Einstein Proved Right on Gravity—Again
Scientists have subjected Albert Einstein’s famous theory of gravity to its toughest real-world test so far—and it has prevailed.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity states that objects with mass cause a curvature in space-time, which we perceive as gravity. Space-time, according to Einstein’s theories of relativity, is a four-dimensional fabric woven together by space and time.
For example, a bowling ball causes a dent in a mattress, and that dent changes the otherwise straight motion of a nearby marble on the same mattress. Similarly, the mass of the sun distorts the space-time around it. A body with less mass, like the earth, travels along one path in that distorted space, which we call its orbit.
Scientists aren’t testing the general theory because they think it is wrong but rather because they are certain it can’t be the final explanation—just as Isaac Newton’s notion of gravitational force was superseded by Einstein’s explanation.
Einstein’s theory of gravity, published nearly a century ago, has passed every test it has been subjected to. Nonetheless, scientists have been trying to pin down precisely at what point Einstein’s theory of gravity breaks down, and where an alternative explanation will have to be devised. Einstein’s framework for his theory of gravity, for example, is incompatible with quantum theory, which explains how nature works at an atomic and subatomic level.