History of The Theory of Relativity

history of relativity theory

Albert Einstein a Jewish physicist, proposed the Theory of Relativity, in the early part of the 20th century. The theory of relativity is considered as one of the most major scientific developments of our time. Though Einstein could not introduce the concept of relativity, his major contribution proved to be the acknowledgement that speed of light in emptiness is static. It is reckoned as a complete physical boundary for motion. As we travel at a much slower speed than light, it does not have any major influence on our day-to-day life. According to the theory of relativity, objects travelling near light speed, will move slower and will appear shorter to the observer on Earth.

Being adhered to the Principle of relativity of Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton created his theory on the basis of space and time. This theory stated that all observers, moving consistently related to each other are equal. No observer can be attributed with any absolute state of motion. The Aether Theory was widely believed in the 19th century. It was almost the same which was proved by James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell’s theory stated that every electrical and optical phenomena, promulgate in a medium. It has therefore, proved the possibility of determining absolute motion, in relative to the other. Hence, it disproved Galileo’s Principle.

Related to the history of this theory, several speculative results and experimental findings were obtained by Hendrik Lorentz, Henry Poincare and others. The failure of an experiment to detect motion, led to the progress of a theory by Hendrik Lorentz which is based on a steady alteration of aether, in the year 1892. In 1905, Henri Poincare suggested a relativity principle based on Lorentz’s aether theory. Being a general law of nature, it included electrodynamics and gravitation. Albert Einstein wobbled the foundations of physics by introducing his Special Theory of Relativity, in the same year. This theory has completely changed the concept of space and time, eliminating the aether. This has therefore, paved the way to general relativity. The successive work of Hermann Minkowski laid the bases of Relativistic Field Theories.

When Einstein’s theory was applied to gravitational fields, it depicted the dimensions of space and time. This feature of relativity explained the phenomena of light, predicting black holes. For his exceptional work on relativity, blackbody radiation and the photoelectric effect, Einstein was honored with the Nobel Prize, in the year 1921.

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