Celebrating Einstein’s special anniversary

By Costa Maragos Posted: July 10, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Dinesh Singh, research assistant with the Department of Physics, is joining hundreds of physicists from around the world to present research on Einstein’s theory.
Dr. Dinesh Singh, research assistant with the Department of Physics, is joining hundreds of physicists from around the world to present research on Einstein’s theory. (Photo courtesy of Rae Graham - U of R Photography)

Physicists from around the world are coming together to celebrate one of the greatest of scientific achievements, Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, first presented to the public in November 1915.

The 14th Marcel Grossmann Meeting, an international conference showcasing advances in gravitation and cosmology research, takes place in Rome, July 12 to 18, 2015.

Among the physicists who will attend this historic conference is the U of R’s Dr. Dinesh Singh, a research assistant with the Department of Physics.

“The fact that this conference is this year makes it extra special for me, in that I’m sharing the historical experience of celebrating 100 years of arguably the most remarkable intellectual achievement in the discovery of modern gravitation theory,” says Dr. Singh, who is presenting two papers at the conference.

The Marcel Grossmann Meeting is held once every three years. Grossmann was a mathematician and a friend of Einstein.

"General relativity describes gravitation as the warping of space-time due to matter, and is responsible for correctly explaining the motion of all the planets in the Solar System while also successfully predicting the deflection of starlight by the Sun that was not previously observed,” says Dr. Singh.  “It is also responsible for justifying our belief in black holes and Big Bang cosmology.”

“On a very practical level, the technology of the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) would not work if we didn’t take into proper account the predictions of general relativity to ensure its reliability.”

Einstein’s theory has entered into popular culture, inspiring TV and movie script writers to explore the possibility of travel to distant stars via wormholes, as shown in the recent movie Interstellar.There’s the widespread popularity of TV characters like Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory.”

This year’s conference has attracted big names of the physics world, including Nobel Laureate Gerard ’t Hooft and  Astronomer Royal and House of Lords member Martin Rees. In addition, Stephen Hawking is part of the international organizing committee of the conference.

“I think it's very important for the public to understand that, while these people are "giants in the field," they are also human beings who are relatable to other members of the public on many levels outside of physics,” says Dr. Singh. “I've been privileged to have meaningful conversations with people of that calibre and be treated like a valued colleague amongst them

This will be the fifth Marcel Grossman Meeting that Dr. Singh will  attend.