My new book: Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity (2nd Edition)


My new book Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity (2nd Edition) is coming out in August 2017.

My new book is a comprehensive monograph on Albert Einstein’s Odyssey to Special and General Relativity.

It is the second edition of my first book, Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity:


The book brings together the most recent studies regarding the discovery of Special Relativity between 1895 and 1905 and pertaining to the genesis of General Relativity between 1905 and 1918.

The book encompasses an in-depth historiographical analysis of Einstein’s theory of relativity and Einstein’s own derivations and philosophical perspectives of Einstein’s work.

The first chapter provides a narrative of Einstein’s early life until 1914 without resorting to hagiography.

The second chapter discusses Fin de siècle physics.

The third chapter deals with Einstein’s path to the Special Theory of Relativity and Henri Poincaré’s Dynamics of the Electron.

The fourth chapter focuses on the genesis of the General Theory of Relativity from 1905 until approximately 1922.

The fifth chapter centralizes on Einstein’s methodology and creativity, and on Poincaré’s philosophy.

The final chapter analyzes the sources.

The book is 660 pages long, a comprehensive study of Einstein’s discovery of special and general relativity and of Einstein’s cosmology.

I drew the cover of the book.

Einstein loved sailing and he owned a sailboat, which he called Tümmler (porpoise).


The cover of my new book Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity (2nd Edition) shows Einstein, the young patent clerk wearing the patent office suit, the young man and the sea.




Some of the topics discussed in my first book, Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity

People ask questions about Einstein’s special theory of relativity: How did Einstein come up with the theory of special relativity? What did he invent? What is the theory of special relativity? How did Einstein discover special relativity? Was Einstein the first to arrive at special relativity? Was Einstein the first to invent E = mc2?

Did Poincaré publish special relativity before Einstein? Was Einstein’s special theory of relativity revolutionary for scientists of his day? How did the scientific community receive Einstein’s theory of special relativity when he published it? What were the initial reaction in the scientific community after Einstein had published his paper on special relativity?

In my book, Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity, I try to answer these and many other questions.The topics discussed in my book are the following:

I start with Einstein’s childhood and school days.


I then discuss Einstein’s student days at the Zurich Polytechnic. Einstein the rebellious cannot take authority, the patent office, Annus Mirabilis, University of Bern and University of Zurich, Minkowski’s space-time formalism of special relativity.


Young Einstein, Aarau Class 1896

Additional topics treeated in my book are the following: Fizeau’s water tube experiment, Fresnel’s formula (Fresnel’s dragging coefficient), stellar aberration, and the Michelson and Michelson-Morley Experiments.


Albert Einstein at the Patent office

Mileva Marić and Einstein




Eduard Tete, Mileva Marić and Hans Albert


Einstein’s road to the special theory of relativity: Einstein first believes in the ether, he imagines the chasing a light beam thought experiment and the magnet and conductor thought experiment. Did Einstein respond to the Michelson and Morley experiment? Emission theory, Fizeau’s water tube experiment and ether drift experiments and Einstein’s path to special relativity; “The Step”.


Henri Poincaré’s possible influence on Einstein’s road to the special theory of relativity.


Einstein’s methodology and creativity, special principle of relativity and principle of constancy of the velocity of light, no signal moves beyond the speed of light, rigid body and special relativity, the meaning of distant simultaneity, clock synchronization, Lorentz contraction, challenges to Einstein’s connection of synchronisation and Lorentz contraction, Lorentz transformation with no light postulate, superluminal velocities, Laue’s derivation of Fresnel’s formula, the clock paradox and twin paradox, light quanta, mass-energy equivalence, variation of mass with velocity, Kaufmann’s experiments, the principles of relativity as heuristic principles, and Miller ether drift experiments.


The book also briefly discusses general relativity: Einstein’s 1920 “Geometry and Experience” talk (Einstein’s notion of practical geometry), equivalence principle, equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, Galileo’s free fall, generalized principle of relativity, gravitational time dilation, the Zurich Notebook, theory of static gravitational fields, the metric tensor, the Einstein-Besso manuscript, Einstein-Grossmann Entwurf theory and Entwurf field equations, the hole argument, the inertio-gravitational field, Einstein’s general relativity: November 1915 field equations, general covariance and generally covariant field equations, the advance of Mercury’s perihelion, Schwarzschild’s solution and singularity, Mach’s principle, Einstein’s 1920 suggestion: Mach’s ether, Einstein’s static universe, the cosmological constant, de Sitter’s universe, and other topics in general relativity and cosmology which lead directly to my second book, General Relativity Conflict and Rivalries.


