Albert Einstein’s relativity theory is a set of two theories in physics: the theory of special relativity and general relativity. The central idea in both theories is that two observers moving relative to each other, usually measuring different ‘time’ and ‘room interval’ for the same events, but the laws of physics apply equally to both.
Special relativity, developed in 1905, takes into account only observers in uniform motion relative to one another. The theory postulates that the speed of light in vacuum is the same for all observers. This leads to the redefinition of such fundamental concepts as time, space, mass, energy, and momentum with far reaching consequences. Moving objects seem to be heavier and shorter in the direction of motion relative to the observer, and watches seem correspondingly slower.
It is often misunderstood that a body at high speed have greater mass, which is not the case.
Light (actually photons) have momentum. The speed of light appears as an upper speed limit for matter and information. Mass and energy are considered as equivalent, two sides of the same coin. This can be described by the famous equation E = mc². Two events that an observer believes are concurrent, are perceived as non- concurrent by an observer moving relative to the first observer. The theory does not account for gravitational effects. The mathematical foundation of special relativity is the Lorentz Transformation. Instead of classical physics momentum, Einstein showed that the momentum really is, where is the Lorentz factor, which depends on the speed.
General relativity was published by Einstein in 1915. It uses the mathematics of differential geometry and tensor to describe gravity. Laws of general relativity applies equally to all observers, even if they accelerate peer. General relativity is a geometric theory, which postulates that the presence of mass and energy “curves” room, and this curvature affects the free particle paths (and even light path), an effect we interpret as the gravitational force. The theory can be used to create models of the universe’s evolution, and is therefore a crucial tool for cosmology.
In light of the 1800s scientific and technological progress, relativity stood as roundabout and abstract. Einstein’s exaltation as physics renovator took off in 1919 when Arthur Eddington’s astronomical observations gave support to the theory of relativity. But this triggered a storm of protest from scientists as well as laymen, who has come to be called “anti- relativists.”
Among the critics of the 1930s, there were Germans Paul Weyland, Ernst Gehrcke, Ludwig Glaser, and the two Nobel laureates Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark. They later attacked Einstein also on anti-Semitic grounds and campaigned for a “German physics” that would be understandable and clean. Through its anti-Semitic gambit, John Stark lost in his professorship at the RWTH Aachen 1922. Many Einstein critics gathered by the Swedish American engineer Arvid Reuterdahl, who in 1921 founded an academy of Nations for this purpose. To his supporters in Sweden heard Edward Westin, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at KTH.
Criticism of the theory of relativity from established researchers resolved during the late 1920s. It became untenable to reject the new physics in such flimsy grounds.
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