The Einstein Flip

As we all know by now, 2005 is the hundredth anniversary of Einstein’s “Annus Mirabilis.” Dennis Overbye writes in the New York Times:

The International Year of Physics, as the United Nations has officially designated 2005, has already had its zany moments of physics fun, with more to come. This month, Ben Wallace, 18, a professional stunt cyclist, flew off a ramp in the London Science Museum and did a back flip 12 feet in the air while folding his bicycle sideways – a maneuver designed by a Cambridge physicist who said she was inspired by a tale that the 26-year-old Einstein had invented his theory of relativity while riding a bicycle.

Never mind that there is no evidence that Einstein even had a bicycle as a young man. Never mind that the “Einstein flip” itself, as complicated and carefully plotted as it was, relies strictly on the old-fashioned laws of Isaac Newton.

If bicycle stunts aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps you would take in “Constant Speed,” a ballet inspired by relativity, which the Rambert Dance Company will perform in London starting May 24. Maybe you would like to download the rap song “Einstein (Not Enough Time)” by DJ Vader, adopted by Britain’s Institute of Physics for an educational computer game, or the Einstein@Home screen saver, which will allow your computer to process signals from the cosmos for the twitches and vibrations of space-time known as gravitational waves.

Or maybe you would like to try the Pirelli Group’s contest for the best five-minute multimedia explanation of relativity. (The prize is 25,000 euros, or about $32,500.)

Read more details of the planned celebrations here.