What is spacetime? What is gravity?

Dennis LehmKuhl - Caltech
Event Date and Time: 
Wed, 2016-02-10 19:30 - 21:00
St. Johns' College - Fairmont Lounge / 2111 Lower Mall (UBC)
Local Contact: 
Swarn Rai - pitpoffice@phas.ubc.ca or 604-822-1383
Intended Audience: 

In 1908 Hermann Minkowski argued that Einstein's special relativity required something completely new, called "spacetime", of which space and time were only aspects. In 1912 Einstein finally accepted Minkowski's idea, and then went all out and founded his "General Theory of Relativity" on the concept of spacetime. In this theory, we are often told, gravity is not a force but just another aspect of spacetime structure. But what does that mean? I will argue that (i) contrary to folklore, Einstein actively opposed this idea, and thought instead that the main lesson of general relativity was that it unified gravity and inertia; and that (ii) even in 2016, this is the an attractive way to interpret general relativity.

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