On November 25, 1915, a little over 100 years ago, Albert Einstein came up with the equation which is currently ruling the universe. The theory thrown up by him is as mysterious and compact as a Viking rune and portrays space-time in the form of a sagging mattress, in which energy and matter distort cosmos’ geometry for producing gravity allowing beams of light as well as falling apples and marbles to follow curved paths in space.
This is what we call “the general theory of relativity”, something which completely transformed the way we think about time and space.
In the general theory of relativity proposed by him, Einstein said that gravity, particularly when strong, bends space and slows time. The level of bending and slowing depends on the amount of energy and matter present. Einstein explained that our universe doesn’t have any constant frame of reference, and every single thing within the universe is moving relative to all other things.
Since the beginning of the scientific revolution and the time of Sir Isaac Newton, the legendary scientist who discovered gravity, philosophers and scientists had always believed that space-time is a stage where matter, energy and we, the actors, strut and stride.
When Einstein came up with his theory of relativity, we came to know that the stage itself is active. It showed us that space-time can curve, wrap, fold itself up around dead stars and then disappear into black holes. We came to know that space-time possesses the ability to whirl like dough getting processed in a Mixer and jiggle like the belly of Santa Clause radiating waves produced by gravitational compression.
That’s not all; it can also tear or rip and stretch itself to grow. There were even instances where space-time was found to collapse into crumbs of infinite density.
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According to Einstein’s theory, which we now refer to as “special relativity”, none of the laws of physics take into account how fast we are going. Einstein understood that those laws must appear the same irrespective of the way we are moving.
One significant consequence observed by Einstein was that even beams of light will bend downward and time will slow down in a gravitational field. Gravity was never a force transmitted all across space-time; it was actually the geometry of space-time which allowed apples to fall and the planets to remain in their orbits.