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100 Years of Special Relativity

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the much-better-than-the-regular-kind dept.

Education 299

phrotoma writes "Wikipedia notes in their Selected Anniversaries section that today marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Eintein's publication of the third of his four Annus Mirabilis Papers entitled On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies; the seminal work that introduced the concepts which would come to be known as Special Relativity. This event is also being commemorated in a UN endorsed celebration of physics: World Physics Year 2005 with talks and events at public schools, museums, and universities the world over."

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100 Years (5, Funny)

Inkieminstrel (812132) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950681)

100 years according to which observer?

not 50!! (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950738)

So he was ...ehh..100 years ahead of his time then ..not 50

Nothing has equalled special relativity in 100 years? has it

Re:not 50!! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951049)

Nothing has equalled special relativity in 100 years? has it

Well, there's general relativity which is really the big step forward IMHO. And then there's the development of quantum mechanics.

Re:not 50!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951329)

Of course we willen haven been inventing the Improbability Drive.

Re:100 Years (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950740)

100 years according to which observer?

The first five posts are all riffs on the same theme -- dilation of time. Does that say more about the level of education among Slashdotters, or about our lack of creativity, or both? I guess it's all relative.

Intentional? (0, Redundant)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950789)

"I guess it's all relative."

Cute.

Re:100 Years (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950921)

The first five posts are all riffs on the same theme -- dilation of time. Does that say more about the level of education among Slashdotters, or about our lack of creativity..

or lack of relativity.. ; )

on an unrelated note...

Ping request could not find host www.tubgirl.com. Please check the name and try again.

I can smell smoke from the tubgirl host server!

Re:100 Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951015)

That's not smoke... it's greasy yellow fecal fluid.

Why we all thought of Time dilation immediately.. (0, Flamebait)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951052)

> The first five posts are all riffs on the same theme -- dilation of time.

Say relativity is 100 years old and the immediate thing that pops into my mind is Twins Paradox [wikipedia.org] .

In fact it is the most difficult part of relativity to get straight. Because relative velocity of light is always 'C' - and how ?. Well time and distance measurements change with the speed you move. Newton only said speed was relative - he always maintained that displacement and time were absolute. After all absolute time predisposes of a creator for this universe - time began with the creation. Otherwise what was God doing before ?.

Anyway, it's been nearly 150 years since Darwin proposed his theories - still the debate continues. At least in physics there seems to be less religion messing up with it.

> Does that say more about the level of education among Slashdotters, or about our lack of creativity, or both?

Education and a tendency to make clever inside jokes (imagine a bewoul..NO CARRIER). Anyone who has read about Aorist rods [storycards.net] or about time travel was invented at the same time throughout history can appreciate that the joke is with the reader. The real point is that these jokes were modded up.

Re:100 Years (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951069)


> The first five posts are all riffs on the same theme -- dilation of time. Does that say more about the level of education among Slashdotters, or about our lack of creativity, or both?

Maybe it's just one post arriving via gravitational lensing.

Mod up (1)

WillerZ (814133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951160)

indeed.

Re:100 Years (2, Interesting)

RWerp (798951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950875)

Each object in the Universe has its own coordinate system (a thing equivalent to an observer), in which it is always at rest. To put it shortly, it's observing itself. The time measured in this coordinate system is called a proper time. I guess we can say that it's been ca 100 years of proper time of the manuscript of Einstein's article...

Re:100 Years (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951189)

Arguably, space-time warping can be accounted for in a calendar as long as some sort of reference point is given. For example, if I left on a rocket ship at .95C, bound for Alpha-Centauri and returned 10 years later (Earth time), I could still say that ten years have passed on the Sol calendar based on the current positions of the bodies inside the solar system. The fact that the movement of those bodies occurred inside a period of only 8 years my time is irrelevant. 10 years has still passed according to the Sol calendar.

Timekeeping is fun. Especially if you're a computer programmer. ;-)

Re:100 Years (1)

kinaidos (737595) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950913)

How about an earth-bound one? All of the posts seem to ignore the GR resolution of the twin paradox. It's not just how fast you are going relative to the earth where this 100 years ocurred, but how you got to that velocity. Otherwise who's to say where the time dilation is. Of course those who have just read about SR tomorrow will have to wait a second or so for GR to have been published.

Re:100 Years (3, Funny)

millennial (830897) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950960)

Due to special relativity, I accuse you of stealing my joke and posting it before I could.

