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The Relativity Revolution: Alberta Einstein and the making of the modern world


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We've all been taught that Albert Albert Einstein in his famous equation are extremely important to our understanding of the universe but how exactly is never quite clear scientists however I have a pretty good idea about why is tying himself is important in some sense. Physics now is a victim of its success. We've been so successful than describing such such a wide range of phenomena the finding the experimental data that show us what those weird features actually are is very very challenging much more challenging than what Stein finished in the Early Twentieth Century Einstein. One set that a problem can't be solved by the same consciousness that created it which may be another another way of saying that once in a while we need a genius to solve the big problems someone who can make a great leap forward in our understanding of something. Einstein seems to have made at least two great leaps at pretty much the same about one hundred years ago. One League showed that space and time are linked. The other Lee said that mass and energy are interchangeable there you have it e. equals MC squared. The glass. Half full part is the theories we have right now actually do a pretty good very good job for us in lots of the practical kinds of situations where we physics to be telling us how to make decisions and producing technology for US so one example would be the GPS device which most people are going to probably the US. When they walk out of the theater? Today is something which Einstein theories played a role in helping to develop space and time mm-hmm mass and Energy Einstein's ideas have revolutionized both the way we think about the cosmos and how we live our lives today today on and ideas a discussion from the Stratford Festival. About what exactly it was the great scientist. Figure it out and his importance today you. This is the relatively revolution Einstein and the making of the modern world. Good morning everybody. Thank you for being being here. And welcome to the fourth installment of the CBC Ideas Stratford Festivals Series. We're calling the disrupters from Darwin all the way to Donald People people who have up ended conventional thought and today as mentioned we're looking at Albert Einstein whose work changed the way we think about the universe today and with us is a very a well-versed Panel Doreen Fraser teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo and her areas of special interests are the philosophy of science and the philosophy of physics. She's also an affiliate member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo and a member of the Rothman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Chris Smith is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Western University and Director of the Rothman Institute of Philosophy. His main interests are in the history. The End Philosophy of physics and the philosophy of science and last but not least is Bianca d three faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and a professor at the University of Waterloo. Who is trained in Germany but today she is highly respected researcher working on uniting to great theories of physics quantum mechanics and general relativity? Please welcome our panel. We thought would be a good place to start with some words from Albert Einstein so if I could read you a passage that that he wrote about how he chose to become a physicist he said out yonder there was this huge world which exists independently of US human beings and which stands before us like a great attornal riddle at least partially accessible Tori inspection and thinking the mental grasp of this extra personal world presented itself to my mind as supreme goal. I just wonder how these words resonate with you today during if I can start with you sure so. Those words make me think about the leader part of Einstein's career in in particular when he was thinking about quantum theory and so he'd already at this point in his career I'm thinking in the nineteen thirties made the discoveries. Uh of the special theory of relativity in the general theory of relativity for which he is perhaps best known and he was thinking about still thinking about quantum theory and he was unsatisfied. Ride with quantum theory at the time because he didn't think it lived up to those ideals that you were talking about. And he was interested in a description description of the way the world was and he was unsatisfied with the description that was coming out of quantum mechanics so even at a later stage in his career he was still striving and still trying to get back to a place where he felt like he detained that ideal of understanding. The world is best as we can. It's human beings Bianca's that's still how scientists approach the world the physics. I think also for me it was also a big motivation to understand. What is out there? And it's very fascinating that we are here bone to us but we know so much. Actually you know it's really fascinating that we know is that the Universe is eight. Point eight billion years it's a huge thing Lots of fascinating things going on in the universe but it's really fascinating signs and generally gives us these breath methods and ideas to actually discover things which threatened even the longtime ago very owned any he kind of Ima- imagination and we'll get to those ideas Very shortly but before. We do that in looking at Einstein's early early days in in the beginning before people knew Einstein was. Things weren't so poetic. Chris I understand that he when he came out of the Zurich Polytechnic. He took forever to find a the job and in fact head wished he had had never been born because it was so difficult he was the only person in his class to not get an academic position immediately after graduation and everybody knows that he was a patent clerk. He was working a day job and in the drawer of his office at the Patent Office. He kept a file of all all of the work in physics. Use doing and while the jokes is that he called this his department of theoretical physics and it was probably the best department in Europe. Five five groundbreaking papers that appeared in nineteen o five while he