A theory that describes how matter interacts dynamically with the geometry of space and time. It was first published by Einstein in 1915 and is currently used to study the structure and evolution of the universe, as well as having practical applications like GPS.

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How does gravity escape a black hole?

My understanding is that light can not escape from within a black hole (within the event horizon). I've also heard that information cannot propagate faster than the speed of light. It would seem to ...
93
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4answers
11k views

Did the Big Bang happen at a point?

TV documentaries invariably show the Big Bang as an exploding ball of fire expanding outwards. Did the Big Bang really explode outwards from a point like this? If not, what did happen?
83
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5answers
22k views

Why would spacetime curvature cause gravity?

It is fine to say that for an object flying past a massive object, the spacetime is curved by the massive object, and so the object flying past follows the curved path of the geodesic, so it "appears" ...
78
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10answers
13k views

If gravity isn't a force, then why do we learn in school that it is?

I have studied some of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, and I understand that it states that gravity isn't a force but rather the effects of objects curving space-time. If this is true, then ...
78
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11answers
13k views

If all motion is relative, how does light have a finite speed?

I've often heard that Einstein shattered the notion of absolute motion (i.e. all things move relative to one another) and that he established the speed of light as being absolute. That sounds ...
72
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5answers
8k views

Does someone falling into a black hole see the end of the universe?

This question was prompted by Can matter really fall through an event horizon?. Notoriously, if you calculate the Schwarzschild coordinate time for anything, matter or light, to reach the event ...
70
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6answers
4k views

Thought experiment - would you notice if you fell into a black hole?

I've heard many scientists, when giving interviews and the like, state that if one were falling into a black hole massive enough that the tidal forces at the event horizon weren't too extreme, that ...
63
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6answers
4k views

What is known about the topological structure of spacetime?

General relativity says that spacetime is a Lorentzian 4-manifold $M$ whose metric satisfies Einstein's field equations. I have two questions: What topological restrictions do Einstein's equations ...
56
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5answers
10k views

A list of inconveniences between quantum mechanics and (general) relativity?

It is well known that quantum mechanics and (general) relativity do not fit well. I am wondering whether it is possible to make a list of contradictions or problems between them? E.g. relativity ...
55
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8answers
5k views

Turbulent spacetime from Einstein equation?

It is well known that the fluid equations (Euler equation, Navier-Stokes, ...), being non-linear, may have highly turbulent solutions. Of course, these solutions are non-analytical. The laminar flow ...
43
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15answers
23k views

Getting started self-studying general relativity

What are some good books, videos, websites for getting started with general relativity? I would prefer mathematically rigorous sources.
43
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12answers
9k views

How can anything ever fall into a black hole as seen from an outside observer?

The event horizon of a black hole is where gravity is such that not even light can escape. This is also the point I understand that according to Einstein time dilation will be infinite for a ...
42
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8answers
4k views

In theory, could gravitational waves be used to make a “gravity laser”?

The sources I've read compare gravitational waves to electromagnetic waves. I'm curious to what extent this is. In theory, could gravity be harnessed in similar ways to how we've used electromagnetic ...
41
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6answers
4k views

Why do we still need to think of gravity as a force?

Firstly I think shades of this question have appeared elsewhere (like here, or here). Hopefully mine is a slightly different take on it. If I'm just being thick please correct me. We always hear ...
36
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5answers
7k views

Shine a beam of light horizontally, drop a stone from same height - would both hit the ground at the same time?

If a beam of light was shone horizontally, and simultaneously a stone was dropped from the same height, would they both hit the ground a the same time? Of course on Earth they would not, but let's ...
36
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10answers
24k views

How exactly does curved space-time describe the force of gravity?

I understand that people explain (in layman's terms at least) that the presence of mass "warps" space-time geometry, and this causes gravity. I have also of course heard the analogy of a blanket or ...
34
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3answers
4k views

Do two beams of light attract each other in general theory of relativity?

In general relativity, light is subject to gravitational pull. Does light generate gravitational pull, and do two beams of light attract each other?
34
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5answers
2k views

Why do we need coordinate-free descriptions?

I was reading a book on differential geometry in which it said that a problem early physicists such as Einstein faced was coordinates and they realized that physics does not obey man's coordinate ...
33
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6answers
20k views

Why does GPS depend on relativity?

I am reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and in it he mentions that without compensating for relativity, GPS devices would be out by miles. Why is this? (I am not sure which relativity ...
32
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4answers
14k views

How does faster than light travel violate causality?

Let's say I have two planets that are one hundred thousand lightyears away from each other. I and my immortal friend on the other planet want to communicate, with a strong laser and a tachyon ...
31
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4answers
4k views

Why does a flat universe imply an infinite universe?

This article claims that because the universe appears to be flat, it must be infinite. I've heard this idea mentioned in a few other places, but they never explain the reasoning at all.
31
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1answer
2k views

Is general relativity holonomic?

Is it meaningful to ask whether general relativity is holonomic or nonholonomic, and if so, which is it? If not, then does the question become meaningful if, rather than the full dynamics of the ...
30
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6answers
7k views

Total energy of the Universe

In popular science books and articles, I keep running into the claim that the total energy of the Universe is zero, "because the positive energy of matter is cancelled out by the negative energy of ...
29
votes
2answers
10k views

Layman's explanation and understanding of Einstein's field equations

Most of us have heard of Einstein's amazing equations which describe the universe around us, yet only some of us understand what the equations are actually saying. What are these equations ...
29
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8answers
25k views

What are the prerequisites to studying general relativity? [closed]

This question recently appeared on Slashdot: Slashdot posts a fair number of physics stories. Many of us, myself included, don't have the background to understand them. So I'd like to ask the ...
29
votes
3answers
5k views

Mathematically-oriented Treatment of General Relativity

Can someone suggest a textbook that treats general relativity from a rigorous mathematical perspective? Ideally, such a book would Prove all theorems used. Use modern "mathematical notation" as ...
29
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5answers
5k views

What if the universe is rotating as a whole?

