Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Theory of relativity explained in layman's terms

From satellites, proton accelerators, medical cancer treating devices, to GPS devices, all require using Einstein's theory of relativity to make precise calculations.

Everyone has heard of the "Theory of relativity" and "E=mc^2", but what does it mean really?

I've taken undergraduate university courses that dealt with quantum mechanics, and the precise implication of these theories still befulded me somewhat.

For a simple, yet intuitive (even though relativity is somewhat counter intuitive, as it basically says time is not constant), see:

"The finer points of relativity in less time that in takes to eat a sandwich"
(w/ flash animations)

It seems that these principle's of Einstein's also help to explain principles such as the "uncertainty" principle in Quantum mechanics, which basically states there's no way to make an accurate measurement of anything.

Of course, another implication of this is that, in the quantum electron and smaller particles world, if you throw a ball against a wall, there's always a probability that it will "tunnel" through the wall ;)


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