November 25th, 1914 – Einstein and General Relativity

Today-In-History

On November 15th, 1915, Albert Einstein presented the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

Spacetime_curvature

General relativity is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915. According to general relativity, the observed gravitational effect between masses results from their warping of spacetime.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Newton’s law of universal gravitation had been accepted for more than two hundred years as a valid description of the gravitational force between masses. In Newton’s model, gravity is the result of an attractive force between massive objects. Although even Newton was troubled by the unknown nature of that force, the basic framework was extremely successful at describing motion.

Albert_Einstein_portraitExperiments and observations show that Einstein’s description of gravitation accounts for several effects that are unexplained by Newton’s law, such as minute anomalies in the orbits of Mercury and other planets. General relativity also predicts novel effects of gravity, such as gravitational waves, gravitational lensing and an effect of gravity on time known as gravitational time dilation. Many of these predictions have been confirmed by experiment, while others are the subject of ongoing research. For example, although there is indirect evidence for gravitational waves, direct evidence of their existence is still being sought by several teams of scientists in experiments such as the LIGO and GEO600 projects.

General relativity has developed into an essential tool in modern astrophysics. It provides the foundation for the current understanding of black holes, regions of space where the gravitational effect is so strong that even light cannot escape. Their strong gravity is thought to be responsible for the intense radiation emitted by certain types of astronomical objects (such as active galactic nuclei or microquasars). General relativity is also part of the framework of the standard Big Bang model of cosmology.

Although general relativity is not the only relativistic theory of gravity, it is the simplest such theory that is consistent with the experimental data. Nevertheless, a number of open questions remain, the most fundamental of which is how general relativity can be reconciled with the laws of quantum physics to produce a complete and self-consistent theory of quantum gravity.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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