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Math Science

100th Anniversary of E=mc^2 37

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the relatively-fun-and-exciting dept.
Starker_Kull writes "E=mc^2 was published as part of Einstein's theory of Special Relativity 100 years ago today." From the article: "In 1905, it was final proof of the genius and imagination of a young German-born scientist who had yet to land a university post. It seems so simple: three letters standing for energy, mass, and the speed of light, brought together with the tightness of a soundbite."
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100th Anniversary of E=mc^2

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2005 @05:08PM (#14084960)
    You'd think they'd have improved on it by now. Something along the lines of E=mc^3, or something like that.
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <<shadow.wrought> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday November 21, 2005 @05:13PM (#14085009) Homepage Journal
    It only seems like a 100 years...
  • by Azmodie (533657) on Monday November 21, 2005 @05:14PM (#14085016) Homepage
    if i remember corectly E = MC^2 stands for Enrgy = More Chocolate squares
  • Since it hasn't been disproved it is timeless. Einstein would disagree.
  • by lbmouse (473316) on Monday November 21, 2005 @05:44PM (#14085262) Homepage
    The main reason 2005 was choosen [physorg.com]. Have you {{{hugged}}} your local physicists this year?
  • Tip of the iceberg (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday November 21, 2005 @05:48PM (#14085303)
    1905 was the most productive year for any physicist since Isaac Newton's golden year of 1666. In 1905 not only did Einstein publish on Special Relativity, but also on Brownian Motion (thus finally providing irrefutable evidence of atoms) and laying grounding for the field of statistical mechanics, and the photoelectric effect (claiming the idea of the photon) and laying much of the foundation of quantum mechanics.

    • but also on Brownian Motion (thus finally providing irrefutable evidence of atoms)

      I wouldn't exactly call it "irrefutable" for a number of reasons, least of all that any scientific theory has this requirement of being falsifiable. Remember back in 1905 atoms were still suspect -- but the world was ready to accept them and Einstein provided some compelling supporting evidence when he explained Brownian Motion. As for that evidence being "irrefutable" I simply cannot agree.

      • by PD (9577) *
        Evidence can be irrefutable, and that is what the original sentence said. The theory of atoms is a couple thousand years old, but Einstein merely gave that theory a boost which couldn't be explained any other way, hence the word "irrefutable" would apply.
  • It seems so simple: three letters standing for energy, mass, and the speed of light, brought together with the tightness of a soundbite.

    Converting energy into matter does not sound very simple to me. I'm not even sure I entirly understood it when I was studying it.
    • The process may not be easy but the results are.
    • Let me guess, it was a required course that loosley related to your major in a couple small areas but you had to pass the whole course for the credit. You're heart wasn't fully in it beyond what you could see would be immediately useful to your major. The rest you thought was filler and fluff. There's no shame in it. We've all had courses like that where we thought "Please let me pass out of this class so I can take the interesting class that this class is a prereq for."
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Monday November 21, 2005 @06:19PM (#14085550)
    Lately, Physics has gotten really boring. Don't believe me?


    The American Physical Society's Timeline of Physics in the 20th Century [aps.org]


    1990-2000s:

    1989 - 1992 "The cosmic background radiation is explored." (Never effect me)

    1990 "The Hubble Space Telescope becomes operational." (Never effect me)

    1998 - 2008 "The solar neutrino puzzle may be solved." (Never effect me)

    1998 - 2008 "Weather and climate predictions come of age." (Weather Forecasting?)

    1999 - 2009 "Simulation of Brain Functions in Real Time." (Neural Networks have been around since the 60's)

    2000 - 2010 "Gravitational waves open a new window on the universe." (Still just General Relativity?)

    2000 - 2010 "Photonics competes with electronics. (Just a prediction, hasn't actually happened yet)


    Compare this with the 1930s


    1938 - 1939 Atomic Nuclear fission is observed in uranium.

    1939 The first FM (frequency modulation) radio station is built.

    1939 The first helicopter designed for mass production flies.

    1936 Sound is recorded on Magnetic Tape


    So basically I want to know where is my flying car, d**mit!

    • by thermopile (571680) on Monday November 21, 2005 @06:45PM (#14085797) Homepage
      Your point is well taken, but I'm not sure I 100% agree. Look at some other developments in the very broad category of science:

      The internet. [while not specifically hard-core science, it is a radical development, with a lot of science behind it.]

      Hybrid cars. [nothing radical here, but an important marriage of existing technologies.]

      Fluorishing of cell phones & cell infrastructure.

      -----

      One last point: With the exception of the Trinity shot, when the first atomic bomb was dropped and *OMG it worked!*, the breakthroughs you listed from the 1930's weren't immediately adopted by society at the time. FM radio didn't take off, it still took about 20 years for nuclear fission to be adopted for any real peaceful purposes (Shippingport reactor in ... what, 1958?), and 8-tracks ... well, I won't go there. I contend that some of the lower-level things we read about on slashdot like carbon nanotubes being drawn into 6 inch lengths, or Ruby on Rails development, or the $100 laptop -- that we'll look back on THESE things twenty years from now and say, "Wow! What a period of expansion!"

      Just my $0.02. Your mileage may vary.

    • If we're lucky, we're going to have carbon nanotubes, a space elevator, and practical nuclear fusion within the next 20-30 years.

      These are more of a mixture of physics and engineering, but important nonetheless. Three of your four 1930s 'discoveries' have little to do with physics, and more to do with engineering already-discovered physical principles into practical end-products.

      The recent discoveries you mention have been purely physics-oriented. We've done a lot of cool stuff lately with stuff that was
    • "affect me", not "effect me". Things "affect" you. You can "effect" a change in something. But (generally), the terms are not interchangable.

      Whatever, I won't even bother w/ AC, feel free to flame me. As for your overall point... Well, yeah, as time goes by it gets tougher to get a Nobel prize in these fields, but I think developments of higher temperature superconductors, better understanding of laminar and turbulent flow, discoveries of "dark energy", etc. are neat things, and have happened in my lif
    • I think this true, but the things you mention as happening in the 1930's are really not the most interesting things, in my opinion. As someone else said, they aren't really pure physics achievements, except for Atomic Nuclear fission. What about Einstien discovering relativity, which altered our entire perception of space and time since Newton, and eventually culminated in the creation of the nuclear bomb, which came to define the entire second half of the 20th century. Or Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Bohr, and
    • Lots of theoretical advances have the potential to become practical advances in a few years. The underlying theory has to be powerful enough to support new applications before those applications will be developed.
  • by museumpeace (735109) on Monday November 21, 2005 @11:21PM (#14087671) Journal
    I see comments to the effect that much of the big breakthrough is behind us. But think of how the world looked to the nerds of 1905: There was "just a few little details" to be worked out about the atom, why for instance did it radiate and how. The universe was euclidian and straight lines, by god, were just straight. few doubted that you could, though it would be costly, know the exact position of everything and calculate the future positions. A nagging little absence of an aether, to wave for electromagnetic waves as water or air do for their waves. But mostly, we were pretty sure we had it all but figured out. Take heart nerds. We have ALWAYS percieved ourselves as being at that point on the great learning curve of omniscience and we probably always will...its a comfortable place to hang out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    three letters standing for energy, mass, and the speed of light, brought together with the tightness of a soundbite.

    Which is my problem with it. Everyone gushes and coos over E=mc^2, like it was the point of Special Relativity. Like if you understand E=mc^2, you understand relativity. It's not. It's a lemma. An "oh, by the way, since we have spent all this effort proving this other, main point, then, with only a trivial amount of extra work, we can prove this too."

    Even when you think about it, the big deal

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