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Hannah Snyder Block 1 April 5, 2014

Albert Einstein and Relativity

Prior to Albert Einsteins contributions to relativity, Newton's theory of gravitation was accepted without question and stayed unquestioned. It remained this way until Einstein changed the foundations of physics with the introduction of his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905 and his General Theory of Relativity in 1915. The first theory showed that Newton's Three Laws of Motion were only approximately correct, breaking down when velocities approached that of light. The second showed that Newton's Law of Gravitation was also only approximately correct, breaking down in the presence of very strong gravitational fields. Not only would Einsteins theories change the fundamentals previously established and received, they would lead to many open doors for others to follow using the knowledge provided. Special Theory of Relativity In 1905, Einstein published a paper that revolutionized the general idea of space and time; this developed into the Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity (special relativity) is all about what's relative and what's absolute about time, space, and motion. This theory describes how to interpret different inertial frames of reference (a frame of reference that describes time and space homogeneously, isotropically, and in a time-independent manner) with objects of constant speed relative to each other. Special relativity only occurs when motion is uniform. In addition, the motion the theory explains is only applicable if the objects are

traveling in a straight line at a constant speed. Einstein explained that when two objects are moving at a constant speed as the relative motion between the two objects, instead of appealing to the ether (a hypothetical medium for transmitting light and heat, filling all unoccupied space) as an absolute frame of reference that defined what was going on. In conclusion, the theory determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers. Einsteins theory was based on two key components. These were the principle of relativity and the principle of the speed of light. The principle of relativity states that the laws of physics dont change, even for objects moving in inertial frames of reference. The principle of the speed of light says that the speed of light is the same for all observers, regardless of their motion relative to the light source. Einsteins discoveries came from him simply looking at the experiments and assuming that the findings were true. Prior to Einstein, this seemed to be the exact opposite of what other physicists were doing. Instead of assuming the theory was correct and that the experiments failed, he assumed that the experiments were correct and the theory had failed. Instead of searching for the medium of ether, like other physicists of this time were doing, Einstein removed it entirely and assumed the laws of physics (such as the principles of relativity and the speed of light) worked the same regardless of how an object was moving; this reflected the results of the experiments and mathematics. What did Special Relativity lead to? Einsteins theory of special relativity established a fundamental link between space and time. The universe itself is viewed as having three space dimensions; these dimensions are up and down, left and right, forward and backward along with one time dimension. This fourdimensional space is known as the space-time continuum. This odd behavior of space and time is only apparent when something is traveling close to the speed of light. Needless to say, no one

had ever observed it before. Experiments carried out since Einsteins discovery have further confirmed that it is true that time and space are perceived differently (precisely the way Einstein described) for objects moving near the speed of light. The most famous work of Einsteins life derived from his theory of special relativity. This occurred when he applied the ideas of his relativity paper to create the equation E=mc2. This equation represents the relationship between mass (m) and energy (E). Essentially, Einstein discovered that as an object approached the speed of light, c, the relative mass of the object increased. As the object goes faster, it also acts heavier. If it were actually able to move at the speed of light, the objects mass and energy would both be infinite. This is because the object can never reach the speed of light so as it nears light speed the same amount of energy that made it go 10% faster now yields less of a speed increase, so it seems that the object is heavier according to Newtonian physics.

Prior Einstein, the concepts of mass and energy were viewed as completely separate and independent of each other. He proved that the principles of conservation of mass and conservation of energy are both apart of the same larger, unified principle; conservation of massenergy. Matter can be turned into energy and energy can be turned into matter because a fundamental connection exists between the two types of substance.

General Theory of Relativity After his discovery of special relativity, Einstein spent ten years trying to include acceleration into the theory and published his theory of general relativity in 1915. In this, he determined that massive objects cause a distortion in space-time which is felt as gravity. This extended special relativity to take into account non-inertial frames of reference areas that are accelerating with respect to each other. General relativity takes the form of field equations, describing the curvature of space-time and the distribution of matter throughout space-time. In conclusion, the effects of matter and space-time on each other are what we perceive as gravity. The development of general relativity began with the equivalence principle. This principle states that accelerated motion and being at rest in a gravitational field are physically identical. The upshot of this is that free fall is inertial motion. An object in free fall is falling because that is how objects move when there is no force being exerted on them, instead of this being due to the force of gravity as is the case in classical mechanics. However, this did not agree with classical mechanics and special relativity because in those theories, inertially moving objects cannot accelerate with respect to each other, but objects in free fall do so. To resolve this difficulty, Einstein first proposed that space-time is curved. In 1915, he devised the Einstein field equations, which relate the curvature of space-time with the mass, energy, and momentum within it. What did the General Theory of Relativity lead to? To this day, our best current theory of gravitation is the General Theory of Relativity. In addition to this major discovery (which has been confirmed many times through experiments

such as the perihelion precession of Mercury's orbit, the deflection of light by the Sun, and the gravitational redshift of light), Einsteins theory made other predictions possible. With Einstein's 10 field equations (EFE) found in his General Theory, a mathematician and meteorologist in 1922 named Alexander Friedmann found the solutions to the field equations. This opened the door to Georges Lematre's later proposal of what's now known as the Big Bang theory. Einstein predicted the existence of black holes in the field equations of his General Theory of Relativity. German physicist Karl Schwarzschild proved this prediction to be correct. In a nutshell, a large mass affects space-time. The behavior of black holes helps prove that Einstein's theories on gravity and space are fundamentally correct. Einstein revolutionized physics with the introduction of his theories of relativity. He broke through Newtonian misconceptions and inspired a whole new study on relativity. His out of the box thinking led to a breakthrough in how we understand our surroundings and also led to how we fail to understand our surroundings, as there are unexplainable phenomena involving relativity and observation.