Finding Beauty in Math and Physics
Einstein’s initial proof of time dilation (above) is, in my opinion, one of the most strikingly beautiful insights that has arisen from any branch of human thought. I wouldn’t normally post something so long, but I believe it is worth it for anyone willing to go through this proof and understand it.
Using a simple thought experiment and less than two pages of middle school level mathematics, Einstein proved something incredible: time is not absolute. Time passes differently for everyone. It passes differently in every corner of the Universe. With simple geometry he was able to show that possibly the most fundamental human assumption, the constancy of time, is false.
Time Dilation, as its called, forms the basis for Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, which he published in his famous 1905 paper ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’. Special Relativity considered the relative nature of time, and led Einstein to consider the relative nature of Gravity, which resulted in his publication of General Relativity 10 years later. General Relativity has completely revolutionized our views of large scale physics and modern theoretical astronomy, and that’s an understatement. It’s importance to our modern day understanding of the Universe is challenged only by that of Quantum Mechanics, and it all started with this simple, 2 page thought experiment. That’s inspiring. That’s important. That’s beautiful. That’s worth understanding.