Watch: Doctor Who explains Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

25 Nov 2015

Elbert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity explained by David Tennant (the socks will make sense), via YouTube

Albert Einstein’s revolutionary General Theory of Relativity is now 100 years old and, to be fair, most people probably don’t understand what it means. So, how about a former Doctor Who explains it to you, with the help of cartoons?

Space exploration began long before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and even before Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space – it started with simply looking up.

Astronomy’s history spans thousands of years, with the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets occupying the minds of many a great person of old.

But to further the science you often need leaps of thought, conceptual ideas and trial and error.

Kenneth Edgeworth claiming that the plethora of rocks beyond Pluto are not planets but rather countless, disparate smaller bodies. Rosetta landing Philae on Comet 67p for a bunch of science tests. The discovery of water on Mars, or Saturn’s moons.

Each of these, and thousands more, were landmark events in astronomy and space studies but didn’t, perhaps, entirely shift the goalposts of our understanding of the universe.

For that you come to a smaller batch of geniuses: think Galileo Galilei dragging the telescope forward by centuries, or establishing that we were not, in fact, the centre of the universe.

Think the team behind the Voyager missions, whose spacecraft are still, decades later, speeding away from their former home in search of, well, anything.

Think Albert Einstein, whose General Theory of Relativity completely revolutionised our ability to measure time, space and, ultimately, capture the space images you see adorning sites like this all the time.

So for three minutes, enjoy former Doctor Who star David Tennant explaining what this all means. With cartoons.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic