Expo/Science & Industry/Spacetime Wrinkles


In 1905, Albert Einstein published his famous Special Theory of Relativity and overthrew commonsense assumptions about space and time. Relative to the observer, both are altered near the speed of light: distances appear to stretch; clocks tick more slowly.

A decade and a year later, Einstein further challenged conventional wisdom by describing gravity as the warping of spacetime, not a force acting at a distance. Since then, Einstein's revolutionary insights have largely stood the test of time. One by one, his predictions have been borne out by experiment and observation.

But it wasn't until much later that scientists accepted one of the most dramatic ramifications of Einstein's theory of gravitation: the existence of black holes from whose extreme gravity nothing, not even light, can escape. Major advances in computation are only now enabling scientists to simulate how black holes form, evolve, and interact. They're betting on powerful instruments now under construction to confirm that these exotic objects actually exist.

You might like to take a two-minute video tour of this exhibit's contents. However, the Quicktime movie is rather large (12.3 MB!), so be patient when downloading. It could take several minutes. (Further information on downloading movies can be obtained from the Technical Corner and Navigation Tips.)

To the Edge with Einstein

QuickTime (11.0 MB); MPEG (4.5 MB); Sound (5.2 MB); Thumbnail (26K); Text of Script (41K)

Credits and Acknowledgments

In the video script you can enter the exhibit through a variety of hot links. Or, if you prefer to plunge right into the exhibit, select from the menu below. A hierarchical map of all the main documents will help you navigate.

Einstein's Legacy

Who was Einstein? What is gravity? What are black holes and gravitational waves?

The Relativistic Universe

Where might black holes lurk? How can we "see" them?

Relativity Goes Digital

What does it take to study black holes in a computer?

Movies from the Edge of Spacetime

Ever wondered what happens if you disturb a black hole? Or when two black holes collide?

Fulfilling Einstein's Dream

Will Einstein's theory of gravitation continue to prevail in decades to come?

Relativity Round-up

People, places, papers, animations, computer codes, tools. In-depth coverage of what the NCSA Relativity Group is doing and who it's doing it with


Further reading about Einstein and his scientific legacy.

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Copyright 1995, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

NCSA. Last modified 10/23/95