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Photons, spacecraft, atomic clocks and Einstein

Clare S Ryan31 October 2011

According to Professor Marek Ziebart, who gave last Thursday’s Lunch Hour Lecture, ‘Photons, spacecraft, atomic clocks and Einstein – fundamental physics in the space environment’, if it wasn’t for Einstein’s theory of relativity GPS systems would have about an 11km margin of error per day. That’s the difference between central London and Croydon – which wouldn’t be much good for locating the nearest coffee shop.

Professor Ziebart’s lecture was about how satellites – which allow technology such as mobile phones – GPS and earth surface modelling hinge upon theories that Einstein formulated more than 100 years ago.