Ideas and Opinions - Study Guide Part 5, pp. 217-290 Summary & Analysis

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The long, repetitive scientific section of the book is prefaced by an unsatisfactory synopsis of Einstein's principal physical theories by his former assistant, Prof. Valentine Bargmann. These are the special theory of relativity (1905) and the general theory (1907-16); work on cosmology (1917), the problem of motion (1927 and 1949), the unified field theory (1923-45 and 1953); the quantum theory (1905, 1917), and 1924-25); and the kinetic theory of matter (1902-05).

A year after his election to the Prussian Academy, Einstein tells colleagues that a theorist must both discover in nature principles that can serve as the starting point for deductions, and use their education to infer conclusions. Without general laws, empirical facts lack value. Formulated principles can lead to conclusions that are either false or unverifiable, as in the theory of relativity, which, while "substantially confirmed" for "uniform transitory motion", cannot be extended to "non-uniform" motions. The...

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