was working on a patent clerk and so there's been a lot of work by Einstein scholars sort of honor thing. What was going on and we've discovered a lot more about Stein by looking at his correspondence by looking at his books and things and one of the things that clear? The people have done a lot of work. I'm trying to sort out. What his methodology was? What was the approach that was so fruitful and I think one of the things that early Einstein was very good at doing was seeing how now there are problems that arise in different areas? That don't quite fit together. So at the end of the nineteenth century there were some parts of physics that were very well understood the theory of electricity and magnetism and light the theory of thermal physics statistical physics and mechanics there these three different areas and I-i-in Stein's papers found problems at the overlap between those different areas and so you can see the series of papers that he presented in nineteen o five as very very fruitfully finding spots where this overall picture of nature just didn't quite fit together and his terrific isolating. Okay how do we then resolve. These is problems. It's like you have a jigsaw puzzle. That doesn't quite fit. One of the things he did was carve away extra aspects. Serve get rid of pieces of the theory. That didn't actually need to be there. And then you can put them together. That's something that I think is really characteristic of his early work during the one. Yeah so thinking about what. He did really early early. On one of the ideas that he thought was the very revolutionary one out of all of the amazing ideas that came out of nineteen five was what he called the light. Quantum hypothesis apotheosis. So Chris has just mentioned that electromagnetism the theory of electricity in the theory of magnets and how they work was very well established by nineteen hundred red or so it was thought but the revolutionary idea that Einstein had is that the then current theory. That light is a wave like a water wave that's continuous and flows is not all there is to the way light behaves so his really revolutionary hypothesis was that light is also a Quanta Quanta which means it also behaves in some instances as if it's a chunk of material and not a continuous wave that's out everywhere everywhere so that was revolutionary because it went against the the Think the dominant view at the time of the way light behaved and what it was so you brought brought a plight so we might as well get this out of the way now. which is the you know if there's one thing that people everybody knows including today about Einstein is it's e. equals MC squared so? So can we just for the benefit of the very few people in this room. Who Don't know what that means? Can we get a very brief description of what it means. Bianca can you try give it a try. E MC squared so we have. Es Energy it's physically description of things. Your own energy is needed to get things done and stands for us and sees a velocity of light. It's a huge number. That's what's I wasn't kilometers per second. And so if you compare it you get an even bigger number and the point of this equation to say that everything which has mass even if it doesn't seem to have any energy because it just standing here like the slot glass of water it automatically has an energy and this became hugely influential. Because this exhortation auteuil basically led to the idea You could convert mass into energy on the other hand at energy it says has mass and so the first part you could convert Maas us into energy. But that's part of what goes on practical things and very unfortunate things because that's physically ideas which underlie nuclear bumps and nuclear nuclear energies or vision and fusion sets art of Mars converted into energy was also on our son played actually a very important oil also later and influence on politics and vote events because it's this formula that physicist indeed indeed on a number of them said could be a possibility of a nuclear bomb. That of course had a big impact picked on events Fisher and we will talk about that as well in a bit but I do want to stay with those papers in Nineteen Zero Five and Chris you've talked about about how the revolution there was just the scientists but it was actually in the way he explained the science. Could you talk about that a little bit. So the nine hundred five paper where he introduced a special relativity something something to encourage all of you to read the first few pages of because it's a brilliant way that Einstein sets up the paper. He focuses on the concept of time. And what we mean when we talk about time of distant events Safai talk about time and someplace that's nearby I can just think of it as associated with the time on my watch but if I talk about time I'm somewhere far away. I have to I ask what does it mean for something to be simultaneous with the reading of my watch now and it turns out that this is one of the places where there is conflict between the theory of electromagnetism the theory of mechanics if according to electromagnetism. There's a finite speed of light. There's a maximum speed at which a signal can travel if you think about setting up time using light signals. Which is the fastest thing we can use? You actually have have to think about time differently than if you had a signal that goes infinitely fast and it was by thinking through that issue that Einstein was able to resolve a set set of deep conflicts between the theory of electromagnetism and mechanics as it was thought of it that day. And so it's really going back to very basic concepts. Everybody thought they knew how to think about time. But Einstein said look we actually because of the pressure of the problems that are arising and combining these two theories we need to rethink think this very basic concept and in the opening of this paper he describes how he rethought it how he came up with a different way of thinking about time in just very accessible way and one of the things. That's really wonderful. A lot of its papers. Have this sort of character. They kind of recapitulate the process by which he solved the problem bloom and as a philosopher. It's also I love this kind of writing. He's very philosophical in a way that a lot of physicists aren't so he sets these conceptual problems