Biography

Albert Einstein

General Theory of Relativity

Source: Nobel Prize in Physics photograph

One of Einstein's first thought experiments on the subject involved a falling man. He realized that a person falling in freefall would not feel their own weight. If the person was in an enclosed chamber while falling, they would have the same experience as someone floating weightless in outer space (at least until they hit the ground). What this meant to Einstein was that gravitation did not exist to the observer.

Einstein used his "falling man" thought experiment to develop the equivalence principle. This principle said that the affects of gravity and the affects of acceleration were both produced by the same structure. He published his ideas at the end of a 1907 article published by the

In addition to coming up with the equivalence principle, Einstein used this idea to make some important real world predictions. First, he demonstrated that clocks would actually run slower the more intense the gravitational field. In other words, clocks on Jupiter would run more slowly than clocks on Earth. This is now known as gravitational time dilation. Einstein also predicted that gravity would cause light to curve, a prediction that could be proven through experiment.

where he compares a ball falling to the floor in an accelerating rocket

(left) and one on Earth (right).

The effect is identical in both situations.

Source: Markus Poessel (Mapos), CC BY-SA 3.0,

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4381205

Over the next several years Einstein would pursue a solution to general relativity using two different strategies: a mathematical strategy and a physical strategy. His early attempts in 1912 at the mathematical solution can be seen in a notebook called the

Einstein was only somewhat satisfied with the

Einstein's new equations were not as simple as his earlier E=mc

Einstein's theory was not widely accepted or used by the scientific world at first. In 1919, his theory was confirmed when it correctly predicted the deflection of starlight by the sun during a solar eclipse. The confirmation of his theory brought Einstein worldwide fame. One British newspaper proclaimed "Revolution in Science - New Theory of the Universe - Newtonian Ideas Overthrown." Although this experiment brought significant attention and acceptance to the theory, the theory wasn't widely used by physicists until the 1960s and 1970s.

Author: F. W. Dyson, A. S. Eddington, and C. Davidson

When discussing his success at finding a solution to general relativity Einstein said "My boldest dreams have now come true."

Einstein worked with mathematician David Hilbert on the theory of general relativity including attending Hilbert's lectures and sharing ideas in letters.

- Overview
- Growing up Einstein
- Education, the Patent Office, and Marriage
- The Miracle Year
- Theory of General Relativity
- Academic Career and Nobel Prize
- Leaving Germany and World War II
- More Discoveries
- Later Life and Death
- Albert Einstein Quotes and Bibliography

Works Cited