07 April, 2012

A-Z Blogging Challenge: General Relativity

Public domain image. SOURCE.
General relativity describes gravity as curved space created by the existence of mass.

It was invented by Albert Einstein in 1916, who expanded his Special Theory to include gravity's effect on spacetime. The Special Theory, published in 1905, stated that the speed of light is the same no matter where or how you're observing it, and that observers moving at a constant speed should encounter identical physical laws.

The theory of general relativity has been backed up by several observations. In 1919, during a solar eclipse, scientists discovered that light was bent around the sun (known as gravitational lensing) to the exact degree of Einstein's theory; general relativity also accounted for the small changes in Mercury's elliptical orbit, which had gone unexplained by Isaac Newton's theory of gravity. Furthermore, gravitational redshift (where photons--light--lose their energy and move toward the red end of the spectrum) has also been observed.

Gravity waves (waves or "ripples" in spacetime) predicted by the theory have not been recorded to date, though the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is currently looking for them.

Public domain image. SOURCE.
Notable scientist who has studied general relativity:

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and currently holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics. He teaches at the City College of New York and has been a visiting professor at New York University and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is the host of the two shows Visions of the Future and The Universe, along with the host of two radio programs Science Fantastic and Explorations in Science. His books include Beyond Einstein, Visions, Einstein's Cosmos, Parallel Worlds, and Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.

His current work involves unifying the four fundamental forces--electromagnetism, strong force, weak force, and gravitation--and string theory, which he co-founded.

Video of Michio Kaku:




Do you think string theory is the answer to the lack of unity between general relativity and quantum theory?

-----The Golden Eagle


Jaye Robin Brown said...

That Einstein man - he knew some poo. It's like the universe has a comfort zone.

Susan Roebuck said...

I always read your posts with awe and admiration (LOL). When someone sent me this link: http://htwins.net/scale2/scale2.swf?bordercolor
I thought of you (hope you can see it)

Hektor Karl said...

"Do you think string theory is the answer to the lack of unity between general relativity and quantum theory?"

That's one tough question for a Saturday morning! :)
I liked Michio Kaku's last book. Interesting links.

michelle said...

There is so much scientific stuff/research going on that the normal "man in the street" is unaware of... thank goodness for people like Michio Kaku and his counterparts... they really have their work "cut out" for them...

Timothy Brannan said...

Michio Kaku impresses the hell out of me. Great scientist and author. I really enjoy his books even when they go WAY over my head.

I am trying to read all the A to Z blogs, but coming back to the ones I really like.
Looking forward to seeing what you do all month!

The Other Side
The Freedom of Nonbelief

S. L. Hennessy said...

I love Science Fantastic. It's awesome, even when I don't understand everything. Great post!

Rusty Webb said...

I would have bet money that you would have used Hawking as your General Relativist, there aren't that many of them.

But relativity is the most beautiful theory (aside from Darwinsism) that I've seen. It's truly elegant.

The Golden Eagle said...

Jaye: Yup!

Susan: I love that site! It's so much fun to zoom in and out; and it has a lot of information.

Hektor: I've never actually read anything by Michio Kaku . . . must do that. Soon.

Michelle: Indeed they do!

Timothy: Have you ever read anything by Neil deGrasse Tyson? I havne't read any of Kaku's novels, but NDGT's a great science writer/communicator.

Thanks! Hope you like my posts.

S. L.: Thank you. :)

Rusty: I already used him for Cosmology . . . and I didn't want to repeat scientists, if I could help it. (Though I did for one of my upcoming physics posts.)

It is!

Charles Gramlich said...

I love your focus on science.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Your knowledge is amazing, and your ability to share it in an interesting way even more so.

Pat Hatt said...

String theory does seem to explain some things, but I'm sure another theory will come along and another and another, humans think they know until we find out we don't.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm so humbled by the research being done by these brilliant people.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Perhaps they will finally find those gravity waves.

Leon Kennedy said...

m-theory is fascinating stuff. And Kaku's a great read

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

I think there's a lot to be said for string theory. However, I also know that I don't understand the math behind it, any more than I actually understand the math in relativity. If I can get the effects right in my fiction, that's good enough.


Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Your blog is like a breath of fresh air after I visit so many religious ones. At last...someone that makes sense to me.

ben268 said...

Michio Kaku is one of the most brilliant scientists I know of. Brilliant Man.

Jemi Fraser said...

It will be interesting to see what scientists discover about string theory in the next few decades. So many cool ideas to investigate! :)

Melissa Sugar said...

I am fascinated by science and the string theory. Unfortunately, I am also challenged in this area. My brain just doesn't function in a scientific/mathematical way.

I always had a difficult time with equations in school. A professor telling me, " you just do. There is no reason why, if you do it to one side then you do it to the other side, that's all.", wasn't enough to satisfy my integral need to know why things are done or why things happen.

My ignorance has boosted rather than deprecated my fascination. I have read Kaku, in my effort to understand these theories.. He is such an eminent scientist, but his work is so far over my head.

Awesome post. Wishing you a Happy Easter & Happy Passover.

Beth Stilborn said...

I dropped in to thank you for commenting on my blog -- very interesting post, though I will admit string theory is a little beyond me...

Tonja said...

It's super cool that these discoveries were made in the early 1900's.

MyTricksterGod said...

Honestly I think that modern scientist are too concentrated in reducing the universe into so-called basic irreducible structures... and quite frankly, such an intention also counts for the fact that many of our big thinkers live in a tragic universe where mathematics is the binding glue that keeps the universe from falling apart.

I think string theory has been largely affected by this deathly, reductionist view that mathematics rules the day.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

"Do you think string theory is the answer to the lack of unity between general relativity and quantum theory?"

