GPS

Animation of GPS satellite orbits

I’m Stephen Rosen, a physicist, who originated this website as a memorial to Albert Einstein, my childhood hero.

You may be surprised to learn that if you use or carry a smart phone, you are also using and carrying Albert Einstein around with you. Yes, it’s true. His theories, confirmed many times by sophisticated experiments done all over the world by clever dedicated physicists, make your smart phone a living heroic embodiment of Albert Einstein! Spend some time here, on this website, and you will know why your smart phone honors Albert Einstein, and why you should, too. You’ll be on intimate terms with “the man of the century” (Time Magazine). You’ll also know what it means to live a “well-lived life.”

If Einstein were to enter your room at a party, and introduced as someone about whom you knew nothing, according to his friend Leopold Infeld you would certainly be charmed and fascinated by the brilliance of his eyes, by his shyness and gentleness, by his delightful sense of humor, and by the fact that he can twist platitudes into wisdom. You would feel that before you stands a man who thinks for himself.

Since his death in 1955, his popularity has only increased. Thousands of books about Einstein and his theories are found in the United States Library of Congress, and in local libraries around the world. Television series celebrate him. In 2015, his prediction a century earlier that gravitational waves exist was dramatically confirmed by a monumental Nobel-Prize-worthy experiment. It is only a slight exaggeration and bit of poetic license to say Albert Einstein belongs in the ranks of glorious formidable immortals.

You might suspect, or already know, that here is a man who exploded physics, a man who changed the course of history, a man who shortened World War II. His brilliant discoveries of mind-bending new realities of space and time and gravitation made him into an authority and an unexpected celebrity. His quirky public image, his strong humanitarian social criticism, his luminous mind, his comments on philosophy, politics, world affairs, his flowing hair, and his unique views on personal happiness all combine to reveal Einstein as an enduring iconic legend. And, as we said, someone you should know. Worth repeating: you should know this guy! He’s in your life…his smart phone is literally in your face, you’re breathing his vibes, he’s really cool!

YOUR SMART PHONE
Your smart phone has Albert Einstein in it. No. Not his ashes, as one smart aleck, told me. But his ideas. Actually his corrections are what makes our smart phone work through its Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).

Let me explain.
Up above us, circling the Earth twice a day at an altitude of about twelve thousand miles, zipping along at about 8,700 miles per hour, are 24 satellites containing precise atomic clocks. These depend on the fixed basic vibrational frequencies of atoms inside the clock. These vibrations insure that the atomic clock is accurate to 50 billionths of a second. They allow the satellite to communicate their location and distance from your smart phone to an extra-ordinarily high degree of accuracy. They were originally designed and built for military navigation at a cost of about ten billion dollars. (You can imagine why they needed this!) But we use them every day when we insert an address and ask for directions to that address, and we hear a voice telling us “left, two miles, right 800 feet”… and so on. The smart phone communicates with the GPS, and the GPS communicates with the smart phone. They are partners. Colleagues. Brothers. Sisters. Tight colleagues. Very tight.

But here’s the thing. The atomic clock has to be very accurate so it can tell your smart phone where the GPS and the phone are with respect to each other. A ship at sea, or instance, has to know its latitude and longitude with precision, so it can navigate to its destination. Since they are moving so much faster than the clocks on Earth, Einstein’s theory of relativity verified many times – says that rapidly moving clock tick more slowly, compared with clocks on Earth, by about seven millionths of a second per day. Also, the orbiting clocks are twelve thousand miles above the Earth so they feel gravity that is about four times weaker than clocks on the ground. Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity also verified many times – says that the orbiting clocks will tick faster by about 45 millionths of a second per day. Since these atomic clocks must  synchronize with each other and with clocks and smart phones on the ground, Einstein’s corrections must be applied continuously…or your navigational error will accumulate by about six miles a day. So the next time your plane lands safely in bad weather, or your smart phone tells you to turn left in seven hundred feet, give thanks to the genius – and yes to the Patron Saint of the GPS system…Albert Einstein.
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GPS

I’m Stephen Rosen, a physicist, who originated this website as a memorial to Albert Einstein, my childhood hero.

