By Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein's well-known lectures entitled Sidelights on Relativity
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Additional info for Illuminated Geometry
This is intelligible without calculation—but only for the two-dimensional case—if we revert once more to the case of the disc on the surface of the sphere.
On many physicists and astronomers this argument makes no impression. Experience alone can finally decide which of the two possibilities is realised in nature. How can experience furnish an answer? At first it might seem possible to determine the mean density of matter by observation of that part of the universe which is accessible to our perception. This hope is illusory. The distribution of the visible stars is extremely irregular, so that we on no account may venture to set down the mean density of star25 Albert Einstein matter in the universe as equal, let us say, to the mean density in the Milky Way.
But these concepts serve the purpose of bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind. To “visualise” a theory, or bring it home to one’s mind, therefore means to give a representation to that abundance of experiences for which the theory supplies the schematic arrangement. In the present case we have to ask ourselves how we can represent that relation of solid bodies with respect to their reciprocal disposition (contact) which corresponds to the theory of a finite universe.
Illuminated Geometry by Albert Einstein