up shows his wife their problems and then shows how to resolve them in a way. That often doesn't involve a lot of technical virtuosity. Obviously capable of that. was that at the time I mean when you look at the work of other physicists during it was somewhat common in the eighteen hundreds also because physicists. At that time we're thinking we're coming to terms with electromagnetism. We were just talking about the theory of light and also thinking self-consciously about the methods they were using. And how they we're going to come up with original concept so so one of the things about science is in order to make progress at certain points. You need to figure out some original concept just that human beings haven't bought a before that original and so one of the things that makes it interesting to study. Philosophy of science is thinking about how what is that scientists succeed and the different methods that are used by scientists to come up with wholly original concepts so just to pick up on what Chris was talking about the the concept of simultaneity how the idea of what now means is relative to an observer and how you're moving and how to different people who were moving in different ways can disagree on what now means which is disagreeing about whether to things that are happening are happening at the same time for not that seems so fundamental that it's not surprising that human beings had assumed that now is the same for everybody since it's the beginning of physics as far as we know and then he took many more years and the work of many other scientists including a number of astronomers who had to travel across the world but he built on this to come up with the theory of general relativity which we should also do a quick review of because it essentially rewrite newtonian ideas about the universe. So can I ask one of you to just briefly. Explain the theory. Sure so the general theory of relativity the way Einstein started to think about this was the recognition that once you change your idea of time. And that was forced upon him by special relativity to postulate blitzes Bianca. Explain them you. He realized that the way we thought about gravity with Newton also had to be modified. Because if you think if you recall Newton's theory of gravity if you've encountered that before there's the basic ideas that two bodies interact the given moment. There's a force of gravity between them. That depends ends on their mass. But what do I mean at a given moment at what time am I talking. And what's the distance between these two bodies. Those are things that become problematic. After Einstein Line has introduced special relativity so he a bunch of other people realized that immediately. You're going to have to have a new theory of gravity to make it compatible with special relativity one of the things that's fascinating about Einstein's that he took a very unusual approach to this problem. He actually thought that there is a deeper problem. Within the way we thought about Newtonian Tony and gravity. which is the idea that there's a link between what's called inertial mass and gravitational mass so inertial mass just measures? Here's how hard it is to accelerate something so if you apply some forced to me the amount by which I accelerate will depend upon what's called my initial mass. That's just the resistance to change in state of motion. The gravitational mass on the other hand is how much gravity do I produce. Just as a result of my mass now in Newtonian gravity. We just used one letter m. mm-hmm because these happen to be identical. They have exactly the same value and Einstein thought that this was a bizarre coincidence because conceptually these two things are very different. Why would it be the case? These two things are actually tied together and so he thought that there must be something in the structure of gravity. There must be something in the theory theory. That explains why these two very distinct concepts are actually won the two sides of the same coin and so he called this idea the principle of equivalence. This this is something that he tried formulating in a variety of ways. Starting in one thousand nine hundred seven all the way up until nineteen fifteen and it was one of the guiding ideas that he was distinct extinct pursuing but the helped him find the theory of general relativity and in the theory of general relativity. One way of thinking about it is the inertial structure How you think about things responding to forces and thinking about gravity it's all combined in space time geometry and so you think of space based on geometry is curved and bodies just follow the shortest path in space time geometry so the mass present will determine how much space time is curved space time is curved will determine how bodies move and so not very vague sense? That's how you have sort of inertia and gravity combined in theory a second during just want to quickly talk about how revolutionary this idea was at the time given that Newton was kind of the God of the universe at the time and so I think maybe it helps to think about maybe a couple thousand years of science and even going back to the ancient Greeks and the the concept that the ancient Greeks in particular aristotle had of our place in the universe and the idea was that the earth is privileged and at rest in the center of the universe. So if you ask these questions that Chris was just asking about what happens if you try to push Chris or if you try to throw a rock and you ask why the rockfalls to the Earth Aristotle would say look it falls to the earth because it's a heavy object is trying to get to the center of the universe and center. The Universe is the center of the Earth. This then changes dramatically with Galileo who bianca mentioned and others in the Renaissance and rethinking that idea and thinking introducing the concept of of gravity which Newton and Galileo and others did and then you can recognize that the earth is no longer stationary in the center of the universe. But it actually I'd actually moves so that was a revolutionary idea about our place in the universe and then the next big revolution. Is this idea that you don't have gravity as a force pulling the rock to the earth anymore you have space time being curved. It's the rock somehow following the contours of space time. And