Annalen der Physik


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Item#: 120456 price:$52,000.00

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(EINSTEIN, Albert). Annalen der Physik. Vierte Folge. Band 19. No. 2. Leipzig: [Johann Ambrosius Barth], 1906. Octavo, later drab paper wrappers, printed paper spine label. $52,000.

First printing of two early and important Einstein papers: a revised edition of his doctoral dissertation, and his paper on Brownian motion, signed by Einstein in 1950 ("A. Einstein (50)") on page 289, the first page of his dissertation.

Einstein's doctoral dissertation, "Eine Neue Bestimmung der Molekueldimensionen" [A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions] appears on pp. 289-306, while his follow-up treatise, "Zur Theorie der Brownschen Bewegung" [On the Theory of Brownian Motion] appears on pp. 371-81. Einstein's biographer, physicist Abraham Pais, observed that "it is not sufficiently realized that Einstein's doctoral thesis is one of his most fundamental papers," and historian of science John Stachel, in his monograph "Einstein's Miraculous Year: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), argued that Einstein's doctoral thesis was a landmark work. According to Stachel, Einstein's doctoral thesis "combined the techniques of classical hydrodynamics with those of the theory of diffusion to create a new method for the determination of molecular sizes and of Avogadro's number, a method he applied to solute sugar molecules… Einstein's concerns extended beyond this particular question to more general problems of the foundations of the theory of radiation and the existence of atoms. [Einstein] later emphasized… 'A precise determination of the size of molecules seems to me of the highest importance because Planck's radiation formula can be tested more precisely through such a determination thorugh measurements on radiation.' The dissertation also marked the first major success in Einstein's effort to find further evidence for the atomic hypothesis, an effort that culminated in his explanation of Brownian motion. By the end of 1905 he had published three independent methods for determining molecular dimensions."

Biographies of Einstein—such as those produced by Pais and Stachel—invariably refer to 1905 as Einstein's "miraculous year" because his articles on relativity, the light-quantum, and Brownian motion appeared almost back-to-back within this extremely productive period. Pais asserted that "in some—not all—respects, his results on Brownian motion are by-products of his thesis work. This goes a long way toward explaining why the paper on Brownian motion was received by the Annalen der Physik on May 11, 1905, only 11 days after the thesis had been completed. Three weeks after the thesis was accepted, this same journal received a copy [of the thesis] for publication. It was published only after Einstein supplied a brief addendum in January 1906… As a result of these various delays, the thesis appeared as a paper in the Annalen der Physik only after the Brownian article had come out in the same journal. This may have helped create the impression in some quarters that the relation between diffusion and viscosity—a very important equation due to Einstein and Sutherland—was first obtained in Einstein's paper on Brownian motion. Actually, it first appeared in his thesis" (Pais, Subtle is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein, Oxford, 1982).

Einstein's dissertation was first published in Bern, by Wyss, in 1905, in a very small edition, largely for Einstein's own use to secure his doctorate and to apply for jobs. "The judges at the university in Zurich were satisfied with Einstein's results, but Paul Drude, the editor of Annalen, was not. Einstein had submitted his treatise to Drude in August 1905, after the conclusion of the degree procedure; however, it was published not within the customary eight weeks, but only about six months later. This had never before happened with any of Einstein's papers, nor did it ever happen afterward. Drude evidently knew of better data for sugar solutions and must have asked for a small addendum. Einstein supplied it at the beginning of the following year, with a substantially improved result for the Avogadro constant" (Fölsing, Albert Einstein, 127). With folding plate at rear depicting several tables. Weil 7a, 11. This volume was signed by Einstein for Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Interior clean; closed tears to wrappers along spine, binding sound. A very good copy, very rare and desirable signed by Einstein.

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