THE FIRST FEW PAGES OF THE BOOK ARE PASTED BELOW. THE Google Book Search INSERT GIVES ACCESS TO THE ENTIRE BOOK. Chronology of Einstein’s Mistakes
1905: Mistake in clock synchronization
procedure on which Einstein based special relativity.
1905: Failure to consider Michelson-Morley
1905: Mistake in “transverse mass” of high-speed
1905: Multiple mistakes in the mathematics
and physics used in calculation of viscosity of sugar solution, from which
Einstein deduced size of molecule.
1905: Mistake in the relationship between
thermal radiation and quanta of light.
1905: Mistake in the first proof of E =
1906 - 1907: Mistakes in the second, third, and
fourth proofs of E = mc2.
1907 – 1915: Mistakes in the Principle of
Equivalence of gravitation and acceleration.
1911: Mistake in the first calculation of
the bending of light.
1912: Mistake in the synchronization
procedure for accelerated clocks.
1913: Mistake in the first attempt at a
theory of general relativity.
1914: Mistake in the fifth proof of E =
1915: Mistake in the Einstein-deHaas
1914-1915: Mistakes in several attempts at
theories of general relativity.
1916: Mistake in the interpretation of
1917: Mistake in the introduction of the
cosmological constant (the “biggest blunder”).
1919: Mistakes in two attempts to modify general
1925-1955: Mistakes and more mistakes in the
attempts to formulate a unified theory.
1927: Mistakes in discussions with Bohr on
1933: Mistakes in interpretation of
quantum mechanics (“God does not play dice”)
1935: Mistake in the sixth proof of E =
1939: Mistake in the interpretation of the
Schwarzschild singularity and gravitational collapse (the “black hole”).
1946: Mistake in the seventh proof of E =
“I will resign the game”
On Tuesday, June 24, 1969,
Albert Einstein drove Donald Crowhurst into madness. Crowhurst was a
participant in the single-handed around-the-globe sailboat race organized by
the Sunday Times of London, and he
was alone in his trimaran Teignmouth
Electron, becalmed in mid-Atlantic, in the Sargasso Sea, about 700 miles
southwest of the Azores. There were no eyewitnesses to his descent into
madness, but we know what happened because he meticulously recorded the events
in his logbook.On that fateful day, he began to read
Einstein’s book Relativity: The Special
and the General Theory.The book was
first published in 1917, just before Einstein became a celebrity, and it
explains his theories in more or less nontechnical terms. It sold a great many
copies, went through fifteen editions, was translated into a dozen languages,
and is still in print. Most of these copies remained mostly unread, but—like
the currently fashionable books by Stephen Hawking—they presumably added some
cachet to the private libraries of intellectuals and their fellow travelers.
Crowhurst had stowed the book, and a few others, aboard his
yacht to while away long boring days with no wind. He was an electrical engineer,
and his training in mathematics and physics was certainly adequate for coping
with this book. After reading a dozen pages, he came across a paragraph that,
quite literally, blew his mind. Einstein proposed to test the simultaneity of
two events—say, two lightning strokes—at two widely separated points A and B by observing the arrival of light signals from these events at
the midpoint between A and B. Discussing the travel times of the
light signals from the points A and B to the midpoint M, Einstein claimed:
That light requires the
same time to traverse the path A→M as for the
path B→M is in reality
neither a supposition nor a hypothesis
about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation
which I can make of my own free will in order to arrive at a definition of
Crowhurst simply could not believe this. In his logbook he
I said aloud with some
irritation: “You can’t do THAT!” I thought, “the swindler.” Then I looked at a photograph
of the author in later years. The essence of the man rebuked me. I re-read the
passage and re-read it, trying to get to the mind of the man who wrote it. The
mathematician in me could distinguish nothing to mitigate the offending
principles. But the poet in me could eventually read between the lines, and he
read: “Nevertheless I have just done it,
let us examine the consequences.”
But Crowhurst’s attempts to understand the consequences led
him down a dizzying spiral into madness. For the next eight days, he wrote some
25,000 words at a furious rate, almost nonstop, taking only an occasional short
break, perhaps for a nap or a bite to eat. He wrote like a man possessed,
frantically filling his logbook with a string of nonsensical pseudoscientific
sentences, such as…