Albert Einstein may have been the genius among physicists, but like all others before his time, he stood on the shoulders of giants.
Einstein did not propose that the sun was the center of the solar system; that idea was already widely accepted when he came around. He didn’t discover elliptical orbits; that distinction belongs with Johannes Kepler.
But Kepler never could figure out why planets orbit the sun in ellipses instead of circles. Even Isaac Newton, who at last identified gravity as the reason we stick to Earth’s surface, couldn’t explain what gravity was—only how it worked.
Einstein provided that explanation with his general theory of relativity. Continue reading