Special Relativity's Effect on European History

Topics: General relativity, Physics, Special relativity Pages: 5 (1902 words) Published: June 4, 2014

Advancement of European Astrophysics Due to the Special Theory of Relativity

Samuel Winter
European History
Mr. Sullivan
2/10/2014

Over the past one hundred years, knowledge has advanced faster than many had anticipated. The first aircraft flew in 1903, and the first man reached the moon only sixty six years later. Over the past ten years, cell phones and computers have become part of everyday life, a stark contrast to what they had been merely forty years ago. What was science fiction in the sixties and seventies is now the technology of yesteryear. Physics has changed along with technology. Scientists can now predict events millions, even billions of years in the future. We’ve developed safer nuclear technology, and are striving toward energy through fusion in the coming years. We have developed all of these because of the theories of Albert Einstein. He ushered in modern physics, a model of observing our universe that left many scientists dumbfounded with how profound it was. At first, many couldn’t accept his Special Theory of Relativity because it strayed so far from what was at the time considered orthodox. Albert Einstein completely rewrote the proverbial book of physics. He was challenged many times, but he was always able to prove that his theories were more accurate. Even with the complexity of the math involved, Einstein was able to clearly explain his ideas to those who didn’t have the education required to understand the mathematical genius that lay behind his equations. The coming of modern physics has completely revolutionized our world, and the way we observe the universe around us. Over the past ten years we’ve discovered the Higgs boson, different types of neutrinos and quarks, and we’ve observed the cosmic background radiation. Because of the Special Theory of Relativity and Albert Einstein’s stance on Galileo's Theory of Relativity, twentieth century European astrophysics has advanced in a much more sophisticated direction than it would have if the Special Theory of Relativity had never been published. One large part of the Special Theory of Relativity is energy-mass equivalence. One of the most famous equations ever postulated, , explains this. The E in this equation stands for energy (measured in joules), the m stands for mass (measured in kilograms), and c2 stands for the speed of light in a vacuum squared (measured in meters per second). It states that all mass can be equitable to energy, and all energy can be equitable to mass. This equation has led us to the development of nuclear reactors, and nuclear arms. It states that the energy of an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the speed of light in a vacuum squared. The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second, so even an object that has five kilograms of mass has so much energy that it could be equitable to a 1074 megaton bomb, which is easily enough power to destroy cities like New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles several times over. As we learn to harness this power we develop more sophisticated uses for it, such as space travel. Astrophysicists all around the world yearn to see the day where a shuttle powered by a fission or fusion engine takes off into space. The reason that fission and fusion are what we strive for is simple: it isn’t feasible for rockets with liquid fuel to travel far distances. The more fuel one puts into the rocket at launch, the more mass given to the spacecraft. If the mass grows, the amount of power required to launch into orbit increases. The more power needed, the more fuel consumed. The reason chemical fuel cannot work is because it is simply too heavy. If we are able to achieve fission or fusion, however, it is possible to eliminate the need for such heavy methods of travel while carrying many times more energy. The problem we run into...
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