Albert Einstein is the undisputed genius whose mathematical insights revolutionised cosmology. He ranks with the other giants of physics Copernicus, Galileo, Newton but more than any of them, he is instantly recognisable. Einstein is a pop totem, the Marilyn Monroe of science. How did this happen? What could possibly make Einstein a universal icon when his ideas remain in the abstruse domain of a few specialists? The answer lies in a cultural phenomenon, the birth of Big Science . The 20th century has seen unparalleled advances in science and technology. But the search for knowledge has taken scientists into regions remote from everyday experience, accessible only to those with expensive experimental equipment. These farthest reaches of scientific study are the domain of Big Science . As well as providing a simple introduction to the key ideas of Einstein s theory, this essay offers fascinating insights into the sociological conflicts between Big Science and popular culture that are as real today as they were in Einstein s day.
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