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100 years of General Relativity Part 2: Introduction to Special Relativity


As you know, in this series we are celebrating 100th anniversary of General Theory of Relativity. This is the second part of this series. You can read the first part at : https://unvarnishedveritas.wordpress.com/
Before we discuss General Theory of Relativity, we need to understand the concepts of Special Theory of Relativity. In this VERITAS article, I will give you an introduction to the Special Theory of Relativity.

1905 was a very important year for Einstein and his scientific pursuits. Einstein turned 26 years old in March of that year. He was employed as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern, he was already married and had two sons. His work at the Swiss patent office was neither creative nor did it involve much science. Einstein balanced his work in office, his family life and his real interest, Physics. Like today’s age, the greatest scientific breakthroughs in those days came from universities and laboratories. Einstein was far away from these institutions and was working completely alone( he did discuss his ideas with his friends but none of them were professional scientists). And he had limited access to scientific journals. But he still published 4 papers that year and each one of those papers was a breakthrough in the world of physics. The first of these papers explained the photoelectric effect and laid the foundations of quantum physics, the second paper dealt with Brownian motion, the third paper proposed the Special Theory of Relativity and in the fourth paper Einstein derived the most famous equation of Physics: E= mc^2. It is amazing that a 26 year old clerk could come up with 4 amazing ideas that would change the course of physics in a single year. This year( 1905) is often referred to as Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis ( Miracle year). If you want to read Einstein’s biography, I would recommend “Einstein: The Life and Times” by Ronald Clark and “Einstein: His life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson.

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