| Albert Einstein and the Relativity Gamble By Anthony J. Mountjoy | Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:00:00 EST |
To those curious about the difference between the Special and General Theories of Relativity it basically goes like this. Special Relativity assumes there is no gravity, and General Relativity allows for it.
In Special Relativity the laws of physics are the same for all inertial coordinate systems. A small difference it might seem, but the mathematical ramifications are profound and it almost got the better of Einstein who as we all know wasn't very good at math :)
Such difficult problems illustrate the sometimes sloppy appearance of discovery. Even the greatest minds find themselves struggling to overcome apparently insurmountable problems. These are natural obstacles on the path to hidden treasures and few endeavours are more esoteric than advanced mathematics.
It's important to remember, no matter the difficulty of the equation; it all can be solved one step at a time. Isn't the first step to simplify the equation? Though the math appeared air tight, the test-ability of such a revolutionary idea was of course brought into question immediately. However, relativity is not string theory. It is testable to extreme precision, at the time in theory (pun intended), and since, in practice many times over out to several galaxies diameter from earth.
In the early 20th century, the only known way to directly test the closest interesting prediction involved the measurement of light around a massive body such as our sun. If the theory were correct then photos during an eclipse would show the curvature of space by predicting the apparent location of stars whose light must have been effected by gravity as it travelled near the sun.
It took two eclipses, a series of inconclusive results, rose coloured interpretation of initially fuzzy pictures and more than a little danger during war time with enemies and allies alike for the sake of science. Ultimately...the theory was proven correct. Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this because satellites stay in orbit thanks to Einstein's mathematical framework of relativity.
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