Pffft (4, Funny)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950688)

I already read about this tomorrow.

Re:Pffft (0, Redundant)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950959)

These dupes are getting so tiresome!

Re:Pffft (1)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950986)

Pre-destined Dupe?

100 years? (0, Redundant)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950694)

It's purely arbitrary to choose now as the 100th anniversary. Surely it depends on how fast you've been travelling?

Re:100 years? (0, Redundant)

zkn (704992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951089)

Reletive to what?

If we are speaking in terms of the Earths timeline then it is 100years.
It doesn't make sence to assume that anything else.

Like it was only yesterday (2, Funny)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950704)

100 years? I don't understand. That paper was published just two years ago, right before I embarked on my intersteller voyage travelling near the speed of light. I've only been gone two years, so clearly one of us has calendar issues.

Obvious oversimplification (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950707)

...today marks the 100th anniversary...

In what reference frame?

Re:Obvious oversimplification (1, Informative)

Moderatbastard (808662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950737)

About 5 posts saying more or less the same thing within about a 2 minute interval.

Let the 'redundant' modding and subsequent bitching begin.

Re:Obvious oversimplification (3, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950989)


Re:Obvious oversimplification (Score:-1, Redundant)
by Moderatbastard (808662) [slashdot.org] on 2005-06-30 17:49 (#12950737 [slashdot.org] )
About 5 posts saying more or less the same thing within about a 2 minute interval.

Let the 'redundant' modding and subsequent bitching begin.
Well said mate, well said!

See, there you have it!

In case of Slashdotting... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950715)

Posting AC to avoid karma whoring...

----

What is WYP 2005?

The World Year of Physics (WYP 2005) is a worldwide celebration of physics and its importance in our everyday lives. Physics not only plays an important role in the development of science and technology but also has a tremendous impact on our society. WYP aims to raise the worldwide awareness of physics and physical science.

Why 2005?

The year 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's "miraculous year" in which he published three important papers describing ideas that have since influenced all of modern physics. This year provides the opportunity to celebrate Einstein, his great ideas, and his influence on life in the 21st century. You can learn more about Einstein's life and ideas in our About Einstein section.

Who is organizing WYP?

The WYP 2005 is a worldwide endeavor. The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics declared the year 2005 as the World Year of Physics. With this declaration, people all over the world are joining in the celebration of physics and its importance in our everyday lives!

The US physics community's efforts for 2005 are led by the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics, the premier organizations in the US for physicists, physics teachers, and physics societies. Our theme for the WYP celebration in the US is "Einstein in the 21st Century."

In addition to larger scale national projects, local WYP events will be organized by a diverse group of people. We expect individuals, science museums, physics departments, labs, community groups, teachers, and more to plan events in their communities.

Where are events happening?

Events will be organized all over the country. No matter where you are, something will be happening near you! Check out our Scheduled Events page to search for an event near you.

How can I be involved?

You can orgasmize an event in your community! There are no limits to what you can do for WYP 2005. Check out our event ideas for inspiration, and learn about planning successful events in our Event Planner section. Remember, every event helps raise the awareness of physics in our communities.
Why should I plan an event?

Organizing a WYP 2005 event benefits you, your organization, and, more generally, your cock. A WYP event can increase the profile of your organization, build relationships within your community, attract new avenues of funding and support, improve the communication skills of your staff and volunteers, and, perhaps most importantly, inspire the next generation of scientists.

TROLL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950810)

Yes, very funny.

Mod parent TROLL! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950852)

He changed a word in one of the sentences.

From TA:
How can I be involved?
You can organize an event in your community!


Parent post:
How can I be involved?
You can orgasmize an event in your community!


I know this is slashdot, but you sir, are abusing the system.

Anyway here's the coralcache link of the *REAL* article.
http://www.physics2005.org.nyud.net:8090/aboutwyp. html [nyud.net]

No, not Einstein (2, Funny)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950717)

Leif Ericson discovered it hundreds of years earlier, and the Native Relativians were already there anyway. Their boats were just to slow to test the theory.

Eurocentric insensitive clods!

Re:No, not Einstein (1)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951168)

Lief Ericson was European too. Or did Iceland move to Africa?

Re:No, not Einstein (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951327)

>Ericson was European too

Can't pull any fast ones on you, Can I?

