Questions for ‘Einstein taught us: It’s all relative’

spacetime curvature

Artwork illustrating the curvature of spacetime due to the presence of massive bodies. As predicted by Einstein, the mass of Earth and its moon each create gravitational dips in the fabric of spacetime. 

Victor de Schwanberg / Science Source

To accompany feature  ‘Einstein taught us: It’s all relative


Before Reading:

1.    Describe the pacing of time, second to second or hour to hour. Is it dependable and unvarying or does it change?

2.    What’s the shortest path between two things?

During Reading:

1.    When did Einstein release the first of his papers on general relativity?

2.    Whose idea of gravity did it improve upon?

3.    What did the special theory of relativity deal with (hint: think about clocks).

4.    According to Einstein’s general relativity, events anywhere in the universe are referred to as locations in what?

5.    What role did slight changes in the orbit of the planet Mercury play in helping doubters come to accept relativity?

6.    Explain how a solar eclipse helped more scientists accept relativity.

7.    Without accounting for relativity, how far off could GPS coordinates be in identifying some places on Earth?

8.    What are black holes?

9.    According to the story, what force did Einstein eventually say was the same thing as acceleration?

10.  What mistake did Einstein say he made in terms of the size of the universe — and what made him admit that mistake?

After Reading:

1.    In terms of your daily life, have the refinements that Einstein made to understanding space, time and gravity changed how you see and understand the universe? (Hint: Think about GPS devices.) Explain your answer.

2.    Many physicists think Einstein has reshaped their view of the universe. But what about you? How important do you think his insights were? Describe the reasons behind your assessment.