Math in the Physical Sciences

Modern Physics and Mathematics

How did Albert Einstein use mathematics?

German-born American theoretical physicist Albert Einstein (1879–1955) is recognized as one of the greatest physicists of all time, but he was also a notable mathematician. In 1905 he developed the special theory of relativity, mathematically demonstrating that two observers moving at great speeds with respect to one another will experience different time intervals and measure lengths differently, that the speed of light is the “speed limit” for all objects having mass, and that mass and energy are equivalent.

By around 1915, Einstein completed a mathematical formulation of a general theory of relativity, this time adding gravitational effects to determine curvature of a time-space continuum. He further tried to discover a unified field theory, which would combine gravity, electromagnetism, and subatomic phenomena under one set of rules, but he, and no one since, has ever found such a theory. (For more about Albert Einstein, see “History of Mathematics”)


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