The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library have been sponsoring a series of talks on Einstein. Tucker and I were at the first three, but he had a conflict today and I was there alone. Alone with a completely packed room! Dr. Henry Greenside does a fantastic job of making Einsteinian concepts approachable and understandable to the layman and his listeners obviously appreciate his work.

Greenside a nice set of notes and links to the talks and further readings on his Duke website.

Einstein’s most spectacular achievement as a scientist was his 1915 general theory of relativity, which explained gravity as a geometric bending of spacetime by matter.

Dr. Henry Greenside, Professor of Physics at Duke University, will present a non-technical overview of Einstein’s theory and then explain some of its amazing implications, including the bending of light by gravity, how strong gravitational fields cause time to slow down, the properties of black holes that form when massive stars die, and how space itself can expand and contract. Dr. Greenside will desribe how general relativity is being used by scientists to understand many mysterious astronomical observations — monstrous black holes at the center of each galaxy, an ever-expanding universe, and the mysterious “dark matter” of which the universe consists.

Finally, Dr. Greenside will describe the major crisis with which physics is currently faced: our two greatest physical theories — general relativity and quantum mechanics — conflict with one another. The resolution of this crisis is likely to lead to spectacular and unprecedented insights.