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Desert Diary


The year 2005 has been declared the World Year of Physics to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Einstein's so-called "miraculous year". In 1905, Einstein wrote a series of papers that changed the science of physics and our understanding of the world.

In March of that year, he showed that light can act as though made of discrete particles rather than always as smooth, oscillating waves as then generally pictured. In May, he showed that the long-known "Brownian motion", minute jerky movements of small particles in liquid, were consistent with the theory that heat was the result of agitated movements of atoms. In June he showed that the principle of relativity applied to light, contrary to generally accepted scientific thought. In September, he showed that mass is a direct measure of the energy contained in matter: his famous E=mc2. Einstein's insights produced perhaps the most remarkable single year in science. The nice thing about physics is, that although Einstein produced his discoveries in Switzerland, the same physics works exactly the same way everywhere, including in our Chihuahuan Desert.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest. rule

Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Photo of Einstein by Oren Jack Turner

Photograph of Albert Einstein by Oren Jack Turner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.



Web Resources

Enstein's Miraculous Year