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Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity


Most of us have heard of Einstein’s theory, but few people understand it. The basic explaination is that when you approach the speed of light, you function slower so that it seems like less time is passing than what really is. If you were in a space ship going close to the speed of light, you could travel for what seems like a day and when you get back to earth, 100 years have passed. Also part of the front of the ship would become smaller. I wondered how this could happen. What does speed have to do with it?

Albert spoke of relativity. If you’re out there in the vacume of space, far away from other things, what is there to relate to? Then I thought of light. It always moves at the same speed regardless of the speed of the source. If you had 3 cars with thier headlights on, one was parked, the second was going 30mph, the third was going 50mph, the light from all 3 cars would be moving at the same speed. Its the same with radio waves. If I’m riding on the train and I call someone on my cell phone, the energy coming from my phone is moving at the speed of light. When the other guy talks to me on his phone, the energy is also moving at the same speed even though he’s sitting on a bench and I’m on a moving train. There must be other forms of energy like that, including some we don’t know about. I think that all matter as we know it has energy in it. This energy is constantly being emitted at the speed of light. Now we have something to relate to. As the space ship in our hypathetical example moves faster, the rate of energy being released from it in the opposite direction the ship is moving increases. For some reason which I don’t understand, this slows down the speed at which things function.

Let’s create an analogy. Suppose we had a pipe that was 6 feet in diameter and twice as long as a telephone pole. Now we’re going to build some kind of giant structure with a device that can hold this pipe up 1000 feet in the air. The pipe is in a vertical position. There’s a metal plate covering the bottom, but the top is open. We’re going to pour a bunch of golf balls in the top and fill it up. Now we take away the bottom plate and let the golf balls fall out. As they’re falling, we move the pipe up higher. As we increase the speed of the pipe moving upward, the number of golf balls per second coming out increases, but thier speed remains the same. Imagine the ship is like the pipe, and the energy is like the golf balls. The faster the energy is released, the slower the matter functions. What about the energy moving in the same direction as the ship? Let’s go back to the golf ball analogy. We remove the bottom plate from the pipe and the golf balls fall out, then we move the pipe downward. The number of golf balls leaving the pipe per second decreases, but thier speed remains the same. As the ship’s speed increases, the amount of energy per second being released decreases. Maybe this extra energy in the front of the ship causes some of the matter to turn to energy, making part of the ship smaller.

I don’t know for sure that this is the way it happens, its just my theory about Albert’s theory.

This Was Found on The Website:Albert Einstein Archives

Albert Einstein is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the modern era. As a preeminent physicist, he radically transformed our understanding of the universe. As an ardent humanist, he took an active and outspoken stance on the significant political and social issues of his time. As a committed Jew, he advocated a distinctive moral role for the Jewish people.

Albert Einstein’s contribution to modern physics is simply unique. His scientific career was a constant quest for the universal and immutable laws, which govern the physical world. His theories spanned the fundamental questions of nature, from the very large to the very small, from the cosmos to sub-atomic particles. He overturned the established concepts of time and space, energy and matter. Einstein played a crucial role in establishing the two pillars of 20th century physics: he was the father of the theory of relativity and a major contributor to quantum theory.

Einstein was a theoretical physicist – his only concrete tools being pencil and paper. It has been said that his true tools were a penetrating and intuitive grasp of the workings of the natural world and the “thought experiment” – an intellectual exercise used by physicists to reach a theoretical conclusion from idealized physical processes. Yet, Einstein was not a purely abstract thinker. He grasped the world in concrete images and strove to translate them into words and equations that could be understood by others.

Science was Albert Einstein’s first love, yet he always found time to devote tireless efforts to political causes close to his heart. His ardent humanism led him to strive for peace, freedom and social justice. The young Einstein found the authoritarianism and militarism of the German educational system profoundly disturbing. The virulent nationalism and brutality of the First World War served to confirm Einstein’s pacifist and internationalist convictions.

In the 1920s, Einstein became an active leader of the international anti-war movement and supported conscientious objection. However, the Nazi rise to power brought about a substantial change in Einstein’s position: he began to advocate military preparedness by the European democracies against the threat of Nazism. In this context, Einstein wrote his famous letter to U.S. President Roosevelt in which he urged him to initiate an American nuclear research programme. With the onset of the atomic era, Einstein realized that nuclear weapons were a profound risk to humanity and could bring an end to civilization. During the last decade of his life, he was tireless in his efforts to create effective international cooperation to prevent war.

