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Space, Time and Einstein




Slide 1



Chicago (~40 miles)

Slide 2

Why space and time?

Why space and time?

Related to our work at Fermilab

Hopefully related to things you’re learning in school

Physics and astronomy, but also chemistry

Some really interesting questions about the world

Where do things happen? In space …

When do things happen? In time …

Slide 3

Why Einstein?

Why Einstein?

Because … he was Einstein!

Easily the greatest physicist and scientist in modern history. One of the great men of the 20th century

1905: Clerk in Patent Office

At older age!

School boy

Slide 4

What did Einstein do?

What did Einstein do?

Many, many discoveries. Easily could have won 3-4 Nobel prizes

He was a really smart man!

I will talk today about his two theories of relativity (Special Relativity and General Relativity)

E=mc2 (special relativity)

Black holes (general relativity)

Slide 5

Space and time (a student’s perspective?)

Space and time (a student’s perspective?)


This piece of paper is 8 inches long

It is 1.5 miles from the school to the store


I have to get up at 7 am

The bus is 20 minutes late

But …

What do we mean by distance (such as 1.5 miles)?

What do we mean by a time (such as 7 am)?

Slide 6

Space and time for Aristotle

Space and time for Aristotle

The “prime mover”

An unknown, priviledged being in THE state of perpetual, absolute rest


Defined by (x, y, z) coordinate system with respect to the prime mover

Unique and clearly defined


Time is measured by the prime mover’s clocks

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Slide 7

Space for Galileo

Space for Galileo

No such things as “absolute rest”

The laws of nature and physics are identical for anybody moving with a constant speed along a straight line

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Slide 8

Space for Sir Isaac Newton

Space for Sir Isaac Newton

“Absolute Space, in its own nature, without regard to any thing external, remains always similar and immovable. Relative Space is some moveable dimension or measure of the absolute spaces; which our senses determine, by its position to bodies; and which is vulgarly taken for immovable space . And so instead of absolute places and motions, we use relative ones”

There exists absolute space, but we measure space only relative to other objects in space

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