Albert Einstein: Manuscript in German of "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity". Originally published in Annalen der Physik (1916).
Archival Call No. 120-788.
This article was the first systematic exposé of Einstein's general theory of
relativity. Einstein donated the original 46-page manuscript to The Hebrew University
on the occasion of its opening in 1925. It is arguably the most valuable Einstein
manuscript in existence.
Einstein completed the general theory of relativity in 1915 and published this first exposé the following year. The general theory overturned Newton's theory of gravity which had been valid for two hundred and fifty years. In Newton's universe, gravity was regarded as an attractive force which all massive bodies exert on each other. The planets moved in elliptical orbits about the sun because of its great mass powerful gravitational force. In Einstein's universe, gravity is not regarded as an exterior force, but rather as a property of space and time or "spacetime". Einstein's curved four-dimensional spacetime "continuum" is often likened to a suspended rubber sheet stretched taut but deformed wherever heavy objects - stars, galaxies or any other matter - are placed on it. Thus, a massive body like the sun curves the spacetime around it and the planets move along these curved pathways of spacetime. As Einstein put it: "matter tells space how to bend; space tells matter how to move".
The general theory predicted exactly to what extent a light beam would be bent when it passes near the sun. This prediction was confirmed by observations made by an expedition led by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington during a total eclipse of the sun in May 1919. It was the announcement of the confirmation of this prediction which thrust celebrity status upon Einstein overnight in November 1919.