How Einstein came to influence smartphones

Bala Iyer delivering a lecture at Providence College in Kozhikode on Monday.

Bala Iyer delivering a lecture at Providence College in Kozhikode on Monday.   | Photo Credit: HAND OUT

GPS functioning dependent on general theory of relativity, says scientist

Albert Einstein came up with his general theory of relativity in a November over 100 years ago.

His hypothesis has an application in our daily lives even now, says Bala Iyer, faculty member, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bengaluru, explaining the functioning of the global positioning system (GPS) in smartphones.

Mr. Iyer was here on Monday to open a six-day short-term course in gravitation and cosmology organised by the Teaching Learning Center under the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, and the department of physics, Providence Women’s College, Kozhikode. He leads the activities of the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations (IndIGO) Consortium and is a member of The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaborations.

“How does the GPS in our smartphones work? The United States has put above us 24 satellites, each of which carries atomic clocks, which are synchronised. They run at well calibrated rates,” Mr. Iyer said.

“If you really want to know your location or time, you essentially compare a satellite above with a local clock which is there in your GPS. The satellite is moving, and the satellite and you are at different gravitational fields.

“The GPS works because of the corrections it makes. If the corrections are not made, the GPS would fail,” he added. Mr. Iyer said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was trying to put together its own system of GPS because the American satellites might not be that accurate.

Mr. Iyer explained how Einstein came up with a radically new vision on space and time in which they too get affected by the kinematics, the branch of mechanics concerned with the motion of objects without reference to the forces which cause the motion.

The main focus of the short-term course is to address the need for a short but rapid training in general relativity, cosmology, and gravitation with emphasis on current research themes in astrophysics.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 4:55:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/how-einstein-came-to-influence-smartphones/article30080609.ece

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