Special Theory Of Relativity

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is actually two
separate theories: his special theory of relativity ,
postulated in the 1905 paper, The Electrodynamics
of Moving Bodies and his theory of general
relativity , an expansion of the earlier theory,
published as The Foundation of the General Theory
of Relativity in 1916. Einstein sought to explain
situations in which Newtonian physics might fail to
deal successfully with phenomena, and in so doing
proposed revolutionary changes in human concepts
of time, space, and gravity.
The special theory of relativity was based on two
main postulates: first, that the speed of light is
constant for all observers; and second, that
observers moving at constant speeds should be
subject to the same physical laws. Following this
logic, Einstein theorized that time must change
according to the speed of a moving object relative to
the frame of reference of an observer. Scientists
have tested this theory through experimentation –
proving, for example, that an atomic clock ticks
more slowly when traveling at a high speed than it
does when it is not moving. The essence of
Einstein’s paper was that both space and time are
relative (rather than absolute), which was said to
hold true in a special case, the absence of a
gravitational field. Relativity was a stunning concept
at the time; scientists all over the world debated the
veracity of Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc2,
which implied that matter and energy were
equivalent and, more specifically, that a single
particle of matter could be converted into a huge
quantity of energy. However, since the special
theory of relativity only held true in the absence of a
gravitational field, Einstein strove for 11 more years
to work gravity into his equations and discover how
relativity might work generally as well.
According to the Theory of General Relativity,
matter causes space to curve. It is posited that
gravitation is not a force, as understood by
Newtonian physics, but a curved field (an area of
space under the influence of a force) in the space-
time continuum that is actually created by the
presence of mass. According to Einstein, that theory
could be tested by measuring the deflection of
starlight traveling near the sun; he correctly
asserted that light deflection would be twice that
expected by Newton’s laws. This theory also
explained why the light from stars in a strong
gravitational field was closer to the red end of the
spectrum than those in a weaker one.
For the final thirty years of his life, Einstein
attempted to find a unified field theory , in which the
properties of all matter and energy could be
expressed in a single equation. His search was
confounded by quantum theory ‘s uncertainty
principle , which stated that the movement of a
single particle could never be accurately measured,
because speed and position could not be
simultaneously assessed with any degree of
assurance. Although he was unable to find the
comprehensive theory that he sought, Einstein’s
pioneering work has allowed countless other
scientists to carry on the quest for what some have
called “the holy grail of physicists.”


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