For decades now, Einstein’s theories have consistently held up under scrutiny. The first observation that supported relativity occurred in 1919, when Sir Arthur Eddington noted a certain amount of light deflection — predicted by the theory — during a solar eclipse. Since then, other observations and experiments have fallen in line with this result and bolstered Einstein’s theories. But some aspects of his theories remained untested, until just recently. National Geographic reports that a special gravity probe sent up by NASA has, in fact, provided additional confirmation (WebCite cached article):
Two key predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity have been confirmed by NASA’s Gravity Probe B mission, scientists announced this week.
“We’ve completed this landmark experiment testing Einstein’s universe, and Einstein survives,” principal investigator Francis Everitt, of Stanford University in California, said during a press briefing.
I’ll leave the scientific details of this to the article itself. What’s remarkable about this is that Einstein himself had presumed these particular aspects of his theories (i.e. the geodetic effect and frame-dragging) might never be testable, since they involved such minuscule measurements:
In his 1953 book The Meaning of Relativity, Einstein wrote that frame-dragging effects “are actually present according to our theory, although their magnitude is so small that confirmation of them by laboratory experiments is not to be thought of.”
Congratulations are in order for the brilliant minds of NASA, for coming up with ways to measure the immeasurable.
I have to wonder what the hyperreligious nutjobs at Conservapedia will make of this confirmation. They have, you see, a problem with Einstein’s relativity. They conflate it with “moral relativity” — which, really, is totally unrelated — and scream and rail against it. Rational Wiki provides details of their juvenile antics and relativity-denialism, if you care to know more about it.
Just goes to show the colossal lengths of irrationality people will go to, in order to hold onto their metaphysics. Even in the face of objective, verifiable facts to the contrary. It really is childish … but it seems to be human nature.
Photo credit: NASA via National Geographic.Tags: albert einstein, conservapedia, einstein, frame-dragging, geodetic effect, gravity probe b, nasa, relativity, science