Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium

The Genesis of General Relativity and its Formative Years
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Hewlett 201
Hanoch Gutfreund (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem)
Abstract / Description: 

The conceptual revolution that Einstein started in 1907, when he introduced the equivalence principle and began his search for a comprehensive theory describing gravitation and inertia within a relativistic framework, was completed with the publication, on November 25, 1915, of his general theory of relativity. Immediately after its publication the theory was elaborated and controversially discussed by physicists, mathematicians, astronomers, and philosophers. During these formative years, the basic ideas and principles were refined, the first solutions of the field equations were derived and analyzed, and the cosmological consequences of the theory were debated. Einstein himself made further fundamental contributions to the development of his theory, exploring its consequences such as gravitational waves and cosmological models, and reinterpreting basic aspects of the theory.

On the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's monumental achievement, it is natural to look back at what we are celebrating and address such questions as: What guided Einstein on his road to general relativity? What guidelines had to be re-examined and even abandoned? Why did it take him eight years? Why did he reject every suggestion of an expanding universe? Why did he introduce the cosmological constant and why did he remove it? The lecture will describe Einstein's unique scientific odyssey, exploring these and other questions.


Held Tuesdays at 4:30 pm in the William R. Hewlett Teaching Center, room 201.

Refreshments in the lobby of Varian Physics at 4:15 pm.


Winter 2015/2016, Committee: R. Blandford (Chair), T. Heinz, L. Hollberg, K. Irwin