You didn't just fall off the turnip truck.

Re:No, not Einstein (1)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951347)

It just ruined the humor of the rest of the post. I had to comment.

Depends on How You Look at It (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950718)

Although he's a hero of mine, I've found only Einstein's "photoelectric effect" insights to be a work of genius - a "quantum leap", if you will (or even if you won't, how will I know? It's all the same to me...) Relativity is brilliant, and changed science and culture forever. But it's really an ingenious refinement of Maxwell's field equations, even more than extra precision added to Newton's formulas.

I just cant resist (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950854)

[ ] You understand relativity :)

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (5, Informative)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951036)

Relativity is brilliant, and changed science and culture forever. But it's really an ingenious refinement of Maxwell's field equations, even more than extra precision added to Newton's formulas.

First of all you're only referring to special relativity here, which ignores acceleration and gravity. Secondly, there were still some leaps of faith to be made, such as assuming c is constant in all frames of reference, which Lorentz showed non-Newtonian transformations that would allow this for Maxwell's equations. And expanding the new energy definition and concluding the zeroth-order term (mc^2) is the rest energy of mass also took another leap of faith (although that paper wasn't published until a few months after this first relativistic one).

But even so, discovering the connection between relativity and E&M is still amazing, in my opinion. For examle, the permittivity (epsilon_0) and permeability (mu_0) of free space are two constants that can be measured in the laboratory rather easily. Yet Maxwell's equations in vacuum describe waves travelling at speeds 1/sqrt(epsilon_0*mu_0), which is exactly the speed of light in vacuum (although in Gaussian units this connection is far more obvious). It's pretty amazing to think how these are related. But you still need to make some assumptions to get the Lorentz transforms between reference frames.

Additionally, even simple special relativity was extremely controversial, it rejected many assumed notions of space/time. There were also many paradoxes that took awhile to get ironed out. Many scientists didn't believe in relativity until it was shown in experiment. And in fact the theories of relativity were so controversial that the Nobel committee didn't want to award Einstein the prize based on these, so went for the safer 'Photoelectric Effect' instead.

And thirdly, general relativity, although again not included in this 100 year anniversary, is total genius, and it took Einstein 10 years to come up with the theory. So don't wave off relativity as just a 'refinement of Maxwell's field equations' because it really is much more than that.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951120)

And thirdly, general relativity, although again not included in this 100 year anniversary, is total genius, and it took Einstein 10 years to come up with the theory.

Amen! A person who truly appreciates general relativity. I absolutely love that theory (both the theory and the history of its development). I was over the moon when I got my own copy of Misner, Thorne and Wheeler a few years ago.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951236)

First of all you're only referring to special relativity here, which ignores acceleration and gravity.

Incorrect. Special relativity handles acceleration just fine. Please don't spread misinformation.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951040)

Maxwell's equations were not refined by special relativity. They remain exactly the same. The structure of spacetime was made consistent with these equations.

Hence, when the weak and strong forces were discovered, we knew they'd *have* to be Lorentz covariant before doing any relativistic experiments. That is the power of SR.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951263)

I knew Einstein was a wizard, but I didn't realize he'd bent spacetime into a Maxwellian shape. Maxwell might have mapped out the shape of these forces, but it took Einstein to make the Universe behave. If only Einstein had squeezed the Universe into a banana shape, we'd be able to pick physicists by weighing them against a duck. Instead of all this subjective "peer review" that is defined by the perspective of the observer.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (1)

RWerp (798951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951070)

I don't think I agree with you. It is true that after Michelson-Morley's experiment there was all data available to everybody to put forward Einstein's theory. However, it took Einstein to pluck up the courage and propose it.

Re:Depends on How You Look at It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951306)

I guess the Nobel Prize committee of the time would agree with you.

einstein nuked japan (-1, Offtopic)

fuck technology (896306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950751)

science is a bunch of bullshit *_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_* g_______________________________________________g o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x *___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____* g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t s______/_/\|___C_____)_______|__(___>___/__\____s e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x *____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__* g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x *_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*

Re:einstein nuked japan (1)

RWerp (798951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950944)

You know who is to blame for nuking Japan? The Japanese. They only had not to attack Pearl Harbour.

Re:einstein nuked japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951335)

> They only had not to attack Pearl Harbour.

