In November 1915, Albert Einstein published his theory of gravitation, thus attaining international renown which was to last unfailingly until the present day, long after his death. The history of his general theory of relativity, however, took a different course. It lost its appeal in the 1920s and did not experience a resurgence until the mid-1950s. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science have traced this surprising development.
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Today, we cannot imagine modern astrophysics without the general theory of relativity: no matter if it's black holes, quasars, or gravitational lenses – it plays an important role in all these fields. And when researchers try to track down gravitational waves, they are trying to confirm one of Einstein's predictions. The eventful history of the most famous equation of the century.