that's what's happening when you feel. The Roth wanted to come back to part of your question which was about astronomers and the role they played in confirming harming the theory. And we've been talking about time. Timing is also important so Einstein was very lucky that the eclipse expedition took place in nineteen. Nineteen there've been an earlier eclipse expedition. To the the reason why you had to look at an eclipse is that you can see the bending of light in a gravitational field that that bending of light will affect any stars that are behind the Sun but obviously if we're just looking at the sun we can't see the stars you have to wait until an eclipse to see how the stars location shifts if student the bending of light and there's a expedition plan for nineteen fourteen. The Russian army did not believe that the Germans there with high precision equipment were there to do experiments and observations so the eclipse expedition and actually only went off in nineteen nineteen. Einstein had a theory of gravity avenue in nineteen fourteen. The got the wrong answer for light bending and you're still working on it but by nineteen fifty and he had the final theory which had them the right answer and in one thousand nine thousand nine hundred and that answer was confirmed. That's when you really became an international celebrity but there's one aspect of the timing which is that if it had happened in nineteen fourteen it would have seemed like he was on the wrong track would have been the end of his career and it would have been well potentially a one thousand nine hundred after World War One and so part of the important. Portent timing of that result was that it was a British expedition that was confirming this esoteric theory of German physicist. And this really launched. Einstein Stein is an international celebrity and he was seen as somebody who is rising above the nationalistic interests. That had prevailed with a lot of people in the scientific community contributing forbidding to the war effort on both sides during World War One. And we'll get to that in a couple of minutes but I want to bring him to today on a bring ice today in particular to article of clothing. That's on on one of our panelists here today. Kristie WanNA show the audience. What you were the size face on there? I just I wonder why. Why does this thinking persistence face on your socks? I think one thing. We have to acknowledge that Einstein was actually very careful and self conscious and playing a role and he crafted. Craft role is the sort of Bohemian. Singley sage I think. Most people think of Einstein mattresses genius and probably the most brilliant person in the twentieth century. I don't know if that's true but I think that's the image we have of him also. Is someone who would be wise witty. A sort of comfortable presence and sort of contributed to the the broader culture at more than two scientists but as the sort of saintly presence almost I think that's mostly meth and so a lot of the work of Einstein's Weinstein's scholars looking at his correspondents looking through what he's done. I think he was actually very self conscious and crafting that so I think he's much more interesting and more complicated than that. But I think that's one that's the image that has persisted during yes so I think part of the image it is. We've been talking about notebooks and his ideas and how he started off early in his career in the patent office by himself working through these papers by I himself so part of the image is of the loan scientific genius who through thinking really hard and having these original brilliant insights. It's is able to move science forward. But I think that's only part of the picture even for Einstein so it's it's important to recognize that scientists working communities and and so the although Einstein did make many important contributions and we've been talking about how he saw things differently than most other physicists. At the time he also was working with with other physicists and other mathematicians as well so part of the what he needed to do to formulate general activity properly west have the in geometry right. And so that's in particular something that he needed help from his colleagues to be taught the right mathematical skills that he didn't have so sciences. This is a social process. It's not just a lone genius discoveries. I wondered if you could comment on this lease Molin. Who was supposed to be here today? In in an essay about his decision to become a physicist he cites some of the big questions that grabbed his attention. He says that it is the fact. That measurements return definite values. Just a consequence sequential manipulations that the universe wait almost fifteen billion years for the descendants of the ape to decide to do experiments before its wave function. Collapse is the world it just information waiting to be decoded. Are we any further along in answering these questions. Since the time of time. Somebody WanNA tackle that. Well I guess this is a citation refers to the problem of quantum theory which in this case in the early beginnings Phantom Sealy was or even much more counterintuitive Zengin relatively special relativity and part was at that to to explain it in the standard interpretation of quantum sealy eighty you divide avoid into two parts and one really quantum part and the other is classic part and classic apart this fair basically we he also sit and observe this indeed is ideal as it needs to be always somebody just physically ourselves to absorb of something so that we can actually measure as a sing to get some definite views and that led to ideas that maybe if nobody measures anything you you know what what would be the reality of the world today to some extent still unresolved. It's an interesting tension because Pu isn't measures universe speaking of quantum theory I is there a distinction equality or nature of Einstein's work the early phase. The later phase is there. There's a debate over that during try tackling. Yeah so I was speaking earlier about Einstein's later ideas and his his later work so this theory of quantum mechanics that physics students learn at universities is undergraduates was pretty much a formalism was was figured out by the end end of the Nineteen Twenty S. But it's beyond mentioned we're