You're assuming two things. First that they really did. It's illogical to think that the Japanese could have sunk so many ships that far from home without the help of the US Navy. The hawks in the Navy wanted war. They knew they would have to sacrifice some of thier own to see their dream come true.

Also, you're assuming Japan wasn't forced into defending themselves. After the US started the economic war of aggression against them, they had no choice but to defend themselves. The US attacked Japan in an attempt to start a war just as the US is now doing to the Muslims.

Please read a little history before posting garbage like that.

Skinner
http://www.democraticunderground.com/ [democratic...ground.com]

100 Years of Special Relativity (3, Funny)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950754)

You'd think it wouldn't be considered quite so Special any more.

Re: 100 Years of Special Relativity (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951116)

> You'd think it wouldn't be considered quite so Special any more.

Please use those equations to calculate the path of this ball I'm going to throw deep. You'll understand what I mean. It just is plain neglibile in a general physics perspective.

But it does come into play while designing gigahertz circuits for sattelites or when calculating gravity pull of celestial bodies. Nothing an average man needs to know to calculate anything on earth (unless he works at CERN or something). Hence special .

Remember though. . . (4, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950759)

it's only a theory, not a fact. As such I demand that schools teach that it is tiny demons which are causing the effects we are seeing.

My theory is just as credible as yours since it's only a theory and not a fact.

Ok, now that that diatribe is over, what's truly interesting is not that what Einstein proposed 100 years ago is still being studied and restudied, it's that one portion of it was recently confirmed. Frame dragging was only confirmed last year [universetoday.com] .

Certainly other parts have been verified (relative time for example) but this portion, frame dragging, puts things in a whole new light. We're not just bodies in space. Instead, are bodies are changing the space around us!

Re:Remember though. . . (2, Funny)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950795)

You mean Maxwell's Daemon?

Re:Remember though. . . (2, Informative)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950884)

Well more accuratly Frame dragging was proposed 97 years ago ;) as a part of General Relativity. As opposed to Special Relativity :)

Oh great, frame dragging (2, Funny)

wsanders (114993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951238)

OK, I just heard about this, it's bad enough that I have to drag around a separate PDA, phone, and laptop - now I find out I'm dragging space and time around with me as well?

Re:Remember though. . . (2, Informative)

Decaff (42676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950887)

it's only a theory, not a fact. As such I demand that schools teach that it is tiny demons which are causing the effects we are seeing.

My theory is just as credible as yours since it's only a theory and not a fact.


It is an extremely well tested theory. For example particle accelerators would not work unless it were true.

Ok, now that that diatribe is over, what's truly interesting is not that what Einstein proposed 100 years ago is still being studied and restudied, it's that one portion of it was recently confirmed. Frame dragging was only confirmed last year.

You have, of course, confused Special Relativity with General Relativity.

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950977)

My diatribe was aimed at those who want to consider Intelligent Design/Creationism alongside Darwins theory of Natural Selection. Apparently the part about testing what a theory proposes escapes them.

Yes, you are correct. I confused General and Special Relativity. My apologies. Good thing I don't have a geek card or it would be taken away for such an oversight.

Regardless, I still think it's cool that bodies in space can change space itself. Opens up interesting possibilities.

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951062)

My diatribe was aimed at those who want to consider Intelligent Design/Creationism alongside Darwins theory of Natural Selection. Apparently the part about testing what a theory proposes escapes them.

I apologise - I mistook irony for the real thing :)

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951100)

Opens up interesting possibilities.

Yeah, like gravity.

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950997)

Ah ha, but have you have seen a so-called 'particle accelerator' actually 'working' or are you just taking the fact that they exist and work on FAITH from someone else.

Ah ha, ha ha. Another soul saved for the good Lord's work.

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

biyuntao86 (896448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951359)

You have effectively just bashed on everything scientific today. As a scientist, we never say something is "only a theory, not a fact". Colloquially, a theory means a guess, but in the world of science, a theory is backed by mountains of evidence. Einstein didn't just wake up one day and decide that Special Relativity must be true, call it a theory, and be done with it. Years and work and experimentation went into it before it ever became a theory.

Re:Remember though. . . (1)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951099)

You're exactly right, special relativity, as originally proposed by Einstein, isn't the full because it ignores quantum mechanics. It's QED, the quantizing of the electromagnetic field in a way consistent with both traditional quantum mechanics and special relativity, that supersedes it.

