“EINSTEIN’S UNIVERSE— Celebrating Albert Einstein


Celebrating Albert Einstein

Amos Lassen

“Einstein’s Universe” is a documentary from 1979 that celebrates the centenary of the birth of Albert Einstein and is narrated and hosted by Peter Ustinov and written by Nigel Calder, the author of the accompanying book of the same title. Set at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory,  a staff of renowned scientists and physicists take us through a hands-on experience of the various facets of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Peter Ustinov leads a discussion of the Theory of Relativity with luminaries such as John Archibald Wheeler, Irwin Shapiro, and Roger Penrose. In it, we see  numerous thought experiments of the type Einstein thought up.

The filmhas been re-mastered and digitally enhanced and we become thoroughly enlightened on the great physicist’s theories, especially General Relativity, by a renowned team of scientists including Dennis Sciama, Roger Penrose, John Wheeler, Wallace Sergeant, Irwin Shapiro, Sidney Drell, and Ken Brecher.

The experiments we see help us understand gravity, warped space, how light responds to gravity, the “Doppler effect” and how radio waves, as used in police radar, are an unbeatable way of measuring speed. From these simpler experiments, larger concepts are drawn, such as the discovery of a Binary Pulsar, the nature of black holes and how they are created, and the ultimate theory of how the universe was formed. Other demonstrations measure the speed of light, how time passes more slowly for people traveling in an airplane, the incredible accuracy of the Atomic Clock in Washington, DC and how time itself would appear to stop at the surface of a black hole. We see Einstein as a great humanitarian who although known as the “father of the Atomic Bomb”, had great concern for the potentially devastating effects splitting the atom could have on the future of mankind. His famous letter to President Franklin Roosevelt warned that although the splitting of the atom to detonate an atomic bomb could be used to end World War II, it could also potentially be used for far more deadly ends.

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