Widely considered the greatest scientist in the history of mankind, Albert Einstein is famous for a number of theories, including the discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, for which he won the Nobel Prize. What did Einstein do With His Nobel Prize Money? He is most famous for his two theories of Relativity (special and general), but did not win a Nobel Prize for either of those theories.
Special Relativity describes the relationship between space and time for non-accelerating objects and produced the world’s most famous equation E = mc2. Two prior IFODs delve into the theory of Special Relativity: The Strange Result of Light Speed Being a Constant and Is Speed of Light (or Faster) Travel Possible?
What Is General Relativity?
Proposed in a paper Einstein published in 1915, General Relativity states that what we know as gravity arises from the curvature of space and time (or spacetime). In other words, objects with mass (or energy) bend the fabric of spacetime and this curvature of spacetime is what causes what we perceive as gravity.
According to astrophysicist Pedro Ferreira of the University of Oxford, “although Earth appears to be pulled towards the sun by gravity, there is no such force. It is simply the geometry of space-time around the sun telling Earth how to move.” Thus, gravity is warped spacetime. Pretty mind-blowing.
Moving objects, including orbiting bodies such as the moon, follow the straightest possible path in spacetime, even though the path doesn’t look straight to us. The moon is merely following the path in curved spacetime. In addition to solid bodies following the curvature of spacetime, light is also bent as it passes through curved spacetime.