The Concept of Relative Time

Physics constitutes a logical system of thought which is in a state of evolution, and whose basis cannot be obtained through distillation by any inductive method from the experiences lived through, but which can only be attained by free invention. The justification (truth content) of the system rests in the proof of usefulness of the resulting theorems on the basis of sense experiences, where the relations of the latter to the former can only be comprehended intuitively. Evolution is going on in the direction of increasing simplicity of the logical basis. In order further to approach this goal, we must make up our mind to accept the fact that the logical basis departs more and more from the facts of experience, and that the path of our thought from the fundamental basis to these resulting theorems, which correlate with sense experiences, becomes continually harder and longer.128

The author of this physical declaration of principle is Albert Einstein (1879-1955), creator of the special and general theories of relativity in the years 1905 and 1915, respectively.129 His words mirror both the intuitive, creative dimension of physical science and the constant struggle for a uniform conception of the world, in which theory and experience reach agreement. Both also are found in Einstein's biography.130 The creative achievement of the twenty-six-year-old "third-class technical expert" at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property in Bern and the recognition that the professor and member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin received in 1919 following the official confirmation of the general theory of relativity (due to the publication of the data collected by a British expedition during a solar eclipse) brought him world fame and the reputation of being a genius.131 Nevertheless, Einstein's big dream of achieving a uniform field theory that would summarize his conception of the world was left unfulfilled. His stubborn refusal to accept quantum mechanics with all of its "illogicality" appears to have finally led him to a dead end.132

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