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Jessica
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Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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Early Chapters: Special Relativity

How did Einstein develop special relativity? What does it really mean? Does he deserve credit for the theory?


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Note: This discussion refers to topics through Chapter 9. Some readers of this thread may not have finished the book. If you are referring to events that occur after Chapter 9, please use "Spoiler Warning" in the subject line of your post. Thanks!

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KathyH
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Registered: ‎11-25-2006
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Re: Early Chapters: Special Relativity

This is one of the subjects I understand as I read it but need to go back to draw out the meaning again. The same with general realativity. I don't "use" it so it doesn't "set" in my mind.

KathyH
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Jessica
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Re: Early Chapters: Special Relativity


Jessica wrote: How did Einstein develop special relativity? What does it really mean? Does he deserve credit for the theory?


It looks to me like he developed his theories -- this one and others -- in two ways. Initially, he *may* have studied the conclusions of others who experimented with ether and tried to either confirm or deny them with his own experiments (a method he used frequently at the patent office).

But at some point along the way, he realized that starting with the minute details and working his way out to a larger theory was uncessary (and, I assume, a waste of his time?). Instead, he felt that by starting with a general theory first, he could then circle back and fill in the minute details.

The question is, how did he come up with the general theories? Other than being brilliant, I think Einstein felt that the sum of his experiences (i.e. everything he knew about physics, math, etc.) was the soil in which he grew his theories.

So does he deserve credit for defining the terms of special relativity? I think so. Even though other people's conclusions were a part of his body of knowledge, he made the connections between all the facts in his head to come up with a new theory, and only then did he go back and fill in the data to prove himself right.

What does everyone else think?

Also, I haven't even tried to define Special Relativity here ... anyone want to take a shot?

Jessica
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