Science: The Origin of Relativity

For more than half a century, textbooks have hailed an 1887 experiment performed by the American scientists Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley as the inspiration for Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity. The two Americans showed that the speed of light is constant despite the motion of its source, a puzzling result that defied the Newtonian physics of the time, but was later explained by Einstein's equations. Yet was Einstein actually guided toward his epochal achievement by the Michelson-Morley experiment? After combing the Einstein archives at Princeton, Physicist-Historian Gerald Holton...

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