General Relativity: We Can Believe It, but Never Absolutely

Essay by scarswordUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 2007

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Albert Einstein said on his lecture at King’s College in 1921 that “relativity owes its invention entirely to the desire to make physical theory fit observed fact as well as possible”. However, as a matter of fact, most of the theory of relativity is based on gedanken experiments, which are totally done by thinking and impossible to practice. But this is not incompatible with Einstein’s words, because since it was invented, the theory of relativity is being continually proved right by facts. It is generally admitted today. Nevertheless, there are still scientists who doubt the validity of relativity, and they are looking for violations of the theory. Indeed, new evidences are found, though they are not strong enough to overthrow Einstein’s theory, they lead to the possibility that the theory of relativity may need to be modified. Therefore, the theory of relativity is worth to believe, but it is not perfect since science is never absolute.

In this paper, as the special relativity is a special case of general relativity, the term “relativity” below only refers to the theory of general relativity. Both evidences and arguments for and against the theory of relativity will be demonstrated.

The theory of relativity revolutionized the traditional sciences. As Art Hobson claims, “Newtonian physics viewed space and time as a passive, unchanging background against which events played themselves out, while post-Newtonian physics views spacetime as an active and changing physical participant in events”. This idea has impacted physics and other sciences greatly, such as cosmology. Using relativity as a basic tool, cosmologists are able to study about the origin, structure and evolution of the large-scale Universe in a totally new way. For example, since relativity suggests that spacetime is always changing, a starting point for spacetime and everything in Universe must exist. Guided by...