Einstein's ‘Zürich Notebook’ and his journey to general relativity


  • Based on an invited talk given at the conference “Cosmology Since Einstein”, Hong Kong, 30 May – 1 June 2011.


On the basis of his ‘Zürich Notebook’ I shall describe a particularly fruitful phase in Einstein's struggle on the way to general relativity. These research notes are an extremely illuminating source for understanding Einstein's main physical arguments and conceptual difficulties that delayed his discovery of general relativity by about three years. Together with the ‘Entwurf’ theory in collaboration with Marcel Grossmann, these notes also show that the final theory was missed late in 1912 within a hair's breadth. The Einstein-Grossmann theory, published almost exactly hundred years ago, contains, however, virtually all essential elements of Einstein's definite gravitation theory.