Throughout his life, Albert Einstein felt a close affinity with the Jewish people. Einstein defined Judaism as a culture with a shared historical past and common ethical values rather than as an institutionalized religion. For him the main values of Judaism were intellectual aspiration and the pursuit of social justice. Like Spinoza, he did not believe in a personal god, but that the divine reveals itself in the physical world. Einstein supported the creation of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. However, he stipulated that any solution of the Arab-Jewish conflict had to be based on mutual understanding and consent.

Albert Einstein was one of the founders of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served on the University’s first Board of Governors and Academic Council. He delivered the University’s inaugural scientific lecture and edited its first collection of scientific papers. His unique relationship to this institution found a lasting expression in the bequest of his literary estate and personal papers to the Hebrew University in his Last Will and Testament.

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Einstein Letter on God Sells for $404,000
Associated Press/Bloomsbury Auctions.

Published: May 17, 2008
From the grave, Albert Einstein poured gasoline on the culture wars between science and religion this week. A letter the physicist wrote in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, in which he described the Bible as “pretty childish” and scoffed at the notion that the Jews could be a “chosen people,” sold for $404,000 at an auction in London. That was 25 times the presale estimate.

The Associated Press quoted Rupert Powell, the managing director of Bloomsbury Auctions, as describing the unidentified buyer as having “a passion for theoretical physics and all that that entails.” Among the unsuccessful bidders, according to The Guardian newspaper, was Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist.

The price makes the Gutkind letter one of the best sellers among Einstein manuscripts. That $404,000 is only a little less than the $442,500 paid for the entire collection of 53 love letters between Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric, at an auction at Christie’s in New York in 1996. At that same auction a paper by Einstein and his best friend, Michele Besso, attempting a calculation that would later be a pivotal piece of his crowning achievement, the General Theory of Relativity, went for $398,500.

Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald, a historian at the California Institute of Technology and head of the Einstein Papers project, said she was not surprised that the Gutkind letter, which was known to Einstein scholars, fetched such a high price.

“It is an important expression of Einstein’s thoughts and views on religion, on Judaism, on his views about God and religious texts,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She said the letter, which was not written for publication, was “concise and unvarnished” and more straightforward than the metaphors he usually turned to in public.

Gerald Holton, a historian of science at Harvard and a longtime Einstein expert, also was not surprised. He said Einstein’s marketability had been improved by the last few years of hoopla about the 100th anniversary of relativity, which included his selection as Time magazine’s Man of the Century in 2000, and several new biographies. Dr. Holton described the letter as “a feat of eloquent Credo in short form.”

Einstein, as he says in his autobiographical notes, lost his religion at the age of 12, concluding that it was all a lie, and he never looked back. But he never lost his religious feeling about the apparent order of the universe or his intuitive connection with its mystery, which he savored. “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its comprehensibility,” he once said.

“If something is in me that can be called religious,” he wrote in another letter, in 1954, “then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as science can reveal it.”

Einstein consistently characterized the idea of a personal God who answers prayers as naive, and life after death as wishful thinking. But his continual references to God — as a metaphor for physical law; in his famous rebuke to quantum mechanics, “God doesn’t play dice”; and in lines like the endlessly repeated, “ Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” — has led some wishful thinkers to try to put him in the camp of some kind of believer or even, not long ago, to paint him as an advocate of intelligent design.

Trying to distinguish between a personal God and a more cosmic force, Einstein described himself as an “agnostic” and “not an atheist,” which he associated with the same intolerance as religious fanatics. “They are creatures who — in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium for the people’ — cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

The problem of God, he said, “is too vast for our limited minds.”

Einstein’s latest words offer scant comfort to the traditionally faithful.

In the letter, according to the A.P. account, he wrote that “the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

As for his fellow Jews, he said that Judaism, like all other religions, was “an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”

He claimed a deep affinity with the Jewish people, he said, but “as far as my experience goes they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

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Biographer delves into life of Einstein

POSTED: 7:51 a.m. EDT, May 22, 2007

Story Highlights• Albert Einstein is the subject of biography by Walter Isaacson
• Scientist was a unique individual, a larger-than-life celebrity
• He had an uneven home life
• Complicated relationship with God, religion
By Todd Leopold

(CNN) — Albert Einstein was more than an Einstein.

The scientist whose name became synonymous with “genius” was certainly that, blessed with a gift for innovative, creative thinking and endless reserves of determination.

