An exploration of its continuing impact across physics, cosmology, and mathematics
Albert Einstein finished his general theory of relativity in November 1915, and in the hundred years since, its influence has been profound, dramatically influencing the direction of physics, cosmology, and mathematics. The theory upended Isaac Newton’s model of gravitation as a force of attraction between two masses and instead proposed that gravity is felt as a result of the warping by matter of the universe’s four-dimensional spacetime. His field equations of gravitation explained how matter curves spacetime, how this curvature tells matter how to move, and it gave scientists the mathematical tools to understand how space would evolve in time, leading to a deeper understanding of the universe’s early conditions and development.
“The general theory of relativity is based on profound and elegant principles that connect the physics of motion and mass to the geometry of space and time,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute and Leon Levy Professor, who gave a lecture “100 Years of Relativity” in October, sponsored by the Friends of the Institute. “With Einstein’s equations, even the universe itself became an object of study. Only now, after a century of calculations and observations, the full power of this theory has become visible, from black holes and gravitational lenses to the practical use of GPS devices.”
To celebrate the centennial of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the Institute held a special two-day conference November 5–6, cohosted with Princeton University and made possible with major support from IAS Trustee Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., and his wife Wendy. The conference, General Relativity at 100, examined the history and influence of relativity and its continuing impact on cutting-edge research, from cosmology and quantum gravity, to black holes and mathematical relativity.READ MORE>