2019 Neff Public Lecture

Daniel Kennefick
University of Arkansas

No Shadow of Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse Expeditions that Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Daniel Kennefick

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
4:30 p.m.
Cardwell 103

This is the centenary year of the celebrated eclipse expeditions which confirmed Einstein's theory of General Relativity. In 1919, British scientists led extraordinary expeditions to Brazil and Africa to test Albert Einstein's revolutionary new theory of general relativity in what became the century's most celebrated scientific experiment. The result ushered in a new era and made Einstein a global celebrity by confirming his dramatic prediction that the path of light rays would be bent by gravity. Today, Einstein's theory is scientific fact. Yet the effort to "weigh light" by measuring the gravitational deflection of starlight during the May 29, 1919, solar eclipse has become clouded by myth and skepticism. Could Arthur Eddington and Frank Dyson have gotten the results they claimed? Did the pacifist Eddington falsify evidence to foster peace after a horrific war by validating the theory of a German antiwar campaigner? Learn how expedition scientists overcame war, bad weather, and equipment problems to make the experiment a triumphant success.