Scientific Work

Texts by Dr. Antonio Moreno González

The works which were to make Albert Einstein famous throughout the international scientific community were first published in Annalen der Physik in 1905 and 1906. This collection comprises six articles, submitted by the author for publication in 1905, when he was just 26 years old. Some of these works anticipate what has come to be considered by science historians, along with quantum theory, as the scientific revolution of the twentieth century. Further revolutionary articles were published--also in Annalen --from 1907 on, culminating with the article he published in the journal in 1915, setting the bases for a new theory of gravity.

During the last third of the nineteenth century, classical physics, based on the works of Galileo and Newton, was showing signs of weakness in the face of certain phenomena related to the mechanical view of the world viewed from a novel perspective based on the concept of energy. The result was a bitter dispute between "atomists" and "energists". But where the most profound conceptual difficulties arose was in the attempts to harmonise Maxwell's electro-magnetic theory and the principles of Newtonian physics, an incompatibility that was resolved by Einstein's bold proposals, propounded in one of his celebrated articles of 1905. From his earliest work, Einstein showed a great intuitive capacity to discern physical laws, a power of concentration that enabled him to shut himself off whenever he needed, an unusual sharpness in thinking up "mental experiments", and above all a broad and up-to-date knowledge of the science of his time.

After he had concluded his work on relativity - successfully confirmed both in the calculation of the perihelion shift of Mercury and the eclipse of sun in 1919 - and following the publication of other highly important articles on the interaction between light and matter and on the fundaments of quantum physics, Einstein devoted his efforts to searching for a unification of the classical fundamental forces of nature: it was a frustrated aspiration which was to occupy much of the rest of his life, and which still today continues to be a challenge for twenty-first century physics.


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