Starts With A Bang

How Einstein’s relativity saved the Solar System

Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” -Albert Einstein

While it’s easy to look on Einstein’s general theory of relativity — which turns 100 today — as a revolutionary new way to interpret space and time, as well as their interplay with matter and energy, it actually came about due to a problem with the Solar System.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt.

The orbits of all the planets, comets and asteroids were explained very nicely by Newtonian gravity, with the exception of Mercury, which precessed a little too quickly. While there were other possible explanations, only Einstein’s gave the correct prediction, made new, testable predictions that differed from Newton’s, and were verified by experiment.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Mpfiz.

Makes you wonder how science will march forward in the next 100 years. Come get the whole story on Forbes!