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Anniversary of Relativity

1 noviembre, 2015

This November marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in 1915 in the Prussian Academy of Sciences. One theory that is not about the relativity of things in a philosophical way, but a description of something which affects us all as much as is gravity.

The theory rests on two principles, such as the principle of relativity and the equivalence principle, which leads to the description of the gravitational force as a curvature of space-time near massive objects, so any gravitational field experience is equivalent to an ordinary  acceleration.

The theory tells us that near a gravitational field, the time passes more slowly than away from it, a fact that has been reflected in numerous films and documentaries as ‘Interstellar’, to name perhaps the most recent.

The theory has been confirmed many times, and predicts things such as the bending of light by massive objects such as stars, black holes and gravitational lenses. Today the theory of relativity is commonly used in everyday things as GPS, which is a technology that has to bear in mind that the pass of time on the surface of the Earth is slower than in the orbit of the satellite, for instance.

Einstein realized that in free fall, no force is experienced by a body, so indulging in free fall is equivalent to being in orbit in weightlessness, in fact physicists say that the International Space Station is continuously falling to a path that is an ellipse around the Earth and when you experience the gravitational field of the Earth is equivalent to experience an acceleration, a force, leaving to be in that free fall. This may seem very strange but there are people who understand it and, for them, it is their daily business.

Einstein nowadays is not only a scientist, but, above all, a Pop Icon. There are images of the scientist that are almost works of art, as in that picture sticking his tongue out. When we refer to someone very intelligent most of us remember Einstein,  who is primarily an icon today, as if he were a pop star but in a cultivated way.

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