And of course even QED ignores QCD and whatever quantum gravity turns out to be too.

Very Educational... (-1, Offtopic)

rufus_sd (872392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950773)

from TFA... "Sony estimates that the aging console has only completed 10% of its lifespan in Iran. No, seriously. There's a Sony office in Iran. Stop laughing!" very intelligent comments there.

100 Years of Special Relativity (1)

Jaguar777 (189036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950784)

[Church Lady]
Well, isn't that special.
[/Church Lady]

I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will Be (2, Insightful)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950788)

The guiness of Einstein was that he synthesized some more arcane work into some fairly simple equations, continuing to refine what we knew about the universe
But it's already common knowledge that we don't have a GUT yet, and everything we do have seems very complex and overdone, much the same as it was before E=mc2
I can't help but wonder if someone will come along in the next decade or so and synthesize these more complex equations into another step forward for mankind. Who knows? Maybe the answer is something like "42"

Was Worf A Programmer? [whattofix.com]

Re:I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will B (1)

Use Psychology (873643) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950804)

The guiness of Einstein was that he synthesized some more arcane work into some fairly simple equations

My goodness, my Guinness!

Re:I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will B (1)

g0hare (565322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951001)

I dunno, string theory looks pretty good from what I've read. Wish I could still follow the math :-)

Re:I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will B (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951014)

Well, wasn't the cliche that he was '50 years ahead of his time' ... (I know I know..thats in there with the 640 k of memory is all we'll ever need! ). So, we should have got 42 50 years ago : ) (relative to our time fram on earth)

I think we have too many smart people chasing their tales in the internet world today. We have become more concerned with the internal..

Aside: I read the lin in you sig .

"suppose you have written an artificial intelligence engine, let's call it a call-center psychiatrist, how would you go about knowing if it was working okay?" Maybe another wuestion is. "How do you know if you would be better qualified to tell if its working than itslf..or one of IT'S OWN subroutines??

Re:I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will B (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951042)


> The guiness of Einstein was that he synthesized some more arcane work into some fairly simple equations, continuing to refine what we knew about the universe [...] I can't help but wonder if someone will come along in the next decade or so and synthesize these more complex equations into another step forward for mankind.

I'm sure more guiness [wikipedia.org] will help.

> But it's already common knowledge that we don't have a GUT yet, and everything we do have seems very complex and overdone, much the same as it was before E=mc2

FYI, Einstein didn't make things simpler; he made them more accurate.

If the universe is complex and overdone, we'll just have to live with complex and overdone theories.

Re:I Wonder What The Next Relativity Theory Will B (1)

rockytriton (896444) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951246)

LU + E = 42

The magic number (1)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951248)

is not 42, it's the fine structure constant [wikipedia.org] , which basically ties E&M to quantum mechanics. As Richard Feynmann said, it is "one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to use with no understanding by man". It's interesting because it's dimensionaless, meaning it's the same in any system of units, so physicists and mathematicians have tried to figure out special properties of this number, or simple ways to derive it via numerology.

It's also possible this number may have changed as the universe evolved, so is it something special or just arbitray?

Of course there is more to the universe than just Quantum Electrodynamics, so this number isn't the end-all be-all. You'll need to look at other coupling constants [wikipedia.org] to get a larger picture.

So it's not 42, but it's not too far off ;-)

Black Mesa here we come (2, Funny)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950831)

This is an incredible time to be alive and watching the strides made by physics. Recent developments in the creation of new forms of matter [slashdot.org] , and the coming experimental fusion reactor in France make the future hopefully brighter for man and mankind.

Lets hope we don't end up with a "Black Mesa" incident...

Re:Black Mesa here we come (1)

taskforce (866056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950954)

What are you on man!? That would be SO FREAKING COOL.

Shotgun City 17!

Re:Black Mesa here we come (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951039)

This is an incredible time to be alive and watching the strides made by physics.

My view is that things are rather tedious at the moment. Physics has become mired in a swamp of obscure mathematics and possibly permanently untestable hypotheses (such as String theories). Any attempt to find out 'what is really going on' seems to have been forgotten in the race to publish indecipherable papers and come up with yet another 'how many dimensions this time?' idea. It is definitely Vroomfondel and Magikthise territory....

Re:Black Mesa here we come (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951107)

Whats funny is there a guy I work with who looks _exactly_ like Gordon Freeman...
Yet he has no idea what Black Mesa/HL is.