But there were other sides to the legendary physicist. There was the celebrity, thrust into the limelight by his theories of special and general relativity, treated by the press as dignitary and spokesman. There was the quotable wit whose image has lent itself to every avuncular movie scientist since the advent of sound.

And there was the sometimes diffident family man, capable of both shocking coldness and gentle humility.

He was, in short, quite a human being.

“He was in a class by himself,” says Walter Isaacson, whose new biography, “Einstein: His Life and Universe” (Simon & Schuster), offers a comprehensive account of the 20th-century titan. (Gallery: The quotable Einstein)

“He not only had a rebellious creativity that was unmatched by anyone since Isaac Newton, he also had an engaging personality, passionate beliefs and a sparkling humor that made him a celebrity rivaled by only Charlie Chaplin,” Isaacson says in a phone interview from a West Coast book tour stop.

A ‘Miracle Year’ and after
Einstein obviously fascinates, more than 50 years after his death. Isaacson’s biography arrives at the same time as Jurgen Neffe’s “Einstein: A Biography.”

Isaacson and the editors of Time picked the scientist as their well-received “Person of the Century” in 1999, and today Isaacson’s book is on top of The New York Times best-seller list. (After his stint at Time, Isaacson became head of CNN; he now oversees the Aspen Institute.)

It was as Time editor that Isaacson, who says he “likes to look at how people’s minds work,” decided to pursue a biography of the scientist. (His previous book, also a best-seller, was a biography of Benjamin Franklin.) With a number of Einstein’s private papers coming available, Isaacson believed the time was ripe for a new biography, one that would more tightly weave “the personal, political, his family life and his human character,” the author explains.

The New York Times Book Review said that Isaacson succeeded. Reviewer Corey S. Powell praises Isaacson’s lively prose and adds, “If any 600-page book about relativity can be described as a page turner, ‘Einstein: His Life and Universe’ is it.”

The basic outline of Einstein’s life is well known. He was born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, the son of middle-class parents. He was a slow verbal learner (though not, as legend says, a poor student; Isaacson reveals that young Albert’s grades were good and he was an imaginative student) and became fascinated with science as a boy.

Upon finishing his schooling, he was unable to get a job as a professor and ended up in the Swiss Patent Office, where he came up with the papers of his “Miracle Year,” 1905: entries on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity and matter-energy equivalence, the latter boiled down to his famous equation, E = mc2.

Eventually achieving recognition among peers with his revolutionary work, he published the general theory of relativity in 1915 and became an international star upon its confirmation in 1919. For the rest of his life, Einstein was sought out as an expert, his occasional pronouncements of impending breakthroughs — particularly of a unified field theory, his never-found grail — making front-page news.

He was the right man for the right time, both in terms of science and media, Isaacson adds. The end of World War I coincided with a huge rise in mass media as well as an intense interest in science, a discipline going in startling new directions. Einstein — distinctive, quotable, with work that was at once hard to fathom but easy to picture — found himself at the nexus of it all.

“Science tended to shun publicity, but Einstein had a love-hate relationship with the media,” Isaacson says. “Journalists were thrilled to find that Einstein … was such a personable, witty guy. With the unruly hair and the twinkling eyes, he made the perfect celebrity.”

Man and God
He wasn’t always the perfect mate, however.

Within a decade his first marriage, to Mileva Maric, a fellow math and science student, grew cold. In 1914, Einstein gave Maric a startling ultimatum, demanding that she “renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons,” among other requests.

“That was one of the disappointing things about Einstein is how cold he was when he fell out of love with his first wife,” Isaacson says. “But even though it’s disappointing, it reminds us that the greatest of men are still made of flesh and blood.”

Einstein later married his cousin, Elsa. Maric made out all right financially, as Einstein agreed to give her the substantial sum he earned from his Nobel Prize.

Relations with his two sons were uneven over the years, and his younger child, Eduard, suffered from mental illness and was institutionalized in his later years. Einstein’s older son, Hans Albert, followed his father into the sciences and became a confidant in Einstein’s last years. (An illegitimate daughter was likely put up for adoption.)

Einstein, raised a secular Jew, also had a rich, complicated relationship with God.

“He said that his concept of God was related to the spirit he found manifest in the laws of the universe,” Isaacson says. “He said that the spirit of God’s laws makes him feel humble and awed.”

Indeed, he resisted some of the determinations of quantum theory because they insisted on what Einstein called “spooky uncertainties” in the universe — to which Einstein famously responded that God “does not play dice.”

