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Category# General relativity

Summary

General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity and Einstein's theory of gravity, is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern physics. General relativity generalizes special relativity and refines Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time or four-dimensional spacetime. In particular, the is directly related to the energy and momentum of whatever matter and radiation are present. The relation is specified by the Einstein field equations, a system of second order partial differential equations.
Newton's law of universal gravitation, which describes classical gravity, can be seen as a prediction of general relativity for the almost flat spacetime geometry around stationary mass distributions. Some predictions of general relativity, however, are beyond Newton's law of universal gravitation in classical physics. These predictions concern the passage of time, the geometry of space, the motion of bodies in free fall, and the propagation of light, and include gravitational time dilation, gravitational lensing, the gravitational redshift of light, the Shapiro time delay and singularities/black holes. So far, all tests of general relativity have been shown to be in agreement with the theory. The time-dependent solutions of general relativity enable us to talk about the history of the universe and have provided the modern framework for cosmology, thus leading to the discovery of the Big Bang and cosmic microwave background radiation. Despite the introduction of a number of alternative theories, general relativity continues to be the simplest theory consistent with experimental data.
Reconciliation of general relativity with the laws of quantum physics remains a problem, however, as there is a lack of a self-consistent theory of quantum gravity. It is not yet known how gravity can be unified with the three non-gravitational forces: strong, weak and electromagnetic.

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In physics and general relativity, gravitational redshift (known as Einstein shift in older literature) is the phenomenon that electromagnetic waves or photons travelling out of a gravitational well (seem to) lose energy. This loss of energy corresponds to a decrease in the wave frequency and increase in the wavelength, known more generally as a redshift. The opposite effect, in which photons (seem to) gain energy when travelling into a gravitational well, is known as a gravitational blueshift (a type of blueshift).

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