One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein put the final polish on a new theory, one that transformed how humankind understands the fundamental nature of reality.
With his general theory of relativity Einstein displaced the most famous idea in science, Newton’s theory of gravity, replacing the old idea of a force with a radically strange vision of a cosmos in which space warps and time bends.
That’s what happened, or seemed to, when the British scientists who measured the path of starlight around the sun reported to a meeting of the Royal Society that they had observed a number that matched Einstein’s prediction and contradicted Newton.
Albert Einstein had no need to wait four years for confirmation of his theory.
In 1905, Albert Einstein published the special theory of relativity, which showed that the tick of time and the measurement of space must differ for observers in motion relative to each other.
Mercury’s path, Vulcan-inspiring wobble and all, appeared on the page in all its glory-or, as Einstein wrote: “This theory agrees completely with the observations.”
A century on, we celebrate general relativity and Einstein’s re-imagining of how the universe organizes itself.