University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, October 3rd 2019
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Jeffrey Crelinsten, The Impact Group @Centre for Social Innovation
Subject: “Einstein’s Jury: Trial by Telescope”

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.

Faculty Host: Michel Janssen

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