My books


My book: Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity

2015 marks several Albert Einstein anniversaries: 100 years since the publication of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, 110 years since the publication of the Special Theory of Relativity and 60 years since his passing.


What is so special about this year that deserves celebrations? My new book on Einstein: Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity has just been returned from the printers and I expect Amazon to have copies very shortly.


The Publisher uploaded the contents and intro.


I hope you like my drawing on the cover:


Einstein, 1923: “Ohmmm, well… yes, I guess!”



The book is dedicated to the late Prof. Mara Beller, my PhD supervisor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who passed away ten years ago and wrote the book: Quantum Dialogue (Chicago University Press, 1999):


Have a very happy Einstein year!

June 30. Ether is superfluous: Faraday and Einstein

On this day in 1905 Albert Einstein’s paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” arrived at the editorial offices of the journal Annalen der Physik. The paper was published three months later, and the theory later became known as special relativity. Physics Today.


On April 15, 1846 Faraday gave a lecture at the Royal Institution. The talk was delivered under the title “Thoughts of Ray Vibrations”.  

Faraday began saying: “I incline to believe that when there are intervening particles of matter (being themselves only centers of force), they take part in carrying on the force through the line, but when there are none, the line proceeds through space… we can at all events affect these lines of force in a manner which may be conceived as partaking of the nature of a shake or lateral vibration…
It may be asked, what lines of force are there in nature which are fitted to convey such an action and supply for the vibrating theory the place of the aether?” The lines of force could be electrical, magnetic or gravitational. “…all I can say is, that I do not perceive in any part of space, whether (to use the common phrase) vacant of filled with matter, anything but forces and the lines in which they are exerted…
The view which I am so bold to put forth considers, therefore, radiation as a high species of vibration in the lines of force which are known to connect particles and also masses of matter together. It endeavours to dismiss the aether, but not the vibrations”.
In addition, Faraday explains that the vibrations that occur on the surface of disturbed water, or the waves of sound in gases or liquids, are “direct or to and fro from the centre of action”, whereas the (radiant) vibrations are “lateral”.
Faraday then explains the problem that is inherent in an ether model. He writes that it seems to him, “that the resultant of two or more lines of force is an apt condition for that action which may be considered as equivalent to a lateral vibration; whereas a uniform medium, like the ether does not appear apt, or more apt than air or water”.

Faraday’s lines of force inspired Maxwell in developing electric and magnetic field theory, but Maxwell did not follow Faraday in rejecting the ether. Maxwell developed mechanical models for the ether.


Michael Faraday

Einstein, apparently not knowing about Faraday’s 1846 rejection of the ether, started his 1905 relativity paper with the problematic asymmetries that were inherent in the electrodynamical explanation of the phenomenon of induction by Faraday. Hence, Einstein started with Faraday.

According to Faraday, when a magnet and a closed electric circuit are in relative motion, an electric current is induced in the electric circuit. This current is actually a result of the relative motion between the magnet and the conductor.
If the conductor is at rest in the ether and the magnet is moved with a given velocity, a certain electric current is induced in the conductor. If the magnet is at rest, and the conductor moves with the same relative velocity, a current of the same magnitude and direction is in the conductor. The ether theory gives a different explanation for the origin of this current in the two cases. In the first case an electric field is supposed to be created in the ether by the motion of the magnet relative to it (Faraday’s induction law). In the second case, no such electric field is supposed to be present since the magnet is at rest in the ether, but the current results from the motion of the conductor through the static magnetic field.

This asymmetry of the explanation is foreign to the phenomenon, because the observable phenomena (the current in the conductor) depend only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet.

Parts of Faraday’s talk are also quoted in “Fields of Force: The Development of a World View from Faraday to Einstein”,  By William Berkson, pp. 97-99.

Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s discovery of Special Relativity

Einstein Believes in the Ether

Einstein Chases a Light Beam

Einstein recounts the Aarau thought experiment in his Autobiographical Notes, 1949

Magnet and Conductor Thought Experiment, Faraday’s magneto-electric induction

Föppl’s book on Maxwell’s theory

Ether drift and Michelson and Morley’s experiment

The Role of the Michelson-Morley Experiment on the Discovery of Relativity

The Dayton Miller Experiments

Emission theory and ether drift experiments

Paul Ehrenfest and Walter Ritz. Ritz’s Emission Theory

“The Step”

Einstein defined distant simultaneity physically; relativity of simultaneity

The Kyoto lecture notes – Einstein could have visited and consulted his close friend Michele Besso, whom he thanked at the end of his relativity paper. The Patent Office brought them together – their conversations on the way home. Besso was always eager to discuss the subjects of which he knew a great deal – sociology, medicine, mathematics, physics and philosophy – Einstein initiated him into his discovery

Joseph Sauter – Before any other theoretical consideration, Einstein pointed out the necessity of a new definition of synchronization of two identical clocks distant from one another; to fix these ideas, he told him, “suppose one of the clocks is on a tower at Bern and the other on a tower at Muri (the ancient aristocratic annex of Bern)” – synchronization of clocks by light signals.

Did Poincaré have an Effect on Einstein’s Pathway toward the Special Theory of Relativity? Einstein’s reply to Carl Seelig


Einstein’s pathway to the General Theory of Relativity

Entwurf theory – Einstein-Grossmann theory, Hole argument, field equations and the Einstein-Besso manuscript


Gunnar Nordström develops a competing theory of gravitation to Einstein’s 1912-1913 gravitation theory. Einstein begins to study Nordström’s theory and develops his own Einstein-Nordström theory. In a joint 1914 paper with Lorentz’s student Adrian Fokker – a generally covariant formalism is presented from which Nordström’s theory follows if the velocity of light is constant Here


The three problems that led to the fall of the entwurf theory –

The gravitational field on a uniformly rotating system does not satisfy the field equations.

Covariance with respect to adapted coordinate system was a flop.

In the Entwurf theory the motion of Mercury’s perihelion came to 180 rather than 450 per century

The General Theory of Relativity – 1915

David Hilbert Enters the Game, the priority dispute – Einstein and Hilbert

In November 18 1915 Einstein calculated rapidly the precession of Mercury’s


Geodesic Equation. Metric tensor. Einstein’s November 4, 11, and 25 field equations.The Riemann-Christoffel Tensor; the Ricci tensor; the Einstein tensor

von Deinem zufriedenen aber ziemlich kaputen

General Theory of Relativity – 1916

Mid December to Mid January 1915: Exchange of letters between Einstein and Ehrenfest

The disk thought experiment; coordinates have no direct physical meaning Euclidean Geometry breaks down; two Globes Thought Experiment; Mach’s Principle; the principle of general relativity; the Equivalence Principle; the principle of general covariance

The Summation Convention

Motion of the Perihelion of the Planetary Orbit; Redshift; Deflection of light in a gravitational field of the sun

Einstein in the Patent Office:

Michele Besso, Joseph Sauter, and Lucian Chavan – Patent Office, Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht – the Olympian Academy

Annus mirabilis papers

On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Generation and Transformation of Light – It argues a heuristic manner for the existence of light quanta and derives the photoelectric law

On a New Determination of Molecular Dimensions – doctoral thesis submitted to the mathematical and natural science branch of Zürich University

On the Movement of Particles Suspended in Fluids at Rest, as Postulated by the Molecular Theory of Heat. The Brownian motion paper

On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. The Relativity Paper

Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on its Energy Content? The first derivation of the mass energy equivalence

German Scientists Responded to Einstein’s Relativity Paper – Max Planck wrote Einstein. Max von Laue met Einstein

Einstein teaches his 3 friends from the Patent Office at the University of Bern

Finally Einstein leaves the Patent Office to his first post in the University of Zürich

Further reading: Stachel, John, Einstein from ‘B’ to ‘Z’, 2002, Washington D.C.: Birkhauser