Bridging the knowledge gap: An analysis of Albert Einstein’s popularized presentation of the equivalence of mass and energy

Shulamit Kapon

This article presents an analysis of a scientific article written by Albert Einstein in 1946 for the general public that explains the equivalence of mass and energy and discusses the implications of this principle. It is argued that an intelligent popularization of many advanced ideas in physics requires more than the simple elimination of mathematical formalisms and complicated scientific conceptions. Rather, it is shown that Einstein developed an alternative argument for the general public that bypasses the core of the formal derivation of the equivalence of mass and energy to provide a sense of derivation based on the history of science and the nature of scientific inquiry. This alternative argument is supported and enhanced by variety of explanatory devices orchestrated to coherently support and promote the reader’s understanding. The discussion centers on comparisons to other scientific expositions written by Einstein for the general public.