I am flattered you would think I could even answer this question. ;-)

Simon Kewin said...

Fantastic. I love stuff like this.

Ruth said...

I cannot even begin to think how to answer your question. No clue.
Very good post. Reminded me of things I had forgotten long ago.

welcome to me

yummy stuff

Rob-bear said...

Being a Bear of Very Little Brain, and bothered by long words, I feel a bit overwhelmed by all this science. You are one gutsy Eagle to be handling this information!

Bob Scotney said...

I can see that I shall have to brush up on my knowledge. It's over 50 years since I looked at Einstein and I'm seriously out of date.
I'm going back to read your A-F posts as well.

Elizabeth Hernandez said...

You are an amazing write and very well adverse in science. It wasnt a subject I did well in at all. It is amazing the discoveries that have been made and continue to be made throughout history. I wish I could answer you question on string theory but honestly I cannot give you an kind of thought. Thank you for widening my world in science. Thank you for dropping by,

Traci Kenworth said...

You make science seem so easy to grasp. I admit it's one of my least favorite subjects, but the possibilities are endless and draw me in. Thanks!!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hello found you through A to Z.
Thought your post excellent to read.

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog and kind comment.
Much appreciated.
Good luck with the Challenge.

Rekha Seshadri said...

I, too, am in the group for whom maths and science topics are complex to grasp all the intricacies. My brother was a physics major and he played a large role in widening my knowledge on space and universe among other things, would explain the theories with examples in a way I could comprehend. I still read quantum physics related books even though, most of the theoretical part is beyond me.

Erwin "ERS" said...

very informative.


: )

Theresa Milstein said...


Sarah Pearson said...

Yay! Even I've heard of this one :-)

Damyanti said...

One of the most intriguing topics in science today.

Look forward to your challenge run…
--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Li said...

I thing string theory is a good candidate for tying some things together, but I don't think it will turn out to be the Unified Theory that scientists have been searching for. Everything that we learn seems to generate more questions, and I wonder if we will ever have the knowledge of how everything in the universe works. It's fun trying though! :-0

Julie Daines said...

Woa! that was a lot for me to get my head around this early on a Sunday morning. But interesting. As a science major, I always love a good bit of brain-candy.

Displaced said...

I can't say I fully understand all of this post but I found it fascinating regardless! Thanks for dropping by Gonna Eat Worms!

The Golden Eagle said...

***Happy Easter, to everyone celebrating today!***

Charles: Thanks. :)

Cindy: Thank you!

Pat: True, that. It's certainly happened countless times!

Susan: Me, too. :)

Alex: It would be interesting if they did.

Leon: I need to read one of his books.

Erin: Good point. You don't need to know everything to write a good story about something. :)

Michael: Glad I could write a post that interests you.

Ben268: From what I've heard of him, he's quite the amazing scientist!

Jemi: Definitely. :)

Melissa: Good grief. There's certainly more to solving equations than just that!

Thank you!

Beth: You're welcome--I enjoyed visiting your blog.

Thanks. :)

Tonja: It is.

MyTricksterGod: Interesting thoughts. I'm more inclined to think that mathematics can explain fundamental principles about the universe, but there's always room for further discovery!

Jennifer: But you did make it to the end of the post!

Simon: Me, too. :)

Ruth: Thank you!

Rob-bear: I'd respectfully disagree. You're the smartest Bear I know of--and one of the most thoughtful bloggers!

Bob: I hope you enjoyed them. :)

Elizabeth: Thank you. And yes, it is amazing what scientists have discovered in the past century, with regards to general relativity.

You're very welcome!

Traci: Anytime. :)

Yvonne: I'm glad you liked it! Thank you.

Rekha: I love reading about quantum physics. It's such an intriguing field . . . though it does get confusing!

Erwin: Thanks!

Theresa: Assuming you mean the science--I'm impressed by all the theories they have about the universe, too. :)

Sarah: Cool!

Damyanti: It is.

Li: LOL. That's for sure! Certainly stretches the mind to think of all the possibilities.

Julie: I do, too.

Displaced: Glad I could make it interesting enough. :)

You're welcome!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow, what a well researched post! WTG! I've noticed several A-Zers posting about science. :)

laughingwolf said...

cool, ge... check out youtube for videos on the subject... + other subjects :)

Arlee Bird said...

Another great series you are doing this year. Much too complex for me to focus on at this time, but I can see you've done a lot of research to compile this information. Excellent job you've done.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Lynda R Young said...

Michio Kaku has done so much for bringing science to the general population.

Catherine Noble said...

I'm not clever enough to answer your question on string theory, but I DO enjoy the video of Michio Kaku, and could easily watch more of the "Secret Life of Scientist" series! Thanks for posting things like this - it really drums in how insignificant we truly are in this world, and it's important to realise that once in a while (I think anyway). :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Sharon: Thank you!

I really need to get going with the A-Z list. I've gotten to over 100 or so new blogs (and participants I knew before), but there are still so many to go . . .

Laughingwolf: I'd do more searching on YouTube, but I'm afraid if I let myself I'd end up spending hours on there. :P

Arlee: Thank you!

Lynda: He has.

Catherine: It's a fun (though a bit crazy) series. :)

You're welcome!

And I definitely agree.

Deniz Bevan said...

I've even read Einstein's Theory of Relativity and I'm still kinda lost... It's one of those things I think I understand while I read about it, but can't turn around and explain to others...

Kirsty said...

Informative post - I have to say science is something I may have to brush up on a bit if I'm using Time Travel in my novel so I may pop back for some tips.

Enjoy the rest of the challenge - bet you've got some doozies planned for Q and Z.