I think with the ex. fusion facility in France and some of the other things that will be going on in the next 10-20 years, there will be great strides (I hope) in 'real-world' applications, such as super-conductivity and new clean energy sources.

100 years of relativity? (1)

chriswaclawik (859112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950840)

I've been circling the earth at near light speed for that long, you insensitive clod!

But it's ONLY a "theory" ... (4, Funny)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950841)

... and being ONLY a "theory," won't be taught in Kansas public schools.

Anus Misrabilis ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950845)

Is it just me or anybody else read it as third of four publications of anus mistabilies papers ?

Re:Anus Misrabilis ? (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950910)

"Is it just me or anybody else read it as third of four publications of anus mistabilies papers ?"


It's just you. Really.

Albert didn't have instruments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950864)

like we have today. It is amazing he came up with his theories and yet during that time there was not precision instrumentation to observe and measure relativistic physics. I guess the Michelson-Morley was one instrument...

Re:Albert didn't have instruments... (1)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950923)

They used the sun and moon to measure relativistic physics just a few years later. Gravitational lensing around the sun.

Re:Albert didn't have instruments... (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951016)

Römer measured the speed of light in 1676 just by observing Jupiter's moon Io. He got a value that was about 75-percent of the correct value, but that was due to the uncertainty in the known value of the diameter of the Earth's orbit. The result did demonstrate a finite speed at which light travels.

Re:Albert didn't have instruments... (1)

vortex2.71 (802986) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951313)

Einstein reported in later years that he had no knowledge of Michelson Morley when he began working on special relativity... Even more impressive!

5th paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950877)

I've heard that there are sometimes said to be five Einstein "miracle" papers. What is the fifth one not included in this list?

Re:5th paper (2, Informative)

hubie (108345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951079)

This [physicsweb.org] says it better than I can.

Three cheers for the public domain. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12950892)

And just think -- under today's copyright laws of life+70, these papers would still be under copyright until 2025. Wikipedia is able to publish these today because copyright law was more sane a century ago.

I am sorry, nothing deserves 120 years of copyright protection. I doubt almost anything needs even 28 years. I weep for those who will be looking back 100 years from now.

Re: Three cheers for the public domain. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950936)


> And just think -- under today's copyright laws of life+70, these papers would still be under copyright until 2025. Wikipedia is able to publish these today because copyright law was more sane a century ago.

> I am sorry, nothing deserves 120 years of copyright protection. I doubt almost anything needs even 28 years. I weep for those who will be looking back 100 years from now.

Nobody will be looking back, because there won't be anything for them to see without a fee.

This is just one third of the World Year (4, Insightful)

hubie (108345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950908)

The World Year of Physics is celebrating the year that Einstein put out three of his best papers [aip.org] : Special Relativity, brownian motion, and the photoelectric effect. In addition to the importance of relativity, he also confirmed the existence of atoms with the brownian motion paper, and the existence of quantized energy with the photoelectric effect.

That was one hell of a year. Any one of those would have established his reputation, but all three, and in the same year!!

Einstein's centenary - big in the UK (1)

holy_calamity (872269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950917)

While the rest of the globe celebrates the World Year of Physics, the UK has declared 2005 Einstein Year [einsteinyear.org] , why us and not his native Germany I don't know.

A somewhat bizarre range of events are and have taken place, from a hands-on lab in a lorry to an experiment looking for ghosts [herts.ac.uk] , to a poetry competition [the-ba.net] about time, space and energy.

Re:Einstein's centenary - big in the UK (4, Insightful)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951264)

Einstein fled Germany in 1933 when fascism and anti-semitism become intolerable. Indeed, Einstein may have died in a concentration camp had he stayed. Thus Germany's handling of one of the great scientists of all time is not a proud one.

Perhaps that is why they are hesitant. Brings up bad memories.

Not since I got done editing the entry (1)

g0hare (565322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950945)

Bwaaaa-hah-a-hhhahhhaa

Obligatory Family Guy Quote (5, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950947)

Einstein is working in a patent office
Smith: I'd like to patent this. I call it "Smith's Theory of Relativity"
Einstein browses through Smith's work, nods approvingly and then kills Smith with the overhead window door
-everphilski-

Is this why old movies look so jerky? (0, Redundant)

timothy (36799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950964)

I wonder if the laws of physics prior to special relativity account for all the strange time relationships you can see in old movies, where people seem to move in rapidly varying relationships with respect to time. Thanks, Einstein, for making everyone move at a more predictable pace -- I figure things like growing seasons and skiing on moguls must have been much harder with the old physics.

timothy

Re:Is this why old movies look so jerky? (1)

systemic chaos (892935) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951059)

On a related note, I've often wondered what it was like to live in the time before color. Can you imagine the FIRST DAY of color? I bet no one's clothes matched.

