Lights all askew in the heavens…
This hilariously-headlined New York Times article describes the results of the observational experiment performed during the 1919 eclipse. It highlights that the expedition proved Einstein’s prediction. But the writer claims that only 12 men on Earth can really understand the result: that light’s path is curved by space time.
The delightful headline reads:
“Lights all askew in the heavens. Men of science more or less agog over results of eclipse observations. Einstein theory triumphs. Stars not where they seemed of were calculated to be, but nobody need worry. A book for 12 wise men. No more in all the world could comprehend it, said Einstein when his daring publishers accepted it.”
Einstein was a theoretical scientist. That means he dreamed up bold theories without direct experimental evidence. His science was one of the imagination. However, in order to succeed in science, a theory must be able to be proven false.
So, in 1919 an expedition went in search of observational evidence that would confirm or falsify the prediction of the “bending” of light in spacetime. The adventure was led by Arthur Eddington. They found proof of light’s bending rays by measuring the light of a star as it passed the mass of the Sun. The path of the light of a distant star bent in a curve around the edge of the Sun. This result did not falsify the theory and therefore indicated that Einstein’s theory was solid.
Can you understand space-time as Einstein did? Would you like to understand the ideas of light speed, and the observational reference frame that can speed or slow time?
The New York Times scanned newspaper article from 1919.