Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity


Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Wurttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later he and his family moved to Munich, where he later on began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Later, they moved to Italy and Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland. In 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he earned his diploma and received a Swiss citizenship and he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he went for his doctor's degree. In 1914 he was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and Professor in the University of Berlin. He became a German citizen in 1914 and remained in Berlin until 1933. He became a United States citizen in 1940. During the 1920's he lectured in Europe, America and the Far East and he was awarded Memberships to all the leading scientific academies throughout the world. He gained numerous awards for all of his work, including the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London in 1925, and the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1935. He married Mileva Maric in 1903 and they had a daughter and two sons. He died on April 18, 1955 at Princeton, New Jersey.

Introduced in 1905, Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is based on two ideas: the law of physics is constant for anyone moving at a constant speed, and the speed of light is constant for anyone, in any frame of reference. If the speed of light is constant, then time and space must be relative.

After 1905, Einstein continued working in all three of his works in the 1905 papers. He made important contributions to the quantum theory. In 1907 he said that if mass were equivalent to energy, then the principle of equivalence required that gravitational mass would interact with the apparent mass of electromagnetic radiation, which includes light. By 1911, Einstein was able to make the first predictions about how a ray of light from a distant star, passing near the Sun, would appear to be attracted, or bent slightly, in the direction of the Sun's mass. At the same time, light radiated from the Sun would interact with the Sun's mass, resulting in a slight change toward the infrared end of the Sun's optical spectrum. At About 1912, Einstein began a new phase of his gravitational research, by putting his work in terms of the tensor calculus of Tullio Levi-Civita and Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro. The tensor calculus made calculations in four-dimensional space-time, a notion that Einstein had obtained from Hermann Minkowski in 1907. Einstein called his new work the general theory of relativity. After a number of false starts, he published the definitive form of the general theory in late 1915. In its original form, Einstein's general relativity has been verified a number of times in the past 60 years, especially during solar-eclipse expeditions when Einstein's light-deflection prediction could be tested.

The theory of special relativity says if all the laws of physics are equally valid in all frames of reference moving at a uniform velocity and that the speed of light from a uniformly moving source is always the same, regardless of how fast or slow the source or its observer is moving. The theory has as consequences, the relative mass increases rapidly for moving objects.

Some criticized Special Relativity for many reasons, such as lack of evidence, rejection of mathematical physics, philosophical reasons. Examples people who criticized him are: Max Abraham, Friedrich Adler, Henri Bergson, Herbert Dingle, Harald Nordenson, Hugo Dingler, Louis Essen, Herbert E. Ives, Emanuel Lasker, Hjalmar Mellin, Albert Abraham Michelson, Menyhért Palágyi, Walter Ritz, Georges Sagnac.

Other critics had already concluded that there had to be air in the upper sky (aether) which carried the light as the Earth moved through it. The two results suggested opposing results: was the aether local and fluid, or was it universal and rigid?

Although there still are critics of relativity outside the scientific mainstream, most of scientists agree that Special Relativity has been proven in many different ways and there are no inconsistent things within the theory.

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