Segments in this Video

Theory of General Relativity (02:16)


Using simple thought experiments, Albert Einstein discovered that matter shapes time and space. A century after his discovery, technology allows us to explore the extremes of Einstein's theory.

Einstein's Youth (02:48)

Einstein grew up in Munich, Germany; his father Herman encouraged his interest in science. "Naturwissenschaften Volksschule" inspires Einstein's way of thinking about the physical world. Einstein wonders what it would look like if he could catch up with the speed of light.

Einstein's Education (04:12)

Einstein excelles in science and math classes but other teachers view him as a discipline problem. He attends Zurich Polytechnic Institute and becomes a third class examiner at the Bern Swiss Patent Office. He works on his physics theories in his spare time and discovers a contradiction in the theories of Isaac Newton and James Clark Maxwell.

Flow of Time (02:48)

To solve the contradiction between Maxwell and Newton, Einstein focuses on time. He considers speed and the meaning of simultaneous in a thought experiment involving lightning strikes.

Special Relativity (04:29)

Einstein publishes his article in 1905 to little acclaim. After Johannes Stark asks him to review his work, Einstein begins to understand the link between gravity and acceleration; hear his thought experiment.

Space Time Continuum (02:51)

In 1912, Einstein and his family live in Zurich. Einstein is a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and continues to work on his theory. He uses space time to understand how objects move in space and time.

Space Time vs. Gravity (03:22)

Marcel Grossman suggests Einstein use mathematics in which the shape of space and time could be curved. Einstein considers the idea that matter shapes space time; what we feel as gravity is the shape of space time.

Einstein's Struggles During WWI (03:57)

Einstein unknowingly misinterprets an equation and struggles to make his theory work; his wife and children move back to Switzerland. David Hilbert decides to work on Einstein's theory. Einstein begins a series of lectures in 1915, but his theory is incomplete.

General Relativity of Theory (03:58)

Einstein makes a breakthrough in his theory and tests it on the orbit of Mercury. He presents his findings during his fourth lecture at the Prussian Academy in 1915; Robbert Dijkgraaf demonstrates the equation.

Einstein Rockets to Fame (03:08)

In May 1919, Arthur Eddington records eclipse images that prove Einstein's theory and Einstein becomes a worldwide celebrity.

Einstein in America (03:10)

In Berlin in the 1930s, Einstein becomes a target of the Nazi Party. He moves to Princeton in 1933 and takes a position at the Institute for Advanced Study. By the time of Einstein's death in 1955, there was little hope of future discovery associated with the theory of general relativity.

Exploring the Theory of Relativity (03:16)

Today, technology allows us to explore the extremes of Einstein's theory. Physicists discover time moves faster father away from the Earth's core. GPS engineers had to adjust for the difference in clocks on satellites and clocks on the ground to avoid a discrepancy of six miles.

Black Holes (03:06)

Kip Thorne explains that warped space and time creates black holes. Thorne began working on the theory in the 1960s and in 1975, bet Stephen Hawking that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole.

Big Bang and Gravitational Waves (03:29)

The movement of distant galaxies and the permeation of background radiation in space supports the Big Bang theory. In the 1990s, Saul Perlmutter and his team observe exploding stars and discover the expansion of the universe is speeding up. LIGO hopes the measure the squeezing of space caused by gravitational waves.

Search for a Unified Theory (03:39)

The theory of relativity remains incompatible with the quantum world of atoms; theoretical physicists try to find one set of rules that applies to the cosmic and atomic scales. Experts reflect on Einstein's legacy and the future of physics.

Credits: Inside Einstein's Mind (01:13)

Credits: Inside Einstein's Mind

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Inside Einstein's Mind

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Retrace Einstein's thought experiments as NOVA reveals the simple but powerful ideas that reshaped our understanding of gravity, illuminating the theory of general relativity —and Einstein's brilliance— as never before. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL115804

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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