An Einstein Legend

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Legend has it that an apple falling from a tree and then subsequently hitting Isaac Newton on the head is said to have provided Newton the idea of the gravitational force. This is a well-known and often told legend in physics.

There is a lesser-known legend that explains Einstein’s discovery of his theory of the gravitational field. One day, while walking on the street, Einstein witnessed a construction worker fall from the roof and landed on a pile of straw without sustaining any injury. Einstein questioned him if on the way down he had felt the tug of the “force” of gravity. When he was told that no force had tugged, Einstein realized that “gravitation” can be replaced by an acceleration of the observer’s reference system.

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9 thoughts on “An Einstein Legend

    1. For it to be explained properly, a lot of physics jargons and formulas have to be employed, as this is encompassed by the general theory of relativity. To make it simpler, “acceleration of the observers reference point” is a simplified wording for “non-inertial reference frame”. In Einstein’s theory, objects in “free fall” is considered an inertial motion and hence, do not accelerate in a downward motion (so no acceleration). For “inertial reference frame”, it follows Newton’s first law which asserts that objects in free-fall move at a constant velocity at a straight line. However, in Einstein’s model, objects move in a curved spacetime (geodesic), the world line of an intertial particle is partially straight.

      So, free-fall doesn’t have any acceleration. This is the reason the worker didn’t feel any “force” while falling since there’s none. It’s like a feeling of weightlessness instead.

      Note that Newton’s and Einstein’s theories are vastly different from each others and this is one of the most prominent ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I always have this visual of the “apple” falling towards the ground & getting tripped up into a “loop” before reaching it’s destination & in turn…forever seeking of it’s destination, continues the loop till released/reached(?)

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