On the heels of searching for the
first mention of Nikola Tesla
in U.S. newspapers, I performed a similar search on Albert Einstein, again using
editions available in the
NewspaperArchive.com* database. I was utterly surprised to find
it in a 1919 issue of the The New York Times. His theory of
Relativity was published in 1905 and his theory of
Relativity was published in 1915, so it took The NY Times four years
to mention it. There is a reference to Dr. Einstein's' work on relativity in
a 1915 edition of
The Manitoban*, from Winnipeg, Canada. The New York Times
article is an actual interview with Albert Einstein, wherein at one point it is
stated that there were perhaps only a dozen people in the world at that time who
understood general relativity. Interestingly, Einstein uses the term "difform motion"
to describe what we now call "non-uniform motion." One satisfying feature of the
article is verifying that there is/was someone in the world who creates longer run-on
sentences that I do. No attribution to a particular writer or news service is offered.
* Paid subscription required.
Albert and Elsa Einstein
Einstein Expounds on His New Theory
Discards Absolute Time and Space, Recognizing Them Only As Related to Moving
Improves on Newton
Whose Approximations Hold for Most Motions, but Not Those of the Highest Velocity.
Not Inspired As Newton Was
But by the Fall of a Man from a Roof Instead of the Fall of an Apple
Overnight, 1919, by the New York Times Company
Special Cable to the New York Times
Berlin, Dec. 2 - Now that the Royal Society, at its meeting in London on Nov.
6, has put the stamp of its official authority on Dr. Albert Einstein's much-debated
new "theory of relativity." Man's conception of the universe seems likely to undergo
radical changes. Indeed, there are German savants who believe that since the promulgation
of Newton's theory of gravitation no discovery of such importance has been made
in the world of science.
When The New York Times correspondent called him at his home to gather from his
own lips an interpretation of what to laymen must appear the book with seven seals,
Dr. Einstein himself modestly put aside the suggestion that his theory might have
the same revolutionary effect on the human mind as Newton's theses. The doctor lives
on top floor of a fashionable apartment house on one of the few elevated parts of
Berlin - so to say, close to the in which he studies, not with a telescope, but
rather with the mental eye, and so far only as they come within the range of his
mathematical formulae; for he is not an astronomer but a physicist. It was from
his lofty library, in which our conversation took place, that he observed years
ago a man dropping from a neighboring roof - luckily on a pile of soft rubbish -
and escaping almost without injury. that man told Dr. Einstein that in falling he
experienced no sensation commonly considered as the effect of gravity, which, according
to Newton's theory, would pull him down violently toward the earth. this incident,
followed by further researches along the same line, started in his mind a complicated
chain of thoughts leading finally as he expressed it, "not a disavowal of Newton's
theory of gravitation, but to a sublimation or supplement of it."
When he read the message from The Times requesting the interview a reference
to Dr. Einstein's statement to his publishers on the submission of his last book
that not more than twelve persons in all the world could understand it, coupled
with the editor's request the Dr. Einstein put his theory in terms comprehensible
to a larger number than twelve, the doctor laughed good-naturedly, but still insisted
on the difficulty of making himself understood by laymen.
"However," he said, "I am trying to talk as plainly as possible. To begin with
the difference between my conception and Newton's law of gravitation: Please imagine
the earth removed, and in its place suspended a box as big as a room or a whole
house, and inside a man naturally floating in the center, there being no force whatever
pulling him. Imagine, further, this box being, by a rope or other contrivance, suddenly
jerked to one side, which is scientifically termed 'difform motion,' as opposed
to 'uniform motion.' The person would then naturally reach bottom on the opposite
side. The result would consequently be the same as if he obeyed Newton's law of
gravitation, while, in fact, there is no gravitation exerted whatever, which proves
that difform motion will in every case produce the same effects as gravitation.
"I have applied this new idea to every kind of difform motion and have thus developed
mathematical formulas which I am convinced give more precise results than those
based on Newton's theory. Newton's formulas, however, are such close approximations
that it was difficult to find by observation any obvious disagreement with experience."
"One such case, however, was presented by the motion of the planet Mercury, which
for along time baffled astronomers. This is now completely cleared up by my formulas,
and the Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Dyson, stated at the meeting of the Royal Society."
"Another case was the deflection of rays of light when passing the rough the
field of gravitation. No such deflections are explicable by Newton's theory of gravitation.
"According the my theory of difform motion, such deflections must take place
when rays pass close to any gravitating mass, difform motion then coming into activity."
"The crucial test was supplied by the last total solar eclipse, when observations
proved that the rays of fixed stars, having to pass close to the sun to reach the
earth, were deflected the exact amount demanded by my formula, confirming my idea
that what so far has been regarded as the effect of gravitation is really the effect
of difform motion. Elaborate apparatus and the newest and most indefatigable attention
to the difficult task enabled that English expedition, composed of the most talented
scientists, to reach those conclusions. "
"Why is your idea termed 'the theory of relativity' " asked the correspondent.
"The term relativity refers to time and space," Dr. Einstein replied. "According
to Galileo and Newton time and space were absolute entities, and the moving systems
of the universe were dependent on the absolute time and space. On this conception
was built the science of mechanics. The resulting formulas sufficed for all motions
of a slow nature; it was found, however, that they could not conform to the rapid
motions apparent in electrodynamics."
This led to Dutch professor, Lorenz, and myself to develop the theory of special
relativity. Briefly, it discards absolute time and space and makes them in every
instance relative to moving systems. By this theory all phenomena in electrodynamics,
as well as mechanics, hitherto irreducible by the old formulae - and there are multitudes
- were satisfactorily explained. "
"Till now it was believed that time and space existed by themselves, even if
there was nothing else - no sun, no earth, no stars - while now we know that time
and space are not the vessel for the universe, but could not exist at all if there
were no contents, namely, no sun, earth, and other celestial bodies. "
"This special relativity, forming the first part of my theory, relates to all
systems moving with uniform motion; that is, moving in a straight line with equal
"Gradually I was led to the idea, seeming a very paradox in science, that it
might apply equally to all moving systems, even of difform motion, and thus I developed
the conception of general relativity which forms the second part of my theory. "
"It was during the development of the formals for difform motions that the incident
of the man falling from the roof gave me the idea that gravitation might be explained
by difform motion."
"If there is no absolute time or space, supposedly forming th vessel of the universe,"
the correspondent asked, "what becomes of the ether?"
"There is no ether, as hitherto conceived by science, which is proved by the
well known experiment of the celebrated American savant, Michelson, showing that
no influence by the motion of the earth on the ether is perceptible through change
in velocity of light, such as ought to be produced if the old conception were true."
"Are you yourself absolutely convinced of the correctness of this revolutionary
theory of relativity, or are there still any reservations?"
"Yes, I am," Dr. Einstein answered.
"My theory is confirmed by the two crucial cases mentioned before. But there
is still one test outstanding, namely, the spectroscopic. According to my theory,
the lines of the spectra of fixed stars must be slightly shifted through the influence
of gravitation exerted by the very stars from which they emanate. So far, however,
the results of the examinations have been contradictory; but I have no doubt of
final confirmation, even through this test."
Jus then an old grandfather's clock in the library chimed the mid-day hour, reminding
Dr. Einstein of some appointment in another part of Berlin, and old-fashioned time
and space enforced their wonted absolute tyranny over him who had spoken so contemptuously
of their existence, thus terminating the interview.
Posted September 19, 2019