One afternoon, Albert Einstein had an idea that changed his life.
“All of a sudden, a thought occurred to me,” he recalled. “If a person falls freely, he won’t feel his own weight. I was startled. This simple thought made a deep impression on me.”
Imagine a worker who falls from the roof of a house. As he plummets, his tools fall with him. But from his perspective, it’s as if the tools are momentarily weightless, oblivious to gravity’s pull. A dropped hammer doesn’t appear to fall if you’re falling with it. It’s all relative.
With this realization, which he called the happiest thought of his life, Einstein developed a new mathematical description of gravity. He named it his General Theory of Relativity.
Freefalling doesn’t mean escaping gravity’s grip. It’s about plummeting effortlessly, surrendering to gravity rather than resisting it. To freefall is to cast off the burden of mass, to feel lighter than air. It’s the reason skydivers jump from planes and people ride rollercoasters. It’s why the Moon orbits the Earth, and both dance around the Sun, each falling continuously in the other’s gravitational embrace.
Freefalling can change our lives, too.