Annus Mirabilis



1905 has often been called the AnnusMirabilis because, in this year, Einstein published four groundbreaking papers:


1.      "On a Heuristic ViewpointConcerning the Production and Transformation of Light" (June 1905)proposed an explanation for the photo-electric effect, and introduced theheuristic concept of quanta of light or energy.


2. "On the Motion of Small ParticlesSuspended in a Stationary Liquid, as Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theoryof Heat" (July 1905) proposed an explanation for Brownian motion and aquantitative prediction that provided empirical evidence for the existence ofmolecules and atoms.


3. "On the Electrodynamics of MovingBodies" (September 1905) proposed a reconciliation between Maxwell'sequations and classical mechanics by extending the classical principle ofrelativity and assuming the constant value of the speed of light in allinertial frames of reference.


4. "Does the Inertia of a Body DependUpon Its Energy Content?" (November 1905) proposed the famous E=mc2equation.

4.物体的惯性取决于它的能量含量吗?190511月)提出了著名的 E=mc2方程。

Let's have a look at these papers! Eventhough they are highly technical, there is a way of reading the papers that canbe very rewarding and does not require any special knowledge. Try to identifythe elements of Einstein's style that we have covered in this lesson.


The Style


1.      Read carefully the introductionof each paper (i.e. the first paragraphs before the first section). Can youidentify a pattern in the way the main problem is presented? Is there anythingunusual that attracts your attention?


2. How are the papers structured? You donot need to read the whole paper carefully, or understand all the mathematicaland technical details. Skim quickly through the papers to get a sense of howEinstein divided his papers.


The Experiments


1.      Is Einstein using any experimentalevidence to support his claims? What kind of experiments does he invoke, andhow does he talk about them? How specific is he? What kind of references doeshe use?


2. Is Einstein making any sort ofexperimental predictions? What role do these predictions play in the paper?