He also retained a strong identification to Judaism, and was attuned to anti-Semitism throughout his life, long after leaving Europe just before the Nazi takeover of Germany. He even wrote an article for Collier’s, “Why Do They Hate the Jews?”, in November 1938 after the infamous Kristallnacht pogroms.

But he turned down the presidency of Israel, a primarily ceremonial post that was offered to him in the early ’50s. By that time he was, as a chapter of Isaacson’s book is titled, a “One-Worlder” in the face of the nuclear threat.

Einstein never gave up trying to figure out the universe — he was still scribbling equations on his deathbed — and his unusual life and creative intelligence make for few, if any, comparisons. Isaacson observes that “people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs share similarities with Einstein in that they’re creative, driven and come up with ideas they can visualize.” But none of them have won a Nobel Prize — or have been as besieged by the popular news media.

After immersing himself in Einstein-iana for the last several years, Isaacson says he has even greater admiration for his subject. “I have more respect for the beauty and fun of his science and his mind,” he says. “I also was surprised what a passionate human being he was, and what a tumultuous personal life he had.”

He also appreciates how long a shadow Einstein still presents. “It’s heartening,” he adds, “that people like to marvel at the accomplishments and life of Einstein.>

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[Biography] Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich, where he later on began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Later, they moved to Italy and Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland and in 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship and, as he was unable to find a teaching post, he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor’s degree.

During his stay at the Patent Office, and in his spare time, he produced much of his remarkable work and in 1908 he was appointed Privatdozent in Berne. In 1909 he became Professor Extraordinary at Zurich, in 1911 Professor of Theoretical Physics at Prague, returning to Zurich in the following year to fill a similar post. In 1914 he was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and Professor in the University of Berlin. He became a German citizen in 1914 and remained in Berlin until 1933 when he renounced his citizenship for political reasons and emigrated to America to take the position of Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton*. He became a United States citizen in 1940 and retired from his post in 1945.

After World War II, Einstein was a leading figure in the World Government Movement, he was offered the Presidency of the State of Israel, which he declined, and he collaborated with Dr. Chaim Weizmann in establishing the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Einstein always appeared to have a clear view of the problems of physics and the determination to solve them. He had a strategy of his own and was able to visualize the main stages on the way to his goal. He regarded his major achievements as mere stepping-stones for the next advance.

At the start of his scientific work, Einstein realized the inadequacies of Newtonian mechanics and his special theory of relativity stemmed from an attempt to reconcile the laws of mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. He dealt with classical problems of statistical mechanics and problems in which they were merged with quantum theory: this led to an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules. He investigated the thermal properties of light with a low radiation density and his observations laid the foundation of the photon theory of light.

In his early days in Berlin, Einstein postulated that the correct interpretation of the special theory of relativity must also furnish a theory of gravitation and in 1916 he published his paper on the general theory of relativity. During this time he also contributed to the problems of the theory of radiation and statistical mechanics.

In the 1920’s, Einstein embarked on the construction of unified field theories, although he continued to work on the probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory, and he persevered with this work in America. He contributed to statistical mechanics by his development of the quantum theory of a monatomic gas and he has also accomplished valuable work in connection with atomic transition probabilities and relativistic cosmology.

After his retirement he continued to work towards the unification of the basic concepts of physics, taking the opposite approach, geometrisation, to the majority of physicists.

Einstein’s researches are, of course, well chronicled and his more important works include Special Theory of Relativity (1905), Relativity (English translations, 1920 and 1950), General Theory of Relativity (1916), Investigations on Theory of Brownian Movement (1926), and The Evolution of Physics (1938). Among his non-scientific works, About Zionism (1930), Why War? (1933), My Philosophy (1934), and Out of My Later Years (1950) are perhaps the most important.

Albert Einstein received honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from many European and American universities. During the 1920’s he lectured in Europe, America and the Far East and he was awarded Fellowships or Memberships of all the leading scientific academies throughout the world. He gained numerous awards in recognition of his work, including the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London in 1925, and the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1935.

Einstein’s gifts inevitably resulted in his dwelling much in intellectual solitude and, for relaxation, music played an important part in his life. He married Mileva Maric in 1903 and they had a daughter and two sons; their marriage was dissolved in 1919 and in the same year he married his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, who died in 1936. He died on April 18, 1955 at Princeton, New Jersey.

