20 Things You Didn’t Know About Relativity


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20 Things You Didn’t Know About Relativity

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Relativity

Albert Einstein was famous for many things, but his greatest brainchild is the theory of relativity. It forever changed our understanding of space and time.

What is relativity? Succinctly put, it is the notion that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. We here on Earth obey the same laws of light and gravity as someone in a far off corner of the universe. [8 Ways You Can See Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in Real Life]

The universality of physics means that history is provincial. Different viewers will see the timing and spacing of events differently. What for us is a million years may just be a blink of an eye for someone flying in a high-speed rocket or falling into a black hole.

Special relativity
General relativity

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Galileo invented it, Einstein understood it, and Eddington saw it.

1. Who invented relativity? Galileo hit on the idea in 1639, when he showed that a falling object behaves the same way on a moving ship as it does in a motionless building.

2. And Einstein didn’t call it relativity. The word never appears in his original 1905 paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” and he hated the term, preferring “invariance theory” (because the laws of physics look the same to all observers — nothing “relative” about it).

3. Space-time continuum? Nope, that’s not Einstein either. The idea of time as the fourth dimension came from Hermann Minkowski, one of Einstein’s professors, who once called him a “lazy dog.”

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