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Theory of Relativity

Physics | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod

What is Theory of Relativity?

Imagine you are waiting for your bag to arrive at the airport. Bored, you and your friend decide to jump on the conveyor belt. An observer standing away from the conveyor belt see you in motion in relation to his position where as you are standing still in relation to your friend. This is called relativity. It is examining something in relation to something else.

Now that we know what relativity means, let us dig further on what exactly is theory of relativity.

This theory is further divided into general and special theory of relativity as suggested by Albert Einstein.

Special Relativity

It states that the laws of motion always remain the same, given the observers are in uniform motion relative to each other.

The speed of light will always be the same no matter what! Hence the speed of light is always depicted as ‘C’

Some of the conclusion that can be drawn through the special relativity are:

  • Time Dilation : Since the speed of light C, always remains the same, there is difference in time relative to the observers speed. It means that clocks that are in motion will be slower as compared to the clocks that are relatively still.
  • Length Contraction : When traveling at the speed of light, the length of the objects are shortened in relative to the other according to the observers placement.

General Relativity

General theory of relativity is basically theory of gravitation and how Einstein viewed the force of gravitation. It also contradicted with the classical laws of motion, but since gravitation force is very weak on Earth, the laws of motion are seen to co-relate with this general relativity.

The theory of general relativity states that the space is curved and hence, the heavier or more mass an object has, the space around it is curved more.

Conclusion of General Theory of Relativity

  • Gravitational Time Dilation : Larger the gravitational effect on any body, slower the time runs for that body. Hence, if you are standing near sun, time will move really slow for you!
  • Light rays bend when there is a greater gravitational field. This is the reason that the position of stars that we see at night is actually a bit shifted than from what we view!