Tuesday, 24 November 2015

unter den linden

A century ago tomorrow, Albert Einstein first presented his equations that dealt with two macroscopic fundamental forces of Nature—gravity and electromagnetism—to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin in an attempt to generalise his previous fete—no mean achievement, in asserting E=mc²—that binds together mass and energy and applies a universal speed limit.
Already paring back non-objective that tended to compartmentalise and create illusions based on the beholder, Einstein sought to incorporate the theory of gravitation and yield something more satisfying than the classical idea that gravity was like an elastic band that was infinite and instantaneous, but rather masses sinking and rising due to their warping of spacetime. Experiment and observation confirm the framework again and again, but just as normalcy appears to abandon us at the scale of very tiny things, Einstein’s physics also seem to buckle under highly energetic conditions. When things are small enough or hot enough to invoke the other fundamental forces, the Strong (holds atomic nuclei together) and the Weak (responsible for radioactive decay), General Relativity suffers the same fate as Sir Isaac Newton’s mechanics. Science and knowledge of the Cosmos is always going to be something provisional, and I wonder if it’s not just the bias of our size and frame-of-reference to think everything ought to applicable at every level. Is that a reasonable expectation or the exactly the opposite?  Einstein himself is quoted (though perhaps one ought to be cautious of citations next to photographs on the internet, the intent remains) as saying, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” Eulogizing the loss of a life-long friend, Einstein really reflected, “this distinction between the past, present and future, is only an illusion, however tenacious.” What do you think?