March 20: Einstein Publishes General Relativity

This Day in History

On this day, March 20, 1916, Albert Einstein publishes one of the most influential and momentous theories of the 20th century: General Relativity. Not only was it significant in establishing the foundation for modern astrophysics, but the theory also earned him the Noble Peace Prize in Physics in 1921.

The premise for GR (General Relativity) was discovered when Einstein was working at a patent office and glanced out the window. Using his over-active imagination, he envisioned a man working on a roof next-door and wondered what might happen if the man fell off. He concluded that the unfortunate man would not feel his own weight as he was descending. 


Developing on Issac Newton’s Law of Gravity, Einstein concluded that instead of a gravitational pull, as Newton suggested, gravity is pushing objects in perpetual motion. In that case, space can be curved. The Earth circles around the Sun because the Sun has warped the space around the Earth and space is pushing Earth towards Sun. His theory influenced astrophysics to explain black holes, and other regions of space so dense with gravitational pull that light cannot escape. 

Miraculously, he had unlocked the key to the universe. Although simple in essence, the theory was the most profound discovery for gravity since Newton and propelled many other scientific advancements. Without Einstein, we might still be lost in space!

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