We live in a four-dimensional universe but our minds and bodies struggle to perceive four dimensions. How can learners reconcile Einstein's abstract theory with their experiential understanding of space, time & gravity?
Congratulations to Prof. David Blair and his team at the University of Western Australia who have been awarded a grant to integrate Einsteinian Physics into Australian curricula and to evaluate learning progression through primary and secondary school!
How can we visualise gravity in general relativity? My new article in Physics Education presents a new digital model that illustrates how warped time gives rise to gravity. I hope the model will act as a supplement to the use of the popular rubber sheet model that only takes spatial curvature into account!
A popular analogy compares the geometry of curved spacetime to a rubber sheet. Yet, science educators have shown that this representation can get in the way of a more abstract understanding of Einstein’s theory of gravity. The findings hint to a deeper mechanism about how human cognition works.
According to general relativity, we live in a four-dimensional curved universe. Since the human mind cannot visualize those four dimensions, a popular analogy compares the universe to a two-dimensional rubber sheet distorted by massive objects.
In curved spaces, geometry can play tricks on you. And tricky geometry lies at the heart of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. I wrote a feature for Lateral Magazine mapping out a geometric way of teaching relativity.
Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is rarely present in school physics curricula due to its abstract nature. Yet, our research suggests that upper secondary students can obtain a qualitative understanding of general relativity. Read our latest research article to see how we introduced students to the world of relativity.