THE appearance of a connected account of the Principle of Relativity in our own language will be welcomed by many as an opportunity of acquainting themselves in more detail with the ins and outs of a controversial subject. The note of controversy is, however, almost completely absent from this book. There is scarcely a reference to the longings of the physicist for an objective æther, save the sentence, “Lorentz had not the heart to abandon the æther which he confessedly ‘cannot but regard as endowed with certain degree of substantiality.’” The readiness to “abandon” well-worn concepts and old-established theory is becoming a marked feature of the thought of physicists to-day. We are witnessing at this moment a revolutionary movement in the quantum theory which at times seems to forget entirely the classical electrical theory, and all the wealth of experimental evidence out of which it grew. In the same way the exponents of the principle of relativity have found delight in pouring contempt on the æther as the basis of electromagnetic influence, while in their turn the more conservative of physicists, failing to see how natural was the transition from Lorentz' theory of optical and electromagnetic phenomena in moving bodies to the novel point of view of Einstein, seized upon the somewhat artificial system of clocks by which the latter sought to make his meaning clear, and found in it laughing-stock.
The Theory of Relativity.
By Dr. L. Silberstein. Pp. Viii + 295. (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1914.) Price 10s. net.
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The Theory of Relativity . Nature 94, 387 (1914). https://doi.org/10.1038/094387a0