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Relativity Theory

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Relativity is a general term applied to a couple of theories postulated by Albert Einstein in the early part of the twentieth century. Building on the works of a group of other scientists, he built an edifice that challenged the conventional notions of space and time. The Theory of Relativity comprises its two variants, namely, the theory of special relativity (1905) and the theory of general relativity (1915-16).

Theory of General Relativity

general relativity

When originally promulgated by Einstein in the early part of the twentieth century, General Relativity remained unreachable to most people. Even many physicists found the theory so convoluted that it could not be fully grasped for many decades. It was only until astronomical observations began to confirm some of the more unusual predictions of the curved space and time that it became vox populi again. Additionally, the ability to mathematically model various aspects of the theory lent it further credibility. This promoted General Relativity Theory to a primary status in modern physical studies about the nature of the universe.

Whilst Einstein worked on this theory for almost a decade, his final work generated unusual effects that have been subsequently allegedly confirmed by astronomical observations. Amongst these are:

Predictions of the Theory of General Relativity:

  • Space and time dragged along by a rotating mass, frame-dragging
  • Orbital precessions different than Newtonian Gravity
  • Stellar warping of light
  • Time slowing in a gravity field


Each of these further bolstered the theory as the decades flew by. However, one of the most interesting consequences of General Relativity has to do with the principle of equivalence. It is here where Einstein is at his best describing with thought experiments the identical nature of accelerated motion with being in the presence of a gravitational field. Many people can remember an introductory course beginning with an instructor comparing the motion of an elevator motion in comparison with the Earth's gravity. It is this simplistic analysis, along with his mathematical complex that endeared Einstein to his followers.

Special Relativity Theory

Special Relativity

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