100 Years of General Relativity

In this lecture, Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor, presents an overview of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, one of the great pillars of modern physics, and its enduring influence. General relativity is based on profound and elegant principles that connect the physics of motion and mass to the geometry of space and time. 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. The quest to find the ultimate nature of reality continues, however. The laws of quantum theory suggest that in the end space and time might all just be an illusion.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, is a mathematical physicist who has made important contributions to string theory and the advancement of science education. In addition to discovering deep connections between matrix models, topological string theory, and supersymmetric quantum field theory, Dijkgraaf has developed precise formulas for the counting of bound states that explain the entropy of certain black holes.