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Relativity

In the very beginning of 20th century, A young German physicist of age 26 named Albert Einstein showed that how measurement of time and space are affected by motion between an observer and what is being observed. There is no other opinion in this fact that Theory of relativity had brought a new revolution in the era of physics. Relativity connects matter and energy, space and time, electricity and magnetism which are well described as electromagnetism-links that are beyond to our understanding of this physical universe. From relativity, have come a host of remarkable predictions, all of have been confirmed by experiments. For all their intelligence, many of the conclusions of relativity can be reached with only the simplest mathematics.

Einstein published two papers of relativity. In 1905 he determined that the speed of light is same for all observers even if the observer is moving or in the rest positionand the laws of physics is the same for all non-accelerating objects/observers. This theory has been called the special theory of relativity. This introduced a new outlook for space and time. When such quantities as length, time interval and mass are considered for measurements in classical physics, no specific points are made about how they are measured for accuracy. Since a unique unit exists for each quantity, who makes a certain determination would not seem to matter-everybody ought to get the same result. We can describe first postulate with this example. For instance, there is no question arises in finding the length of a spacecraft when you are board. All we have to do is put one end of a tape measure at the spacecraft's nose and look at the number at the spacecraft's tail. But what if the spacecraft is in air and moving with some velocity and we stay on the ground? Could we measure the exact length of Spacecraft? Your answer might be 'No I can't'. The reason is, there is the absence of a frame of reference. And laws of physics are different for all observers we'll measure the shorter length of spacecraft than that of the observer who is travelling in the spacecraft.

To explain the second postulate of Special theory of relativity let us take an interesting hypothetical experiment. Suppose you turn on a torch just as I fly past in a spacecraft with the speed of light m/s. We both measure the speed of torch light using an instrument. Now on ground you measure the speed of light same as usual but if I am travelling in spacecraft with velocity of 1x10^8 m/s according to Newtonian mechanics I'll measure speed of light (3-1)x10^8= 2x10^8 m/s[torch light and spacecraft are moving in the same direction] but I will find the velocity i.e., 3x10^8 m/s, even though to you I seem to move parallel to the torch light at 2x10^8 m/s.

A few years later in 1916, he published a new paper on relativity. Which is known as the General theory of relativity? It is a geometric theory of gravitation and explains that "Gravity is warping of space-time."

SR (Special Relativity) is concerned only with inertial frames of reference, i.e., the frame of reference that follows newton's first law. In Newtonian mechanics, it has been said that two bodies exert a force of gravitation on each other. Let's take an example of Solar System In our solar system Earth goes around the Sun. Per Newtonian Mechanics Sun exerts a larger amount of attractive gravitational force, in turn, creates a centripetal force on Earth since Earth's velocity is much greater and perpendicular to that of gravitational pull. But As Einstein worked on the general theory of relativity, he realized that there occurs a distortion in the fabric of space-time due to massive objects. It can also be interpreted in this way, set a large body in the centre of a trampoline. The body would create a dimple in fabric. A cricket ball rolled around the edge would spiral inward toward the body, pulled in much the same way that the gravity of a planet pulls at rocks in space.

Experimental evidence of General Theory of Relativity

1. Gravitational lensing: Light rays coming from galaxies which are very far to us will pass through a gravitational field of dark matter and hence will be bent by the lensing effect. This method is used by Astronomers to study stars and galaxies behind massive objects.

2. Shifting in the orbit of the Mercury: This means that the orbit of mercury is shifting slightly towards the Sun. This is happening due to the curvature of space-time around Sun and few billion years later it will collide with the Sun.

3. Gravitational Waves: when binary black holed collide, they create ripples in the fabric of space time that is known as gravitational waves. The existence of gravitational waves that travel with the speed of light was proposed by Einstein. Finally, we had detected in gravitational waves on September, 14 2015 by LIGO (The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

4. Gravitational Redshift: When we observe an electromagnetic radiation, which is originating from a large distant galaxy that is in a gravitational field,we observe a change in frequency and this frequency redshifted toward the red wavelength This process is called gravitational redshift. This gravitational field predicted by GTR (General theory of relativity) and this is also named as Einstein Shift.

Importance of Relativity in Academic curriculum

Theory of relativity has several applications starting from experimental Particle physics, GPS to Astrophysics. According to theory of relativity, the world is relativistic i.e., every object in this world is related to each other in some way, things are not simple as we think. Clock which are situated in an artificial satellite, which are moving at 15,000 km/h in their orbits that circle the earth twice a day run faster than on ground. General theory of relativity is needed for the precision measurement of time because Einstein's theory of relativity says that rapidly moving clock ticks more slowly, by about seven microseconds per day. Also, the satellite clocks are 20,000-22,000 km above the Earth, and experience gravity that is approximately four times weaker than that on the ground. GTR says that gravity makes a distortion in space and time, which results in a tendency for the orbiting clocks to tick slightly faster, by about 45-50 m.sec per day. The net result is that time on a Global Positioning System(GPS) satellite clock advances faster than a clock on the ground by about 38-40 m.sec per day. The coordinates of astrophysical objects such as Pulsars, Black holes are measured with the help of GTR. Measurement in shifting in the mercury's orbit is the best example of such measurements using GTR. 

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