A brief history of EO

More about the website and its (brief) history

The history of Einstein Online begins in Spring 2004. At that time, the directors and research coordinator of Albert Einstein Institute were thinking about the institute’s possible contributions to the Einstein Year/International World Year of Physics 2005, and research-scientist-freshly-turned-outreach-scientist Markus Pössel brought up the idea of creating a website explaining Einstein’s theories of relativity to a general audience. The German version of the website went online in mid-January 2005, while the English version followed suit in early June.

The level of presentation of Einstein Online is meant to be somewhat below that of Scientific American – even if you remember very little of your high school physics, you should find your way around the website.

Einstein Online is intended as a genuine hypertext network (instead of just a collection of articles with a meager selection of cross-links, or an online book). Most content is in modular form – notably, this is true of our Spotlights on relativity, a collection of texts each of which highlights some aspect of relativistic physics. The content does not need to be read in any particular sequence; instead, the visitor should have the freedom to browse around to his or her heart’s content, jumping from spotlight texts to the dictionary to other spotlight texts. The only exception is our introduction Elementary Einstein (and we’ve tried to keep that as brief as possible): It is recommended that you read our introduction in sequence before moving on to the rest of our material.

While the original authors came from Albert Einstein Institute, we are very glad that Einstein Online has since evolved into more of a community project of the international relativity community – check out our partners page to see which institutes and institutions have contributed to Einstein Online so far! Each new text is scrutinized by at least two test readers – one member of our Scientific Advisory Board, or an external referee appointed by an advisory board member, to check for accuracy, and one reader without a background in physics to make sure the text is accessible to our intended audience.

Currently Einstein Online features more than 400 pages of text written by authors from more than a dozen different institutions. It features nearly 250 illustrations an animations.