D O C U M E N T S 3 7 1 , 3 7 2 S E P T E M B E R 1 9 2 2 2 9 3
it does not follow, however, that one is not allowed to facilitate the description by
a suitably chosen frame of reference without violating the relativity postulate. If,
for ex., I approximate the real world by a “cylinder world” with evenly distributed
matter and choose the time axis to be parallel to the one generated by the “cylinder,”
this does not mean the introduction of an “absolute time.” Either way, there is no
such system of coordinates in the universe in which the formulation of the natural
laws would be preferred. As regards the real world, an exact definition of such a
system of coordinates would be impossible anyway, even if the real world could be
roughly approximated by that cylinder world. The principle of relativity does not
contend that the world is describable in an equally simple or even in the same way
as all systems of coordinates, only that the general laws of nature are the same with
respect to all systems (more precisely: that the hypothetically possible natural laws
should only be weighed against each other, as regards their simplicity, in their gen-
erally covariant formulations).
371. To Franz Selety
Berlin, 25 September 1922
Esteemed Doctor,
Thank you very much for sending me your
paper[1]
and for your
letter.[2]
I sent
a comment on the paper to the Annalen and hope that the editors will send you a
correction proof when it has been
typeset.[3]
I have nothing substantial to object to
in the first part of your
paper;[4]
however, I see that you have not completely com-
prehended the arguments in the general theory of relativity about the closed space
connected with Mach’s
thought.[5]
They are presented in a booklet that recently
appeared in Braunschweig by Vieweg: Four Lectures on the Theory of
Relativity;[6]
I will ask the publishing house to have a copy sent to you. With kind regards.
372. To Edgar Zilsel[1]
Berlin, 25 September 1922
Esteemed Colleague,
I have not been able to put as much time into the study of your
paper[2]
as would
have been
desirable.[3]
But as far as I can judge, the main problem remains
unsolved, which seems to me to consist in the following: statistical mechanics
assumes the validity of the following statement without proof.
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