still today grappling with how to understand what is telling us about what the world is really like at the quantum level so in the nineteen eighteen thirties. There were debates in which Einstein played a prominent role about how we should be understanding understanding quantum mechanics so one side. Neal's four had the idea that you had to wait to measure something and what quantum mechanics was really about was in the business of describing how quantum MM systems like electrons interacted with our measuring devices. And so you got this big picture of how the whole the whole the whole system worked together I. I was really interested in knowing what was happening with the electron and he didn't really care so much about what was happening with the experiments of course you wanted to make sure you're getting the right numbers numbers being spread out of your mental devices and confirming your theory. But he was really interested. In knowing what kind of thing the electron was and what kind of properties it had and so that was the reason why he was dissatisfied with quantum mechanics and he thought it wasn't giving the complete description of the electron and all the properties. You said it had and so. He was in a small minority of physicists. who were dissatisfied with quantum mechanics at that time for that reason so we think of Einstein is being being someone who is very successful but it's important to realize that he had these very important ideas to him which were not accepted by other physicists? and which are still not accepted accepted by by many physicists and just to go back to the earlier Einstein in some sense also too radical and quantum theory so the one of the nineteen o five papers papers which he described to a friend the most radical of the theories was the one during mentioned earlier in which he argued that light sometimes behaves as if it's composed more like particles as if it's a little bit earlier balls and so the that paper was something that is in effect the most ambitious application of quantum ideas for a large number of years so mocks plonk is really the person who introduced the idea of the Quanta but was actually much more conservative than Einstein regarded the one thousand nine hundred papers a fluke. He said well he's such a creative physicist. We can allow him a few mistakes. You said this a reference letter. He did get the job but this was not high praise but this ended up being important discovery so in that sense Einstein was much more radical in his early days and seeing the implications of the the idea of quantum in the early phases of quantum theory he was one of the leading figures and then he later became one of the people who skeptical of the way the theory was developed. You're listening to ideas on. CBC Radio One in Canada in North America on Sirius. Xm On our end and in Australia and around the world at CBC DOT CA slash ideas. I'm Nola Iot the idea of relativity. There are no fixed points has been with us for over a century now but it still making our heads spin even if we don't understand much of what Albert we're at Einstein figured out. There is no misunderstanding. The revolutionary changes he's brought to our physical world cell phones and lasers and GPS asssistant all depend on Einstein's physics. And there's even more to come while we explore the possibilities of the mysterious little understood world of of quantum mechanics from the twenty nine th Stratford festival a discussion with philosophers Chris Meek and Doreen Fraser and theoretical physicist physicists. Bianca Dietrich this is the relatively revolution Einstein and the making of the modern world so if we look now to his nonscientific ideas I just wonder how much of his I guess detest. I guess that's the only word I can think of for for chemical weapons or the idea of nuclear war and his support for the plight of African Americans. How much does that play a role in making him into the cultural cultural genius persona that we know today and it's so popular still kristen so I I think it's a hard question to track exactly how he established? There's this kind of identity but I think it starts in one thousand nine hundred ninety. Let's really win. He started appearing on the cover of international magazines because of this stunning confirmation Asian of this theory of gravity and I think the aspect of that. That's most important for establishing. His sort of cultural status is that he was a German scientist whose results were confirmed by a British expedition and during World War One he had been actively opposed to German scientists contributing to the war effort so during in World War One he had made a stand and said German. Scientists should not be contributing to the war effort and this really set aside from a lot of the other members of the academic elite Berlin which he had joined some of them are supporting the development of chemical warfare and he was dead set against that so in that sense I think he established himself as kind. You've and I think it's a very appealing vision. That science is an international endeavor. It's something that's a pure search for truth and I think. He sort of appeals to that idea a science and then I think he was also very self conscious and picking choosing his battles in terms of what causes he identified with later so although he act so he famously wrote a letter to President Roosevelt saying that the United States should be concerned about the possibility of building a bomb. That actually wasn't a letter he he wrote by the way. It's a letter to Hungarian. Scientists who are less famous wrote they realized correctly that Roosevelt would read a letter for Mine Stein but not from S- Lard. You've probably I heard of Roosevelt hadn't either but he recognized after the war and when he became more concerned about nuclear weapons and was an advocate Vika for nuclear disarmament. That he could be he would be conceived of as the father of the atomic bomb because of equals MC squared and his prominence in physics. So when he was signing manifestos in favor of nuclear disarmament he was using this cachet. And like I said. I think he was very self-conscious and choosing battles and that also helped him to to establish this identity Doreen did he. Did he live up to the this notion that we have of a cultural. What we know