Exhibit on relativity on display at Fermilab through September

Fermilab scientist Erik Ramberg and the Fermilab Archives present a new exhibit, “The Response to Relativity,” as part of their series on the history of physics in print. The exhibit can be viewed in the glass display case in the Fermilab Art Gallery through the end of September. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is located on the second floor of Fermilab’s main office building, Wilson Hall.

The exhibit showcases pieces on special and general relativity: publications in English and German by Albert Einstein, other scientific publications, reproductions of newspaper articles that show the public reaction to the discovery, and a book on relativity intended for a general audience.

1905 was a “Wunderjahr” (miracle year) for Albert Einstein. He published groundbreaking work on his discovery of special relativity and on his famous equation: E= mc2 (a system’s energy is equal to its mass times the square of the speed of light). A copy of “Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig?” (“Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon its Energy Content?”) is on display, along with copies of Über die spezielle und die allgemeine Relativitätstheorie, translated into English as Relativity: The Special and the General Theory.

Headlines displayed from The New York Times and a diagram from The Illustrated London News published later in 1919 demonstrate how the public started to show an interest in Einstein’s theory. In later years, many books explaining general relativity for general audiences would be published, further fixing Einstein’s theory in popular consciousness. The example on display shows pages from Relativity for the Million illustrating some of his theory’s predictions.

This exhibit was designed by Valerie Higgins, Karin Kemp and Erik Ramberg. Exhibited items are from Erik Ramberg’s collection.

Learn about the reaction from the public in the early 20th century to the discovery of relativity. Come to Fermilab’s latest science history exhibit, located on Wilson Hall’s second-floor art gallery. Photo: Valerie Higgins