 28 8.On the Idea of Time in Physics 32 9.The Relativity of Simultaneity 36 10.On the Relativity of the Conception of Distance 39 11.The Lorentz Transformation 41 12.The Behaviour of Measuring- Rods and Clocks in Motion 47 13.Theorem of the Addition of the Velocities. The Experiment of Fizeau 50 14.The Heuristic Value of the Theory of Relativity 54 15.General Results of the Theory 56 16.Experience and the Special Theory of Relativity 62 17.Minkowski's Four- Dimensional Space 68 PART II: The General Theory of Relativity 18.Special and General Principle of Relativity 72 19.The Gravitational Field 76 20.The Equality of Inertial and Gravitational Mass as an Argument for the General Postulate of Relativity 80 21.In What Respects Are the Foundations of Classical Mechanics and of the Special Theory of Relativity Unsatisfactory? 85 22.A Few Inferences from the General Principle of Relativity 88 23.Behaviour of Clocks and Measuring- Rods on a Rotating Body of Reference 93 24.Euclidean and Non- Euclidean Continuum 97 25.Gaussian Co- ordinates 101 26.The Space- Time Continuum of the Special Theory of Relativity Considered as a Euclidean Continuum 106 27.The Space- Time Continuum of the General Theory of Relativity Is Not a Euclidean Continuum 109 28.Exact Formulation of the General Principle of Relativity 113 29.The Solution of the Problem of Gravitation on the Basis of the General Principle of Relativity 117 PART III: Considerations on the Universe as a Whole 30.Cosmological Diffi culties of Newton's Theory 122 31.The Possibility of a "Finite" and Yet "Unbounded" Universe 125 32.The Structure of Space According to the General Theory of Relativity 131 Appendixes 1.Simple Derivation of the Lorentz Transformation (Supplementary to Section 11) (1918) 133 2.Minkowski's Four- Dimensional Space ("World") (Supplementary to Section 17) (1918) 140 3.The Experimental Confi rmation of the General Theory of Relativity (1920) 142 4.The Structure of Space According to the General Theory of Relativity (Supplementary to Section 32) (1946) 153 5.Relativity and the Problem of Space (1953) 155 A Reading Companion: Thirteen Commentaries Physics and Geometry ( 1- 2) 180 Mechanics and Space ( 3- 6) 182 Light Propagation and Time ( 7- 9) 187 Light Propagation and Space ( 10- 12 and Appendix 1) 191 Physics in Relativistic Space and Time ( 13- 16) 193 The World of Four Dimensions ( 17 and Appendix 2) 201 From Special to General Relativity 204 Gravitation and Inertia ( 18- 21) 205 Acceleration, Clocks, and Rods ( 22- 23) 209 Gravitation and Geometry ( 24- 27) 213 Gravitation and General Relativity ( 28- 29) 218 The Challenge of Cosmology ( 30- 32 and Appendix 4) 222 The Relation between Theory and Experiment (Appendix 3) 226 The Changing Concept of Space (Appendix 5) 230 A History and Survey of Foreign-Language Editions The English Translation 244 The French Translation 247 The Italian Translation 252 The Spanish Translation 256 The Russian Translation 259 The Chinese Translation 262 The Japanese Translation 266 The Polish Translation 270 The Czech Translation 273 The Hebrew Translation 276 Concluding Remarks 279 Appended Documents A Letter from Walther Rathenau to Einstein 281 A Sample Page of Einstein's Handwriting 284 Manuscript of Appendix 3 of the Booklet 286 Further Reading 293 Index 297
show more

Review Text

"This book will play a vital role in introducing new readers to Einstein and the many fascinating questions surrounding his work." - Richard Staley, author of Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution
show more

Review quote

One of Symmetry magazine's Physics Books of 2015 "I can still see some fugitive magic in Relativity ... it conjures Einstein as the oracle presenting a theory to the world--one of the most revolutionary and profound theories of all time."--Pedro Ferreira, Nature "Nobody is better at explaining relativity than Einstein himself; his account provides a combination of depth and clarity that only he could confidently produce... This 100th anniversary edition is complemented by commentary from Gutfreund and Renn, who clarify some key points and add historical perspective, making Einstein's own words even more accessible and meaningful."--Tom Siegfried, Science News "Hanoch Gutfreund, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Jurgen Renn, director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, augment the 100th anniversary edition of [Relativity] with a reading companion to make Einstein's thinking clearer to present-day readers."--Mike Perricone, Symmetry Magazine
show more

About Albert Einstein

Hanoch Gutfreund is professor emeritus of theoretical physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is also the academic director of the Albert Einstein Archives. He lives in Jerusalem. Jurgen Renn is a director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His books include The Genesis of General Relativity. He lives in Berlin.
show more

Rating details

18,165 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 47% (8,624)
4 31% (5,672)
3 16% (2,902)
2 4% (689)
1 2% (278)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X