Explain Einsteins theory of relativity and its impact upon science and society.

He treated matter and energy as exchangeable, not distinct. In doing so, he laid the basis for controlling the release of energy from the atom. Thus, Einstein was one of the fathers of the nuclear age (Kevles, 1989). Setting out from the discoveries of the new quantum mechanics, he showed that light travels through space in a quantum form (as bundles of energy). This was clearly in contradiction to the previously accepted theory of light as a wave. In effect, Einstein revived the old corpuscular theory of light, but in an entirely different way. Here light was shown as a new kind of particle with duel nature, simultaneously displaying the properties of a particle and a wave. This startling theory made possible the retention of all the great discoveries of 19th century optics, including spectroscopes, as well as Maxwell’s equation.

Einstein’s discovery of the law of equivalence of mass and energy is expressed in his famous equation E = mc2, which expresses the colossal energies locked up in the atom. This is the source of all the concentrated energy in the universe. The symbol ‘e’ represents energy (in ergs), ‘m’ stands for mass (in grams) and ‘c’ is the speed of light (in centimeters per second). The actual value of c2 is 900 billion billion. That is to say, the conversion of one gram of energy locked up in matter will produce a staggering 900 billion billion ergs.

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Einstein predicted that the mass of a moving object would increase at very high speeds. The discoveries of quantum mechanics demonstrated the correctness of the special theory of relativity, not only qualitatively, but quantitatively. The predictions of special relativity have been shown to correspond to the observed facts. Scientists discovered by experiment that gamma-rays could produce atomic particles, transforming the energy of light into matter.

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