is a scientific genius? Well I I think actually the the example of signing this letter to President Roosevelt in nineteen thirty nine on the eve of war to warning that based on experiments armaments that had been done just over the past six months. It was really bad timing in nuclear physics that just prior to World War Two. It became apparent to a few physicists. That it might be possible possible to split the nucleus of Adam and create a atomic weapon. So he wrote that letter and then later on he had he had second thoughts about it after the war and he regretted doing it. So there's there's a conflict for Einstein and I think probably for scientists in general because on the one hand you have the image of science as pursuit of truth and not being beholden to any sort of national interests of which the Eddington expedition in one thousand nineteen to the eclipses a good example but then in real life. The reason why we do science is to produce new technologies these some of which are beneficial to humankind some of which are not beneficial to humankind. So that's something. All scientists need to think about in struggle with and try to imagine what the possible possible consequences of the science. They're doing could be as far as practical consequences for human beings. We have an impressive number of questions. And I thought that this is sort of related to this discussion discussion. That we're having right now. So the question is today's profoundly. Anti intellectual climate with leaders like trump Ford and Boris Johnson would would Einstein have achieved the same same level of social influence. Stardom go ahead please. I think we still do have Stephen Hawking who passed away this past year there are other scientists who established this kind of public image. So I think we still do have a yearning for intellectual stars who embody a kind of scientific spirit and we want to see that. They're changing our views of the world. And I think we put them up on a pedestal. To some extent I think whether they have cultural prominence actually political power is a different question and one thing that Einstein lived in a period so the twentieth essentially a huge change in. How scientific research is conducted? So we live in an era where there's massive projects through required to probe job kinds of physics questions that are really on the frontier. So those require massive investments from countries or international collaborations. That's not what science was like when on Stein started so I think there's also a way in which scientists rely much more on the support of nations. They actually have to advocate politically leave for funding for research and have much more of a political role in that sense so Einstein was still working at a time where most scientists could do their research urge at the university where they worked on tabletop or even in the desk as European clerks. But that's not the way science works now so the question is is it actually part of the responsibility of a scientist to be a leader also on issues of their social and political. And is it it. Does it have any effect if they do. I certainly now. We also live in a world where expertise is highly specialized so I was trying to the point a few minutes ago that the work that scientists do does have implications for society and when the work that scientists do has those implications. I think definitely Scientists are obligated to talk about it and to talk to the president and and make the president aware of the possible implications of their work work and even if they're not as monumental as the possibility of building an atomic bomb. They're still an important role for scientists there Bianca during the I think to come back to us or to an earlier point what made eight Stein quite special. This is also concerned virk on on actually explaining his science to the public and in this way of doing experiments he could. He could actually do that. Ed and he took a lot of effort. And it's easier to explain actually special at electricity in general relativity quantum few today. But I do think. It's a part of sponsor ability of the scientists to actually do these kinds of things and explain what science is going on so because scientists to take water in a advising petitions and so on but it only be part of a democratic poses. So it's basically the wider public actually should also tie to stay informed armed on on these things and I don't know I do think that at the beginning of the twentieth century yours nineteenth swamped. The nineteenth century was ah going into US and the big interest the public also for for signs basically so these sets my nine hundred ninety ranking ninth. I'm became very famous. It was basically. You're interested in understanding signs so that has to be part part of the equation both from the scientists to explain what is going on but also for for everyone to to try to keep informed. Now we know what happened to Einstein's correspondence but here's a question from someone who's wondering what happened to Einstein's brain when he died. There's a very interesting story about this but unfortunately I don't know the details it was preserved and there's a forget who wrote the book there's it was then transferred from Princeton to somewhere else. There's a book about somebody driving across the country with Feinstein's brain in jar and unfortunately I don't remember the point but yeah it was preserved and studied. It's kind of a morbid. You know anything. I think they would just move on. Who who coined the term space time? That was probably been Kofsky so this was actually one of Einstein's Stein's teachers and Zurich who once called him a lazy dog and correspondence because Einstein apparently didn't go to classes Makovsky recognize is that Einstein's nineteen o five paper. Einstein wrote it in a way that was very. ALGEBRAIC is a series of equations but Makovsky realized that underlying that Algebra. You could actually think think of it more geometrically and there's a famous address to the German physical society where he says space and time will disappear as ghosts. The only thing that will remain space-time this combined quantity and this actually gets to another point which might be worth raising which the theory of relativity is in some cents a horrible name. It suggests these