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Relativity in Modern Physics$
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Nathalie Deruelle and Jean-Philippe Uzan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786399

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786399.001.0001

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The equivalence principle

The equivalence principle

(p.405) 1 The equivalence principle
Relativity in Modern Physics

Nathalie Deruelle

Jean-Philippe Uzan

Oxford University Press

This chapter recalls several relevant aspects of Newton’s theory of gravity, as well as Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, to describe the conceptual path that Albert Einstein followed in going from the theory of special relativity to general relativity. Looking at 1907 and beyond, the chapter shows that the ambition of Einstein was to construct a theory in which all reference frames (and therefore none) were privileged. Moreover, there were no longer any inertial forces, no ordering of Newton’s absolute space. Therefore, Einstein’s theory was one in which the laws of physics had the same form in all frames, inertial or not, so that no frame could be regarded as being privileged. In brief, he sought a theory of general relativity.

Keywords:   equivalence principle, Albert Einstein, Newton’s theory of gravity, Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, special relativity, general relativity

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