Albert Einstein is probably the most popular scientific figurehead in modern culture with his iconic messy hair and white lab coat. His image has been deemed by many people to be the stereotypical scientist. He is one of the favourite picks by young children to dress up for Halloween and his name is also a synonym of words such as “genius”. Additionally the very recent announcement of the detection of gravitational waves once again awakened people’s admiration for , however despite his immense popularity, most of the public have no idea what pioneering contributions he had made in the field of physics. Einstein’s breakthrough came from his work on Gravitation through his developments of two successful theories: Special and General theory of Relativity, with General Relativity becoming one of the two great pillars of modern physics, the other being Quantum Theory. In this post I will attempt to cover the basic concepts of Special Relativity.
On Wednesday I – with some other students who expressed an interest in pursuing engineering – attended a talk by a civil engineer. Essentially it was just a talk about his life and some big projects he was involved in, e.g the London 2012 velodrome. I found it rather dull since it focused on civil more than anything else. Was never extremely interested in the engineering discipline so not being fully engaged with the talk isn’t a surprise. Well he’s a civil engineer after all – though he is an Imperial College London graduate which was cool.
Though in contrast I also attended one of the Gifford Lectures held in Glasgow University recently in which the speaker was Caltech Professor Sean Carroll and it was a pretty interesting experience. Carroll spoke about ideas that were mainly based around entropy and his book “The Big Picture”. I was gutted that I could not make any of the other lectures in the series – because of overwhelming amounts of school work of course – but Sean Carroll’s lectures are definitely worth checking out and the inside of Glasgow University was stunning.
Obviously I need to go back to talking about Physics class today. We started Special Theory of Relativity yesterday and I could not enjoy it more. It was incredibly amusing to see all the astonished faces while my teacher was explaining time dilation. And how approaching the speed of light you could theoretically travel into the future but sadly not the past. My classmates’ reactions and sense of denial were absolutely remarkable. You don’t know how much I love watching bewildered reception to physics phenomena!
Till next time,