Theory of relativity

Discovered by Albert Einstein

Theory of relativity:-

As we have seen, matter does not simply pull on other matter across empty space, as Newton had imagined. Rather matter distorts space-time and it is this distorted space-time that in turn affects other matter. Objects (including planets, like the Earth, for instance) fly freely under their own inertia through warped space-time, following curved paths because this is the shortest possible path (or geodesic) in warped space-time.

 

This, in a nutshell, then, is the General Theory of Relativity, and its central premise is that the curvature of space-time is directly determined by the distribution of matter and energy contained within it. What complicates things, however, is that the distribution of matter and energy is in turn governed by the curvature of space, leading to a feedback loop and a lot of very complex mathematics. Thus, the presence of mass/energy determines the geometry of space, and the geometry of space determines the motion of mass/energy.

 

In practice, in our everyday world, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation is a perfectly good approximation. The curving of light was never actually predicted by Newton but, in combination with the idea from special relativity that all forms of energy (including light) have an effective mass, then it seems logical that, as light passes a massive body like the Sun, it too will feel the tug of gravity and be bent slightly from its course. Curiously, however, Einstein’s theory predicts that the path of light will be bent by twice as much as does Newton’s theory, due to a kind of positive feedback. The English astronomer Arthur Eddington confirmed Einstein’s predictions of the deflection of light from other stars by the Sun’s gravity using measurements taken in West Africa during an eclipse of the Sun in 1919, after which the General Theory of Relativity was generally accepted in the scientific community.

 

As we have seen, matter does not simply pull on other matter across empty space, as Newton had imagined. Rather matter distorts space-time and it is this distorted space-time that in turn affects other matter. Objects (including planets, like the Earth, for instance) fly freely under their own inertia through warped space-time, following curved paths because this is the shortest possible path (or geodesic) in warped space-time.

This, in a nutshell, then, is the General Theory of Relativity, and its central premise is that the curvature of space-time is directly determined by the distribution of matter and energy contained within it. What complicates things, however, is that the distribution of matter and energy is in turn governed by the curvature of space, leading to a feedback loop and a lot of very complex mathematics. Thus, the presence of mass/energy determines the geometry of space, and the geometry of space determines the motion of mass/energy.

 

In practice, in our everyday world, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation is a perfectly good approximation. The curving of light was never actually predicted by Newton but, in combination with the idea from special relativity that all forms of energy (including light) have an effective mass, then it seems logical that, as light passes a massive body like the Sun, it too will feel the tug of gravity and be bent slightly from its course. Curiously, however, Einstein’s theory predicts that the path of light will be bent by twice as much as does Newton’s theory, due to a kind of positive feedback. The English astronomer Arthur Eddington confirmed Einstein’s predictions of the deflection of light from other stars by the Sun’s gravity using measurements taken in West Africa during an eclipse of the Sun in 1919, after which the General Theory of Relativity was generally accepted in the scientific community.

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