"The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder," said Albert Einstein.
Now, the Hong Kong Science Museum invites you to enter Einstein's "space-time" and discover the wonders of space by visiting its latest exhibition "Albert Einstein (1879-1955)", which is open from today (April 18) until August 31. Featuring more than 200 valuable artefacts, including original memorabilia, written records, photos and film documentaries, the exhibition gives a vivid and comprehensive introduction to Einstein's life and his times.
In addition to shedding light on Einstein's life and work and placing him in the context of world history, the exhibition provides an insight into his revolutionary ideas and achievements in science by featuring animations and videos on his theories, and a number of interactive exhibits, such as "Black Hole", "The Virtual Bicycle Ride" and "The Photoelectric Effect", which demonstrate various physics phenomena.
With exhibits provided by the Historical Museum Bern, Switzerland, in co-operation with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong and Presence Switzerland, and jointly organised by the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Historical Museum Bern, Switzerland and swissnex China. The exhibition is one of the major programme's celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Science Museum and also a key attraction of "Einstein in Hong Kong" campaign held from April to August this year.
The exhibition was officially opened today by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Consul General of Switzerland in Hong Kong, Mrs Rita Hämmerli-Weschke; the Director of the Historical Museum Bern, Dr Jakob Messerli; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the President of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Professor Tony F Chan; the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 1991, Professor Richard R Ernst; and the Chief Curator of Hong Kong Science Museum, Mr Michael Wong.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Mr Tsang said Einstein undoubtedly was one of the most influential and prominent scientists in the 20th century and is best known for his theory of relativity. In 1905, he published three important papers that had a profound impact on the development of modern physics. His theories changed people's understanding and conception of space and time, mass and energy, and he successfully explained gravity as a geometric property of space-time in his later work.
"In 2005, the Historical Museum Bern of Switzerland specially produced this exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year" of scientific development. Under the joint patronage of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the exhibition started its tour in China in May 2010. After travelling to Beijing and Guangzhou, the exhibition is now on show here at the Hong Kong Science Museum as the third stop of its China tour.
"The opening of this exhibition is particularly meaningful as today marks the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Science Museum. We are proud to present this exhibition as a special programme for the anniversary. Coincidentally, today is also the 56th anniversary of the death of Einstein. I would like to take this occasion to pay tribute to this great scientist whose incredible work laid the foundation of many subsequent scientific theories and technological advances," Mr Tsang said.
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm on March 14, 1879. In October 1896 Einstein enrolled at Zurich Polytechnic to study for a diploma as a teacher specialising in mathematics and natural sciences. He acquired Swiss citizenship in 1901 and worked as a technical assistant in the Patent Office in Bern.
Between March and September 1905, Einstein surprised the scientific community with five pioneering papers in three different areas of physics. In these papers he formulated the Special Theory of Relativity, interpreted the photoelectric effect by quantum nature of light and explained the nature of Brownian motion. Later, he developed the General Theory of Relativity, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space-time. Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect and achievements in theoretical physics.
In 1905 he published two studies on Brownian motion, demonstrating that atoms really do exist. They remain to this day among the most frequently cited studies in the natural sciences. But the technology of that time failed to make an atom visible. This only became possible in the 1950s with the help of a field ion microscope.
Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity revolutionised the basic concepts of physics. He concluded that the velocity of light is an absolute quantity. Space and time, on the other hand, are no longer perceived as constant quantities. They change relatively to their movement. At high speeds a minute is expanded and a meter is contracted.
The equation E=mc², a proposition of the Special Theory of Relativity, has become a symbol with many meanings. Concise and easy to remember, it stands for far more than its purely physical proposition, the equivalence between mass and energy. It is the epitome of towering intellectual achievement, just as Einstein himself is the personification of genius. In popular usage it came to symbolise science’s loss of innocence after the explosion of the atom bomb – and became the cause of unimaginable horror.
In 1935, Einstein applied for naturalisation in the USA. In May 1946 he assumed the chairmanship of the "Emergency Committee of Atomic Researchers" to explain the consequences and risks of atomic weapons to the public. In the following years Einstein campaigned energetically for world peace and against the nuclear arms race. He was invited to succeed the first Israeli President Chaim Weizmann, who died in 1952. Yet he rejected this honourable invitation. On April 18, 1955 he died in hospital in Princeton following an enlargement of the aorta.
In addition to the exhibition, the Science Museum has also organised a series of extension and education activities, including talks and a film show, which will enhance public knowledge of Einstein and his theories. For details, please visit http://hk.science.museum .
Building on the success of the "Creativity x Science x Art = ∞" exhibition series launched last year, the LCSD's museums initiated another exhibition series entitled "A Century of Changes" in March this year. This exhibition series comprises the "Albert Einstein (1879-1955)" exhibition, the "Centenary of China's 1911 Revolution" exhibition by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the "Pixar: 25 Years of Animation" exhibition by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
To encourage the public to visit these spectacular exhibitions, LCSD's museums continue to offer the Visitor Reward Scheme, whereby visitors will get a specially designed souvenir umbrella by presenting a total of three standard full-price admission tickets for the three exhibitions. The offer is on a first-come, first-served basis while stock lasts. Members of the public can find details on the Museum of Science's website.
Admission to "Albert Einstein" exhibition is $30 with a half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. However, free admission is not offered on Wednesdays and the Museum Weekly Pass does not apply to this exhibition. Ticket holders are entitled to admission to the permanent exhibition hall.
The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. It is open from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays).
For details of the exhibition and related programmes, please visit the Science Museum's website or call 2732 3232.
Ends/Monday, April 18, 2011
An opening ceremony for the "Albert Einstein (1879-1955)" exhibition was held today (April 18) at the Hong Kong Science Museum. Officiating are (from left): the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 1991, Professor Richard R Ernst; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the Consul General of Switzerland in Hong Kong, Mrs Rita Hämmerli-Weschke; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Director of the Historical Museum Bern, Dr Jakob Messerli; the President of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Professor Tony F Chan; and the Chief Curator of Hong Kong Science Museum, Mr Michael Wong.
The officiating guests tour the exhibition.
This "virtual bicycle" allows users to experience how the image of the world becomes "twisted" if they accelerate close to light speed.
The Cosmological Theatre shows videos of the Sun, galaxies and major events in the history of the universe, such as the Big Bang.
Part of the exhibition reflects the small house lived in by Einstein and his wife, Mileva, and also their love letters.
The Mirror Hall, which creates a sense of infinite space, also shows a video about Einstein's life.