Suppose in the milliseconds after the big bang the cosmic egg had aquired some large angular momentum. As it expanded, keeping the momentum constant (not external forces) the rate of rotation would ...
29
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3answers
1k views

The Pioneer anomaly finally explained?

Pioneer 10 & 11 are robotic space probes launched by the NASA in the early 1970's. After leaving our solar system, an unusual deceleration of both spacecrafts has been measured to be approximately ...
28
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4answers
3k views

Why do physicists trust black hole physics?

Based on popular accounts of modern physics and black holes (articles, video lectures), I have come to understand the following: Black holes are predicted by General Relativity, a classical theory ...
28
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3answers
3k views

Why is spacetime curved by mass but not charge?

It is written everywhere that gravity is curvature of spacetime caused by the mass of the objects or something to the same effect. This raises a question with me: why isn't spacetime curved due to ...
28
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4answers
6k views

What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
28
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2answers
2k views

Is there a limit as to how fast a black hole can grow?

Astronomers find ancient black hole 12 billion times the size of the Sun. According to the article above, we observe this supermassive black hole as it was 900 million years after the formation of ...
28
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5answers
8k views

How does gravitational lensing account for Einstein's Cross?

Einstein's Cross has been attributed to gravitational lensing. However, most examples of gravitational lensing are crescents known as Einstein's rings. I can easily understand the rings and crescents, ...
27
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4answers
2k views

Is topology of universe observable?

There is an idea that the geometry of physical space is not observable(i.e. it can't be fixed by mere observation). It was introduced by H. Poincare. In brief it says that we can formulate our ...
27
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2answers
332 views

experimental bounds on spacetime torsion

Did Gravity Probe B provide any bounds on Einstein-Cartan torsion? is a non-zero torsion value at odds with the results regarding frame-dragging and geodetic effects?
27
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3answers
8k views

Does a photon exert a gravitational pull?

I know a photon has zero rest mass, but it does have plenty of energy. Since energy and mass are equivalent does this mean that a photon (or more practically, a light beam) exerts a gravitational pull ...
26
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5answers
6k views

How is the classical twin paradox resolved?

I read a lot about the classical twin paradox recently. What confuses me is that some authors claim that it can be resolved within SRT, others say that you need GRT. Now, what is true (and why)?
26
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5answers
2k views

Could gravity be an emergent property of nature?

Sorry if this question is naive. It is just a curiosity that I have. Are there theoretical or experimental reasons why gravity should not be an emergent property of nature? Assume a standard model ...
25
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6answers
3k views

Can black holes form in a finite amount of time?

One thing I know about black holes is that an object gets closer to the event horizon, gravitation time dilation make it move more slower from an outside perspective, so that it looks like it take an ...
25
votes
1answer
2k views

How does classical GR concept of space-time emerge from string theory?

First, I'll state some background that lead me to the question. I was thinking about quantization of space-time on and off for a long time but I never really looked into it any deeper (mainly because ...
25
votes
1answer
655 views

Overcharging a black hole

Hubeny's 1998 paper got a lot of people interested in determining whether cosmic censorship can be violated by dropping too much charge onto a black hole. It suggested that you might be able to get a ...
24
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8answers
2k views

Is it foolish to distinguish between covariant and contravariant vectors?

A vector space is a set whose elements satisfy certain axioms. Now there are physical entities that satisfy these properties, which may not be arrows. A co-ordinate transformation is linear map from a ...
24
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7answers
6k views

Is it theoretically possible to shield gravitational fields or waves?

Electromagnetic waves can be shielded by a perfect conductor. What about gravitational fields or waves?
24
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6answers
3k views

Why are Killing fields relevant in physics?

I'm taking a course on General Relativity and the notes that I'm following define a Killing vector field $X$ as those verifying: $$\mathcal{L}_Xg~=~ 0.$$ They seem to be very important in physics ...
24
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5answers
3k views

Does a charged particle accelerating in a gravitational field radiate?

A charged particle undergoing an acceleration radiates photons. Let's consider a charge in a freely falling frame of reference. In such a frame, the local gravitational field is necessarily zero, ...
23
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5answers
5k views

Could gravity accelerate light? [duplicate]

Gravity causes anything with energy to accelerate toward the source. Black holes, for example, have such strong gravity that they pull in light and don't let any escape. But can acceleration still ...
23
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2answers
2k views

Are gravitational waves longitudinal or transverse?

Waves are generally classified as either transverse or longitudinal depending on the they way the propagated quantity is oriented with respect to the direction of propagation. Then what is a ...
23
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3answers
1k views

If I fall into an evaporating black hole, where do I end up?

This question has been bothering me for a while. I have a crude hypothesis... As I understand it, an observer falling into a black hole will cross the event horizon at some specific future (proper) ...
23
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3answers
2k views

Does black hole formation contradict the Pauli exclusion principle?

A star's collapse can be halted by the degeneracy pressure of electrons or neutrons due to the Pauli exclusion principle. In extreme relativistic conditions, a star will continue to collapse ...
23
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1answer
521 views

How does one correctly interpret the behavior of the heat capacity of a charged black hole?

Note: Although I have a provided an "answer" to the question, I did not resolve all the questions in this post satisfactorily. I invite anyone willing and able to provide a better answer, which I ...