Einstein speaks

By Sean Carroll | October 9, 2005 5:23 pm

Einstein Yesterday I gave a talk at a Fermilab symposium celebrating the World Year of Physics. It was a great event, aimed mostly at local high-school students and the public more generally, although personally I learned alot from the other talks myself.

My own talk was an overview of special and general relativity; you can see the slides here (warning: large pdf file). Eventually I think all the talks will be in video on the symposium web page. I played an audio file featuring Einstein himself explaining the basics of that equation E = mc2 that we were talking about a while back. People were asking me where I stole it from, so here’s the answer: an Einstein exhibit at the American Institute of Physics website. Give it a click; it’s nice to hear the master himself talk about his formula, thick German accent and all.

  • spyder

    speaking of thick German accents, it strikes me that the new Einstein biography on PBS has him talking in English w/ a horribly think German Accent at a time in his life when he didn’t know English. While it makes sense to use english as a common langauge for communicating his life story and discoveries, the lack of historical propriety detracts from the real story. Is it so difficult for PBS to have encouraged the use of subtitles??

  • http://www.expando.org/ forrest

    I have been watching Sagan’s video Cosmos, and just like einstein or brian greene or mr. gleick, I see the verbal vessel of so many peoples’ fascinations exposed in his masterful lecturing. Its hard, especially in disadvantaged lives, to obtain uncompromised information as these smart folks words are repeated, permutated, and abused in the steps between their mouths and distant ears. I’ve been studying the world for 22 years and it wasn’t until this last one that I felt fairly caught up in understanding the world like the rest of you physicists (i’m not a physicist, but darnit i would be if i’d taken calculus, or then again I AM a phyicist, just not a very esteemed one). This is long after departing the realm of knowledge possessed by the modern international public.

    Are these massive bandwidths of communication (video, audio, digital this and that) widening the divide between intellectual haves and have nots, or closing it?

  • Nicholas

    Very cool slides Professor-While I am a physics major, I always greatly enjoy the masterful expainations you are able to provide on these subjects.

    Also fun to hear Dr. Einstein speak.


  • http://sifter.org/~aglisi/Physics/CV.html Garrett

    Hey Sean, have you seen this recent paper?

    “General Relativity Resolves Galactic Rotation Without Exotic Dark Matter”

    I looked through it quickly and it looks good. But I just have a hard time believing no one would have tried this approach before now.

  • hack

    I demand a quick summary judgment of the new paper from Canada referenced by Garrett.

  • hack


    Apparently the paper has already been long discredited. Unbeknownst to Slashdot.

  • http://sifter.org/~aglisi/Physics/CV.html Garrett

    Ah, so apparently the title should have been:

    Completely Dark Matter-less Galactic Rotation
    (may contain some dark matter)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    We did talk a little about this before. The basic point is that the outer regions of galaxies are a place were gravity is extremely weak, and we have absolutely every reason to believe that linear perturbation theory (and thus the Newtonian limit) works perfectly well. You would have to have an extremely compelling argument to convince anyone that it was worth looking into the possibility that this approximation was breaking down, and Cooperstock and Tieu don’t have such an argument.

  • Pingback: The world is not magic | Cosmic Variance()

  • http://sifter.org/~aglisi/Physics/CV.html Garrett

    Heh, at least it was wrong.

  • http://www.cleavelin.net/ Karen

    Too Kool:

    I especially like the link to the audio of Einstein speaking on his E=mc2 equation.

    The David Bodanis book of the same name (E=mc2) is also a very easy read on the explanation of the development of each part of the equation for us non-scientists [with a lot of the history too]- but I assume you have a lot of knowledge already on this subject.

    I found a link to quotes by Einstein, but as I’m not certain they are all legit…hard to say how good it is – but you might want to take a look for your self sometime and might see something there you can use.




  • http://zero37.blogsome.com Zero37

    Speaking of Einstein as ‘the master,’ I wonder what this site’s adherents think regarding a pub discussion that I’m constantly having with people:

    Is Einstein comperable to anyone else in the field? I have a great deal of respect for Professors Hawking, Feynman and Heidelberg, but I’ve long said that you can’t even dig back to Newton and find anyone of the same caliber. This just because Special Relativity was so far ahead of its time. He’s like what Fermat would have been if he had actually discovered the recent proof of Fermat’s last theorem.

    Then again, some people say that Einstein looks like he took the biggest leap simply because he falls at the exact juncture where phyics goes from being understandable-to-the-educated-layperson to not-understandable-by-anyone.


  • citrine


    I think that it is because he brought into Physics an entirely new worldview (or two?). This is dramatically evident in SR and GR but he also paved the way for QM (in spite of all his reservations about non-determinism).


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Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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