connections with relativism in other contexts. Certainly was part of the cash as a lot of people picked up on this and thought the theory of relativity implied moral relativism or other other views. I think actually Makovsky an Einstein Makovsky once suggested that the theory should be actually and I thought this was apt should have been known as the theory of absolute variance not nearly as catchy but actually probably better in terms of capturing the content that there's there's still time that's an in variant and then space and time separately are relative and the follow up question to that is what is it precisely. And how do I feel it in my kitchen for example well hopefully there aren't objects moving really high relative loss. There's some great questions but I really apologize that we can't get to every one of them because there's a couple more others that we want to get to one that I'm personally curious about and has come up in a lot of the writing about isis much of the work that he did and much of the thinking that he did early on was really done just with his mind and a pencil and occasionally the help of Violin. Oakland and I just wonder what we all can whether we're scientists are not sort of draw from that era business and hyper productivity like during the can we what can we take away from that So yes if you go back to the early days of Einstein the patent office and as Christmas describing earlier having his special drawer where he kept his physics papers and then probably the rest of his Patten. Papers were big mess on his desk. I don't know but having the time and by himself to think through things when his supervisor wasn't paying any attention was clearly important for him to be able to do his work so having not I guess thinking today having that time where you're alone and you're not connected to anyone else either. Virtually or in person is still important for having having making progress in science and other areas. I'd like to. There's a story that I love about Einstein's discovery of general. TV which actually also illustrates is it. Sometimes he was driven by competition and interaction with other people so I mentioned earlier that he had a theory of gravity. Nineteen fourteen that gave him the wrong result for the light light bending so he had been struggling with formulating new theory of gravity since one thousand nine hundred seven in the summer of Nineteen fifteen. He went to girding in which was a bit like going to the Primer Institute. Nowadays it was like a concentration of the leading researchers in Germany in mathematical physics. And so he gave a talk about the theory of gravity which you struggling with. And he still hadn't worked at all out. He was unsatisfied with the theory is existed at that point and there are a number of problems the he was struggling with but he was giving a talk about these problems in front of the best mathematical physicists in Germany and so he comes back to Berlin and gets a postcard from David Hilbert Bert which was the best of those who said I've gotten interested in working on the theory of gravity and what ensued was a race because Einstein now felt that he had the best mathematical a physicist in the world probably breathing down his neck. So there's a series of talks in November nineteen fifteen so Einstein usually didn't give you've four talks in a month that month gave a talk every Friday. Each one was something like forget what I said the previous Friday. Here's a new idea. The final talk in that series was the talk where he gave what we now think of as well almost the final form of the field equations of General Relativity and postcards were zipping back between Berlin then girding and during this time with Hilbert saying oh I think I have a new idea Einstein saying no this is and so he was really pushed in that last bit by this correspondence with Hilbert art and Hilbert twos credit never claimed so Hilbert also ended up with a paper formulating the final version of the field equations. He never claimed priority so he always credited as Einstein's Feinstein's theory. There's quite magnanimous. Because there were some some theories that he might have come up with it exactly the same time or possibly before possibly before but I think this is actually one of those cases where you go to the archives and this is actually a funny twist back in those days you would actually literally cut and paste manuscripts so Hilbert Hilbert gave a talk. I think it was a day or two before. Einstein's final talk and scholars have gone to the archives and there's pieces cut out of the thing that Hilbert would have read probably because he just had the equations typeset and then put them into new paper. But that means it's hard to actually tell exactly what was in that paper but I think I think the the opinion the people people who've said this you're GonNa Rent John Satchel. I think they think that Hobart still didn't have quite the final version in that paper. He gave the published version has the final but that's after Einstein had published a couple more questions one from the audience. And it's at one. We wanted to ask as well which is given dark matter and energy in the Gulf that still exists between relatively relativity and quantum theories. What are the the prospects for a grand unified theory of physics? I guess it's sort of like the holy grail right and that's how it was thought of back then. Ah Looking for a grand theory to explain everything to the number of people looking for. I think it main problem said the series we have jeff like general relativity and quantum fealty. Say explain a lot virk so beautifully for explaining explaining sings which which go on if you put a lot of lot lot huge amount of money and bidding celery turfs and find signed new particle Hicks particular but it was actually predicted a long time ago. The Seventy S and also journal Liberty us. I mentioned agent all the predictions that we have which remained were from relatively confirmed song increasingly this finding gravitational waves so to to interpret these data and to predict these data basically all what is needed a serious genetic diversity and then basically physics of stars which kind of quantum quantum theory so and developing unified theory which we believe skilley necessary because to some extent racing. Post