Scientists just did something that even Einstein thought was impossible

German-born Swiss-US physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), author of theory of relativity, awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.
Source: AFP/Getty Images
German-born Swiss-US physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), author of theory of relativity, awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.
Source: AFP/Getty Images

Albert Einstein was smart, but he wasn't always optimistic. Scientists recently managed to weigh a star using his long-standing theory on gravity, even though Einstein himself thought it'd be impossible to pull off.

In the early 1900s, Einstein drafted the longstanding General Theory of Relativity, which explains the force of gravity. The theory asserts that giant objects "cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravity," according to the website Space.

According to his theory, in the case of two stars perfectly aligned with the viewer, light can warp around the gravitational field of one star and allow the other star to be seen up close. The curved light works as sort of a magnifying glass — yet it's a phenomenon that humans have "no hope of observing," Einstein wrote in 1936.

But thanks to modern technology like the high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope, scientists from the Space Telescope Science Institute were at last able to see Einstein's theory at work on a small star. The details of their findings were published in Science on June 7.

Though they didn't have a perfect alignment of the two stars to work with, it was just the right set of circumstances to allow scientists to measure a "white dwarf star" called Stein 2051 B.

Not only does this confirm the General Theory of Relativity, but it suggests a future with many possible discoveries to come. Even Einstein, whose theory led scientists to measure the star, seemingly underestimated humanity's potential to witness space phenomenons.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Kelly Kasulis

Kelly Kasulis is a journalist covering tech and science for Mic. Follow her on Twitter: @KasulisK.

MORE FROM

Meet the Girl Scouts that will earn badges for being cybersecurity experts

They'll soon get badges for coding, cryptography and more.

How to use the Snapchat Map while everyone else continues to be confused about it

Everything you need to know about the new feature.

Planet 10? Scientists may have discovered a hidden planet in our solar system

There could be a ninth — or even 10th — planet hiding out in our solar system.

Scientists created a robot that will iron your clothes for you

Shut up and take my money.

Moth eyes have inspired the touchscreen of the future

It's going to change the anti-reflection game.

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.

Meet the Girl Scouts that will earn badges for being cybersecurity experts

They'll soon get badges for coding, cryptography and more.

How to use the Snapchat Map while everyone else continues to be confused about it

Everything you need to know about the new feature.

Planet 10? Scientists may have discovered a hidden planet in our solar system

There could be a ninth — or even 10th — planet hiding out in our solar system.

Scientists created a robot that will iron your clothes for you

Shut up and take my money.

Moth eyes have inspired the touchscreen of the future

It's going to change the anti-reflection game.

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.