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Einsteins Theory of Relativity to be Focus of Presentation

Astronomer Skip Newhall Slated to Make Free Presentation April 12

SANTA CLARITA  – Dr. Skip Newhall, a recently retired NASA astronomer and
descendant of local pioneer Henry Mayo Newhall, will speak about Albert
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity during a free presentation at College of the
Canyons on Tuesday, April 12. Entitled “Special Relativity for Non-Scientists,” Newhall’s presentation will provide a layman’s explanation of one of the most profound and far-reaching intellectual contributions to the field of physics. The presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the college’s cafeteria.

Newhall served 35 years as an astronomer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which, as the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system, has sent spacecraft to all known planets except Pluto. While at JPL, Newhall worked on spacecraft navigation and orbit determination, very-long-baseline interferometry and lunar laser ranging.

It was exactly 100 years ago that Einstein first introduced his Theory of Relativity in limited form as Special Relativity. In 1916 he introduced the theory in more complete form as General Relativity, a one-man leap of intellect that forced a fundamental re-evaluation of our understanding of the universe and how it works.

A full grasp of the details of relativity requires advanced mathematics and physics. However, the basic ideas and principles of special relativity can be made easily available even to people with no scientific or technical background.

Newhall’s illustrated, non-technical presentation will cover:

*    The speed of light and when it can and cannot be exceeded;
*    The slowing of the rates of moving clocks;
*    The apparent contraction of the length of moving objects;
*    The three speeds defined by relativity: proper speed, coordinate speed and effective speed;
*    And, perhaps the most famous equation ever: E=mc2. Newhall will discuss what it means, where it comes from and why it has to be.

The talk will be presented by the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) Program at College of the Canyons. Refreshments will be served.

For additional information, contact MESA Program Director Susan Crowther at (661) 362-3448 or

Einsteins Theory of Relativity to be Focus of Presentation

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