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Some six months after the Great War of 1914-18 ended, Arthur Eddington travelled at the head of a team on a scientific expedition to the island of Principe off the coast of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. He headed one of the two teams of astronomers assigned by a Joint Permanent Eclipse Committee of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Britain to observe and record photographically the full solar eclipse scheduled to take place on May 29, 1919.
At the time under Portuguese rule, Principe was selected as one of the two sites – the other was Sobral in the Brazilian Nordeste – from where the total solar eclipse and its full effect could be best observed. The expedition was proposed by Eddington, a rising star among British astronomers, to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity published in the middle of the Great War.
Eddington - Expedition - Century - Einstein - Theory
Eddington’s expedition to Principe a century ago tested and confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity as the single most outstanding scientific achievement in history by one individual. For more than two centuries Newton’s theory of gravitation, of space and time and motion, had stood as the definitive theory in explaining the mechanics of the universe, and had marked a paradigmatic shift in thinking that characterized the birth of the modern world as Newtonian.
Einstein’s theory when confirmed signified a revolution of even greater magnitude in scientific thinking than what Newton wrought with the publication of his Principia in 1687.
Einstein - Foundation - General - Theory - Relativity
In 1916, Einstein published “The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity” in the journal Annalen der Physik. Eddington was one of the very few individuals who grasped the implication of Einstein’s theory and was selected by Frank Dyson, the head of the Royal Astronomical Association, to witness and record the full solar eclipse of May 1919 from...
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