Special relativity solved some long standing problems of physics like ‘Precession of perihelion of Mercury’ and ‘Nil result of Michelson & Morley’s experiment contrary to Maxwell’s predictions’, but introduced a limit to speed of light. It also added that speed of light is independent of observer’s own motion. This was a step that changed the way of doing physics. Before special relativity, observer’s frame of reference was important, but special relativity introduced the concept that speed of light is independent of frame of reference. This concept has been very difficult for common men to comprehend, and it has taken the physics out of the reach of common people who could till that era understand everything in physics easily. This theory also gave birth to time dilation, which was confirmed in 1971 by making precise measurements. Concept of time dilation led to speculation of Time Travel. It is believed that if you travel near the speed of light you can go back in time and when you stop, you will have aged lesser than a person who remained stationary. This concept has caused a widespread confusion in the minds of common people whether it is really possible to time travel. I have noted that a number of people keep asking about time travel, whether it is possible or not? Another important change has been brought in the field of communication by making alterations to travel time of signals sent and received from satellites as per calculations using special relativity. GPS systems without the special relativity would not have been so accurate. Third important outcome is the relation between energy and mass, which led us to understanding of nuclear energy. Uses of nuclear energy are widespread in the modern world, so, we can say that special relativity helped in modernization of the world. This is how the special relativity has changed the world by solving important physics problems, giving us modernized world with better energy resources, better communication and GPS devices but causing confusion on time travel.
How has special relativity changed the world?