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Einstein, Playful Genius - Subroto Mukerji

Einstein, Playful Genius - Subroto Mukerji

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Published by Subroto Mukerji
Einstein published over fifty scientific papers and is considered to be the greatest physicist of all time. By the end of his life, the TIME Magazine 'Man of the Century' was considered by many to be one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived.
Einstein published over fifty scientific papers and is considered to be the greatest physicist of all time. By the end of his life, the TIME Magazine 'Man of the Century' was considered by many to be one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived.

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Published by: Subroto Mukerji on Jul 23, 2010
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(1879 – 1955)
Albert Einstein notonly didn’t complete high school, he tried toenter college without a high school diploma.He then slipped away from his boarding school inMunich to join his family who had recentlymoved to northern Italy, using a fake doctor’snote.He later applied to ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of  Technology but
failed the entrance examination
! After finallygraduating from college, and for two years afterwards, he wasunable to find an opening in his field, teaching physics. So hetook a job as a clerk in a Berne, Switzerland patent office in 1902.Nineteen years later, Einstein won the
Nobel Prize
for hisdiscovery of the law of photoelectric effect.By the time of his death in 1955, he had irretrievably changedour view of reality, introduced several critical theories of relativityand on gravitation, published additional concepts onintermolecular forces, quantum mechanics, and the motions of celestial bodies and what we now call the “Big Bang Theory”.Einstein published over fifty scientific papers and is considered tobe the greatest physicist of all time. By the end of his life, he wasconsidered by many to be one of the greatest geniuses everborn.Einsteins final words, spoken inGerman, allegedly died with him, as it isreported that the nurse at his side didntunderstand a word of German. After his death,his brain was preserved at Princeton Hospital inhope that in the future,scientists could determine what made Einsteinso brilliant. In 1999, he was named
Person of the Century 
. Einstein wasan intensely human, utterly lovable human being, full of humourand pithy sayings.
 This theoretical physicist introduced his
Special Theory of Relativity 
in 1905 and his
General Theory of Relativity 
in 1915. The first showed that Newton's Three Laws of Motion were onlyapproximately correct, breaking down when velocitiesapproached that of light. The second showed that Newton's Lawof Gravitation was also only approximately correct, breakingdown when gravitation becomes very strong.
Special Relativity
Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is valid for systems that arenot accelerating. Since from Newton's second law an accelerationimplies a force, special relativity is valid only when no forces act. Thus, it cannot be used generally when there is a gravitationalfield present (as we shall see below in conjunction with thePrinciple of Equivalence, it can be used over a sufficientlylocalized region of spacetime).We have already discussed some of the important implications of the Special Theory of Relativity. For example, the most famous isprobably the relationship between mass and energy. Otherstriking consequences are associated with the dependence of space and time on velocity: at speeds near that of light, spaceitself becomes contracted in the direction of motion and thepassage of time slows. Although these seem bizarre ideas(because our everyday experience typically does not includespeeds near that of light), many experiments indicate that theSpecial Theory of Relativity is correct and our "common sense"(and Newton's laws) do not apply at speeds approaching that of light.
General Relativity
 The General Theory of Relativitywas Einstein's stupendous effortto remove the restriction onSpecial Relativity that noaccelerations (and therefore noforces) be present, so that hecould apply his ideas to the force of gravity. It is a measure of thedifficulty of the problem that it took even the great Einsteinapproximately 10 years to fully understand how to do this. Thus,the General Theory of Relativity is a new theory of gravitationproposed in place of Newtonian gravitation.
Tests of the Theory of General Relativity
General Relativity and Newton's gravitational theory makeessentially identical predictions as long as the strength of thegravitational field is weak, which is our usual experience.However, there are several crucial predictions where the twotheories diverge, and thus can be tested with carefulexperiments.1.The orientation of Mercury's orbit is found to precess inspace over time, as indicated in the above figure (themagnitude of the effect is greatly exaggerated for purposesof illustration). This is commonly called the "precession of the perihelion", because it causes the position of theperihelion to move around the center of mass. Only part of this can be accounted for by perturbations in Newton'stheory. There is an extra 43 seconds of arc per century inthis precession that is predicted by the Theory of GeneralRelativity and observed to occur (recall that a second of arcis 1/3600 of an angular degree). This effect is extremelysmall, but the measurements are very precise and candetect such small effects very well.2.Einstein's theory predicts that the direction of lightpropagation should be changed in a gravitational field.Precise observations indicate that Einstein is right, bothabout the effect and its magnitude. We have already seen aspectacular consequence of the deflection of light in agravitational field: gravitational lensing.3.The General Theory of Relativity predicts that light comingfrom a strong gravitational field should have its wavelengthshifted to larger values (a redshift). Once again, detailedobservations indicate such a redshift, and that itsmagnitude is correctly given by Einstein's theory.
 The electromagnetic field can have waves in it that carryenergy and that we call light. Likewise, the gravitationalfield can have waves that carry energy and are called
gravitational waves
. These may be thought of as ripples inthe curvature of spacetime that travel at the speed of light. Just as accelerating charges can emit electromagneticwaves, accelerating masses can emit gravitational waves.However gravitational waves are difficult to detect becausethey are very weak and no conclusive evidence has yetbeen reported for their direct observation. They have been

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