By Firk F.W.K.

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This is Einstein’s great equation that shows the equivalence of energy and mass. (Here, m is the “relativistic mass” equal to γm0). It is important to note that Einstein derived this fundamental relation using purely theoretical arguments, long before experiments were carried out to verify its universal validity. The heat that we receive from the Sun originates in the conversion of its mass into radiant energy. A stretched spring has more mass than an unstretched spring, and a charged car battery has more mass than an uncharged battery!

As an immediate consequence of the extended Principle of Equivalence, Einstein showed that a beam of light would be observed to be deflected from its straight path in a close encounter with a sufficiently massive object. The observers would, themselves, be far removed from the gravitational field of the massive object causing the deflection. Einstein’s original calculation of the deflection of light from a distant star, grazing the Sun, as observed here on the Earth, included only those changes in time intervals that he had predicted would occur in the near field of the Sun.

We have E PH = mPHI c2 = hf PH, or mPHI = EPH /c2 = hf PH /c2. By the Principle of Equivalence, inertial mass is equivalent to gravitational mass, therefore Einstein proposed that a beam of light (photons) should be deflected in a gravitational field, just as if it were a beam of particles. (It is worth noting that Newton considered light to consist of particles; he did not discuss the properties of his particles. In the early 1800’s, Soldner actually calculated the deflection of a beam of “light-particles” in the presence of a massive object!

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Age of Einstein (intro to relativity) by Firk F.W.K.


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