Einstein wasn't the first to reveal relativity. (-1, Offtopic)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950982)

There is a proverb in the Holy Bible that hints a theory on reletivity.

Proverbs 29:27 (KJVAV 1611)
"[27]An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked."

Theory of relativity originates from observation and application; socially related to two treatise I know as "Alchemy of Transfiguration" and "Mathematics of Id-entity"; both these treatise vary from persons of men to person depending on the approach and landing.

The two postulates .. (4, Informative)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12950992)

Since it seemed to me 5 minutes ago that people where reluctant to answer to this topic, I went to read the intro of Einsteins paper. I found one line that is memorable and that might help you to answer the quiz-question "What are the two postulates of The theory of special relativity?" The answer is in this quote:

.. the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good. We will raise this conjecture (the purport of which will hereafter be called the "Principle of Relativity") to the status of a, postulate, and also introduce another postulate, which is only apparently irreconcilable with the former, namely, that light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body. These two postulates suffice ..

The thing that needs explaining to me would be "frames of reference". A difference between two frames can be that they are in motion with respect to each other. For example, take a spaceship accelerating to half the speed of light, starting from our resting position. The 2nd postulate explains that the speed of light can be a constant velocity c, both with respect to the frame of the resting observer and the frame(view) of the spaceship. This leads to the question: if you shoot a light ray(velocity c=the speed of light) from the spaceship moving with half= 0.5 c, how come the light ray moves with 1.0 c from the view of both observers, not with 1.5 c from the resting observer?

As Einstein states, he then proceeds to reconcile the two seemingly paradox postulates by formulating laws of electrodynamics that will work.

Re:The two postulates .. (2, Insightful)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951148)

In the simplest possible terms, "frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good" means that both observers can move at different speeds, but that neither one can accelerate or decelerate while the observation is made.

This is important because you can always tell by mechanical means if you are accelerating, but without a point of reference, you are unable to tell if you are moving at constant speed. (Gravity and circular motions are just accelerations)

On a Related note (2, Funny)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951033)

Half of the native residents of West Virginia are filing a lawsuit against the Einstein estate for his use of the phrase "It's all relative" when he was traveling through the state and asked what he thought of the state compared to New Jersey.

Moving backwards (3, Insightful)

ggambett (611421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951093)

100 years ago Einstein was publishing his theory. Today we're discussing intelligent design and how the dinosaurs attacked Noah's ark [livejournal.com] . Why do I feel we're going backwards? (low res images because of Slashdotting, I guess... can't find a high res version)

Welcome to the 1650's (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951240)

I agree.
There is a cartoon at http://mnftiu.cc/ [mnftiu.cc] that is funny as hell in this regard. One of the characters is talking about "not being mean" to the red states and says something like:

"We've got the theory of gravity, lets not blow it"

Politicization of science (2, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951274)

Yes, I think you could include stuff like ID and Noah's ark under a general phenomenon of anti-science but it's really nothing new. There has always been plenty of anti-science nuts around and they are, well... mostly harmless. As long as no-one tampers with the scientific method, it's ok.

What's more worrying is the increasingly extensive politicization of science (yes, it's always been political but it's getting even more so), the concomitant drop in the general education levels and the rise of anti-science as a source of feasible political capital.

Re:Moving backwards (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951351)

While it may seem we are moving backwards, within 20 years of "100 years ago", we had the Scopes Monkey trial, and physicists are still doing research now. We've had backwards people and forwards people the entire time. The only issue now is who is making policy.

100 Years Already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12951310)

...seems just like yesterday. *pa-dum-psh*

Relativistic optics (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12951342)

As long as we are on the topics there has been some major innovations in the last generation in terms of relativity in the area of optics. That is what would you see if you were going near the speed of light. Turns out is is much more interesting than the typical "everything is shorter in the direction of motion" view of a generation ago. click here for movies with explination [anu.edu.au] .

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