Albert Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory : A Brief Explanation

Special Relativity Theory

Albert Einstein published his annus mirabilis paper, called the Special Relativity, on 26 September, in the year 1905. Einstein’s discovery of the special theory of relativity shook the foundation of Physics, as it included an absolutely new definition of space and time, abolishing aether. According to Einstein, there were two fundamental principles, namely the Principle of Relativity and the Principle of the Constancy of Light. These two principles served to be the axiomatic basis of his theory. To understand his step in a better way, a summary of the circumstances before 1905, need to be drawn. Einstein was equally familiar with the 1895 Theory of Lorentz and “Science and Hypothesis” by Poincare.

In 1895, Maxwell’s electrodynamics, as presented by Lorentz is reckoned as the most successful theory. It stated that the speed of light remains constant in all directions in the static aether and entirely independent of the speed of the source. The failure of experiments to find an absolute state of motion or the validity of the relativity principle, which resulted the negative outcome of all aether drift experiments. Failure of effects like the moving magnet and conductor problem that is wholly dependent on relative motion, along with the disappointment of The Fizeau experiment and The Aberration of light, led to the formation of Special Relativity Theory.

Numerous major experiments were done by Hendrik Lorentz, Henry Poincare and others to get amazing results. But in the year 1982, failure of an experiment to detect motion, based on a steady alteration of aether, headed to the development of a theory by Hendrik Lorentz. It was in the year 1905 that Henri Poincare recommended a relativity principle, on the basis of Lorentz’s aether theory. As a general law of nature, the theory included electrodynamics and gravitation. In the same year, Albert Einstein introduced his Special Theory of Relativity, paving the way to general relativity, which has completely changed the concept of space and time. Hermann Minkowski laid the foundation of Relativistic Field Theories with his successful work.

When the theory of Einstein was applied to gravitational fields, depicting the dimensions of space and time, the aspects of relativity explained the phenomena of light, predicting black holes. In 1921, Einstein received the Nobel Prize, for his brilliant work on relativity, blackbody radiation and the photoelectric effect.

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