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Einstein's celebrated theory of gravity was so far ahead of its time that the mathematical and computational techniques of this century have fallen far short of solving the equations that describe it -- until now. Einstein and his contemporaries knew that General Relativity contained within it a predictive, quantitative description of gravity and the evolution of the systems it governs, including black holes, gravitati onal waves, and the universe itself. Unfortunately, the mathematics underlying the theory were so encumbered with unimaginably complicated formulae that exact solutions to its realistic applications could not be found.

Now, after nearly a century of intense study by some of the world's most brilliant mathematicians and physicists -- Hilbert, Dirac, Chandrasekhar, Einstein himself, and many others -- full solutions to the complex equations of Einstein's theory of gravity are at last in sight. These solutions will not be analytical, but will instead generally take the form of numerical data generated on powerful computers, or dynamic representations of this data as animated scientific visualizations. Coupled with novel experimental approaches for detecting gravitational radiation, these numerical solutions will provide answers to many elusive and scientifically important questions:

- How is gravity propagated?
- Do gravitational waves and black holes exist?
- If so, what happens when black holes collide with other objects, such as stars or other black holes?
- What can such cataclysms tell us about the dynamic workings of universe?
- How large is the universe and what will be its ultimate fate?
- Do naked singularities exist, or does a "cosmic censor" clothe them all with event horizons?

As seen through the prism of history, Newton invented the mathematics of the calculus by necessity in order to describe his theory of gravity. His theory enabled generations of scientists to predict, in precise detail, the acceleration of an apple falling to earth, the motions of planets around the Sun, and the movements of galaxies through the universe. As such, the calculus revolutionized not only the understanding of physical law, but also every branch of s cience, mathematics, and engineering.

Supercomputers are now transforming the practice of modern science much as calculus did for the science of the last several centuries. Thanks to advanced computers, General Relativity is finding its rightful place as **the** descriptive theory of grav
ity -- the dominant force in the universe.

Newton's theory of gravity laid the foundations of astronomy during the past three centuries. Through supercomputer simulations, general relativity will become closely coupled with the astronomical observations of the next century.

QuickTime Movie (1.1 MB); Sound File (637K); Text

As a result, science as a whole will arrive at a much deeper understanding of the forces governing the Relativistic Universe. And humanity will step nearer to fulfilling Einstein's d ream of answering that ultimate question...

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