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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index E > Albert Einstein Quotes > Relativity

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Albert Einstein
(14 Mar 1879 - 18 Apr 1955)

German-American physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.




By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be regarded as a bête noire the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!
— Albert Einstein
Times (28 Nov 1919). In Robert Andrews Famous Lines: a Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations (1997), 414. Variations of this quote were made by Einstein on other occasions.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (98)  |  Description (61)  |  England (30)  |  Germany (8)  |  Jew (6)  |  Men Of Science (95)  |  Nationality (2)  |  Reader (16)  |  Relativity (42)  |  Reverse (10)  |  Theory (501)

Each ray of light moves in the coordinate system 'at rest' with the definite, constant velocity V independent of whether this ray of light is emitted by a body at rest or a body in motion.
— Albert Einstein
Annalen der Physik, 1905, 17, 891-921. Trans. John Stachel et al (eds.), The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 2, (1989), Doc. 23, 143.
Science quotes on:  |  Relativity (42)  |  Speed Of Light (11)

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say I am a German and Germany will declare I am a Jew.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Jew (6)  |  Nationalism (3)  |  Relativity (42)

If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in a sense be regarded as bone fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to be of fundamental importance.
— Albert Einstein
'Fundamental ideas and problems of the theory of relativity', Lecture delivered to the Nordic Assembly of Naturalists at Gothenburg, 11 Jul 1923. In Nobel Physics 1901-1921 (1998), 482.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (494)  |  Knowledge (982)  |  Motion (107)  |  Relativity (42)

It follows from the theory of relativity that mass and energy are both different manifestations of the same thing—a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average man. Furthermore E=MC2, in which energy is put equal to mass multiplied with the square of the velocity of light, showed that a very small amount of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy... the mass and energy were in fact equivalent.
— Albert Einstein
As expressed in the Einstein film, produced by Nova Television (1979). Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 183.
Science quotes on:  |  Energy (154)

No one must think that Newton’s great creation can be overthrown in any real sense by this [Theory of Relativity] or by any other theory. His clear and wide ideas will for ever retain their significance as the foundation on which our modern conceptions of physics have been built.
— Albert Einstein
In 'Time, Space, and Gravitation', The Times (28 Nov 1919). Excerpted in David E. Rowe and Robert J. Schulmann, Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb (2007), 104.
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Now it came to me: … the independence of the gravitational acceleration from the nature of the falling substance, may be expressed as follows: In a gravitational field (of small spatial extension) things behave as they do in a space free of gravitation. … This happened in 1908. Why were another seven years required for the construction of the general theory of relativity? The main reason lies in the fact that it is not so easy to free oneself from the idea that coordinates must have an immediate metrical meaning.
— Albert Einstein
In Paul Arthur Schilpp, 'Autobiographical Notes', Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (1949), 65-67.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceleration (6)  |  Construction (60)  |  Coordinate (2)  |  Fact (494)  |  Fall (59)  |  Field (100)  |  Free (28)  |  General (63)  |  Gravity (81)  |  Idea (367)  |  Immediate (14)  |  Independence (25)  |  Meaning (83)  |  Metrical (3)  |  Nature (820)  |  Reason (244)  |  Relativity (42)  |  Theory (501)  |  Year (140)

The final results [of his work on the theory of relativity] appear almost simple; any intelligent undergraduate can understand them without much trouble. But the years of searching in the dark for a truth that one feels, but cannot express; the intense effort and the alternations of confidence and misgiving, until one breaks through to clarity and understanding, are only known to him who has himself experienced them.
— Albert Einstein
Science quotes on:  |  Alternation (4)  |  Appear (27)  |  Break (25)  |  Clarity (28)  |  Confidence (25)  |  Dark (34)  |  Effort (71)  |  Experience (204)  |  Express (20)  |  Feel (31)  |  Final (25)  |  Intelligent (16)  |  Intense (6)  |  Know (114)  |  Research (435)  |  Result (192)  |  Search (63)  |  Simple (72)  |  Theory Of Relativity (10)  |  Trouble (40)  |  Truth (636)  |  Undergraduate (7)  |  Understand (64)  |  Work (323)  |  Year (140)

The importance of C.F. Gauss for the development of modern physical theory and especially for the mathematical fundament of the theory of relativity is overwhelming indeed; also his achievement of the system of absolute measurement in the field of electromagnetism. In my opinion it is impossible to achieve a coherent objective picture of the world on the basis of concepts which are taken more or less from inner psychological experience.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in G. Waldo Dunnington, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science (2004), 350.
Science quotes on:  |  Electromagnetism (17)  |  Carl Friedrich Gauss (53)  |  Relativity (42)

The present theory of relativity is based on a division of physical reality into a metric field (gravitation) on the one hand and into an electromagnetic field and matter on the other hand. In reality space will probably be of a uniform character and the present theory will be valid only as a limiting case. For large densities of field and of matter, the field equations and even the field variables which enter into them will have no real significance. One may not therefore assume the validity of the equations for very high density of field and matter, and one may not conclude that the 'beginning of the expansion' must mean a singularity in the mathematical sense. All we have to realise is that the equations may not be continued over such regions.
— Albert Einstein
In O. Nathan and H. Norden (eds.), Einstein on Peace (1960), 640.
Science quotes on:  |  Relativity (42)

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute—and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.
Explanation given to his secretary, Helen Dukas, to relay to reporters and laypersons.
— Albert Einstein
James B. Simpson, Best Quotes of '54, '55, '56 (1957), as cited in Fred R. Shapiro and Joseph Epstein, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), 230. Also reprinted in Simpson's Contemporary Quotations (1988), 208, annotated merely as “recalled on his death 18 Apr 1955.” Compare with the News Chronicle (14 Mar 1949) as “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”
Science quotes on:  |  Quip (72)  |  Relativity (42)


See also:
  • 14 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Einstein's birth.
  • Albert Einstein - My Theory - The Times (1919).
  • Geometry and Experience - Address by Albert Einstein to the Prussian Academy of Sciences (27 Jan 1921).
  • Even Einstein's Little Universe Is Big Enough - New York Times article (2 Feb 1921).
  • Large color picture of Albert Einstein (850 x 1000 px).
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “God … integrates empirically” quote - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “Laws of mathematics refer to reality” quote
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “Laws of mathematics refer to reality” quote - with Large image (800 x 600 px).
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “God … integrates empirically” quote - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Mathematics…a product of human thought - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Mathematics…a product of human thought - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Politics is more difficult than physics” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Politics is more difficult than physics” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote The Lord God is subtle - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote The Lord God is subtle - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Imagination is more important than knowledge - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Imagination is more important than knowledge - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote A theory can be proved by experiment - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote A theory can be proved by experiment - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote That is relativity - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote That is relativity - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “One thing I have learned in a long life” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote One thing I have learned in a long life - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Why is the electron negative?” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Why is the electron negative?” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Our exalted technological progress” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Our exalted technological progress” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “There exists a passion for comprehension” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “There exists a passion for comprehension” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “An equation is for eternity” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “An equation is for eternity” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein, by Abraham Pais. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Albert Einstein.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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