To this day humanity continues to contemplates whether the universe is bounded or infinite. Perhaps if Einstein were better at staying true to himself, and less strategic about making relativity as palatable as possible, and less concerned (unnecessarily, he would find as of 1919) with disseminating relativity to as wide an audience as possible, humanity today would have more familiarity with his intuition: that the universe is both bounded and infinite.
The Einstein quotes that head each section of The Pressure of Light are a prelude to my upcoming book, “The Pressure of Light: redefining the history and philosophy of science between 1739 and 1921”. An untold history of relativity is central to the work, both in terms of the philosophical implications of the theory, and the dark outcomes of Einstein’s emotional and social weaknesses. I hypothesize that the subtle story I wish to tell is perceivable as a tiny cause with massive effects, which are present today in the rott at the centre of academia, government, medicine and public education.
Einstein was a benefactor of massive intellectual gifts that began with the enlightenment (for him, David Hume) and evolved into an astounding mathematical picture of electro-magnetic fields, James Clerk Maxwell’s model of phenomena that, while formulating the fundamental structures of everything, are as incomprehensible to human conceptual abilities as the both finite and infinite ends of space and time. While Einstein was only delicately careless with these gifts (and, presently, only so in my opinion), today we squander them, disregard them, and worst of all, eagerly forget them. I hope my work will eventually help humanity rediscover the gems that crystalized once in a distant world, providing a pristine platform for intellectual discovery, the same platform I worked from to completed The Pressure of Light.
I’ve created a Patreon page in case that’s a better place to make donations than my website: patreon.com/PressureOfLight, but you can also support me through Pressure of Light Books, where you can also view and download PDFs, videos or an MP3 of the whole essay: Pressure of Light
Without further ado…
“A specific inertia-generating envelope is not assumed; rather, all inertia-generating matter will consist of stars, as those in the portion of our universe accessible to our telescopes. This is compatible with the facts only when we imagine that the portion of the universe visible to us must be considered extremely small (with regard to mass) against the universe as a whole. This view played an important role for me psychologically, since it gave me the courage to continue to work at the problem when I absolutely could not find a way of obtaining covariant field equations.”
– Letter from Einstein to William de Sitter, 1916, in which Einstein remembers-remembering failing to obtain covariant field equations, then remembers visualizing the universe as it’s seen from telescopes, then remembers seeing the enormity of a universe where what’s seen from telescopes is minutely small, then remembers an awareness of a feeling of courage, which, through subsequent analysis, he remembered as connected with the immensity of the universe.
“In practice I must, and in theory I can make do with this, and I am not at all unhappy when you reject all questions that delve further. On the other hand, you must not scold me for being curious enough still to ask: Can I imagine a universe or the universe in such a way that inertia stems entirely from the masses and not at all from the boundary conditions? As long as I am clearly aware that this whim does not touch the core of the theory, it is innocent; by no means do I expect you to share this curiosity!”
– Same letter from Albert Einstein to William de Sitter, 1916, in which he reveals, shyly, weakly, his in fact firm belief that the universe is both bounded, and infinite.