The Annihilation of Space and Time (Einstein on the train)

London – Paris – Milan.

The extension of railway infrastructure across huge distances and the integration of services had the effect of accelerating time and compressing distances. This phenomenon was understood and described as a force. The experience of this was brilliant and unsettling at the same time; a bit like a fairground ride.

The railway expresses this mechanically. The machine ensemble is a complex, large and interactive mechanism. Literature and art explore the psychological and visual consequences of this acceleration too. Cubism, photography and cinema each feed from this speeding up of everyday life.

Of course, the most profound expression of this shift in our experience of time was provided by Einstein. It’s no accident that Einstein conceptualized his theory living in a boring city, doing a boring job and riding on trams.

Here’s a lovely diagram of Einstein’s train thought-experiment that describes relativity

I wonder if Einstein ever took the  tram in Hamburg? See my post below, about Dada. Anyway, here’s a picture of Einstein arriving in London.

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