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Relativity, general and special relativity for kids

In 1905, Albert Einstein put forward his special theory of relativity. It concerns, among other things, the effect of motion on time, length, and mass. For instance the theory predicts that in a space-ship hurtling across the Universe at nearly the speed of light, time would pass more slowly, the ship's length would become smaller, and its mass would become larger than on a similar space-ship stationary on Earth.

General and special relativity for kids: Albert Einstein

General and special relativity for kids: Albert Einstein

The effects are due to the relative motion of the space-ship and the Earth. If you are traveling along in a car at 40 miles an hour and you are overtaken by a car traveling at 60 miles an hour, the second car appears to pull-away from you at 20 miles an hour. Its true speed, relative to the ground, is 60 miles an hour, but its speed relative to you is 20 miles an hour.

Another important result of the special theory is the famous equation E=mc2, which shows the equivalence of energy and mass. For instance, it predicted the tremendous amounts of energy released in atomic and hydrogen bombs. In 1915, Einstein put forward the general theory of relativity which deals mainly with gravity and acceleration.

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