Albert Einstein formulated The Theory of Relativity. It explained a lot of how time and distance may change due to the "relative" or different speed of the object and the observer. The theory transformed theoretical physics and astronomy during the 20th century, superseding a 200-year-old theory of mechanics created primarily by Isaac Newton. With relativity, cosmology and astrophysics predicted extraordinary astronomical phenomena such as neutron stars, black holes, and gravitational waves.

Far from being simply of theoretical interest, relativitistic effects are important practical engineering concerns. Satellite-based measurement needs to take into account relativistic effects, as each satellite is in motion relative to an Earth-bound user and is thus in a different frame of reference under the theory of relativity. Global positioning systems such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, must account for all of the relativistic effects, such as the consequences of Earth's gravitational field, in order to work with precision.