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November 07 2012



Put together by Einstein in 1915, the overall theory of relativity may be the modern theory of gravity. This is a very complicated mathematical theory which the bottom line is says that space and time, collectively known as spacetime, is curved from the presence of matter and, and that the motion of matter and is affected by this curvature.


When Einstein devised his theory, he'd three experiments in mind to test its predictions. One was the gravitational bending of starlight across the sun. According to general relativity, the trail of starlight which grazes the surface of the sun should bend by 1.75 arcseconds. This effect can be measured throughout a total eclipse. In 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington measured precisely this bending throughout an expedition in which he observed an overall total eclipse. This discovery made Einstein an immediate worldwide celebrity.

The next prediction will be the precession of planetary orbits about the sun. In accordance with general relativity, the perihelion from the orbit of mercury should precess concerning the sun by 43 arcseconds per century. This effect was in fact observed prior to Einstein's theory and unexplained until predicted through the theory.


The next experimentally verified prediction is the slowing down of time because of gravity. This effect causes light to become redshifted inside the existence of a strong gravitational field, i.e. near the the surface of a huge star. This effect is observed in the spectra of massive stars. Taken up its extreme, this effect predicts the existence of black holes, i.e. objects that are so massive that nothing, not really light, can avoid their gravity. Black holes have been observed indirectly now their existence is practically undisputed.

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