Einstein and Eddington

I very much enjoyed the BBC dramatisation of the events surrounding confirmation of Einstein’s General Relativity and have spent most of this morning with my head in Abraham Pais biography of Einstein to refresh my memory. While I recognise the needs in a  dramatisation for drama! I think the cause of Science was diminished by pretending that the photographic plates had not been examined until the meeting. By all accounts that joint meeting on November 6 th 1919 of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society was dramatic enough in which Sir Frank Dyson, Astronomer Royal began by describing the work of the two British expeditions and the work involved in calibration to ensure that the observations would be valid.  Only then did he declare that the deflection observed supported Einstein.  He was followed by Crommelin and Eddington who spoke about the expeditions they led to Sobral in Brazil and Principe respectively.

It was true that Sir Oliver Lodge left the meeting without speaking so there was indeed drama!

Pais charts the “birth of the Einstein Legend” not so much to that meeting but to the report of the meeting in the November 7th edition of The Times. Headlined REVOLUTION IN SCIENCE – NEW THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE – NEWTONIAN IDEAS OVERTHROWN.

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