4 October 2002
EINSTEIN, Albert. Über das Relativitätsprinzip und die aus demselben gezogenen Folgerungen. Offprint from: Jahrbuch der Radioaktivität IV, 411-462. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1907.
8o. Original printed wrappers (small rust-hole on front wrapper).
FIRST EDITION, OFFPRINT ISSUE. Einstein's transitional paper from the special to the general theory of relativity. In this work he published the principle of equivalence for uniformly accelerated mechanical systems on which he eventually built the general theory of relativity. He extended the principle to electromagnetic phenomena, gave the correct expression for the red shift and noted that this extension also leads to a bending of light which passes a massive body. He believed that this last effect was too small to be detectable.
Later Einstein wrote that when he was working on this paper, "There occurred to me the happiest thought of my life, in the following form. The gravitational field has only a relative existence in a way similar to the electric field generated by magnetoelectric induction. Because for an observer falling freely from the roof of a house there exists -at least in his immediate surroundings-no gravitational field." [Einstein's emphasis.]
Years later, in a lecture in Kyoto, Einstein recalled when the "happiest thought" occurred to him. "I was sitting in a chair in the patent office at Bern when all of a sudden a thought occurred to me. 'If a person falls freely he will not feel his own weight!' I was startled. This simple thought made a deep impression on me. It impelled me toward a theory of gravitation." BRL 20.
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