From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967

This autobiography/biography was first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Albert Einstein was formally associated with the Institute for Advanced Study located in Princeton, New Jersey

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Book Reviews / Book review Einstein and Oppenheimer: The Meaning of Genius

By Silvan S. SchweberMay 23rd, 2008Web edition Text Size Review by Tom SiegfriedBuy this book

Einstein and Oppenheimer: The Meaning of Genius In mid-20th century America, two scientists towered over all others in the public mind: Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was the man who built the atomic bomb; Einstein’s theories explained how such a vast release of energy was possible. Both were acclaimed as geniuses of the highest order. Yet they were dissimilar in numerous respects. Einstein was solitary, kind, self-assured and even stubborn; Oppenheimer was gregarious, witty, sometimes sarcastic and cruel, and at some level deeply insecure.

Historian Silvan S. Schweber exploits these contrasts to explore the meaning of genius, especially with respect to how these two geniuses interacted with a non-scientific society. Many previous writers have examined both men’s lives thoroughly, but Schweber brings fresh insight by focusing on less widely noted episodes. Aspects of Einstein’s personality emerge more clearly, for example, in the accounts of his role in the founding of Brandeis University. Oppenheimer’s inner thoughts surface through analysis of a series of lectures he delivered at Harvard.

Schweber observes that Einstein exuded a constant sense of self and self-assurance throughout his life. Oppenheimer remade himself several times as his role evolved from student, to teacher, to lab administrator and then public figure. The differences in their personalities played out in their engagement in world affairs. After World War II, both attempted, each in his own way, to influence politicians to forge international controls over the new atomic weaponry, and both failed. Genius—no matter what kind—and politics, it seems, don’t mix. Schweber‘s story shows the difficulties that geniuses encounter in realms where knowledge and logic are not valued as much as power and profit.

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Albert Einstein – Biography

By Mary Bellis

Albert Einstein was born in Germany in 1879. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin. One story Einstein liked to tell about his childhood was of a wonder he saw when he was four or five years old: a magnetic compass. The needle’s invariable northward swing, guided by an invisible force, profoundly impressed the child. The compass convinced him that there had to be “something behind things, something deeply hidden.”

Even as a small boy Albert Einstein was self-sufficient and thoughtful. According to family legend he was a slow talker, pausing to consider what he would say. His sister remembered the concentration and perseverance with which he would build houses of cards.

Albert Einstein’s first job was that of patent clerk.

In 1933, he joined the staff of the newly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He accepted this position for life, living there until his death. Einstein is probably familiar to most people for his mathematical equation about the nature of energy, E = MC2.

Albert Einstein wrote a paper with a new understanding of the structure of light. He argued that light can act as though it consists of discrete, independent particles of energy, in some ways like the particles of a gas. A few years before, Max Planck’s work had contained the first suggestion of a discreteness in energy, but Einstein went far beyond this. His revolutionary proposal seemed to contradict the universally accepted theory that light consists of smoothly oscillating electromagnetic waves. But Einstein showed that light quanta, as he called the particles of energy, could help to explain phenomena being studied by experimental physicists. For example, he made clear how light ejects electrons from metals.

There was a well-known kinetic energy theory that explained heat as an effect of the ceaseless motion of atoms; Einstein proposed a way to put the theory to a new and crucial experimental test. If tiny but visible particles were suspended in a liquid, he said, the irregular bombardment by the liquid’s invisible atoms should cause the suspended particles to carry out a random jittering dance. One should be able to observe this through a microscope, and if the predicted motion were not seen, the whole kinetic theory would be in grave danger. But just such a random dance of microscopic particles had long since been observed. Now the motion was explained in detail. Albert Einstein had reinforced the kinetic theory, and he had created a powerful new tool for studying the movement of atoms.

The Atomic Bomb
Please don’t build one at home. On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify U-235 with which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb.

“Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) first gained worldwide prominence in 1919, when British astronomers verified predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity through measurements taken during a total eclipse. Einstein’s theories expanded upon, and in some cases refuted, universal laws formulated by Newton in the late seventeenth century.”

Albert Einstein was asked to pose so many times that he said if he hadn’t been a physicist, he could have made a living as a model.

E = MC2
Albert Einstein developed a theory about the relationship of mass and energy. The formula, E=mc[2], is probably the most famous outcome from Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The formula says energy (E) equals mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared. In essence, it means mass is just one form of energy. Since the speed of light squared is an enormous number (186,000 miles per second)[2], a small amount of mass can be converted to a phenomenal amount of energy. Or, if there’s a lot of energy available, some energy can be converted to mass and a new particle can be created. Nuclear reactors, for instance, work because nuclear reactions convert small amounts of mass into large amounts of energy.

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