Ideas and Action for a Better India
Albert Einstein was one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century and of all times. He made profound contributions to the Quantum Theory of Light, to Statistical Mechanics and to the Special and General Theory of Relativity. A change so significant had not occurred since Isaac Newton in the 17th century – his ideas changed our entire view of the world. Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity gave rise to the famous equation E = mc2 which says that mass can transmute into en-ergy. As is well known this has applications to nuclear energy. His General Theory of Relativity changed our conception of space-time and explained the force of grav-ity as resulting from the undulations of the geometry of space-time. This theory forms the basis of the Big-Bang theory of the origin and evolution of the Universe. It also predicts the existence of Black Holes of enormous size which are abundantly present in the Universe.
Dr. Spenta Wadia began his talk by discussing the development of the framework of physical theory from the time of Galileo and Newton to the present. He referred to the notion of the inertial reference frames and the universality of time within which Newton formulated his laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. He emphasized the importance of the development of time measuring devices that preceded the formulation of Newton’s theory and stressed the fact that great gener-alizations in physics, with some exceptions, go hand-in-hand with advances in the technology of measurements and experiments. Even though Newton’s laws were usually expressed in terms of equations involving point particles, their adaptation to multi-particle systems and fluids were developed by Euler, Navier and Stokes.
Dr.Wadia then discussed the concept of the electric and magnetic fields introduced by Faraday and the great synthesis of the laws of electro-magnetism by Maxwell, who predicted electro-magnetic waves and identified light as an electro-magnetic wave. He explained how Maxwell’s equations contain the seeds of the revision of the Newtonian framework because the velocity of light was finite and same in all inertial frames (which move at constant velocity with respect to each other). This simple fact leads to time dilation for observers moving with uniform velocity with respect to each other. This is the basis of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (1905)… (More)