September 27th, 2005
Today as I left work I had to run pretty fast to stay motionless as the Earth span beneath me, and London Bridge rotated my way. I was lucky to keep up: If I hadn’t boarded my train I would’ve been stranded in the city, and carried northwards as it zoomed away, leaving my still stationary train behind. Thankfully I was safely aboard, and as the Earth began rotating northwards, I knew that every passing moment brought Brighton closer to my static carriage.
When I arrived I found there was more work to do; more carefully judged walking required in order to hold my position. the Earth was rotating this way and that, and I had to make quite a few turns, and vary my pace, in order to keep my spot. Before long, the Earth’s convoluted pattern of spin brought, to my considerable surprise, my front door looming ahead of me. And even as I was preparing to give up, and reach out with my keys, the movement stopped. Miraculous. Mirabilis. I had made it from work to my front door without moving at all.
This is not a fiction or a fantasy; it really happened today. Prove it wasn’t so.
100 years ago today Einstein submitted his historic paper announcing the equivalency of mass and energy, the fourth and final paper of his annus mirabilis. We’ve had a century of E=mc².
What an equation, so simple and elegant. I remember my father teaching me it one bathtime. Energy = mass times the speed of light squared: a small amount of mass is equivalent to a very large amount of energy.
Relativity was actually in Einstein’s third paper, published some months earlier, but I’ve been thinking about relative movement on the commute recently, so you’ll have to indulge my train story.
It’s also my 33rd birthday today: I am (E=mc²)/3.