相对论一百年

斯托克霍姆—今年是爱因斯坦广义相对论诞生一百周年。这个伟大理论把引力描述为空间和时间的弯曲。但是,科学界总是发现,爱因斯坦的洞见给物理学家带来的问题与答案一样多。

寻找符合爱因斯坦方程的解——描述宇宙曲率的时空——十分困难,因此他的理论进展缓慢。进行早期研究和第一批决定性测试的科学家不得不使用逼近技术。科学界花了几十年时间才发展出归类和推导新解的技术。但是,如今我们已经知道了许多解,其他棘手问题,如两颗碰撞恒星的引力场问题,可以用计算机求得数值解来探索。

爱因斯坦的理论不但描述了从我们的宇宙——从大爆炸到黑洞;它也教会了物理学家几何与对称的重要性——从粒子物理到晶体学都获益良多。但是,尽管爱因斯坦的理论与其他物理学理论有诸多相似之处,但它与解释原子和次原子级别物质的主要行为的量子力学格格不入。

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