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The theory of relativity and all that

150426 -Open Page - Relativity

150426 -Open Page - Relativity   | Photo Credit: keshav

“I have studied a lot today,” my son declared, banging his book shut. I glanced at the clock – it was all of 20 minutes since he had sat down with his Mathematics note book to work out his sums. He was in Class III, school had just reopened, and his initial enthusiasm to work out his sums in the brand-new homework notebook had quickly waned.

“It’s only been 20 minutes”, I said. “Have you completed your homework?”

“Yes,” he said. “I never studied like this last year. They never gave homework in the first week itself last year.”

I could have pointed out gently that Class III brought more homework with it than Class II. I could have said (and probably did), that 20 minutes is not all that long. But I hope I had been wise enough then to understand and appreciate the fact that time (and everything else) is actually relative – relative, as in “not absolute”. If he had been used to completing his homework in 10 minutes, or not having homework at all, then in comparison to what he was used to, 20 minutes is a long period.

Recently, when I was searching the Internet for some information, I chanced upon Einstein’s theory of relativity – “Measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of the observers.” And it got me thinking (a fairly painful process that I usually avoid, but get trapped into by wandering thoughts, once in a way). Would this not apply in daily life too? Perceptions and reactions (measurements) to various situations and occurrences (quantities) are related (relative) to the beliefs and experiences (velocities) of the observer, at that point of time.

So, we don’t really have any business being judgmental.

When we declare (or think) that someone has no sense of style, sense of humour, sense of etiquette, sense of right or wrong, what we need to remember is that it is simply the case of not being on the same velocity. She does have a sense of style, it’s just not the same as ours, and there are probably many others who would like to dress, talk and act the way she does.

She has a sense of humour, it may not be the same as ours, there are others who laugh themselves silly over her jokes. And who is to say that her sense of social behaviour needs to be corrected, it varies from person to person, family to family, culture to culture and place to place. Let’s remember that her convictions of right and wrong are shaped by all that she has experienced in her life, and we are in no way equipped to judge.

I do think applying Einstein’s theory in everyday life would help to foster tolerance and acceptance. Would you agree? Probably only if you have not majored in Physics!

vasanthi_suresh@yahoo.in

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 4:10:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-theory-of-relativity-and-all-that/article10795773.ece

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