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A Tribute to Albert Einstein

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California Institute of Technology
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Abstract

0 DESCRIBE and to evaluate Einstein as a scientist is at once a very easy and a very difficult job. It is easy to say that Einstein towers- far above any scientific figure of the 20th Century-a statement 1 believe to be true. It is even easy to say that he is the greatest figure in science since Isaac Newton-a statement I also believe A tribute presente at the Einstein Memorial Service held at the Univer- sity of California in Los Angeles on May 18, 1955, sponsored by the University of California, the Califor- nia Institute of Technology, the Uni- versity of Southern California, and the Los Angeles Jewish Community Council. to be true. But, even though we see the towering peaks of Ein- stein's achievements, we are still too close to them to be able to evaluate them accurately. Einstein's work. with- out question, marked a turning point in the history of physics. But the full significance of that revolution will be more clearly visible 100 years from now than it is toda? . heverthelesi', we do already have a perspective of 50 years since Einstein did some of his most important work in 1905 when he was only 26 years old. And, with this perspective, the towering nature of his contributions is alread! clearly evident. In 1905 Einstein addressed himself to solving a riddle which had first been posed by the famous experiments made hj 4. A . Michelson and his co-worker3 beginning TI 1889-experiments which. incidentally. brought the hrst Tsiohel prize in physic5 10 the United States. Michel- son attempted to measure essentially the velocity of the earth through the "ether3-the ether being that intan- yible medium which wa5 assumed to be spread through all space and which accounted for the propagation of light. Tt seemed ohvioub that the earth's velocity through thl* medium could he determined b: measuring the dii- ierenre in the speed with which light travelled in two directions-say parallel and at right angles to the earth's motion. This was simp

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