(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley.com)
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A listing and access link to all:
song lyrics and mp3 audio files http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/ (all of which are a part of this Web site) can be accessed simply by selecting the "htm" file for the song you want;
quotations http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/quotations.htm; and
essays written by Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/articles_larry_blakeley.htm,
all of which are used to tell the story in this Web site, can be accessed by going to each respective link set out above.
My son, Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/larryblakeley_photos_jpeg.htm manages this Web site.
Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)
When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play
No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye
- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins
MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm
For a larger image click on the photograph.
If you think it's sometimes hard to understand how a teenager's mind works, have some sympathy for Albert Einstein's mother. When he was just a teenager, Einstein was pondering what a light wave would look like if he could observe it while moving at light speed.
That's just the sort of gee-whiz anecdote that can distance normal people from Einstein's achievements (and from physics in general). But what Einstein did 100 years ago this year is neither irrelevant to everyday life nor merely arcane scientific lore. Without the revolutionary papers he wrote in 1905, we would barely recognize the world around us. Where would we be without him?
"We would be in a glorified 19th century," said Joao Magueijo, author of "Faster Than the Speed of Light" and a theoretical physicist at the Blackett Laboratory http://www.imperial.ac.uk/research/theory/index.htm in London's Imperial College. "I mean it in terms of everyday life. His work affected the foundations of physics but also technology, and by extension history, society and culture."
How could one man have such an effect? Einstein left school at 15 without an impressive record, trained in Zurich, Switzerland, as a teacher in physics and mathematics, and took a job as a clerk in a patent office. But at work and in his spare time, he formalized his adolescent thoughts into a paper called, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies." http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www It was June 1905, the year that Einstein changed physics, and the way we regard the universe, forever.
Einstein had already rocked the physics world that year, in March. He would do so again a couple of months later. To commemorate the centenary of this "annus mirabilis," and to mark the 50 years since Einstein's death, 2005 has been designated World Year of Physics http://www.physics2005.org/. (In the United Kingdom and Ireland it's called Einstein Year. http://www.einsteinyear.org/)
In those remarkable papers, the 26-year-old Einstein produced the most radical and far-reaching research ever seen, at least since Isaac Newton http://www.newton.cam.ac.uk/newtlife.html in the 17th century. First up, Einstein showed that light behaves as a particle as well as a wave. He considered this to be the most revolutionary of his ideas, and in 1921 he won a Nobel Prize http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1921/index.html for it. It was this theory of light that went on to inspire quantum mechanics.
Second, Einstein produced special relativity. Newton said, "Time exists in and of itself and flows equably without reference to anything external," and made similar statements about space, but Einstein showed that measurements about time and space are not absolute, they are relative.
The concept remains notoriously difficult to understand, so much so that the tire company Pirelli is running a competition http://www.pirelliaward.com/einstein.html to find the best explanation. The prize is 25,000 euros.
Finally, there was Brownian motion http://www.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~suchii/einsteinBM.html - the then-unexplained behavior of particles. This paper explained the existence of atoms and molecules, something we take for granted now.
Special relativity in 1905 led Einstein to general relativity in 1915. "General relativity remains our best theory of gravity to date," said Fay Dowker, a physicist also at Imperial College, London. "According to general relativity, space and time are not separate concepts but are woven together into a single entity: spacetime," said Dowker. "The phenomenon that we experience as the force of gravity is a manifestation of the fact that spacetime is warped and bent by the matter in it."
General relativity led Einstein to the most famous scientific equation in the world (perhaps the only famous scientific equation in the world): E=mc . With it, Einstein showed that mass can be converted into an immense amount of energy. Historically, that led to the end of World War II in the Pacific, when atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/peacesite/English/Stage1/S1-4E.html and Nagasaki http://www1.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.jp/na-bomb/museum/m1-1e.html.
The equation, incidentally, is the subject of a track by London hip-hop artist MC Vader http://www.vadercrewkiller.com/: "Einstein (not enough time)" http://www.einsteinyear.org/about/media/experiment/einsteinnotenoughtime.mp3 (.mp3).
But what else is the result of Einstein's work? Here's Steven Weinberg http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~weintech/weinberg.html, professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin and himself a physics Nobel laureate http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1979/weinberg-autobio.html:
"Without Einstein's theory of the photon, we would have no lasers. Without Einstein's general theory of relativity, we would have no way of understanding the evolution of the early universe. Worst of all would be to be without Einstein's special theory of relativity; we would have no understanding of elementary particles and the atomic nucleus."
We would have no computers without quantum theory http://rugth30.phys.rug.nl/quantummechanics, and airplanes would fly off-course if global positioning systems failed to make adjustments due to general relativity. Computers, travel and communication as we know it would not exist. These things are consequences of Einstein's work, but he was interested in the bigger questions. Specifically, the biggest question of all.
"I want to know how God created this world," Einstein famously remarked. "I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details."
In this, at least, Einstein cannot be said to have succeeded.
"To a large degree he created more problems than he solved," said Magueijo. "It's the mark of a great scientist. He started modern cosmology, but we still don't know where the universe came from. He explained gravity and the quantum, but never told us how to put them together."
Putting them together was one of Einstein's dreams and, going unfulfilled, is something his intellectual descendants have been attempting ever since. String theory http://superstringtheory.com/basics/basic4.html is one of the leading contenders to unify the interactions, yet without Einstein's 100-year-old papers, science might have progressed in an entirely different direction.
"I think that without Einstein we would still by now have discovered all these theories," said Weinberg, "because unlike artistic creations or religious myths, they are what they are because that is the way the world is."
Einstein accelerated our understanding of the universe, but we would have gotten there in the end. He himself recognized that this is how science works. When Edwin Hubble http://www.edwinhubble.com/ showed proof that the universe was expanding, for example, Einstein admitted he was wrong.
In his later years, Einstein said: "One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have."
He became an icon and remains a role model, and may he inspire us for another 100 years.
- "A Century of Einstein," Rowan Hooper, Wired News http://www.wired.com, January 29, 2005 http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,66393,00.html