Einstein: *waves* Hi there! No pictures plz. And I won’t be sticking my tongue out, kthanxbai.
The Universe: *mutters* Prima donna.
Einstein: I’ve figured out something. You might not like it.
Einstein’s co-worker: What is it this time, Albo?
Einstein: It’s your turn to fill the coffee machine. And I’ve broken physics.
Einstein’s co-worker: Oh fuck. Go on, I can see you’re bursting to tell me.
Einstein: Well. If light travels at the same speed no matter where you are, what speed you’re moving or whatever, and if Newton is right about there being no absolute space….well, there’s no absolute time either.
Einstein’s co-worker: You what? What does that actually mean, you abstruse bastard?
Einstein: It means there’s no master clock for the Universe. You can never tell *when* anything happens, never mind *where*. Oh, and stuff changes size and gets heavier when it goes really fast. Like the Enterprise going into warp.
Einstein’s co-worker: What’s the Enterprise? And what’s warp?
Einstein: *taps nose* Never you mind, eh?
The Universe: *wild applause* Oh, Albo, I could kiss you.
THIS, OF COURSE, GIVES US A FEW PROBLEMS. WE CAN NOW ONLY TALK ABOUT THE PAST IN TERMS OF THINGS WHICH WE CAN SEE. BECAUSE LIGHT TRAVELS AT A DEFINITE SPEED, THIS MEANS THAT THINGS WHICH ARE VERY FAR AWAY HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO.
Einstein: Ok, things are going to start getting weird now. Hold on tight, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle.
The Universe: *is a bit excited at all the attention*
Einstein: Imagine that the Sun just spontaneously goes out.
Einstein’s co-worker: Right…so it all goes very dark?
Einstein: Not right away, no. It would take 8 minutes for the last light from the Sun to get to us.
Einstein’s co-worker: And then it’d be brown trousers time, right, Albo?
Einstein’s co-worker: Sorry, what’s the point of this?
Einstein: I was getting to that. Basically, if nothing can go faster than light, then Newton’s gravity thing is totally fucked.
Einstein’s co-worker: It’s a good job the old boy is long dead, otherwise he’d have something to say about that.
Einstein: Anyway, I’ve invented this new kind of gravity. It basically says that space and time are all the same kind of thing, and that the Universe is like a 4-dimensional rubber sheet, and that all the stuff in the Universe is like weights stretching bits of it.
Einstein’s co-worker: *subtly looks for Albo’s dried frog pills* Riiiiiiight.
Einstein: So everything is trying to go along the shortest route between two points.
Einstein’s co-worker: Cos the Universe is inherently lazy, right?
The Universe: Stop talking about me like that, bitchez.
Einstein: Essentially, yes. Oh, and this means that big heavy stuff in space will bend light. And that time runs slower when you’re near heavy stuff.
Einstein’s co-worker: You’re crackers, Albo. How in the name of Rasputin are we going to test this?
Einstein: Well, we’re going to need a Solar eclipse, some clocks and some guys with big moustaches.
The Universe: I don’t think the moustaches are strictly necessary.
Einstein: I know, but this is serious science and you can’t do serious science without serious facial hair.
The Universe: Whatever. *goes to make more tea*
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