2016 Feb

Relativity Series 7: Scientific Implications & Geopolitical Consequences

February 7, 2016

Relativity Series

Albert Einstein, considered by many as genius personified, is a Germany born physicist whose theories in science have opened new avenues, explained in detail a lot of counter-intuitive observations and predicted many such counter-intuitive ideas that are, later, observed to be true. As a kid, Einstein resented the conventional academic methods that killed creativity. Having failed to secure an academic position, Einstein worked as a clerk in Swiss patent office. Einstein published special theory of relativity in 1905 and the general theory of relativity in 1915. His theories changes not just the face of science but also had serious political repercussions.

Einstein’s special theory of relativity has broken down the erstwhile notion of time being a constant across different frames of reference. Relativistic mass and length contraction are some of the other major repercussions of this science. As we have learnt during our Physics tuition classes on Nuclear Physics, E=mc2 is an equation which says that mass is another form of energy and it explained the release of enormous amounts of energy during nuclear fission. General theory of relativity was developed to explain gravity and the behavior of accelerating systems. General theory of relativity explains the phenomenon of black holes and bending of light under the influence of gravitational pull. This theory also explains several other phenomenon like gravitational blue shift, gravitational lensing, etc. Gravity is explained by general theory of relativity as a consequence of curvature of space-time fabric. GPS location system used in daily life can result in an error of several miles in the absence of the relativistic considerations. It’s an understatement to say that all of these scientific observations and predictions are revolutionary.

Due to the rising hostility towards Jews in Germany, Einstein moved to U.S. as a refugee. Einstein endorsed the letter that suggested the fear of Nazis building an atomic bomb. Consequently U.S. with the assistance of United Kingdom and Canada embarked on Manhattan project, the result of which was atomic bomb. Atomic bomb uses nuclear fission where mass is converted into energy according to the equation E=mc2. Although a part of Manhattan project, Einstein opposed the use of nuclear fission as a weapon. A signboard at the site of Manhattan project read “What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here”. It’s an example of the secrecy of the project. Nuclear war changed the fate of Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Einstein signed Russell-Einstein manifesto in 1955 that asked the world leaders to look for alternative peaceful solutions to international conflict.

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