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Einstein’s legacy, 100 years on


By Tushna Commissariat

As readers of Physics World, you probably don’t need me to tell you that this year marks 100 years since legendary physicist Albert Einstein laid the foundations for his revolutionary general theory of relativity (GR). This month marks the exact time when he began giving a series of four weekly lectures – the first of which was on 4 November 1915 – to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Indeed, today is the centenary of the final lecture, when he presented his “Field equations of gravitation”. In the video above, philosopher and one-time physicist Jürgen Renn, from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, gives a short and sweet explanation of GR and its impact on physics.

To celebrate this bit of history, you can read Einstein’s original paper that outlines the equations free in the original German here, and in an English translation here. For some more technical reading, dig into the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity‘s special focus issue “Milestones of general relativity”, in which they have picked 13 milestones that include everything from Hubble’s observation of the expansion of the universe, to the discovery of the cosmic background radiation and even black hole thermodynamics.

This weekend, I will be heading over to Queen Mary University of London for its conference “Einstein’s Legacy: Celebrating 100 years of General Relativity“. The invited speakers include prominent physicists such as Roger Penrose and John Barrow; and the list of talks looks at everything from the mathematics to the philosophy of gravity. I will be blogging and Tweeting from the conference, so keep following us on here and on Twitter at @PhysicsWorld and on the hashtag #EL15.

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One comment to Einstein’s legacy, 100 years on

  1. No, there was no “series of four weekly lectures” – Einstein merely came to the Academy sessions and handed over his manuscripts for publication (there wasn’t even peer review at that time). It’s all documented in the session protocols: see for a detailled account of what happend exactly 100 years ago and where.


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