Einstein's Theory Of Relativity I Oxford Open Learning

# Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity

We have all heard of Albert Einstein. The world-renowned physicist is synonymous with clever advancements in science, and wild-haired professors who seem to know everything! Do you know about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, though? It might be something you have studied in science, or perhaps read about online, or maybe it has come up in a Trivial Pursuit* question.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity encompasses two main elements: Special (linked to physical phenomena in the absence of gravity) and General (which explores the laws of gravity and links to the forces of nature). Way back in the early 1900s, Einstein was working on both theories – and in fact, much of his work surpassed the field of physics established by older scientists, such as Sir Isaac Newton. But it wasn’t until May in 1916 that Einstein’s final theory of general relativity was presented. Much of this is linked closely to gravity and its effects on things. Such examples include:
• Rays of light that bend in the presence of a gravitational field
• The fact that the universe is expanding – and that some elements of the universe can speed this up.

### Einstein’s Complex Solution

It is pretty complicated – but it is also something that affects the way we think about how the world works today. A key idea is how things fall when we drop them. If you let go of a marble in your hand, it will fall to the ground. The theory of general relativity explains this.

So, what about Special relativity, then? How is this different? You may well have heard of the famous equation E = mc2. Here, ‘E’ is the energy, ‘M’ is the mass, and ‘C’ is the constant speed of light. This concept was used in the development of nuclear energy – and also, the formation of nuclear bombs, weapons that were used to catastrophic effect in World War Two. With special relativity, the key idea is that motion is always relative – that is, how you perceive it will largely depend on where you are positioned.

### A Surprisingly Early Equation

A lot of modern-day science is linked to Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is amazing to think that the genius of Alfred Einstein is something that was established way back in the early 1900s, before World War One and the sinking of the Titanic. His general theory came to the fore in May 1916 and this, in itself, is fascinating in so many ways.

*Other quizzes are available.

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