EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1965). 'Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Krper'. Offprint from Annalen der Physik, 4. Folge, Bd. 17, 1905. Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1905.
8 (219 x 144mm). (Small neat tear in front wrapper and first leaf taped.) Original orange printed wrappers (separated at spine, small nick at fore-edge of front wrapper). Provenance: presentation copy to Ernst Mach (front wrapper stamped 'A. Einstein. berreicht vom Verfasser', a few underlinings by Mach, no. 684 in the sale catalogue of his library offered by Theodor Ackermann Antiquariat, Munich, 1959)
PRESENTATION COPY TO ERNST MACH (1838-1916) OF THE FIRST EDITION, OFFPRINT ISSUE, OF EINSTEIN'S FIRST PAPER ON THE SUBJECT OF RELATIVITY. Einstein championed the work of his elder physicist colleague and explicitly acknowledged Mach's influence on his own, particularly his early, work. He credited Mach with rejecting the previously prevailing dogma that mechanics necessarily formed the basis for all physical thinking, and Einstein found in Mach's philosophical writings the use of critical reasoning which allowed him to develop his theory of relativity (Autobiographical Notes, trans. and ed. P.A. Schilpp, p.51). Einstein euologised his friend and colleague in an obituary written for the Physikalische Zeitschrift (1 April 1916), in which he praised Mach's 'extraordinary experimental talent', and two years later Einstein developed a 'Mach principle' on general relativity. Mach has been further immortalized in the 'Mach number', the term introduced by J. Ackeret in 1929 to describe the ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound, which arose from Mach's investigations in supersonics.
Einstein presented his theory of relativity (or relativity principle, as he then called it) in 'Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Krper', rightly considered a 'LANDMARK IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN PHYSICS' (Collected Papers, ed. J. Stachel, p.253). Einstein argues that space and time are not separate entities and that energy and matter are equivalent. The immediate reception of this paper was minimal, but it was soon embraced by Max Planck, Walter Kaufmann, Wilhelm Rntgen and Hermann Minkowski. By 1908 Einstein's theory of relativity was 'the major topic of discussion among leading German-speaking physicists' (op.cit. p.268) and its subsequent influence on science has been revolutionary.
According to Einstein's bibliographer, Ernst Weil, there are few offprints of Einstein's publications before 1914, and it is probable that Einstein received the customary 15-20 offprints of the present paper. Boni, Russ & Laurence, A Bib. Checklist of Einstein, 9; Dibner Heralds of Science 167; Grolier/Horblit 26b; Norman 691; Weil 9.