Einstein’s Theories and His Effect on Society
There have been many great physicist through time, but few are remembered as well as Albert Einstein. His discoveries in the field of physics changed the way humans perceived the world. He contributed by producing several theories related to physics, helping create the atomic bomb, and by opening the minds of a whole generation, through his imaginative thinking.
In 1905 Einstein produced his first major breakthrough in physics. He stated that if an object is traveling at a constant speed then the object would experience normal gravitational effects on it. He called this property the Theory of Special Relativity. This theory is applied in many situations but one of the most common ones is pouring a drink on an airplane. As long as the plane is traveling at a constant speed it is possible to pour a drink easily, but if the plane were to slow down or speed up it would cause the drink to spill. He also said that this applied to the Earth since it is at a constant speed through space the physics of gravity on the Earth’s surface stayed constant (Isaacson 107-108).
Between 1906 and 1917 Einstein worked on his Theory of General Relativity, which states that gravity and acceleration have the same principles. This led him to say that light could be bent should enough gravity be present. The light bending property of gravity is how black holes are found in space today (Isaacson 189-193). Through General Relativity it is also theoretically possible to travel through time. Since light is bent by high gravity, Einstein reasoned that the reverse would apply to space, and that space could be bent by extreme speeds essentially creating a wormhole through time (Calder 101and 113).
The goal of Einstein’s Unified Field Theory was to link the electromagnetic field and the gravitational field then view them as one. He basically wanted to know the relation between electricity and gravity (Isaacson 339). One of the main reason for his effort in trying to connect these two fields was to test the gravity like state magnets create, which Einstein did not fully understand. Einstein never completed his research on this theory, but he was hoping that through this theory he could relate quantum mechanics to relativity (Isaacson 336-337). Many have speculated that the Unified Field Theory is the key to time travel since relativity deals with the curvature of space and time, and to relativity with quantum mechanics would allow people to manipulate space and time.
E=mc squared is by far Einstein’s most famous formula. The formula states that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. This formula is basis for releasing nuclear energy (Feld 5). The release of nuclear energy was just what the government was looking for to create weapons of mass destruction. The formula however, was also used for positive objectives such as creating nuclear power plants, and creating new elements through controlled nuclear blasts.
Even though Einstein was given much of the credit for the creation of the atomic bomb, he actually did nothing on the actual project. All Einstein did was provide the theoretical basis of creating the bombs. He was known all his life as a pacifist, but in one of his letters to President Roosevelt he urged the United States to build atomic weapons before the Germans did, essentially picking the lesser of two evils (Feld 7). Einstein’s involvement in the bombs was crucial yet superficial, dince the most he actually did was sign a letter recommending a full size test (Feld 6).
Einstein did not hear of the success of the Manhattan Project until the rest of the world did. After it happened he made the statement “Oh Weh!”, which means woe upon us. Since he was such an active pacifist, he wanted to use the bombs more as a threat than an actual weapon (Feld 9).
Einstein’s genius is often credited to his childlike and imaginative way of thinking…