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E = mc2 Explained


How would 10 top physicists—two Nobel Prize winners among them—describe Einstein's equation to curious non-physicists? Listen online by selecting Play All or choose individual clips below. Listen offline by downloading clips, or subscribe to our podcast.

Play all

Einstein's Big Idea homepage

Nima Arkani-Hamed

Nima Arkani-Hamed
Theoretical Physicist
Harvard University

"Things that seem incredibly different can really be manifestations of the same underlying phenomena."

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Running time 1:23

Janet Conrad

Janet Conrad
Experimental Physicist
Columbia University

"For me there's a lot more to the equation than E = mc2."

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Running time 1:32

Sheldon Glashow

Sheldon Glashow
Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Laureate
Boston University

"When an object emits light, say, a flashlight, it gets lighter."

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Running time 2:28



Brian Greene

Brian Greene
Theoretical Physicist
Columbia University

"It certainly is not an equation that reveals all its subtlety in the few symbols that it takes to write down."

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Running time 2:19

Alan Guth

Alan Guth
Theoretical Physicist
MIT

"It's easiest to explain by how things looked from the point of view of Newton."

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Running time 1:46

Tim Halpin-Healy

Tim Halpin-Healy
Theoretical Physicist
Barnard College, Columbia University

"Moving clocks run slow, moving meter sticks are shortened—how does that happen?"

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Running time 2:13



Lene Hau

Lene Hau
Experimental Physicist
Harvard University

"You can get access to parts of nature you have never been able to get access to before."

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Running time 1:09

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku
Theoretical Physicist
City University of New York

"E = mc2 is the secret of the stars."

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Running time 1:05

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist
American Museum of Natural History

"It's something that doesn't happen in your kitchen or in everyday life."

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Running time 2:48



Frank Wilczek

Frank Wilczek
Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Laureate
MIT

"Ninety-five percent of the mass of matter as we know it comes from energy."

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Running time 1:01


Text version of audio clips

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Nima Arkani-Hamed (464K)
Janet Conrad (528K)
Sheldon Glashow (820K)
Brian Greene (756K)
Alan Guth (608K)
Tim Halpin-Healy (732K)
Lene Hau (416K)
Michio Kaku (388K)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (880K)
Frank Wilczek (372K)

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This feature was produced by Lexi Krock and David Levin, with audio editing by Mr. Levin.



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