Ferdinand Schmutzer’s Restored photo of Albert Einstein in 1921.
Ferdinand Schmutzer’s Restored photo of Albert Einstein in 1921.

Cosmic Queries – Proving Einstein Right

Albert Einstein in 1921. Photo Credit: Ferdinand Schmutzer / Public domain
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About This Episode

Albert Einstein is, well, Albert Einstein. But, was he right? It seems like a silly question, but, in fact, there’s some history behind it. On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice are investigating what it took to prove Einstein right, with Dr. Jim Gates, theoretical physicist and Professor and Center Director of the Brown University Theoretical Physics Center. Jim is also the co-author of Proving Einstein Right: The Daring Expeditions that Changed How We Look at the Universe.

We start with some history. Jim tells us about Einstein’s discoveries about space and time in 1905. You’ll learn about the “happiest thought” of Einstein’s life. We discuss how he came to his theory of general relativity and theory of special relativity. You’ll also learn why, even though he first started working on the ideas in 1905, it took him over a decade to get them right. 

Find out what it takes to provide evidence for mathematical theories in the real world. We discuss Einstein’s exposure to the real world and how that informed his thought process. Jim explains why being a scientist involves swimming in a sea of information. We ponder if Einstein ever thought his theories were incorrect, and Jim tells us why math is magical. 

Then, we answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries! Is general relativity incompatible with quantum mechanics? If so, why? Is there a bigger idea that encompasses both ideas? We dive into String theory and how that might play into the equation. We investigate “gravitons” and how their existence would re-shape science. 

Are the strings in String theory made of something? We explore the cosmic microwave background and debate if a cosmic gravitational background could also exist. Lastly, you’ll hear why some stars in the night sky might be duplicated due to the bending of light. All that, plus, we answer the most important question of all – who has a better mustache? Neil deGrasse Tyson or Albert Einstein?

Thanks to our Patrons Beverly Bellows, Christopher Mank, Darrell R. Scott, Eric Burgess, Pike Persons, AK Llyr, Nicholas Belsten, and Samuel D Fairchild for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

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