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Re: Theory Of Relativity

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Posted by Brian Fallon/">Brian Fallon on April 6, 1998 01:00:43 UTC

: : Could someone give me, or tell me where I could find, a through explaination of Einsteins Theory of Relativity? I mean, I know about the bowling ball on the rubber sheet, but where does it apply? The places I have searched have either had not enough information, or a lot of physics talk that I don't understand. I do know some physics, but I'm only fourteen years old and I'm not a genius!

Congratulations to you for just showing an interest in such a cool theory. I have no formal training in physics, except college, and I don't understand most of the math behind General Relativity, but that should not stop anyone from getting a basic understanding.

Regarding the bowling ball on a rubber sheet: think of the bowling ball as the sun and the rubber sheet as the space surrounding it. In relativity, the sheet bends because the sun's gravitational force pinches space. In fact, anything that has mass pinches space, even you. Since your mass is so small compared to a star, the pinching is not noticeable. When you have a really massive object, such as a black hole, the pinching can actually do things like stop time and create shortcuts through the universe, where you take one step and you find yourself a million light years away. This is the part that is confusing. There is stuff you should understand before that part.

The first thing you have to understand with relativity is that time can go slower than usual when you are traveling very, very fast, or when you are on a planet with a a very intense gravitational field. You can draw a connection between gravity and speed if you imagine dropping a bowling ball off a building on a planet with a very strong gravitational field. The ball goes even faster than it would on earth, because the pull is stronger. So, when you're on a planet with a very strong gravitational field, its just like you are traveling very fast. Going very fast slows down time; it just does. Einstein said it, and its been proven. They put very accurate atomic clocks in supersonic aircraft and compared them to clocks on earth, and the clock that was in the plane lagged behind. And yes, the pilot actually lived a little bit longer because his time was slowed down too. If you were to go the speed of light (impossible), time would stand still and you could travel around the universe a million times and not age one second.

I can tell you more if you are interested. Mail me: brian@inflightnews.com

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