The General Theory of Relativity was first presented by Albert Einstein on November 25, 1915, according to Smithsonian Magazine. On that date he stood before a group of scientists in Berlin at the Prussian Academy of Sciences and stated that he had a new theory that was complete and that it would give the world a “new and deeper” understanding of the nature of gravity. General relativity was a follow-up to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity that was published in 1905. This detailed how one of the fundamental laws of the universe is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Sir Isaac Newton’s theories predict that if one were able to take the Sun and shake it, “like some cosmic maraca,” that the planets of the solar system would instantly shake along in sympathy, pulled by the Sun’s gravity. The Smithsonian Magazine reports that “Einstein would have none of it.” Armed with his knowledge that nothing could outrun light from his work with special relativity, Newton’s prediction that gravity could outrun light bothered Einstein to no end. Newton reportedly asserted that he understood that his theory was incomplete; the mystery was there for anyone to tackle for over 200 years. Einstein was the first to refuse to let it remain unsolved. He is said to have taken up the investigation into the workings of gravity “in earnest” in 1907. By 1912, Einstein reportedly had a grasp of the fact that because the Sun and the Earth exert a gravitational force on each other, despite the fact they they are not touching, meant that the nature of space was deeply intertwined with the nature of matter and gravity. 

Albert Einstein’s general relativity manuscript on display in 2010 at the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities. [Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images]

Einstein’s answer was to build a model of space that became warped by matter. The more massive the matter, the more influence it exerted on space. This could be measured not only by the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies, but by observing light from distant stars curve around the sun, visible only during solar eclipses. The fact that matter influences not only the path traveled by other matter, but also the path traveled by light, was a revolutionary concept. In an experiment conceived by Sir Frank Watson Dyson in 1917, Sir Arthur Eddington traveled to Príncipe, located in the Gulf of Guinea, near Africa, to observe a solar eclipse. Another group was set to Sobral, Brazil in case the group in Principe experienced poor viewing conditions. During a six-minute eclipse on May 29, 1919 both locations experienced clear weather and photographs were taken. When Eddington delivered the photographs to England for study, the data confirmed Einstein’s general relativity predictions, reports Wired. Einstein reported that his theory had been confirmed with empirical evidence on November 6, 1919. His name was not widely known before this date, yet his accomplishment was said to have been front page news the next day and to have turned Albert Einstein into a “celebrity overnight.”


The month leading up to Einstein’s November 25, 1915 announcement was filled with tension. Sometime earlier in 1915, Einstein had shared his work with with an industrious German mathematician named David Hilbert. There were fine details concerning the math involved with general relativity that caused problems for Einstein. The two were reported to have exchanged postcards, remaining cordial, but not hiding the rivalry that existed between them. On November 13, Hilbert was reported to have invited Einstein to a Göttingen, Germany, presentation on November 16 where he would explain the “solution to” Einstein’s “great problem.” Einstein replied to Hilbert that he would not be able to attend because he had stomach pains. Then, on November 18, Einstein was said to have received the completed manuscript from Hilbert and to have replied, “The system you furnish agrees — as far as I can see — exactly with what I found in the last few weeks and have presented to the Academy.” Then, on November 25, Einstein revealed the formulas behind the General Theory of Relativity to the amazement of the scientific community at the Prussian Academy of Sciences. The manuscript that Hilbert sent to Einstein wasn’t published until months later. The question of whether the manuscript Hilbert sent to Einstein actually contained the correct formulas, or if he was “inspired” by Einstein’s announcement on November 25 and changed its contents, has been the subject of debate. Further fueling the mystery is that the important sections of Hilbert’s original manuscript, which would have given insight into this mystery, have reportedly been “snipped away.” Hilbert was reported to have ceded credit for the General Theory of Relativity to Einstein and to be given his due with a form of the equations for which both he and Einstein are cited.

I fear the day when I stop learning something new every day  Image
Einstein is very inspiring to me
Thanks for this Richard
I too fear the day of not learning and growing...why, I think it would be what death is weather alive or not.
Had heard about that day, must have been too busy to acknowledge the event.

The theory got us to the moon and back and to deep space (but not back yet).

Recent science has, depending on your point of view, disproved or improved the theory :) . We now have the knowledge to exceed the limitations imposed 100 years ago. Just need to put it into practice :wink: . Soon.
"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots."

It's certainly a generation of idiots that's begun attributing to famous people things they never uttered, nor wrote. It's become a popular online hobby - invent a quote and photoshop it onto someone's mouth. But it's really goofy. As well as annoying, because it represents historical revisionism, which the world can do without. I've seen many examples. They've all made me sigh.

In 2010, Princeton University Press published a big collection of Einstein quotations, called “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein”. Your supposed quote is nowhere in there. Nor does it even sound like Albert Einstein. It sounds like mental flatulence recently released by someone who prefers noise to signal. Many people do. Sad.

It's actually an insult to Einstein (or anyone) to attribute a false quote to them. The man said enough profoundly interesting things, for real, without making up some.

Here's something interesting that comes directly from Einstein's work. The newest atomic clocks are so accurate that they would gain or lose a second in about 3.7 billion years, which is about as long as life has existed on this planet. Two such hyper-accurate clocks were constructed. One was raised a foot above the other. That was enough to see that it ran slightly faster than the other one. The difference in how fast they ticked was caused by the very slight difference in gravity. Time is not a set thing. It's relative, to both gravity and velocity. (Similarly, if a spaceship was moving very fast, its onboard clock would run slower than clocks on earth.)

Einstein predicted the effect of gravity on time a century ago. The greater the gravity, the slower time runs. Move away from the earth, even a little bit, time speeds up. Atomic clocks have advanced to the point where it's become easy to know he was right.