"I don't know much about that," Courtney conceded, "but I have heard about your 'theory of relativity' and your formula E=MC2."

Einstein leaned back in his chair and smiled at her. "This is quite an accomplishment for such a young girl. Perhaps you could be a student here after all."

"Oh, I don't think so," Courtney said, sitting down in the chair across from him and resting her elbows on the desk. "I heard about your theories, but they don't make any sense at all."

She noticed that Einstein's mustache twitched when he laughed. "But relativity is not so difficult, Courtney. You see, the way we experience the world is all relative. It depends on what's happening to you at the time. What I tell my students is this: Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. Now, that's relativity."

Courtney smiled. "What does it have to do with light and gravity?"

"Ah,"he said, holding up a pencil, "First of all, you must understand that everything -- this pencil, my papers, the desktop, even you -- everything is made up of very small particles called atoms ..."

"I know about atoms," Courtney said excitedly.

"You do, do you?"

Courtney nodded, remembering discussions in class and pictures from her science books.

"This is very good," Einstein said. "Back in 1905, when I first wrote about these theories, the existence of atoms was still being debated. Now, in 1919, even young girls like you take atoms for granted."

"My teacher, Mrs. Lee, makes learning about things like atoms seem interesting. At least I think so."

"Then I'm sure she will be delighted when you are back in her classroom and tell her how energy -- light, if you please -- is made up of particles, just like this pencil and other hard substances are made up of atoms."

"Watch," he said as he held the pencil over his desk and let it drop. It bounced on the desktop. "Gravity pulls down on the particles in this pencil and makes it fall when I let go. In the very same way, gravity pulls down on light. That's what the astronomers proved during the recent eclipse -- starlight was being bent by the gravitational pull of the sun."

 
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