Albert Einstein


In his Spencer lecture, delivered at Oxford in 1933, Einstein stressed the importance to be accorded to formal beauty:

Experience can of course guide us in our choice of serviceable mathematical concepts; it cannot possibly be the source from which they are derived; experience of course remains the sole criterion of the serviceability of a mathematical construction for physics, but the truly creative principle resides in mathematics.


The 1919 eclipse

On the (eventual) experimental confirmation of general relativity:

  • Peter Coles, Einstein, Eddington, and the 1919 Eclipse (arXiv:astro-ph/0102462)

  • Gerard Gilmore, Gudrun Tausch-Pebody, The 1919 eclipse results which verified General Relativity and their later detractors: a story re-told (arXiv:2010.13744)

Gravitational waves

The first article that correctly derived gravitational waves from the Einstein equations is

  • Albert Einstein, Über Gravitationswellen, Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Berlin (1918), 154-167

In particular this correctly stated that gravitational waves require a quadrupole moment as a source (e.g. a rotating binary star system) and not just a dipole moment (e.g. an oscillating charge) as for electromagnetic waves (the graviton has spin 2, the photon has spin 1…), thereby correcting a mistake to this effect in the earlier article

  • Albert Einstein, Näherungsweise Integration der Feldgleichungen der Gravitation, Sitzung der physikalisch-mathematischen Klasse vom 22. Juni 1916 (web)

The reality of gravitational wave solutions however kept being a cause of concern for many years (Einstein himself was concerned that the linearization approximation used in their derivation might have been too coarse), for a brief account of the early history see

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Last revised on October 27, 2020 at 04:20:53. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.