Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS April Meeting 2019
Volume 64, Number 3
Saturday–Tuesday, April 13–16, 2019; Denver, Colorado
Session G02: Centennial of the Eddington Eclipse Expedition
8:30 AM–10:18 AM,
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Sheraton Room: Plaza D
Sponsoring Units: FHP DGRAV
Chair: Beverly Berger, Stanford University
Abstract: G02.00003 : Einstein's Jury: Trial By Telescope*
9:42 AM–10:18 AM
(The Impact Group)
(The Impact Group)
(University of Toronto)
While Einstein’s theory of relativity ultimately laid the foundation for modern studies of the universe, it took a long time to be accepted. Its acceptance was largely due to the astronomy community, which at Einstein’s urging undertook precise measurements to test his astronomical predictions. This paper focuses on astronomers’ attempts to measure the bending of light by the sun’s gravitational field. The work started in Germany and America before Einstein had completed his general theory, which he published during the depths of the First World War. Only a handful of astronomers, including Arthur Stanley Eddington in England, could understand the theory. Most astronomers were baffled by it and focused on testing its empirical predictions. The well-known 1919 British eclipse expeditions that made Einstein famous did not convince most scientists to accept relativity. The 1920s saw numerous attempts to measure light bending, amid much controversy and international competition.
*I thank the APS sponsoring unit for its generous travel support.
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