Saturday, November 7, 2015

Physics (part 3) - 100 years of Einstein

wikipedia/GPB circling Earth
November, 2015 marks the centennial of Einstein papers that rocked the world and withstood the test of many experiments. Let me tell of story of a couple of these.

Gravity Probe B and Me ...

Briefly, I worked on the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) project. I say briefly because budget cuts curtailed my tenure, though I moved on to other projects. And that is another story.

Yet the decades old GP-B soldiered on and its satellite was launched in 2004. The experiment tested two elements of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.

(1)   The Geodetic Effect, a precession (like that of  a spinning top) in curved space-time.

(2)   The Frame-dragging Effect, space-time getting pulled out of shape by a rotating body.

For more  information on this project and its results, please check out the official Stanford website: Gravity Probe B | Testing Einstein's Universe

Below is a good video that sums it all up.

But let's start at the very beginning ....

November, 1915, was a watershed month for physics. Einstein submitted four papers, one per week, to the Prussian Academy in Berlin. They launched the gravitational revolution of general relativity, overthrowing Newton's theory of the universe. [reference: Einstein's genius changed science's perception of gravity ]

Meanwhile, during this time, astronomers were on a serious

Search for the planet Vulcan ... no kidding

Newton's classic view of gravity led scientists to believe there was a hidden planet, which they called Vulcan, that caused Mercury's perturbations. But it took Einstein to crack this mystery, as explained below:

As Gravity Probe B in the 21st century would provide more evidence to vindicate general relativity, explaining the anomalies in Mercury's orbit gave convincing validation at the birth of this theory in the early 20th century. 

Also,  I wrote about this search for this planet that wasn't there and posted it on my website in the article: Mr. Spock and Dr. Einstein

As Einstein's General Relativity turns 100, it seems the theory will ...

Live long and prosper!


Previous posts in this series:

Physics (part 1) - Picking Feynman's Brain (2013)

Physics (part 2) - Flat Earth? It depends ...  (2015)


Photo from:  wikipedia/GPB circling Earth

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