Einstein’s Genius: Describing the Geometry of Space-Time

General relativity is a complex theory, but imagining falling objects can help trace its contours. (Here, GPS satellites are shown around Earth — GPS depends on relativity to give accurate positions.) Credit: NASA
General relativity is one of the greatest feats of human understanding, made all the more impressive by the fact that it sprang from the fertile imagination and dogged mathematical brilliance of just one mind. The theory itself is the last and most persistent of the „classical“ (i.e., not-quantum) models of nature, and our inability to come up with anything more sophisticated over the past hundred years is a constant reminder of just how dang smart Albert Einstein was.

By Paul Sutter | SPACE.com

Another testament to Einstein’s genius comes in the tangled spaghetti of complex, interconnected equations that make up the full theory. Einstein made a beautiful machine, but he didn’t exactly leave us a user’s manual. We can trace his path in the seven years of self-inflicted torture that led to the theory’s final form, but that route of development was guided by so much of Einstein’s gut intuition that it’s hard for us mere mortals to make the same blind jumps of genius that he did.

Just to drive home the point, general relativity is so complex that when someone discovers a solution to the equations, they get the solution named after them and become semi-legendary in their own right. There’s a reason that Karl Schwarzschild — the guy who figured out the geometry of black holes — is a household name (or at least, a physics department name). [Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity: A Simplified Explanation]

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