General Relativity turns 97!

We celebrate a very important date in the history of science. Imagine it as an early Christmas gift to Brainiacs everywhere. On March 20, 1916 Albert Einstein came up with a fantastic way to explain gravity. Einstein’s great idea was that space and time were the same thing: space-time. Space-time, like a piece of fabric can be bent and curved by mass. The heavier an object, the more space-time bends. The Sun bends space-time around it and planets follow paths along this curved space-time. We think we are going around the Sun, but really we are going in a straight line through curvy space!

The cool thing about this is there’s a really strange thing predicted from this theory. Imagine something as heavy as 10 of our Suns. Now imagine it as small as a golf ball. Then the fabric of space-time would be bent to breaking point. This means that nothing can escape, not even light! You would need an infinite amount of energy to escape. The name we give to this scarily amazing event is a “Black Hole.”  You can explore Black Holes with this activity from the Night Sky Network.

Other important ideas that come from this theory are:

  • Time Dilation
  • Length Contraction
  • Nothing can go faster than light
  • Einstein’s Elevator (there isn’t any difference between being in a gravitational field and accelerating without a gravitational field)
  • and the most famous equation of all: E=mc²

Read the original article (in German) here!



    written by: Craig, with edits from John and Frances

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