Watch this high schooler explain the theory of relativity

Originally published at:


I like her simple, clear explanation of the science. I like less the extrapolation outside of science to social commentary. I think it’s dangerous to argue that all views are equally true, because that requires us to accept things like white supremacy and antisemitism as “true” from the reference frames of the people holding those views. But that’s not what relativity is or says. Her first example, the is it a 6 or a 9 thing is a good example of the danger I’m talking about. Imagine two engineers, one looking at a blueprint from the bottom, one from the top, and arguing about whether a measurement is a 6 or a 9. One of them is right, and one of them is potentially disastrously wrong. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it. (I love her shirt, by the way)


I’m happy for her. In addition to the money, it must have been exciting to meet so many luminaries at the award presentation.


The sticker on the truck gate at the end is the best.


Your engineer example is precisely why this video is important. They are both seeing different numbers. That is their realities. They are both “true” as in the sense that neither of them are making it up. It’s is vital to avoid disastrous consequences to understand this as a possibility, and to put standards into place in your diagrams to make sure that everyone, no matter their position, knows which direction is the agreed upon one from which to draw conclusions and make decisions.

For example, in theater they use the terms “stage left” or “stage right.” From the perspective of the director, their right is the actors left. They don’t waste time arguing whose perspective is “correct” because both realities exist. They just agree to work from the perspective of the actor.

That’s where the social arguments breakdown. This video says nothing about what you should do with the different information you get from your reality. It says you should realize that different observers will get different information than you.

White supremacy and Nazis all make conclusions and decisions based on their information. Dangerous, hateful conclusions. The equivalent of the engineer saying “I see the number 9 and I think everyone who was born in a year with the number 6 should die.”

So it’s important to understand that people have different perspectives precisely because it helps you not fall into a trap of thinking Nazis are okay. Different perspectives means that we need to solidify, socially, a common ground to frame our collective decision making.


Didn’t we watch her last month, too?


A similar joke, from xkcd: the rearview mirrors on Edwin Hubble’s car have a little note at the bottom: “Objects in mirror are bluer than they appear.”


Thanks for the bonus video, but this was already covered about a month ago:

Very nice. The explanation, at least the part about the photon clock, is based on a thought experiment of Einstein’s.

One singular thing about Special Relativity is that a good part of the mathematics, like that of General Relativity in fact, had been worked out before Einstein, and Einstein built on it. It was known that Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism were incorrect if a simple linear transformation was applied to them, but if the Lorentz formula (based on a fixed, finite speed of light) was applied, the equations held in all frames of reference. Einstein’s insight was to realize that this was not just a mathematical trick, but actually was the way the world worked, with all the strange effects like time dilation that were implied.


I’m glad this got reposted here, on purpose or not, since I missed it last month, and I’m so glad I was able to be informed about Ms. Andales’ video and winning the prize. Good for her, good for science communication, and good for all of us.

I’m gonna go show this to my high schooler today.


So… was this video made after she won the prize? Because it seems to me there’s an enormous amount of video editing and animation experience behind this.

So this explains how Trump comes up with the theory that he is like really smart.
Relativity I get it!

On a less sarcastic note, what a great explanation. Even I was able to grasp her point, and I’m not like really smart.

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