Difference Between General Relativity and Special Relativity

The theory of relativity may sound a bit confusing and complicated, but it is easier than most physics students think. Theory of relativity is said to be one of the most revolutionary change in the field of physics and its importance is still as fresh as it was postulated by Albert Einstein.

There are two types of Relativity—General and Special Relativity. Both General and Special Relativity have a lot in common, but they differ in some aspects. One of the major differences between the two types is that Special Relativity treats space and time the same way, contending that both things cannot be separated and are the same concepts. Special Relativity theory says that time and space are intertwined. On the other hand, General Relativity theory treats gravity as a curvature in space and time. It says that the curvature is actually caused by matter. The argument presented in General Theory also points to the curvature of the earth.

Despite all the seemingly intimidating jargons and formulas, theory of relativity applies to every-day life and just about everyone experiences it.


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    General Relativity

    General relativity, which also goes by the name of general theory of relativity, is the theory of gravitation created by Albert Einstein in 1916. General Relativity is said to be the current description of gravitation in today’s world physics.

    To put another way, the general theory of relativity describes the interaction between matter (including fields) on the one hand and space and time on the other. The theory treats gravity as a geometric property of the curved four-dimensional space-time. German-born Albert Einstein unveiled the theory at his lecture at Prussian Academy of Sciences in 1915. To describe the curved space and time, Einstein used the differential geometry, and he went ahead with his theory quite successfully.

    The general theory of relativity extends the special theory of relativity and is a sufficiently small region of space-time into this. Moreover, the theory can also be used as an extension of the Newtonian law of gravitation because of the limiting case of sufficiently small mass densities and speeds delivered through it.

    - Image courtesy: physicsoftheuniverse.com

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    Special Relativity

    The special theory of relativity is a physical theory about the movement of bodies and fields in space and time. According to the principle of special relativity, there are not only the laws of mechanics, but also all the laws of physics present in all inertial frames of the same shape. One of the basic principal that the Special Relativity theory has is that there is no absolute space and absolute time.

    - Image courtesy: ion.uwinnipeg.ca

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