You may be surprised to learn that if you use or carry a smart phone, you are also using and carrying Albert Einstein around with you. Yes, it’s true. His theories, confirmed many times by sophisticated experiments done all over the world by clever dedicated physicists, make your smart phone a living heroic embodiment of Albert Einstein! Spend some time here, on this website, and you will know why your smart phone honors Albert Einstein, and why you should, too. You’ll be on intimate terms with “the man of the century” (Time Magazine). You’ll also know what it means to live a “well-lived life.”

If Einstein were to enter your room at a party, and introduced as someone about whom you knew nothing, according to his friend Leopold Infeld you would certainly be charmed and fascinated by the brilliance of his eyes, by his shyness and gentleness, by his delightful sense of humor, and by the fact that he can twist platitudes into wisdom. You would feel that before you stands a man who thinks for himself.

Since his death in 1955, his popularity has only increased. Thousands of books about Einstein and his theories are found in the United States Library of Congress, and in local libraries around the world. Television series celebrate him. In 2015, his prediction a century earlier that gravitational waves exist was dramatically confirmed by a monumental Nobel-Prize-worthy experiment. It is a slight exaggeration and poetic license to say Albert Einstein belongs in the ranks of glorious formidable immortals.

Animation of GPS satellite orbits

You might suspect, or already know, that here is a man who exploded physics, a man who changed the course of history, a man who shortened World War II. His brilliant discoveries of mind-bending new realities of space and time and gravitation made him into an authority and an unexpected celebrity. His quirky public image, his strong humanitarian social criticism, his luminous mind, his comments on philosophy, politics, world affairs, his flowing hair, and his unique views on personal happiness all combine to reveal Einstein as an enduring iconic legend. And, as we said, someone you should know. Worth repeating: you should know this guy! He’s in your life…his smart phone is literally in your face, you’re breathing his vibes, he’s really cool!

YOUR SMART PHONE
Your smart phone has Albert Einstein in it. No. Not his ashes, as one smart aleck, told me. But his ideas. Actually his corrections are what makes our smart phone work through its Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).

Let me explain.
Up above us, circling the Earth twice a day at an altitude of about twelve thousand miles, zipping along at about 8,700 miles per hour, are 24 satellites containing precise atomic clocks. These depend on the fixed basic vibrational frequencies of atoms inside the clock. These vibrations insure that the atomic clock is accurate to 50 billionths of a second. They allow the satellite to communicate their location and distance from your smart phone to an extra-ordinarily high degree of accuracy. They were originally designed and built for military navigation at a cost of about ten billion dollars. (You can imagine why they needed this!) But we use them every day when we insert an address and ask for directions to that address, and we hear a voice telling us “left, two miles, right 800 feet”… and so on. The smart phone communicates with the GPS, and the GPS communicates with the smart phone. They are partners. Colleagues. Brothers. Sisters. Tight colleagues. Very tight.

But here’s the thing. The atomic clock has to be very accurate so it can tell your smart phone where the GPS and the phone are with respect to each other. A ship at sea, or instance, has to know its latitude and longitude with precision, so it can navigate to its destination. Since they are moving so much faster than the clocks on Earth, Einstein’s theory of relativity verified many times – says that rapidly moving clock tick more slowly, compared with clocks on Earth, by about seven millionths of a second per day. Also, the orbiting clocks are twelve thousand miles above the Earth so they feel gravity that is about four times weaker than clocks on the ground. Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity also verified many times – says that the orbiting clocks will tick faster by about 45 millionths of a second per day. Since these atomic clocks must  synchronize with each other and with clocks and smart phones on the ground, Einstein’s corrections must be applied continuously…or your navigational error will accumulate by about six miles a day. So the next time your plane lands safely in bad weather, or your smart phone tells you to turn left in seven hundred feet, give thanks to the genius – and yes to the Patron Saint of the GPS system…Albert Einstein.