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Current Applications of the Theory of Relativity?

  1. Dec 5, 2008 #1
    Einstein's theory of relativity (special and general) changed dramatically physics at his time, and is still has not lost ground. But concerning it's practical sides, what are it's applications, or consequenses in today's "everyday life"?

    Of those I have found, fission and fusion (I believe the the proper term in english would be "the equivalency of mass") seem to be the most important; followed by the more exact way of orientating oneself in the univers by taking the deviation of light, due to the curving of space; and the fact that GPSs becomes much more accurate if the relativist effects are taken into consideration.

    Would there be anything else, more or less important, that I have overlooked?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2008 #2
  4. Dec 5, 2008 #3


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    Some of the best examples of the application of SR comes right out of the electronics that you are using. Relativistic correction to many band structure calculations of materials, including semiconductors[1,2], is one reason we understand about these important material so very well.


    [1] F. Herman et al. PRL v.11, p.541 (1963).
    [2] G. M. Fehrenbach and G. Schmidt, Phys. Rev. B v.55, p.6666 (1997).
  5. Dec 5, 2008 #4


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    GPS units have to take into account both speed and reduced gravitational pull on satellites to adjust the times involved.
  6. Dec 5, 2008 #5
    Try Wikipeda...

    they have a good list of applications, especially cosmological ones not mentioned here yet...
    note especially singularities and horizons....via these and related findings, we can tell the 3 possible shapes of the universe, how the universe may have started (bang singularity) and observable distances of the entire universe!!
  7. Dec 5, 2008 #6

    Jonathan Scott

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    Please don't encourage the common misapprehension that time dilation has anything to do with the strength of the gravitational field! It only depends on the relative gravitational potential. It would be more accurate to say "higher gravitational potential of satellites" rather than "reduced gravitational pull on satellites".
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  8. Dec 5, 2008 #7
    :confused: and the field isn't the gradient of the potential?
  9. Dec 5, 2008 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    Jonathan is correct. Saying that time dilation is related to the gravitational field (because the field is the gradient of the potential) is like saying that force is related to velocity (because the derivative of velocity is acceleration).
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