On This Day — Einstein Writes : “E = m c2”. (Fake News)

“If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass diminishes by L/c2. The fact that the energy withdrawn from the body becomes energy of radiation evidently makes no difference, so that we are led to the more general conclusion that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy-content; if the energy changes by L, the mass changes in the same sense by L/9 × 1020, the energy being measured in ergs, and the mass in grammes. It is not impossible that with bodies whose energy content is variable to a high degree (e.g. with radium salts) the theory may be successfully put to the test.”

Albert Einstein (September 27 1905)

On this day (Sept. 27 1905), the physics journal Annalen der Physik publishes Albert Einstein’s paper “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”, introducing the ‘infamous’ equation E=mc². Follow us on Twitter:@INTEL_TODAY

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Einstein’s 1905 paper on mass-energy equivalence does not say ‘E=m c2‘. Roughly, the article states: “m=L/c2”. Change just one letter, and you will find out that this equation had been written many years before.

Of course, Einstein did write the equation as ‘E=m c2‘ in the first issue of “Science Illustrated” in 1946 in the article “E=mc²: The Most Urgent Problem of Our Time”.

This edition of Einstein’s Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content is based on the English translation of his original 1905 German language paper — published as “Ist die Tragheit eines Korpers von seinem Energiegehalt abhangig?”, in Annalen der Physik.18:639, 1905 — which appeared in the book The Principle of Relativity, published in 1923 by Methuen and Company, Ltd. of London.

Most of the papers in that collection are English translations by W. Perrett and G.B. Jeffery from the German Das Relativats prinzip, 4th ed., published by in 1922 by Tuebner. All of these sources are now in the public domain; this document, derived from them, remains in the public domain and may be reproduced in any manner or medium without permission, restriction, attribution, or compensation.

The footnote is as it appeared in the 1923 edition. The 1923 English translation modified the notation used in Einstein’s 1905 paper to conform to that in use by the 1920’s; for example, c denotes the speed of light, as opposed the V used by Einstein in 1905. In this paper Einstein uses L to denote energy; the italicised sentence in the conclusion may be written as the equation “m=L/c2” which, using the more modern E instead of L to denote energy, may be trivially rewritten as “E=mc2”.

And by the way, the theory was successfully put to the test in Hiroshima on August 6 1945.

PS/ One of my best memories is an evening with a true genius — Lev Okun — who may well be the real father of the Russian thermonuclear weapons. Lev told me the very best joke about this equation. Every teacher should be ashamed! Stay tuned! (Yes, I will tell you the joke.)


Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content by A. EINSTEIN (September 27, 1905)


On This Day — Einstein writes : ” E = m0 C2″ (Fake News)

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