“How EINSTEIN Arrived at E=MC2“
Most people think Einstein was a genius. Even though he did poorly in school, it is generally assumed that Einstein became a genius later on. It’s also widely believed that he used superior intellect and complex mathematical reasoning to finally arrive at E=MC2.
The truth about Einstein is altogether different. Even though he was pretty smart, his accomplishments didn’t come from a wildly superior intellect. He didn’t arrive at his famous equation by complex mathematical reasoning. In fact, he didn’t use mathematical or scientific reasoning at all!
If Einstein didn’t arrive at E=MC2 by mathematical or scientific reasoning, how did he get there? The answer is very simple…
He made it up!
That’s right. He took a wild stab. He guessed. He made it all up! Without any proof, evidence, or scientific reasoning, he just woke up one day and said “It’s got to be so.” Then, in 1905, he published his “discovery” in a three-paged article in an obscure scientific journal and…well, the rest is history.
Here’s what really happened.
Einstein wasn’t as big a genius as most people think. He did have a curious mind, however, and he wasn’t afraid to think differently than other people around him believed.
Around the time Einstein became interested in physics (1895), electricity, magnetism, and the phenomenon of light were all under intensive study. A number of scientific theories and mathematical equations had already been worked out. There was even a type of relativity theory in existence, called the relativity principle, which had been formulated centuries earlier by the astronomer Galileo.
Most scientists at the time were completely satisfied with these prevailing theories. There were a few situations these theories couldn’t satisfactorily explain, but these exceptions were considered insignificant and no one really paid much attention to them.
No one, except Einstein, that is.
Einstein was intrigued by these “holes” in the prevailing theories. In fact, he enjoyed posing “mind riddles” to himself, just to see if present theories could satisfactorily explain them.
One such riddle he posed to himself was this: If a person was flying in space at the speed of light (ala Superman) with his/her arm fully outstretched holding a facial mirror, what would they “see” in the mirror? Would they see their face? Would it be bigger or smaller than if they were stationary? Would it be distorted in any way? Would light waves have time to bounce off their face, hit the mirror, and bounce back to their retina which was also moving at the speed of light? And what if an observer was watching all this from the ground. What would he or she see?
This was the riddle that eventually led Einstein to E=MC2. As you can see, it’s nothing exceptional. You or I could have easily wondered the same thing.
What made Einstein different, however, is that he refused to give up until he solved the riddle. He didn’t stay with this riddle for just a week or two, as you or I might have done. He didn’t give up after a month went by without an answer. He didn’t even quit after a year or two of racking his brain.
This story is dedicated my son, don’t ever give up finding the right answer. Common sense is sometimes the answer.
For the conclusion of this story go to this link Einstein