quantum field theory and to Jenin. Relatively do not give us complete explanations it would be nice to have experiments that show us the direction. I am curious whether this contrast strikes US accurate Bianca so one of the things that I mentioned that I think was wonderful. About Einstein's earlier work is that he looked at places places where there are overlaps of different ideas and physics that didn't fit together what Einstein had. I think we don't have enough now. is also experimental data about and what happens in those overlapping areas that gave us some guidance about how we have to combine the ideas right so I think it's. It's not just that you had when you combine thermal thermal physics and our understanding of light that you knew there was a tension you also have experiments said. There's something that's weird here that you have to be able to explain and I think in in some sense. Physics now is a victim of success. We've been so successful than describing such a wide range of phenomena that finding the experimental data that show us what what those weird features actually are is very very challenging much more challenging than what Einstein finished in the early twentieth century and Law Promising Action might be Eh cosmetology. And there's an amount of data coming in a particular something which is quote took the cosmic microwave background which comes from physically quantum fluctuations and might be something coming coming from this direction and these things go so far back begs that it comes from the big thing and it's a big bang is one of these events which we say makes necessarily quantum theory of gravity. So there's a singularity single levity as we call it which follows from gravitation theory so physically worse. Their Space Time itself doesn't exist whatever the needs and and suddenly there's a universe this and experience and we hope to understand this process much better. This was a quantum theory doreen theory of everything. Well it's a SORTA glass half full glass half empty stories. We've been hearing the glass half empty which we don't know what to do. There's lots of ideas about how to put together a quantum theory and gravity but it's not clear what the right way to go. There is the the glass half full. Part is the theories we have right now actually do a pretty good very good job for us in lots of the practical kinds of situations nations where we want physics to be telling us how to make decisions and producing technology for US so one example would be the GPS device which most people are going to probably use when they walk out of the theater today. it's something which Einstein theories played a role in helping to develop so the glass. Half full is that we can still use the theories. We have now for lots of practical purposes so to end off I wanted to just sort of go right right to the beginning and give you another quote. Actually this one from a biography about Einstein is Walter Isaacson who said that Studying Einstein can be worthwhile because it helps us to remain in touch with that childlike capacity for wonder as the saga of Sciences. Heroes reminds us. These traits are vital for this new century globalization. Oh belies ation in which our success will depend on our creativity. So he's talking about the importance of the capacity for wonder and I. I wonder whether that was a luxury in today's signs world or whether wonder still important to being a scientist beyond Kobe will start with you. Well certainly it's a big motivation to become scientists. I think it does stoodley also big war just often because of the huge specialization. Wonder happens said to more technical. It's much harder to explain grief. Well I think what I find endlessly endearing about Einstein that he rethinks fundamental concepts and is willing to revisit to revise them as needed and part of that as a child like capacity for just going back to the basics. And saying why. Why did we think this? What's the motivation and rethinking all these kind of questions that sometimes you think? Why can't ask those those silly or something? But they're actually sometimes the most basic questions as a philosopher. I mean it's similar to the kinds of basic questions that we sometimes focused on reading Einstein also in his correspondence. It's just endlessly imaginative interested in creative. And so that's always inspiration to go back to that kind of mindset and to to have just figuring things out as the main goal is he's really driven in that regard in that comes in his correspondence and that's just wonderful to to have that revived in you so I think. Creativity and originality is one reason it's so pleasurable to study Einstein in style but also history science more generally and we we know now or at this place. We're talking about where we need to put together quantum theory and the theory of gravity. But we're not unique in that respect and you can look back at the history of science and see all these points at which scientists have come up with these original ideas and how they they were the building blocks for a new way of looking at the world and so that's why it's worthwhile studying history of science great. Thank you very much for your insights and audience. Thank you so much for the questions Great to have you here. You've been listening to the relativity revolution. Einstein and the making of the modern world a discussion from the two thousand Nineteen Stratford Festival featuring philosophers Chris mink from Western University and Doreen Fraser from the University of Waterloo loop along with the theoretical physicists. Bianca Dietrich from the Perimeter Institute in Stratford the program was recorded by Melissa Renault. Special thanks to end sweared figure and Antony Malino. The program was produced by Philip Coulter and edited with Jackson Weaver. If you'd like to comment on anything you've heard in this episode or in any other you can do that on facebook and twitter or on our website. CBC DOT CA slash. Josh ideas were. Of course you can always get our podcast Lisa you so the web producer of ideas technical producer is Daniel. Our senior producer is Nikola. Look the executive producer of ideas is Greg. Kelly and I add for more C._B._C.. PODCASTS GO TO C._B._C. Dot C._A. Slash podcasts.

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