It has been exactly 100 years since Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity to an audience of scientists on November 25, 1915. While virtually everyone has heard of Einstein and his theory, very few people have any idea of what the theory actually is.
This is a shame, not only because there is a great public thirst for understanding of it, but also because relativity is important, for at least four major reasons.
General relativity provides our modern understanding of space, time and gravity -- which means it's crucial to almost everything we do in physics and astronomy. For example, you cannot understand black holes, the expansion of the universe or the Big Bang without first understanding the basic ideas of relativity. Though few people realize it, Einstein's famous equation E = mc2 is actually part of the theory of relativity, which means that relativity also explains how the sun shines and how nuclear power works.
A second reason everyone should know about relativity lies in the way it changes our perception of reality. Relativity tells us that our ordinary perceptions of time and space are not universally valid. Instead, space and time are intertwined as four-dimensional space-time. Read more...
A federal jury has convicted former Massy Energy CEO Don Blankenship for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at the Upper Big Branch mine, site of a 2010 explosion that killed 29 people. The misdemeanor charge carries a sentence of up to one year in prison. He was acquitted of two more serious charges involving securities fraud and making false statements.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
In West Virginia, a federal jury has convicted former Massy Energy CEO Don Blankenship of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws. The case concerned the Upper Big Branch mine. In 2010, an explosion there killed 29 miners. Convictions like this are rare among top coal executives. From West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Ashton Marra has more.
ASHTON MARRA, BYLINE:
Dozens of West Virginians gathered outside the Charleston courthouse awaiting the verdict - guilty on one misdemeanor charge, not guilty on two felony counts. Read more ...
In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, businessman and author Tony Schwartz offered an honest yet troubling account of what he calls his "addiction" to technology.
The medical and research fields have not yet come to a clear consensus on what constitutes technology "addiction" and which factors distinguish a true technology addiction disorder from problematic use or just bad habits. But the behavior Schwartz describes is remarkably familiar to those of us who are on our devices more than we know we ought to be. Read more...
Leaders of the scientific community, nudged by the media (including Nature), are acknowledging that a culture of science focused on rewarding eye-catching and positive findings may have resulted in major bodies of knowledge that cannot be reproduced.
Private-sector, academic and non-profit groups are leading multiple efforts to replicate selected published findings, and so far the results do not make happy reading. Several high-profile endeavours have been unable to reproduce the large majority of peer-reviewed studies that they examined. Meanwhile, the US National Academies is preparing to publish a high-profile report on scientific integrity that will flag irreproducibility as a key concern for the research enterprise. Read more...