With special relativity, Albert Einstein upended the long-understood meaning of time, space and simultaneity. With general relativity, he swapped Newton’s law of gravity based on force for curved space­time, and cosmology became a science. Just after World War I, relativity made front-page news when astronomers saw the Sun bend starlight. Overnight, Einstein became famous as no physical scientist before or since, his theory the subject of poetry, painting and architecture. Then, with the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, physics got ­really interesting. Quantum physics was a theory so powerful — and so powerfully weird — that nearly a century later, we’re still arguing about how to reconcile it with Einsteinian relativity and debating what it tells us about causality, locality and realism.

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